Kike felt as if the ground should open and swallow her. Her initial plan was to sneak into the Church unnoticed, but here she is to the full glare of all and sundry, sweating like someone that just finished running a marathon.
She walked past her parents to join her siblings in the car; weaving the story she would eventually tell them in her head.
Her parents were very active and committed members of Beulah Salvation Assembly. While her Dad was a Deacon, her Mum in addition to being a Deaconess was a strong member of the women fellowship and other Church organizations. The Pastor looked up to their family as role models and motivation for other families.
Since the parents were well respected, it was expected of the children to be of impeccable characters. They must also live in accordance with biblical principles and doctrinal beliefs. Anything short of this was frowned at.
The Johnson’s home was thus an extremely strict one; where the children were raised on laws that were meant to be obeyed and not be broken. There were laws on what to eat or not eat. Clothes to wear or not to wear. Places to go or to avoid. Friends to mingle with and how to behave, especially in the Church.
The home was ruled with an iron fist by none else but Mrs. Johnson. Her husband was a gentle man who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He hardly spoke and when he did, you had to strain your ears to hear him. The children grew up thinking he was scared of their Mum.
They lived in perpetual fear of her koboko, deafening slaps and pinches that could make tears come to their eyes with tremendous acceleration. Mrs. Johnson was a mother that other mothers would beg to spank their toddlers and talk sense to their teenagers and young adults. She was a powerful force in the Church and carried power tightly. She commanded a great influence, almost to the point of becoming a goddess to be feared and revered.
She was dark, short and thickset, with a face that gave no room for explanations. A first time encounter with her would remind you of a gun that is always ready for action.
The children never knew she had a soft side, until the day an incident happened. Thinking adults were infallible, immune to fear and could withstand whatever came their way, they were erroneously right until an experience shook them to the core of their being. It erased their young brains of the wrong assumptions.
Mr. Johnson had travelled on a business trip, leaving the four children to the mercy of their mother. They did their best to maintain, so as not to be punished. While going for women fellowship, Mrs. Johnson instructed them to cook and clean the house. This they did to the best of their abilities.
They were packed on the settee, waiting for the arrival of Margaret Thatcher (that was what they called her behind her back), when the door opened in unceremoniously. Offence number one; they forgot to lock the door from inside. Kike pitied where the cane would land on her body. Tears was already welling in her always sorrowful eye. She was the most fearful of the lot, being the only girl.
Surprisingly, their Mum was not bothered with the door she met ajar. Rather, she kept shaking like a chicken that fell into a basin of ice-cold water. Collapsing heavily into the settee, the voice that emanated from her did not sound like her voice. “Deacon Daniel is dead,” she said.
Jeeeeeesuuuu! The news hit the children like thunderbolt.
The Deacon Daniel they knew was a nice and God fearing man. He was at their house the day before, to pray against sudden death. Kike could still visualize him seated on the settee close to the TV set, his aging face surrounded by white spiky beards, his voice coming out gently in monotonous syllables.
Kike’s hair stood on end, and she instantly developed goose bumps. The thought in her 10-year-old mind was same with that of her other siblings. If death could enter Deacon Daniel’s house and snatch him suddenly, what would be their lot?
Kike remembered the meat she stole from the pot of soup a day earlier. She remembered when Benjy lied to their Mum to evade beating. The children sat like chicks without the mother hen. They would have fared well under the wings of their Mum, but she was too cold for comfort.
When it was time to sleep, they rushed into the boys’ room. Their thinking was that, the last person would be dragged back by the late Deacon’s ghost. The boys had already promised to accommodate Kike for the night.
Their house was a three bedroom flat which was constructed in a way that one room stood opposite the other two, with their large and well-spaced sitting room sitting majestically in between- like the owner of the house. Now in the room, the children heard their Mum’s uncertain voice.
“Can you sleep alone?” she asked.
That was strange coming from her. She had never allowed any of them grow beyond a year in the parents’ room. Thinking it was a ploy to give them a goodnight round of beating, as any answer that emanate from them could incite her, they answered carefully, “Yes ma! Thanks for asking.”
But she wasn’t done and asked again, “Are you sure you can sleep alone?”
Dutifully, they answered her, “Yes Mummy, thanks for asking.”
Suddenly, it dawned on them that their Mum was also scared. Their militant mother was scared of Deacon Daniel’s ghost. It sounded like Sunny Ade’s music to their young ears. Like getting a long awaited Christmas gift. Mummy is scared! Mummy is scared! They danced to a silent song.
Maybe it was the devil that had been waiting all along to punish them that put a plan in their heads. They executed it without thinking of what the consequence would be.
Standing by the window to their parents’ room, Lekan- the eldest, repeatedly made funny sounds, with the intention to scare Mrs. Johnson.
Was she scared? She picked her Bible and started pleading the blood of Jesus. It was a funny sight, and the children enjoyed every bit of the drama.
They went a step further by making Goke wrap himself in white, to stand at the entrance of their parents’ unlocked room. The prank was made easier because there was power outage.
On sighting the supposed ghost, Mrs. Johnson dropped her Bible, sank to the floor and tried entering under the bed shouting, “Deacon Daniel, emi koni mopa e. I wasn’t the one that killed you.”
It was the uncontrollable laughter from the children that made her realize her folly, and they got the beating of their lives that night.
To Be Continued… . . .
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