After they left the Editor’s office, Eunice Kokoi and Atanasi Sapat, went to their desks and collected their papers and other materials and headed out of the premises of The Whistle newspaper. As they were conversing, they decided that they would go and meet somewhere in town in a quiet place, re-consider and decide how to go about their assignment. They went off and sat at a bench in the gardens of the Four Star hotel in town away from the other people lounging and loitering around the gardens.
“This is your baby,” Kokoi addressed Sapat as they settled in their seat. “You are the one who broke and reported the story. Where do we start from?” she asked Sapat.
“Don’t fret, Eunice. This is for both of us, didn’t you hear the editor saying that?” the other replied. “But to answer your question, we shall start with you. I mean let’s consider how you will tackle your soldier boyfriend, when you next meet him.”
“He is not my boyfriend,” Kokoi objected. “At least, not yet, if at all. What did you have in mind, anyway?” she was curious to know what Sapat had in mind, as to how their story was going to unfold.
“I believe this assignment has two facets. The first one is the ambush place at the fork of the roads near the river going towards the Northern Province. If we can crack that, then we are on to knowing the identity of the fellows who attacked the convoy of PW. Secondly, where does Col. Chokoler come in?” he asked.
“And this is where you come in, Eunice. Let’s divide this assignment thus. You go to Chokoler; I go to fork of the road and its environs. For all intents and purposes, you are already up to cracking the identity of Chokoler, vide your soldier contact. I propose you continue with that. As for me I am going to scour the countryside for that fellow who was at the sight of the attack collecting firewood, if I can find him. He may have observed something else he had not remembered to tell me earlier. How is that? Sapat concluded.
“Sounds reasonable to me,” Kokoi agreed. “But I do not want the soldier fellow to think that I am on the uptake on him. And I do not want to call him to ask him to take me out to their Mess again, unless he originates the invitation. Besides, maybe the fellow called chokoler does not often go there, anyway,” she replied.
“Forget your sensibilities and demure,” Sapat advised Kokoi. “You are a journalist, not a nun. You go where you news nose leads you to. In any case, you are a woman; and obviously the soldier fellow is on the make, so follow that. Where it takes you personally is your business, but where Chokoler is concerned is the business of the story. You get what I mean,” Sapat informed her.
They continued mulling over the intricacies of their assignment and decided that in the morrow, they would start work in earnest. In actual fact, Kokoi did not really know how to get the soldier, except by calling him on phone. And then what was she to say? That; will you take me for a drink? That seemed base and a cavalier attitude, not in consonance with how she viewed herself as a prude.
But then the start of her journalism career could well depend on how dexterously she handled the soldier in cracking Chokoler. Obviously, there was more to this than what met the eye. She regarded that Sapat was actually on to something; and that it all concerned the affairs of State and how it was run. It was not merely a drink at the Officers Mess, she concluded.
When they parted, Sapat said tomorrow he was headed for the Northern Province. He has considered to hire a self-drive car, but decided against it as it would make him appear as high-class, a situation not befitting an investigative journalist. If it came to that he could hire a car in the local townships, if he could get one. It was probably better to travel by bodaboda motor cycle, when he needed transport dexterity, but for now, he would travel by public means of buses and taxis.
So, Sapat in the morning got up, packed his knapsack with his Olympus recorder, Fuji camera but declined to go with the Acer laptop. He went to the bust terminal where the buses for the Northern Province packed and booked a ticket for himself to a town ten kilometers from the fork of the roads where the attack on the PW’s convoy took place.
He wanted to saunter around the township and look around and pries his ears to the ground and see if he could garner anything from the attack. He was concerned that it was now more than a month since the incident took place; and so the dust would have settled on the matter, as it were, and got erased from the memory and the psyche of the public. But, here, he was wrong!