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.


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


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