Through the Eye of Faith (24)
Happy Workers Day, Folks! I trust you will make the best of this holiday. For REDigion, this month is special (You will know how special with time ;)) and I pray it is filled with beautiful beginnings for all of us. It is the 24th episode and you will find out that God is never tired of us. Never! Stay tuned to REDigion and have an amazing read. Show some love today by inviting others to join our amazing journey. God bless you!
Dapo sat on the stool in the kitchen, feeling very silly in his waiter’s attire. For the umpteenth time, he wanted to slap himself for agreeing to such ridiculous idea. How could he have reasoned with Chief Okonkwo’s suggestion to dress up as an attendant in a supper to which the Chief had invited some guests?
“I cannot do it. That is the craziest idea I have ever heard.” Dapo had disagreed bluntly. Then, he quickly apologized when he saw Chief’s offended look. “I don’t mean to say you brought up a silly idea. It’s just not acceptable. I can’t do it.”
Chief Okonkwo lifted an eyelid. “So what else would you suggest? You want to barge into a family and destroy all they have built for years? Oh! You think you are the prodigal son your mother will welcome into her home with open arms? You must be very childish to think so. Do you want to put the family into a public mess? You cannot even imagine what the media will say when they get a whiff of this. Chief Okunuji has interest to run for a senatorial seat. Do you have any idea how your entrance will destroy that?”
“I do not want to be part of that family. I just want to meet my mother.”
“I know and that is why I am trying to help you. I can invite them for supper and we can take it from there. You just be the waiter and even if you cannot talk to her, you can still see her and that is if she still recognizes you.”
Dapo frowned. He had never thought of that and the realization that she might not recognize him left a bitter taste in his mouth. It had been what… 27 lonely years? Years of uncertainty and struggles… of no parental care. Yet, he had survived without her. Maybe meeting her was a bad idea after all.
“I’m not sure I want to do this.” He looked straight into Chief Okonkwo’s eyes. “God has been my parent all these years. I’ll just leave things the way they are.”
“And my daughter does not get to know her in-laws? God forbid!” Chief was not about to let him go. “You will do this if not for yourself, at least for me… I mean for my girl.” He concluded. “No buts. That’s final.” Chief left Dapo standing without another much options.
Now, as they waited for the arrival of the guests, Dapo felt like the little, lost boy again and his throat felt very tight. Today he would face the most difficult task of his life, trying to cage the child within from crying out for his mother’s love. The loud horn outside drew him fast to the window. They had arrived. Dapo let out a big sigh. It would be a life-changing evening. I need you, Lord. My life hangs on a balance and feels like it will drop into pieces.
For I know the thoughts I have towards you, my son. They are thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you an expected end.
Dapo looked around the kitchen. He was sure he heard the Voice so clearly like the speaker was just beside him. But all he could see was the Italian cook trying to do the last minutes checkup. He felt a big relief wash over his body. He was not alone in this. He had a divine back-up.
Downstairs, as they entered into the big duplex, Mrs Okuniji appreciated the quiet but beautiful compound. The last time they paid a visit, what attracted her most was the array of flowers in the small garden just at the side of the building. She and the hostess had spent some time chatting about growing more vegetables and how they could turn that into a viable business. When they passed by, she observed the flowers did not blossom like before and she could see some weeds around. She quickly wiped the tear off her eyes. Life was indeed like a flower that blossomed today and withered away tomorrow. Rest in peace, my dear friend.
“Thank you for making it at such a short notice. I know how busy your schedule is. I am most honoured.” Chief Okonkwo embraced his friend and his wife.
Chief Okunuji smiled warmly. “It’s our pleasure. You know I can do anything for you, especially when it has to do with keeping you company. Once again, I am sorry about your loss.”
“It’s okay.” Chief Okonkwo was not ready to get all sensitive. “I am getting used to her absence. Life must go on, no matter how hard it is.”
“True. I really admire your courage.” Mrs Okunuji chipped in. “Everything happens for a reason.”
“I must confess it isn’t easy, Madam. But each day I get better, and you are right. Everything does happen for a reason.” Chief emphasized the last sentence, looking straight at the woman in front of him. I hope you see the reason for this soon enough.
Chief Okonkwo led them straight to the large dining room.
“No time to waste, I see.” Chief Okunuji teased his friend. “You must really be hungry. I am famished myself.”
“Well, I just want us to eat on time and then we have the private little discussion I said I needed to have with you the last time we met.” When he mentioned ‘private’, Chief Okonkwo made it clear with his eyes that he didn’t want his friend’s wife involved. “It’s about the coming elections. I have some fantastic ideas I will like to share with you.”
“That would be great.” Chief Okunuji was excited. “I need all the ideas I can get and coming from you, I am sure they are just what I need.”
Mrs Okunuji could only smile at the men. Sometimes, she hated being treated like she was some kind of possession to be flaunted about. Her husband barely discussed his electoral plans with her and she didn’t mind at all. She was used to being neglected on occasions like this. A past memory threatened to resurface. Perhaps, her marriage was punishment for a sin she committed many years ago. Just as the guilt started soaring in, she shoved it aside. Many years had passed and she was a changed woman now. An image appeared on her mind and she nearly choked on her breath. She excused herself politely and went straight to the restroom. In front of the mirror, she saw the reflection of a woman who was tearing apart with a dreadful secret she had nurtured for years. The makeup had covered up on the outside, but the inside was old and worn and about to shred into tiny, little pieces.
I cannot do this anymore, Lord. I need to tell my husband before I go finally crazy. I am not the kind of woman he thinks I am. I am unworthy to be the mother of his children.
Jesus, are you there? Is it too much to ask if I could just see my son again, so I could ask for forgiveness? All my efforts have been in vain. I just want to see my son again.
She burst into sobs and cried into the sink. This was one of the days when she felt so lonely and awkward. She wished she could turn back the hand of time, but deep within her, she knew it was too late. She had tried all she could. Even God had stopped responding. Her son was lost to her forever.
Few minutes later, she stepped out of the restroom and as she turned into the living room, she bumped a man who carried an empty tray and was on his way back into the kitchen.
“Oh! Clumsy me!” She bent to pick the tray and handed it to the man. “Did I hurt you? I’m so sorry.”
The man looked at her face and quickly bowed his head. “Yes… I mean no. I mean not at all.” He stammered as he tried to regain control. “I’m fine.” Without waiting for a response, he hurried straight towards the kitchen.
Mrs Okunuji watched him leave and wondered at his strange reaction. She was not too surprised, though. That was how many house-helps behaved. However, she could not understand the warm feeling she felt when their hands touched as he collected the tray. She joined the men in the dining room.
In the kitchen, Dapo felt like exploding. He just met his mother. He could never mistake the tiny tribal mark she had on her cheeks and the gap between her front teeth and when she touched him…oh! When he felt her skin, he nearly shed tears and had quickly hid his face and ran straight to the kitchen. He felt so scared and exhilarated at the same time. This was the moment he had been living for. Different notions ran through his mind. Should he just go to the dining room and confront her straightway? Or should he just play along? Was he ready to bear the consequences of any of the action he decided to take? He had never been this confused in a long while. The wall of 27 years came crashing in. He thought he had prepared adequately for this day; had even rehearsed his words in front of the mirror. Why then was he afraid to take this risk?
“More wine, please!” Chief Okonkwo shouted from the dining room. “Quickly!”
Dapo picked up two bottles of wine and hurried out of the kitchen. When he got there, he noticed a teasing smile from Chief Okonkwo, who seemed to be enjoying every bit of the show.
“Give some to Madam, She likes the non-alcoholic, fruity ones.” Chief Okonkwo instructed. “Make sure her cup is filled every time, okay?”
“Yes, sir.” Dapo could hardly recognize his voice. He walked towards the woman sitting few steps away from him.
She lifted her glass and smiled sweetly at the man as he poured her some wine. “Thank you. I don’t drink much wine, though. I prefer water.” Then she narrowed her eyes on his face and continued eating.
When Dapo saw she could not recognize him, he didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. On one hand, he could carry on his function in a more relaxed manner and didn’t have to hide his face any more. On the other hand, he wanted to scream ‘SO YOU CANNOT RECOGNIZE ME, MOTHER?’
Chief Okonkwo must have seen the confused look on his face, which was why he cleared his throat. “Ermm.. Da… what’s your name again? Go back to the kitchen. I will call you when we need you.”
“Yes sir.” Dapo cast one long look at the woman who was busy digging into her plate before he left. He had got the answer he craved for many years. He would let things be the way they were. It was better that way. With time, the hurt will heal.
Some 30 minutes later, as he was clearing the kitchen, he felt a soft tap on his back and he nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Hey!” He shouted and quickly controlled himself when he realized who it was. “Sorry, madam. You need something?”
Mrs Okunuji held a glass of water to her lips. “I thought I saw something earlier, but then I must have been imagining things. You seem familiar to me, but I cannot pick where. Have we met before?”
Dapo swallowed hard. Yessssss! Many struggling years ago .You abandoned me by the roadside. I am you son. Can’t you see? “Well, you know what they say about two persons looking alike. It is possible you have met someone that looked like me before.”
“That’s true.” The woman gulped in the remaining liquid. “Like I said, I must be imagining things. So, tell me. Where are your parents and why are you a houseboy? Don’t you have dreams to become something better in life?” She appeared she was not in a haste to leave.
“Well, I do have great dreams and while some look like they will not be achievable,” Dapo’s eyes were sad. “I am making progress with others. In the end, I am sure I will get there some day.”
“I like your passion. And your parents?”
“They are fine.” At least that was true.
“Good. Just in case, you need help with anything especially regarding education, please let me know. I run a Foundation that grants scholarships to young people.”
Mrs Okunuji smiled. “Funny enough, you speak quite well for a houseboy. You can become a better person.”
“Your husband wants to leave now.” Chief Okonkwo peeped into the kitchen. “He got an urgent call from the Governor.”
“Okay.” Mrs Okunuji hurried towards the kitchen door. “Thank you for your time.” She smiled at Dapo before leaving.
Dapo walked towards the window and watched the couple dash to their SUV. Before she entered, Mrs Okunuji looked at the kitchen window like she knew Dapo would be observing from there. Then, she grinned widely and waved at him. Dapo waved back slowly and tried to put on a happy face. As the gate closed loudly behind them, Dapo knew that was the last time he would see his mother.