He woke up with a gasp. Face looking up. A long blue fluorescent bulb in a creamed white ceiling flashed on top. He squinted and grimaced at the light, raised his hand to block his face but his hand ended on his belly with a clank. He was handcuffed to the frame of this bed. He moved the other hand and found it was not cuffed. Rashid sat upright against the big white pillow. A white guy in a white cloak was writing something on a file next to the bed.
“Where am I?” Rashid asked. “Niki…Nikiwe…”
“Rashid Ali. You are awake,” said the white man. ” I’m Dr. Holster.”
“Where am I?” Rashid glared at everything around his new surrounding. A hospital ward. “Where the fuck am I?”
“Try to remain calm, please,” said the doctor.
“I said where am I? What is this?”
“You’ll hurt yourself,” Dr. Holster reached both his hands.
“Don’t touch me!”
“Alright, alright,” he stepped backwards. “You don’t remember anything, do you?” He asked.
Seconds of silence lapsed, the doctor took Rashid’s lack of response as an agreement to his question. Rashid’s breaths were a lot hasty than normal, his face wet with sweat, he couldn’t stop looking around at other beds and patients. As though unable to withstand what he saw all around him, Rashid dropped his head to his palm.
“You’ve been here for a couple of weeks. Three weeks actually,” the doctor said. Rashid upped his gaze at him.
“Yes,” Dr. Holster nodded. “Attempted suicide.”
“Attempted…what…what are you talking about?”
“You’ve been charged with first degree murder of Nikiwe Ali, your wife.”
Rashid’s mouth quivered, he had difficulty letting out any words, or any sound at all. Dr. Holster thought there was something in his eye the way he was blinking. And every time he blinked it’s like his eyes kept growing.
“There…there…there,” he was running out of breath now. The doctor had to lay a hand on his shoulder.
“Take it easy. Take it easy.”
“There was a man. A burglar.”
“I’m afraid there was no burglar, Mr. Ali,” the doctor told him. “There wasn’t any man except you. I better call Sargent Riley later on, let him know you are awake.”
“Wait, doc. I don’t…I don’t understand.”
Doctor Holster took a long breath and made a smile which conveyed nothing bright or joyful, more like pity. “Of course you wouldn’t understand,” he said, pulling off his glasses.
“Your suicide attempt isn’t the only reason why you are here. We’ve checked your medical background and we understand you’ve had…what shall I call it? Mental issues in the past. This is an asylum.”
“Asylum?” Rashid repeated the word like it’s foreign. “Look, you gotta hear me out, doc. There was a guy who…”
“There was no guy, I already told you that,” said Holster as he pulled another deep breath. “I’m not quite sure if I’m authorised to inform you of this, you are bound to know anyway. According to the police report and charges against you is that…” Holster paused to look around if there wasn’t any extra ear. “…you’ve always been abusive towards your wife, Niki. You hit her constantly but that night…that night was different. You went too far. She couldn’t come back. She couldn’t get up anymore. That’s what killed her. You killed her, with your own hands.”
“No, no, stop,” Rashid screamed while shaking his head.
“The next day her friend came over to see why she didn’t show up for work. She’s the one who found her on your kitchen floor. Autopsy results on her facial bruises reveal your hand and finger prints.”
“But there was a man, I swear,” Rashid cried out, producing a rain of tears.
“Let me finish. It’s also in the report that witnesses saw you running out of the house that night, yelling and screaming.”
“That’s because I was chasing someone,” cried out Rashid again.
“There was no ‘someone’. You were rumning on your own”, now Dr. Holster is convinced of this guy’s madness. He continues: ” like I said, the prints on Nikiwe match your hands and fingers. The shoe prints on her night gown and skin show that she was stomped with your sneakers. Now you wanna tell me that someone else was wearing your sneakers?”
Rashid couldn’t argue anymore.
Dr. Holster went on to tell him that there are other witnesses from that night; the Molapo family. “You were at their back wall and you woke them up at the middle of the night. They saw you shoot yourself twice,” Holster said. “They only saw you, Mr. Ali. Nobody else but you.”
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