To You, Reredos [Fiction]

To You, Reredos [Fiction]

 

The things I am about to say you already know, but I will still tell you anyway, because whenever I have a problem, I come to you. If I am not well, I will always tell you before anybody else. If I am confused and do not know what to do, it is you I come to for counsel, and you listen. Many people in our world today do not listen. They claim they do but they are only deceiving themselves. The other day, Donald was blathering on about… Never mind… That is not why I have come. I came here to be with you, to talk to you…in peace. It’s always cool in here, your place I mean – Quiet too. Don’t you ever get lonely? bored?…wish for company?…Yes, yes, I know you get that every week, but then…then it’s just for a few hours and your guests are gone. Don’t you wish they stayed longer, permanently?… Huh?… Anyway, after all these years, you will be so used to the silence now; it’s in your nature more or less. Sometimes I wish I were you, cut away from the madness of the world outside. This world of ours is just crazy, can you imagine? At times, I look down from our balcony and see people rushing about and frowning and shouting…and for what! The machines and taxis add to this cacophony and when I imagine this scene duplicated in every other part of this world I think we live in a big psychiatric ward. It’s crazy…really crazy… But why did I come to see you now? Definitely not to babble like an idiot – I know how much you hate that. I better cut to the point…

So, concerning Saturday, everything is set – And somehow this takes my mind back to that fateful day this journey started, that day Mum beat me mercilessly and showed me the white cloth of my baptism… Yeah, that was the day it all started… You remember I told you all about that, don’t you? Sure you do. I don’t need a prophet to tell me that you were not happy with me when I stole meat – And my senior brother reported me to Mum. I can still remember how Festus’s face looked that day, as if he was about to vomit – He must have been thinking what a dirty soul I had to have thought of stealing meat barely two hours after we had eaten to satisfaction with two pieces of meat each. I’m sure that was what Mum was thinking as well. She was very disappointed in me; she could hardly speak – Don’t I feed you enough? Why would you steal, you devilish child? I still have that bruise mark on my shoulder where she flogged the hell out of me – See? Said I was possessed by the evil spirit of stealing and that I wanted to go to hell – What will I tell God on the Last Day concerning you, eh? That was what she kept saying as she flogged me. Ha. It was later that night that she brought me the white cloth and candle that looked very old with tiny grains of dust lodged in the wax – I told Father Camillus that I would keep these. We used them at your baptism. They are the symbols of your faith. The day you were baptised, we promised God, on your behalf, that you would be a light in the world, a worthy example to people, and that when you go to meet Him your soul shall be spotless as this cloth. Of course, you know how she made me promise never to steal again.

Remember Easter eve when I received my first holy communion? Yeah, as you know, she showed me the white cloth again. That was before we left for vigil Mass… She hugged me – Don’t forget your promise to Jesus. She then gave me this beautiful black rosary in a little box that smelt of incense. Almost thirty years now and I still have it. Ha, at that Mass, as I just followed my mates – Faith, Deraa, Alheri, Joshua – down the aisle to receive, I caught Mum in the second pew, smiling, nudging Dad’s elbow. When the host settled on my tongue, it was as if I went to heaven. That was the day I made up my mind to serve you all the days of my life…and I don’t regret it, Lord. Mum later told me that I had become an ‘adult Christian’ – So sleeping at Mass and distracting yourself while the homily is going on are old things that have passed away, you hear me?

Mum! That woman is strong oh. In those days, she woke us as early as five-thirty in the morning for devotion. She would walk through our room corridor and be clapping her hands to the song ‘Good Morning Jesus’ – Wake up, boys of God, wake up, it’s time for prayers! Everybody would come out with his responsibility: Dad with the Jerusalem Bible and Our Daily Bread, Festus with the tambourine, I with the Pieta, and Mum with the hymn books…

So Mum will be here on Saturday. Please, grant her and Dad journey mercies as they come. They are so happy, you know… She even called earlier just to say so – started telling me what she will wear – can you imagine? I told her to wear what she likes – what is my own inside? – as far as they all come.

Festus will come too. Big bro. It’s many months since we saw. What is he even doing about that potbelly? His wife was telling me the other day how embarrassing it is for her to be pregnant and her husband will be pregnant too! Uneku sef. Let her concentrate and deliver the baby and give me another nephew or niece. But Festus should watch that stomach oh – ahn-ahn? He’s too young for that!… Anyway, shebi I will see him that day… Such a pity that Uneku will not be able to make it due to her condition. Holy Mother, please…be with her during this time… Hail Mary…full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blest art thou amongst women…

Amen…

Have I said why I came? No? Hmm, I’m always carried away, repeating unnecessary things that you, who sees all, already know…

Ize is the reason I’m here. Yes, yes, she’ll attend the celebration and you know how I’m dying to see her again. That’s why I have come this night…to tell you these things…everything like I never have before. I don’t want to chat with anybody or play ludo or whatever. I just want this quiet time with you – and my thoughts of Ize. How do I describe her? You are omnipresent; you see her, so you know, but – Ha… She is beautiful in a way I cannot understand…and it’s not facial beauty that I speak of – that one is nothing. It’s the beauty of her soul. Even as I first set my eyes on her that fateful Sunday at Mass I felt it – The way she held her missal in front of her with both hands and followed the Gospel, never looking up from the book until the reading was over. I think she sighed after that… a satisfied kind of sigh, like she had been fed the best meal. And isn’t your Word food for the hungry soul? I hope I am not blaspheming when I say that I think you arranged this… If not, how else can I explain moving into her parents’ house that same week?

You know…Ize treats me with so much understanding that I sometimes wonder if you understand me that much. She doesn’t judge me and she gives without caring if I could reciprocate – You cannot give me what I want, so I don’t bother. She is not an ordinary woman. I think you endowed her like the Blessed Virgin. What woman can be so enduring, so accepting? So practical! To the extent that…that it hurts even me, the man… It is for Ize that I can trust myself to go through with this – This lie…

She will be coming on Saturday with her parents. She tells me her father is chairman of the pastoral council in their parish now. Eiyaah… Such a nice man, he will do well. He treats me like a son, of course that’s because I lived with the family for six months – After that Sunday when Father Arinze begged for a volunteer from among the congregation to ‘house the seminarian sent to work among us…’ Who would have thought that the man who volunteered would turn out to be the father of the very same girl I’d watched with the missal? LifeOh, I nearly forgot, Ize did something that totally wowed me today. She sent a gift, can you imagine? – ‘Something to say congratulations.’ Why…why does she make this even harder? Ha… If I doubted my heart before about her that doubt is gone now – I’m sorry… I am so touched and can only pray that you bless her for me, lead her safely here.

…Dear Lord – It’s getting late – and I’m feeling tired. I wanted to say the rosary before leaving – but I will do so in the morning… I hope I can find time tomorrow to be with you because it will be very busy – As every second draws me closer…closer to Saturday, to the day I shall become your priest – Like Melchizedek. Stole. poverty. chasuble. obedience. cincture. chastity – These are the things flashing through my head now… Symbols of my calling… His lordship will lay his hands on me and I shall become a chosen man, set apart to fulfil your excellence on earth… And so, even as I leave your holy presence, I pray for many, many things…many things. I pray for grace, for peace. I pray for love and strength… I pray for Dad, Festus and Uneku, for Mum and Ize. I pray that you bless the work of my hands… I pray for mercy too… Above all, I pray to understand – that one day, you, Father, will answer my questions, and tell me how it is that good can feel so bad… ■



11 thoughts on “To You, Reredos [Fiction]” by kayceenj (@kayceenj)

  1. This is good writing but a bit meandering, though I guess that is how most minds work. Still, I would have wanted the story to get to the point sooner and more directly.

  2. You write well Kelechi. I like the themes of your story…
    It feels bad cos of Izee yeah? Well, if God truly owns him, then he ll be for God…Shit happens really.
    Well done…$ß.

  3. @Myne: Thanks for the advice. Grateful. :)

    @Bubbllinna: Yes, you’re correct. And thanks for the support, too. :)

  4. Very good writing, @kayceenj. But I wish you had spent more time on the conflict that the MC was having before his ceremony.

    Somehow, from the paragraphs at the beginning, it felt more as if the MC was talking to an inanimate object rather than God; was this the intent?

  5. ‘Inanimate object’ My! That wasn’t the intent oh! LOL!…

    Thanks for your comments. :-)

  6. I love this. Saw this somewhere before but was unable to comment. You write well and it shows in this piece and your other works. But I agree with @myne on the meandering, the digression was a bit over stretched.

  7. this is creativity at work- well done

  8. Your digressions were too long. Caused the work to seem like many stories in one.

  9. @kayceenj, I like this…it’s different in a good way

  10. I liked the descriptive ‘a big psychiatric ward’. Good job. I agree with the earlier critics though. But it did not sound like the Mc was talking to an inanimate object to me. More like he was at a graveyard at first. All in all, you av it. Full blast. Just need those last few strokes that defines masters. Kudos.

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