CHAPTER 17: AND IT BEGINS
At 7 in the morning, Boza was woken by voices of people outside. He jumped out of bed and ran to the living room, peeped through the window and saw two police officers in uniform, standing with the Chairperson Local Council I and the village’s Defense and Security secretary. They had knocked on the door but neither Bampe nor Boza had heard a thing. They had started talking to each other about the possibility of no one being at home and that’s when Boza opened.
“Good morning officers, Madam Chair, Defense secretary” Boza greeted.
“Good morning” they all replied in one perfect but unharmonious chorus.
“What’s going on?” he asked. He pretended like he never knew why they were there. It was only through acting that he knew that they would go away.
“Can we come in?” Madam Chairperson asked.
“Of course” he said. He opened the door wide and pinned himself to the wall to allow them to enter. They all entered and sat in the living room.
Boza was still in character. He looked confused. He tried hard not to look scared, too worried or they would have read him like a book, a children’s book, as simple as that. He was praying in his heart that Bampe stayed quiet and not even think about sneezing or coughing at all. He looked at them all and asked once again.
“What’s going on?”
“Did you watch the news last night Mr. Baru” asked the Lady Chairperson.
“No. What happened?” Boza asked, this time with his eyes wide open, almost like he wanted them to pop out. They all kept quiet for a moment as they also looked at each other.
“It’s about Mr. Rugaaju, Bampe Rugaaju.” the chairperson added.
“What about him?” asked Boza
“When was the last time you saw or talked to him?” asked one of the officers.
“About a week ago. What happened to him” Boza answered and directed the question back to the officer that had asked. He then looked at the rest of them and said.
“Don’t tell me he is dead” Boza added.
“No. He is not dead. These two nice police officers are looking for him.” said the Defense secretary
“What for?” asked Boza
“He is a fugitive. He escaped from the police yesterday morning in Zana and since he recently lived here, the police wanted to check if he came by” the defense secretary explained.
“Why was he at the police? What did he do?” Asked Boza.
“Well Mr. Baru, watch the news, you have a nice TV here, use it.” the lady chairperson said as she referred to Boza’s TV.
“What do you know about him?” asked one policeman, the one who had asked earlier. He seemed to Boza to have been the superior to the second police man as the second one just stood as if only waiting for an instruction, a command.
“Bampe is a good man. We became friends in high school and I have never seen him do anything bad. I believe he is even unable to kill a fly. If there is anything bad he has been involved in, it must have been a misunderstanding that led him to the police jail.” Boza finished.
“Well you can sing praises for him and we believe all you just said because we know him like that too, but are there any of his secrets you know?” said and asked the chairperson.
“Secrets? We shared everything with each other. I don’t think he kept anything from me.” Boza was at this time tying a noose and maybe digging a grave for himself and then he remembered that that’s what they actually wanted, for him to confess to have known Bampe’s secret or even have been involved with him. He then quickly added,
“Even if you asked Kangye. You know her Madam Chairperson. She will tell you that Bampe is an open book.”
“Where is she by the way?” asked the chairperson
“She spent the night at her house.” Boza answered.
Meanwhile the police officer who had asked questions tried to play detective by just observation. He kept turning his head to look around the room and the kitchen. He never moved from his seat but he was like an owl, turning his head almost 360 degrees as he studied the room. Boza started to get worried. He started thinking the policeman was going to notice the broken window. Well at the distance he had sat, he couldn’t notice the little blood stains but he would have clearly seen the hole in the glass window. Boza also tried to looked around and see if the policeman would be able to see it. Only when he had turned about 90 degrees, he looked at the defense secretary that sat next to him, he realized that it was gonna be a big mistake for him to turn and look at the window. It would have invited them to look at the window too, see the little blood stains and maybe get more details from Bampe’s break-in than he and Kangye had seen. He looked back and kept his eyes on his guests.
“What time did you get back home yesterday?” asked the police man.
“Around 6 or 7.” answered Boza
“And what time did you go to work?” he asked again.
“We leave at 6:30 every morning.” answered Boza.
“And you are still here at 7.” asked the police officer.
“Well, I got leave for a month starting today.” answered Boza
“Did you find anything strange here when you returned?” he asked again
“No. Everything seemed normal.” Boza answered
The policeman tried to calculate in his head to see if Bampe could have been able to get to Boza’s house before they had gone to work. He quickly came to the realization that he couldn’t have been able to make it there as he couldn’t have run there that fast.
“Well, if you hear from him, see him, please call us immediately.” said the police officer.
He wrote his number on a small piece of paper that sat idle on the table.
They all excused themselves and went out of the house. Boza followed them outside and begged the secretary of defense to give him more details about Bampe but with fail. Everyone noticed he was desperate to find out what had befallen his friend. They cut short the gathering they had formed in his compound and they walked away.
Boza went back inside the house and did a thorough cleaning of the whole living room and kitchen. He cleaned more than he had cleaned the night before Kangye moved in with him. He made sure there was no single stain or stamp left on the floor. He wiped the windows and got off the small blood stains on the glass window. He got tape and closed the big hole in the window.
When he was done cleaning up, he went back to Bampe’s room to check on him. He was however welcomed with an empty bed. Bampe had left the room and there was no single sign of him being there at all. He had made the bed just like he had found it. Boza then traversed the whole house looking for his mate. He didn’t want to call his name out loud. He didn’t want to raise any suspicions with the neighbours or if the police were spying on him. He checked every room apart from his own bedroom. When he was sure Bampe had fled from him, he started cursing himself; first for wanting to help a friend who didn’t want to be helped, for putting himself at a risk of being arrested for hiding a fugitive. He also cursed God for creating Bampe, such a nice person, gay. He had known him to be so nice a person to everyone, and why God would create him like that, to be hated, prosecuted and persecuted by his own people, disturbed him so much.
He started wondering where he could have gone and didn’t have a clue at all. He could have gone to any of his friends, but most of them, just like Boza had said a lot of negative things about gay people. It wouldn’t be a better idea for him to go to any of them. He had only come to Boza because he knew he would understand him, and understand him he did, but where did he then ran to.
Boza was feeling smelly and tired. He had not had a change of clothes from the previous night. He needed to take a shower, get a change of clothes and continue the search for his friend. Right then, he remembered he had not called in at work to request for a day off, something he should have done immediately after the early morning guests had left. He checked his pockets for his mobile phone, it wasn’t there. He went to the kitchen table, then counter but there was no phone. He went to his bedroom and he couldn’t see the phone. He started tossing things aside, looking for the phone and then he had the shower running. His heart settled back in his chest, now well knowing that Bampe was in the shower. He walked to the bathroom door, slightly opened the door and without looking in or peeping at all asked,
“Are you okay Bampe?”
“Yes, I am. Good morning.” answered and greeted Bampe
“Good morning. I thought you had ran.” noted Boza
“And where would I have gone? You know very well I wouldn’t find anywhere to go.”
Boza closed the door and went back to search for his phone by the bedside. Then his phone rang from under a pillow. He lifted the pillow up and picked the ringing phone and answered. The call was from Bampe’s workplace. His workmates had heard, read and watched news about Bampe, the faggot that had escaped from the police. His bosses had known too and they had called an urgent meeting to determine his future at the company. According to the call, Bampe was to be fired by the end of the meeting, which was underway. Bampe’s friend is the one that had called. She had tried calling Bampe’s phone but had been off. Then she had remembered a number that Bampe has used often to call her on when he didn’t use his own number.
Boza got off the phone and he turned to look at the bathroom door, Bampe was there looking at him, in Boza’s shorts and a T-shirt.
“What is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost”
“Bampe, I am sorry.” apologized Boza
“Sorry for what? Are you giving me up? Did they threaten you?” asked Bampe in panic.
“No. It’s about your job.” answered Boza.
“Oh. I am fired. I knew this would happen.” said Bampe while trying to keep himself strong.
Boza’s phone started buzzing with Whatsapp messages. He looked at his phone and the messages were countless. He read like two or three threads and his knees couldn’t keep him standing up. A strong and fast wave of shimmer went straight to his knee caps and broke them and he sat down on the bed.
“What’s wrong Boza?”
Boza couldn’t answer. He looked like this time he had been struck by lightning and then saw a ghost. He was scared, worried and petrified. His hands trembled and his whole body shivered like he had the worst of fevers. He couldn’t hold himself up. He rested his head on the pillow and pulled his legs inward shaping himself in an oval position. Bampe had never seen Boza like that without a drink before that. He trotted very fast and came to him. He sat in front of him, put his hand on Boza’s shoulder and noticed that he was crying.
“Boza. What’s wrong?” he asked again.
Boza still didn’t answer and he started sobbing slowly and lightly. Bampe then picked Boza’s phone up. He wanted to see why Boza had suddenly broken down after reading his messages. Had anyone dear to him died? He tried to access the phone but Boza had put in a new security pin. He tried putting the old one he had known but it couldn’t work. As he was going to ask him to put in his security pin, then his mother called.
“Here it’s your mother” Bampe gave the phone to Boza.
Boza first hesitated to pick the phone. At this time Bampe was thinking maybe she was gonna repeat the bad news that Boza had just read. He thought of answering the call, but before he could, Boza picked the phone. He answered sounding very demoralized. He kept quiet for a moment as he listened to his mother speak on the phone. And then he said,
“Mom, he is my best friend. We have gone through a lot together. How can I just give him up like that? What if it were me, your son, would you do it?” Boza was sounding angry and sneezy. Bampe immediately understood that things were getting harder and harder for him by the second. He stood up and peeped through the window curtains, only to see Mrs. Baru in her car outside the house. He turned and signed to Boza that she was outside. Boza switched off the phone and came to the window. He confirmed that his mother was outside. He got even angrier and stormed out of the bedroom. Next Bampe saw him was him approaching his mother’s car. Bampe could see him swinging his arms in the air, moving his head sideways and crossing his arms on his head. He couldn’t hear the sound but he understood that Mrs. Baru knew that he was in the house and wanted him out. Boza stormed away from his mother and entered the house. At this time, Bampe saw a pickup truck park behind Mrs. Baru’s car. He was still in Boza’s bedroom, peeping through the curtains.
When Boza entered the house and shut the door behind him, he peeped through the living room window to see if his mother was leaving. He was however surprised to see a police truck was parked behind her car and policemen was alighting.
You see Boza’s mother had told him to report Bampe to the authorities and deny ever knowing his ways. Boza had told her he had not known his ways and still wouldn’t give him up. His mother had threatened to evict him out of her house and he had not bulged. She had even threatened to report both of them as gay and Boza had not listened. She had reminded him of when she had walked in on them sleeping and used that as her reference. Bampe had again explained now nothing had happened and how he never knew about Bampe. He had only believed that his mother was educated enough to understand real social issues and to make the right decisions. But he had been wrong. You see Mrs. Baru had known about Bampe whereabouts from Kangye. The moment Kangye had reached at her house, she had thought about Boza and Bampe and on her own, had come to a conclusion that the two were lovers, at least according to what she had seen. She had called Mrs. Baru and told her how she couldn’t see a future with Boza as he seemed too invested in Bampe. This had made Mrs. Baru get a sleepless night. She had tried calling Boza but he had not picked his phone as he had left it in a room overnight. She had then thought of a plan to send the police to his home but she never wanted her son to be involved in such a “scandal” before she had given him a chance to get himself out first. When Boza had hangup the phone on her after refusing to give his friend up, she had quickly called the nearby police. The officers at the police had known her for some time and she had called them often about the security matters of Bachelors Lane and her, Boza’s house. Being on her payroll, it didn’t take them long to arrive.