It is 5pm and I have just returned from work; tired, hungry and depressed. Yes, I have been depressed so much, not only because I am missing her, but also because I am still hoping to wake up from this nightmare. “I need a nap,” I reasoned as I entered the house to my bedroom. For the first time in years, the silence in the house is so deafening. One thing is sure, one of us is no longer with us. 

Olive, the only daughter of the house at 6 years old was all the happiness of our home, since her two brothers, Alex and Tendai, were always away at a boarding school in Dedza, a district that is about 200 miles away from home. It was always her, making all the noise in the house. Olive called me ‘dad’ although I was not her biological father. Her mother had died when she was barely a year old. After a lot of discussions, it was agreed upon that Olive should be adopted into our family. Her mother was a younger sister to my wife, Lucy. The most positive scenario was that her arrival in our family brought a tangible relationship between my father-in-law and me.

The girl had grown physically, mentally and spiritually. Her beauty and her intelligence portrayed a good future for her. We were proud of her. People and neighbours wherever we went and lived had no idea that Olive was an adopted child. As early as three years, she was attending nursery school and her academic records were very promising. I was very fond of her and she was fond of me. One thing that stands out clearly is that she was really part of us.

Olive joined us when nobody felt like taking and attending to her. To be frank, she came as an ill child; undernourished with a running bowel. It took us some time to get her on her feet. Although it was through her real-father that we had Olive, the same father felt like taking her away from us, indirectly, especially now that she was grown. Evidently, we saw constant visits by him in order to attract the girl to himself. He brought a lot of expensive clothes, toys, a lot of candy and refreshments for her. 

I remembered one day when she asked me, “Dad, kodi bambo amenewa ndi ndani? (Dad, Who is this man?) I did not mince words, I told her that he was her father. However, my answer to her question meant nothing and had no grounds.

At six years old, Olive was a beautiful intelligent princess in standard 2. My family was falling more in love with her each passing day. Six days ago, her father came. Mind you, the father is a driver and he is working for an Indian transporter in Blantyre. This time, his visit was unusual. Why? Every time he came to visit, he usually brought stuff and usually left money for Olive and it was always given to my wife. This time, he came, took her out for a ten minutes walk and gave K1000 directly to her.

The night after this unusual visit, I had a dream. I dreamt of a big bird, the size of an ostrich, giving birth to a human baby. In the dream, I actually saw the bird giving birth just like a goat or a dog gives birth. The baby came out head first. Upon waking up, I was questioning and answering my own dream repeatedly. “Does a bird give birth like a goat or a dog? Why give birth to a human being?” The answers were obvious; “No, it lays eggs and no human being can be born from a bird respectively.”

I stepped out of bed that morning to take a bath, perplexed with the dream and I had no doubt something “unusual” was coming. I immediately recalled other questions I had to answer from Olive the same week: “Who is God? Where does He live? Do people live with him?” I tried on a spiritual perspective to answer and managed to satisfy her quest.

As I was stepping out of the bathroom, she was at the doorstep, sat down, her eyes avoiding my gaze. My wife was quick to tell me that Olive was complaining of a headache. I tried to talk to her but she just looked down without interacting with me. I suggested that my wife should take her to the Clinic for diagnosis and treatment as I proceeded to work. The next thing that I heard was that they were in transit to the Central Hospital since Olive was a serious case. I wondered if it was malaria as I found my way back home to get a few things before I followed them. No sooner had I arrived home than my wife informed me that Olive was declared dead upon arriving at the Central Hospital. What a death! 

“If only it was just another dream,” I hoped in vain as I wiped the tears that had rolled down my face in memory of how she was taken away. My wife opened the door and announced I needed a bath before the last meal of that day was served.