She went missing shortly before the lockdown.
She had a habit of going missing for days but somehow always found her way home, though of course in all of these ‘missings,’ we would usually send a search party out and many times we found her or it turns out that she had been staying with friends or relatives, who would inform us that she was with them.
But this time around, she’s been gone for longer than ever and this is the first time she’s been gone for well over eight months and counting.
How old is she? She is 23 years old and yes, she has a psychological problem; she is…you know, unstable.
She was born like that; in fact, when we began to notice she was ‘different,’ we took her to several churches, thinking perhaps it was a demonic attack…that’s what my mother-in-law believed. My wife also thought, someone was attacking her. She said when she was pregnant with my daughter, she had series of bad dreams…Well. I don’t agree but I do not argue with the women. I know my daughter might be autistic. Way back when she was younger, I just thought she was being stubborn, you know, she wouldn’t respond to commands, wouldn’t play with her siblings and would go into a rage seemingly without reason!
My wife and I were at that time not educated enough to know about children who had this kind of condition…
When Mope, that is my daughter’s name, began school, it was one day one trouble; teachers couldn’t get her to participate in class work…nobody thought about autism, they all said, she was ‘possessed.’ We pulled her out of several schools.
But this is what grieves my heart as a father; where is my daughter?
Is she alive somewhere? Is she being held against her will?
Is she someone’s sex slave? You know? She being a girl, you worry about things like that.
My sleeping moments are short; my food is sparse. I keep thinking, I am here eating, maybe my daughter is being held somewhere dark and frightful and given no food. I have prayed and my wife keeps moving from church to church from prophet to imam…looking into things to find where our daughter is, if she still is… I have chosen not to involve myself in any of these; I trust the one true God and all I pray for is that He should just take her life!
Is she dead? I would prefer that.
I said I prefer her dead not because I hate her, I love that child more than my own life but we have put her through many things in her short life, many things because we didn’t understand why she was the way she was. I told you my wife took her to several churches, several praying hills and to be honest at the beginning, I followed them but after a while, I decided that maybe we should home school the girl, maybe we should just keep her at home…this worked for a while. Until she got into her teenage years. You know, 14, 15…thereabout.
She began to change and we thought we had been successful with her; we made sure she crammed our phone numbers in case she got into trouble and needed help; this took a while but eventually, she could recite both our numbers, just like that.
She made a few friends in the neighbourhood. She would sometimes go to their houses and refuse to come home.
Thankfully these were people known to us so, they would call to say our daughter is with them and refuses to go home. We would plead with some to keep her or we would go there and drag her screaming and clawing back home.
As she grew older, you know, we still had episodes of her leaving the house and coming back really late, we had no idea were she went and at some point, she herself couldn’t tell exactly, then we decided to be keeping her virtually under lock and key.
Like I said, all these wanderings weren’t things she was doing with her senses; at that time, I believed she was not okay. You know, she was already about 18years and we couldn’t trust that she would be stable in a university environment, so we decided to encourage her to learn a skill, somewhere nearby that we could keep an eye on her. I mean, what else could we do?
Again, this took effort from all of the family, keeping an eye on her and making sure she got home on time…we began again to witness episodes of her leaving home, staying with people we had no idea about. You know, this was tiring to her siblings but as for me, I resigned myself to one thing… she would go so far one day and we would never be able to bring her back!
I think this is it!
Just before the lock down, she disappeared again. We didn’t even know there was going to be a lockdown; we didn’t know the lockdown would be so stringent as in no movement at all. I still figured that even if we couldn’t go out in the day, we may be able to move around at night, I thought we would just go looking for her like we usually did…we couldn’t though we reported to the police…in case.
My wife and I spent many anxious days looking down our empty streets, keeping our phones on and hoping someone would call to say she was with them…of course we had called everyone my daughter had ever slept in their homes, called her colleagues at the bakery…she trained as a baker…we called everyone we knew, nothing…
How long have we been now after lockdown? we have searched, we have gone to all the mortuaries in this city…nothing…
Mope was never happy, she was a sad child, a child who never got free from her demons…I hope she is dead, so she can rest. No parent should wish death on their child but Mope is best dead!
(series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)