Yinka sat up on his bed with a frown on his face. The noise from the corridor had woken him. He looked at his watch; it was only five o’clock. He could distinctly hear his mothers’ voice praying for the entire family and surely even for his kids yet unborn.
“ENEMIES OF MY FATHER’S HOUSE, DIE BY FIRE!!!”
Yes, it had begun. The battle had started again.
“Iya yi tun ti bere. She kii sun ni? Olorun gaan sinmi n’ijo keje…”a he mumbled as he tried to force himself back to sleep
“ALL UNFRIENDLY FRIENDS, SEEKING TO RUIN THE LIVES OF MY CHILDREN, PULLING THEM AWAY FROM THE PATH OF GOD, DIE BY FIRE!!!”
He couldn’t help but laugh now. Somehow he had figured that his actions last night would not go unreported to God.
“DIE!!! DIE!!! DIE!!!”
Yinka chuckled. He imagined his friends, Tolu and Vincent, rolling in fire at that very moment, wondering what they had done to deserve such punishment.
“ENEMIES OF MY HUSBAND’S HOUSE, DIE BY FIRE!!!”
But what did Ignatius’ people do this time. Or was it because he had travelled home to visit his ailing mother for a few days? Yinka pondered this with a smile.
“ENEMIES FROM MY EX-HUSBAND’S HOUSE, DIE BY FIRE!!!”
Aha! Even me sef I agree with that prayer, Yinka thought. Alhaji Balogun’s entire family had never been fond of his mother, or him for that matter.
He had only been home for a day, but he already hated it. It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy the company of his mother and sister, he honestly did. He just couldn’t stand her when she carried out these her church ‘rituals’. After dinner she had brought out a bottle of olive oil—which she’d called “anointing oil”—and “blessed water from River Jordan”, poured both in a tall glass, stirred it and tried to coax everyone into drinking it. Salewa grimaced as she drank it, but Yinka blatantly refused to be a part of such hocus-pocus and excused himself, saying he was hooking up with a friend for drinks and didn’t want to leave a foul taste in his mouth.
She heard him call out his name, followed by a string of thinly veiled sarcastic insults.
“Se omo bibi inu mi ti n borisa ni?”b
He ignored them as he had learnt to. He’d been doing this for years now; one would think he would be immune to it by now. He wasn’t; and as he shut the door behind him he dropped the façade and let a teardrop roll down each cheek. He walked to his car but before he got in he took out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, lit one and exhaled in the general direction of the house, in hopes that his mother would see his act of defiance.
He came back a few hours later, reeking of alcohol but still very lucid. He was careful not to make too much noise. He dropped his keys on the coffee table, but just as he was about to head to his room he noticed that his mum had fallen asleep on the couch. She must have been waiting for him. He almost contemplated leaving her there but he couldn’t. She was his mother after all and he knew that even with all her antics she loved him fiercely, in her own weird way.
He bent over and shook her gently. As she opened her eyes she smiled.
“Ah, you’re back.”
“Yes maami. You can go and sleep now.”
“Okay my son. But let me say one thing first.”
“What is it maami?”
He winced as her nimble fingers found his ear and pulled while she rose to her feet.
“Don’t you ever walk out on me. S’ogbo? You may think you’re grown but you’re never too old to get a beating from me. Rubbish.”
“E ma binu ma. c It won’t happen again,” he replied with a smile.
“Good. It had better not,” she said, now smiling as well.
a = “This woman has started again, doesn’t she ever sleep? Even God rested on the seventh day.”
b = “Has the fruit of my loins now become a devil worshipper?”
c = “I apologize, ma’am.”
Kas curled herself on the mattress with her nose buried in her small Bible. She wasn’t really reading the Bible; she just needed a break from the tiresome Aghogho. The babe can talk! They had an argument earlier that evening; Kas had soaked some clothes five days before and forgot all about them. Aghogho had reminded her, and she said she would get to them, but she didn’t, then the clothes started to stink. Aghogho had dragged the bucket of clothes out that evening, with yells and names on her tongue for Kas. Kas didn’t like it one bit and she told her as much. She had washed the clothes and hung them, but there was still some tension between her and Aghogho, she soon closed the Bible and left the room. Kas decided to take a stroll down the road; maybe she would find something interesting enough to get her mind off the unpleasant row. She doubted that she would find anything though; the town was dead as far as she was concerned. No clubs, no cinemas, no beaches, she wondered how she would go the rest of the year without losing her mind. She saw little children running around and playing, so she sat on a little rock to watch them. “I guess this is as close to a movie as I’ll get” she said to herself. After a while, the sky began to darken, so she figured it was time to leave. “I don’t want to be kidnapped, it will tey before they find me” she said as she dusted her skirt and rose. She started walking and shook her head as she realized that she had recently developed the habit of talking to herself.
She walked on, lost in her own world, and then she heard footsteps running toward her. “Hmm, could be those children, I hope they know they should go inside soon sha.”
“Hello” a deep voice said from behind her. She didn’t look back, but the voice called again:
“Hello. Excuse me, Miss”
This time, she stopped and turned. “Good evening.” She said.
“I saw you sitting by yourself a while ago, and I thought I’d keep you company, but you got up before I could get to you. Good evening, my name’s Efe” he said with a hand outstretched for a handshake.
She took his hand and smiled. He wasn’t bad looking, not bad looking at all.
“Wow, your smile is lovely”.
“Thank you” she said and grinned wider.
“So, what’s your name?”
“Alright Kassy, I can tell that you’re a corps member; I see your “Jesus Corper” hand band. I’m a corper as well; I was posted to the church on the other side of the street.”
“Really? A church? What do you do there?”
They talked for quite a while, their conversation flowed easily. Efe walked her back to her room, they exchanged phone numbers and Efe left.
Aghogho was not in the room when Kas entered and that was fine by her. There was no light either, so she went to bed and pulled her wrapper over her head. She wondered if Efe would call that night. She fell asleep, but something woke her up later that night, it was a sound. What was it? She tried not to open her eyes, but the sound was persistent. Someone was crying. Who was it? Why would someone be crying at this time of the night? She pulled down her wrapper and got up; it was Aghogho.
“Aghogho, what’s wrong?”