© Aaron Ansah-Agyeman
CENTRAL POLICE STATION
The police station is hot and humid, even that early in the morning.
There are a lot of people milling around, and the noise levels are in decibel regions too high for the ear.
Thankfully, Mr. Darkwa takes Effe from the bustle and hustle of the main office and directs her to an office marked DISTRICT COMMANDER.
The man inside is a uniformed police captain.
He is huge, and has a really big head. He has a florid face and full lips. He gets up and extends his hand.
Joshua Darkwa! You bad old man! It’s been a while!
Joshua laughs and shakes the hand of the police man.
Ei! Papa Commander! Been a while, yes. Up and downs taking over our social lives, right? This is my daughter, Effe Kedem. Effe, this is the best police commander in the whole of Ghana. He’s Allan Davidson, my childhood buddy.
The police man shakes Effe’s hand, looking at her appreciatively.
Of course, of course, I recognise her. The lovely Effe Kedem, Ghana’s top ranking lawyer, so good that even the Attorney General hires her often to handle cases. I hear you’ve never lost a case yet, right? Welcome, madam! Your photos in magazines don’t do you justice. You’re even more beautiful than in those mags!
Effe laughs shyly, and sits on the chair the police man indicates.
He offers them drinks, but they politely refuse.
Joshua goes straight to the point.
It’s about what I called you this morning, Allan. Chris Bawa was arrested yesterday at Effe’s house. You promised to look into it when you get to the office.
(popping a gum into his mouth)
Yes, yes. I did check on it. Apparently they claimed they could not find the cell key. It was quite unfortunate, you see. I ordered them to break in the cell immediately, but then one of the officers showed up, and he claimed the key fell in a crag in the floor or something, and they just managed to bring it out.
So Chris spent the night in a cell?
The police man looks apologetically at her, and it is apparent that he is under a lot of discomfort.
He leans forward earnestly.
That is the case, madam, unfortunately. I must apologize because the boy is straight out of prison, and he claims he wasn’t even served with the restraining order. He knew nothing about it. It’s quite unfortunate, but sometimes these sad things occur.
Effe’s lips tremble. She does not understand why she is so upset.
The fact that Chris had hurt her more than her heart could take still doesn’t make her feel happy that he has spent his first free night after five years in prison locked up again in a cell.
All due to the fact that she had taken a restraining order against him and forgotten all about it.
So where’s he now, Allan? You let him leave?
(shaking his head)
Oh, no. You told me you wanted him to do something for you first, so I let them keep him. I’ll let them bring him in.
He lifts a receiver from a red phone on his desk and dials. He listens for a while, and then commands that Mr. Bawa should be brought in.
Effe looks at Uncle Joshua questioningly, but he is chatting happily with the Commander and so she just waits.
The door opens after a while, and Chris enters.
He is wearing the same clothes he had been wearing the previous day, and he looks dirty, and there is an unsavoury odour around him.
However, looking at him, Effe is once again quite shaken by the sight of him. He has gone to prison five years ago as a fat man.
Not obese, but fat. Chris has always been extremely handsome, but five years of prison has changed him so completely.
The fat is gone, leaving him with a hard muscled frame that has turned him from a fat handsome man into an incredibly toned handsome and sexy man.
Effe does not see the incredible image of a man that her former husband has become.
Her heart simply bleeds at the kind of hard labour he has been forced to go through to change his physique so much.
In her anger and bitterness, in her wrathful fury, she had refused to visit him even once in prison, and she realizes, quite suddenly, that she feels absolute regret for that act now.
She had only been interested in killing him from her life, and the life of her son.
She had only been interested in getting her career back on course, and reshaping the life that his dastardly acts had torn to shreds.
His eyes are cold as he looks at her, and she can feel his fury sizzling in the air.
They all stare at him. His hard eyes settle on the Commander.
Can I go now?
His voice is slow, deep and gentle, just like she remembers it.
She gets to her feet and approaches him. Her eyes look haunted.
You’re free to go, Mr. Bawa. The attorney here has something for you, and after that you’re at liberty to go anywhere you wish.
I’m sorry, Chris. I didn’t know they were going to keep you here overnight.
His hard eyes slam into her, and she is surprised to see they hold as much fury, almost hatred, like she had felt for him the other day.
You didn’t know? Yeah, damn right! Don’t pretend with me, Effe!
What’re you insinuating, Chris? You’re not by any chance trying to say I knew something about this whole thing, are you?
(jaws working angrily)
So why’re you here? What are you doing here if it’s not to see to it that I don’t go anywhere after my release without signing it?
(aghast by the level of his anger)
Sign what, Chris? I decided to come here to see to it that you’re set free! Your son made me promise!
Chris shakes his head at her and walks past her.
She turns dazedly, and that is when she sees for the first time that Uncle Joshua is standing up, and he is holding a shiny folder, and she realizes that it is her divorce documents.
She sighs with abject frustration.
She hadn’t known he was bringing them!
So that is it!
Chris thinks she has made the police detain him overnight to force him to sign the divorce papers.
Listen, Chris, you’ve given me a hell of a time over these papers. For five years I’ve been trying to get you to sign them, and you were downright rude in your refusal. Listen, I’ve run out of patience with you. If you force my hand, I’ll set the full rigours of the law against you, I will-
Cut the drivel, Lawyer! Just show me where to sign.
Joshua stares open-mouthed at Chris.
It is evident he has not been expecting that. Quickly he pulls the sheets out of the folder and quickly opens to a page.
Effe’s signature is on that page, and besides it is the dotted unsigned lines with Chris’ name below.
Joshua hands Chris a pen, and then Effe moves suddenly and lays a hand on Chris’ hand.
She is trembling, and when she looks at him her eyes are filled with a strange emotion.
Chris, this is not why I came here. You must believe me. Much as I want you to sign them, I came here because Junior wanted me to. I didn’t ask them to detain you.
He looks at her, and she sees that there is no longer anger in the depths of his eyes, only a great sadness.
His eyes mirror his horror, his sudden acceptance of the fact that his wife is gone, and that his life as he has known it is gone.
His eyes hold the grim realisation that indeed, his happy life with Effe, and his son, is gone forever.
Quit the hypocrisy, Effe. It doesn’t suit you.
He knocks her hand aside. And turns away from her. He lays the document on the desk.
I don’t want you to sign them here, Chris. Take the document home, read it, and sign. I want you to know that’s not the reason why I came here this morning.
Chris turns to her, and when he looks at her there is no anger or bitterness on his face.
There is no acrimony. It is the face of the young reckless boy she has fallen helplessly in love with.
It is the face of the boy who used to do nothing but stare at her with unbelievable love and adoration on his face.
It is the face of the boy who has walked her home on many occasions, adoring her with his eyes and stripping her with those beautiful eyes.
Take the document home? What home, Effe? What home?
That brings tears to her eyes immediately.
She knows, as she faces him, that indeed he has no home.
He had always said she was his home. His words hurt her, and drives a sudden painful lump in her throat.
Her defences spring up, and she speaks without thinking.
Don’t ask me, Chris! You decided to rape my best friend because evidently I wasn’t enough for you! You made yourself homeless, so please stop putting the blame on me!
He looks down immediately, but not before she sees the abject pain in his eyes, and the glint of tears swimming in those proud eyes.
She knows she has hurt him, and she reaches out, but she draws her hand back again.
He sits down and quickly signs the spaces where Uncle Joshua points out to him.
Effe feels the emotions building up uncontrollably within her.
This is it then, finally. He is signing the divorce papers, cutting off the ties, collapsing the bonds of their marriage.
She had signed her portion with anger and resolute determination five years ago.
But now, watching him, realizing that it is all over between them, she is filled with a pain she has not expected.
She can see that as he signs the final page his hand is shaking, and his jaw is working.
She knows these signs, because she knows him so much.
It tells her that he is greatly in pain, and as he puts the pen down and begins to stand up two drops of tears from his eyes fall down on the divorce papers.
They are like seals. They indicate that finally, the ties are broken.
He turns away from them and throws his head back, evidently trying to stop the tears from falling down his face.
Effe draws both her lips inside and she trembles tremulously as the tears fall down her cheeks unheeded.
Her body shakes. Seeing him in torment still has the ability to bring out the strongest emotions from her.
He turns and heads for the door without a word.
Joshua speaks, and even his voice is unsteady.
Listen, Chris. There’s the question of alimony to address. Effe has always earned more than you, and now it seems you don’t even have gainful employment. Now-
Chris pauses at the door and speaks without turning.
I don’t want anything from her.
He opens the door, and Effe moves forward suddenly and reaches out, touching his arm.
He flinches sharply from her, as if her hands are burning coals, and for a moment as he turns and looks at her she sees a dislike so strong, a hatred so putrid, that for a moment she freezes with complete shock.
(softly, voice unsteady)
I don’t want us to be enemies, Chris, please. You know I tried, and gave you my all, my soul and my very breath. You hurt me as I’ve never been hurt before, and you gave me love as I’ve never been loved before… and you’re the father of my son. I don’t want hatred between us.
Slowly the hatred fades from the depths of his eyes, and what creeps into his eyes is just that hurt again, the little-boy-lost expression she knows so much, and which mostly had been cured, in the past, by holding his hand and leading him to bed, holding him gently and speaking tenderly to him as she made sweet love to him.
My things. My clothes. If they’re still in the house, I’m going to need them.