My family was never perfect but mother always made us project that we were. It was when I was eight years of age that I realized this. Before then, I always saw my family as the best family the universe could ever give me. Guess I was only being naive. Every Sunday mother made us sit together in church and no one dared to sit apart. Most of the time, she and father wore the same material of cloth to church to show everyone that even after seventeen years of marriage, they still loved each other. Mother made sure that she and father made donations to every church project even when they did not have enough money at the time. And we the children, followed our parents around like lost puppies and did whatever they asked us to do even when we did not want to. We were such a perfect family in the eye of the public that the Pastor often used us as example of a good Christian family for others to emulate.
Being the last child of three children, people often treated me like the child they thought I was. What could a boy of twelve possibly know? But I knew a lot, even things I wished I did not know. Things I wished I could erase from my adolescent mind. Like how father was having an affair with another woman.
It was a Saturday. Mother had gone to the market with sister and brother had gone out with his friends, leaving father and I all alone. Father and I were not best buddies but we got along just fine. When it came to parent-child relationship, mother and I were the IT thing. She understood me better like nobody else. Father was not the kind of man who stayed in the living room. He was mostly in his office reading the paper or working on his laptop. The only time he came to the living room was when he wanted to watch the news. To see him come to the living room and watch a movie with me that day was surprising. Little did I know that he was expecting someone.
The doorbell rang and he asked me to get the door which I did. Standing there was a tall dark skinned lady who looked like she was in her early twenties.
“You must be Chris,” she said. “Nice to finally meet you.”
I wondered how she knew my name since we had never met before. Father came over to the door and the two of them greeted each other. It was a casual greeting, but it felt like they only greeted each other that way because I was there.
“We have some business deal to discuss,” Father told me. “We will be in my office.”
She came in and I shut the door. As I went back to the movie I was watching, I was still wondering how she knew my name. Who was she to Father? Telling myself that it was none of my business, I concentrated on the movie. Few minutes later, I began to hear laughter coming from Father’s office. My curious mind did not let me rest as I wanted to know what was going on there. I went upstairs and slowly walked into Father’s office. Thankfully the door was slightly opened. I peeped and saw the lady sitting on Father’s lap, caressing him like she owned him. My blood began to boil with anger. How could Father do that to mother? She had done nothing but try to project a good image for the family and there he was spoiling it. Out of my anger, I opened the door and they broke free of each other’s embrace when they saw me.
“Chris, what are you doing here?” Father asked. I shot Father a death glare and stomped out of his office without saying a word. He waited a few minutes before coming to meet me in my room where I was.
“Your mother must not know about this?” I had no idea if that was a plea or a command. The way Father looked at me, I could tell that he was feeling guilty. What I could not tell was whether he was feeling guilty for being caught by his twelve year old son or because he realized that what he was doing was wrong.
Mother came home later that day and she and sister prepared pounded yam and vegetable soup. Father kept looking at me as we sat at the dinning, using his eyes to beg me not to say anything to mother. His constant begging was not what shut me up but because I did not want mother to get hurt. The poor woman did not deserve to be hurt like that. That day I lost every respect I had for father.
From that day father tried to be closer to me. He made sure that he often bought something new for me. Even mother began to get jealous about how close we had become. It hurt that she was oblivious about what was going on. Every day that I watched Father pretend to love my mother tore my heart into a thousand pieces. Something in me begged me to tell her but I ignored it. What she did not know could not hurt her, could it?
Months passed and I had not still told mother about father’s affair. He had told me that he was not seeing his mistress again but I knew he was.
It was when we came back from church one Sunday that Father’s affair got exposed. His mistress came to the house claiming she was carrying his baby. When mother heard this, she fainted instantly. Father rushed her to the hospital and my siblings and I did not agree to be left behind. As we sat in the hospital waiting for mother to wake up, I could not but blame myself. If I had told mother earlier, it would not have led to Father’s mistress getting pregnant. What if mother did not wake up from the shock? Father would definitely marry his mistress and she would become our step-mother. I shook the thoughts away. Mother would not die. At least not now. I prayed to God silently where I sat.
Please do not let mother die. I promise to be a better son if you spare her life.
Unfortunately, God did not answer my prayer. The doctor came to us and as in a formal voice told us that they tried all they could do. Immediately he said that, I knew what was coming next. Mother had passed away. The doctor said that she had died of a heart attack due to her high blood pressure. Sister began to scream, demanding to see mother but my brother held her and took her out of the hospital. I on the other hand could not scream or say a word as the tears rolled down my cheeks.
Just like that mother was gone. I would never get the chance to see her again. The rage coiled within me as I watched Father talking to the doctor. If he had not been having an affair, mother would still be alive. If he had not been having an affair, I would not have had anything to hide from mother. If there was anyone to blame for this it was him. At that moment the only thing I could think of was wasting his life the same way he wasted mother’s.
The ride back home was long and silent. No one uttered a single word. As I laid on my bed that night, I thought about how much effort mother had put in holding our family together. All of it was now a waste. Mother was a good fellow and did not deserve to die the way she did. If anyone needed to make things right it was me. Without thinking twice, I stood up from my bed and went to the kitchen to grab a knife. When I did, I went straight to Father’s room but he was not there. The only place he could be at this time of the night was his office so I went there. He did not notice my presence because the door of his office was left open and his eyes were closed. I watched as he kept drinking what I guessed was an alcoholic drink.
For a second I began to pity him. A second I said. The image of mother flashed through my mind and the pity left and brought a rush of anger. He finally noticed me and smiled a forced smile. Immediately fear took over him when he noticed the knife I was holding.
“W-w-what are you doing with that?” He asked, his voice trembling.
“You killed my mother”, I accused him. The tears started rolling down my cheeks again.
He stood up and walked up to me. He tried to collect the knife from him, but I pointed the object at him. A new being had possessed me and the only thing I could think of was driving that knife into father’s guilty heart.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized.
Hearing him say that made the anger in me boil more. Sorry. Like that was going to bring mother back.
“I’m sorry too,” I apologised and drove the knife into his heart. In that moment, I lost control of myself and began to stab him continuously. Every second he spent gapsing for breath made me feel good. When father finally gave up, my mind came back to its usual place. What had I done? Oh, no. I killed my father with my own hands. I looked at the blood stain on my hands not believing this had just happened.
“What have you done?” The voice of sister asked as she rushed to father’s lifeless body. Before I knew it, I was being handcuffed by a policeman and thrown inside a van. Sister had cried out for help and one of the neighbours called the Police. From that day on, I lost every bit of sanity in me. Every day as I sat in juvie, I would dream about how I killed my father.
The time flew fast and my siblings never bothered to check up on me. Not even once. I had no idea where they were or how they were fairing. There was only one person who never stopped coming to see me and that was Pastor. He would share some words of encouragement to me and pray with me anytime he came to visit.
It was Christmas and the first time I would ever celebrate it without my family. The Pastor came to visit me that day. He even brought some food for me. As usual he shared some words of encouragement to me and prayed with me. But this time before he left, he handed me a Bible as my Christmas gift. He then told me to read 2 Corinthians 5:17. As I sat in my cell, I contemplated whether to read it or not. I had never read the Bible on my own before. The only time I read the Bible was in church on Sunday. After giving much thought to it, I picked up the Bible and opened to the scripture he asked me to read. It said;
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Even though the Bible was written in plain English, I found it difficult to comprehend what those words meant. Every day I would read that portion of the Bible and anticipate the Pastor’s next visit for him to explain to me what it meant. For weeks Pastor did not show up. I began to think maybe he was tired of visiting and had abandoned me too. It was after four weeks that Pastor showed up. The first question he asked was if I had read the scripture he asked me to and I told him that I had but did not understand what it meant. Pastor smiled and began to explain that portion of the Bible to me. He said the first step was for me to give my life to Christ. If I do, Christ would forgive all my sins and help me to forget all that had happened. He told me to open to Isaiah 1:18
Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool.
That day I gave my life to Christ and I felt this sudden peace within me. Few years later God did a miracle and I was released. Before that, my siblings came to visit me telling me that they had forgiven me for killing father.
Today, as I stand here talking to you beautiful people, I am now a husband, father, doctor and a writer. My first book Chronicles of a Young Boy, is a book that everyone should read. If God can help someone like me then he can help anyone. Thank you all for coming.
The audience stood up and applauded him as he went back to his seat.
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