Home Essays The Accused by Emmanuel Enaku.

The Accused by Emmanuel Enaku.


You see,  being the first and only son of my parents, I was aware of the weighty responsibilities  that awaited my rapidly approaching  adolescence.


My parents made me aware of this in words and actions. They were firm disciplinarians who were not averse to using the whip when occasion demanded or when ever I was not behaving  according  to expectations. However,  they were loving and caring and provided everything  I needed to give nothing but my best.

Mama always said to whom much is given,  much is expected and I had inculcated those words into the deepest part of my heart. Papa, on the other hand, was more demanding and his words were more challenging. He was always raising the stakes high and expecting  that I soar through.  For instance, Papa would return from the newspaper  vending station where he worked everyday with the exception  of Sundays, the Sabbath day and Saturday, what he called “the family day” and h would make straight for his room to change into something light, his usual wrapper with the huge knot just above the waist and a spotless white singlet. He was always neat and he made sure I maintained the norm as I grew up.


Upon returning from his room, he first asked for a glass of cold water and after drinking, the first few batch of words he would speak would be in proverbs.  I was expected to give responses in proverbs too to show that I understood. It was something  he did everyday to boost my logical ability and improve my thinking capacity. Proverb were an important  form of communication  to papa and if I got the meaning  of a proverb right and gave the right response, he smiled and gave me a pat on the head while nodding with satisfaction. If, however,  I got it wrong,  papa first shook his head in disappointment and his face broke into a sad countenance and then,  he would begin to break it down until I made the connection and gave the right response.


My papa always said to me,  “life is not limited to classroom  in schools. Life gives many other forms of classrooms where there are learning and examinations. You must learn all you can in whatever  classroom you find yourself  in, at any point in time and you must be the best student, nothing but the best!”

To my younger sisters, Papa’s words were brief but as always,  they carried power. I once overheard him say to them,  “ you may be girls but do not think that is a limiting factor and you must not expect that I would go easy on you on that ground. No,  I will not.  I will expect only the best from all of you.”

I had quietly tiptoed out of sight after hearing this.


We were not wealthy in my family,  papa being just a newspaper vendor and mama,  just a petty trader who dealt on little provisions. There was barely enough money for our upkeep but our parents always gave their best.

Perhaps, it was the reason we never bothered about our inability to get new clothes sometimes and what accounted for our simple living and hard work, why we the children were encouraged to give our best.

It was even more encouraging  knowing that papa took pride in us. We lived in a time when there were many negative influences, where the outside world and their cultures were beginning to affect our values as Africans and dangerously impact our way of life but we had not succumbed to these wiles and seeing that it made my parents happy,  I was willing to do more.  It was not surprising then that I always brought back the first position  as my result in school and was always recommended  and recognized for other prizes and awards in many other areas like that of extracurricular and sporting activities.


As I said earlier,  being in the spotlight always attracted enemies;  Those who would seek to pester and undermine and I had my fair share of the experience when I gained admission into a technical college and was later made school prefect.


I knew I had friends among the teachers and students but  there were those who hated me for reasons I may never get to know. It was not long after I assumed my position as prefect that I began receiving very rude confrontations from most of my classmates. This  made me worried at the various plans that were secretly being put in place for my downfall.


Indeed, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.


While I bore all the weight alone, I did not fail to notice some special advances made by a girl in my class called Anita. I knew I was attractive,  neat and intelligent  but never gave thought on my ability to interest a girl and I kept my distance from them.

On her part,  Anita never relented.  If anything,  she became more determined. It was not long before I began to like her for what I thought was her genuine care and we eventually became friends. I was careful not to let emotions come into play and I did not mince words in telling Anita that all I could offer was friendship. She initially disagreed to be just a “friend” and wanted something  more intimate as was the practice among my classmates and peers but when she saw that I wouldn’t budge,  she yielded, howbeit, reluctantly.


Anita kept being caring and I relaxed a little and told her of all my problems because I felt she was someone I could trust.  It was a mistake I was to regret in the time to come.


I soon started noticing a change in Anita. She had lost focus on her studies and had become less caring. She, times without number,  gave me the impression  that she was angry that I wouldn’t  date her but I brushed it aside because I knew I would not go back on my resolve.

The worst happened when words went round that Anita was pregnant. Being the only male friend Anita had,  I became the prime suspect in the school. It was a terrible time as I thought about the unfortunate event and it’s ability to ruin everything  I was ever known for,  everything  I ever worked for!


There was a summon by the principal of my school a few weeks after Anita’s  pregnancy had been rumored in the school and in attendance were Anita’s parents,  herself and,  the principal and other high office-holding staffs of the school. It was a panel put up to investigate into the accusation on me being responsible  for Anita’s pregnancy.


I was called from my class and as I moved on shaky legs into the gathering, I was aware of the uncertainty of the fate that awaited me.


I was asked some questions and I answered truthfully, knowing that I was innocent. However,  everyone knew I was the only male student Anita ever went close to.  She intentionally made our friendship very obvious and standing there,  I knew she was the only one who could vindicate me.


I looked towards Anita as she was asked who was responsible  for her pregnancy. It was the first time I was seeing her in three weeks and a pang of pity filled my heart. Anita had become thin and looked sickly. Her full lips which always shone with life were cracked and dry and had become brown. Being the best biology  student in my school I recognized  the signs. Anita was obviously  going through  the gruesome first trimester of pregnancy.


There was a plea in my eyes to Anita to say nothing but the truth but Anita did not give me so much as a glance as she boldly said “he is responsible!”

All eyes had turned to me, about twelve pairs of eyes! And it was impossible  to look into every one of them. I had just stood speechless, wondering why Anita would do such to me. I later got to know it was a ploy scripted by one of my rivals, Obi, to destroy me.


I was stripped of my position as school prefect and was asked to leave the school and never return.

On getting home, I explained  everything to my parents,  leaving nothing out.  Mama had shed tears and Papa had shook his head sadly and then,  he smiled at me and said “Kelechi, I know that all you have told me is the truth because I know all my children the way a sheep knows it’s lambs.”


I was over come with emotions at the depth of trust my family had on me and as I wept,  the words kept coming out “I love you,  papa,  I love you so much!”

It was the first time I had ever said those words to someone and I am proud that I had said them to my parents.


Emmanuel is a student of civil engineering at CRUTECH,  Calabar,  Cross River State. He loves writing fiction and currently has some books he’s working on and wishes to publish this year. He’s hearing impaired but jovial. He wrote in via enakuemmanuel@gmail.com


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