Through The Eye Of ‘Faith’ (1)
It’s a brand new year and a brand new story. Last year, it was ‘Step Back, Dad!‘; this year, we are starting with the story of ‘Faith’ and her walk towards knowing who God is. Stay hooked and blessed on REDigion and remember to recommend this blog/story to everyone you know. Cheers!
“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallow be thy name, Thy kingdom come…”
Faith opened an eye and tried to remember the next words, but they escaped her. They always did. She had begun her day with the usual prayers she had learnt at school, though they made little meaning to her. Who was the Father they kept muttering to and yet never responded? Why was He deaf to her constant prayers that He should heal Mama of her cough? Did He exist at all or He was just a character her teacher at school had created?
She picked up from where she could remember. “Give us this day our daily bread…” Her stomach churned from deep hunger and she got up from the mat to take some water. Last night, she had shared a wrap of moinmoin with her mother and she had not asked for more because she knew there was none and she was not ready to incur the wrath of her father. She shuddered at the thought of what he would do if she dared ask. So, she had simply whispered a ‘thank you, Papa’ and gulped in lots of water. But that was never enough to quell the ravaging need in her stomach.
She went back to the mat and sat with her back against the wall. She watched her mother sleep with her hands over her protruded belly as if trying to protect the unborn instinctively from the man beside her. Her father, with his back against them, snored loudly without a care in the world. Sometimes, she wondered if he was her real father. He had disowned her several times, yet he kept claiming authority over her. That confused her a lot.
The wall clock chimed loudly. It was six in the morning and time to start preparing for the day. She needed to finish her prayers first, so she closed her eyes and tried to complete The Lord’s prayers.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Her father towered above her with a frown. He barely called her by her name. Most times, he hissed at her to get her attention. He bent down and spoke with quiet anger. “Is that what you should be doing now?” Then he drew her left ear and pulled her up. “I have told you I do not want to see you praying or whatever it is you are doing. It is all a waste of time and a ploy to avoid your chores.” He turned to the other ear. “Do not let me warn you another time, okay? Now, get to work!”
Faith covered her mouth from screaming. It was very early and she did not want the neighbours to start running down like they did every time her father was beating either her or her mother. She would not give him the satisfaction to see her cry. She was getting used to this.
“Yes, papa.” She quickly opened the door to their one-room apartment and picked up the bucket on the corridor. Before she locked the door, she saw her mother crouch at a corner in fear that it would soon be her turn.
Faith wished she could save herself and her mother from their troubles, but what chance did a little eight year old girl have against her father? A tear slid down her face. Someday, she would put an end to all of these… If the God she had been praying to was not ready to answer, then she would have to do it herself. So much for ‘deliver us from evil.’
Five minutes later, she was back and found her mother at the back of the house bent over her cooking pot. Mama looked very tired and her eyes were swollen. She managed a smile.
“Good morning, dear. Did you sleep well?” She scooped some soup on her hand and tasted it.
“Yes, Mama. I did.” Faith dropped the bucket on her head. “Baba Sule has increased the price of water. This bucket is now N10, meaning I cannot go the second time.”
Mama dropped the soup-spoon in surprise. “Just like that? What is the world turning to? Things are just getting harder.”
“Can you tell Papa for me, please? I cannot go the second time.” Faith was afraid that her father would not believe her. He never believed anything she said.
Mama looked uncomfortable. “Papa is not in a good mood this morning.” She drew Faith closer and examined the ears. “Sorry about what happened earlier. You know your father is not born again.”
Faith cringed. Mama had started with her usual ‘born again’ talk. Many times she had wondered what that really meant. She heard about it every time in church, but it made no sense to her. How was it possible to have her heart washed with another person’s blood? It sounded ridiculous. The only thing that made sense to her now was how to get herself and Mama out of the mess they were in.
“So you will still explain to Papa that I did not spend his money?”
“I will. Now you go finish your chores before he gets angrier.” Mama turned back to the cooking pot.
As Faith walked back into their room, wondering how she would face her father, she bumped into one of their neighbours, an elderly man who lived alone. Everybody called him ‘Baba’ and he was greatly loved in the compound because of his humorous talks and the great tales that never ceased. He had said he fought in the civil war as a soldier and each time he recounted his role, his eyes would light up with pride.
Faith knelt down. “Good morning, Baba.”
“Hey, my daughter. How are you?” He patted her cheek. “I see you are up and early today. Good girl!”
As much as she liked him, Faith did not like how she felt anytime Baba tried to touch her, so she stepped back to avoid another pat. There was something about him that appeared strange to her, maybe it was the way he tried to play with her every time he had the opportunity. They had been taught in school not to trust anyone. On Monday, she would confide in Miss Patience, her class teacher, about this. Miss Patience was the only one she could trust.
She faked a smile at Baba. “Yes, it is Saturday and I have to do my morning chores on time, so that I can go to the market with Mama.”
“What a hardworking girl you are! Make sure you bring some kolanut for me when coming back, okay?” He smiled. “You know how much old people like kolanut.”
“I will try.” She wondered where she would get the money to get some. “I will…”
A loud cough distracted her and she saw her father standing in front of their room with a frown. Without waiting, she left the old man and ran quickly inside their room, making sure she docked well in case her father had a blow waiting for her.
This had got to stop. As she picked the broom and began sweeping, she began to strategize……