“Mr. James Magoko, Can you tell the court what happened on the day mentioned in this case?” The lawman said with ease, leaning on the bar where Magoko stood.
“I was coming to work when I found Mwas had already broken into the company premises. He was so angry and did not talk to me” Magoko burst, first with ease then struggling towards the end of his statement.
“Mr. Magoko, what happened when you asked him if he had slept with the client….”
“Your honor,” I interrupted
The court hushed up and everyone stared at me, too surprised that I had spoken. Grace shifted on her seat and Kenja started chewing his gum in slow motion. Omondi’s lawyer was too stunned that he double checked my name secretly, as did Magistrate Munga who probably doubted if it was me who had spoken. He lowered his spectacles at me and the pen he held went to his mouth.
“You will not talk in my court unless your spoken to”, He boomed, and I felt my heart skip a timely beat. I could not be allowed to practice law as a defendant, even if things were going wrong.
“Mr. Magoko, when you told Mr. Mwangi that he was not supposed to be there, how did he respond?” The lawyer pressed.
“He laughed and said that he would kill somebody that day before evening came.” Magoko said with a smolder and his eyes rolled severally from the lawyer to where Omondi sat.
“Then what happened, Mr. Magoko?”
“He went into the office and ambushed Mr. Omondi. I heard a cry for help from the outside, and when I came in, he was over the table strangling Omondi. Omondi could not breathe so I chucked Mwas off him then marched him out of the premises with other co-workers” He narrated how he saved Omondi, and the only true part was tarnished by lies.
“Thank you Mr. Magoko” The lawyer dismissed him and he made to leave the bar, but I spoke.
“I have questions your honor!” I exclaimed, carefree of the previous warnings of not speaking in Magistrate Munga’s court.
The court room did not understand if I was allowed to talk or not, especially Omondi and his lawyer. Immediately I called, the lawyer stopped the shuffling and watched the Magistrate. I locked on the magistrate’s eyes to emphasize legalities, and he sensed that I knew what I was doing. But he was not going to let me examine Magoko as easily as I thought.
“You realize that you are the accused in the court, don’t you Mr. Mwas? If you wanted you’d have elected a lawyer to represent you”, Magistrate Munga warned.
“Your honor, I also happen to be a lawyer by permanent profession and temporarily the accused in the incumbent matter. The cross-examination I will undertake on the witnesses in the stand will prove to be helpful for a free and fair judgment of this case as stipulated by the 3rd Amendment of……which states that……”
“Ask your questions, we don’t have all day!” Magistrate Munga’s voice rang in the room. He was bored; he hated his work or and had already decided upon the case. I got my witness.
“Mr. Magoko, can you, with details, explain to the court how I happened to break into the company premises?” I asked, and from the corner of my eye, I could see Grace smile. Mrs. Ruto was watching Magoko with oblivion, her palm supporting the chin. Gathabai sat confidently with his hands wrapped around his torso. Jaguar sat lopsided over the bench scratching his back busily.
“You entered the compound but you were not allowed to be there on your own because it is a rule that we all agreed upon for safety of the many vehicles present”,
He explained, unsure if I was listening. Magistrate Munga heaved hard and his small body shook. Omondi’s lawyer tapped the papers he held impatiently.
“Spare me the rules, then what happened?” I was enjoying it. Magoko was furious, a streak of hate lighting up on his face. He had not thought that I would be allowed to ask him any lot of questions. As he took occasional delays to choose his words, I seized the chance.
“When you walked on to that bar you swore that you’d tell the truth, only the truth and nothing but the truth?”
Omondi’s lawyer cried objection on grounds that I was intimidating his witness, I offered a rephrase but Magistrate Munga overruled me. He banged the board with such vigor and called for a recess.
My co-workers almost rushed out of the court room in a burst as I walked from the defendant stand towards Grace and others. Blood was still rushing in my veins and my armpits itched from the previous dreadlock with Omondi’s lawyer. I hugged Grace briefly and we watched each other deeply, arm in arms, without smiling or excitement. We magically understood each other.
Gathabai had already stood and I thought he would tear the suit if he straightened it one more time. Mrs. Ruto leaned back on the bench and smiled back at me. Jaguar was whispering something to Kenja, but Kenja was chewing so hard to hear while watching me from across the bench. He raised one leg and settled it on the wall. Koech stood and stretched his arms, and I followed his gaze towards the door.
Then I saw Rende.
He did not vacate the court house with the rest of my co-workers. He leaned on the wall with his eyes locked at me and others in the front bench. He suddenly became alert, though he appeared tired and dreary. I excused myself from the pack and strode towards him.
“Hello, Mzae” I greeted him in slang. He liked the name which was private between him and close friends.
“Hello to you, Kamwana” He replied ostensibly. “I am surprised you know how courts work. I followed how you were handling them. How is that?” He asked me.
“I have basic training in Law”, I answered modestly.