‘Good afternoon officer.’
The half-smile on my face as I reluctantly handed out the greeting was just for the sake of politeness, and it was for a good reason. Men of the Nigerian Police Force would probably top the list of my least liked people on any given day, and that list has some very despicable people on it. That this one who stopped me was a woman didn’t do anything to positively affect my perspective, nor was her already bad case helped by the color of her skin, a disgusting shade of reddish-brown, probably brought about by an overuse of cheap bleaching creams and standing for long hours in the blazing Lagos sun.
‘Good afternoon sir,’ she greeted after I’d parked on the shoulder like she directed and wound down. ‘May I have your vehicle particulars please?’
‘At least this one can speak proper English,’ I thought to myself as I bent forward to yank open my pigeonhole and bring out the brown A4 envelope inside which my documents were kept. Confident that everything was in order, I pushed it into her face with barely concealed disdain, wound up and turned my face away.
Next thing I knew, she was knocking on the window, signaling for me to wind it down.
‘What?’ I literally spat, ‘Can I go now?’
‘It’s empty sir,’ she responded, waving the envelope.
‘Empty? What’s empty? What do you mean by that?’
In response, she pushed the envelope in her hands towards me, positioned so I could see it had nothing inside.
‘How….how come?’ I asked, stammering slightly.
Confused, I yanked open the pigeonhole again and rummaged through the odds and ends inside. My heart rate had speeded up, and my brain hummed with the one question that I couldn’t answer.
‘Where the blazes were my car papers?’
Finally, I gave up the fruitless search and turned to her, feeling foolish.
‘But Madam Inspector, I don’t understand. I left all my documents in that envelope. They were right there,’ I croaked, gesturing towards the envelope and the gaping pigeonhole in quick succession. My tone had changed, my new-found humility brought about by circumstances.
‘Of course, you did sir,’ she replied with a caustic nod.
‘Believe me, Madam, I did,’ I continued, almost in tears.
‘I do sir,’ she tossed back. ‘You’ll have to follow us to the station to explain yourself. Please open your door.’
She signaled to the rest of her team standing a couple of feet from us and casually went around the front of my car to the passenger side.
I deactivated the central lock, allowing her to open the door and climb in. She smelled of cheap perfume and stale sweat, and I would have wrinkled my nose at the offensive combination were it not for my current predicament.
Their patrol car appeared out nowhere, passed me, and waited a couple of meters away. Other drivers sped blissfully past us, probably glad that I was the chosen sacrificial lamb, that they were safe from harassment, at least for now.
‘Follow the patrol vehicle, sir,’ she ordered, settling back into the seat and buckling herself in.
At that moment I knew I had to do something fast.
‘Madam Inspector, walahi, I don’t understand how my documents left that envelope, but I can assure you, I have them, all complete. I even have the new tint permit. The vehicle is mine, I swear to God.’
See me trying to infuse some charm into my shaky voice.
‘No problem,’ she said. ‘I believe that the car is yours. Just follow us to the station to prove your ownership and everything will be fine. You can call someone to bring the original documents or copies over to the station, can’t you? It’s just a few streets from here.’
There and then I knew I had to play ball.
Ha, madam. I live alone, and my house far small. Please, what can you do for me? I know you can help. Please.’
She looked me over speculatively for a few seconds as if sizing me up. I don’t know what she saw, but her face softened slightly.
‘Kayode,’ I completed for her, flashing my best smile. ‘My friends call me Kay.’
‘Okay Mister Kayode, you look like a gentleman. Can you identify yourself?’
Grateful for the reprieve, my hands quickly went to the compartment beside my seat where I normally kept my CDs and my office ID and flipped it open. Lo and behold brethren, the devil was working overtime that Saturday afternoon. My ID wasn’t where I expected it to be.
The troubled look on my face told her everything she needed to know, and I could see the steel slowly return to hers.
‘Please drive Mister Kayode,’ she said, winding down the window and signaling for the patrol van to move. Her face was now like concrete.
‘Follow the van, sir. Like I said, our station is not far from here.’Follow me on Social Media: