“Femi, what were you doing?” my father thundered.
“Um, Dad. She asked me to help her check their socket. I couldn’t say no. I’m sorry Dad,” I said most meekly as if I was honest and truly sorry.
“Ahhh, Femi! When did you become an electrician?”
“It was just a minor thing.” I stuttered.
My father uttered no word again. He simply climbed the staircases with a frowned face. My legs involuntarily led to the gate. When I turned, Bukola was peeping through their door. She let out a naughty smile and gave me thumbs up for the act of bravery and how quickly I came up with something.
Yet my mind was unstable. I knew my father wasn’t convinced yet. He still had that flick of doubt. I got outside the gate and walked down the street absentmindedly. Thoughts about what my father would do to me occupied my head. I knew what he could possibly do.
Well, I got back to the hospital, I met Shola and my mom talking. Mom seemed to be much better. She had eaten her portion of food and could talk better unlike when I arrived earlier in the day. I was moody and mon noticed it. Even though I tried dismissing her assumption, she still felt I wasn’t all that cool. It seemed the prayers already had positive effects on her. She sounded so healthy. Deep down I was happy to see her bounce back to her feet.
Of course, my father didn’t spare me despite telling him I only helped Bukola fix their sockets, he came up with a verse in the Bible, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” He promised he wasn’t going to touch me, instead, he said I should go on three days of fasting (6—6). He further stressed that any day he finds me anywhere close to their apartment, he would make me go on dry fasting for days. He really made sure I went hours without tasting anything for good three days. I felt it. After that experience, I began to avoid Bukola and their apartment—and she did notice it.
After my mother’s illness, my father said I’d have to stay back in Ondo to help out with house chores since Agatha hadn’t been found. (He changed my plans of staying back in Ibadan and I wasn’t happy) Besides, he wanted to watch me more closely and monitor the kind of person I had suddenly turned to. I missed being alone in the house. He stopped me from staying idle at home. So I went to the shop with my mom, despite the fact she had a sales girl in her boutique. I told Biola I wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon and she seemed sad about it.
The second week after I arrived from Ibadan, I attended services at my father’s church. I got up early enough to go to Sunday school as well as the regular nine o’clock worship service. I discovered a whole bevy of new and exciting people my age. Several young ladies my age were willing to befriend a lost soul like me.
Much more importantly though, there were several unattached young studs just looking for a new challenge. I was more than willing to fill that role and we would see who challenged whom. When the service was over, some of them came to me, saying it’s been ages since they saw me in church and all those stuff, like trying to check out on someone they hadn’t seen for weeks or so. I told them I hadn’t been around. Meanwhile, the youth leader announced that there would be a meeting later in the day.
That evening I attended a meeting of the young adults and discovered Desiré. (Not the English word but a Yoruba name) She looked amazingly like Biola although I didn’t realize it at the time.
I remember Biola had kidded me that there was no sexier place than a church. Of course, she hypothesized that nowhere else could a man find so many women in skirts, hoses, and heels. My observation, with which I loved to tease her, noted the number of male figures not hidden by casual clothing.
Desiré was blessed with a very noticeable bulge.
The other young guys in my newfound group seemed quite oblivious to her attributes. Her shyness and her parentage overshadowed any charms she might possess. Desiré was the minister’s daughter. One of the ministers in the church. Any and every time anyone saw her, she was involved in some type of religious endeavor, usually at the instigation of her father.
I’d known a few ministers’ kids and usually, they tend to be a bit wild if anything. I had never met one who was truly pious. I decided right then and there to find just how pure our preacher’s daughter really was. If I was the only wayward one in their midst.
The first step in my campaign was to get Desiré to notice me. She was polite and quite helpful, as she would be to any new member of the church but she paid me no greater heed than anyone else. She was also almost impossible to isolate from the rest of the group. Every time she and I had even a short moment alone someone would interrupt us or Desiré would have to rush off to take care of some church task.
I broadly hinted for her to ask me out but that wasn’t going to work out because she saw me like a brother in the church and nothing more. She needed a two-by-four across the nose just to catch her attention. With that in mind, I twice showed up with my expensive wears, wristwatches, and the rest. A pointless move for I had forgotten that one of the things we were being taught in the church was not dressing like the people of the world. I thought I’d get her attention by appearing like a rich pastor’s son, but it didn’t work.
Finally, taking the bull by the horns (not what I had in mind to grab), I appealed to her vanity and regional knowledge by asking her if she would show me around the city. The first thing she did was to bring a written list of places the youths were supposed to go for evangelism the following month as if I were a zealous disciple of the city’s lore.
I was reminded of the teaching of the Bible that states that he that wins a soul is wise. By the time she finished teaching me how to win a soul for Christ, I no longer had a damn feeling about my initial plans. She changed my mindset completely. And my father had told her earlier to make sure she brings me closer to God as per pastor’s children.
The following Thursday was the first day of creating awareness for the upcoming program and we were on the street with fliers. Desiré led the rest of the youths. We were all chanting and singing loudly. We then toured the streets of Ondo, sharing fliers with the people. Then we hurried back across Akinjagula, where one of the church members sold food. Desiré asked the fifteen of us to buy food while she paid for it. We all happily ordered for Amala and ewedu and sat under the wooden shop. Desiré bought only bottled water for herself. I was really enjoying their company and likewise the amazing vibes that Desiré was dishing out like food.
Later in the evening, Desiré and I were walking home. Others had followed a different route to their abode. When we finally got to our apartment, Desiré bid me goodbye with a quick wave of her hand and a happy “See you about seven tomorrow morning,” she roared into the evening dusk and walked past our house.
At seven o’clock the next morning, she screamed my name from downstairs. I was already waiting for her, so I hurried down the staircases. The evangelism for that day was in the morning and it was for the youths only.
I found the day quite interesting. The venue for the program was set up, similarly to an amusement park. There were chairs, tables, and other stuff displayed on the green leveled grass. By the time we finally toured around the remaining communities we couldn’t meet up with the previous day, I felt my legs had shortened by at least two inches. Everyone seemed so tired.
This time Desiré didn’t order food and I was not planning on letting her pay for me again. As usual, we were both walking home again, and before she could ask if I had eaten anything, I short-circuited her by telling her I had already eaten before leaving that morning. She was bewildered. To answer her apprehensive perplexity, I explained I had prepared food that morning because I didn’t know how late we might be. I also insisted she had to help me eat it, as it was too much for me to consume alone. I knew nobody in the house would want to taste what I made.
Once inside our apartment, I plied her with a plate of beans. There was bread in the fridge, so I brought it out. There was a non-alcoholic wine which, though she insisted she wasn’t going to drink, I convinced her it was non-alcoholic as it contains no atom of alcohol. Not having any proper wine glasses, I was forced to serve her wine in a regular ten-ounce drinking glass. While I set the table, Desiré sat on the chair and examined the picture album I had “accidentally” left on the table. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her flip quickly past a couple of pages about halfway through the book.
When she surreptitiously kept a finger at their location I knew she would examine the pieces of paper containing the texts Agatha and I had exchanged when we newly started our act. Just as soon as I stepped back into the kitchen out of sight. I not only exited out of sight but also slipped out the other side of the kitchen and watched her in the bedroom’s vanity mirror, which reflected the full-length hall door mirror, which was focused on the couch. She seemed to enjoy the pictures, but I knew she was reading and re-reading those texts on a piece of paper. I also kept up a running conversation from the kitchen so she would know I wasn’t about to suddenly step back into the dining room.
As I finally joined her in the dining, I refilled her wineglass without asking and began to tell her how nice it was to have her company. We finished our meal making normal small talk and then retired to the living room where I served her chin chin to keep her mouth busy. Our legs and hips brushed as we balanced on our narrow sagging couch and I managed to lean far enough.
Desiré was again thumbing through our photo album, being careful not to open to the compromising middle pages and discussing the content in the paper. Silence accompanied us for some seconds before I broke the awkward silence as she flipped the photo album.
“Desiré, I noticed earlier you found those pieces of paper in that album. I’m sorry if that embarrassed you because I’m certainly not ashamed of my old life,” I stuttered.
“I knew I messed up with her those days but not anymore.” Don’t you agree?”
Blushing a brilliant red, she tried to stutter something but couldn’t get her tongue to work and only managed an incoherent, “Uh …”
“Wait, that’s not fair. No matter what you think, I’m sure your father isn’t aware of this? How about if I ask you a different question?” She said.
“You’ve been sleeping with Agatha before she disappeared from this house? She queried.
“Uhm…… not really,” I mumbled
“Okay, then. You’ve been looking at girl’s boobs for years then, right?” She added.
Quickly she stood and turned in my direction, “Femi, you have been living a horrible life for years and if this program must have a positive effect on you, you need to do restitution and confess your sins.”
I heard the whining of the door, and when we looked in the direction of the living room door, my father walked in and Agatha followed behind. My heart started pounding faster. And from the loom of things, it seemed Agatha had told her everything we did in times past. I could read my father’s face and it spoke volumes of violence.
To be Continued… . . .
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