A Silent Voice

Bamidele Ola

Bamidele Ola

Winner of a Merit Prize in the Postgraduate Category of the 16th English Short Story Writing Competition

Mystery surrounds the death of a student. A detective searches for clues to uncover the truth. There were no indications of suicide or foul play, and the autopsy was inconclusive. How did this death happen to someone so young? This was a question on everyone’s lips. The national newspapers broadcast the unfortunate incidence around town. It was breaking news for many reasons. As usual, the media had stormed in like bees to the dark site where the young lady’s cold body lied. How quickly some dead bodies rise to stardom than the living? There was no single soul in town who had not heard about Emily’s death. “Her father died when she was just nine, her mother left her for another lover, now she bowed the head and died at 19!” Long story? Long caption? Yet, this is true as the media summarized her biography in three woeful statements meant to catch in readers. It was true Emily’s father was involved in a fatal road accident somewhere downtown under the psycho-pharmacological influence of alcohol. Yes, it was true that her twenty-nine-year-old mother found a new lover and left Emily with a senile grandma just two weeks after. Strange? Yet, true. Who would blame such a warm-blooded woman in her twenties for choosing so when real blood flows in her young veins, seeking romantic healings? Notwithstanding, the problem many found and criticized was with the timing.

Her biography showed that "Emily lived with her granny, her late dad’s mom. Her house was in a little muddy construct built somewhere beside two smelly rivers, in a village far away from the city. In her innocence, Emily did not complain about the quiet village life. She did not complain about how differently things have suddenly become, compared to the mesmerizingly busy lifestyle she was born into in the city – a lifestyle which many rural residents consider enviable until they get there, and many run back to their villages, unable to cope with the hustle and bustle of busy city life.

In the village, Emily also had to put up with the evening noises of poor playful village children from poor households in the neighborhood, especially at such a time of the day when the sun dances down, kissing the day goodbye. Life was nothing but different for Emily. However, at such a tender age, Emily’s academic prowess in school was matchless. When Emily took the first position in class, as she always did in every class she attended, the next in rank struggles to narrow the obviously wide gap. She was such a pride to behold and envy for other parents. During school prize presentations at the end of each academic session during high school, Emily was popular for always carting away all available class prizes in various subjects. With the undying support of an old yet diligent, hardworking and caring grandmother, Emily kept soaring in all academic endeavors. At the age of 18, Emily passed all high school and university entrance examinations and eventually won a full government scholarship. The scholarship award would fully cover her tuition for four years of a bachelor’s degree in economics, with monthly stipends for living expenses. The future looked nothing less than bright for the young lady.

Emily had only spent a week at the university when she met Georg, a young guy about the same age. Somehow something clicked between the duo, and they soon became friends. Georg was proficient in statistics, a dreaded subject to many, and would sometimes engage Emily, another brilliant chap, in intellectually stimulating discussions about the course they both are enrolled in. The two academic friends soon began to develop affections.

It was the Chinese New Year festival, and Georg had invited Emily on a date. Although she was reluctant at first, she eventually decided to honor Georg’s invitation. It was a flashy Saturday night. At about 7 pm, after a meal, Emily and Georg exchanged glances. Georg encouraged her to have some sips on a glass of wine. Again, after a little resistance, for the first time, little Emily decided to give it a try. She took the first, second, third and lost counting. She was drunk. Obviously, Georg decided to help take her to his little one-room apartment, somewhere out of the campus. Georg arranged a taxi. On getting home, the unexpected happened. Georg had relations with Emily, and the rest is now history, as they say.

However, the sown seed germinated. Emily felt sick two weeks after and decided to visit the University clinic, where she was referred to a hospital for a urine lab test. She was two weeks pregnant. “How on earth!”. Georg did not deny his flaws. He apologized and asked Emily to keep it a secret. Georg provided Emily with self-medication, and in her gullibility, she took the pills. This was a beginning of a bigger problem.

That was an excerpt from the widely read bulletin on The Sun Newspaper.

Everyone who read the story blamed Georg for the young lady's death, but not the autopsy. The autopsy came back with a report that Emily died of asphyxia - a situation in which the body lacks oxygen, resulting in suffocation and death.

Georg's father hired a lawyer to defend his case. Now, it is a matter between the law and medicine. We can only imagine how the case would end. Now, it's been five years, and the case is still dragging on. "What happened to Emily?" is a question everyone asks but has yet been answered. We will wait and see how this ends.

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