April 9th 1994.
Loud, thunderous yells boom through the clay walls. In fear I run to the corner of the room half a meter away from the nearest window. My mother’s scream fills the house, high and shrill, “No! No! Please! No!”
I move towards the window and peek over my shoulder towards the muddy roads covered in potholes and see my mother’s body being dragged over the ground by men, one of them I recognize to be my neighbour. Her screams stop and I shut my eyes. My arm is jerked and my father picks me up. Behind me the smell of petrol lurks and then flames. We run and don’t stop.
February 16th 1997
“Akin, hand out a pencil to each of your classmates”, my teacher had ordered.
With my chest pounding I took in a deep breath and stood up hesitantly, walking over the dirt floor towards an old and rusty cabinet filled with stationary and equipment the other boys and girls and myself had never used before. It was our first day of school, most of us were 8 years old.
“Hurry up Akin!” the teacher repeated impatiently.
Instructions, orders, demands.
Later that day I hid, sobbing softly behind a half-destroyed wall in my small, disintegrating house. My father found me, “Akin come out of there,” he yelled. I was taken back by his tone so I turned my head away from his loud voice and buried my face deeper into my folded arms. His expression I guessed softened and he finally knelt down beside me and placed his dry, worn hands on my knees. After a moment of hesitation, he gently lifts his left hand and rests it on my shoulder but I moved, allowing his hands to fall away.
“Akin son, why did you run away school?” He seemed eager for an answer, but he didn’t receive one. We sat across from each other, just him and I but I don’t face him. I was scared. I wish I hadn’t been like that as I knew it hurt him. No father would want to have his only son never talk to him or even yet, look at him and not think he was safe and secure.
“Akin, my son, forgive me, please talk to...