The last time Oti went to church was during his mother’s funeral. That is when his faith took a great hit and he caved. He did not understand why a loving God would be as cold-hearted and cruel as to leave three small children without a mother and a hopeless drunk for a father. When people told him that it all had a purpose, he would snort at their faces and ludicrously ask if that purpose was to tear open their hearts and leave them to bleed. To die.
His purpose of being in church today was to make a huge donation for the construction of a new mega church. His main reason though was to impress his future wife. Only his best friend, Theuri, understood that when he said ‘future wife’ he actually meant the young woman singing in the choir who definitely did not know he existed. Oti has been chasing that skirt for the longest time now and he is not one to take no for an answer. All his previous relationships had succumbed to his hot body, misdemeanor and lavish gifts, but not this one. A much greater force unbeknownst to him protected this one. He just had to have her.
Theuri had never been inside a church and had no idea as to what was going on. He was Oti’s right hand thus accompanied him everywhere like a clutch bag. He too was hoping to score a ‘hot Christian babe’ as they referred to them. The thunder that was going to strike these two was still in formation and sipping lemonades.
The pastor was droning into a monologue now. Everybody knew what sort of ‘businessman’ Oti was but they sat and listened tentatively as the man of clothe dressed up Oti in lavender and roses. He literally praised the thug for helping out in the community. I do not know how but I hope my sarcasm drips with sweet cream and Oreos. However, since Oti’s wallet was heavy enough to build an entire west wing, we adored and prayed for showers of blessings for this man.
His phone just could not stop vibrating. Am sitting three rows behind and the thing drones like a chopper. The pastor has already called out his name and he’s making his way to the front. The man has theatrics, drama, and unnecessary flamboyance in his gait. He even has permed hair people. And the darn phone.
Now if I was a film director, this is how the next scene would look like. Oti has stood stark still in the middle of his procession and has the look of abject horror and sudden helplessness and defeat in his face. The choir’s ballad fades slowly in the background and his entire childhood flashes before his eyes like a slide show. He and his brother look like mounds of earth walking. They had been sent by their mother to fetch water for the family and the two mischievous devils had come up with a great idea while at the stream. Now the mud had caked in there was no water. Their father was hot on their heels with the panga he was holding.
Another scene came up of his sister getting high on smoke in the little kitchen that doubled up as the boys’ bedroom. She had dropped out of school to take care of the family after their mother died. Her childhood and innocence looked like a distant memory, like a story they once dreamed of.
Oti was now on the floor of the church. His pinstriped suit creased over the dirt. Theuri was already on his side, fanning his boss. Confusion broke out in church. A loud gong was giving him a migraine and somebody or something cut short his air. He remembers seeing his brother’s frail body contort in a rhythmic dance as the bullets pelted him from all sides. His sister was pregnant by a scoundrel known for his many escapades. His father broke and now slept in gutters, kids laughing and pissing in his open mouth. He is too drunk to get up and do anything.
The message in the droning phone read that his father had succumbed to the alcohol. He was needed urgently to convince his sister not to hang herself. It has been six years, what was he going to say to her?