Achike Amadi. 16 year old. Resident of Haramu village.

She sought refuge under the macadamia tree from the scorching sun. She did this many a times and she often thought of what her life could have been said to amount to. So if she died those three short sentences is all that would be in the eulogy if there's would even be someone to give it.

Achike was the only daughter of her deceased mother. Her mother had passed away as she delivered the precious bundle of joy, Achike into the world. You see, unlike most arranged African marriages, this one was full of love and adoration. Mr. Amani sincerely adored his wife thus one could onlyimagine the pain he endured that her passing. So much pain that fostered the germination of the seed of hate for his own daughter in his now dark heart. However, no one really could comprehend the hate he fostered for his daughter. " You need an heir!" The elders insisted. He remarried. God knows the devil himself could have been said to have reincarnated in the woman he chose to marry. Mrs. Amadi was too pretty for petty work thus it was Achike's job to maintain the homestead as well as take of the two pains in the ass of children that Mrs. Amani had given birth to.

Life  was nothing but misery for this poor opharned girl. She he lost her mother and her father as well considering his heart died on a day that is supposed to be celebrated; her birthday. This person who was supposedly Achike's father would visit Achike's hut every other night at ungodly hours. I cannot even begin to describe the horrific acts that went on. Allow your mind to wonder.  Achike got pregnant as a result of this at one point but the villagers just assumed that she slept around. Thanks to this she was stigmatized. No one spoke to her unless necessary. Once the baby was pushed out of her uterus after 5 painful hours of labour, her father took it away. She didn't even get to hold it. All she knew is that it was a baby boy. Mrs. Amadi's twins would constantly torment Achike, but her hands were tied, if she tried to discipline the kids, hell and fury would rain from Mrs. Amadi.

One particular night, Achike lay awake after her father's usual visits. Tears streamed down her lovely but ill face. That's when they appeared. The short candle illuminated light in the small hut. There were two shadows cast on one side of the hut. That was strange considering there were  no figures. Then the voices. Achike ... Achike... Achike. Whispers carried out throughout  the hut. Achike was now scared out of her mind. Bang! The tiny window was shut close by a gust of wind putting out the candle light. Achike burrowed herself deeper into the bed that comprised of a thin mattress ,that looked like it had survived both world wars , and a thin blanket that barely kept her warm most nights.

The following night, they reappeared. Only this time Achike entertained them. Soon some form of friendship developed. Achike thought she must be losing her mind but at least she had company now. The shadows were no longer confined to the mud walls of her hut. They would follow her to the stream to fetch water and the forest to fetch firewood. Achike's mood noticeably lightened up and she even gathered the courage to slap one of the twins when he stomped on her foot. Forget Mrs.Amadi's hell and fury.

One of the shadows seemed to be a young boy and the other a young  woman. The little boy shadow always seemed to be the one inciting her to commit mischief and had a serious fear of water. He once suggested that she poison her father. The young woman shadow however went on and on about how forgiveness and compassion are what moulded are a woman.

One night, the young boy suggested they walk down to the stream and have a swim. She found this suspicious but went anyway. She skipped along the path as she whistled her favorite tune thinking to herself about the bliss of life. Then she was knocked down. She felt herself being dragged down towards stream.

The young woman's shadow frantically shouted at the young boy's shadow " What are you doing?!"

" I love her too much!" He replied.

Achike screamed as much as her lungs would allow. The villagers gathered but no one seemed to be doing anything. Can't they see what's happening? She asked herself. The young boy shadow turned and looked into Achike's eyes " I'm sorry mama but I have to this for you." It sounded like he was crying. She was now in the water. She tried to get out but the life force was literally being sucked out of her and she was soon dead. Her body floated on the brown river as its waters headed downstream.

Mrs. Alade from the homestead across shook her head remarking, " It's such a pity she took her own life, she could have amounted to something. "   And the villagers walked away with sad faces but not really any remorse. It was like they had just seen their favorite team lose a soccer match.

We all have dark thoughts and they manifest differently in all of us. It is argued that these dark thoughts are what make us human. But sincerely we aren't bad people, we just do bad things.

Published by Yvonne Kanyi