Last night when two Policemen entered our house and announced that Eze was one of those that died in an auto-crash along the Lagos – Ibadan express way, Papa had concluded all he wanted to say with “God gives and God takes” and headed straight for his room leaving Mama and the mourners behind with teary eyes.
Though sad, I was surprised that Papa would cry because I know what he would have said if he had seen another man cry. Last week he had called some men he saw on the Network News Agbala because they cried at the scene of an accident, but those were people he did n2ot know and not his first son for whom he had collected loans to see through the university; his joy was not a little that Friday, two months ago when Eze came home and told Papa that he has graduated with a second class upper from the Federal University. Papa had said “Chukwu Da’alu” and thanked his chi that the fruits of his labour are becoming ripe but that was two months ago when Eze’s future seemed so bright to be cut short by an irresponsible government that cared less about its promises.
“It is a lie, He does not exist, He does not exist” was what Papa said as he came out of his room an hour after he went in, his eyes now as red as blood. A sudden silence followed his proclamation, that kind of silence that would have made Nnamdi, my friend in school say an angel is about to pass. But last night an angel was not anywhere in our sitting room, it was in fact the Devil that had made our home his temporary tent. As those in the sitting room, shocked to the marrows kept a spiteful look at Papa like one who had spat at Amadioha’s shrine; Papa Goddy, Papa’s friend unable to take what he called sacrilege walked up to Papa, “Uche” he called Papa by his first name, “Remember Job, this is just a minor temptation that should not make you lose your faith, the good God knows how you feel”.
In the twinkle of an eye and like one possessed by a strange spirit, Papa carried Pa Goddy, the way Hulk Hogan once carried Stone Cold in one of the wrestling matches I watch on MITV and threw him out of the house, carrying on as though nothing had happened, Papa suited his actions with the words, “Useless man, go home and kill that Efulefu you call a son and see if it is painful to lose a promising first son or not”. After Papa had thrown Pa Goddy out, I thought our visitors would leave our house and leave us to mourn our dead alone, but they didn’t leave they stayed on till the wee hours of the night with the last visitor saying “Kachifo” at 30 minutes after mid-night.
I did not sleep till four AM, I spent the better part of the night thinking about life; how useless it was to have ambitions or spend the years trying to be a good boy when one can enjoy life to the fullest, I had thought of Eze, imagining how he died and what part of the other side he would be.
At 7 am this morning, I was awoken by that smell that came with a burning paper, I left my room and traced the smell of the burnt papers, and like one who had just seen his dead grandmother of twenty years, I saw Papa’s book of morning prayers, now almost unrecognizable in the fire and Papa standing beside the fire. Shocked, l thought the heavens would open up and swallow Papa, I wondered how God felt that Papa burnt books written by His men; Papa had told us how jealous God is, how He had killed the first born sons of the Egyptians because they punished His children, the Israelites and how He also killed his own children, for having other gods. But all that was an old Papa that existed before Eze died because this morning after Papa had burnt his morning prayers books, he hissed and unrepentant, he said, “Yes I know You are jealous when I serve Baal but I am also jealous when those who serve Baal live a better life.