*Autumn Of Ignorance*
Discomfort kissed serenity and my eyelids retired from a long romance that lasted for about 6hours. Mum woke us up by 5am for our daily morning devotion… Oops! …It’s a new month. Our confession day. We are to sing, clap, dance, preach, pray and confess our sins for the previous month which is accompanied by severe beatings to the law breaker(s) after which a general fasting is observed by the family to usher in the new month.
Sometimes I wonder if God personally assigned my mother to take care of His laws and mete out punishment to the offenders in all sincerity and blinded discipline.
I just finished up with my SSCE and am currently awaiting jamb to approve my admission. I fantasize about the university life everyday, my chief happiness being freedom from religious tyranny from mum. She is a religious fanatic with extremities in the laws of Moses. A 21st century pharisee. This dispensation is a perilous time to her.
Dad left a lot of wealth for us before eloping with his mistress due to mum’s unabated aging and apparent wrinkling caused by lack of good body care and hair treatment and as such, she looks ten years older than dad. Her excuse being that she’s keeping fit for her mansion in heaven.
She doesn’t apply creams. Make up is a taboo to her. Having her hair unkept is a sign of running the heavenly race. Shiny clothes are from the pit of hell; in fact, she is an enemy of beauty and attraction. She transmogrified us into rags all because of religion. We’re the rich that lived like paupers who don’t have a say as to how things are run.
Talking about your rights in disparity to her belief earned you an injury. We swallowed up everything and lived like slaves where freedom is served chilled. Home became a valley of shadow of death. No television, no smartphones, no friends or anything that’ll make life a bit better from it’s stress. Just a radio which it’s station is determined solely by mum and no one dares operate it in her absence.
After singing hymns and preaching her favorite end time message which comes with every new month, turns of words of exaltation was taken amongst us the children, to recite scriptural quotations and explain it, followed by the most dreaded moment of confession. We swear an oath with the Goya olive oil which mum symbolizes to be the blood of Jesus. It became a witness to our confessions. Due to the anthill of fear in the atmosphere, we all said only the truth to avoid being stroke to death just like Ananias and his wife.
It went down smoothly until my last sister in JS1 confessed of accidentally seeing porn in class in the midst of her mates. Mum was so infuriated. She slapped, kicked, beat, blow and did so many inhuman things to her just because of a mistake. Fasting lasted from 6am to 6pm that day but hers was going to be till 8pm as a punishment for making a simple mistake. After the prayer section, myself and my immediate younger sister went into the room to console our kid sister.
Mum is a deaconess, women leader, prayer band coordinator, church secretary, sunday school teacher and a woman of Zion. She was worshipped in her church and other places honoured her presence but bitterness and unforgiveness are the siblings of her personality – this we know. She reads the bible all the time and asks the pastor for clarity all the time and makes the pastor’s words her laws all the time. She tithed everything down to her balance from daily transport fare and she made us tithe even our pocket money too.
Songs that either sprays fire or calle the holy ghost down or killed enemies made her playlist. She judges everything and everyone, nothing is right before her except her biblical misunderstanding. I always prayed for enlightenment in her path but it seemed longer than eternity. I therefore basked in the euphoria of an autumn of ignorance which I know will surely come.
Finally Santa came calling, my admission letter arrived on the 25th of december. Hurray! I’m a prospective law student. I made a rigid decision to read all readable,equip myself with much knowledge and understand the workings of life. Dad was elated over the news, the church was proud of me , using me to cite good examples during Sunday schools, my sisters were so happy too but mum was the happiest.
The admission to her was a proof of training me well and being a good mother. A day to my departure to school, she preached, prayed, and cautioned me for good 4hours, afterward she annointed me with oil, spat on my hands and blessed me. She urged me to always be the purest rose in the wilderness and to lift the banner of Christ so high. Need I not say that we went to a monthly virginity test at month endings, it was that serious.
During my first year in the university, I came, saw and fairly conquered. My naivety in so many things got me into a lot of troubles. I was a slave to masturbation, a victim of my emotions and freedom became my Achilles heel. Thank God for Grace Revealed, a fellowship that taught me the gospel, opened my eyes to so many things and made me realize I was playing religion all these while – a hubbub of Ignorance I unconsciously inherited from my mum -. I learned, unlearned and relearned; got a better approach to things and saw life from a whole new angle. More so, Uguru my feminist boyfriend directed me so well and made me read a lot which enlightened me so well.
I came back during holidays and breaks and managed ignorance just to live out the good girl thing and please mum. I saw my boyfriend secretly, faked virginity tests and played my favorite songs by Johnny Drille on earphones while lifting up my hands and saying “Yes lord” whenever mum was around. It made her feel I haven’t left the track of faith. I felt pretentiously sober when mum’s regular playlist is on the hit, which made her play it often. Unknown to her, it irritated life out of me for I was just pretending.
In my 300 level, I became a fair weathered visitor at home. I came back only during Christmas; most times, only on new year celebrations. Aside Rhetoric Masters (a debate organisation I led in some ways) which took me places localized and abroad – gets me very busy too – I just wanted to have my peace. It continued till after my degree and I was called to bar.
I finished from law school with a first class honours. I got work as a consultant and served a SAN. I was a scholar abroad for further studies while taking care of my family as the breadwinner also. I tried changing mum’s erroneous mindset but it was a herculean task. She hated my makeup, despised my wearing of trousers, fought against my feminist views, kicked off my Christian beliefs and when she saw I wasn’t going to conform, she disowned me. My siblings related with me in secret because she also barred them from having anything to do with me. Not too long, after my doctorate, I became very famous and successful lawyer – a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
My immediate younger sister ran out of home because she got pregnant out of wedlock. She became a single mum. Mum was so infuriated that she didn’t want to set eyes on her. She disowned her as well. I took over the responsibility as her mum, supported her and helped her get something doing in the meantime. The last of us finally got admission into the university (after so many years of trial)and we all were happy for her but the happiness was short-lived.
A case came to court and I was the prosecuting council. I sued mum for the death of my last and kid sister. Aside the autopsy report of food poisoning, mum confessed with all alacrity and no remorse at all for being responsible. It was true she got pregnant also but mum refused her to either abort it or keep it. She was too selfish. She thought only of her reputation and the stigmatism that will follow. She therefore poisoned and killed her own daughter, my kid sister just to keep her prestige with her bible reference “don’t be unequally yoked with sinners”. She made the death look like an accident but I was smarter. It was very disheartening and barbaric. I took the case up myself and gave in my best to win it.
With tears dancing down my cheeks and a divided heart partly for justice and partly for family, I stood up with the court when the judge was leaving after giving his verdict of death by hanging to my mother who was found guilty. The wind of regrets blew as the autumn of ignorance fell off from her eyes in form of tears. She was escorted to the van by the police men with her hands cuffed behind. She looked me in the eyes and said a lot that my mind doesn’t understand but my heart interprets.
Uncontrollable tears clothed my being as my sister and husband came around to console me (in tears too). Family is good, her intentions and wishes for us borne out of unknowing greed and ignorance seemed okay to her. She wanted us to live out her dreams and not ours and it was a dangerous path to thread, but I stand for justice and equity. I love mum but I love justice more…
© Achi Gp Nuel