So I haven’t written much lately. I’m going through a phase. Work doesn’t seem to make sense any more, and I’m bored out of my mind. Considering I spend a good percentage of time at work, that’s trickled into my life; and my writing. Everything gets me riled up. Even simple things. Like why is the mouse cursor on the screen an arrow pointed slightly to the left? Why? Why not the right? Or in a vertical position? See what I mean?
I have a demanding job. Very high pressure, with tight deadlines and shifting goals. It’s as amazing as licking a cheese grater. (Please don’t try lick a cheese grater). Maybe the pressure is getting to me or maybe it’s mid career crisis or it’s my A.D.D. kicking in. I have the attention span of a child goldfish.
So today, as if I didn’t have enough pressure in my calabash, I get summoned to court. No, I didn’t commit any crime. Not yet at least. I went to court on behalf of my employer. As an expert witness for my employer in a long running fraud case. I mean this case has been going on so long, there have been two presidents in Kenya and 651 corruption cases since it began. In that time Donald Trump has gone from billionaire, to reality TV show celebrity, to vilified politician, to maybe loved politician, to ‘how-did-this-guy-get-the-nomination?’. I think you get the point.
Now, I’m a lover of court room dramas, movies and books. Legal dramatization enthralls me. This was the first time I was attending court as a witness. An expert witness no less. I was going to take the stand and undergo cross examination. To the uninitiated, that’s when the other lawyer, who’s not your lawyer, asks you questions. Not me analyzing the fine details of a crucifix.
All the courtroom drama scenes played in my head as I headed to the court house. In the cab on the way to Milimani Courts I went through my witness statement. I practiced my expert witness face, and voice. I asked the cab driver if I looked like a serious witness, even though I didn’t’ have a tie on.
Mkubwa, wewe unakaa wakili. Ata nilifikiri unaenda interview ya Chief Justice
We both laughed.
Maybe it was sarcasm on his part, but you’ve got to love cab drivers and their ability to make you feel good.
I got to the court house and met up with my lawyer. We’d just talked via phone and email but had never met. He looked very lawyer like. Designer spectacles, custom fit suit with tonnes of luo-ness oozing from every perceivable pore. He had that academic smirk too to crown the look. He was the master, I was too do as he said.
We had a walking meeting. Like in the movies. He briefed me on the case as we walked along the corridors of justice. The actual corridors of justice. Literally. I nodded and tried to match my step to his as he mentioned words like ‘witness statements’, ‘evidence’ and ‘jurisprudence’. We walked. I nodded. And walked.
The court room looked like a cross between an Ally McBeal set and Vioja Mahakamani. Modern, but with large, manila file, sisal bound court documents on the court clerk’s table. The defendants and their lawyer were present already. I was nervous. My lawyer told me to relax and explained what would happen. I’d be called to the witness stand. Which is a stand. There’s no seat like in the movies. Maybe the seats are for American courts. No wonder they have an obesity problem. The clerk and judge were yet to appear. So I sat on the hard wooden bench and waited. Those benches reminded me of my grand father’s church in Seme. I could almost hear those high pitched, off key old women singing Tukutendereza.
All of a sudden everyone stood up. The judge, Her Majesty, had entered the court. This was really happening. We sat down and my lawyer cleared his throat and spoke.
If it would please the court, I would like to present our first witness to this case.
The pressure. What if the court was not pleased? I started to choke as I headed to the witness booth. This was my moment. Expert witness. I better not mess this one up. There’s too much at stake. If I say the wrong thing, or contradict my witness statement, the organization I’m representing could lose money and I’d be a failure. I didn’t need this pressure.
The court clerk came up to me and asked me which religious book I’d like to swear on. I forgot my religion.
Bible? , he asked
Yeah. Sure. I responded.
Repeat after me. I..
State your name
I mean, say your actual name
I was off to a bad start. After being sworn in. It began. The torture. Cross examination sucks. All my watching of Suits had not prepared me for this. It’s like being caught cheating by your wife and you’re defending yourself. It’s very nerve racking. I don’t like that lawyer. I mean she was pretty, and had these perfect eyes. Like orbs. She was evil though. She ripped through every word of my witness statement.
You swore using two names, but your witness statement indicates four names? Are you really who you say you are? Can we rely on your testimony?
And she’d stare at me with those orb like eyes. Into my soul. I wasn’t sure of anything anymore.
Yes. I think those are my names.
I responded shakily, my sweaty palms forming hand prints on that old, hard wood witness dock table. Just like that, I’d joined that group of guys who say, ‘My names are...’
Question after question. She hammered away at my witness testimony. Like a woodpecker. Chip. Chip. Chip. I hated her. I felt the blood boiling within me. The anger festering from within my rib cage. Is this how Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men felt? I went into the zone. She kept hammering away like she was a gold miner in Ikolomani.
Is this statement true? Is it?
I went all Col. Jessep (Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men. Please watch the movie if you haven’t) on her.
You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!
At this point the judge interjected, and everyone, including my prim and proper lawyer was looking at me like I’d lost my marbles.
I took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes.
Is this statement true? Madam evil lawyer repeated
Thankfully, I had blurted out those A Few Good Men words in my head and not to the court.
Yes. The statement is true. I responded.
No further questions My Lady.
And, just like that, Madam evil lawyer backed down.
Maybe the damage had been done. Who knows. There were other witnesses, who were not available. So the case was adjourned until next year for mention of a commencement date.
I went back to my tongue grating job, with still a lot to figure out about the rest of my life. One thing I knew for sure, if I ever meet that lawyer girl in a club, I’m definitely not buying her a drink.