This is a continuation of the series.
I am still bereaved over death of my friend, Chris.
Though I did not know him much, I think he qualifies to be called a friend. Not only because we shared our darkest secrets with each other, but even in death he encouraged me to keep moving and be strong though he barely knew me.
I think that’s one of the most touching moments I have ever experienced. May he rest in peace.
Today I am going to introduce you to a girl – a girl I have never set my eyes on before.
Though I have never had the chance to meet her, I have heard so much about her ever since I moved into the neighborhood. I apologize for not introducing her from the beginning.
I guess I did not because I did not know how you would handle the news.
Her name is Angel. She lives with her parents in a very shady part of our neighborhood – about seven houses after mine.
Her parents often chat with Lisa’s mother (Lisa is my best friend). But they always have this look on their faces that keeps me puzzled anytime I see them.
I have discussed this concern with Lisa previously and I think we are both looking through the same lens. Let me try and describe the look – it’s a look of turmoil, uncertainty with a mixture of hopelessness.
Though they try hard not to let anyone notice through their hearty laughter and bright smiles, we were able to read between the lines and connect the dots. The bottom line – something just was not going on well for them.
Several mouths had uttered that this couple had a daughter. I once heard a woman in the market whisper to another that: “They say this couple has a daughter, but this daughter, we have never set eyes on before. I think they have no right to be hiding her. She must be introduced to the society in order to be socialized and not completely hidden.”
I find it interesting when I hear such sentences. Gossip always starts with what “they” say. Sometimes I ask myself: “Who are the ‘they’?”
I guess I would just have to resolve that in times like this, gossip has no origin though it may spread like bush fire.
Nevertheless, as to whether the statement I heard in the market was true or not, I intend to conduct my own investigations before corroborating or disputing this statement.
Things may not always appear the way they seem.
So, in an attempt to find out what was keeping this little girl from experiencing the brightness of each sunny day, I embarked on a journey. The mission was simple – to get close to the parents of this mystery girl and find out what is keeping her indoors.
Allow me to fast-forward a little. Let’s just say that everything worked as planned. The parents told the mystery girl about me.
Surprisingly, she agreed to a meet. But she also delivered a stern warning to me through her parents. The message was as follows: “I will only agree to meet him on these conditions – I do not want him to bring any gadget along least he tries to take pictures or record our conversation. Also, he must promise to do as I say once he gets into my territory.”
So the date was set.
It was on February 14. Since it was St. Valentine’s Day, the so-called day of love, I decided to exude this love by buying my mystery girl a bar of chocolate.
Finally, I was very close to getting what I wanted. I was standing at the doorstep of the mystery girl that everyone had been talking about.
I knocked and a shrill voice beckoned me in. I did exactly that. But something strange hit me – there was absolutely no ray of light in the room. The mystery girl’s silhouette was sitting on a chair with her back turned away from the door.
My usual stubborn-self wanted to turn on the light. I was trying to resist this urge because I had remembered her stern warnings on doing things I have only been instructed to do once I found myself in her territory.
So I proceeded to ask : “Should I swi–”
I did not even finish the sentence when she sharply interrupted without turning her head toward the origin of the voice : “Don’t dare touch the switch or try and raise the curtains. Never try that. Now you can sit.”
That was the coldest introduction I had ever heard.
But I brushed it aside because I wanted to have my questions answered and I had learnt from my father that the best way to get questions answered is by complying especially when the questions are delicate.
I groped in the dark and made out what seemed like a wooden chair. I sat and waited for the next order from the mystery mistress.
“Why are you here? Nobody apart from my parents has ever come to this room before. How did you get to know about me and what do you want from me?”
Cutting edge questions from a relatively young voice of an individual speculated to be ten years old. I found that fascinating.
Well, I explained everything to her and made sure my mission was clear.
She replied sharply : “So you think I am just going to tell you everything just like that so you can end up going back to tell those market people about me? So that they can spice up their gossip with more juicy details? Then, I am very glad to disappoint you. This is clearly mission impossible!”
She ended with sinister laughter.
I tried telling her things about myself so that she would feel comfortable enough to share certain things about herself with me in return.
But this time, it just seemed like Sod’s Law. Eventually, she asked me to exit her room with immediate effect. And I had no option than to do so. Notwithstanding, I assured her I would be back.
I told her parents about what had happened and they apologized for their daughter’s behavior. They said that they would be glad if I could make her my friend.
They even facilitated my plan by giving me a list of her likes and dislikes. They also gave me the warrant to visit her at any time. They said: “Continue visiting Angel. She would eventually get used to you.”
So I paid heed to this advice. The first time, I experienced a lot of resistance from her. She even refused to respond when I knocked.
But I just left the pear I had bought for her with her parents and politely asked for it to be delivered to her.
Then one day, I knocked and she did not respond as usual. This time, I decided to mention her name: “Angel”. I even went further to enter the room.
“Invitation or no invitation, this conversation must come on today”, I thought to myself.
She seemed surprised at how I got to know her name. I answered: “Finding out information is one of my many talents.”
She laughed and said she has never laughed like that in years. You can imagine how elated I felt. I am going to spare you the little details because if I don’t, this may end up like Euclid’s thousands of pages.
These are the words of Angela: “My name is Angela Rose. I’m ten. I don’t remember ever stepping out of this room ever since I was born.
“My parents however, told me that I was once taken out of this room when I was about two. They wanted to take me to a park in order for me to have some fun with the other children in the neighbourhood.
“But I could not even make it to the door of my father’s car when I started screaming. My parents thought that I was just being stubborn and antisocial. But when big and nasty bumps started appearing on my skin, they realized the gravity of the situation and called for a doctor immediately.
“After several tests and procedures (which were all conducted at home), I was diagnosed with XP. This meant that I could not see another sunrise again if I wanted to live. I heard the doctor utter something about this disease being a genetic disorder. He said that my parents were possibly carriers.
“He also went further to explain that my skin is unable to be repaired by the damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. What depressed me the most was when I was told that aside those control drugs I had to be taking, people with this kind of condition have a low life expectancy.
“I may not even live to experience my twentieth birthday. Once again, my name is Angela Rose and I have Xerodermapigmentosum (XP). People with my condition are usually called children of the night because it is forbidden for us to see the sunlight.
“I am a diurnal gone nocturnal. Though I wish I could see the brightness of each day just like anyone else – the truth is that I can’t because this condition won’t let me.”
She sobbed, loudly.
And I tried to move towards the direction of the sound and embraced her in my arms. I apologized for the pain she felt. Then I told her that I would like to be her friend if only she allowed me. She seemed a bit calm.
Then I made her know I was giving her a nickname. “From now on, I would call you ‘My Sunshine’. It doesn’t matter whether the world sees you as a child of the night.”
She laughed amidst her tears. That marked the beginning of our great friendship.
This is a continuation of the series from this author.
The series continues. Naa Adzoa can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org