WE ARE ABLE
Episode 20 and 21
I knelt before my aunt to say I was sorry for her burnt house. She pulled me close to herself and said she didn’t have any grudge against me. I kept feeling guilty, even after she had incessantly assured me that there was no cause for alarm.
When it was time for the court case at the court of appeal, we didn’t have enough cash to pursue it. Our lawyer was demanding too much. My aunty was more than bankrupt, having lost all to the fire accident and my classteacher had too much on her neck already, being the one to cater for both my aunt and I.
Aunty Rachael began to get sick; I knew she was thinking too much about
her lost property. She didn’t even come out from there with a pin. She
would lean against the wall and shed tears all the time.
Mrs Oyin had tried consoling her to no avail. Something that baffled me was that she didn’t weep when the house just got burnt. Instead, she was speechless for two to three days; now after a week she began to weep.
“Stop weeping Rachael,” my classteacher would say over and over again. “Tears cannot bring back what is lost; only God can do that. Do you want to cry away your eyes on this same issue? Listen and listen good Rachael, what you should be doing right now is to get a drum and dance, because some people had fire accident like this and got burnt in the process. Look at you still breathing. Don’t you know that there is hope when there is life?”
Aunty told us a short story amidst tears:
“There was this young lady who knew no God at all. She lived her life in the normal moral way, truthful, gentle, kind and meek and got everything she wanted–a good husband and a good home. Just then, she began to know God and spoke about God to his husband who also received him…”
I shook my head and waited for my aunty to continue the
story. She was sniffing, but that wasn’t affecting her speech since it
was a voiceless one–the sign language.
“Shortly after this woman and her husband knew God, bad things began to happen to them; the husband had a plane crash while travelling from Lagos to Abuja. As if that wasn’t all, the woman lost her job because she was bent at holding on to her God at the expense of joining a multitude to do evil in her workplace; she refused to change receipt with them, so they set her up.”
My aunty was coughing. I was weeping for the woman in her story because
it sounded like herself. She was telling us her true life story.
“Her faith towards her God waxed stronger despite all these storms of life,” my aunty continued. “Somebody advised her to insure her building, fire accident insurance policy she called it, but the woman would not listen to her friend. She said God is in charge of the house. It turned to a great argument and in the end she lost her friend. Eventually, the only thing left–her husband’s house–got burnt. She has nothing right now as we speak…”
My aunt began to weep aloud. My classteacher tried all she could to console her: she wouldn’t listen.
“Is there God?” she asked. I was stunned. Was it not my aunty who added ‘God’ to my poem few days back? Was she not the same woman who was running from church services to miracle crusades some months back? How come she was doubting God now?
“I think there is God,” I answered back.
“What is the proof that there is God?” my aunty challenged me.
“The proof?” I asked. Suddenly, I thought of the piece of paper my poem was done into. Though crumpled, yet powerful because God was in it.
I placed the poem on a table and began to demonstrate the last three stanzas with my hands:
Oh! my idle hands
Speaking idle words
Like a mouldy cake
God isn’t an idol
And he is for real
He will forever heal
Taller than the heavens
Brighter than the sun
His ways are glaring
Though to us blurry
‘Cos we are human
Seeing a bit afar
Through the twilight
The stars bowed
The rainbow cowed
The gaoler turned the gates
Leading my mother out
Freedom at last!
“Aunty, if there was no God I wouldn’t have won the award. You added God to my poem and I won. So I believe there is God.”
My aunty looked incredibly at me for sometimes. She couldn’t believe it. She was in tears. My classteacher went close to her and gave her a tight hug; I joined them. We were all weeping.
My aunty and my classteacher suddenly loosened their grip on each other. My teacher made for the door while my aunty quickly wiped off the tears on her face and sat up. Definitely there was a knock at the door but I couldn’t hear the sound.
My teacher’s mouth went wide when a woman stared into her face at the door. A cruel look was glommed to her face. She had her arms akimbo like a beauty pageant. The eyelashes on her face were mere marks made with eye pencils, having scraped off her real eyelashes. She was blinking her eyes intermittently in a belligerent manner.
She was Toyosi, my stepmother, or would I say my father’s concubine? What was her mission here?
Now I knew I would have to wait for twenty minutes or thereabout in silence because the house was hot in voice language already. Nobody had the time to interprete. They were in war of words with Toyosi.
Toyosi left after her rantings and shoutings. Now I await the interpretation of all the rancour unfolded before my face.
“Why was she here?”
“She is crazy!” I said vindictively. “She must be mad!”
My aunty and my classteacher had just finished telling me that Toyosi came for the purpose of taking me back to my father.
“For what reason? So that she can kill me?” I signed.
“Just put your mind at rest, Rose, you are not going anywhere,” my teacher assured me.
I wished Toyosi nothing other than evil. Why can’t she just slump one day, never to rise again? I would think. I tried all ways to cease thinking evil about her, but no way.
“Why can’t she be hit by a
vehicle once and for all?” I said in the presence of my aunty two days
after Toyosi visited our home.
“Hey, don’t say so!” she said. “Have you forgotten what the bible says? Pray for your enemy.”
“But the bible didn’t specify the type of prayer, aunty. So maybe I would just be doing the right thing by praying for the death of my enemy!” I said stubbornly. For the first time my aunty was speechless over my mindboggling opinion.
Mrs Oyin would soon be joining her
husband abroad. Her husband had instructed her to get a buyer for that
house we were occupying with her. She wasn’t happy about the turnout of
“I am not selling this house,” she replied her husband through a letter. “Don’t you understand, I have a family staying there with me.”
Her husband insisted on her selling it. It was an arrangement they had had between themselves while her husband was departing few years back. He didn’t have the intention of returning to Nigeria and his wife was going to join him there permanently too.
My classteacher told us the story in details. There was a loan they obtained four years back, through which they had been able to acquire much of the wealth they had. The loan would be due for repayment in six months. The house and few other property were used as collateral security back then, that was the reason why the house would be sold and the cash so obtained would be paid to the bank. Mrs Oyin would use part of the money from the sales of the property to acquire a visa.
“Mrs Oyin, if your husband asked you to sell this house then you have no option than to sell it,” Rachael said.
“I can’t!” she responded. “If I do so where should I push you and Rose to?”
“God will take control and be a refuge to us,” my aunty replied with those smiles bequeathed with dimples as she was wont doing.
Two people barged into the door, Toyosi and John my father. I developed goose pimples when I saw John. I felt like shooting at him, but unfortunately I had no gun.
They began to open their mouths. They had veins on their necks as they spoke. I could perceive that they were speaking harshly to us.
My aunty took me aside after a hot brawl
with my father. She began to speak slowly with her hands so that I could
grab the whole detail:
“Rose, they are here to take you back,” she said.
“Why? They imprisoned my mother and caused me much pain. I can’t go back into that house! Over my dead body!”
“You will go, Rose,” she said. “John your father has much say over you. He is your father.”
“A disowned father!” I shouted. “He doesn’t want me and I have disowned him already!”
“Rose, at the moment things isn’t going to be the way you are thinking. They have a lawyer already; your father has threatened to charge us to court for child abuse.”
“How?” I was baffled and confused.
“They said that you were being maltreated and left without care here. They said they would win the case easily because he is your father and you are not supposed to stay outside his house without his permission.”
What gave me much concern was that confession that I was being
maltreated and left without care. That was a blatant lie. How could they
say such thing? Mrs Oyin had really shown much care for me, far more
than any care I had ever received.
“What evidence would they provide in the court of law that I was maltreated here?” I asked my aunty.
“Toyosi said she saw you running helter-skelter in the rain with a boy. She said she wanted to know why we left you at the mercy of a boy. She said we would have to supply an answer to that question by the time they get us arrested.”
I was shocked! How did Toyosi spot us in the
rain that day–myself and Moses, the boy who was running about with me
in the rain that day? Yes! I remembered I saw Toyosi on a motorcycle
that day but thought it was just her lookalike.
This Toyosi must be a monitoring spirit, I thought.
My father and Toyosi insisted on taking me along with them immediately, but my guardians disagreed. They promised to bring me to them by themselves.
I wondered why Toyosi had all the time going about with my father when she was supposed to be in her matrimonial home taking care of her husband. She had only been a thorn in the flesh of my family.
Why on earth did my father want me in the house? I thought I was a burden to him, so what would he have me do after imprisoning my mother? I was scared of what my future with him would hold. Without my mother in that house with me I would be dead in few weeks in that house.
I fluttered out of the room and charged at my father in the parlour. My
father looked at me and shook his head as though he was having pity for
“Rose, forgive me,” he said and wept. When I saw the sign made by my teacher to interprete what he said, I couldn’t believe my eyes–my father asking for my forgiveness after all his evil acts towards me? It was incredible!
I took advantage of the situation to ask something from him.
“I shall only forgive you on one condition,” I said. “Release my mother.”
“We shall do so,” they replied with smiles, herself and her concubine. They lowered themselves at me and cuddled me up in a warm hug.
The day after, my aunty took me to them. They had prepared a special dish for my aunty and I. I was reluctant to eat the food but my aunty asked me to eat.
“Now I have come to realise that everybody is useful in the society. Rose is my daughter but I have always been cruel to her. Now I have promised to take good care of her like a princess. I will bring her mother back into this house. I have gone to see the Chief Warder yesterday and he has assured me that everything is under control.”
When my aunty was departing, Toyosi asked me to lead them in prayers to my amazement. I concurred, my aunty being the one doing the interpretation for them.
Is this an answer to our prayers? I pondered
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