Chief Uche Ahmed Akin-Brown was my father. He was a great business tycoon, a hard worker, a philanthropist. Everyone called him a good man. He was a devout man. He fasted with the Muslims and celebrated with the Christians. He saw God as one. At work he was the kind- hearted boss, firm, but always just. His employees praised him, his competitors reluctantly admired him. He was offered a few political positions, but he refused saying he would rather use his influence for the good of humanity and not get corrupted by power and fame.
On the home front, he was the best husband to my mum and the best dad one could ever wish for. He was our superman, hero of heroes. The fearless cockroach that enters the presence of chickens, the undaunting fly that perches on the lips of the lizard, the daring mosquito that dances samba to the spray of the fumigator. That was my father!
Growing up as the first child came with its pecks. I had a set of twin brothers who were 5 years younger than me, but I was daddy’s girl. He was so proud of me; practically showcased me to everyone like a beautiful doll in a show glass. I was his little angel. “I will do anything for you”, he had said and I believed him. I loved my daddy.
I matured very early and was a splitting image of my mummy. At 12, I was already looking 16 and turning out to be very curvy. Daddy would tease me and call me “little mummy”, then after a while, he started calling me “sweet- apple”. Mummy pretended to feel jealous and joked about how attached daddy was to me. I enjoyed the attention, who wouldn’t. Mummy got pregnant few months to my 13th birthday and this pregnancy made her very sick. It hit my daddy particularly very hard. He would come to me sharing his concerns about mummy and his regrets for getting her pregnant so advanced in age. I didn’t know what to say, so I just listened. I sincerely felt for him, he was miserable. Some days, he would walk into my room unannounced catching me in very embarrassing moments. At first, I didn’t mind, but after a while, it seemed off so I began locking my door. His intrusions stopped.
One night, mummy had complications and had to be rushed to hospital. I was terrified … I couldn’t sleep. Daddy came home looking a way I had never seen him before, his eyes were wild. It seemed he had been drinking. He said mummy was critically ill. He was dejected. He however, encouraged me to go to sleep while he checked on my brothers who were fast asleep in their room… I had barely drifted off when I heard my door creak. Daddy walked in and sat on my bed, through the thin light that sipped through the curtain I could see he was crying again. He told me he was lonely and he missed mummy so much… he asked if he could lie beside me a while… before I could reply he was under my sheets, then I felt him touch me gently, he rubbed my tights, his hands moved up slowly, his breathing changed and his word were inaudible, confused and scared, I bolted out of bed. He got up disheveled, planted a kiss on my fore rid and said he was sorry.
….Mummy lingered in hospital….I tried unsuccessfully many times to lock the door to my room, but he had the spare. Every night he came to my bed, sometimes, I would hide, but he would find me. I would tell him daddy no! but he wouldn’t listen. The night before mummy came home with my baby sister he sneered at me and said, “Who would believe you?” I cried.
At the dining table he would stare at me and wink, in the kitchen he would stand at the door, stare and wink, while he hugged mummy, he would look at me and wink, I felt sick. He calculated my period and ovulation cycle. He knew when to come. He was my shadow, he terrified me. I hated him!
Mum, suspected nothing, in fact they renewed their wedding vows with so much shameless display of affection.
I got a scholarship to study in the US, but a week before I was to leave, Mummy had to travel for a three –day conference. The house was quiet. The twins were in boarding school, and I was in the kitchen preparing supper. Daddy held my little sister, stood by the kitchen door, winked at me and said “sweet apple”.
His burial was filled with accolades. Tears flowed freely, but, my eyes were dry. As I stared at his coffin I recalled the shock in his eyes that night as he foamed from the mouth, he knew, I knew. I smiled.
“ Sister Scholastica, it’s time for the Angelus” the Angelus bell rang from a distance. St Benedict Coventry Michigan was my new home. I adjusted my habit and picked up my chaplet. As I walked towards the chapel, every soft thud of my feet echoed the words in my head, “Daddy No!”