A man came by the other day, with a weird object hanging around his neck. His appearance had me staring like he was some sort of god descending upon us. His clothes were not filthy like ours – he had a pair of clean black shorts and the whitest polo I’d ever seen. His sneakers made me scheme silently to get my hands on them and see if my filth would rub off on the pair. We have lived here since our escape, my sister and I. She is my other half, the only treasure I was left with after our parents died.

We were separated and made to live with uncles from both our paternal and maternal side – I wish I had gotten the paternal uncle instead of my sister. I had so much fun with my maternal uncle and his wife, they over-pampered me despite the fact that they didn’t have much. Little did I know that they were plotting my imminent death by using me for money ritual. I was clueless until the day I stumbled upon them during a secret discussion on my way to the kitchen. You can imagine my shock at the time.

I’ve always been quick on my feet and brain right from age 2 so I knew no one would really believe a statement from a mere 8 year old boy over that of the adults in my country. I won’t tell you what country I’m from so you don’t lose trust in my people but a lot of children are used for money rituals here and someday I do hope to stop it.

Pardon my diversion from my narration, I can’t help but point out the relevant aspect in this. I’d let you form your own perception.

I ran like a fool on that fateful day. I call it a foolhardy move because I could have planned it all by leaving with at least a pair of shoe on my feet. I ran with a destination in mind, to my supposed salvation which I thought would be found in uncle number two. Sadly, my marathon got me to a house of a screaming child which I identified as that of my other half.

I wondered and pondered within the space of two seconds about what the hell could be going on. My feet once again acted faster than my brain as I ran all the way up the stairs despite my fatigue. I was weary because I knew my discovery would not make me happy. How right I was when I stumbled upon a scene I still replay over and over and over again, even in my dream.

My sister lay like a corpse on the floor, her right hand at an angle I could not fathom. I just knew it wasn’t normal. Her right leg was scarred like it had been burnt in a furnace, I still wonder how she’d survived going through that. My mother used to braid her long hair which she flaunted everywhere but as I stared at her bald head I was struck with shock.

I had no idea I was weeping until the wolf in sheep’s clothing looked up and stared at me, she’s my mean aunty. In her hand was an iron that had traces of flesh on it, I could smell it, the foul odour of burnt rubber – my sister’s skin.

I looked down and saw her back, my sister’s back, it had that distinctive shape of a triangle. I let out a cry of torture as the devil walked towards me. My uncle ran in at that moment, from the room before me, where on earth had he been? He looked shocked at what he saw but I believe he was shocked I saw what was happening.

The next thing I knew we were at the hospital. A day or two is all it took for me to realize the police would not come through. No one believed me, after all I was only a little boy. The nurses thought I was delusional – just another case of a traumatic child who misses his mother.

I sat beside her on her sick bed, she might not have looked like herself but when she opened her eyes finally, I felt a burst of joy flood in. I was excited my other half was alive which gave me every reason to fight for mine.

I walked around that hospital like a stranger, trying to be the wall that had ears, wanting to know what the adults were plotting. It paid off as I heard it all. My maternal uncle was coming for me and my paternal uncle would definitely support me.

How could no one understand that my twin got in here through an abuse and not an accident? I discovered she was a regular, she was termed as a damage to herself. They believe this was another case of Mie cupa, ‘I did it to myself’.

I cried in silence ‘cos I was just an 8 year old boy. What was I to do? Wait for a savior?

A week later I allowed my feet be creative yet again. I whispered to my twin that we’d be alright. I grabbed her hand and wrapped my arm around her, we walked in silence and played the ghost to others. We went unnoticed I think or maybe we were seen but ignored, who knows?

Ran we did, on and on, to nowhere. I carried my twin on my back ‘cos she was just too weak to walk on her own two feet. If she died on me I’d be a fool who grabbed a pitiful child from agony to misery. So I was desperate to survive, determined to do all I could for her.

But the strange thing happened and we met a savior, a little old dog came, its true form still unknown. It led us through a bushy path and I walked on and on. I was not weak or exhausted, I felt stronger than ever.

We arrived at a deserted hut  which seem like a new paradise for us after hours of trekking through our wilderness. Anywhere from pain is what we define that.

I lay my sister upon the tattered mat. I sigh of relief. It was all in the hands of the savior to fend for us.

Everyday felt like a year. Fending for ourselves, a doctor I became. I treated our weird ailments and became the breadwinner out of the blues. The dog remained there as our daily companion and our best friend.

A day came after several had passed and we went on our knees to pray. Our paradise was becoming a nightmare with the harmful companions of the deep dark forest.

The very next day, our dog ran away, who were we to know that he was a messenger sent to bring in a new savior?

Before his uninvited visit my twin sister and I were having a feast. We were munching off the leftover meal from last night, a rare rat-like beast.

We heard a familiar bark a distance away. We felt glad for our dog was back to stay. Then came the stranger with the weird object hanging around his neck. His appearance had me staring like he were some sort of god descending upon us.His clothes were not filthy like ours – he had a pair of clean black shorts and the whitest polo I’d ever seen. His sneakers made me scheme silently to get my hands on them and see if my filth would rub off on the pair.

With a click he took a shot. This triggered my memory of the life I used to have. While staring at his outstretched hand I contemplated my options. Should I remain in this hell-like paradise or move on to a new fate?

Whatever choices I make, as long as I have her beside me, safe and protected, I will be fine. She alone is my one and only paradise. The source of joy I’m glad I’ve found.


This article was written bu Sarah Ifidon

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