“WHAT TYPE OF POLICE TROUBLE?” (SHORT STORY)
Ngozi was herding her children towards the church gate when she was accosted by Joyce, the financial secretary for the women’s group.
“Send the children home and join us,” Joyce instructed. “We’re going to visit Rhoda and her husband. And come along with your one thousand Naira contribution for the purse we’ll give them.”
“Rhoda …. What happened? I hope nobody died.”
“No, but they have a big problem.” Uju, Ngozi’s youngest began to tug at her arm. She was probably hungry. So Ngozi gave the house keys to her help, Amara, and told her to take the children home. She would know what to do about food when they get home since Ngozi boiled rice that morning and brought out some stew from the freezer to thaw.
She returned her attention to Joyce who was continuing her mission of stopping the women before they left the church grounds.
“If you cannot come, pay your money. Ngozi, help me to collect.” Many said they couldn’t pay that much at short notice but would stay for the visit. Some gave two hundred or five hundred Naira. Only a few readily gave the stipulated amount.
They carried on for about twenty minutes before a slight drizzle set on and they had to run into the church hall. Joyce began to count the money they got and it occurred to Ngozi that she hadn’t paid. As she opened her bag to fish out her purse, she repeated her inquiry.
“Joyce, you haven’t told me what happened to Rhoda and her husband.”
“My sister, they have a big police case.”
“What type of police case?”
“I don’t know the details yet. But we’re going to see them and then you can hear from the horse’s mouth.”
Joyce had grabbed two other women as they were heading out of the building.
“Please pay up.” They didn’t understand. So she added, “For the visit to Rhoda.” The women nodded and commenced to search for money.
One of them, Mma, complained, “I don’t have enough on me. And my widow’s mite cannot help with that type of police trouble.”
“What type of police trouble?” Ngozi asked.
“He was pirating people’s books and the police got a tip-off. So they came and seized the books in his warehouse. Two of the authors who pushed for the raid are threatening to take him to court,” Mma revealed.
“It’s not possible!” Ngozi exclaimed.
“What is not possible?”
“I mean, it can’t be true. It must be a setup!”
“You know he is a printer. His shop has been sealed because they were caught in the act.”
“Lord, have mercy!”
“And we’re contributing money for them! He should be facing a disciplinary committee. It’s hightime we began to follow the Bible.” Ngozi directed this to Joyce.
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Other women had been attracted to the scene during the exchange with Mma and some of them affirmed that Ngozi was right.
“Even a pagan knows that piracy is stealing,” one of them stated.
“I wonder how we can call ourselves Christians, yet we disobey the word of God and pursue money so dishonestly,” Ngozi continued.
The women who hadn’t paid were now hesitating. Another wondered if she could get a refund as the money she had given was her transport fare.
“Have you seen what you caused? You should be the one facing a disciplinary committee,” Joyce accused Ngozi. Meanwhile, more women were trooping to the scene and those who were there before were apprising them of the matter.
“Does the priest know what he did?” one of the women ventured.
“Maybe your ring leader here should go and tell him,” Joyce offered sarcastically.
“No, you are a leader in the church, you tell him,” Ngozi replied.
“You are quick to throw stones at others as if you’re without sin.”
One woman strongly suggested that they go to see Rhoda since she wasn’t the offender but needed words of encouragement.
“But do we still go with the money?” another asked.
As the women were arguing over this, Joyce rebuked them. “The women’s executive has already decided what should be done. You have no right to question their decision.” Then she turned to Ngozi, who had been waiting for an agreement among the women, “You see the fire you started is burning. Shame on you!”
Ngozi did not respond but as she turned to leave, the assembled women also began to disperse to Joyce’s consternation.
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2016
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