It is today that my father, Ken Saro-Wiwa, will be executed.
My mother and I take quick steps away from our home, gravitating towards the execution grounds with our hearts sunken to our heavy feet. It all seems surreal and I still hold out hope that my family will wake up from the nightmare and Dad will be home drinking tea in his favourite chair again. But mother’s tears are real. I felt them burn my skin the early hours of this morning as we kept watch for sunrise. They were as real as the coolness of the iron gate we just opened. We are here. The gallows are ready and the air is stagnant.
“Sadiq Abacha, it’s time for Salat. Tasowa.” It deeply bothers me that my mother bothers me with religion. A young boy doesn’t ask for much when he wishes to sleep till much later than 5am, I believe. Now here I am, tossing and turning unable to find the extra sleep I long for. I roll sleepy legs off the bed and trudge to the bathroom. I bend over the sink and welcome the refreshing cool water brings—I feel unusually warm and uneasy this morning. Sigh. I might as well count sheep to sleep.
I can see Dad and the other men file out of the building. Mother starts to wail all over again as she sinks into the dust. I gather her and my broken heart into trembling arms– it is happening. Dad is in the middle and he is careful to look in our direction with brave eyes. His eyes are full of faith, his death clothes are injustice and his lips are a firm line of finality. I cannot hear what the pastor is saying to Dad and the other men above mother’s heart-wrenching cries, above the unsympathetic barks of the soldiers for mother to be silent. It really is happening. Dear God, make it stop.
Whoever said this counting sheep business helps anyone sleep anyway. I’m so upset with mother for waking me this particular morning I hope she cannot find sleep either. Not that it would wreck her as much as it is giving me a nasty headache but still…it will be something. I might as well take a bath now and prepare for our trip to Liberia. I want to go with father this time, taking long strides beside him as his dear son. I have been craving a change of scenery since our trip to the United States. I’ll have to be satisfied with these short trips till I go to University.
Dad is blindfolded and has his hands and legs securely tied. They are putting the noose around his neck now and the world has stopped revolving. Mother’s face is burrowed deep into my jalamia, her broken sobs muffled by my body. She can’t bear to look; she wants to wake up from the nightmare—this collective nightmare.
A soldier has his hand ready on the trapdoor lever.
The soap bar dropped just as I lathered my face. I hiss between clenched teeth as I bend to retrieve it.
The trapdoor falls open as the world starts to end. Mother’s scream pierces the morning sky as Dad struggles hopelessly against the noose.
Just as I take one blind step towards the showerhead to rinse my face, the bathroom shifts and my head collides with the wall. “ARGH!”
I stay in the dust with my mother till hope dies.
Gumsu is such an idiot. She is laughing because the doctor put me in a brace for the next one month.
by............ Ibukun Akinnawo (finalist at First bank the writer compitetion)
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