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"A Touching Story"

Episode 1

I feel a cold touch at my back. It is
harmattan period. I
just want to be left on my bed. I turn
around like a fat
cake, but mother turns me around again.
I can see her
mouth moving. I wonder what she is
saying. But
certainly she can’t be saying anything
more than the
fact—I am lazy.
My school is in Ejigbo, Lagos. They say
we are special
people, yet I haven’t perceived anything
special about
us. Some of us can’t talk. Some of us
can’t walk; some
of us can’t see, yet they say we are
special. Well, I am
not moved a bit by those flatteries.
I look at mother’s hand movements. It is
funny to me. I
smile. I wonder when she will be able to
master the
sign language.
“Rose, get out of bed,” she has managed
communicate with her hands. She has to
repeat each
word just to put them at their best. I
could remember
challenging my teacher some times back
I rise up lazily and go straight for my
bath. When I get
to the bathroom, I see a basin filled with
water there.
Wow! It is warm. I splash the water on
my body. I
observe that the door is shaking but I
didn’t really think
about it. I continue pouring water on my
body. Today in
particular, I spend around thirty minutes
in the
bathroom. The water is just exactly as I
want it to be—
When I step out of the bathroom, daddy
gives me a
scornful look. The grotesque on mother’s
face also
suggests to me that I have done
something wrong
again. Why me all the time?
My father gets into the bathroom and
begins to open his
mouth. Since I am deaf, I didn’t hear
what he is saying,
but my mother is opening her mouth too
in return. They
understand each other—it’s only we, the
special one so
called, that can’t understand them.
Mother helps father to carry a bucket of
water into the
bathroom. That man—always angry. I
don’t know his
problem. He is far away from me more
than a stranger.
I wonder why he is my father. Mother
quickly taps me
and I face her when that man has entered
“Rose, you used your father’s water,”
mother says to
me in her amateur sign language, yet she
claims that
she has learnt the language while I was
five years of
age. I wonder what is still keeping her in
the amateur
level till now, after six years.
“I used his water? How?” I ask.
Sometimes my hands
just get tired of speaking. I wonder how I
will be able
to speak if I become paralyzed in my
hands or a bad
accident claims them.
“I put his water in the bathroom first
because he must
be in Ikeja as early as possible.”
“Why don’t you tell me that before I
entered the
bathroom?” I ask.
“Em…Rose…erm…” my mother’s face is
clugged up with
tears. I know she is a very tender person
—not wanting
to raise anything that will remind me of
my status—
deaf and dumb.
“Em what? What has letter ‘M’ got to do
with this?” I am
“When you were leaving, I was calling
you, but you
were too fast. You have already entered
the bathroom.
I only woke you up so that you could go
and brush your
teeth and not to take your bath. Your
daddy will be
angry with us. He has been kicking at the
door for a long time to break it if he
I know what mother is talking about: she
wakes me up;
I rush to the bathroom without looking at
her to hear
from her (you have to look at someone to
see his/her
communication). But if that is the only
thing that has
happened, does it warrant my dad
frowning at me in
that manner as if I am nothing but a
“Is he my daddy? I doubt it,” I say.
Mother doesn’t want
my eyes to get those tears in them
again. She comes
on time to wipe them off for me. I don’t
believe I have
a daddy yet. The only pictures I took with
that man
mother calls my dad are the ones during
my one year
and two years birthdays. No recent
pictures, yet I am
already eleven. Maybe if he knew that I
would never
speak in life, he would not have snapped
those pictures
with me then.
Who creates me? I am sure it is not the
same God who
creates the other people on earth. I have
my mother once and said, “Don’t you
think it is satan
who creates me?”
“Don’t say that again Rose!” mother
replies me. The
vigour with which she moves her hands
shows to me
that she is shouting.
“But why can’t I hear and speak?” I
challenge her. “I
thought that they say that all the things
he creates
were good.”
“You are good either,” she says to me.
“Good?” I laugh mockingly. Those lips of
mine, what
can they do other than eating, laughing
and crying? I
have been advised by my teachers to
laugh always,
since it will prevent my mouth from
smelling. But I
don’t seem to see the reason for
laughing at all. I only
laugh to make jest of people sometimes.
Nothing again
can make me laugh, even if you tickle me
I won’t.
I didn’t feel like going to school that day
again. That
man in the bathroom has killed my joy.
How I wish I am
not born into this family. If I am born
into another
family, it’s only my mother I will miss.
Who cares about
John, that wicked man? I think.
Reluctantly, I sit at the table. If only
mummy can allow
me have my own meal inside my room
and not at the
dinning table. Or what is the essence of
eating at the
dinning table when my daddy is having
his own food in a
separate dish? It’s only my mother and I
who eat
together in the same plate.
I see the way John is leering at me as if
he should just
lock me up somewhere. He is guzzling
the food as if he
hasn’t eaten since the day before
yesterday. He can’t
even communicate with me since he has
refused to
learn the sign language like my mother.
He will only tell
my mother to tell me anything he wanted
to tell me,
yet if he has written them down I would
understood him. I have perceived that
mother doesn’t
use to tell me what my father was asking
her to tell
me. Perhaps my father’s words will be
too harsh on me.
She has to come out clear one day when
the preacher
in our church condemns the act of lying
in all its
ramifications. That day, mother said to
me that she has
been telling me the opposites of what
father has been
asking her to tell me. I didn’t need to ask
her what
exactly he has been saying since
commonsense is
there in me to know that they were
unpleasant things.
I am looking away while eating. Mother
taps me. A
mould of amala is still in her grip, but
she has
something to tell me. With the food in
her hand, mother
gestures to me, “Rose, your daddy says
you should stop
looking away from your food.”
I frown.
I know that what he said is more than
that. His face can
tell it all—many wrinkles on his forehead.
If only he can
speak in a mild manner to me, it had
been better.
I quickly readjust and eat my food,
silently as usual,
since there isn’t any noise I want to
make. I see daddy
speaking to her again. This time, mummy
speaks back
with an angry face. It seems as if they
are on my
matter again. At last, mummy speaks to
“Rose, don’t get angry, but your dad says
that I should
tell you that if his boss gets angry at
him for coming
late to office today, then you are in
trouble. But don’t
mind him, Rose, he can’t do anything for
you.” That is
how my mummy will always say, yet that
man will beat
both of us together whenever it is time
for him to do
My father looks at us as if he is
suspecting that my
mother is saying more than he said to
her. I look at his
mouth and I am able to figure out the
first word he
“Hannah…” That is the name of my
I fold my hands and didn’t eat again.
Father didn’t even
care. He has finished eating the amala.
He has begun to
rush out of the house. That Volkswagen
he has, he
hasn’t used it to take me to school once.
my mummy will use it to take me there if
he is on
afternoon duty, since he will be sleeping
in the morning
by then.
Father points to me as if he is
threatening me when he
gets to the door. Mother is just looking
at him. When he
leaves, she rushes to me and hugs me
tight. She was
shedding tears as she presses her lips
firmly against
my cheek.
I am off to school. Mother takes me
there herself
before going to her own work too.
Throughout the
school period, I didn’t speak a word. Mrs
Oyin, our class
teacher is surprised. How come Rose’s
name didn’t
enter the name of noise maker today?
she must have
thought (we write names of noise makers
in our school
too; making unnecessary sign language
is a noise).
Mrs. Oyin is a second mother to us. She
likes everyone
of us in Primary Six B. When she comes
into the class to
punish the noise makers, she calls me
out and takes me
out of the class. If only I can hear, then
she would not
have taken me out of the class. She
would just have
whispered into my ears.
In the office, she says, “Why are you not
today?” I tell her there is nothing.
When I get back home, daddy was
already inside. I am
surprised. He is supposed to be in the
office by then.
I go on my knees to greet him, but then,
he slaps me
on the face. I scream with all the power
inside me. He
will be the only one to suffer the sound
from my throat.
He didn’t leave me alone. He has come
on me, punching
me like a punching bag. Mother rushes in
at once and
begin to prevent him. But it is too late.
My eyes are
swollen already, yet I didn’t know my
It is the next day I know what has
happened. My father
has been suspended from office for two
weeks for
getting late to work that day. But does
that call for
dealing with me brutally that way?
God should kill me once and for all, I

To be continued

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