Michael sat down on his bed in the cell, put his face in his palms and stooped down. His heart was filled with all sorts of emotions: fear, anger, frustration and pain. He kept quiet and put his hands in his pocket. He felt something like a piece of paper. When he brought it out of his pocket, he realized it was the little leaflet that the young lady had given to him that read: GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOU. He went through the pamphlet, and the first words on the first paragraph read: “Are you struggling with your life? Are you trying to understand why certain things are happening to you? Are you asking yourself what the future holds for you? I have good news for you. GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOU: Good plans and not evil plans: Jeremiah 29:11. Michael became even more frustrated. “So this is God’s plan hun? To be accused of something I did not do and be put in prison?” He said to himself. He took the leaflet and threw it in the corner of the cell with so much anger. His cell mates were both looking at him. He looked back at them and asked “How long have you guys been here?
Both of them said they had been brought in the same day, about 7 days ago. They explained that they were waiting to be transferred to the main prison in the outskirts of the City. “I am really sorry that I have not even asked your names. Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Michael”
One said his name was Lucas while the other man’s name was Gregory. Lucas was a young, short guy. He seemed to be in his early thirties while Gregory looked older, probably in his late forties.
Michael: Please don’t mind my curiosity. What did you guys do to be here?
Lucas: Well, I got into a fight with one of my co-sellers in the market. He was trying to prove to be smarter than me but I taught him a lesson. I hit him hard with my fists, broke his bloody nose and destroyed half of his goods. He’ll never try me again
Michael: You mean to say that you don’t regret what you did? After all, you are the one that is paying for the consequences, and not him.
Lucas: I don’t regret anything man. Some people deserve to be taught a lesson in life. Nobody messes with me and goes free. This is my third time of being in prison. I have served for 6 months, 1 year and this time around, I guess I might be given more. But I am a survivor. I always come back stronger
Michael: Don’t you have parents or a girlfriend, or just anyone that you love. I ask because, maybe you could think of those people before committing crime. Would you like to see them suffer?
Lucas: I lost my parents when I was 5. I started living with an animal called my uncle. He and his wife treated me like a dog man! I was an outcast. I was subject to beatings every evening. I was rarely given food. At the age of 17, I quit school and ran away from these animals. I joined a group of boys who were doing car wash, and then I later became a bus conductor. Street life teaches you to defend yourself. You can’t imagine how many people’s noses I have broken man. I am a hardcore Street Fighter. When you go to the main market in town, just ask for Van Damme, everyone knows me.
Michael couldn’t believe his ears. He wanted to ask so many questions but he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the answers. He turned to Gregory, who was busy laughing when Lucas was speaking and said “What about you Gregory, what brought you here?
Gregory: Oh it’s a long story my friend. My wife had been cheating on me with a rich man. I had been hearing the rumors, but I never believed it. Until last week when I caught them red handed in a hotel. She thought I had gone for work, but I was hanging around. I hit both of them so hard that the guy lost 3 of his front teeth and my wife had bruises everywhere.
Michael: And the man? Has he been charged for adultery?
Gregory: Ah! The guy is rich. The police didn’t even listen to my own version of the story. And you Michael, what did you do? You seem to be a very clean guy, like all these rich men’s son. What makes you to be among criminals like Lucas and I
Michael: Oh no, don’t say that. You are not criminals. I think you are just victims of circvmstances. I work as an Accountant and I have been accused of stealing Company money
Lucas: Hahaha. Don’t say you have been accused. Just say you ate the money. Money is sweet my brother and it is also a demon. Once you fall for it, it will devour you like a mad hyena.
Michael: No, I actually I did not do it. I believe I am being set up by someone.
Lucas: Ah! You see why I go around beating people? It’s because you can never trust anyone in this life. Listen man, I know very soon you will be out because you are rich. When you come out, just help me to be bailed out. I promise I will help you beat up and wound the person that has done this to you.
Gregory: I am sorry to hear that. We hope that our freedom will not be taken away from us for a very long time. I miss my children. I have a boy and a girl. I know the mother might have told them all manner of things about me.
Michael’s heart bled when he listened to all this.
Michael’s father decided to go and see the CEO of the Company. He arrived at the main entrance and was received by James who took him to the CEO’s Office
CEO: Hey! Old bull, it’s good to see you. How are you doing?
Michael’s father: I am doing fine Boss. How are you and your family?
CEO: We are all fine, by God’s grace. How can I help you?
Michael’s father: I am sure you know why I am here Collins. I have been so distressed by the issue of my son. You and I both know that he is not capable of doing anything like this. I worked for this Company for 25 whole years. You and I have known each other for so long. Please help my son to get out of prison. I am ready to even pay back the whole amount if he can only have his freedom, even though I know he is innocent
CEO: Old Bull, I really wish I could help you. This whole thing has also brought a lot of pain to me. I trust Michael. Just a few days back, he was given an award for being one of the best employees that this Company has. But my hands are tied. This matter is now in the hands of the law and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. The only thing we can do now is to pray that God vindicates him.
After discussing with the CEO, Michael’s father walked out of the office looking so sad. He wondered what to do next.
The trial went on for almost three months. James and Judith had been visiting Michael every week to comfort him and gave him hope that he would soon be out. Investigations were being carried out and Michael’s lawyer was doing everything possible to prove to the Judge that the evidence provided was not enough to prosecute him.
Finally, it was the last day of the trial. Michael’s parents, colleagues, Judith and James were all in the courtroom. Michael was brought by a police officer, handcuffed. His mother and Judith cried when they saw him. He had lost so much weight and looked extremely tired. They put him in the dock and when he saw his friends and parents, he smiled to them.
The hearing went on for almost 4 hours. The Judge finally asked everyone to arise
Judge: Court rise! After examining all evidence provided by both parties, the jury has finally come to a conclusion on the matter. Thee jury has found the accused, Mr. Michael Kella, guilty of all charges. As a result, you have been sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for the charge of embezzling Company funds worth 35,000 Dollars. You have also been forbidden to practice the work of an Accountant for at least 3 years after your sentence. You will need to reimburse the entire amount without interest. Court dismissed!
Michael’s mother fainted. Police Officers in the courtroom rushed to attend to her. Michael’s dad put his hands around his waist. He was confused and did not know what to do. Judith fell down and wept bitterly. James comforted her. Michael kept starring at one spot. Tears were flowing from his eyes. The Police Officer came up to him and asked him to move out as they took him out of the courtroom. His father ran to him and hugged him. His mother, who was just waking up, cried like a little girl. Michael asked the police Officer to just allow him comfort her. He bent down to where she was lying and hugged her. “Keep praying for me mom. I need your prayers” he said. His mother had no strength in her to speak any word. Judith went to him and hugged him so strongly. She cried and didn’t want to let him go. “I love you Judith” Michael said. James was watching and trying to be strong. He nodded his head to him to show sympathy. Michael was finally made to leave the courtroom. He was transferred to the main Prison in the outskirts of town.
The first two months were very tough for Michael. The environment was very hostile and he was constantly sick. He had met his old cell mates Gregory and Lucas with whom he would discuss from time to time. His parents, Judith and James were always visiting. Whenever his sister, Lorena was back from boarding school, she also visited. One day, Judith visited him.
Michael: Hi baby. How are you doing?
Judith: I am trying my best. It’s not easy, believe me, but I am trying. You have been condemned to 5 years. Where does this leave us? How will I cope, waiting for you for all these years?
Michael: I understand. I spoke to my lawyer the other day and he told me that dad has asked him to try his best to get me out on bail. Please just hang on a while. I believe I will soon be out. I am innocent.
Judith: I pray it happens soon enough because I can’t take the mockery from my friends and family anymore. I have a life to live too
Michael kept quiet for a while.
Michael: I am sorry that you have to go through all this. I wish you had not known me. You don’t deserve all this.
Judith: I need to go now. I have things to do in town
Judith left so cold heartedly. Michael felt bad. He walked back to the prison ward slowly.
“So you actually thought a beautiful girl like that one could wait for you for 5 whole years! Michael you need to grow up man! I am sure she has already removed you from her plans” Lucas said, when Michael explained to them.
“I had done so much for this girl. I have not even spent 3 months in prison and she is already backing off. I thought she could stay with me a little longer. But anyway, I guess I am being selfish. I can’t ask someone to wait for 5 years, especially that she is a lady. Michael said
James called Judith and told her he had an important message for her. She hesitated at first because she thought he wanted to plead for Michael. After being fully convinced, she decided to meet him. They both met in a nice public garden.
James: Judy! Always looking beautiful. What is your secret?
Judith: Oh nothing much. I just try to take a day at a time. So what’s up? I hope there is no problem
James: Not really. I have been feeling very guilty of something I should have told you a long time ago. I feel that as a friend I need to be open to you. I didn’t know how you would take it, that is why I have kept quiet all along, but now my conscience is killing me.
Judith: James, please go straight to the point. You are scaring me.
James: I have known Michael for more than 20 years. I know his secrets, his weaknesses and strengths. Michael has a weakness for money. Even as teenagers, he used to steal from our friends but I used to cover him up. I knew he was stealing from the Company because all of a sudden, he was having a lot of money. Where do you think he got money to buy you a car? Or even the money he gave you for your business? Just take a look at the car he drives. Michael is not the guy many people think he is. I am the only one that can tell you the truth about him. He looks innocent, but his heart is as dark as the night. But now, I think the truth has caught up with him. Nothing is hidden under the sun.
Judith looked perplexed. She did not know what to think again. She was quiet, trying to digest all that James had said.
James held Judith’s hands across the table and said gently “Judith, I was the first person to fall in love with you. But Michael brushed me off. I have fought with him many times because of the evil things he said about you. Things like “You are just a sl**t and all manner of things. He was using his money to control you. I kept praying for you that one day you would discover the real man behind the mask.
Judith broke down and cried “Why me? He should have left me alone” she said
“Well, you need to thank God that you didn’t end up marrying a thief and criminal” James said as he stood up to hug her.
To be continued