Father and I rushed home. A thick cloud of smoke had engulfed our homestead. The wails and cries by our neighbors meant it was a bad incident. Something dreadful had happened to my family. It didn’t take me long to notice what had happened. Our house had caught fire. We had lost it all. Our house was burning down. On making inquiries as to whether any one had been trapped in, we were informed of something nasty. All the members of my family save for me and my father had been trapped in the house. My mother and five brothers had been consumed by the inferno. People had tried to save them but it was all in vain. My family died in the fire. I was hopeless, I felt useless, inadequate. I wished that I too could have been consumed by the same fire that had wiped off my family. I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t imagine something that gruesome could have happened to me. I hated life for taking what was so precious to me. I cried. I cried more. I couldn’t contain myself. I looked at my father, the look on his face showed devastation. He looked exhausted, he stood there wondering what was going on. He wanted to weep but could not. All my life, I had never seen my father weep. His stoic character helped him conceal his troubles. One couldn’t know when he was suffering. He had learnt a way of hiding his problems from everyone. He always seemed happy. He never wanted to show his sadness to the world. But on that direful day, he showed his sorrow. That was the first time I had seen my father in sadness.


The fire that consumed my family, our house and everything in it


As everyone else tried to put out the fire, all I could think of was how life could be without my mother. She had been my rock, my role model and my inspiration. I couldn’t imagine facing the world without my mother checking my back.


My poor soul was bleeding, my father too was in distress, I could see how his face was in pain. I moved closer to my father to be with him and probably share with him the pain. When I got to where he was, my father looked at me then dropped down, like a dry twig on a tree which had given up during a drought. He passed out. I screamed and called for help. Holding him, I could feel how empty his heart was. Neighbors came to where I was, and carried my father to the clinic. I was writhing in pain. Agonizing thoughts flew in my mind, pacing left and right like there was a racing contest. I was emotionally distressed. My heart was undergoing torture, I prayed that all this could come to pass.


The night came and darkness worsened my situation. My thoughts blinded me that I could not see clearly. My friend, Gabu had taken me to their home. He was full of hospitality, his mother prepare a meal for me but I didn’t feel like taking it. The food was tasteless in my mouth, life was tasteless. I was later shown a place I could lay my head to rest but was unable to. I cried till I slept.


I had a nightmare and woke up at midnight. I was sweating profusely. My eyes had swollen. My ears were iron-hot. My fingers and toes were cold like ice. I wasn’t my self. I was something else. I woke up and went out. I wanted to be alone. I loathed and loved the night at the same time. I hated that it was too dark and I was alone outside and I loved it that it was dark and I was alone. I didn’t care about anything. I then remembered that my father had passed out, and had been taken to the clinic. Without thinking twice, I started walking and headed to the clinic. The clinic was a kilometer away and I knew I could get there within a few minutes. I needed to see the state of my father. He had been weak the last time I had seen him. He could not contain himself. He had passed out and had been taken to the clinic. The once strong and intelligent man had despaired.


I reached the clinic’s entrance and asked where my father had been taken. I almost passed out when I got to the room. The nurses there were covering him up. He looked lifeless. He was lifeless. He had stopped breathing. The sight of his body crashed my world. It had only been a few hours earlier when I had lost my very dear mother and siblings, now my father was gone. What would become of me? I breathed in and out, tried to compose my self then asked one of the nurses what had happened. “We are sorry. He died of shock..” My world turned dark. I wanted to take my own life too. How could so many bad things happen to one individual? I questioned the existence a bigger being of who watched us. Why would God allow such things to happen? Or was it the work of the devil. Who was this behind my misery?

I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. Morning came, and the sun which shone brightly radiated it’s rays on my my swollen eyes. I went to check out our house which had been reduced to ashes. The ashes which had been my families bodies plus what we had had in the house. Cruel world this is. I thought. Cruel like Hitler.

Days later, and my father was buried. He was laid six feet under with all the wisdom he had possessed. I was glad he had shared some of the knowledge he had with me. One of the most intelligent men I have ever known. As he lays in his grave, I’m forever proud that I was his son.

Exasperation, frustration, anger and fury was all I have known for years. After the death of those I treasured most, I’ve never known life to be the same again. When bored, I often take out my Piano and play some music. The piano helps me forget my state for a while. The once hopeful and full of life man that was me faded eons ago. The optimist died, and left someone who is half pessimistic and half confused. I had hoped to change the society, change the community like the elite who my father was fond of talking about. I had wished to ascend to the highest ladder of education in school.

Sometimes I do take a stroll down the river, like my father did years ago. I walk like a lone ranger. Time has failed to erase the wounds in my heart. Walking down the river clears my head for a while, before ugly memories camp in my mind again. I lost it all. I had hoped for a bright future for my family, community and all that I cared for, but something tragic happened. I almost lost my sanity. Fate made me live in the state I am in. With depression and solitude being my company, I try to hold on the little percentage of hope left in me as I grieve. The path which leads to the river understands the weight of my feet, and vacuum in my heart.




The path which leads to the river understands the weight of my feet, and vacuum in my heart.