I have known Chukwuka forever. And I mean since my first memory. He was in every moment I had lived since I was born. Our families were close neighbors, his father and mine co-owned a company and even our houses were built with a similar design. He was like a brother and we got even closer after his mother died while having his youngest brother. Although the rest of his family seemed to shut the world out, our bond wasn't broken.

"I'll never be able to stop him. One more year of life. And I'll never be able to do anything. One more year and the cycle goes on. Cheers." His words tumbled into each other.
 It honestly made no sense, but then he took off his shirt. It was odd because, this was one thing he never did. He'd keep his shirt on even when we swam. I never understood why, but now I did.

Wrapped around his torso were stars. Star shaped scars over every inch of his skin. Some healed, some still quite fresh. His back was a mosaic of horror. I couldn't believe what I saw. I was breathless. He smiled when he saw my expression.
"They don't hurt anymore bro. they don't... " he kept mumbling over and over again
"Who did this to you?" it was all I could mutter as I was still quite in shock. He kept smiling but said no more. He was drunk so I decided not to push too hard. I convinced him to rest a bit, after all it was just the early hours of the morning. After I tucked him in, I managed to lie down too, with my torrent of thoughts. This is the memory that hurts the most, if only I hadn't slept too. If I was alert, maybe I might've known that he got up later and drank some more. Took a whole lot of pills and still managed to find the strength to hang himself.

It's like where people take precautions to ensure they stay alive, Chukwuka took precautions to make sure he died.

I'm sure you now understand why the belt around his father's waist filled me with more anger than I had ever experienced in my life?

On one of the funeral days, while we stayed around the house to help out, I forced his brother to an empty room and asked him to take his shirt off. Chigozie cried like I had asked him to pick pins or sit on the air. When the shirt finally came off, I beheld the same horrors as before. Star shaped scars all over. I cried so hard I thought I'd drown myself. He spoke with too much confidence, strength a six year old wasn't supposed to have.
"Daddy says it's our fault. He says I killed mummy, he says we all did. He says if she decided not to have children, she'd still be with him now. He says if I wasn't born then she would still be here with him. He says... " He was going to go on and on but I hushed him. I wanted to hug him, and tell him he was going to be okay, that his father would never lash him with that belt again. But I knew what I had to do. I mean, in my country, most fathers don't go to jail for beating their children. I didn't think he deserved jail either.
Maybe I shouldn't have taken the law into my hands, maybe I should have spoken up or said something to someone, but I'm here now. Gazing at this cold wall in front of me, waiting for my execution. At least, I won't have to live with these memories for much longer.

Victory Okoyomoh, pen name - Victory Wrights is an Optometry Student at the University of Benin. A writer,  both prose and poetry, his works have been published in some anthologies and other websites.  He also run an instagram poetry account - @victory_wrights

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  1. OMG! Child battering is common in Nigeria and there are no measures in place to check it. Its time the law place strictures to guide the level of punishment some so called parents mete out to their child


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