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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 to
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 that…

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—
warm.

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 the bathroom.

“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
confused.

“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 bathroom door for a long time to break it if he could.”

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 fart?

“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 approached 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 have
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 me:
“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
so.

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 says:
“Hannah…” That is the name of my mother.
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. Sometimes 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 speaking
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 offence.

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 think.


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