They say time heals all wounds, but definitely not mine. I carry a scar so deep, too deep to ever heal. I am a wretch, a lost cause, a big disaster waiting to happen. As I sit here in the cell amidst the muffled laughter from my cell mates, I pray my life will not be spared a second time for the sake of humanity and my sanity. I have had nothing to offer the world but pain and sorrow.
But I was not always like this. I was once a sweet young girl with dreams and a bright future. I used to run around and play in the rain like every normal child. I had a father who loved me and my siblings very much and a kind hearted mother who worked tirelessly to make sure her family was properly catered for.
But one dark night, everything changed.
We heard a loud bang on our door while we sat at the table for dinner. I looked at the clock, it was past ten at night. It was too late to be having a visitor and I could see the look of confirmation on father’s face as I looked his way. He signaled me to go get the door nonetheless. When I opened it, two unkempt, hefty and stern-looking policemen stood at the door.
I was petrified.
“Is this Mr. Gabriel Ama’s residence?” They asked me sternly. I nodded in affirmation, too scared to utter a word. They brushed past me, heading straight for my father.
“Mr. Gabriel, you are under arrest for the murder of Mr. Kalu Ude,” they told him, and handcuffed him without confirming first if he was actually Mr. Gabriel.
“You are mistaken, my husband is not a murderer,” mother told them, standing in their way to prevent them from taking him away. But her tiny frame was no match for them; they simply shoved her aside. They took dad away that night despite all our pleas, and in all of the chaos, dad kept mute.
Months later in the court of law, I sat down mouth agape as the judge read out dad’s charges. We had been living with a beast all these years and we had not the slightest idea. Everything was becoming clear: the late nights, the strange faces that appeared in our house at odd hours, the big school we attended, the big house we lived in, the big cars and the fancy trips we took to different parts of the world. All boiled down to one source: kidnapping and armed robbery. And dad had to be the leader of the team.
He was sentenced to ten years in prison with hard labour, the result of his numerous connections because years later, I knew ten years was too little for the level of crime father had committed.
Everything we had was seized by the government. My dad’s friends were nowhere to be found. The few who offered to help either wanted a taste of me or of my mother. The bastards! But it was understandable. They wanted a slice of the cake before the ship finally sank. I was only twelve years old, but with the body of an eighteen year-old with a firm body ripe enough for them. But I refused… Or perhaps my mother did, because I was only a child and quite naive.
Mother on the other hand toiled day and night to ensure we had proper meals even if it was once a day. I hawked on the streets to assist her even though it wasn’t easy because I had to juggle between that and school.
Ten years later, father returned. And our nightmare worsened.
He still looked the same but for a few grey hairs and his unkempt state, exactly as I had expected. His countenance towards us changed, I wasn’t surprised. His secret had been let out so there was no reason to play saint anymore and so he became the beast he really was. To make matters worse, he had lost everything while he was in jail and resorted to gambling and petty theft rather than start afresh on a clean slate.
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