Episode 3




On Christmas day, Papa woke up at Five

O’clock in the morning, prepared boiled rice

and goat meat stew, it was the best I had

eaten. He instructed me to stay back at

home as he will be taking our neighbour,

Mr. Mathew on his motorcycle to church. I

did not even want to go to church, I wanted

to stay back and watch The Sound of Music

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on the TV; he only allowed me switch on the

TV on Christmas days. I went to my Hausa

neighbour’s house and invited my friends

over to my place, they were so excited; Papa

never allowed my friends into the house, he

always complained that they would mess up

the house. Being in our living room was a

great experience for them, they looked

round and noticed the new furniture that

were well arranged and whispered to one

another in Hausa; I went to the kitchen and

brought a tray filled with rice and stew.

We ate, danced and laughed and said funny

things to each other. We got too

comfortable that we began to play around

the house, some of my friends were

jumping on the couch while I was busy

showing off my new red suit and sandals to

the ones that cared to listen. It was the

moment I saw Papa open the door that I

realized it was going to be the worst day of

my life

Papa: “Shiber! What is happening here? I

have been knocking on that door for God

knows how many times” he looked at me,


Me: “Sir!”

I looked at him, not knowing what to say.

Then behind me, I saw that one of my

friends had already broken Papa’s cherished

aquarium and was playing with the small

fish in his hands.

“Sanusi, stop it!. Oh my God. Papa I didn’t

know, I am sorry!” I began to cry, getting

ready for the beating from Papa

I could see from his eyes that he was angry

and disappointed in me. I was sure he

wished he had taken me to church instead.

One by one, my friends began to shiver and

exchange glances, the little boy, Sanusi, was

about to run out of the house when Papa

stopped him

Papa: “Sanusi, where are you going to?

Come here!”

Little boy: “Wallahi Uncle, I no do anything. D

pish e lock am po house, d pish I cry well

well. Me, I open d pish house, me I give d

pish preedom” he said as he cried and

rolled on the floor

Papa: “Hahaha Sanusi, I am not planning to

use a cane on you. I was about to praise you

for your bravery. I will tell your father that I

am impressed, for you to think of giving

these fish freedom, you must be a smart kid,

I am proud of you. Now stand up” he smiled

and picked the boy up. “Shiber, have you all

eaten?” he asked as he started fixing the

mess we made.

I stood there still, trying to recover from the

shock. I had always known Papa to be very

strict; if a child misbehaved, he would make

sure he beat the child to his satisfaction.

Papa’s ideaology was that sparing the rod

amounts to spoiling the child. Was Papa too

angry to beat Sanusi and decided to pretend

that everything was ok? What was so special

about the boy that stopped Papa from

beating him? These thoughts ran through

my mind. I gave my friends signal that it was

time to go home and they all understood. I

watched Papa as he slowly turned the living

room back to how he left it, he acted so

quiet and that scared me more; I knew I

deserved whatever he was planning to do

to me.

Maybe the pastor had preached in church

about beating children, or Mama’s spirit

decided to protect me and leave me to enjoy

the Christmas celebration, I did not know. He

never talked about my actions and he never

judged me, he just became too gentle the

whole of the holidays.

Years had passed and Papa remained the

person he had become since that Christmas

holiday. I had written my common entrance

from primary five and failed, it was now

time for me to write from primary six. All my

friends had passed the entrance

examination from primary five, I was left

with no choice than to mingle with the

grownups in primary six. I liked my form

teacher, but despised my class mates; they

all had big breasts, and mine was not even

ready to grow. They would mock me during

group discussions and each day, during my

morning prayers, I would pray to God to

bless me with such features to stop me from

feeling inferior in school.

One Wednesday morning, I woke up after a

terrible nightmare. I was sweating like I was

involved in a war or a serious fight, but I

could not remember any part of the dream.

Prayer was the first step I took to conquer

my fears, I then had my bath and rushed to

school; Papa’s motorcycle had been bad the

whole week so I trekked to school. As soon

as I got to school, I brought out the

common entrance past questions and

began to solve them; I was scared the

dream was about my examinations. Luckily, I

understood everything I was taught the

whole day at school. I got home, feeling like

I had made a great change in my life.

That night, at about 2.00am, I was woken

up from another nightmare by the noise in

the compound; I was about to move to the

other side of the bed when I felt a hand

firmly covering my mouth. My attempt to

scream was a waste of time, I began to

sweat, there was power failure, I could not

see who was stopping me from screaming.

Papa: “It’s me, Papa. Don’t be afraid, I want

you to keep quiet and don’t say a word”

Papa advised

I obeyed his orders, even when unsure of

whom it really was. Papa took me into his

room and asked me to hide behind his

clothes in the wardrobe; instructed me not

to say a word till the next morning, no

matter what I saw or heard.

“I will protect you with my life, Shiber. Be

brave, do not cry, and we are going to be

fine” Papa had promised

From where I hid in the wardrobe, my

breath filled with the smell of camphor, I

saw Papa holding the lantern and looking

through the window. I heard several gun

shots, the more the gun shots, the lesser the

voices I heard. Some minutes later, I saw

Papa opening the wardrobe wide, picking

his den gun and putting his hand on my


“My little angel, just like I told you, do not

come out no matter what. I am ready to

protect you” he stood up and turned

towards the window. Then I whispered his


Me: “Papa, Papa, where are you going to?

Who are those people out there by this

time? Are they killing people? I’m scared

Papa…Please do not leave me alone, stay

with me, Papa!” I began to cry quietly

Papa: “Shiber” he whispered, “These people

out there are very wicked people, they are

about to kill everyone in this compound,

including your friend, Sanusi. Go back and

hide in there, Go! Go!” he instructed and I

ran back to the wardrobe

I saw my father pointing the gun at

someone, or some people through the

window, he fired several shots and then

there was silence in the compound again. I

could only hear heavy footsteps here and

there; then birds crying for their lives.

Mosquitoes feasted on my body till day

break; it was like they had been hungry for


The following morning, I could hear voices

from different persons, each talking at the

same time, I could not really hear what they

were talking about, but I knew something

bad had happened in our compound. Slowly,

I crept out of Papa’s wardrobe and ran to

Papa, who was lying down on the floor. His

skin felt so hard like the sponge Mama used

on my body, he looked just like Mama on the

day she was buried.

Me: “Papa, they have gone, the wicked men

have gone, wake up, it is morning already.”

Papa laid there, not moving at all.

I could not really identify what was going

on, but I knew Papa was hurt and he was

not breathing, he still had his gun in his

hand and his shorts were soaked in dark

blood. I looked through the window and

saw my friend, Sanusi, his siblings and

parents lying on the ground just like Papa; I

ran outside to wake them up too, but the

man in black uniform told Mr. Mathew’s wife

to hold me and stop me from touching

them. Confused, I stood still and watched

them put Papa and our other neighbours

who were still sleeping into the ambulance.

Mrs. Mathew, whose eyes were red and

swollen, assured me that Papa, her husband

and the others in the ambulance were going

on a journey for the government and would

be back soon. I stood there, wondering why

the other neighbours were crying, when

they knew that their family would be back.


To be continued!



Is Shiber’s father still alive?

What really happened in that compound?

Why was Mrs. Matthew crying??

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