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The Night my Father Disappeared

The night my father disappeared, nobody saw anything. Usually, Mrs Danladi sees everything that happens in our compound, even when you think she doesn’t. But that night, she saw nothing and neither did Mr Dosunmu.

We live in a three-storey building with six flats, ours is the left flat on the first floor. Mrs Danladi lives opposite us and Mr Dosunmu lives on the ground floor, directly beneath us. That night, he wasn’t around; he had travelled to Ibadan. I knew this because he left his keys with us and told us where he was going. He always left his keys with us. I think it’s because he likes my mum and so, he took whatever opportunity he could to look at her and talk to her. I don’t find it weird that he likes my mum because I like him too and secretly wish he were my father. He is tall, handsome and well-built; I asked him once or twice if he was an athlete, but he told me no, that he was just a writer. I didn’t believe him. He never liked my father, they fought a lot. I think my father knew Mr Dosunmu liked my mum, so, he always found a way to attack him and Mr Dosunmu never backed down.

It’s been six days now since my father disappeared, six days of peace and quiet. The only person that still seems to be bothered that he’s missing is Mrs Danladi, I wonder why. My mum showed concern for two days; during that time, she called the police and called every family and church member she could call, but no one knew my where my father was. After two days of fruitless searching, mum stopped bothering herself. I find it odd. Somewhere in my mind, I think she’s happy he disappeared; I’m happy too. My father used to abuse me, and my mum knew. Sometimes, I hate her as much as I hate him because she didn’t do enough to protect me. How could she live with a man who abused his own son? How could she sleep in the same room he did, on the same bed? How could she breathe the same air he did? How could she cook for him? How could she eat on the same table as he? I wish I could ask my mum all these questions? But they’ll be too much to write and too much for her to write back. She’s not very good with sign language, so she usually writes her words down in a small booklet — she’s been giving me six on my birthday every year since I was seven, when my handwriting started becoming clear. My father understood sign language very well; he tried to teach me many times, but I wasn’t really interested. He started teaching me sign language when I was six; for a while, I paid attention, then after a few months, I stopped. I preferred writing.

My father was good to me, most times, except the times when he came into my room at night, late at night, when mum and all the neighbours were asleep, at night, when even Mrs Danladi’s all seeing eyes were shut.

The first night my father came into my room, I was eight years old. Mum was away on a trip to Ibadan. Father and I had dinner together; he made me Indomie and boiled egg — that was all he knew how to cook. We watched an episode of Prison Break together; although I couldn’t hear what they were saying, I understood what was going on. My father loved Prison Break, he used to tell me that his favourite character was T-Bag; I didn’t understand why he could like that kind of person. That night, I found out.

I was having trouble sleeping, so I stayed awake imagining what it would be like to be Michael Scofield. The door opened and someone came in. I turned to see who it was. I wanted to be sure it wasn’t a ghost. It was father. I sat up on my bed and he sat beside me. He didn’t try to tell me anything. After a few seconds, I lay down on my back and he did the same. Some seconds later, he turned to face me, and then he put his left arm around me. I felt his arm move from my chest to my stomach, and then lower, and lower. I jerked. He brought his arm up to my shoulder and tapped it gently. I’d rather not tell you what happened after that; these are the things I want to forget. I’ve already told you enough, fill in the gap.

Mum came back from Ibadan the next day. My father hugged and kissed her like nothing happened the night before. I hugged and kissed her too. I couldn’t tell her what happened because I didn’t understand it myself. I wish I told her. If I did, maybe my father would have never tried what he did again. But, I didn’t tell her anything, so he did again. And again. And again. For four months straight.

Two months after that night was the first time I saw the bruise on mum’s face. She told me she fell. I wondered what kind of fall could give her that bruise on her forehead; she had a swollen eye too; must have been a bad fall. I never heard anything; I couldn’t hear anything. I started to see wounds on mum more often and I became worried; I pestered her with questions, but she wouldn’t answer. She always said I was too smart for my own good. My father used to call me a ‘precocious’ child. He wrote it down on a piece of paper and asked me to check the meaning in the dictionary. I did and I liked it. I read the dictionary a lot so I knew big words. My lesson teachers also always told me I was good at English Language; one of them used to call me Shakespeare; I liked the name because it looked like that of a genius; I consider myself a genius.

A few weeks to my tenth birthday, I started seeing mum less. My father had stopped coming into my room, maybe mum finally convinced him, but he still beat her a lot. I had seen it happen many times, although they never saw me when I saw them fighting. Also, one time, I saw mum hit his face with a belt buckle, I gasped, but I don’t think they heard me.

Two days before my father disappeared, mum travelled to Ibadan. A day before she travelled, Mr Dosunmu came to drop his keys. That was when I finally understood what was happening. I saw him kiss my mum on the lips. She knew I was in the dining room and didn’t care that I saw them. The next day, mum travelled to Ibadan. Two days later, my father was gone. Never to be seen again, I hope.

The night my father disappeared, nobody saw anything. Not even Mrs Danladi. But I knew what happened and I promised myself I would never tell anyone. Not even my mum knows I know.