Church people visited the house from our first day to welcome us. My mum was particularly wary. We’d been in this situation before on several occasions, but with a different kind of people of course, villagers bearing fruits from their farms. This time, we had governors presenting luxury cars. That’s an exaggeration though.
However, none of the leaders of the church, or their family members came. Not even Pastor Favour’s wife who’d been instrumental to our earlier stay. I knew the class thing would come into play here, but still, I was disappointed. I wanted to meet people, make friends, start living again. It wasn’t happening fast enough.
Since we had free wi-fi, and a computer in the living room for general use, we succumbed to learning, three days after we’d been looking at it like it was rocket science. None of us knew how to use one. Mum had worked in an office in Uyo briefly, and knew how to power it and move around a little, but nothing much else.
“I really wish someone could come around the house, and teach us how to use the computer,” I mumbled over dinner.
Dad answered, “I will ask my secretary to come to the house.”
Mum arched her eyebrows. “With all the people coming already? Please, no.”
“If any of them can help,” Dad shrugged. “Why not?”
“Hmm.” Mum chuckled. “You talk as if you don’t know your people. Is it with the local accent we speak and their Americana they will teach these children?”
An impatience edge crept into Dad’s voice. “Do you want to adjust or not?”
“Adjust! Is it that easy to adjust!”
No one said anymore after that. It was the beginning of many dramas in our family. Stories from here onward becomes quite depressing at times, as my parents struggle to find their place in this new life thrust on them.
Remember both Pastors Kent and Annie had wondered for long why they were chosen to take over leadership of Revive the World Ministries, a church with over five hundred branches worldwide, and as I discovered with billions of Nigerian naira to their credit. Up until then, my parents didn’t even have a chequing account to their names.
Well, we had just been introduced to the church three days earlier, and Dad had been in his new office for two days. None of the pastors had walked in to welcome him unless summoned. It was a departure from what he was used to, where the locals would troop in and out to make sure he was settling well.
To say the least, this was different, and we all soon found out how seriously.
The following day, despite Mum’s angry outburst, Dad’s secretary, a beautiful, middle-aged woman called Funke, came to the house during work hours. Mum refused to see her, but then, it seemed she wasn’t interested in anything but to show us how to use the computer.
Edidiong, myself, and Chioma sat around her and took notes as she clicked away. She had bluntly sent the others away with the excuse that they were too young, and we could teach them whatever we learnt from her.
On her way out, she told us she could send someone over the following day because she didn’t have time or patience to continue, and we were slow learners. She wasn’t in the least bit nice. We couldn’t imagine why she was so cold.
But that wasn’t the story in her visit.
Mrs. Funke forgot her purse. It was a cute, red, leather article that had seen better days, yet was strong and clean. I imagined it would be expensive. If I’d been the one who found it, this chapter would have ended here.
Freke found it and took it to Edidiong, who fancied he was being mean to Daddy’s secretary by looking through her purse. Just to pay her back for her sauciness, and nasal accent, as he put it.
I sat at the computer, trying to make a head of all the commands “Aunty” Funke left behind, and jumped at Edidiong’s sharp call.
I shouted back. “What?”
“Come! Come. I can’t believe this.”
My brother was many things including, annoying, rude, intolerant, dirty, but one thing I loved about him was his quest for adventure. Where I wasn’t bold enough to venture, he would, and because I loved to document experiences, he would sell them to me, or at times, just give me straight up.
I groaned. “What is it?” But I walked to his room just across the hall.
His eyes glowed, but his voice was low. “The woman dropped her purse. Freke found it on the grass close to the parking lot.”
The content of the purse was scattered on Edidiong’s rumpled bed. Hundred dollar bills, ATM cards, passport photos, and many small pieces of paper.
I gasped. “Ah, how could you…”
“Read this letter. The archbishop told her about our daddy!”
My eyes popped. I snatched the piece of paper from his hand. It had been folded so small for so long, the fold lines looked fragile but the paper was embossed so it withstood the time.
“Dated February…” I looked at Freke who was propped against the pillow on her brother’s bed, a knowing smug look on her face. This looked big.
“Read.” Edidiong pointed at the letter. “The archbishop died in April.”
I returned to the letter, my palms sweaty in anticipation.
“I am going to put my son in charge. My very first son! Don’t be surprised when my successor is announced.”
Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/ready-vicar-church-religion-faith-1153149/