“Step Back, Dad!” (15)
Hello, this is the 15th episode (Here is the episode 14th) and it’s been an amazing journey so far. Thanks for staying hooked on Redigion. If you love what you read here, please nominate this blog in The Nigerian Blog Awards. Categories are FAITH-BASED, NEW and WRITING.
I have decided to give Segun and I a second chance and while that seems like the reasonable thing to do, my heart ponders heavily if I am doing the right thing. I have been hurt, betrayed and tossed like dice and still, I have chosen to let go and move on, but does moving on not mean letting go of the past, even one’s first love?
I drained the steaming rice with one hand and placed the pot of stew on the fire with the other. It was Sunday morning and dad had to eat before leaving for church. The doctor had instructed me to ensure dad always ate at the right time as he had been treated for ulcer a couple of times. After the ‘revelation’ some days ago, our relationship had been somewhat lukewarm, somewhere between politeness and hostility. I had tried to evade any suspicious topics and he had chatted more about the development in the church.
I jumped and nearly dropped the spoon in my hand. “Dad, I didn’t know you were standing there. You scared me.” I tried to regain control. He was too light-foot for someone his size.
“Why are you scared? It is just you and I in the house this morning.” He walked inside the kitchen. “Is the food ready?”
“Almost.” I examined his outfit. He wore his favourite navy blue suit today and he looked handsome. “You look good.” I commended with an approving smile.
“Thank you. I look good for Jesus.” He checked his shoe. “Do you think this brown fits or I should just wear the black?” He lifted his trousers.
“The brown is perfect. Is that green socks you are wearing?”
“Yes, you like it? It’s a gift.”
“It’s colour riot. You need a wife, dad, someone to take care of you when I am away.”
He shifted uncomfortably. “You really are serious about leaving?”
“I…I mean when I get married and won’t be there to always check what you wear.”
“Are you making marriage plans that I do not know? First you threatened to leave and now you want to elope to get married?” His voice was a notch higher.
“Elope?” I asked exasperatedly. “I never said I was eloping anywhere.”
“That boy has not given up on you, has he? And it seems you are planning to leave so you can be with him. You would rather disobey your father and be with a man who has no respect for him.”
This was happening too fast. “Calm down, dad. You are taking this too far. This is…”
“I have told you my decision and I still stand by it, though I have been silent on it for some days. I will NOT give you away to someone I do not approve of. By the way, you can as well tell him I already know of his plans and they won’t work. Don’t be late for church.” He stormed out of the kitchen.
“What about your food?”
He did not respond and the next sound I heard was the door opening and closing. I sighed deeply. Sometimes I wondered how my mother had coped with his presumptuous attitude. She would have been very patient to have survived through the years. A phone rang loudly from the dining table. It was dad’s phone. He had forgotten it amidst all the brouhaha. It was Deaconess Folarin calling. Now, that was strange. Why would she call my father on an early Sunday morning? I resisted the urge to pick and waited for the call to end. Then I saw a message blinking and I could not resist that. It was my father’s phone and I have right to it, don’t I? Who knows, it could be an urgent enquiry.
It was more than an enquiry. It was a shocker and I stood transfixed for some minutes. I sat on the closest chair and scrolled down the messages and the sender’s name kept appearing over and over. Dad had saved the name as ‘Angel’. Who could ‘angel’ be? I brought out my phone and dialed the number and I nearly peed on my body. The ‘angel’ was the Deaconess. How could they? Not after what they did to me! If dad thought he had drawn the battle line, I was going to build it starting from now…
I arrived at church an hour late and was rewarded with an angry frown from the pulpit, but I didn’t care. What did the Bible say about removing the speck from your eyes first? Tayo was in front of the pew as usual and looking like the ‘good’ christian. So many inadequacies we hide under the cover of good dresses and makeup.
When it was announcement time, Deaconess Folarin walked up to the pulpit and as usual captivated the congregation with her velvety voice. I was not deceived. Not anymore. Gone were the days of the starry-eyed, clinging ‘daughter’. Dad preached on evangelism. Too bad he would not be able to evangelise his daughter anymore.
I did not see Segun until the end of the service. He walked up to me immediately after the closing prayers.
“Hello, Segun. How are you?” I managed a smile. “Hope you enjoyed the service?”
“I did. Can we see outside please?”
“Sure.” I picked up my bag and peeked at the pulpit. I saw dad’s angry gaze on us and I nearly laughed. With what I had in mind, he should be ready for more.
Segun led us to a secluded place and made sure no one was close enough to hear us.
“You look exceptionally beautiful today.” He took in my long flowery dress and matching accessories. “Befitting of a pastor’s daughter.”
“Thank you.” Heat filled my face. “You look good too as usual.” He looked dazzling in purple, his favourite colour. He looked very fresh, like a man who had nothing much to worry about.
“You think we can bring the ‘goodness’ together again? You are yet to respond to my request. I understand I have not been the best fiancé for some months now and I am very sorry. We were played, Chi, and that is not going to happen again. Sorry I am bringing this up now. I am not just happy that we are not together anymore. Being with you is all I can think about.”
Yes, we can! “Ermm… I am still thinking about this. I need more time to pray. I do not want to repeat same mistake.”
“Mistake? We were never a mistake.”
“Didn’t say we were, but I just need a little more time to heal. There are many things happening right now in my life and I need to find some quietness inbetween.”
Segun bowed his head. “That was not the response I expected, but I guess I can still wait a bit more. Would you like to go out for dinner this evening? I mean, I’d like to take you out… as friends at least and it will be just us, no external person.”
“Sister Chinwe. I have been looking for you.” Bro Tunde ran up to us. “The pastor needs you in his office right now.” He glanced at segun. “Did I interrupt something?”
“Not at all. I was just leaving.” Segun answered. Then he looked at me. “6pm?”
I nodded a ‘yes’ and followed Bro Tunde to my father’s office.
“Wonderful service, isn’t it?” Tunde started a conversation.
“Yes, most wonderful.” Well, for those not in my dilemma
He smiled and my heart skipped a bit. “I am always blessed by your dad’s messages. He is such an inspiration to many of us.”
I had nothing to say and could only smile back, but not without a thought as to why I reacted to his smile. At the door of the office, he stopped.
“There is something I have always wanted to ask you.”
“okay…What please?” What could he possibly want with me?
“The Children’s department needs more young hands and I think you will be a good addition. Would you like to join the team?”
“Did I say something wrong?”
“No, I mean, I’d love to be part of the team. Thank you.” I was happy.
“I’ve seen the way you handle kids in the church and I believe you have got what it takes to build a young generation for Christ.”
There has always been a part of me that always wanted to work with children and while I had not explored it, I would not back down at any opportunity.
“You’re welcome.” He smiled again and my heart fluttered. “As the children’s pastor, I officially welcome you to the team. The kids will love you.” He opened the door. “Your father awaits.”
As I passed by his side, I felt a pull I could not explain. He too seemed to feel it too as he shifted back a bit as if trying to avoid contact. Our eyes met and held a bit.
“Chinwe, is that you?” My father looked up from the book in his hand. “Come in and shut the door gently after you.”
I averted my gaze from Tunde and as he released the door knob for me, our hands met briefly and I felt a sudden chill. He didn’t break eye contact till the door was firmly shut.
“Sit.” My father’s cold voice was enough for me to know it was time for another sermon for me.
I sat on the chair directly opposite him and he did not wait an extra second before he started venting his anger.
“I told you I did not want to see you with that boy again and there you were having an unnecessary conversation with him right under my nose.”
“Well, he walked up to me and what did you expect me to do? Shut him up?”
“Maybe. Tell me. What was it he could not tell you inside the church?”
“You expect me to tell you everything that transpired between us?”
“Yes, I am your father and deserve to know.”
I stood up and paced round the office to pacify the temper boiling inside of me. “Why don’t we start with what I deserve to know?”
“What do you mean?”
I brought out his phone from my bag and put it in front of him. “This.”
“Oh! I forgot my phone at home. Thanks for bringing it.”
“This is not about your phone. It is about what is on it.”
“Have you been searching my phone?”
I shook my head. “I’m sorry to say this, dad, but you are a hypocrite. How could you stop me from doing what you are also guilty of?”
He scrolled through his phone. “I don’t know what you are talking about and don’t call me a hypocrite. That is insultive.”
I snatched the phone from his hand and clicked on the message icon. Then I scrolled down all the messages from ‘Angel’.
His eyes flickered back and forth several times. “You have been going through what is not your business.”
“Who is ‘Angel?”
“Angel is just someone I know.”
“Just someone you know? You don’t send or receive love messages from ‘just someone you know’. I want to know who ‘Angel’ is and oh, is she Igbo too?”
Just then, the door opened and Deaconess Folarin peeped in. What a perfect timing! When she observed the tensed atmosphere, she made an excuse to return.
“No, please come in.” I beckoned. “There is something bothering me that I will like to discuss with you both.”
She seemed hesitant. “Really? I thought you were having an alone time.”
“It does not matter. We need a trusted third party. Have a seat, ma.” I opened the door wider for her and led her to the closest seat.
Dad shifted uncomfortably and cast me a look that showed he was not pleased with me. “This really does not involve the Deaconess. It is between you and I.”
“Really?” I picked the phone again and dialed Angel’s number. The phone in the Deaconess’ hand rang.
“Oh! Maybe that’s a coincidence.” I tried the number again and the phone rang the second time.
“Dad, why does the Deaconess’ phone ring every time I dial Angel’s number?”
Dad was clearly agitated and Deaconess Folarin began to sob. Yes, I had caught them red-handed and there was no way they could deny.
I stood up and placed my hand of the table, facing dad. “The speck in your eyes is so large that it will take many days to remove. From henceforth, you shall no more stand between Segun and I. Your decision days are over. I make the decisions now and you must follow.”
I faced the Deaconess. “Your sobs will not save the situation. Despite all what you have done, I forgive you. I only thank God my mother is not alive to witness this. Stay out of my way from today or else I will show the world who you really are.”
I walked towards the door.
“Wait, let me explain.” My father spoke in a quiet voice.
“No, dad. This conversation is over.”
I opened the door and walked out of the room. I felt a surge of happiness. I was now in control of my life. I could now write my story the way I wanted. Victory is sweet.