He was in court every day the matter came up in court since they got to trial stage. His hair was always uncombed and his eyes always vacant. He never talked to anybody but sat quietly through the proceedings. His demeanor was mostly the same every time with the only evidence of emotion being the times when the defendant was brought to court. An acute observer would tell you that the man who sat on the last row of benches to the right of Honorable Justice Okilo’s court at the High Court of Lagos was a disturbed man because he was always deathly still but his eyes held something that could not be accurately described with words. He was never dirty and his shoes were always black and always polished to the point that they gleamed. The only thing that looked out of place was his disheveled hair.
“He comes for the armed robbery matter with those three men and that chief that they claim sent them” Mrs Mohammed the court registrar said one morning as the staff had their usual gossip session over a hot cup of tea and Agege Bread.
“No oh I always see the way his eyes move whenever they bring in that woman that they said was a bank manager at Western Bank and 5Million Naira miraculously grew legs and walked out of Mr. Lawson’s bank account” This was Juwon the court baliff who was the biggest news source for the court room staff.
“Of all the people to even try and defraud in this Nigeria, that woman does not have any sense. The Lawsons are not people to mess with. If she had asked me, I’d have given her advice not to do it”
And just like that, they jumped on the topic of the fraudster, their talk once again leaving the man with the unkempt hair.
That morning, as Otu got ready to go to Lagos Island, he brought out his plaid shirt. It was the light brown one that Ansa had given to him on his first birthday after they had met. He neatly ironed his pair of Jeans and as he did so he remembered how she always teased him for always being so meticulous with his dressing. He stared at the mirror and the man in there was not him. The man inside the mirror was lost but he had to hold firm and be strong. His hair had grown so much in the last 5 years and for a man who was rather thorough it was the only part of his grooming that never got any attention from him.
“For a man who irons his pajamas before wearing them to sleep, don’t you think it’s rather odd that you don’t comb your hair? The least you can do is keep it really short so we know you’re actually normal” He heard her voice in his head so clearly and he remembered her laughter as she had grabbed a comb and run it right through his head.
He looked at his reflection again and thought. “I am lost without her” and opened the closet behind the mirror.
Nobody asks any questions when one looks odd and out of place. They look at you a little bit and quickly avert their eyes for fear of it being deemed to be staring or not minding ones business. So when the man who seats at the back of Justice Okilo’s court room came in that morning wearing a long trench coat, in the hot Lagos heat, nobody stopped to ask him if he was alright. Nobody gave him more than a second glance. He looked crazy already with his shaggy mane. Nobody noticed his vacant eyes grow wide as the judgment was read freeing the man who ran Ansa over and actually tried to run away until he was caught. Nobody knew that as a boy he had played with knives and was a skilled marksman. Nobody noticed when Otu pulled out the knife he had been sharpening every day since she died.
Nobody knew how much he had loved Ansa.
Photo Credit: http://callofduty.wikia.com