My face is pushed against the side of the van. There are about four Cape Verdean policemen holding me still, muttering excitedly to one another in Creole, while one of them briskly handcuffs my wrists behind my back.
Unintelligible Creole words bounce about in the chilly midnight air around me. A multiplicity of strong hands grip me in different places, rendering me helplessly immobile. I feel the cold unfriendly metal of their handcuffs bite into my wrists. In all of this disorienting confusion, I am most taken aback by the hostility palpable beneath the actions of my assailants. Their voices are derisive- I can perceive that even though I understand nothing of what they are saying. Their hands are oppressive- thoroughly communicating the overbearing will of their owners, without even a smidge of regard for my comprehensively violated sense of self respect.
“I am an escola at Estados Unidos!” I cry out.
I honestly do not know if I am speaking English, Portuguese or Cape Verdean Creole. I am simply stringing together some of the few words I learnt from Clayton, the manager of the small hotel I lodged in a few days ago.
In the few days I have spent in this country, I have become aware of the level of regard Cape Verdean natives have for visitors from the west. Telling people I go to school in the USA makes them afford me a different level of respect. I do not like it. In fact I hate it. I find it very irritating to think that I have to affiliate myself with “the white man” to be respected by black people. Irritating as it is though, it is ridiculously effective at making the people here treat me like a celebrity. So sometimes I do it.
“I am an escola at Estados Unidos!” I cry out again.
I wait for some sort of reaction.
Absolutely nothing. The excited Creole words still bounce about. The roughandling still continues. I am still haplessly pinned to the side of their police van.
One of the policemen makes the handcuffs even tighter between my wrists. My hands feel contorted- like they have been forced to assume a position they were not designed for.
I stand there. Unmoving. Flabbergasted. Utterly clueless as to why all of this is happening to me.
In the Van:
I peer at the outside world through the small opening at the back of the van. My hands are handcuffed behind my back, and so it is difficult to keep my balance. It is also difficult to prevent my face from hitting the back of the van as I peer outside. I think the driver is swerving unnecessarily from side to side to make the ride very uncomfortable for me.
The bright orange halogen street lights recede from me as the van moves forward. Street lights have never looked so beautiful. So desirable. Right now they represent freedom. Liberty. Something which is currently, painfully beyond my reach.
I am not sure why, but I feel like the policemen are enjoying themselves. In a tyrannical sort of way.
Swerving to make my ride more uncomfortable?
Or maybe they aren’t swerving at all. Maybe the captivity of the small dark van is amplifying whatever small movements the vehicle makes. Maybe this confinement is messing with my senses.
In the Cell:
Was I correctly implementing the matrix multiplication?
During back propagation I think I was supposed to transpose the gradient matrix before multiplying with the neural network weights to update them. Did I do that?
Did I make the right choice for the learning rate?
You know what, I’m not sure. Maybe that was why my code was not working as it was supposed to. Maybe.
The room is dark and still and quiet. The only light here is faint and distant- a tired beam that peeps through the remarkably tiny window situated high on the wall above my head.
I am lying on a hard concrete bench. I think the bench was cold at first, but it gradually warmed up to contact from my body. Time seems to make this alien room a little more tolerable. Even the hardness of the bench seems to gradually become less offending to my back.
I occupy myself with thoughts of computer programming. I was programming on my computer when I got arrested at the beach. I was trying to build a neural network module from scratch. I was working to acquire a deep understanding of how they work- neural networks.
Things have taken a different turn now, but I think I have regained enough of my composure to continue what I was working on. My computer and other accessories have been seized by the police, but I still have my mind. Some of it at least. So I keep thinking about programming.
Why was I having that annoying issue with the three dimensional visualisation? Is my Matplotlib up to date?
It is morning.
I am in the police van again. They say I should take them to where I stay.
So I take them.
We alight from the van. I lead the way to my room in the hotel where I am lodged. The policemen begin to push me for no reason. They seem to just derive pleasure from making me uncomfortable.
I do not like it. I stop walking, and begin to protest. One of them strikes me across the back with his baton.
I do not flinch. I got hit by thick sticks and leather belts and many other unfriendly objects while in boarding school in Nigeria.
Your stick isn’t really a big deal Mister policeman.
We’re back at the station. The policemen turned my hotel room completely upside-down. I have no idea what they were looking for. They got a good look at my international passport with the different visas that were on it, my school identity card, and some of my other means of identification.
One of them looked at me and said, “So you’re a smart guy right?”.
I had no idea what he was talking about. I began to wonder what exactly gave him the false impression that I was an intelligent individual. Like dude, look at the situation I am in right now. Look at my life. I do not feel very smart. I do not feel smart at all.
I am led into an office. Seated across me is the man who seems to be in charge of this place. I sit down and we talk.
After he asks me some questions, my mugshot is taken. This is the first time I have had a mugshot taken of me. It’s not as glamorous as I expected. Apparently, here they don’t have the interesting black and white Hollywood-movie background that shows how tall you are. What a shame. I would have liked that. I’m pretty tall. It would have looked really cool.
I am made to fill a police report.
The police boss gives some instructions in Creole to his men, and a number of them march me outside the station and into another van.
I am no longer in handcuffs, but the men are still ordering me around and treating me very roughly.
I wonder where they are taking me now.
End of Part 1.
Image Credits: https://www.cnc3.co.tt/press-release/3-men-escape-police-custody
This post is one in a Series. The other pieces in the Series can be accessed here.