Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Lock (03/06/06)
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan
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The case was closed today. The jury found me guilty; life without parole. I experienced a whole new set of feelings; fear, anger, self loathing.
The wife of the CEO of the company I worked for had accused me of sexual molestation. My boss, I learnt, had links to the presidency, so the court case had been nothing but a farce. I had already been sentenced, with or without trial.
“He deserves it,” I heard a woman say as I was led, hands bound, out of the courtroom, “he was a common laborer before that kind man appointed him his company manager. Is this how to repay kindness?”
I wanted to scream my innocence again and again. She was the one who had sexually molested me. I had kept faithful to my boss. I had declined her offers of a private jet, a condo in the Bahamas, and a lifetime of undiluted luxury.
But to what avail? Where was God hiding His face at this time? Where had He been when my stepbrothers cut me off from my father and stripped me of my inheritance?
Where was He?
“I’m with you till the end of the world.” I heard the voice so clearly I knew I wasn’t hallucinating. But it wasn’t the warder that spoke to me.
“God is faithful no matter what our situation tells us.” I remembered one of the numerous lessons I had learnt at my father’s feet, “He doesn’t desert us, Joe. At your darkest hour, you must believe He is with you. You must, do you hear me?”
I have resolved to be the most cheerful prisoner ever alive. God is here with me even when I cannot feel Him. Oh, I almost forgot. The chief warder put me in charge of the other inmates today. I was so so surprised. I am to be responsible for the other guys and relate their problems and complaints to the warder’s office.
I’m now principal inmate of this kingdom of prisoners. Sometimes I want to feel sorry for myself but I should thank God. I feel alive again; at least I will be kept busy.
They lost their pomposity gradually; the defence minister jailed for financial improprieties and the senator locked up because of his alleged role in the Walter bribery scandal. They’d both been close to the president before falling out of grace. When they first arrived, they expected the rest of us to scrape and bow to them. But they’ve learnt the withering truth. Here, positions do not matter.
We are all prisoners.
“Help me Joe,” the senator came to me one morning, his face a cloud of fear. In the past two weeks, he had lost the seemingly permanent glow to his cheek. He looked haggard and spent. “I had a funny dream about me and the president and I’ve got this nagging feeling it has a serious connotation. You’re a pretty deep guy so maybe you could help me figure out the meaning.”
I shrugged. Perhaps I could help. My dad used to say I had a gift of dream interpretation.
“Let’s step aside while we talk.” I said and it suddenly hit me that had we been free, this guy wouldn’t have come to me for help.
We were still talking when the ex-defence minister walked up to us.
“Hi Joe. I need your help.”
I didn’t know my interpretations could be so accurate. I’m beginning to get scared of myself…but wait, it wasn’t me that gave those interpretations. It was God, who had a purpose for bringing me here.
They reopened the senator’s case and found him not guilty. He’s to be reinstated.
The ex-defence minister? Well, he’s in hot soup. The presidency has exiled him.
Oh dear diary, I implored the senator to plead with the president on my behalf. Told him to ask him to reopen my case. Perhaps I will be free again…
I can only hope.
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