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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Wedding Night Blues (4)

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The officer gave me a stern look that made my heart sink. 
"Madam, this is the last time I'll ask you. Where's your husband?" he thundered, hitting the desk with his large fist.
Taking a deep breath, to calm my erratic heartbeat, I said:
"Officer, why don't you believe me when I say, I don't know where he is? The last time I saw him was over two hours ago, just before your men picked me up."
"No problem. You don't want to confess, abi? By the time you get to Abuja, to our headquarters, I bet you will begin to sing like a nightingale!" he said. He left the room, leaving me alone with his aide, a junior officer.
"Madam, I'll advise you to open up. If the case gets to Abuja, things will be worse for both of you," the man said quietly.
I looked up at him, stating in an exasperated tone:
"I've spoken nothing but the truth! Why can't you believe me! I'm even looking for him myself. So, if you know my husband's whereabouts, let me know!"
The man simply shrugged and kept staring at the wall.

I sighed, wondering when I would wake up from this bad dream that had lasted too long. How could this be happening? On my wedding night, of all days! A night when I should be cuddled up warmly in bed with my husband, I am here at 2a.m, being detained in a police station, interrogated and threatened over what?

That was the problem. Nobody had told me what my husband had done to warrant the search for him. After the men that came to the house with his friend, Ajji had searched everywhere with no trace of my husband, I had been driven to the police station and detained in his place.
Some of Raffe's relatives had followed us to the station, demanding to know what the problem was, the reason they were looking for my husband. But the officers refused to say anything, only insisting we must 'bring Raffe or...'

The mystery was revealed the following day. That night, I was kept in a cell with mosquitoes for company, depriving me of what little sleep I could snatch. At about nine in the morning, my husband was brought to the station in handcuffs like a felon.
I nearly wept when I saw him. And when I heard the charges against him by the police, I thought I was going to die of shock.
Raffe was accused of illegal oil bunkering, tampering with oil pipelines, economic sabotage among other offences! I couldn't believe it! My husband is a civil servant, what's his business with oil pipelines, I wondered. But it was true as Ajji, his friend and partner in crime had confessed to the deed.
"There were seven of them involved in the operation. We've caught five, two are still at large. This man," indicating Raffe, "was making arrangements with a local fisherman to take him to the sea where he will sneak out of the country on a ship when he was apprehended," the officer disclosed. "These crude oil thieves are a serious problem in this area. They sabotage the economy, depriving the government of much needed revenue. They will be charged to court soon," the man added.

Later, I saw Raffe in the cell, looking sober and remorseful.
"I'm so sorry, Oma for all this. It was temptation. I just wanted to make quick money so we could have a great wedding," he explained.
"So, the money you claimed Tega gave you was a lie! It was money from crude oil theft, from breaking oil pipelines! How could you Raffe? What does it matter the kind of wedding we have? The most important thing is that we love each other and we are happy together. A wedding is just a ceremony, Raffe. It's the marriage afterwards  that matters. Now, you've gone and ruined everything! What will happen to us now?" I said and began to weep bitter tears of sorrow and anguish...

Worse was to come. At the court, Raffe and his partners were each sentenced to ten years in prison! It was a sad day for me, as I watched my husband being taken to the van, to start his long prison sentence.

All these happened some months ago. Despite all he has done, I still love my husband. He's a good and caring man. It was just greed and quest for easy money that led him to commit the crime. I'm prepared to wait for him, to come out of prison no matter how long it takes so we can be together again.
But my family is not in support of that plan. My mother and uncles want me to forget about Raffe and move on with my life.
"How can you wait ten years for that criminal? You will be nearly forty years old when he comes out! Is it then you will start having babies?" stated my mother.
They have even got another man, they want me to marry. I've told them I have a husband, Raffe. He's only away in prison and not dead, I point out. But they are not ready to listen to me.

The situation with my family is giving me so much stress that sometimes; I wish I could run away from all of them. So, I want readers advice on the way forward for me, either to keep waiting for my husband or comply with my family's wish and marry someone else, a man I don't love.

The End!

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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