The things that are done in your name-
I mean, the things that are undone
behind the flimsy facade of your name
-from “Borrowed Airs” by Kobina Eyi Acquah
It was that time of the night when nothing was expected to stir. Expectations aren’t laws, however, and so stirrings did occur- in our hearts as we prayed, our voices like the flat toned buzz of bees oftentimes prompted into loud groanings by a lone loud and feeling voice. Our surroundings refused rest as well, the unseen swaying trees forcing us to recognise their presence with the cool breeze they provided, and the laughter of the group a little distance from us testified of their leader’s sense of humour.
My legs ached. My mind fought against them, forcing them into kicks that just narrowly missed the cars parked on either side of me at the chapel tarmac. I soon turned the other way, noticing, as I did, a strange sight. My attention was divided and my mind seemed tired enough to acquiesce. Standing with a hand on her right hip and her legs spread a little bit apart was a petite middle aged woman. Her short kinky hair was in numerous untidy knots and the overhead light of the chapel’s exterior met her earring for a moment, causing it to sparkle. She was simply clad in a dark green blouse with black stripes and a loose knee-length skirt that bordered on blue-green. I was almost sure she was some cleaner on a night shift. Her gaze, however, was the strange feature, focused as it was on an apparently plain column with an intensity that made me consider the column again. Nope, nothing special there. Still plain. She was probably mad. Nothing seemed unrealistic at that point.
I had turned back, determined to give my prayers more concentration when a shrill scream tore through the midnight air. My heart immediately found its way to the base of my stomach. “Azuka!!! Your time is up!” It was the green lady, the index finger of her right hand pointed skyward. Her voice was oddly loud for such a petite woman. The wind picked up her next words and sent them in the opposite direction but the words that followed came clear, hitting me like a dagger to the heart. “I declare your obituary. If I be a child of God…” The wind did its magic again but if the previous words had been any indication, I was sure they weren’t words of life and peace. I shuddered, too shocked to think anything. A minute or two passed and no word passed my lips- not even in prayer.
As the night progressed, Peter joined Azuka in her fate. Candles were lit soon enough and buckets of water for God-knows-what joined the party. Hours later, she had changed clothes and was sitting on a platform, transforming the hair I had condemned to a teeny afro with the spell called comb.
I walked home at cock crow in wonder. I still wonder. I tried imagining who this Azuka was, what she had done. A rival trader, maybe? A murderer didn’t seem likely. She’d have had her locked in a police cell already. One idea that did get stuck in my head, refusing to let up was the possibility that she was a rival in bed, a woman whose sexual favours her husband enjoyed. Death didn’t seem a fair recompense though. A bashing, maybe, but death? Leaning on that assumption, I wondered if she planned to kill off everyone who dared sleep with her husband. No matter how much I mulled over it, I just couldn’t get my head round it. The gravity and foolishness of her action chilled my blood.
For centuries, humans have blamed God for everything gone awry. When there’s abundance of rain, God is thanked. When droughts come, God is blamed. If I had such a two-faced friend, such a friendship would have been killed before it began. Others, it seems, have no qualms with such a God. Good ol’ Job was a landmark philosopher in that regard, satisfied with being a pawn in God’s hands, and providing his family as the spoil. With such a distorted view of God, it’s no wonder that many have reduced him to an assassin in their minds, calling on him to do their dirty work.
My mind conjures her up as she plans her vigil to kill off her enemies in God’s name. A gun or cutlass would not do. Someone would be sure to hear or see her. Poison was too high a risk, coward that she is. But Azuka must die and since God kills as a matter of course, one more human shouldn’t be a problem.
Mind you, weeks after the vigil, I saw Azuka. She was alive and well, smiling coyly at the endearments given her by another’s husband. I blinked and the image vanished. Oh well…