September 24th 1996
It was a cold night.
Little Olivia could still remember how cold it was that night. She could recall how loud the rain was and how hard it fell on her father's black Peugeot . She could also remember the panic in her mother's eyes as she yanked her up from her bed. She wasn't even fully awake yet.
"Olivia," the warmth of her mother's shaky hands still fresh in her memory as she attempted to straighten her wrinkled nightdress.
"B-baby,I need you to listen to me okay, your Daddy and I,"
"We've decided that we can't stay here anymore. So we are going to go somewhere better, somewhere safe okay? Mummy needs you to stay awake till we get into the car, can you do that for me?"
Maybe it would have been possible if her mother let her get all her toys from her room before she hurriedly pulled her to the car.
For a seven year old, Olivia wasn't sure she understood why her parents looked so afraid that night . She wasn't sure why they suddenly had to leave and she sure as hell wasn't sure why her parents were busy arguing so loudly in the car. Right in front of her.
They never did.
If there was one thing she knew about her parents, it was the fact that they never argued in front of her. They barely argued at all but on that day, it was like she didn't even know them at all.
"I don't like this. I don't like this idea at all. " she watched her mother rake her hair with her fingers in frustration. she could see the way her mother glared earnestly at her clearly focused father who didn't look like he was interested in having that conversation she was trying to initiate. He had his eyes glued to his steering, and a huge frown on his face. The hardest frown she had ever seen on him.
"We don't have to leave." Her mother pushed forward. "We don't know anyone in Johannesburg. Lagos is our home. Nigeria is our home. How on earth are we supposed to explain this to everyone? Steven, we are leaving everything behind. What about mother? Your mother and my sister? What about Olivia? How can we ever explain any of this to her."
"I already told you Adaora (Ad-or-rah), we can't stay here. And you know why. "
her father's voice wasn't as soft as it usually was. He was upset. She could see it "Johannesburg is our only chance of starting over. We don't have a life here anymore. At least not until you decided to have an affair with your boss. And now look, his evil wife has a target on both our backs. His entire family-"
"Decided?" her mother snorted in disbelief "God, how many times do I have to tell you?"
Olivia could sense the tension in the car. She could sense the hurt in her father's voice.
"I didn't have an affair with Randy and you know it. I'm being framed. This is a set up."
What was this? Why did her mother's voice sound like she was about to cry? She could hear the frustration laced with every word she said. Olivia could feel her eyes roll from side to side as her attention and gaze kept shifting to whoever it was that talked, when they talked. She clinched on harder to her teddy, trying to keep her tired eyes open .
"So then explain it. Explain the pictures Adaora because I don't understand!"
Olivia had never seen her father so angry. So emotional. She could watch him look at her mother for a second while her mother thought of what to say.
Nothing was coming to her head or from her mouth and it made her father more upset.
"Well? Aren't you going to say anything? Aren't you going to say anything about how there are pictures of you and Randy Okonkwo, naked pictures of you both all over the news?"
Olivia turned to her mother,, clenching on even harder to her doll. Her eyes glued on them both. She really hoped her father was wrong. Of course she knew what he was talking about. Anyone would have.
"I don't know." Her mother whispered
He scoffed. He couldn't believe it. He turned back to his steering in disbelief
"I swear Steven, I don't know." She turned to him. She wanted to convince him. She had to make him listen. "I was set up. I was drugged and taken to that room against my will, you know i'd never do something like that to you, to our family. Baby,I need you to believe me, to believe in me."
She sounded so desperate .
"I don't know Adaora. I don't know anything anymore." He turned to her "I don't know you anymore. "
Her mother exhaled with tears lingering in her eyes. She was so speechless. She was so frustrated. She wasn't sure she knew anything else to say
"I can fix this. We should turn back while we can. Miss Zainab? Remember her? The one from the vanguard? She has asked me to come over for an interview tomorrow morning . I could tell my story, I could tell the truth. Make everyone listen."
"Tell the truth? Can you hear yourself right now? Adaora , the Okonkwo's would kill you, would kill us all before they let that happen. They have their eyes and ears everywhere-"
"What am I supposed to do then!" She yelled back "come on Steven tell me because I'm running out of options."
The car was silent for a while
"We'd have time to talk about this as soon as we are on that flight. No matter what happens, I'm not going to let anyone hurt you anymore. Hurt our baby girl."
He turned to Olivia.
Olivia held on tight to her doll. She could feel her heart lighten as soon as her father smiled at her.
She hoped that was it. She hoped they weren't fighting anymore.
Her mother's voice snapped her out of her comfort zone. It snapped them both out.
She watched her father turn quickly.
"Oh my God, Steven,"
Olivia looked out too. She could see the large blue truck racing towards them. She couldn't see who was in it because of the bright light rays coming from it's headlights.
She was so confused. So scared. Especially since her mum wouldn't stop calling her father's name. yelling her father's name.
Olivia turned to her father. He was doing all he could to control the steering. He was trying so hard to stay out of the Truck's way but it was like the driver wasn't watching. The bridge was big enough for two cars but it was more like the truck wanted to be in their way. It was getting really close.
It was on full speed now.
Olivia's heart was racing. She turned to her father and then her mother. She had never seen them so scared in her life
"Steven watch out!"
Her mother's voice was the last she heard before the truck ran into them, And from the moment the truck made contact with their car,everything else became a blur.
She didn't know how many times the car tumbled in the air, or when the windows broke. All she knew was the pain that came with it.
Everything was happening so fast.
"Mummy!" She yelled
The car fell into the water.
That was it.
That was all she could remember.
That was the night she could never forget