Babu put a few things in a small over night bag, locked up and joined Commander Ruby and Woolie by the car in the drive-way. They set off immediately with the skilled police driver picking the quickest way to get to the Nakuru highway. Babu was seated at the back with the commander. They would break into conversation for a while before settling back into long periods of silence. Woolie had realised that the police driver seated beside him was a quiet man who much preferred to concentrate on the road ahead than engage in small talk.
The police BMW X5 made light work of the smooth highway, effortlessly chewing up the kilometres. Woolie considered for a moment the irony of the situation. Barely six hours before he had been looking forward to enjoying the breathtaking views of the escarpment and the Great Rift Valley on the way to see Rubina. Now, he stared at the road ahead in silence, totally oblivious to the natural beauty around them. He wondered what awaited them ahead.
love you when you’re right,
love you when you’re wrong,
love you when you’re weak,
love you when you’re strong,
They were met at the hospital by a young nurse who showed them into a waiting room. He left and reappeared several moments later with a young woman who introduced herself as the house officer. She was the doctor who was looking after Rubina. She explained to them that Rubina had regained consciousness briefly. She had appeared to be quite agitated. She was trying to ask the nurse something but the words would not come out. She had suffered some injuries to her throat and was unable to produce any sound. The effort had proved too much and she had slipped back into unconsciousness.
“We have performed a full body scan and we are quite satisfied that there are no serious internal injuries.” continued the doctor. She looked at the commander and said, “If you like, we can now go in and see the patient.”
Nothing had prepared them for for what they saw when they entered the room. Their friend and colleague was wrapped tightly from head to foot in white bandages. Only her eyes were visible through a small slit. She was attached to tubes and wires that were keeping her going. Woolie was to recall later how he had almost fled the room in terror. Retired detective Babu and Commander Ruby both quite familiar with serious injuries, accidents and violent death were also quite shocked.
The nurse told them that all the vital signs were good and they should treat this time as though Rubina was just resting. He said that she had woken again and had tried to ask for someone whose name he did not quite catch.
“Was she asking for Woolie?”, asked the commander. “Or perhaps Babu?”
“Sorry, I don’t know, said the nurse, shaking his head slowly.” But it was not Woolie. It may have been Babu, but I thought it sounded more like Baby, Does she perhaps have a young baby?
“Certainly not!” was Woolie’s sharp reply. “ Where do you get such ideas from? She’s not even married, yet.”
The house officer looked up at Woolie and nodded in understanding.
The nurse said that one of them could sit with Rubina in case she woke but the rest would have to go. Woolie elected to stay so Babu and the commander went out into the bright sunshine. They were met at the entrance by the OCS, Inspector Makrahanish. As the commander made the introductions Makrahanish could not conceal his pure delight at coming face to face with the great retired Detective Inspector. “Honoured to meet you sir.” he said, shaking Babu’s hand.
“My officers are working round the clock to find the perpetrators of this heinous crime. Rest assured that we will catch them in the next few days.”
“Commander Ruby has told me that she is very confident that this will be so.” replied Babu, graciously. “May we see the crime scene?”
They drove the short distance to the scene of the attack in Makrahanish’s car. Babu and Ruby listened intently as the OCS explained how Rubina had been found by a man walking home from the pub.
“He is a well-known local guy and is not a suspect right now as his story checks out.” Makrahanish said, looking at his notebook. The matatu people say the lady alighted at her usual stop by the old church at 8.30 pm. The guy found her lying face down in that thicket there. It was just after 1.30 am. It rained heavily through the night, you see and that is why all this grass around here looks flattened down. Unfortunately we have no footprints and any blood there may have been has been washed away. I understand your colleague lost a lot of blood.”
“One thing bothers me, Babu.” Commander Ruby was gazing out into the distance. She turned to look at Babu. “I have to ask, where is Rubina’s father? Where is Peter Malo, dammit!”
“Let us go down to the farm now.” said Babu. “ Let’s see if we can’t find some answers there.”