Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Since Thursday Of Last Week

Since Thursday Of Last Week

     It was a piercing scream that felt like its timbre could shatter the windows. Her shrill voice broke through the silence of the night daring anyone in the compound to wake up and tell her to keep it down. No one did which should have been strange seeing as she lived in a "face-me-I-face-you" apartment. But it wasn't. This was not a strange occurrence. It was more or less  routine for this to happen. Neighbours spoke in hushed tones around her as if afraid to awake the spirits they were sure lived in her. Who except someone possessed woke up screaming almost every night ever since that day the self-acclaimed estate pastor purified the compound with holy water.
       It's an almost normal Saturday morning - as normal as it could be since Thursday of last week. Her mom is outside praying, knees bent and every inch of her shaved head covered with a scarf, face contorted with every emotion possible. "Father Lord, put my enemies to shame. I bless your holy name. I thank you. Do it for me like you did for your servants of old. Let my enemies not have the last laugh...... ". There was a crazy look in her eyes. On and on it went with her interjecting every coherent sentence with "my enemies". She seemed to have a lot of them these days. Head bowed like a eunuch, she beat her chest regularly as she prayed and even harder whenever she uttered the phrase "my enemies". Olanma was scared her already sagging breasts would elongate even more. She feared her mother's knee caps would fall off. Mother used to spend close to an hour praying in the comfort of her bed every weekend. It had advanced to kneeling and praying for over three hours on the concrete floor outside every day since last Thursday. Ola feared people would think her mother was crazy but that was one of her lesser fears. Her father didn't complain anymore and she missed the sound. Her parents barely spoke anymore. She missed hearing her dad tell her mom that her prayers were were worthless. "Utter balderdash", he used to say. He was a Professor of philosophy so one could imagine. He prided himself on being an atheist and couldn't fathom why his wife bothered praying to a creator. He grieved what had happened by sitting and staring at nothing for long periods of time after which he would shake his head. She didn't know which way was better. Grief was grief, she reasoned. She treaded on eggshells around all of them and couldn't wait to leave the house but a part of her didn't want to leave her parents to go off to the university especially after what had happened.
   Her brother, Tobi was the golden child, the one who finished secondary school at 14 because he was so smart. She had had to write her WASSCE twice and Post Utme thrice before she'd eventually gained admission to study English Language. Tobi wrote his WASSCE, Utme and Post Utme in one sitting. He had gotten a scholarship to a prestigious university out of the country to study medicine. He was everything good she wasn't. The child who never got into trouble, the male child her father's people had castigated her mother initially for not having. The child her mom had prayed and fasted for, the favourite child. Now, only one adjective described him. He was just dead. The word seemed so cold, so unfeeling, so cruel like someone pouring a bucket of ice water on you on a cold harmattan morning.
       She'd never really liked her brother. He was the reason her parents had never loved her enough. She'd been mean to him for as long as she could remember. She called him out repeatedly for being a tad too chubby, for almost everything. Yet, he'd stepped in front of her to pull her back from an oncoming trailer and he'd died in the process. She couldn't fathom why he would do that. For his sake, she wanted to believe in a heaven. She wanted to join her mum outside to pray for her brother. Maybe if she prayed, the nightmares would stop and she'd sleep through the night. She didn't think he'd come back to life like her mother did. She wasn't that hopeful, her faith couldn't be that strong. She eventually went outside and saw her mum kabashing, her wrapper which was casually slung across her chest almost falling off. She looked like she was in great pain and Ola not for the first time wished she was dead instead of Tobi. Maybe if she had died, her parents would be less traumatised. Her dad would stop moping about and her mum's suffering would be alleviated. She won't have to fear for her mum's knee caps anymore. Her mum wouldn't have to go to burn incense at the New Age white-garment wearing church where Tobi's corpse was kept in the hope that he would come back to life. She'd gone once and the prophet had preached saying "God is a miracle worker. Didn't Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead?" The crowd in their white dresses had jumped up with vigour shouting, 'Amen!'. "Didn't Jesus say his servants would do greater things than he did? We will resurrect Tobi." Her mother was bright-eyed with hope and happiness. She wished she could believe for her mother's sake but it was all bollocks. But she fasted with her mum every day for Tobi to be raised back to life. With each passing day, the circles beneath her mother's eyes seemed to get deeper and darker. Her dad merely shook his head at all this saying nature wouldn't go against itself and that mother should stop praying. He went about life like nothing had happened giving reassuring hugs to her and her mother. However, Ola could see the sadness in the depth of his eyes and in the hollow in his voice. It was beyond that which was etched proudly on her mother's face. It was the kind of hidden sadness that's filled with despair. He'll never be the same, of that she's sure.
       She's sure of few things these days. She doesn't know what kind of demons would plague her at night, she doesn't know if she'll try to kill herself again. There are words for a child losing a parent, sympathy for parents that lose their child but never any for the sibling of the dead child. Nobody acknowledges them, she writes in her diary. The neigbours only console her parents and they still keep away from her. She can feel a silent judgement emanating from them - she must have killed her brother or she must have some spirits tormenting her.The neigbours irritated her. They looked at her mum like she was crazy, shaking their heads in pity as she continually repeated, 'my Tobi is not dead'. How could they offer their  condolences and in the same breath ask for more wine?Their farce of sympathies disgusted her and she wished her father could drive them all away. But of course, nobody cared.
     Time they say heals wounds, so she's hopeful. Tobi's body is being put to rest in a box that will be covered in 6 feet of dirt. The casket is filled with his favourite game cds and his ps4. He would use that in heaven, if it were up to her to decide. The Reverend says "God has a reason, Tobi has been taken to be an angel in heaven, God works in mysterious ways". It sounded cruel that one could even say that. She was sure that if Tobi had a say, he'd rather be on earth living his life. She looked at her parents beside her. Her mother's face bore a similar look to her dad's. It was devoid of emotion, withered with sunken eyes that spoke of many travails and a stoic expression of one bereft of hope. The Reverend extolled the virtues of Tobi - a humble boy, dutiful, God-fearing, respectful. On and on, it went and with each passing second she felt more inadequate. Ola thought once more, maybe if she had died instead, her mother would suffer less, fewer people would grieve.
        They say time changes everything. She hoped it was true but she knew the nightmares would come with the dark and her screams would be deafening.



At 18 February 2015 at 12:08 , Blogger Victory Anosike said...

"Didn't Jesus say his servants would do greater things than he did? "
Scripture says HE did. but i *banked* on that verse @ one time, i cashed out nafin.**guess it's one of those things we never gonna fully fathom.

hopin TOBI gets to play his PS4 in Heaven tho'.

At 19 February 2015 at 10:42 , Blogger Victor Creed said...

wow i love your blog. sad story sha.

At 22 February 2015 at 13:32 , Blogger babajide obidigbo said...

Now this is what blogging should be like 👍 love it

At 22 February 2015 at 14:20 , Blogger Treasure Akelachi said...

Thanks :D. Glad you did.


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