Here’s a short story I wrote a while ago for the Oyo State Ministry of Women Affairs. I’ll do one more short story next week, and then we begin Rekiya’s Tale. Enjoy.
Sunday – 9:00a.m.
Elder Lai Oluwadare surveyed the attentive church before him. A devoted man, he was one year shy of fifty. He had been Laiwola Fadare, but when the religious fervor had swept over him years ago, he had changed his surname to remove the association with Ifa and replaced it with Oluwa. He had been the Sunday School superintendent for the church for five years now. Sundays were his best day of the week, and he made sure he dressed the part, ditching his weekday suits for starched white kaftans. On weekdays, he was on the grind of work, as a middle level manager in an insurance firm. He hated the job – he was too low level as a manager to enjoy the full perks of being an oga but not low enough not to receive “shredding” from the top guys. He was also too high up to be on the road, whiling away time in the name of selling. He was insignificant and really just one of the many. But on Sunday, he was transformed into an important church official. He commanded the pulpit for one hour during Sunday School and had the undivided attention of the church. They listened to him, as he expounded from the pamphlet he was a contributor to. Here, he was not an insignificant employee number, but commanded respect.
Right now, he was responding to a question “according to the scriptures, husbands must love their wives as Christ loves the church. Wives must also submit to…”
He suddenly felt a searing pain hit him from the back, as if directly in his brain. He turned around to see what it was.
“Miracle, what are you doing here?” he asked the burly teenager standing in front of him.
“Daddy, today, your hypocrisy ends. Everyone will know you for what you truly are,” the boy responded.
It was then Lai saw the bloodied knife in Miracle’s hand. His eyes opened wide in confusion until his brain deciphered what had happened. But it was not fast enough, as the boy plunged the knife into his left breast repeatedly. The white kaftan he was wearing became covered in blood. For moments, the whole church was in shock as everyone was transfixed to their seats, watching the son assault his father with clear intent to kill.
Then the ushers raced to the stage and overpowered the boy.
Saturday – 2:00p.m.
Miracle was very happy. It was his thirteenth birthday, he was finally a teenager. He had watched with longing, as people they had been in children’s church together reached the big thirteen and left for the teenager’s fellowship. The teenagers did all sorts of interesting stuff, they even went on camps where they were all alone, all by themselves. Today, the members of the fellowship had come to his house to welcome him into their fold.
He felt very proud when the Teenager’s Counselor, Uncle Jolomi stood up to address him
“Miracle, today you have reached the magical teenage years. Hormones will rage, but we will be here to support you. You will meet new people, under new pressures, but we will be here to guide you. You will have greater responsibilities, but we will be here to help you. The teenagers you see here will share with you, will help you, and need your help.” And then with a smile, he said “oh, and you are now the man of the house, so it’s your job to protect your mum and your younger sisters now. Don’t shirk that responsibility o!”
Everyone laughed, but Miracle took everything to heart.
Saturday – 9:00p.m.
One of the perks of now being a teenager was that his bedtime was now 10:00p.m. unlike that for his sisters which was pegged at 9:00p.m. by his mum.
So he was in the living room playing angry birds on the new iPad mini his uncle had given him for his birthday happily enjoying the extra hour he had to leave the lights on and stay awake. He knew his sisters would be asleep already by now and he was indeed beginning to yawn. It would seem his body had not adjusted fully to being awake for an extra hour, in spite of his joy at it. Or maybe it was all the fun of the day, he tried to tell himself.
He was already dozing off, when he began to hear the sounds. They were unclear and muffled, but there all the same. So he got up to investigate. After all, he was now a man, just like his dad.
When he stepped out of his room, he first checked his sisters. Their parents had the rule that room doors must be left unlocked so he opened the door and sure enough, they were tucked into bed, like the good little girls they were. He chuckled at the thought, and then shut the door gently. It was dead quiet in the room.
The living room separated his parents’ room from the children’s rooms so he entered it first, not bothering to turn the lights on. He could walk through the house in pitch darkness anyway, so the lights were not needed.
The moment he got into the living room, the sounds became discernibly louder immediately, and it was obvious they were coming from his parents’ room. The recently confident young man became suddenly unsure of himself. His dad had given them express instructions not to come to their room once it was past 9:00pm and he had been very stern about it. Before today, Miracle would have been asleep by this time anyway, so he had never had course to go to his parents’ room after that time. And he would have turned around, but the sounds he was hearing drew him in. It brought back memories of Wednesday in school when like five boys in his class had been huddled together over something in a corner of the playground. He had gone to see what they were looking at. They had tried to hide what they had been watching on the phone one of them must have smuggled into school, but they were not fast enough and he had seen the phone. After he threatened to report them, they had allowed him watch the video. He had spent the rest of the day feeling guilty and had asked for forgiveness when he said his prayers that night.
Now these sounds brought back those memories and he found himself drawn to the room.
He got to the door and opened it lightly. He expected his father to shout at him at any time but heard nothing. He peered into the room and saw on the big forty two inch TV images reminiscent of those he had seen on the small phone screen days before. Now that he was in the room, the moans of the actors on screen were loud and clear, as they got turned and twisted different ways by their partners on screen.
He heard his mother protesting “Lai, this is not right; you are an elder in the church for God’s sake. You have to stop this and speak with the pastor for counseling. Miracle is old enough and…”
The slap sent her reeling backwards onto the bed. “Will you shut up woman, and learn.”
Miracle nearly jumped back in a start. He had never seen his father hit his mother. Now, all the black eyes she had in the mornings, the bruises she told them was because she clumsily ran into stuff came to mind. And he realized that she had lied to them all these years. He had been secretly beating her. The reason they were banned from coming out at night became clear.
As the performers on the screen became progressively more violent, he watched in horror and his father jumped on his mother and begin to lash out at her with his fists. The light from the TV in the dark room made the expression on his father’s face look crazed, as if he was possessed by a new spirit that seemed to take delight in the sounds his fists made when they connected with his mother’s body. And she just lay down there, not doing anything, not protesting, just allowing him to hit her like that.
Suddenly, as the moaning from the TV seemed to go to another level, his father began to rip off the flimsy nightwear his mum was wearing. It was too much for Miracle to watch. He ran into his room crying. His picture perfect world had just been shattered. How could daddy be doing that to mummy? Wasn’t he the one that said all those things at family devotion, and whenever they had combined Sunday School in church? Daddy had been lying to him, and the whole church. Then he remembered Uncle Jolomi’s words. He was a man now, and had to protect his mum and his sisters. “Everyone will know,” he cried to himself as the plan of what he would do formed in his mind.
Sunday – 9:15a.m.
“Miracle! Why did you do this?” Pastor Samson shouted at the boy who refused to say anything until his mother was brought in. she was a member of the children’s department and they had to rush and bring her into the main church auditorium.
She came tearing onto the stage, “what happened?” she was shouting as she came up.
The moment her eyes fell on her husband, bloodied up on the floor, she became hysterical. “Somebody tell me what happened! Somebody call in an ambulance, yepa! I am finished!”
“I did it,” Miracle stepped forward from the pastor’s side and spoke calmly.
“Miracle, why? Why did you try to kill your father?” she asked, the tears flowing freely from her face.
“I saw what he did to you last night,” he responded.
“Oh my God,” she exclaimed and tore at her hair. She fell into a seat. “I’m finished, oh God, why?”
The sirens announced the arrival of the police.