by Stephanie Imade Emokpae
Growing up,I had become accustomed to the word “Love”. My dad often told my mum he loved her and we his kids were not left out.At church,we were taught about God’s unconditional love for mankind and how we should love our neighbours as ourselves.
I read story books and novels about true love and soon that was all I wanted;to be loved and to love unconditionally.I had my one true love.He was my best friend,my everything and my dad.We were inseparable to the envy of my siblings and sometimes my mum.I told him everything and could count on him to always be there.He usually called me his 2nd wife.
It never occurred to me that some things weren’t permanent but this I soon realized. It was on the 14th of February 2000,the world celebrated Valentine’s day.As usual,my dad was my ‘val’ and I had made him a lovely card with cardboard paper.
I was proud of my work as I was just 9yrs old.When he came back from work that evening,I gave him my present and he was really excited and me being who I am, I insisted we that we go out and he obliged.
We went to a fast food place and got all we needed.On our way back,there was serious traffic and it was getting dark,so dad decided to take a shortcut.We diverted and 10mins down the route we took,some hoodlums attacked us.
They were four armed guys and they ordered us out of the car.My dad was kneeling beside me and he was holding my hand, I got the sense he was trying to reassure me that everything would be fine. I was scared and I regretted insisting on going out and all I could pray for was our safety.
Dad pleaded with them and gave them all he had but it wasn’t enough and they got angry.One of them made a statement that till today ,I can’t get out of my head,”We’ll show you how serious we are”, he said.That’s when it all happened.
He pointed the gun at me and all I heard was a bang! I was thrown to the ground by something heavy falling on me.I heard footsteps running and that’s when I realized what happened.My dad had taken a bullet to his chest for me.He made an exchange of life.
Years have gone by and each February 14 I understand more what he meant when he said his love for me was eternal. He did what he did, in the spirit of love.
Stephanie Imade Emokpae is a student in Benin city, Edo state.