AYANFE (BELOVED)- EPISODE 6

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‘He is dead.’ Mama Ogbomosho finally announced.

For hours, Ibidun had pressed about her father. Mama refused to say anything. When her cousins came into the house later in the evening, Ibidun sensed something was wrong and got agitated.

‘Where is my father? I want my father!’

Ibidun’s scream got her aunt’s attention.

Her father was dead.

Did Mama just say that?

They were all liars. Her father cannot die now. He is only fifty-seven.

She glanced from her aunt to her cousin brothers. ‘That’s not true. I saw him before I went to the church today. He kissed me on my cheeks. I said I would come straight home from church. I asked him what he wanted to eat. We talked this morning!’

Her aunt’s second son sat on the armchair and wrapped his hands around her shoulder. Ibidun shrugged his hands away and rose to her feet.

‘Where is my father?’ Ibidun barked.

She watched their faces hoping they’d laugh and say, ‘we were just kidding.’ ‘We were pulling your legs.’ She looked towards her father’s room. He’d call for her soon. Her father would say, ‘Where is my beautiful angel?’

He had to be somewhere in the house. When she came in from church and checked him in his room, the bed was empty. He was possibly in the rest room. She had to see him and prove her relatives wrong.

‘Ibidun.’ Her aunt called after her. ‘Where are you going to?’

Ibidun did not respond. She had to see her father. She broke into a run and burst into his room. Everything was the same way she’d seen it earlier. The blanket was still on the floor. His bed was unmade. She ran to the rest room and banged the door.

‘Dad!’

She hesitated before opening the door. Her eyes dashed from the toilet bowl to the bathtub.

‘Dad?’ She called out again.

When she came out, her cousins were standing beside their mother, staring at her pitifully.

‘Where is my dad?’ She yelled at them.

Mama Ogbomosho sighed deeply. Tears gathered in her eyes. ‘He is gone. He is resting in the bosom of Jesus.’

Ibidun searched their faces again. ‘Where is that woman and her boys. She ruined my father’s life and disappeared. I warned my father to get rid of her but he would not listen.’ She paced the room. ‘I want to kill her!’

‘She is in a far worse state right now Ibidun.’ Her cousin said. ‘We’ve got her back into the psychiatric ward.’

Ibidun was trembling. It was true. Her father was really dead.

She folded her hands. ‘Please I want to be alone. I want to think and pray for a few minutes. Can I have that?’

Mama Ogbomosho was reluctant. She held her niece’s shoulder and opened her mouth to speak. No words came out. Tears trickled down her face. She squeezed Ibidun’s shoulder and retreated with her sons.

When the last person shut the door, Ibidun locked the door.

Her aunt knocked. ‘Ibidun, locking this door was not part of the agreement. The door should remain opened!’

Ibidun ignored her. She looked around the room again. ‘Dad, is it true I’m not going to see you again?’

The silence sent shivers down her spine. She hugged herself to quieten her trembling hands.

God, you failed me. I begged you not to take my dad away. You took my mum and now my dad is gone. Why are you this wicked. Are you pleased I don’t have a father and a mother again? You are wicked!

The tears poured down and Ibidun made no effort to stop them. She screamed and fell to her knees. Her heart felt like it was going to rip open. What else was she living for? God should have taken her too. He’d have spared her the excruciating pains she was experiencing now.

She raised her head and found her father’s bible opened on the bed. She grabbed it and began to tear it to shreds.

God was wicked! He was not a good God like Pastor Mayowa proclaimed. She had been sold a lie. He was probably watching, smiling at her frustration.

‘God, I hate you!’

If He was kind like he claimed, why did he allow her father die? She pleaded with him, she begged him to restore her father’s health. But he turned deaf ears on her.

She lay on the scattered pieces of paper around her. When she heard a knock from a distance, she shut her ears and wept.

More knocks and bangs.

Ibidun stayed on the floor, tired of crying. She went numb.

‘Daddy.’ She whispered and waited for a response.

********

Philip closed his eyes as his fingers glided over the keys. It’d been a while he had played the keyboard. Seun had left the church with the Music Director on an assignment. Bored of waiting for him, Philip played the keyboard, swaying with the music as his fingers worked quickly.

Philip buzzed with excitement. He was glad the auditorium was empty as his voice rose higher, blending with the rhythm of a song he’d composed few days ago.

He stopped. There was an intruder and she was singing his song in a high-pitched voice. Philip turned to the direction of the voice.

Was this not the lady who led the worship session this morning? He thought she had an amazing voice.

Philip stood up and limped towards her. ‘I love your voice.’ He took her hand. ‘I’m Philip.’

‘Mary. I’m the worship leader here.’ She continued. ‘Oh my God! Your voice is so powerful. I’ve been standing at the back for over an hour, mesmerized. Are you new in church?’

Philip smiled. ‘Yes and thank you for the compliment.’

You should join the choir soon.’

‘Well, I’m about to kick off workers-in-training classes. I believe when I’m done, I’ll be in the choir.’

They walked back to the keyboard stand. ‘I can’t wait to have you in the choir. Please can you play, On Christ the solid rock? I’d love if we can sing it together.’

Philip poked the keys and hummed silently. He waited for her to lead before joining in. How many times had he played that song in the past without understanding the words? They meant so much to him now. Christ was his solid rock. He’d tried other rocks and they’d almost crushed him.

When he opened his eyes, the music director was staring at him with stunned gape. Some of the choristers stood beside him, mouth opened.

Shy, Philip stood up, uncomfortable with the attention he was receiving. He felt fulfilled for the first time in a long time.

‘That was fantastic. I’m tempted to ask you to join us for this rehearsal.’ The music director started. ‘But I need the permission of the Pastor. I’m lost for words.’

Philip saw eyes boring at him in admiration. He excused himself and joined Seun who was waiting for him at the entrance.

‘You are really one talented man!’ Seun said, starting the engine. ‘You have no idea the length God can take you with this.’

Philip was quiet on the ride home. His mind drifted back to Ibidun. He wished she had been there to hear him sing.

He sighed deeply. What was wrong with him? Why was he thinking about her again? She had made it clear. She was not available for a relationship.

‘What are you thinking about?’ Seun asked, as they pulled in front of Seun’s favourite restaurant. Sogo had returned to school and Seun hated to cook. When Philip pleaded with Seun to allow him into the kitchen, he had refused.

‘What’s on your mind?’ Seun asked again.

Philip smiled. ‘Nothing serious.’

Seun looked at him. ‘I was thinking. Why don’t you get professional training and teach music to children and teenagers.’

Philip’s smile widened. The week he arrived Seun’s house, he’d envisioned music lessons with children. It was time to return to the music school he had abandoned after his father died.

‘Find a good professional music institute and let me know what the cost is. I’ll pay.’ Seun said.

Philip stared at him, surprised. ‘Thank you so much.’

He relaxed against the headrest, thinking. God really loved him. He had no doubt about that now. The playout in his life could only be God’s doing.

‘I caught you stealing glances at Ibidun in church this morning.’ Seun blurted out. ‘What’s happening?’

Had it been that obvious? Philip looked away.

Seun looked straight ahead. ‘I don’t think getting into a relationship is a priority now. It could be a huge distraction. Get grounded in God’s word first.’

Seun was right, Philip thought. He just barely knew the Lord. If he was going to lead his family, there were roots he had to build. He was glad Ibidun was in a relationship. It was time to focus on what was important.

******

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A loud noise woke Ibidun. She squinted to block the light streaming in from the window. What time was it? Why was she on the floor? She tried to sit up but her back hurt.

Her aunt’s voice came back

‘He is dead.’

She fell back to the floor and stayed there. The banging on the door continued. She heard more voices and someone hitting the door. She tried to stand up but her feet felt stuck. Ibidun rolled over on her back and stared at the ceiling.

It took an hour to get the door open. She was relieved when Mama Ogbomosho ran towards her. Two other strong hands carried her out of the room to the living room. They placed her in a sitting position. Her eyes surveyed the crowd. Her cousins, Pastor Mayowa and his wife, Seun, Philip, Cecilia and some church members.

What were they all doing here?

Did she not plead with her Pastor to pray for her father? He’d given excuses. What good was his presence in her house now?

Mama Ogbomosho came out of her father’s room, very upset. ‘Ibidun, what did you do to your father’s bible?’

‘I tore them to shreds. Do you want to beat me?’

‘Watch your tongue young woman. That bible was your father’s priced possession.’

Ibidun boiled with anger. ‘What good did it do for him! Tell me. Who are we deceiving here? If there is truly a God, why did he let a good man like that go. He took my mum first and now my father and you tell me he is good? Dad is not even sixty yet!’

The Pastor’s wife put her hand over her shoulder. ‘Ibidun, calm down. Relax. Everything will be alright.’

Ibidun responded without looking at her. ‘Everything will not be alright. My father is gone.’

Mama Ogbomosho announced she’d be leaving Ogbomosho with her niece that afternoon. Ibidun remained silent. She refused to eat anything. She wanted to be alone.

When Pastor Mayowa left the house with the team, Mama got ready to leave. Ibidun took her certificates and a few clothings. She’d get the rest later. There was no way she would live in the house now that her father was gone.

‘Your step mother is in the hospital. We should see her before we leave for Ogbomosho.’ Mama said as she entered the car.

Ibidun looked at her aunt sharply. ‘I don’t want to see her.’

She will not come out of that hospital. She will die a painful death. Ibidun muttered quietly.

‘Ibidun, when did you become like this? I’m grieving too. I hope you know that. When your father was born, I took care of him till he completed his primary school education. He is my only sibling. This hit me too. Don’t give the devil a chance please.’

Ibidun laughed in her mind. Was the devil not better than a God who was silent when she needed him? At least the devil knew how to exhibit his wicked deeds. She didn’t want to have any business with a God who pretended to care about her. She was far better on her own.

While Mama went into the hospital to see her step-mother, Ibidun spoke to Silas.

‘It’s about time you move to Abuja. I want to be close to you baby. There are better job opportunities here Ibidun. I can book a flight for you once you are ready.’

Silas was right. She needed a change of environment. She wanted to move from the house, from Ibadan, from the church. She wanted to be away from everyone.

Tears filled her eyes again. She made a decision right there. After the burial, she would head straight for Lagos and fly to Abuja. She picked her phone and sent a text to her boss.

I lost my father yesterday. I won’t be returning to the office again. I apologize for the short notice.

Ibidun shivered even though she wore a sweater. She wanted to keep talking to Silas.

‘My baby.’ Silas said, softly.

Ibidun loved the way his voice made her calm.

‘Are you busy?’

‘I’m shutting down my laptop.’ There was a pause. ‘I’m all yours, girl.’

Ibidun wiped her tears with the back of her hand. ‘Tell me something. Just talk to me. I want to keep hearing your voice.’

Silas told her a story about a dog that almost bit him in his client’s house. Ibidun’s eyes grew heavy. She slept off.

*******

Philip couldn’t sleep. It’s been three weeks since he saw Ibidun and he was worried about her. He wanted to be there for her. He wanted to tell her he could relate to her situation. She was not picking his calls. She didn’t reply his messages either.

He sat on the bed and prayed for her. Philip became restless and his heart heavy. Scared, he went in search of Seun and found him in the living room.

Seun raised his head from his laptop and looked at Philip. ‘You look worried. Are you okay?’

Philip sat on the arm of a chair. ‘I don’t know. Ibidun has been on my heart all evening and when I started praying, my chest became tight. Have you ever had a heart burn from eating beans, that’s how I feel. I’ve never experienced anything like this.’

Seun smiled. ‘You are having a burden. From time to time, the Lord puts such burdens in our heart for others. Ibidun is possibly in trouble or she is in dire need of your prayers. Pray until you feel light in your heart.’

Philip returned to his room and prayed. Tears trickled down his face and he couldn’t stop it. He held his chest while still remaining on his knees.

Seun came in. Philip looked at him, his face still worried.

‘Do you experience this too?’

Seun nodded. ‘While I was in the hospital with you, I did twice.’ He sat on the bed. ‘Philip, I called one of the associate Pastors this evening to find out arrangements for Ibidun father’s burial. Ibidun does not want to see us. She said if we come, she’ll embarrass us.’

Philip shook his head. ‘Why is she doing this?’

Seun stood up. ‘The leadership of the church is organizing a prayer chain for her. She’ll come around. Let’s pray.’

Philip stayed on his knees while Silas paced the room, praying.

*****

‘I want to get out of here.’ Ibidun said to Silas over the phone. The burial was a week away.

Right now, I’m on Arik Air website. When do you want me to book the flight?’ Silas asked.

‘The burial is on the 16th.’ She hesitated, thinking. ‘Is there a flight for the evening of the 18th?

‘Yes, there is one for 8pm.’

‘That’s perfect. Silas.’ She let out a deep breath. ‘I’m not sure how I’d have gone through this phase without you. Thank you.’

‘I can’t wait for you to get here.’ Silas said, softly

‘Me too.’

******

Ibidun dressed quickly. Her backpack was ready. The previous day, she informed her aunt about a verification exercise happening in her office. It was a lie.

Mama’s grand-daughter, Esther, was sweeping the veranda when Ibidun got ready to leave. She stopped sweeping and came to Ibidun with tears in her eyes.

‘Why are you crying? I’ll be back soon.’

Esther shook her head and embraced Ibidun. ‘Something tells me you are not planning to come back. I don’t know why I feel that way.’

Ibidun felt a pang of guilt. ‘I’ll be back Esther. Just count one to one thousand, I’ll be right here.’

Esther held on to her. ‘Whatever happens, Sister Ibidun, God loves you.’

Ibidun pulled away rather too quickly. ‘I have to leave now and it’s a school day. You should get ready for school.’

Ibidun looked at the house one more time before shutting the gate. She was stepping into a new life. Silas had sent links to some courses that’ll keep her busy. He was also making arrangements for job opportunities in some big non-profit organizations. She was leaving the past behind and stepping into a beautiful future.

In the bus headed for Lagos, Ibidun sent a message to her aunt.

Mummy, I am sorry I lied. I’m not coming home again. Please don’t look for me.

She removed her sim card and inserted a new one. She called Silas.

Next. Episode 7

About the author

Ife Grace

I am a faith blogger with a passion to contribute my quota to the body of Christ. I am also the author of two books: The Reunion and Spring.

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