Chapter 67: Big boys don’t cry.
The Police officer asked how i came to France. I explained that when my visa expired in Germany, they told me to leave their country. As a result, i had come to France to get a permit and work since i heard that the French were good people.
When they finished with me, they started with Nonso. He said he had lived for more than one year in Paris and had gotten a permit five months earlier. His permit had expired for over two months and that he was still processing a new one. They asked for the expired permit and he gave them. The Police officer called foreign office and asked them to verify the number on Nonso’s card. The foreign office later called back and told the Police what i didn’t know. However, they cuffed Nonso and told him that he was told to leave French territory. One Police officer called some other Police men who came and took Nonso away.
When They left with Nonso, the Police officer whose name was M. Dubery, told me that i have until the next day to report to the foreign office for appointment or leave France. He gave me my passport back with the appointment letter and to my greatest surprise, he wished me goodluck on the interview.
As soon as i left the Police station, i took a taxi straight to Antony, the area where the foreign office was located. It was past the mid day but i figured they could still be working at the office. When i got to the foreign office, there were still people who came for interview. They told me that i needed to come as early as 6:00 to pick up a number which would allow me to be interviewed. They were right but since i wasn’t doing any other thing that day, i decided to stick around. People were being interviewed, some were given permits while some were denied. Each of the people who were denied were whisked away by some standby Immigration Police. Right there at the office, i considered whether to just walk away and forget about the permit. I could go back to Germany and retake my asylum status. They will naturally demand to know where i had been since 2005 but what i would tell them wasn’t the issue. The issue however was that i jumped a court date and disappeared. I was required to stay away from Germany for eight years before my case could be deleted from their database. On a second thought, i decided to stay and take my interview; the worst the French police could do was to take me back to Germany after finger printing me. All the available options were better than staying in Europe without a valid travel documents. Besides there was a German Visa in my passport.
I waited at the foreign office until 15:30 when the last person with a paper ticket was interviewed. The interviewer had come out to the waiting hall and asked what i was doing there alone. I explained to her what happened at the police station in the morning.
I told her that it was the St. Lazare police officers that got my appointment letter for me from a criminal after two weeks of its posting. As usual, i had started crying; i wanted to arouse pity. It had worked at the police station and the way the lady interviewer was looking at me, i was sure my tears was going to work wonders.
God bless the French Woman, because she took my hand and took me back to the office. She even gave me a cup of coffee which I accepted without thinking twice. She asked how i came to Europe and i told her that I used Lufthansa aircraft. She asked for my passport and i gave it to her. After checking on the expired Visa, she asked where i lived in Paris. I told her that it was at an abandoned house in a slum in Bobigny east of Paris Central. She asked for the address where i would be getting subsequent letters. I told her that i was going to find an apartment as soon as i have a permit since the French law said that one couldn’t do that without a permit.
She held my passport and keyed the data inside her computer, then after some minutes she went inside a small office behind her desk. Some more minutes later, she returned and gave me the passport with a three months resident permit.
I was naturally happy as i thanked her and nearly hugged her.
“Please give me your phone number so that i can tell you when i found an apartment” i said, knowing that she was not going to do that. It was good that i played my fools card once more.
“Don’t worry, when you have the address, bring it here and i will change it. I used the address you used while applying. That is the address you have now until you get a new one” she said. I thanked her once more and left.
Right inside the train, i called Esther, she didn’t answer. I tried two more times and she didn’t answer, i became alerted. Something must have happened. She must have heard the ringing tone if she was inside the hotel. There were three or four possible scenarios at that moment. One was that she was on the bathroom, two was that she decided to run back to Franca; the third was that she was sleeping but if she was sleeping, the ringing tone could have woken her up. If she was in the bathroom, she must have heard the ringing phone and would return the call when she finished; i already opened her phone. If she ran away, i would be in a serious danger since i would still need to go and get my bag in the hotel. The final possibility was that she was dead. Don’t laugh here, death is a possibility. Death could occur in a second especially when one had the fear that some deity somewhere was after him or her. Despite everything i said about Olokun and other voodoo, the truth was that i only just decided not to fear them. Whether they had powers or not wasn’t the issue; i didn’t know. The point was that i refused to be scared of anything i cannot see or avoid.
Whatever the problem was, i needed to be very careful on how and when i approached the hotel. I dialed her number after twenty minutes and she didn’t answer; too bad.
It was time for celebrations and she was the closest thing I had then as a friend, every other person I knew in Paris was an enemy. It would have been Nonso Ukeh but she touched the tail of the tiger and the result was the Police net.
If she was dead in the hotel room, it was still a problem for me but since i already obtained a permit, it would be a small problem. I could send her corpse to Nigeria if the need arose. I had money with me;
I was Ozoigbondu 1 of Berlin;
Ikuku Ama na Onya 1 of Paris.