In American football, during the dying seconds of the game, a long throw is usually made by the quarterback of a losing team to the end zone. It is often a last-minute attempt at getting a seemingly impossible victory. Chances of success are extremely slim. The pass is called the Hail Mary.
The name originated from a game on December 28, 1975, between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings. Quarterback Roger Staubach managed to successfully complete a pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson and thus, against all odds, helped his team win the game. After the game, a reporter asked him how he did it and what was going through his mind at the time? He said that he just threw the ball, closed his eyes and said the Hail Mary. The reporter coined the term the following day in the newspaper article, and it has stuck since then.
After several hours in the operating room, Maya gave birth to our baby girl. She was born twelve weeks before time and was incubated immediately.
Due to her diabetes, Maya’s condition was worryingly unstable. Her blood pressure was also high. The doctors were doing all they could.
That was dawn, 1st February.
Meanwhile, I was still in custody of the CID.
I got the news early Monday morning.
I’ve heard that a man is allowed to cry only on two occasions: the birth of his (first) child and the death of a loved one.
I broke down in tears in my little cubicle. Bitter-sweet moment.
I just wished I were at the hospital next to Maya and our new-born child. We hadn’t settled on a name yet. We had a few in mind but couldn’t quite agree on one. From tradition we’d have named her after my mother. But we both agreed that the name was quite a mouthful and pronouncing it was a serious task even for a serious tribesman. No need to burden this little one from the onset.
At around noon, reporters flocked the CID press hall. A large boardroom with a huge mahogany table that goes round the room. The spokesperson is at the head of the table with countless mics just below his neck. Several other officers are with him on both sides.
An oversized portrait of the president hangs over the wall behind them. He’s smiling. Their director’s photo is next to his excellency’s. His poker-faced stare could make a baby cry.
Cameras are mounted on the other end of the room just opposite the spokesman.
He’s ready for the show and appears comfortable with the media attention. Something about his posture tells you he’s not only used to it, but he also enjoys it. The same couldn’t be said of his counterparts. They seemed nervous and out of place. Like they’d just been whisked from their offices and told to fill in the background. To show the might behind the agency.
The press co is brief and to the point. Only few follow up questions were permitted, and they were all met with the same response: ‘that is currently being investigated and we shall divulge more details in due course.’
Despite the hype, it all ended within a mere half hour. Honestly, the press was much better off without it to begin with. The officers just shared what everyone else had read in the papers. It was just like some other item on their to-do list that needed to be crossed.
The governor, who’d accompanied the president on a tour of the United Kingdom, was on a KQ flight back. He’d cut his trip short. His arrival would be documented by reporters stationed at the international arrivals terminal of JKIA.
The family would wait till he arrived and then they’d issue a statement.
This press conference was far different from the earlier one that day.
A family rep read the statement. Family members were bundled behind him. Sobs could be heard from a few women.
They vowed to get justice for their slain girl through whatever means. Threatening as this sounded, I understood the anger they harboured. Losing a loved one under such heinous circumstances can do that to even the strongest and most forgiving of people. As the only (and key) suspect, the statement seemed directed at me, their guy. After all, the police had got the animal responsible.
I watched the two press briefings earlier on when Odour passed by. Now, I was all alone in my cubicle. Thinking of all the choices I’d made in life – good and the not so good to the downright stupid. “You’re the living embodiment of the sum total of your thoughts.” The saying from some book I read keeps haunting me. I think of how my choices have affected those around me.
My mother was still in ICU. Maya as well. My new-born’s life was hanging on a thread. My freedom was under serious threat.
I weep some more.
For the first time in a while, I knelt down, did the sign of the cross, and said a prayer. Desperate times.
“God, please protect my wife and child. Deliver my mother as well. I’m also asking that you please take this case away from me because you know I’m innocent.”
I closed with the Hail Mary!