Mrs Williams: Laolu speak to me. I can help you get through this. If you talk to me. I would understand.
No you won’t
Mrs Williams: Yes I would, trust me.
You won’t understand. No one does.
Mrs Williams: I would understand. I know its not your fault.
No you don’t know anything. Everything is my fault. Everything.
Mrs Williams: laolu, if you tell me I will know.
I don’t know where to start from.
Mrs Williams: from the beginning
It all started when mama travelled for a business meeting as usual. NEPA had once again thrown us into darkness. Everywhere was silent except for echoes of some dogs barking and distant generator sounds. I laid on my bed still wondering where my sister Iyanu went and why we had suddenly stopped looking for her.
I couldn’t imagine why she would run away from home,from all of us. I was the one who found the letter and I had cried the hardest. I stayed awake everynight to pray for her safety. I made sure I prayed in the night so God could hear me clearly.
I heard father’s door open and Tolu’s door close. I wondered why father went to Tolu’s room. “He probably wants to make sure she’s not crying like me.” I murmured before yawning. I fell into a deep sleep. In my dream Tolu was screaming in a pit. “Help help help!!! Laolu help me.”
I woke up the next morning feeling confused, I usually forgot my dreams but that particular dream stayed with me till morning.
“Tolu,Tolu open the door.I had a nightmare. Tolu” she opened it slowly and the door made a squeaky noise and I could see her eyes filled with hot tears rolling down her puffy cheeks.
“Tolu why are you crying? Is it because of Iyanu?” She nodded crying even harder. Her eyes were blood shot and I doubted she even slept at all.
“Do you need a hug?”
“Yes” I loved my elder sisters a lot. They meant the world to me. I didn’t want her to cry. Whenever they cried I cried too.
“Stop crying Tolu. I’m sure Iyanu would come back soon. I miss her too.” I must have been nine at that time. Iyanu never came home and Tolu never stopped crying whenever mother travelled.
Mrs Williams: so what happened?
My father, he was a pastor. A very respected man of God. Everyone at church loved and respected him. He was my role model. I wanted to be like father.
Mrs Williams I don’t want to continue. I can’t.
Mrs Williams: It’s okay. We will continue when you are ready.
Good morning ma’am
Mrs Williams: it’s been two weeks since our last meeting. Are you ready to talk.
I’m not sure.
Mrs Williams: You can trust me. I will help you get through the pain.
Mrs Williams: you were talking about your father.
Yes my father. I loved him. I loved him a lot….He taught me everything I knew. I learnt to beat the drums from him. He always wanted me to be bold but I was a shy kid. I couldn’t face the crowd or anyone.
One Saturday morning I came back home early after my weekend lesson was cancelled. Our apartment door was opened so I let myself in. There was no sign of father or Tolu in the sitting room. I figured tolu went to run an errand and father was praying in the prayer room.
I could swear that I could hear a strange noise from father’s room. It was a familiar sound. I had ignored it occasionally. With each step the voices became louder.
Mrs Williams: don’t cry. Laolu…
I opened the door. It was father and Tolu. They were naked. Stark naked.
Mrs Williams: what did you do?
Nothing I just. I walked into my room and locked the door. I slept. I slept. I tried to forget what I saw but I couldn’t.
We went to church the next day and father was preaching about fornication. He talked about how bad it was and why the members of the church should never do it. My father, he was…. He was a devil from the pit of hell.
We got home that day and father Called me into his room. He brought out his Bible and a knife which he placed on his bedside locker. “Laolu swear on this Bible that you won’t ever tell your mother what you saw” I wondered how someone who looked so calm and gentle on the outside could be so….so vile on the inside.
“Never. I will tell my mummy when she comes home today.” I shouted at him. That was the first time I was ever rude to my father. I…I was angry. I turned my back on him in a bid to leave the room. Father pulled me and placed the knife on my neck.
My father threatened to kill me. He threatened to kill me.
Mrs Williams: laolu… I’m sorry about that. Did you tell your mum?
No I was scared. I was too scared. He cut my throat with the knife and asked Tolu to fix up the wound.
Mrs Williams: That’s terrible. What a shame.
Tolu came to my room that night. She was in her night wear. She pleaded with me not to tell mum. Not to tell anyone. I just wanted to protect my sister. I…
Mrs Williams: Was that when you…
No. I didn’t do anything to my father. I didn’t tell mum. I was quiet. I stopped talking. Whenever mum wasn’t at home, the house was a grave yard.
Tolu promised that it will never happen again in exchange for my silence.
Mrs Williams: Did it?
Old habits die hard.
I heard my door open slightly. I pretended to be asleep. It was father he came to see if I was awake. He closed the door gently. Tolu’s room was two doors away from mine. I told Tolu to lock her door before going to bed. Father knocked for a while before going to bed.
Mrs Williams: That was very smart of you. You tried to protect your sister.
No. I made it worse.
Mrs Williams: wasn’t your mum at home at all.
She had to work. She got a better job but it was far away. She came home twice a month on her off days.
Mrs Williams: wow,wow. How then did you make it worse?
Father he didn’t like that Tolu locked her room. He was angry. He was very angry. He waited in front of the door for Tolu to come out. He stood there like a mighty rock. Like someone no one could challenge.
“Tolu come out now. Don’t let me break down this door.”
“Father why are you shouting at her. Leave her alone. Shebi it’s her room” I spoke softly.
“Is that the school you should be getting ready for.” He hissed and walked back to his room.
It went on for a while. I never left my sister and father never stopped trying.
One unfortunate night Tolu and I fell asleep in our sitting room while watching a TV show. I woke up to Tolu screaming.
Mrs Williams I don’t think I can go any further.
Mrs Williams: you can. You need to talk about it to get over it.
Father raped my sister in front of me. In front of me. He did everything in front of me and I watched. I just watched. She screamed for me to save her, to stop him from thrusting deep into her and I stood still. He covered her mouth but I could see her eyes begging me to do something. Anything. Yet I stood there. I did nothing.
Mrs Williams: it wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t have done anything. It wasn’t your fault.
It was my fault. I was a weakling of a boy. I should have pulled him away. I should have shouted for neighbors to help but I didn’t… I just stood there watching my sister’s tears fall and my own fall with it. I should have told mother the first time. It would have stopped it. It would… I was a coward
Mrs Williams: He deserved to die. He was an animal. That is incest for crying out loud.
Father preached in church on Sunday again. Everyone danced and prayed. Nobody knew father was an animal. He was a beast. He needed to be tamed. My sister and I were in church still recovering from the aftermath of the trauma we faced a day before. Neither of us could pray. Neither of us could close our eyes or sing songs of worship to whoever it was our father served.
Once might be a mistake but twice or thrice. He raped her in front of me again. I tried to help. I pulled him away but he gave me a punch that sent me into another world where everything was black and white. I fainted.
I woke up with tolu crying beside me. That day, we started planning to run away from home.
Mrs Williams: Did you? Did you run away?
Noo we didn’t. Instead we told our mum what was happening. It was on a phone call. Mother came home the next day.
Hell broke loose.
She was mad. She was furious with him. She hurled abusive words on him. Father, beat her to stupor. That day I realized father was not my father. He knew we were bastards. All of us and he punished us for it. He beat mother into coma and carried her to the hospital.
Mrs Williams: Now it all makes sense.
Mother didn’t wake up in days and the assult continued. Father told the doctors mother was attacked on her way home. He was a liar, a pedophile and a wife beater but also a preacher.
Father led a fast in church for everyone to pray for his dying wife. The congregation prayed that day and cursed the attackers.
Mrs Williams: All these doesn’t explain why you call yourself the sinner.
I am the sinner because… I should have killed him a long time ago because I pretended I didn’t see what he did to Iyanu. That night. When Iyanu finally had enough. I knew what happened but I kept quiet and prayed to God to forgive father. If I spoke up I could have saved Tolu.
Mrs Williams: where is Tolu now.
Mrs Williams: My God!
After several days of waiting for mother to come out of coma my sister and I decided the best thing was to run out of our father’s reach. While we where looking for the perfect moment. Something happened.
Iyanu came back home. We were very happy to see her. She told us about how a good Samaritan had helped her. She only came back home because she heard mum was in a coma.
We told Iyanu about everything. Every single thing that happened and she promised to help us run away from the monster we called our father.
Mrs Williams: you weren’t able to right?
Oh we were so close.We almost got away. It was a Friday night. There was a night vigil at father’s church. He didn’t even know Iyanu was home but somehow he came back earlier than expected.
We had packed our things. We were ready to leave as soon as it was five a.m but father…. He knocked on Tolu’s door again. He wanted to do what he knew how to do best.
Iyanu and I heard Tolu screaming in her room. I ran to the kitchen to pick up a knife. The same knife father used to cut my throat. Iyanu was already there trying to drag father away from Tolu. He didn’t stop. He pushed Iyanu away and tore Tolu’s dress.
Mrs Williams: o My God. What did you do?
For once in my life. I protected my sister I was a thirteen year old boy but I knew I needed to end the evil called my father. I charged towards him with the knife.
Mrs Williams: you killed your father.
No, I killed the man that raped my sisters. I killed the man that killed my mother. I wrestled a monster and I won.
The world didn’t see it that way. Iyanu. She told the police she killed him to save me.
Mrs Williams: stop crying please.
The media, the church members they were everywhere. They kept asking questions. They kept pouring pepper on our wound. Tolu couldn’t take it anymore.
Mrs Williams: she committed suicide
She left me alone. She left me alone. Iyanu is rotting in jail for the crime I committed.
It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have. I should have.
Mrs Williams: you did what you thought was right. It’s not your fault.
It’s my fault. It’s my sin. I’m the sinner. It was me.
Mrs Williams: Don’t cry please.
Can you help me. Can you take away this guilt that won’t let me sleep at night. Can you remove the memories from head. Can you stop me from remembering how I plunged the knife in my father again and again. Can you?
Mrs Williams: I don’t know where to start from.
Start from the beginning.