9pm and they still were not back. I paced the sitting room worried and scared that I’d have to lie again to dad if he came back before them. This was getting out of hand. I glanced at the wall clock again and sighed. I decided to sit down on the sofa with my back to the door but I wasn’t comfortable.
The doorbell startled me. I had slept off without knowing it. I looked at the wall clock again and saw it was twenty minutes past 9.
I rubbed my eyes and walked to the door, unlocked and opened it, “Welcome Dad,” I greeted my dad and let him in.
“I’m sorry my princess. Did I wake you up?” he said smiling. I’m sure he saw how sleepy I was.
“Yes you did,” I playfully replied.
He laughed out loud.
“But it’s okay. How was your day?”
“Well, it was stressful as usual. Where are your sisters?”
That question sent a cold shiver down my spines as my heart began to race.
“Ermmmmm, they’re sleeping,” I lied.
He looked at me and saw me smiling awkwardly.
“Amy, i don’t understand why they are always sleeping each time I come back from work. I only get to see them on Sundays or during the public holidays. I want you to go upstairs and tell them to come down this minute. I don’t care if they are dead, wake them up,” he ordered and I knew he wasn’t kidding.
“But dad…….,” I said rubbing the back of my neck. I couldn’t move because I was scared.
He gave me the bad eye and I started walking slowly towards the stairs.
“Fine, I’ll go wake them up myself,” I heard him say as he pushed me aside and made for the stairs.
“Dad,” I managed to call out but he ignored me. I knew for sure that we were busted.
After some minutes of him being up, “Amy!” he roared as he descended the stairs.
I trembled and moved back from the stairs. I could see the anger all over my dad’s face.
When he was finally down, he gazed at me for a while before he finally asked, “Where are they?”
I was scared and confused to answer.
“Amy!!!!!!!,” he bellowed.
“Dad,” I managed to say.
“They went out.”
I hesitated for a while before I finally answered, “Oh dad, I’ve been scared to tell you this because I promised to keep it a secret.”
“Keep what a secret?”
I was twisting and bending my finger, “Ella and Jemima have never been around all those times you came back and asked about them.”
My dad’s eyes widened in amazement.
It was my dad’s turn to pace around the house; I could see how disappointed and angry he was after all I had just told him.
I was so perturbed that I couldn’t even visualize what was going to happen tonight when my sisters showed up.
The long awaited knock came, with his hand cupped around his mouth; he gave me a nod to open the door.
I opened the door but I couldn’t look them in the face.
The expression on their faces when they walked in and saw their macho father facing them was indescribable. Ella stumbled. I could sense the fear all over their faces.
“So I have strippers and,” dad started and then shook his head in disappointment. “And prostitutes living under my roof?” dad asked rhetorically.
Dad was shattered.
They turned to look at me, “I’m sorry,” I muttered.
My sisters went down on their knees.
“What did I not do for you girls? I did everything a father would do for his children. You go to the best schools, you are very comfortable. Ever since I lost your mother, I’ve worked harder to give you comfortable lives and this is how you pay me? Is this what you teach your younger sister? I’m so disappointed in you girls.”
There was pain in his voice.
“Daddy, I’m sorry,” Jemima said crying.
“Dad, I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean to hurt you. Please daddy,” Ella pleaded too.
Dad just kept mute and watched them beg.
“Dad, please forgive us, please,” Jemima cried.
Tear were welling up in my eyes. I could see how hurt my dad was and how remorseful my elder sisters were.
“Forgive you? You are asking me to forgive you? When you were showing off your naked bodies and giving it to those men out there, did you consider how I would feel? So because I found out now, you’re apologizing? And you had to drag a 17 year old into your immoral dealings? You girls disgust me,” he walked over to them and clenched his fists. I knew he was dying to hit them but he was also holding himself from doing it.
My sisters were shaking with fear because they didn’t know what would come next.
He stepped away from them and turned to look at me, I was crying now.
“Dad, we are truly sorry. I know we have disappointed you in every way but please, please forgive us,” Ella said as she blew her nose.
Dad still faced me and didn’t turn to look at them. I could still see the hurt in his eyes.
“We didn’t have a choice,” Jemima said and that got his attention as he turned to them.
“What do you mean by you didn’t have a choice?”
They both looked down at the floor in shame, “We had a problem which we couldn’t tell you about so we had to solve it ourselves. We were so ashamed of ourselves that we couldn’t tell you,” she snorted.
‘What problem did you have that you found it so difficult to tell me about it and made you disgrace yourselves this way?”
Ella cleaned her nose with the back of her palm, “We were involved in a sex scandal.”
“And the bad gets worse. What do you mean?”
“Some girls in school wanted us to join their cult group but we refused. So they planted cameras in our boyfriend’s rooms and…..” she paused as she was ashamed to complete her statement.
“They got you on video while you were having sex,” he completed it and they nodded frantically.
Dad rubbed his palms all over his face, “So how did having a sex video of you push you into prostitution?”
Ella and Jemima turned to face each other.
“They threatened to release it if we didn’t pay them the sum of 5 million naira so we confided in Ella’s friend. She introduced us to a pimp who asked us if we wanted to give them the money or get rid of them. We discussed and concluded that if we gave them the money, they might still want to blackmail us, so we we……”
“Oh my goodness. You got rid of them instead.” He helped them complete it again.
I was bewildered; I couldn’t believe I didn’t know what my sisters were capable of.
“Dad you should understand. We were confused, we didn’t know what to do. And after it was executed, they told us that we would have to work as strippers and prostitutes till the 5 million debt was complete or they’d kill us both,” Jemima said as more tears streamed down her face.
With his hands on his head, “You killed people all because of a sex video? So what makes it different from joining a cult group?”
“Dad, believe me, we regret this everyday but there was nothing we could do. Our hands were tied. We found out that there was no way out,” Ella said this time she busted out with tears.
“No, you could have come to me as your father when all these started. No matter how angry I would have been, we would have sorted this out,” dad told.
Jemima stood up, “No dad. I don’t think so. I know we are at fault and there’s no justification for what we did and have been doing but don’t say we should have come to you because ever since mum died, you became so distant from us. Yes, you did everything for us but you are not always here. The fatherly love, advice and care were not there. It wasn’t and that was the beginning of our downfall,” she expressed painfully amidst tears.
Everyone was crying profusely even I couldn’t hold back the outburst.
Dad wiped his eyes, looked at all three of us and left for his room.
My ringtone woke me up the next morning. I checked the caller and it was dad, I picked and he instructed me to wake my sisters up and tell them he wanted to see us downstairs.
I yawned and stretched, got up from the bed and headed to my sister’s rooms.
In a few minutes we were in the dining room facing my dad. I could see that his eyes were swollen from crying and was sure he didn’t get any sleep.
“Ella, Jemima, Amy,” he sighed. “My angels, I want to apologize for not being the good father I once was. A part of me died when your mother died but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you girls. You girls are all that I live for,” he said as tears rolled down his cheek.
“I’m sorry, I…….” we didn’t let him finish his sentence as we ran and hugged him tightly.
“We love you daddy,” we chorused.
“And I’m sorry,” Jemima said.
“I’m sorry too,” Ella said too.
“It’s okay my angels.”
He accepted their apologies as he kissed us on our forehead.
“Now this is a check of 5 million naira. Let’s forget about the work you’ve done. Take this to that bastard and tell him you quit. I want you girls to start all over again,” dad stated as he gave them the check.
Ella and Jemima were so happy. They hugged and kissed dad all over.
Two months had passed since my sisters gave the check to the pimp. Things were going well, dad came back early now and he was always free on Saturdays and Sundays.
Well this Sunday, we decided to go for a movie.
“James, open the gate,” Dad beckoned on the gateman.
As soon as he opened the gate and we were about to enter the car, a black car drove into the compound.
Everyone looked up to see who it was. A guy dressed in all black with a hoodie and dark glasses came out of the passenger’s seat and at the sight of him, Ella and Jemima trembled.
“The boss says hello,” the guy said and pointed a gun at Ella.
He cocked his gun and shot it at her. Everyone paused for a minute; they all turned to find out who was shot. I felt a tingly pain in my stomach and as I exhaled the pain became deeper. I looked down at my stomach; put my hand on it and I blood. Immediately I lost all my strength and fell to the floor.
“No,” I heard Dad cry out as he rushed to hold me.
The car zoomed out of the compound as soon as they saw they had hit the wrong target.
My sisters rushed to me, “No, no no, Amy. Amy I’m sorry,” Ella said crying.
I could see that Jemima’s eyes were filled with tears as she held my hand.
“My baby,” my dad called me as he sobbed.
I couldn’t express what I was feeling. I just smiled.
I couldn’t bear pain but I didn’t want them to know I was suffering.
I took a deep painful breath and raised my bloody hand to touch Jemima’s hand, “I love you all. Don’t miss me too much,” I told them smiling.
“Don’t say that baby sis. Please, you’re not going anywhere,” Ella said.
I knew they were in more pain than I was.
As I breathed my last, I heard their painful wailing and their voices for the last time and I was at ease.