Your father is a site engineer. He was killed in an inter-tribal crisis in a village in Jos while on site and his killers buried him in a hole. But the people he was working for kept telling you he wasn’t not dead.
“Your father is alive somewhere because we can’t find his corpse among those that died”
There was a mass burial few days after the crisis but the SS told you no unidentified body was buried moreover your father’s name was not in the list of those that were killed.
You tried to not cry but your stomach kept exploding with tears like a volcanic eruption. You knew deep inside of you that if your father was alive he would have come back home. It was over 72hours since you last saw him.
You finally decided to push the cry out of your stomach one morning after the family had said prayers.
After your step mom sang “He has promised he will never fail” in a croaky voice,she looked you in the eye, her teary face pierced your heart, and you let out a loud cry. Everybody started to cry too, it was a crying convention in your house that morning.
Your sister was quite relieved that you had at least cried.
“You have cried out the pain you’ve been holding in your heart. I’m glad. Now I know you won’t run mad”
she said in hausa and embraced you.
Day 4. Day5. Day6. Same old story. No corpse. No news. Nothing.
But on day7, after Anty Ojela went to see the pastor of vision ministry, the truth came out.
The man who shot your father confessed that he had killed him on the very first day he stepped feet into the village.
“He begged me o. He said he was just an engineer and not an indigene. But I thought he was lying, I thought he was the king cause I met him inside the palace. I shot him, on the chest. He begged me, he did. After we discovered he wasn’t the one, we decided to bury him separately so nobody will find out. Please I’m sorry. Please don’t kill me”
He said in hausa amidst painful sobs. There was regret in his voice and you knew he was really sorry but you didn’t care, you were boiling with rage. You wanted to strangle him but your uncles wouldn’t let you.
He finally showed your uncles where your dad was buried and they started making arrangements to exhume your father’s body and put him in a decorated coffin. But on the day they went to do it your father’s spirit came out of the ground and chased them to their hilux van.
“You need to see how the trees were bending. Even when we entered our car to leave jejely, your father was just turning the wheel. We were just loosing control” Uncle Tobi de eccentric talkactive said.
It sounded like a lie but you did not bother yourself about the tenacity of the information. Nothing could bring your father back.
Several times you will sit and imagine how he must have died. How he begged them to spare him.
You wondered If he felt the bullet pierce his insides or if he lost consciousness.
If he thought of you and the popcorn machine you talked about with him earlier in the day. If his life played before his eyes or if he wished he told you he loved you.
And you felt regret, you felt regret for every grudge you held against him and all the times you found fault in what was faultless. You wish you could take back some words you said to him. And you wish you had said some.
Like “I love you. It’s difficult with you atimes but I don’t regret having you as father. I’ve made decisions to please you, some I regret and some I’m glad I took but I’m glad you fathered me”.
You’ve always wanted to tell your dad these words but you kept holding back. You thought you had tomorrow.
You know he had words to tell you too but he kept holding back maybe he thought he owned tomorrow too.
“Sunset at Noon” was written on your dad’s obituary. You laughed at first when you saw it but you thought long and hard and you knew it was the most appropriate thing to write.
These days when you wake up, you remind yourself that you don’t own the day and that like your father you can die at anytime but you have to keep hope alive.
“I won’t die until I’ve truly lived”
You encourage yourself.
by Farida Adamu