The first time papa prophesied, it was about mama’s accident. He had been drunk and stunk like one dunked in a pool of alcohol. He told her not to step outside that day after he came back from the shack where he wasted the remnants of his life.
Mama had waved him away, then she had gone on to fry akara at the stand near the road. Thirty minutes, later, she was rushed to the hospital; a car had lost its brake and crashed mama’s stand, bathing mama in hot oil.
The second time papa prophesized, he was drunk too, and our landlord pounded on our frontdoor demanding for rent. Papa told not to leave his home else misfortune befalls him. The landlord, headstrong, disobeyed papa. He was struck down by Mama Ijeoma’s wheel barrow full of foods. Not only did the landlord suffer burns from her cooler of hot stew, he paid for every drop of food. Papa beat his chest and praised himself for being the new generation messenger Isaiah.
Everyone in our compound started to believe papa, not because they liked him, but because they were afraid of death and misfortune. Papa became respected, he became famous. People paid to listen to his early morning drunken dances. He would sing about when he was a ‘young bobo’ and then he would relay prophetic messages from God.
Then papa remembered me. He woke me early one morning to tell of a vision of richness, but it would be about injustice. I listened with half an ear while toads croaked from our backyard.
“Nkem, are even listening to what I am saying?” he asked.
I ignored his words.
“You are going to get a valuable job.”
“But that job will cause you trouble.”
“So, what do you advise me to do?”
“I don’t know for now, just wait till I have taken my kai-kai. God will give the answer.”
Papa didn’t give the answer.
Weeks later, I got the INEC job for voter’s registration. I worked zealously. In our ward, I was the only one who worked till 5:00pm, while others left at 4:00pm. People praised me, some gave me small tokens. The exercise lasted two weeks, and I was paid a staggering sum of fifty-eight thousand naira.
I applied for the one-week correction exercise. On the day the list came out, I was shocked by the horror I saw. My name is Nkem Agnes Chukwualuka. But I saw on the list, “Nkem A chukwu, Agnes Chukwualuka, Nkem Agnes, and Chukwu Nkem. These were all coined from my name and I confronted the Electoral Officer, (the EO), of these fraud. The woman blatantly asked me to pick any of the names, that the rest was for her candidates. She did same with many other names, over a hundred, and you were to pick a name for half the pay. I had no option. I needed the money desperately.
Then I got a proposal from her. She would help us get the ‘main’ job, the voting proper. We would be paid if we brought the ballot boxes to a secret place for a governorship aspirant. She gave us cheques of one hundred thousand naira each as incentive. I was ecstatic! I didn’t care if the election was rigged. It was the norm in the country, and only a miracle would stop it.
But I was shaken when I got home and papa finally gave me the answer.
“Be that miracle,” he said. And I watched as he walked away, to the shack, to soak himself in alcohol.