“Objection, my lord! He is badgering the witness,” a voice well known to the defendant and I barked with feigned exasperation as if he had been waiting for the prosecution to do so.
If that’s what it was like to badger someone, I think the joke was on me, the witness, whose day started with the intense battle of wits between two lawyers, the two ends of a parallel line. According to my father, no one in my family has witnessed any courtroom drama, where the will to prove the innocence of the guilty, and proving that the innocent isn’t guilty, are in conflict like the fact in issue. That fact alone threw my conscience off balance.
Some things end as soon as they begin. The judge confirmed this when he overruled the objection earlier made. The prosecution was like, “Mr David, it takes approximately 60 seconds to run from where you where to where the deceased was. But you ran for about 10 minutes to the mother of the deceased, to save her dying child. How do you explain this?
How do I explain this when the old man defending my brother told me to resist the urge to shalaye? This short moment of hesitation reminded me of my first meeting with the defense counsel. “You are the brother of the accused who witnessed what happened, right?” he said, welcoming me with those words as if they were a form of greeting. “Do you want to save his life?” he continued without break, nor did he care for a response. What an amazing character, I thought.
He mentioned something about self defense, and a few law jargons that sounded as if he was speaking in tongues. He even said that as a Christian, a white lie is lying to save the lives of others. Indeed with his level of understanding, I thought he must be an elder in his church. It was this unity in reasoning that made up my mind. The choice to betray my conscience to keep my loved one’s kiss. “But what would have happened if Timothy didn’t throw that punch?” I muttered to no one in particular.
Timothy was a friend of my brother who was suffering from epilepsy. Though his mind was pure like the colour of the foam that came out of his mouth, it couldn’t purify his stigmatized self. Being depressed and aggressive were not surprisingly part of him. He was the vivid description of my elder brother, despite the fact that brother Dare isn’t epileptic.
The dawn of that Saturday slowly passed without saying good morning. We were playing our customary middle man, when Timothy who was in the middle collided with my brother. The collision wasn’t fatal enough to cause any misunderstanding until Timothy rough tackled him again. Brother Dare given his nature, ranted the way guys rant, and told him he can make him foam by kicking him hard—in Yoruba our native language.
What followed was a swift punch. Honestly, I would have done the same if I were him. The punch Timothy threw led to an unbreakable fight between the two. I was trying hard to intervene when my brother broke free, picked a 2 by 6 and knocked him out with it. He slumped, and at first, we thought it was an attack, so we simultaneously ran to his mother’s place to inform her, but that wasn’t the case.
Fast forward to the present day, my brother was indicted for manslaughter, and I was asked to testify.
“Mr David, why did you, alongside your brother, abandon the deceased?” The words of the prosecution interrupted what I call my thoughts and made me think he needed hearing aids. Few minutes ago he said I ran to his mother, now he was saying that I abandoned the deceased.
“I thought it was an attack,” I replied and faced him with the sincerity left in my eyes. “Sir, if you were in my position,” I continued, “what would you do?”