10 FREELY 2 – DIABOLICAL

Dad had meetings till late and this gave Juwon and me a lot more time together. At about six o’clock when an evening prayer meeting would start, my new “boyfriend” bade me good bye, and promised to come early the following day so our computer lectures could continue. We promised each other no one would know about our relationship.

My head was light, and I was excited when Dad got back to his office.

“Are you ready to go, sir?”

Pastor Kent sat behind his desk, and absently shook his head. It was seven already, and I remembered how Mum didn’t want him to come back home late.

“What time are we leaving?”

“I don’t know.”

I gazed at my father. He didn’t even look up from his computer. He must have had a stressful day, definitely not half as fun as I had, but it wasn’t a reason to be impatient with me. I prayed his mood would improve before we got home, and he’d honour Mum and return early.

Neither prayer was answered.

Dad kept me in his office till close to eleven. I understood getting a grasp of such a big church couldn’t be easy, but I feared this attitude would define the new “us.” And it wasn’t palatable at all. Our family had moved around a lot. What kept us was the relationship we had with one another.

When we got home shortly after eleven, a storm erupted. I thought Mum would be angry and Dad, defensive. Both were boiling mad, and for different reasons.

I had never seen my parents fight in all my years. In the past. Sometimes we would hear their slightly raised voices but nothing more.

Dad, instead of going up to see Mum, walked into the dining room, and asked Mama Pepper who stayed up to lock the doors, to get him some food.

She scrambled to the kitchen and within minutes, set the table for Pastor Kent. When he was done, he returned to the sitting toom, and watched the church’s TV channel. The late archbishop’s messages were mostly aired, beside music.

After another hour, with me unable to sleep in my room because I’d gone to greet Mum, and knew she was raging, Dad went to the room.

Their voices were so loud, Mama Pepper and the other staff would have heard from their quarters.

This is the devil, I thought.

“Is this the time a responsible man comes home to his family?” Some rustling sound. Mum screeched. “Are you not the one I am talking to?”

“When did you start walking people out of your house, Anietieabasi Etim?” Dad matched her pitch. “When did you even become a house owner? Ehn? Do you want to send me back to where I am coming from?”

“Is that what I asked you?”

“And I am asking you a question? You think you are spiritually superior? To be in this church because in your myopic mind, they have more money?”

“Don’t change the subject. Or is it because of the visitor I walked out you decided to come late? Did you go to her house when you left office?”

Mum probably forgot I was with Dad.

And so, the huge quarrels began. It was the first of many horrible ones. The disagreements became so lethal, it eventually took God Himself to save our family. My father had never raised his voice to such a pitch against my mother, and it scared hell out of all of us.

That night, I suspect they even got physical. We heard crashing sounds—in the morning I confirmed from my siblings what I heard—and devotion did not hold. It had never happened.

I thought of the Bible stories I’d read, and how people turned against God when success came, and tearfully I begged God for this to not be the portion of our family.

 

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MONDAY CHOCOLATE MELTDOWN – #BASISFORLOVE

“You know I grew up with a lot of money. I’ve never known lack. Never had to manage.”

It was incredible to share fears and secrets on a plastic chair, and after I was done weeping in Aaron’s arms, he left me to buy a beach mat with pillows, and pushed the chair and table aside so we could lay together.

I liked touching his face, his groomed moustache and beard, thick eyebrows and thin lips, chiseled cheeks and crooked nose. Aaron was such a good-looking man, and I felt blessed to have him.

“I know.” I murmured.

“I can’t say I have secrets either. Just a terrible track record.” He wove his hand into my free one. “I was reckless, right from my secondary school days. I had rich friends, and we would go out and pick girls off the streets, just for the fun of it. Though we had girlfriends.”

“Your girlfriends didn’t know about that habit?”

He snickered. “If she complained, we dumped her. There were too many willing girls.” He took my hand to his mouth and pressed kisses on it. “You were the first girl to give me such a hard time. Those days I tried to get you back. As a kept girl.”

I closed my eyes. If only the past could be erased.

“Your friend, the one you picked me up with?” It had continued to haunt me. What if the guy came around. He would recognize me surely. “Are you still friends?”

“I can’t even remember who I was with that night. But all those friends of mine are no longer in my circle.”

I was a little relieved. Though it didn’t take away the fact that the man could show up one day, and remember me.

“When I graduated, I was so out of line, my brothers and I, Dad disowned us, and threw us out of his company.” He sighed. “Only my sister did well. I’d spent eight years in university for a four-year course. Dad put me on the company board, but I was totally useless. Booze, babes and bings revolved around my existence.” I twisted his facial hairs around my fingers, and he turned his attention to my other hand. “You were the first thing I wanted and couldn’t get. And then Dad called this meeting about a year after we first met, when I was still licking my wound at your rejection, and for the first time, really trying to stop my wayward living.”

“Was I the reason you tried to stop?” It was good to hear it even if it wasn’t true.

“You know you are. You remember you told me you were not a prostitute. And couldn’t imagine being with someone who thought you were.”

I giggled. “Sounds like me, alright.”

“You said so. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.” He sighed. “So my dad called us boys, and with Mum present, asked us to pack our bags and leave his house. Mum couldn’t even plead because she’d had it too. Endless parties, and late nights, drunk and dozed.” He smirked. “Luke was very angry. Despite being the oldest amongst the three of us, he was least repentant. Jacob and I got a place together but Luke refused to join us. He just went more wayward. I got a job, for the first time in my life, and then I gave my life to God.”

He turned my face to him. “And started praying about a wife. I wanted to prove to my dad I could be responsible.”

“You thought about me?”

“Well, I remembered you, and only wished. But time had passed. I’d given up on you. I just wanted to meet a good girl and marry her.”

“What kind of job did you get?”

He laughed. “I was a sales guy. Wore branded T-shirts and did roadshows with the company.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. You should see me. We sold phones.”

I gasped. “It would have been interesting to see you like that.”

“Hmm. Exactly what my mum said.” He breathed. “I just thank God I never got anyone pregnant. I don’t have kids out of wedlock.”

“I don’t either.”

“I wonder how you could have gotten?” He cupped my face and kissed me on my mouth. “I’m glad I found you again.”

“Me too.” I tucked my face in his chest. “Do you have any fears?”

“Of course. That I won’t make heaven.”

We burst into laughter.

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9 FREELY 2 – EXCEPTIONAL

I was suddenly the first child of one of the most powerful spiritual leaders in the country, and I didn’t guess what it meant soon enough.

At seventeen, I’d had my share of crushes, especially in Aba. Boys from school would not let me rest. Of course, you know the kind of boys I had come across. All our lives, we attended public schools because it was all the church could afford for us.

Men in church too made passes at me. They were blatant, and open. They professed love, and didn’t care much I was the pastor’s daughter. Also, if Pastor Kentoroabasi cared about this, he didn’t let it show. Mum spoke in general terms all the time, and from her I built my resolve.

However, with Juwon in the plush office of the Senior Pastor of Revive the World, it was different. This wasn’t some local boy in a government school where students had to bring their own chairs and tables if they wanted to sit in class. His teachers marked his scripts, unlike we whose teachers gave other students to mark, while they went marketing some stuff.

In Aba, all my teachers were into business, and could you blame them? Sometimes months passed without salary, and even the amount paid couldn’t support most of their families.

Well, we had done a few hours of strict computer lessons, until during the lunch break. A lady had come in to take our orders and asked if we wanted to be served in the office. We chose to stay and be served in the office.

We worked till our food appeared. Both of us had ordered fried rice and chicken. The food tasted better than any I’d ever eaten, and Juwon proceeded to talk about his school, and we made small talk.

When lunch was over, he asked if I’d like him to show me some of his favourite sites on the internet, and I obliged. He loved music and action movies. Before we both knew it, we were catching so much fun together.

I discovered YouTube, which I’d never heard of before, and all the other social media sites.

We started searching out movies, and finally found one we both could watch. We laughed and chatted about the movie, agreed and disagreed. My head felt light, and I was excited.

It all drained when Juwon touched a finger to my cheek. I flinched. He withdrew as nervously too.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “You’re just so beautiful.”

Heat covered my face to my neck, and in all sincerity, I felt flattered. You could take a girl out of the village, but you couldn’t take the village out of the girl. I couldn’t see me with this young, handsome man. Couldn’t imagine he would think I was anything near pretty.

Never crossed my mind my status as Senior Pastor’s daughter factored in at the time.

I blinked. “Thank you.”

He heaved a heavy sigh. “I only wished things were a bit different.” He chuckled. “I will just take you from here and marry you.”

Did he know his words flattered me more than anything in the world? He was the most handsome guy I’d ever seen, and he was young too, and a graduate of an expensive university.

I could see my friends back in Aba pushing me forward to go and see him, while they giggled foolishly at a corner.

“Marry? My father will kill me.”

“I know. That’s why I said I wish things are different.” He bit his lower lip. “Have you turned sixteen?”

“I’m seventeen,” I said eagerly.

He moaned. “Still too young.”

Later when I reminisced, it wasn’t about whether I would remotely accept his advances, we were both bothered about my age!

He cupped my face. “I really really like you. And you’re all I’ve been thinking about since that first day I saw you with the family.”

I gasped. “Since that day? It was too dark to see well.”

He smiled. “I saw well and I saw you.” He lowered his voice. “I want you to be my girlfriend.”

It made me uncomfortable the way he touched my face. I stood. “Dad will never allow me to have a boyfriend. You know that.”

“He doesn’t have to know.”

I glanced at him, my mouth dropped open. Of course though, it was a great idea.

 

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8 FREELY 2 – BENEFICIAL

While I worked with the new senior pastor of the trendy Revive the World Church, who happened to be my father, and the secret first son of the founder, Pastor Annie, his wife got a visit from an unexpected leader of the church.

No other than Pastor Sade, the property manager of the resort. She’s the same woman Brother Julius called on to help accommodate us on our first day.

My mum wasn’t the very outgoing type, though ironically, she could be loud and playful at home, and with people she found common ground. Since Sunday, just days earlier when we were introduced in the church, she had been morose. Beside the bad dream she continued to have, none of the many visitors from different departments of the church made any impression on her. Dad had complained she was refusing to adapt but I could only imagine the internal feelings she battled with daily.

Pastor Sade was asked to sit in the guest parlour downstairs while Mama Pepper went to fetch Mum.

Annie frowned. “What does she want?”

Mama Pepper shrugged. “Ah, Mammy, I don’t know. She’s one of the rich women in the church.”

I forgot to mention Mama Pepper was one of the nosiest people on earth, and I loved her to bits. Already. She wasn’t educated in any formal way, but she knew her job, and did it well. In addition, she made good observations and was never afraid to tell.

“Well, tell her I’m coming.”

It took Mum over an hour to get to the visitor. Pastor Sade stood when she entered, and curtseyed.

“Good morning, Pastor Annie.”

As formal as can be, and my mother did not take the cue. She looked at the silver-plated wall clock. “Oh, it’s still morning. Good morning. You’re welcome.”

She noticed the drink and snacks earlier served and nodded subconsciously before she took a seat right across the room from her guest.

Sade sat. “I hope I didn’t wake you up.”

Annie arched her eyebrow. “At almost twelve?” She pressed her lips together. “No, I was wide awake.”

Sade clasped her hands. “I wanted to come earlier, but a lot has been going on, many people moving here and there.” She paused. “I hope you like the house.”

My mother wanted to snap, tell her if she didn’t like the house, what would have happened. Instead, she sucked in her breath.

“It’s a beautiful house, thank you.”

“I personally supervised the re-decoration.” Sade looked around. “I wasn’t sure about the colours you liked but from our meeting last time, you struck me as a very conservative person.”

Annie also looked around. She didn’t think the décor or colours were conservative but she nodded. “They are beautiful.”

Sade stood. “I want to walk you round the house. There are parts we didn’t quite finish. I left them on purpose because I wanted to put just what you want.”

Annie remained seated. “Pastor Sade, please sit down.”

The other woman hesitated but obliged.

“This whole house,” Annie spread her hands as wide out as possible, “is too big for my family. We are more than happy with what you have done here.”

“But really, some rooms upstairs were left unpainted. The walls were just screeded and—”

“Please ma, we’re very okay.”

Sade stared with her mouth open for some seconds, then sighed. “I also brought a collection of artworks. I didn’t want to hang them up until you arrive and we can do it together.”

“Artwork.”

“Yes,” Sade nodded. “Paintings. They are really beautiful and—”

“You bought them?”

“It was part of the budget for the interior designs. I just didn’t want to hang them up till you arrived.”

Annie scoffed. “How much did you buy them?”

“They were just a part of a whole lot of purchases—”

“Did you not get a receipt?”

“Well, yes. There are different types. We got one for every room in the house, different shapes and concepts.”

“So, the most expensive is how much?”

Sade smiled. “Well, I’ll say the cheapest was about sixty-five thousand and some change.”

“And the highest price?”

“Half a million.”

Annie jumped to her feet. “Thank you, Pastor Sade. You have been very good. My family loves God, and we are very modest. Besides, the church has benefitted us more than you can imagine. Thank you but you can go with the artwork or any other money you want to spend on the house.” She tented her hands and pressed her lips together. “Bye.”

Sade shook her head once to probably shake off the heat on her face, and the extent of her embarrassment. After a moment, thick silence hung in the air like a smoke, she stood, and curtseyed.

“Thank you, ma. Bye.”

Her stilted heels rang through the house and in Annie’s brain long after she was gone.

When my mother related the story, a different kind of heat engulfed me. I didn’t think Mum handled the woman well.

 

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MONDAY CHOCOLATE MELTDOWN – #BASISFORLOVE

We had four assignments in all. The third was a Bible passage to read, discuss and summarize. We also had to choose a day of the week to pray and fast together.

The counselling and assignments helped us to go through the weeks and understand ourselves better. I discovered my strengths and weaknesses, and my partner’s. Without it, Aaron and I would have slept together, no doubt. It went to say in the multitude of counsel, there indeed was safety.

Before we knew it, our wedding was less than two weeks away, and our final assignment was in our possession. I couldn’t wait to see what it was and as we hurried out of the church office, I read it to Aaron.

“Share your deepest fears. And your darkest secret.” I stopped walking. “Are they trying to break us up?”

Aaron chuckled. “How?”

I shrugged. “I don’t want to know your secret.”

“I want to know yours.” He took my hand. “Come. I know the perfect place to share fears and secrets. The beach.”

My fiancé was one of a kind. I wasn’t dressed for the beach, and neither was he, but we stopped at a restaurant, bought some food and drinks, and headed there.

Being a Sunday, it was full, but we found a clean, clear area, rented a huge umbrella, a table and two chairs, and got down to our task.

I took out the food from the bags. “Who’ll go first?”

“Ladies first, of course.”

“I don’t have any secret.”

The fried rice and roasted spicy chicken smelt good, and I busied myself with it to hide my insecurity. Aaron was an accomplished man. I’d met his parents. They’d been married for over forty years, and made hundreds of millions of naira from their shipping, and oil and gas businesses. With their three sons, Aaron being the second, and a daughter, who was older than the boys, anyone would want to be a part of this family.

My greatest fear was they would never accept me. Though they seemed nice, and didn’t talk about my non-existent family, I was afraid.

“Yes?” Aaron stopped my hand on its way to my mouth with a bite of chicken. “What’s your greatest fear?”

“That I will die and not make heaven.”

He laughed. “Be serious.”

It was just too sensitive. These were issues Aaron and I should have discussed long before now but our relationship had been a bit queer. Me from down the ladder, and him not a talking person…amidst battling a sexual urge that seemed never to go away.

I exhaled. “I have many fears, unfortunately.” I pressed my lips together. “I don’t want to die like my mother.”

Aaron squeezed my hand. “You won’t. You don’t live like her.”

I cackled. “I do sincerely hope not. Her two husbands left her.”

“That must be hard on you. I know I won’t leave you anyway.”

I sneered. “Amen.”

“What kind of “amen” is that?”

I breathed in. “I fear you will.”

“God forbid. I love you. And I know I want to be with you. No matter what we go through together, I am loyal.”

I wanted desperately to believe all of it. “Amen,” I whispered.

“And I say amen too. Now, tell me your secret.”

“I don’t have any.” I shuddered. “Well, only one. Maybe not a secret, but something I’d wanted to tell you for a long time.”

I stole a glance at him. His brows were relaxed, like he didn’t feel the tension. I took his second hand, food ignored.

“You remember the night we met? I told you my mother was sick, and I needed money for her medical bill?” He nodded. I held his gaze. “She wasn’t sick.” I swallowed. “She was dying. The hospital sent her back home to die.”

It was one of the most difficult things I had to accept. I fought tears but they dropped all the same. Aaron held on to my hands, and I couldn’t hide my shame.

“We couldn’t afford any treatment. She had a leg wound which she’d tried to treat at home for months. The antibiotics prescribed by the time we took her to the hospital were too expensive. She died of tetanus.”

I tried a smile but the deep furrow on Aaron’s face did not change. “I came to the hotel that night just to get some money to give her a few last good days. She was a hairdresser, and she and Salome had not worked for months. I was in school.” My lips trembled. “I know I was a horrible person. To go out like that just for money to buy milk for a dying woman. And a nice dress.” I sobbed.

Aaron pulled me over to sit on his laps. “Ssh. You are not a horrible person, my love.”

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7 FREELY 2 – QUIZZICAL

With Madam Funke’s purse buried in Edidiong’s wardrobe, I decided to wear my journalistic cap, and follow my father to his office. Who knows what I will find there. Edidiong reminded me we were sworn to an oath.

I hissed. “What nonsense oath?”

He looked around and gave me his tongue.

Mum thought it was not good to follow Dad to the office. “What’s she going to be doing there?”

“You’ll be amazed,” Dad said. “There is so much work to do. I looked through the office yesterday and there are so many files I want to sort out. I need to get acquainted with all of them.”

Mum’s shoulder slouched. “You got back around 10pm yesterday. Now you’re going again with my daughter. Will you be gone for half of the night?”

Dad smiled. “She’ll be fine.”

My mother couldn’t be convinced. “You have a secretary that speaks through her nose. Is that not enough?”

Dad ushered me out of the house with a light shrug. “If she doesn’t like it, I’ll have the driver drop her back.”

Pastor Kent’s office was not on the floor we entered the church through last Sunday. I had noticed the ceiling in the worship auditorium was high, but didn’t think there were other floors on the administrative side. I was so wrong. Three floors catered to the offices. My father’s floor was the last.

The office was twice the size of the sitting room at home, and was fully furnished to be a sitting, conference, and office area.

I gasped and Dad laughed. “My reaction too the first time I entered.”

Mr. Festus carried Dad’s bag into the office right behind us, and excused himself. I looked around and touched surfaces.

“This is fantastic.” I looked at my dad. “Was this the office the former archbishop used?”

“I believe so, though it was cleaned out when I came. Even the furniture was changed.”

“Wow. All these are new? That must cost a fortune.”

Kentoroabasi, the missionary, smiled sadly. “You can’t even begin to imagine the waste I’ve seen. What happened to the old furniture? You can’t guess.”

I sat in one of four lush visitors’ seats facing my father’s leather swivel chair across a huge mahogany desk. “The staff shared it amongst themselves.”

“I wish. They are locked up in one room in Archbishop’s house. The wife wants to keep as memorabilia.”

My eyes widened. “I couldn’t have guessed.”

“Anyway,” Dad took his seat. “Let’s pray. I have several meetings today. So while I am attending them, you can continue with what we started at home, and sort out the branches for me.”

“Yes, sir.”

Dad prayed a simple prayer, and showed me all the folders on his laptop. “I had them sent to me from the server so I can look through without having to log in.”

“As in?”

My father laughed. “These were terms we heard in American and British detective or high-class business movies. This church is a million years ahead of what I ever knew.”

“You’ve learned fast, Daddy.”

“I have to.”

He excused me shortly afterward, and I looked at all the files on the computer. With what Madam Secretary taught us, I could open the files but do little else, so I started to write the stuff out in the book Dad gave me previously.

Until someone I least expected walked in about an hour later. Juwon. He was the young security man who pitied us and rescued our family the night we first arrived, and there was no hotel booking. On the day we went sight-seeing at the airstrip, we’d met his uncle, Bro. Julius working there.

“Hello. Huh, Daddy’s secretary said I could just walk in.”

And that was what he did, after a brisk knock. Well, I wasn’t doing anything funny, but what if I was? My father’s secretary had been as cold as I first knew her to be, and she made no mention of her purse so I had a story to think over there. If she’d asked, I would know she didn’t think she had anything to hide.

“Oh, good morning, sir.”

He laughed. “No, please. I am Juwon. Don’t call me sir.”

“Okay.” At least he spoke normally, not through his nose. “You’re welcome. My dad went for a meeting.”

“I know. He asked me to come over and put you through the computer.”

“Ah, very necessary. Thank you very much.” I turned the laptop toward him. “I’ve just been struggling.”

He took the seat beside me. “It’s not so difficult.”

For the next few hours, Juwon taught me how to navigate the computer, and he was quite good. At about noon, a woman came into the office to take our order for lunch. Apparently, there was a restaurant in the church premises, which made sense. We both ordered fried rice and chicken.

Over lunch, we made small talk.

“Are you on night duty today?”

“No. I left the job.”

“Oh, why?”

“I was just doing it to keep body and soul. I’m done with university and looking for work.”

That surprised me. He looked very young. About my age. “I thought you just finished secondary school.”

He chuckled. “That’s what many people say. In fact, my uncle says so too. I got in early though.” He shrugged. “I applied to the church university for masters’ degree but it’s so expensive.”

“This our church?”

“Yeah.”

“How much?”

“Almost a million naira per semester, and I have three semesters for the course I want to study.”

My mouth dropped open.

He smiled. “The school is really good, though. I mean, everyone says so.”

I didn’t need to find out he didn’t attend the church university for first degree.

“Must be.”

I kept thinking about Juwon even after I got back home at about 7pm with Dad. There was evening service at the church but Dad didn’t want us to attend…long story for another day. As for Juwon, why couldn’t the church do something for him? I planned to ask my father in the office the following day.

 

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6 FREELY 2 – EMOTIONAL

The discovery left us all drained. Dad was the late archbishop’s son?! No one knew. Dad definitely didn’t.

Edidiong frowned. “This has to be kept a secret. You understand?” He looked at me pointedly, knowing full well I might not be able to keep it.

I defended myself. “It’s Freke you should tell that to, not me.”

“Tell what?” Ima walked in. “What?”

“Dad is the dead archbishop’s son.” Freke hardly opened her mouth as she spoke.

I threw my hands up in the air. “You see!”

“Freke is harmless.” Edidiong snapped. “She won’t tell the people who matter.”

Ima had beautiful big eyes and she widened them. “Oh, so I don’t matter.”

My brother hissed. “You know what I mean.” He picked up all the stuff in the purse, and put them back.

My head rang in all different kinds of directions. Remembering this story was really not about me but my father, I cannot but imagine what he was faced with. The owner of this purse was his confidential secretary. What kind of relationship did she have with the late church leader that he would confide such a blatant scandal to her. And she carried it around in her possession.

It piqued my interest. What kind of relationship did she have with Pastor Kent Etim? Was she stiff and official, or flirty? Why would she have such a piece of explosive information I am sure the late first lady didn’t have, otherwise Dad may be dead, or never contacted?

“What are you thinking?”

I blinked, and stared at my siblings. “Why would she have this information?”

Edidiong chuckled. “Maybe she’s his very first daughter.”

I couldn’t be amused. We were in the middle of something so delicate, and scary, my journalistic mind was light years gone ahead. This could, and probably would blow up in our faces.

“I think Daddy should be told. This woman works for him directly. She could be sent to poison him. We don’t even know who has this information and who doesn’t. They may all know. See how cold the pastors were.”

I spoke rapidly to stop anyone interrupting. Still, my brother succeeded in cutting in.

“Then we just need to find a way to find out.”

“How?” I cried. “We don’t understand these people. We are new to everything here. We don’t have any friends.” I sighed. “At least, let Daddy and Mummy know.”

Edidiong clutched the purse to his chest. “I knew I shouldn’t have told you.”

“I think Eno is right.” Freke sat up. “We should let them know. As it is, we are probably the only people who don’t know this.”

He threw up his hands in the air. “And we are probably the only people who know. Then what will happen? If this is a big secret the dead archbishop had, and only told his good old kind secretary—”

“He was sleeping with!”

All of us turned to Ima. She had such a foul tongue. Edidiong slapped her before anyone could do anything, and she screamed.

“What’s your problem? What did I do?”

“You are such a fool, Ima.” He turned away from her. “As I was saying. If no one knows, telling Daddy and Mummy will blow everything out of proportion, and you people know your mother. She will shout, scream, tear the whole church down.” He swallowed. “Then what happens to us? We will go back to the village where we came from. We will do housework, and go to a smelly school.”

He opened his wardrobe. “I am not ready to go back to that life. So, in the meantime, I did not find any purse, or see any information. He threw the purse amongst his rumpled mixture of clean and dirty clothes. “If you don’t mind, ladies, I want to watch my TV.”

Freke giggled. My brother jumped on his bed beside her and fiddled with the remote control. Ima, threw herself on to Freke’s side.

I stood for long moments, working up my throat to say something. I couldn’t find words. For fear of touching Edidiong’s dirty underwear, I decided not to go after the purse. He was right too. What if this was some big secret and telling my parents would blow it up.

I straightened. “Well, let’s see if the woman will come after her purse. You are right, Edidiong. No one else may know the secret.”

He growled. “I am always right.

I could slap the smirk off his face. Instead, I marched out and went to vent my raw emotions in the privacy of my bathroom.

 

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/ready-vicar-church-religion-faith-1153149/