Keeping Faith

Today, I have a beautiful piece written by Akintunde Aiki, read and share… Blessings.

Akintunde Aiki

“It’s a loud and crazy world we live in. Sometimes we lose our way. But the Good Lord always sends someone to bring us back home”
-Martin Lawrence (Big Momma’s House)

Hoping this helps a soul. Or two.

SOUTH

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Credits: Sethu Priyan

“Dad, I saw it all. Your journey to here, I saw it. Everything.”
My hands tighten on the wheels. I stare ahead and say nothing. He stares too, straight ahead, his eyes unseeing. He uncaps the bottle in his hands and takes a swig of ice-cold Coke. He burps. I steal a glance at his aquiline nose, half-expecting a sneeze. He sneezes. Twice. 

“Standard procedure.” We say together. A smile plays at the corners of his lips, but his expression remains sullen. I shift in my seat, my unease growing. How can he see anything? 

“I grew up sneaking to the closed library door at home every time I hear you wake up. I would press my ear to the door, waiting to catch every word you said to God as you prayed. My heart overflowed with joy whenever I heard you return thanksgiving for a prayer answered. And dad, those days they were a lot. It was the time of day I looked forward to most. I always wondered what you did in the quiet minutes that came afterwards. I would hear only the ticking clock and nothing more. I asked mom one day and she told me it was the minutes you spend listening to God. I was enthralled.”

A lump forms in my throat as memories of a time comes flooding my mind.

“I knew you told God a lot about us. Mom and I. I heard the cries on countless mornings. I felt your pain when as the years went by, you had not returned any thanksgiving for those prayers. But I admired your courage. And determination. Your prayers were the lights that guided me in my darkness. I was not only secure in the world your life built me, I dared to hope too.”

He pauses.

I swallow hard, but the lump remains. The cheerful and spacious cream and brown interior of the car now seems dreary and stuffy. The air conditioner is the only sound to be heard. I shift again. 

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Credits: Poetryvoice.wordpress.com

“Dad, it was those days that mom’s voice would compete with yours in singing worship songs aloud as we played together in the house. You would throw in a couple of love songs for her. She would laugh lovingly as she teased your croaky voice. Then you would read to me amazing stories of God’s awesome power to me from the Bible. I would tell you to repeat them and you would gladly oblige. I would wish I had eyes to read them myself. But they were beautiful times.”

His voice has dropped a few decibels as he says the last sentence. I dread what comes next.

“Then, mom passed away. I didn’t know she was ill. You spared me that knowledge. A few days later, I was at the library door as always and I heard you speak to God in a tone you had never used before. You asked him why he couldn’t heal mom of the tumor. Mom was the kindest woman to ever live, you said – the best human to have ever walked this earth. And she didn’t deserve to die so young. I was devastated by mom’s death. But it was the tone you talked to God with that day that haunted me. I knew then something had changed. I was right. You were never the same again.”

I raise my right hand. It is a reflex movement. I want to protest. I catch myself and return my hand to the wheels.

“Then, you would go into the library, and all you would do was sob. You stopped saying anything. I would wonder what God would be thinking; coming to your regular meeting place and seeing you cry and say nothing. Then the crying stopped. And still you wouldn’t say a word.”

“Demi –“

He continues, unaware of my attempt at interrupting him. 

“Then you stopped doing important things. You stopped waking up early and stopped going into the library. And you stopped reading the Bible to me. It was as if you too had stopped living like mom.”

He sighs. I want to interrupt him, but no words come out.

“In a funny turn of event, I did lose you. You didn’t die. I just lost you. The life you exuded was no more. Only emptiness. And darkness. You would laugh, but it would be without life. You would sing, but the words would be empty. When mom left, you, dad, left with her.”

He stops. And turns to my direction and stares. His blind eyes seem glazed today.

“Why, dad?”

I blink.

“That was five years ago, Demi. I am still here.” My voice sounds like a torn drum – hollow.

“Are you?” They are the most accusing two words I have heard.

“Ok, you really think you know? You really think you can blame me? You think I have done what is wrong? Ok, I’ll tell you.”

I won’t spare him, I am sure.

“When I accepted the Gospel of salvation, I took it seriously. Very seriously. And like things I take seriously, I gave it all I had: my time, my money, my life, my skills, and wealth, all I have ever had. Just so I may have the life He promised. But what did He do? I’ll tell you” I have warmed up, and today, He will have it all. 

“He took everything I gave him. And more. He gave me a child and when he began to talk, he took his sight. I wanted more children, but I couldn’t have anymore. Then, the only woman I have ever loved was diagnosed with tumor. And I spent all my money on therapy. And my faith on believing. And He did nothing. I lost her, and my money and my faith. And He didn’t give a damn!”

My voice trembles with pure hatred. I bite my lip to hold back tears.

“Demi, He is a fraud. F-R-A-U-D. I do not doubt His existence, I know He is. But, He isn’t what He says He is. He isn’t a healer. He isn’t a helper. Of course, He is not a comforter. He is a fraudster! He gives you meaningless stipends and takes the most important things in your life.”

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He is quiet. I feel relieved.

The minutes deepen.

He is still looking at me. His unseeing eyes seem to bore into mine.
He sighs. He seems to shiver.

“Dad, -“ He sneezes. This time only once, “you are crying.” He says.

Yes. But I can’t tell him that. I do not want him to think I am sorry for the things I have said. I am not. I reach for a tissue roll between us. He picks it up and rolls off some of it. He offers it to me. His eyes are on me the whole time.

I hold the tissue in my hand and stare at the road. There is absolute silence. Even the air conditioner is silent. 

“Why aren’t you cleaning your face?”

I give him a queer look. He smiles.

“What is that look on your face?”

I open my mouth. I make to say something, but I can only stutter.

“What!” I finally mange to say.

“Yes, Dad. I can see! I can see!” 
I slam the brakes in astonishment. A car screeches behind me. The driver is honking.

“Oh! Sorry.” I say to the driver that cannot hear me. 

I pull over and park properly.

I can’t believe the calmness in my voice as I asked:

“Since when?”

He sighs.

“Yesterday night was the fifth year since mom passed away. I was on my bed and was recollecting everything that happened when she was around. I missed her. But I missed the times you spent in the library more. 
What I missed most, however, were the Bible stories you used to read to me. So, I dared to ask God for one thing. The first thing I have ever asked for. That he’ll bring back your joy so you can read the Bible to me again.”
My heart is thumping furiously at his words. I can barely breathe.

“I woke up this morning and I saw light come in from the windows. I wanted to rush to tell you immediately but I remembered it was a return of your joy I prayed for. And I wanted to know what really took life away from you, so I played the blind boy one final time. I have heard it all Dad. This is all I have to say: He is not a fraudster. I can see that much.”

I want to sob, but I smile. Here is my answer. Here is my comfort. My heart goes to Demi in a way only a grateful father’s can. At fourteen, he is everything a hundred children are to me.

Copyright – Akintunde Aiki 2015.

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