How Autumn feels like to me.
It was autumn again, the time of the year I hated the most. I sat under a mango tree watching kids play around happily. I wondered how it felt to laugh and play happily with no worries at all. Everywhere was littered with yellow, red and brown leaves from deciduous trees. The leaves seem to fall every minute. There were many rotten fruits which had fallen off from the tree. The male kids used the rotten fruits as footballs. The wind whistled in my ears as I sat under the tree, blowing dust into my eyes. Everywhere smelt of frost and wood fire.
That morning, the yellow smiling sun was close to the horizon blinding me more often than not. This made me think that the sun shine more brightly in autumn than in summer. Autumn, for some people, was the best time of the year maybe because of the way the sun felt on their skin or maybe because of the sweet feeling of crunching and swishing their feet through piles of dead leaves but for me, autumn was the worst season of the year and I hated it with all the energy in me.
While animals gather foods in autumn and those with furs grow thicker coats in preparation to winter, I’m wondering what misfortune would come upon me in autumn. I’ve always been wondering what new thing would happen to me in autumns ever since I was seven years old.
Autumn was the time I lost both of my parents before my eyes. It was the time I watched them die. The time I touched their cold bodies. The time I watched them breathe their last breath and the time I watched their eyelids close forever.
This was how it all happened...
My dad was a worker in one of the companies close to my school. My mother was a trader. She sold foodstuffs in her shop which was in front of our house. I was the only child of my parents so I was loved and taken care of.
One day, my father brought a huge sum of money home. He kept it inside a huge bag. He told my mother that the manager of the company he was working in asked him to keep the money for him.
“He said he was traveling early the next morning and didn’t want to take the money along with him so he asked me to keep it for him in a bank. I brought the money home because all banks has closed for the day.” My father said. My mum wasn’t really happy to keep a huge sum of money in the house especially when it wasn’t hers.
“What if something happens to the money?” My mum had asked.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Nothing will happen. No one knows about the money. Tomorrow, I will go to the bank and deposit it there.” My dad had encouraged but my dad was wrong. Something strange happened in the night.
We were asleep on the bed when we heard some banging on our door. My parents and I shared a bed. I often slept at the middle of them both. I heard the bangs first so I woke my parents up immediately. The bangs reduced and we sat up on the bed still in shock. Then we heard the front door open. I froze. We always locked our doors whenever it was dark. How could a person pass through the front door when it was locked? My parents jumped out of the bed and my mum dialed some numbers on her phone. I guess it was the police’s number.
There was a secret opening on our ceiling. My dad had opened it incase there was any trouble so my dad carried me up and aided me as i entered the hole. He then carefully closed the hole with the slates of the ceiling but he left a slight space for me to breathe.
Just then, the door of the bedroom flung opened and four huge men walked in. Their faces were covered with scary masks. They were armed with guns. My parents froze immediately the men barged in. I stared through the slight space watching everything that was going on in fear.
“Hands up!” One of the masked men ordered and my parents quickly obeyed. Then the eyes of the men rove about until it settled on my mum’s phone which was lying on the bed with the lights on. The man who had spoken earlier grabbed the phone and stared at it.
“So you were making calls?” He roared.
“No, I wasn’t.” My mum quivered.
“Shut up!” The man roared as he slapped my mum hard on the face. My mum lost her balance and fell to the floor. My hands flew to my mouth as I swallowed my shriek. My dad ran to my mum and held her closely to him.
“Please, don’t harm us. What do you want?”
“You know what we want.” The man who seemed to be the leader of the gang replied. He threw my mum’s phone to the ground and crushed it with his boots.
“Please, I don’t know what you want.” My dad quivered in fear.
“The money you collected. We want it.” Another masked man voiced out.
“I don’t know about any money. Please.” My father pleaded.
“Of course you do. You brought a huge sum of money home. Where is it?” The leader of the gang blurted out.
I flinched. How did they know my father brought money home?
“I don’t know what you’re talking...” The leader kicked my father on the lips preventing him from completing his statement. My father coughed and spat out blood. Then the man dragged my mother up and put his gun to her head.
“Bring the money out or your wife would be a dead meat.” He threatened. I could see his bloodshot eyes from his masks.
“Please, don’t kill my wife, I’ll bring the money out. Don’t kill my wife.” My dad begged.
“We won’t if you bring the money out. Where is the money?” The leader barked.
“It’s under the bed.” My dad informed.
“Poison!” The leader called one of his members. “Check for the money under the bed.”
The poison did as he was told as he brought out the bag of money. My dad shut his eyes and shook his head.
“So you were lying to us?” The leader grinned.
“At least you have the money now. Let my wife go, please!”
“That’s for me to decide.” The leader grinned broadly. He seemed to be enjoying himself. Immediately, my mum bit his arms that were wrapped tightly around her necks. The thief yelped in pain releasing my mum. My mum gestured to run to my father but was shot at the back by another thief. The gunshot resounded in my head as I watched my mother fall slowly to the ground with her lips slightly parted. My dad ran to her as he screamed. He held her in his arms and cupped her face.
“Darling, don’t do this to me. Please wake up!” He wailed as he tears dropped profusely on her face.
The leader of the thieves threw his head back and roared with laughter and the other members joined him
“You lied. You said you wouldn’t kill her if I brought the money out.” My dad yelled as tears fell from his eyes.
I watched fearfully at all that was going on. I was too scared to scream and too shock to close my eyes so I wouldn’t see this dreadful event.
“Shut up! don’t worry, you will be with your wife shortly. Say your last prayer.” The leader mocked as he pulled the trigger. The bullet hit my dad right on his heart and my dad fell down backwards hitting his head on the floor. His eyes were wide open and they were staring at me. I tried to open the slate that was used to cover me but my dad shook his head slowly before he gave up the ghost. The thieves then carried the bag of money and stormed out of the house. I could hear their footsteps and the banging of doors. I wondered why no one came to our rescue. We had neighbours who lived close by. They must have heard the the gunshots and the banging of the doors. Aren’t we to be our brother’s keeper?
I watched thick blood flow out of my parents’ bodies as they laid motionless. I pulled the slates slowly as I jumped down from the ceiling. I took stumbling steps towards my parents.
“Mum, dad, wake up.” To me they were temporarily asleep. I couldn’t believe they were dead.
I sat next to them and held their hands in my tiny hands. Their hands were cold and stiff. I bought them to my face as tears rolled out of my eyes. I thought about all the promises my parents made to me. I thought about Thanksgiving and Halloween. My dad had promised to take me to Grandma Ezinne. My mum had promised to take me along with her so we could buy my Halloween costume together. Who would fulfil all these promises now?
I didn’t realise I had fallen asleep on my parents’ corpses until I felt a strong hand draw me up. I rubbed my sleepy eyes with my left hand as I stared into the faces of the people in the room. They were all staring at me with pitiful eyes. I could recognise some of my neighbours and I guess the rest were police men because all of their uniforms.
“Her parents are dead. Inspector Kamson, take the young child to the station while we carry out investigations.” The man that drew me up ordered.
I protested as the strange policeman whose name was Kamson, as earlier stated, held my hands. I screamed into his face. I told him I wanted to stay with my parents.
“Poor kid. Come with me to the station.” The police man told me.
I was served a very delicious meal in the station and I was also asked series of questions. I narrated all that had happened to them and they all stared at me with pitiful eyes.
I stayed with one of the policewomen for three days before I was taken to an orphanage home and there I lived till date.
The children at the orphanage refused to talk or play with me. They called me dumb and stupid. I didn’t mind because I had nothing to say to them. I had earlier heard one of the nurses at the orphanage say I had gone into autism. I wondered what she meant by that.
All I wanted more than ever was to be with my parents.
★ ★ ★
As I sat under the mango tree, I stared at the bright sky hoping to see my parents in it. I wondered if they were staring back at me. I wondered when I would be able to meet with them again.
As I stared at the sky, yellow leaves dropped on my shoulders and laps. I picked one of the leaves up and sighed. How I hated autumns!