He never wanted to hear the word, ‘God’. He locked himself in for days and only talk when he’s out of the house. He abandoned his chores and threatened to leave home if we would not allow him to live in peace. All attempts to make him see things differently failed. We begged, wept, and sort help from the best of psychologists but Michael was resolute: Dad’s death meant the end of the world to him.
Mum could not bear it any longer. Agreed, dad is dead, but losing her only son cannot be the way forward. Mum is a devout Christian and now that sermons, medical science, and psychology could not relieve Michael of our common grief, she resorted to fasting and prayer. She also mandated every one of us to fast twice a week for our brother. For nearly three months after we lost dad to a plane crash, we held vigils to ward off what mummy called forces against Michael’s life.
It was not unusual for me to doze off in class. Friends began to call me Jonah and I had to stand up to ward off sleep or serve punishments as deemed fit by the teacher. Life was tough with dad gone but standing in class was not too much of a price to pay to see my brother back to his former self.
Michael often go to the stadium every evening to watch his team, Quantum FC play. That was the only aspect of his life that resumed after dad’s death. He had stopped attending church services and would not show up for family devotion. Mum once tried to make him join us. She went upstairs and knocked on his door. At first, he ignored her but when she persisted he opened the door. Michael came out and warned her not to bother him with God or devotion any longer.
‘Where was God when dad died? He was a devout and upright man. He served God and gives forty percent of his income to charity. He was on his way to commission an orphanage when he died! Mummy, for all I care, my love for God died with him.’
Mummy could not hold back tears from streaming down her cheeks as Michael slammed the door. For a moment she stood transfixed at the door wiping her tears with the back of her hands. Then, she cleared her throat and called us to join her at the door. That was where we had the devotion for the day. It was also the day we launched vigils and fasting for Michael.
One fateful Tuesday evening, while returning from the stadium, Michael lost his wallet. The wallet contained two ATM cards, a sum of ten thousand naira, and a picture of his favourite moment with dad. He was about to stop a taxi when he noticed that he had misplaced his wallet. He ran back into the stadium and began to sweat profusely. Home was about four kilometres away and his phone was dead. His chance of getting a free ride at this time of the day was not feasible. Besides, Quantum FC had just lost the semi-final to Aquardo FC and fans who blamed the defeat on poor officiating had begun to beat officials. He feared that in no time the stadium would be filled with police officers and innocent fans would not be spared. ‘Oh my God! What a great foolishness is this! How could I have been so careless? God, please help me. I don’t want to go to jail.’
While Michael was pacing up and down wishing he had not stepped out of his room, a young boy approached him with a wallet.
‘Excuse me, sir. I think this belongs to you. You left it on your seat when you left some minutes ago. I sat next to you during the match.’
‘Oh, my God! Thank you, God bless you.’
He opened the wallet, counted his money, and saw that everything was intact. He ran after the boy who was now leaving the stadium.
‘Please take this as a gift from me. It’s a thousand naira note’
‘Thank you, sir. I also have a gift for you.’ The boy responded. He dipped his hand into his school bag and handed Michael a Bible.
‘A teacher gave this to me six months ago. He said it could change the life of anybody. It has become my best companion until now. I have the feeling that you need it too. I’ll like you to read it three times a day just like breakfast, lunch, and dinner.’ They both laughed.
‘Thanks, I will.’
Michael parted way with his friend outside the stadium and took a taxi home. Before dad’s death, Michael was not the religious type. Although dad and mum brought us up in the way of the Lord, my brother doesn’t study his bible. He only dusts it every Sunday morning and goes to church to fulfill all righteousness. However, because of the boy, Michael studied the Bible for the first time. It is a new testament Gideon Bible. That night, he sat down in his room and finished the book of Matthew. He was overwhelmed with God’s love and could not comprehend what Jesus did to reconcile sinners back to God. Convicted of his wayward life and convinced that dad is in a better place, Michael knelt beside his bed and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ.
Early the following morning, as early as 4:30 am, I heard the jingling of the bell. I was just trying to sleep after the vigil that ended at 2 am. I tapped Shola to wake up for morning prayer.
‘Aunty Tundun, it’s barely two hours we ended the vigil tonight. I am tired.’ She responded with heavy eyes.
‘I know, maybe mummy had a dream and we need to intensify our prayer for our brother. Let’s go to the sitting room’.
Just then, we saw mummy coming out of her room too! We all rushed to the sitting room where the sound was coming from and saw Michael singing praises to God!
‘Aunty Tundun, brother Michael is praying!’ Shola exclaimed.
‘Mummy, is this a dream?’ I asked in amazement.
Mum was taken shocked too. She could not believe her eyes. While we were still lost in amazement, Michael ran to mum. He prostrated and began to sob.
‘Mum, I am sorry. I was lost and now I’m found. Please forgive me.’ He pleaded.
Mummy couldn’t contain her joy. She pulled him up and hugged him.
‘You are forgiven.’
Shola, after brushing her eyes in disbelief for a moment shouted in excitement.
‘This is real. It is not a dream. Aunty Tundun, it is real!’
Saberedowo Oluwafisayo, a 500L student of Physiology, LAUTECH is a poet, content writer, word coach, and blogger at physzy.com. He wrote in via email@example.com