From the day I found out I was going to be a dad, everything changed for me, I grew up almost instantly, and I was determined to be the best husband and father I could be.
My wife was a wonderful woman, she brought me joy beyond measure, and I remember always teasing her, about giving me a copy of herself, so I could have two of them, and she did just that, our daughter; Claudia was born, June 12th, 1988, that was the second happiest day of my life, the first being my wedding day.
I held Claudia in my arms, she stared up at me with her big cute eyes, and I promised her I would never let anything happen to her, I swore I would rather die, than see any harm come to her, and I meant it.
The years passed, and Claudia grew up, she was normal, and went through all the stages, the “I hate boys” stage, which was my personal favorite, the “I am aware of my body/I want boys to notice me” stage, didn’t like that stage very much, and then the “I am a grown woman, off to college stage”, I had dreaded this stage from the day she was born, but her mother always said, “you cannot hide her under your wing forever”, she was right, I had to let her go and hope everything would be alright.
Claudia left, I wasn’t worried, I knew she was going to be fine, I knew she would be fine.
In her usual way she breezed through college, time went by with Claudia, as though some cosmic force was in a hurry to see her grow up, don’t get me wrong, I was happy my baby was achieving things in leaps and bounds, but sometimes I just got worried, worried that everything was moving too fast.
After college she decided work for herself as an IT consultant, she might as well, because I never saw her as a nine to five woman anyway, she stayed with us, I mean there was no point living on her own, call me old fashioned, but I never saw it as a right thing for a single woman to live alone, but secretly it was my own little way of keeping both my girls as close to me as i possibly could.
Then he happened……..
She met him, while consulting for a firm here in town, and from the way she always talked about him, I knew she was smitten, my little girl was finally in-love, don’t get me wrong though, she had been in-love lots of times, and she had fallen out of love lots of times too, but there was something about this that was different, I could feel it, and even though I didn’t like it, I was happy for my baby.
Claudia and ikenna got married after just a year of dating, he owned a small transport company, and was doing well for himself, he was a nice boy, nothing too extra-ordinary about him, he had only his mother, he had informed me he father passed away a few years before, I was against an early marriage, they were going too fast I thought, but my wife, and other family members, would not allow me slow things down, well I guess it was an African thing, I remember my wife saying “be happy she has found someone who is responsible enough to marry her, you have a good daughter, so be grateful”, and after she said that, I let it all go, and gave my blessing.
A few months into the marriage, I began noticing changes in Claudia, I noticed she didn’t answer her calls like she used to, I mean I knew she was married now, and had other responsibilities, but 8 out of 10 times, her husband would answer her calls, and would always tell me she would call back, and whenever she called back, her excuses always seemed rehearsed, and there was this forced cheerfulness about her now, I knew something was wrong.
I told my wife about it, and she dismissed it, she said I worried too much, and that I should give them space, I tried to give them space, but when Claudia came to visit one Sunday afternoon, I knew something was seriously wrong.
We just got back from church, and we met Claudia at the front door, she looked broken, her smile was a tired smile, her eyes were filled with fear and suspicion, this was not my Claudia, I tried hard to get her to tell me what was wrong, but she wouldn’t budge, and at a point she really got upset with me, told me to mind my business, and left the house, I was furious and immediately got on the phone with her husband ikenna, and asked him to see me immediately.
He came over that evening, and I told him in very plain terms, that I didn’t like the way Claudia was looking when she came over earlier, his surprised look, showed me he didn’t know she had been here, and he suddenly seemed very agitated, and while I spoke and proceeded to give him some fatherly advice, I noticed his fist clenching, he was really getting worked up, and so I stopped, I told him to take things easy, and no matter what problems there might seem to be now, they could both work it out.
He left, and I was troubled.
Later that night, I asked my wife if Claudia had told her about any troubles she was having at home, she denied any knowledge of any problems Claudia might be having, and since I had agitated two people already, I decided not to push this anymore; maybe I was just being paranoid.
Later that night I woke up troubled, I just couldn’t sleep, I felt something was terribly wrong, and when I tapped my wife to see if she was asleep, I noticed her eyes were red, not from sleep, but from crying, my heart missed a beat, and I asked her in a very stern tone, to tell me what was going on, she went on to tell me that ikenna had been beating Claudia, my baby, the same child I had never laid my hands on, and when I asked why she had not told me all this before now, she said she was afraid as to how i might react.
I was furious, I got out of bed, got dressed and headed for Claudia’s home, and I was going to put a stop to this once and for all, my heart was racing and I felt sick in my stomach, I pulled up at their home, and immediately went in, it was very quiet, the lights were on, I tried to open the door, but it was locked, so I banged on it, a neighbor emerged from out back and motioned for me to come over, she told me they had been loud screams coming from their flat, and that ikenna had left a few minutes before I arrived, we went to the back door and forced it open, I ran into the house calling out for my Claudia, I was panicking, and then suddenly saw her laying on the couch in the living room, I rushed to her, my heart sank when I saw her, her eyes had been beaten shut, the had a swollen lip, and bruises all over her arms, she could barely move, she could barely speak, and when I tried to carry her up, she winced in pain, and that was when I noticed the blood, the couch was soaked with it, she had a large gash in her side, and it looked like a stab wound, she was bleeding, I quickly picked her up, grabbed a towel from the kitchen in an attempt to stop the bleeding, I put her in the car and drove to the hospital with the nice neighbor lady, I called my wife on the way.
We arrived at the hospital, she was immediately rushed into surgery, while I waited for my wife to arrive, I called ikenna’s number severally, it rang for a bit, and after a while it was switched off, I called the police, and explained everything, they sent two officers to the hospital to see things for themselves, my wife arrived and she was beside herself, she wept without control, I didn’t attempt to console her, all I wanted was to find ikenna and ask the question, why did he do this to my child?
The police arrived and took statements from myself and the nice neighbor lady, they had to wait for my wife to calm down, before they could ask her any questions, Claudia was still in surgery when I left with the police to make a former complaint, I got to the station, wrote my statement again, and left.
Claudia died a few hours after surgery, she had lost too much blood, she had broken ribs and a punctured lung, my baby had been beaten to death, and I was not there to protect her.
Ikenna was arrested and charged with murder, he was not charged with abuse, just murder, the police simply stated they didn’t have substantial evidence to bring abuse charges against him, no one had ever reported abuse, and her wounds could be as a result of anything.
I was there when Claudia was born, I helped pick out her first bed, I picked out her first bike, I walked her to school on her first day, I helped pick out her first car, and now I picked out her casket.
I don’t understand it; I never raised my hand to hit my wife or child, why did he take my baby away from me.
I made a promise to Claudia, never to let any harm come to her, I didn’t keep that promise, and I let that bastard take her away from me.
He was charged with just murder, not abuse.
By Arome Ameh (The Priest)
Posted by Arome Ameh (The Priest) From WordPress for Android