The tragedy Episode 3

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
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
brou-ght 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 pl@yaround
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 alre-ady broken Papa’s cherished
aquarium and was pla-ying with the small
fish in his hands.
“San-usi, st©p it!. Oh my God. Papa I didn’t
know, I am sorry!” I began to cry, getting
re-ady 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, San-usi, was
about to run out of the house when Papa
st©pped him
Papa: “San-usi, 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 San-usi, I am not planning to
use a cane on you. I was about to praise you
for your br@very. 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 San-usi and decided to pretend
that everything was ok? What was so special
about the boy that st©pped Papa from
beating him? These thoughts ran throu-gh
my mind. I gave my friends signal that it was
time to go home and they all un-derstood. 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 celebr@tion, I did not know. He
never talked about my actions and he never
judged me, he just bec@m£ too gentle the
whole of the holidays.
Years had pas-sed 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 pas-sed 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 clas-s mates; they
all had big brea-sts, and mine was not even
re-ady 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 st©p 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 p@rt 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 brou-ght out the
common entrance past questions and
began to solve them; I was scared the
dream was about my examinations. Luckily, I
un-derstood 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 be-d 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 st©pping 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
br@ve, 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
throu-gh the window. I heard several gun
sh0ts, the more the gun sh0ts, the lesser the
voices I heard. Some minutes later, I saw
Papa opening the wardrobe wi-de, 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 re-ady 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…plea-se 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, San-usi. 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 throu-gh the
window, he fired several sh0ts 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 b©dy 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 ha-rd like the sponge Mama used
on my b©dy, 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 alre-ady.”
Papa la-id 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 soa-ked in dark
blood. I looked throu-gh the window and
saw my friend, San-usi, 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 st©p me from tou-ching
them. Confused, I stood still and watched
them put Papa and our other neighbours
who were still slee-ping into the ambulance.
Mrs. Mathew, whose eyes were red and
swollen, as-sured 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??