That night, I had a dream. I was standing on the roof of a skyscraper dressed in black. I moved towards the edge and peered at the ant-like humans walking up and down below. I withdrew in fear, wondering how I was expected to jump down. Then someone pushed me. I screamed and tumbled down the blocks of flat.
I woke up, panting hard. I was alone in the room. As I tried to make sense of the dream, Grandma walked in, full of smiles.
‘Food is ready. Breakfast is the best meal of the day. It organises your stomach-‘
I had a broad smile on my face. I was familiar with those words and the gestures that accompany them. Will she ever change?
‘What’s for breakfast grandma?’
‘Bread and egg. Is that something you find enjoyable?’
I grinned. ‘Of course. It’s fine with me.’
‘Grandma.’ I said, as she made for the door.
‘Last night, you said you had something to tell me.’
‘Did I say that?’
I frowned. ‘Yes you did.’
Grandma whistled. I sat on the bed watching her.
‘Actually…hmmm…I didn’t mean it like that. I..emmm…OK, let me put it this way. We are expecting someone this morning.’
‘Come and have breakfast first.’
When grandma left the room, my mind ran through all the possibilities. Has my husband talked to Grandma? I became agitated.
If Peter thinks he can use Grandma to get to me, he is in for a shock. At that moment I made up my mind to see a lawyer immediately I arrive Lagos. I pulled an old box from under the bed and searched for a dress to wear. I found a red gown that Wale had picked for my 21st birthdy. I chose it to upset Peter. He must know that this part of our lives is over.
When I had settled beside my grandmother on the dinning table, I cleared my throat.
‘I’m filing for a divorce.’
Grandma stirred her tea. ‘This egg is so delicious. The bread too.
‘Grandma, don’t pretend like you didn’t hear what I just said.’
‘You can’t talk me out of it. I have made up my mind.’
The door bell rang. I sat with my back straight, my eyes fixed on the table, my mouth armed with words of defence. Grandma stood up and walked to the door.
‘Eka aro ma.’
I shot him a surprised glance. What for goodness sake is he doing here? Our eyes locked and then he turned to my grandmother.
‘Why did you ask me to come?’ He said, sharply.
‘Talk to your daughter.’
My father glared at the old woman. ‘You made me cancel an important meeting with the church elders so I could talk to her? For what?’
My grandmother placed a hand on his shoulder.’Ola, let it go. Your father is dead now. Stop using him to tear your family apart.’
‘I don’t know what you are talking about ‘
‘You know!’ I have never seen my grandmother so worked up. ‘You have no business pastoring Grace Chapel.’
My father exploded. ‘You cannot tell me what to do with my life! I am the Pastor of Grace Chapel.’
I could see Grandma fighting back tears. ‘I remember those years, how you would sneak out of the house to your uncle’s furtuniture shop. You loved the feel of wood. You knew their names and I noticed the fire that lightened your eyes every time you held a saw. But your Father. He was hard on you and all you wanted to do was please him. He made you attend the three theology schools but I knew your heart was never there.’
‘I watch you weep when he made you promise him that you would pastor Grace Chapel. I’ve watched you build that church on your own strength, and I’ve also seen how you try to box them to perfection. Ola, You’ve made them wonder why they are in church in the first place. You drove them away from God. Mabel dreads you. Your two daughters cannot stand each other. You-‘
‘No I won’t. Allow James run the church. Follow your dreams. Your platform is not the pulpit Ola. Submit to God’s will.’
My Father pulled out his handkerchief and broke into tears. My eyes widened.
‘I pray for you everyday. I pray for Grace Chapel and for God to raise a man who’ll fill your father’s shoes. You have a different pair of shoes. It’s time you pick yours.’
Grandma signed a cheque of 400,000 naira. ‘Go start the furtuniture company you’ve been longing for.
‘Mum, you can’t-‘
‘I have an uncompleted building in Bodija. You could start something small there. Your uncle has agreed to show you the ropes until you can stand on your feet. Call him and let him know which of his branches you will be comfortable working in.
My father hugged her. ‘Thank you.’
‘Now, get your family together.’
He nodded and faced me. I hissed and marched into the room, slamming the door.
Later that evening, Grandma sat beside me in silence.
‘Give him another chance.’
‘Never! I’m filing for a divorce.’
‘I’m not referring to Peter. Give your father another chance.’
God forbid, I muttered. ‘I don’t have a father.
She played with my fingers. ‘How long can you stay here?’
‘Sunday.’ I couldn’t look into her eyes.
Silence. Long silence.
‘Do you really want to divorce Peter?’
I didn’t respond. Grandma reached for a red leather journal hidden inside the bedside drawer. I recognised it immediately.