It was on the 14th day of March 2003.
The wind was blowing and the rumblings of the leaves could be heard from the outside. It was a rather quiet night except for rumbling of the leaves of course.
We filled the little room we use as our sitting room as we all gathered to watch the evening news on NTA. We didn’t want to but mother wouldn’t let us have it our way. Mother always had a way of making us listen to the news, she said it was important.
I felt shaken and disturbed for no reason or was it the nightmare of the previous night that kept me haunted? No one noticed my anxiety except whenever I looked up to catch a glimpse of mother watching me.
It was becoming uncomfortable. I wish I hadn’t missed the rosary recitation that night. My friends were out there praying and I was here watching and listening to things I didn’t even understand.
It was always about who the Government in power was visiting or giving donations to. The elections were near and campaigns were vital at this stage. The news wouldn’t come to an end! It was boring and I wasn’t interested! After all, politics, campaigns and elections were one of the reasons my father wasn’t here now!
Bump! Went my heartbeat again.
For the past weeks, whenever I thought of father, I felt a certain kind of shivering cold sweep all over me and then my heartbeat became dramatically high and fast-paced.
I had waited for a week to get a message from father, the long silent wait was beginning to drive me insane.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Went the rhythm of the gate, interrupting my weird thoughts. The sound so loud and disoriented. The gate was rusted perhaps from too much rain pour. It needed fixing and father said to look into it as soon as all was settled. Settled, being after the elections were over. Hmmmmmmmmmm… the elections.
“Za bough hunda,” my mother spoke softly to my elder brother who got up and went to get the gate. She looked worried and old.
My mother wasn’t old, she only looked it. Mother was quiet these days, always sad. She had a sorrowful look on her, her eyes were swollen. Perhaps from the late night cries. No one knew she cried at night. I was every night at her door eavesdropping. Her distress was understood and I felt more pained than ever. Mom went out some minutes later to have a tete a tete with our visitor.
It was exactly 10 minutes later when we heard a loud wail.
“Ayol ayol..me kpe ooo! I am dead! God! no… no… my children! I pity you…no…”
It was our mother and we all simultaneously got up, took to our heels to meet mother outside but we knew, at that instant.
My father had died.
And my hero was gone forever.
It was a dull day, this day, uncertainty, sadness and emptiness enveloped me. My father had been a traveler during his lifetime, and so I just went to my safe space and imagined he was on one of his numerous trips. This one just took longer than usual. And so it will be, on that fateful dull April 10th day, 4 days after my hero was laid to rest that I would begin my writing spree, writing to my gone forever dad.
Writing made the pain bearable. It made it almost surreal. I understood my mother’s hurt, her loss of a companion, a friend, and husband but I felt no one had lost more than I did.
You see, I was also my father’s wife, his daughter, his confidant and he was my everything.
I would remember the promises we made to each other. I was to be someone great.
I would go to the best schools, complete my education, and become a medical doctor.
I am not a medical doctor, I am a Lawyer.
I wasn’t going to have it another way however at the time. (scoffs).
The paper was crumpled, I didn’t have another, the paper had to be perfect and so I ironed it to make it looked nice again. My pen in one hand and my thoughts with my father I wrote to my hero’s closest friend. He was Mr. A. Mr A was kind, and working in one of this big insurance companies, he could afford to have another child to provide for. My mother didn’t have anything, I wasn’t going to bother her, I was going to take care of her as my hero would have wanted. I was going to be responsible and relieve her of the burden of funding my education. And so I wrote the most beautiful letter a proud daughter of a great man would have ever written.
How are you? I am very sad writing this letter to you, I love my daddy very much and miss him. I wish I can open his grave and look at him again. I nearly jumped into his grave that day, that is why I didn’t want to look much inside the coffin.
Daddy wants me to complete my school and become a doctor, so please can you be my new daddy to paying my school fees? My Mummy has too much work to do.
(I am crying as I am writing this letter)
Your new daughter
I was 10, my first letter to my father’s friend opened doors for me. I got an education writing, I used words in writing to achieve all and what I am this day.
I have desired so much in life, to be great, an actress, a broadcaster, a model, a lawyer, a humanitarian and I have been all in writing.
I still communicate with my hero every now and then. He has most of my beautiful written works.
Works written on the Sands of time.
By Ngunan Ioron Aloho
Social Activist | Educator | Entrepreneur | Writer