Who is like God?
I used to believe all of Father’s words. I used to believe that God is good all the time and… the inverse. That church is the house of that God, and that He makes things work for those who go there good. I used to believe that Aunty Tọ́pé is a good woman that she is in all ways better than my mother. That my mother is a witch, and a bitch, too; that God indeed had commanded Father to send her packing like an unmasked masquerade.
And whenever I made the mistake of entering Father’s room without knocking, and I saw Aunty Tọ́pé’s head resting on Father’s bare chest – the upper part of her body that was visible, not covered by the heavy blanket, bare like the truth I was yet to know – I used to believe that Aunty Tope wasn’t feeling very well. That the heart-piercing moans that slipped out of the room were her tears; that she was in real pain.
All these I believed because Father was a man of God; and to me he was God, for I had not seen God, he was the God I could see; the God I could comprehend.
Until Father started creeping into my room in the middle of the night; until he started caressing me in my sleep. It first appeared to me as fatherly love, the tender affection of blood-ties. But I knew it was not just that when Father began to feel the ripening fruits on my chest, when his tongue began to flick through my body like comb through the hair. And that cold night when Father unclothed my virgin tenderness in the raw heat of his devilish passion, God shattered. God ceased to be, he became to me nothing but a mere merciless man with his being lying in pieces in the nibbles of the earth. God died.
I knew if I continued to stay with a broken God who broke me into tiny bits of an unpickable destiny, I would not die and would not also be able to live. Having resolved within myself, I fled. Although I was running from something, a broken God, a broken me, I did not know where or what I was running to, perhaps God, a God I could understand, a God that could speak my language and feel my pain. Running away from the broken God that had given me a stigma for beauty, I fell into the arms of another God. A man who unravelled me to me, and in him I found rest. And once again I fell in love with God.
This other God also began to fall for a break when he began to come in late into the night, drunk. When I suddenly became is beating thing, the feast for his fist. God, this God, broke into atomic bits when I found out that there was another me who was carrying another him in her womb. And he became another broken God.
There followed many other broken Gods like the de-feathered chicken followed Stalin, the first having made a way for the rest to tread. So I concluded that God is non-existent, that he is but a metaphor for the salvation we cannot have, a metaphor for the grace we will never get, an explanation for the madness of a topsy-turvy world where the good is as lost as the bad. I concluded that even if he exists he is an irrelevance in the incoherence of this world, and that if hell was a place, that I’d rather end up there, for I was nothing but a living hell.
But unknowingly I had also become a broken God, for my father’s son born to me was also looking at me. To him I was God, too, his God – for we all did not understand God. So when I also began to become me, the me that I inherited, I began to break. I became another broken God.
But God began to take shape to me when I heard him in my sleep. His voice was not the same I always heard in other Gods that I made for myself. It was nothing like the voice of storm or some big creature living in fables; his was sonorous and soft like the song of innocent birds on a summer morn. I beheld him. He was clothed in grace and truth, the fullness of royalty. He spoke to me but I could not understand what he was saying. He moved towards me and I ran like a hare for my life, for he was too holy for my filthiness and being the fullness he is no mate of me. He did not stop like other broken Gods, he moved the more towards me. I wanted to wait but fear would not give rest to my feet. In his eyes were messages but I could not read them for the distance, the separation – the distance I created.
The next day I saw him was a Saturday. A warm Saturday morning when he appeared in front of my house. A young man with a tan or say melanin skin with deep amber coloured eyes, simply attractive. His hair was cut low, but I could still imagine how dark it must have been before the recent cut. He appeared to be in his late twenties, or early thirties or something in between with a not too hulky, yet masculine body-frame.
He asked if he could help do my laundry, wash my car, clean the house, take care of my kids and … He said anything he could do, just for a room to lay his head and a decent every day meal – though he said that wasn’t so important. He talked about some other food I couldn’t grasp at the time, not until I did the deed.
I allowed him under my roof, but he refused to be my … He chose to be a joseph. Although there was no master, he said he wouldn’t do it for all the world. He said it is a SIN. I was fuming with rage and under the folly of anger I killed him. I ran the knife into him. I watched his face grow cold, stone cold, and tears crept down my eyes lazily; it seemed they were as scared as I was. I looked into his eyes, expecting to see hatred burning with a revengeful spirit. NO. What I saw was different.
I saw love, peace…
And I heard the words struggle out of his mouth like a plump rat through a tiny hole in the wall of a dingy house, soft and tender, yet strong and life changing. ‘You are forgiven.’
It seemed unbelievable, totally absurd, but it is true. Perfect truth. For I took a look at my hand, expecting to see the stamp of blood that makes me a murderer, but there was none. Not even a touch of blood. My hands were clean, cleaner than they had ever been. So I looked at his, his pure white hands. And there it was. The blood was on his hands. I killed him but he pleaded guilty for my offence.
Ernest O. Ogunyemi enjoys playing with words to express what he feels within, or wants to feel. His stories have appeared in magazines and blogs such as Tuck Magazine, Naija Stories, Poetry Soup and his poetry is forthcoming in Acumen91 (out in May) and African Writing. Currently, he is working on a short story collection: Weaving Fine Rhythms from Broken Tunes. He blogs at ernestiyanda.wordpress.com.