THE NIGHT I TURNED 18

@Olutope Olonade

Episode 4

When I got admission into the university to study law, it was as if almost everyone one knew about my family status. They referred to me as “Omo Adele” that is Adele girl. Even some of my lecturers who were from the West were curious to know if I was related to the “real owners” of the “big name”.

My parents did not allow be to stay in the hostel. So I always go from home to the campus every day. Either my dad or the family driver used to drop me every morning and later picked me up after lectures.

The day I turned 18,:my dad gave me a special gift; a brand new latest model Toyota Camry car! I was overwhelmed with joy when we came back from my birthday outing and he presented the car keys to me. It was surprising because I didn’t see it coming. In my elation I hugged him so tightly and he began to say beautiful sweet words into my ears in response to my show of appreciation.

” You deserve more my princess…you are the best reward for the sacrifice I made for love…you are my jewel of inestimable value…..”

Later in the evening, my dad came to check me in my room. I welcomed him and said my words of gratitude again. He just smiled and sat beside me on the bed. I noticed that my dad was in one of his best mood that night, so I used that opportunity to put my long awaited question across to him.

“Dad”. I called softly.

“Yes, my sweet angel” ….He answered with a smile as he gently rocked my glowing hair.

“Please dad, when am I going to meet my grandparents…”.

I dropped the bombshell, expecting the usual veins of annoyance. But instead of scolding me he gently took my hands into his and gave me another smiled.

“….. exactly, my second special gift to you darling. You see I believe, it is high time I told you about your root…..my families….our families”….

My dad was indeed from the wealthy blessed Adele family. He was the heir and the only son of the Adeles. He was brought up and trained amidst his other female siblings to be at the realm of affairs of ADDavidson group of companies.

“I have reconnected with my father and everyone is expecting us, because I thinking of relocating to the West to reunite with our families, it’s seems this part of the country is no longer safe for us to live. …the brutal killings on the phase of religion is really getting on my nerves. I think we should go back home”

I was glad that after all, my father had realized that going back home was the best for us. I began to dream of how the reunion would look like. My father informed me that, his news of coming back home really pleased his parents and other members of the family and they were fully expecting our return.

“Dad, have you told them about me”? I asked .

He quite understood what I meant….this really hit him so hard. I watched my father’s countenance changed, immediately.

I could see that my father was not that excited about the proposed reunion. I knew he was only doing all this to please me. By his story, I knew he maintained his distance from his parents become his family was a traditional one that wouldn’t accept that a man should be obliged for any reason to stay with a woman who could not bear a child not to talk of giving them a male child. A responsibility had been placed upon his shoulder as the only son to make sure the family name is preserved. He didn’t want to succumb to the idea of marrying another woman just to please his family and he knew that his decision would bring problem upon his lovely wife. My mother would not be able to stand the pressure that could come from his large and powerful relations.

Probably, to ease the tension already mounting up in the room. He brought out an old album from a black leather bag that he brought along with him. He opened the album and show me the picture of a young lady. I was very surprised to see my doppelganger in the old album.

“Dad, how come….who is this”? I asked in amazement. My dad smiled and pointed to the picture ….”.. that’s my mum”…

He looked from the picture to me me and gave a broad smile.

“Beautiful damsel…you have grown up to be a replica of my mother….tall, shinning fair skin, straight legs, pretty face and bright brains. I love everything about you. Now, listen to me…. either a male or female, to me a child is a child, no child should he made less human than there other for gender reason….right? I nodded.

He kissed me on the forehead and I chuckled.

Little wonder while I and my mum didn’t get along with each other. She always had something to complain about me. That means I had been a reminder of her woes ….. I resembled her troublesome mother in law….the past she fled from was brought to the present to live with her.

I had just two more years to spend in the university. By my calculation, at age 20 I would have graduated and by 21 I would be through with my public service.

“….it’s cool by me”….I smiled at my thought.

“Anyhow, dad, I am still the Adele girl”. I stood and catwalked to my dad admiration. He just kept on nodding and grinning sheepishly like a little boy.

We talked and talked late into the night. I saw my dad tipped toed out of my room trying not to wake me up from sleep. I smiled, I knew if I didn’t vein my sleep, he wouldn’t leave me alone. I loved my dad so much and always prayed that God would bless me with a man like him.

All my life, I had never lack nor known any sorrow. No regrets whatsoever because all that my parents gave me was the best of everything…..clothes, food, shelter, education,love,affection, attention….name it. On the night I turned 18, I recalled, I saw myself looking forward to the best and brightest future. I believed with my parents the sky couldn’t be the limit…….with them by my side…in my life I was going to be unstoppable….they were my hope….my everything.

But alas! My beautiful thought was cut short by a loud scream…..that very night …..my life stood still ……and I looked as a misty eclipse appeared on the brightest part of my sky……. darkness enveloped my future……as I saw what was beyond my imagination…..

THE NIGHT I TURNED 18

@ Olutope Olonade

Episode 5

I tried to open my eyes but was welcomed with pains on my neck and my left shoulder.

I closed my eyes back and breathed deeply. I then slowly, opened my eye lids trying hard not to turn my neck. I only rolled my eyes to survey my surroundings. I couldn’t depict the clear picture of the place. I closed my eyes again and tried to recall what could have brought me there. I later remembered all.

While I was pretending to my dad that I had slept, I actually fell asleep. But my sleep was later cut short by screams from the living room downstairs. I opened my eyes and listened intently. I heard the scream again, this time, I could recognized the voice! The screams were from my mother.

“Jeeezuz!”

I got up swiftly and got to the staircase in a jiffy. If not for the outburst of “Danboroba”! that I heard from one of the hoodlums, I would have walked right into the hands of my parents’ murderers. The damned dark dirty man spat on my dad’s face as he rained curses and abuses on my parents using his native language.

I quickly but noiseleesly slowly retraced my steps back. I positioned myself in a place that I knew or thought was out of sight to the criminals. I knew some of them to be our neighbours. But what baffled me was that many of these natives received gifts from my parents, especially, from my dad who was a free giver to a fault. I couldn’t understand why my parents should be their target for this wickedness.

My father was as surprised as I was. It quite showed in the way he was watching them in great amazement. He was shocked to see those he called his neighbours turning against him and his family in this manner. I didn’t know what might be going on in my dad’s mind but I was sure my safety would be uppermost in his thoughts at that moment.

My mother was wailing miserably as she kept on begging; using the name of God in heaven to beg them. She promised that she and her husband was ready to give them anything except their lives but her pleas were going down the drain.

Mallam Nuhu, our gate keeper surfaced. Initially, I thought he was part of the rebels but his actions went against my thought because he knelt down with his hands raised up, begging them to spare my parents.

They told mallam Nuhu to tell his master to do what they asked him to do but my father shook his head and remained adamant.

My father said some words which I couldn’t figured out because I was not that close to the scene. But what I knew was that, his last statement brought too much anger from them. So much annoyance that the ring leader began to shout “Kalferi! Kalferi!”

In a twinkling of an eye, Mallam Nuhu disappeared from the room.

The leader gave a strong order to the two men holding the long knives. The men immediately raised their knives up, murtered some words which seemed like prayers and landed the knives on my parents’ necks while the rest held their bodies firmly to the floor. Right there in my presence my parents were murdered like animals in cold blood.

I was too shocked to scream at first because I couldn’t believe the event was real. But when I realized the truth of the whole scenario I opened my mouth so wide to shout but instead, I received a sudden jab on my neck and I passed out.

THE NIGHT I TURNED 18

@ Olutope Olonade

Episode 6

“Alhamdulilahi! Mallam! Mallam! Zo ka ganni Yaro!”

I saw a woman in burka coming in but, she quickly dashed back to call on whoever that was out there.

Mallam Nuhu rushed into the tent with Hajia Rekia, who had removed her veil by now following closely behind.

“Allahu Akbir!”. He shouted.

“Abiki”. He called. He examined my eyes and other parts of my body and raised his hands above his head. “May Allah be praised”. He said as he knelt on the ground.

I couldn’t fathom what was going on neither did I know where I was and what I was doing there at that moment. I tried raising my body but my neck and shoulders ached. I guessed that was where I got the hit. Mallam Nuhu asked me to lie down and relax my body on the straw mat.

“Don’t worry, you will be fine. I have applied ointment on the affected parts”. He assured me and patted me on the other shoulder. I began to sob, when the clip of the previous event started rewinding in my memory again.

“Mallam Nuhu, where are my parents?” I asked gently not really sure I wanted to hear the truth.

Probably, I was in a nightmare, still expecting to wake up to find my dad and mum beside my bed hoping to see them the way I used to meet them looked at with me great care and concern when ever I screamed from any of my horrible nightmares of this kind.

Mallam Nuhu shook his head.

“Innalilahi…..rajim”, from Allah we came from and unto him we all shall return”. He said and he held my two hands in his. He was staring at me steadily, with a sad concerned look.

The scene of how my parents were slaughtered kept coming back to me again….and … again. I cried profusely. My eyes became a fountain of tears as they gushed out of eye sockets and flowing uncontrollable down my face. My heart ached to a reality of the fact that my dearly beloved parents had gone for ever and I would never be able to see them again.

Rekia, Mallam Nuhu’s wife, drew very close to me and took my hands from her husband. She lifted me gently from the straw mat and held me softly but firmly to her bosom. She too, could not hold back as she bursted into tears. Mallam Nuhu said all he could but we were too deep in the grief that we refused to be consoled by his words. When he couldn’t stand our wailings, he sadly left the tent.

Rekia recalled how kind my parents had been to her and her family. She was the first person to know my mother before her husband did. She with her three daughters, used to stand in front of our compound to beg for alms from them but strangely, my mother took a liking for her and out of love and motherly concern, she offered to assist her with some money to set up a small scale business of her choice.

My mum informed my dad formally, about her decision to help the poor girl. My father who was always ready to help people, supported his wife good intentions. He asked Rekia to bring her husband, who according to her, also used to be a beger in another area of the town. My father gave the mallam, a job as our gateman and gave his wife some money to start up a food business. So in no time, Rekia started selling “tuwo shinkafa” along the market road and she was doing very well. The family were given an apartment at the B.Q. and so they moved in to live with us. The mallam, ever since then had not stopped being grateful to my parents for their kindness towards his family. He joyfully went about his duty with utmost diligency and faithfulness. Apart from the normal duty, the family had been very helpful in many ways.

We became one big family inspite of our traditional, language and religious

differences.

Before Mallam Nuhu came back into the tent, I and Rekia had comforted ourselves with the sweet memories that the deads left behind. So by the time he entered with his three daughters, I was already in a deep thought of the way forward in my life while Rekia watched on, not ready to distract my attention.

The Mallam sat on a stool directly facing me and we began to chat. He explained to me that, several attempts had been made by the bandits to attack my family since the beginning of the religious uproar but he had been preventing it. He said he had pleaded with them not to harm us because we were good, and our religion shouldn’t be a barrier since all of us had been living together in peace before the crisis started.

“Did you inform my parents about their many attempts to invade our compound?” I asked the Mallam, using the back of my palm to wipe away the remaining tears on my face.

“No”. He admitted

“…but why, didn’t you tell them?”. I asked disgustingly.

“Hear me Abiki….I didn’t tell them because, I didn’t want to scare you people and also because I’ve put the blood sucking devils on check, …….so, did I think, not knowing that they have their own plans”. He stated regrettably.

The evil men played on Mallam Nuhu’s kindheartedness to tricked him. They sent Danjuma, who was a close neighbour to distract his attention from his duty post. Danjuma had gone to him that night pretending to be in an emergency situation. He came to ask for Nuhu’s help to put off the fire that he claimed was razing down all his belongings. Truely, our gateman saw the said flames of fire at a distance around where Danjuma’s house was located. Out of pity, he followed him, and asked his wife to mount the gate for him in his absence as he left with Danjuma to the scene of supposedly fire incident. Few minutes after his departure, the bandits invaded our compound. They tied Rekia down like a goat and caught my parents unarmed …… unprepared……

Mallam Nuhu said, he couldn’t explain how he escaped from hostage. The moment he was held hostage, he knew there was trouble at home. So immediately, he got his miraculous freedom, he rushed home. He untied his wife and gave her instructions to get the children and few other important belongings and get ready to leave for the camp. He then ran into the main house to see if he could still prevent the bandits from wrecking havoc on his master and his family but he was too late.

To be continued….