It Never Happened Again

(Based on true story)

Senay is turning three years since his confinement. He had no chance to write his diary in those years but in his mind. Today he wants to retrospect and evaluate the unexpected and unimaginable situation, which was but only the beginning of that miserable day.  

***

It was Monday, the first week of June 2005. Senay was supposed to be at work at 7:00 a.m. He, however, was one hour late than usual. In the previous evening, Senay had a promise he could not break because his five-year old son, Hagos, insisted on its accomplishment.

“Daddy, why are you so late?” said Hagos who was waiting impatiently for the arrival of his father as it was already 9:00 p.m.

 “Hi, my son,” replied Senay affectionately.

 “Daddy, you are going to accompany me to school tomorrow,” said the child in a tone of order rather than in asking favor.

 “Anyway, um! my baby, don’t you know that I must be at work sharp at 7:00 a.m. before you go to school? Therefore, your Mom will go with you,” said the Senay in such a way that it may not hurt his child’s feeling.

As he was not convinced with his father’s answer, Hagos retorted in incisive manner by saying, “No, no! but it is you to accompany me to school and bring me home.”

Astonished by his child’s arrogance “Please, my son, I think you forgot that we agreed at the beginning of the school year that your Mommy would take the responsibility of accompanying you to school and bringing you home. Of course, in my spare time, all of us will go walking to the town,” said Senay. 

Pondering for some minutes, Hagos said unhappily, “Eh! but Daddy, to my observation, it is the fathers to accompany their children to school.”

Hagos’ words made his mother, Rahel, only astonished but she made no comments on them as she knew her child’s ideas. The reason was that Hagos had a friend by the name Nahom. Nahom’s father used to take his child, Nahom, to school fetch him home every school day. As this made Nahom think that it is the fathers’ duty to take children to school, he thought Hagos as a fatherless child because it was only Hagos’ mother to take the latter to school. Consequently, one day Nahom slandered Hagos by saying, “You, a fatherless child!” This made Hagos embarrassed and pushed him to prefer his father to his mother to accompany him to school.

Nonetheless, Senay knows that as many of the kindergarten-children’s fathers, being members of the army, are often on duty, the responsibility of accompanying the children to school falls on either the mothers or the elder siblings. In fact, Senay knows very well and understands the situation of the kindergarten-children’s psychological make-up that many of them do not have the opportunity to express their feelings freely to their fathers as his son does have, and this made him think over his son’s demand. Although he did not know exactly what pushed his child to refuse not to go to school but with him, he decided to fulfil his son’s demand.

“OK, son, I’ll manage to accompany you to school, and come back home together tomorrow. Now feel comfortable,” said Senay, gazing at his son and raising himself from the sofa gently, caressing him affectionately with a smiling face.   

Hagos, smiling, responded happily and positively to his father’s answer, and instantly slept soundly in confidence.

All Hagos’ actions and reactions were a big challenge to Senay, which forced him to ponder the question of his son that why the latter asked such a question he never dared to ask for almost a year long before.  

***

On Monday, Senay’s priority was to endorse the responsibility of taking his son to school and coming back home with him. Therefore, Senay and his son took the 7:45a.m. bus, which passes by the kindergarten. Fortunately, as the bus stop was only a stone throw to the kindergarten, Senay led his son to the kindergarten’s gate. Hagos departed from his father not only with a kiss but he was also shouting, “Good-bye Daddy!” repeatedly by waving his hands as much as he could draw the attention of his school-mates, especially his friend Nahom, to confirm that he has the father who is to take him to school. In addition to this, Hagos shouted, “Hi Nahom, look! Here is my father, and he will also bring me to school tomorrow”. Hagos was highly motivated on that day. When Hagos reached the door of the kindergarten, a child-care assistant received him with a big hug and in a cheerful mood. When Senay observed all what was going on, he felt moral satisfaction; hence, he left.      

After about 20 minutes’ journey, Senay reached his office. Since he started work one hour late and since he would leave work one hour earlier, he worked intensively so as to finish his work for that morning.

In the kindergarten, the children in the morning shift finish class at 11:30. Hence, parents are required to fetch their children from 11:30 to noon. Therefore, Senay should take the 11 o’clock bus to go to his son; and so he did. As there were a few bus users by that time, he reached quickly at the kindergarten within 15 minutes.

When Senay reached the school compound, he found his son along with the kids, playing in the compound. Hagos kept watching for the arrival of his father the moment he went out to the compound, and behold he saw his father. Thinking of making Nahom, who was playing with him, envious, “My dad has come, but your father hasn’t. I’ll go leaving you here,” said Hagos. Then he jumped with joy to meet his father even without the prior permission of his teachers and kissed his father lovingly. When Senay overheard what his son said to Nahom, he understood that his son’s demand arose from envy. Then they went home on foot chatting, Hagos holding his father’s hand. On their way home, Senay bought some cakes for Hagos and for the younger child.

Senay enjoyed the time with his son however it was short.

***

In the next day, as it was customary, his wife, Rahel, prepared breakfast as soon as possible, but Senay did not get up early as he used to be; in fact, he took a shower instead comfortably. Rahel was surprised about why Senay was relaxed that much, so she asked him, “Honey, what is wrong with you?  Do not you go to work today?”

“Sure, I will, but first I want to take Hagos to the kindergarten,” he said calmly and smiling.

“But you took him yesterday, that is enough, please be serious about your job. I will take that responsibility,” she said seriously.

Hagos, overhearing what his parents were discussing about, leapt of his bed and said, “Yes, father, I am pleased that you decided to take me to school again today,” he said, objecting his mother’s proposal.

Understanding his son’s feeling, Senay said, “Do not worry my baby, I’ll take you myself.”

After having breakfast, Senay and Hagos were in a hurry to go to the kindergarten. That day Senay dressed up in his best because he was to take part in a departmental meeting.   

“Please, Rahel, would you prepare Hagos’ snack and help him get dressed up?  I will wait for you at the gate,” Senay asked his wife politely.

Not seeing his father inside, Hagos felt restless and tried to run outside improperly dressed just to meet his father.

Holding him by his hands, Rahel shouted at Hagos saying, “Please wait a minute, stay calm! Your dad is at the gate. Let me get you dress properly.” At that moment, at least, Hagos obeyed to his mother’s instructions.

* * *

Senay rearranged the way he sat and smiled at this sweet memory. All the events of that morning were shown vividly in his memory like a film. And he continued his memory… 

* * *

Although Senay was enjoying the morning sun, he was also waiting for his son impatiently. Therefore, he asked his wife, “Rahel, I think you are too late to bring the child to me, time is up!”

“Ok, but it is because Hagos is troublesome to me.”

It did not take time than Senay turned his face and could see a car instantly came and stopped in front of him. Two men, in civilian clothes, came out of it and approached him from both sides.

“Good morning Senay, we want you for some reasons, so you are to go with us somewhere,” said one of the men.

“Good morning. I am sorry, but I can’t go with you now,” responded Senay.

The second one opened his jacket with pride and showed Senay a pistol. Then, “So, just get into the car quickly without saying anything. Otherwise…?” gave Senay a hard and fast order with a warning.

Senay evaluated the situation and decided not to show any objection to the men, who came to surrender him. The car started immediately in full speed.

Senay was in a total confusion because he could not imagine why he was caught in such a way. The situation was very tense that Senay was preoccupied not only for himself but also for his family. To make the situation the worst, poor Hagos was running towards his father at the time his father was forced to enter the car by the unknown persons. “Daddy, Daddy! Aw! Daddy has gone by car leaving me alone!” Hagos screamed but in vain. Senay could hear his son’s cry behind him and it really tormented him psychologically. The driver was driving beyond the regular speed, but Senay had no idea where the men were taking him to.

* * *

While Senay was tormented with the bitter memory, he was interrupted from his recollection by jangling of keys and squeaking of the door of the next prison cell. He felt that his son is still looking at the road where he was driven off standing from the gate. “My son, I am not lucky enough to take you to the kindergarten at least for another day,” he uttered sadly and unconsciously.  

(Edited by: Beyene Kelati)

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