Home Blog The Emotional Side Of God by Chisom Arueze.

The Emotional Side Of God by Chisom Arueze.

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PROLOGUE

The sharp smell of detergent and incense fills the air. Buckets, brooms, and dustpans of different colours and sizes were talking in their loudest voices. The voices of little children echo as they run around like gaseous molecules in a tube, in their usual erratic self, because only they understand well enough what it means to be in their ‘father’s house’. Shawls draped around shoulders as little colorful scarves swing low from heads, the cutest are that of children’s. Little old prayer books and beads cling to both young and old hands as chairs squeal in pain, when people move them, to let the brooms do the talking. Brown fog that made people cough and raise their hands to their face filled the air too. With all these going on, my ears doesn’t fail to pick up the sounds of, slapping of water on the floor, swishing of brooms on soapy water from left to right, and the hasty dragging of buckets to meet the mop, as if in a contest, of who made the most noise.

Then there’s both of us.

“ Do you want to talk about it”

Silence.

“Please say something, It hurts me seeing you like this”

Silence.

“Am I useless, Father?” I sniff

“No you are not. Nobody is. Now who told you that?” He tilts my face upwards, wiping away my tears.

“My father” I say while blowing my nose with the hem of my shirt.

“Tell me what happened” dragging his chair closer.

“I brought home my report card. I came first from behind… again” I say sniffing. “ I really tried to read but the letters kept dancing in my eyes..” I was wiping my face with the back of my palms. “ I…” my voice goes dead on me.

He immediately throws his big arms around me. And that is the safest I have been in all the 11 years of my life.

1.

I lift my school bag off the floor and run as fast as my legs can carry me to the school gate. The last thing I want is for my dad to come looking for me because that will earn me an earful . My dad, the most handsome looking man I have ever seen, rarely smiled. He had the most perfect eyebrows, brown eyes, straight nose, and thin lips. His teeth were snow-white, with an arranged dentition . He has a ‘don’t you dare piss me off’ look that makes me cower whenever he glares at me. My friends always wondered why he was like that and when they were brave enough to ask me about it, I fell silent, because I didn’t know why he was like that. Today he is going to host some friends and I knew exactly what that meant. That meant that I couldn’t come out of my room.

When we got home, I took brisk steps to my room. It didn’t take long, his guests arrived. Their laughter vibrated the whole house as they conversed on God knows what. Hours later, I snuck out my room to get a cup of water. While doing that, I almost slipped on the floor. While trying to hold my balance, I knocked down 6 glass tumblers that were lying on the kitchen counter. Immediately that happened, our nanny ran to clean it up. She scolded me to not to touch any of the broken glass. As she was doing that, my father walked in on us. I froze. The next thing I know is that I was given a knock that gave me dizzy spells instantly, but that didn’t hurt as much as his words. From a young age, I had already started receiving verbal blows that knocked me off my feet. And any time he heard me sniffing after he’d insulted me, he would call me a sissy, telling me to man up. He reminded me of how I broke the other glass jug 2 months ago, how my peers were doing way better than me in school and, lastly, how useless I was. Our nanny tried to shield me, but no one is a match for my father’s anger. Most of the time, he’s always angry at me for one reason or the other, that I wonder if I am biologically his. Don’t bother asking about my mother, she left when I was 2. No matter how brave I try to be, I still and will always miss her.

2.

As Austin L. Sorenson said “A child is not likely to find a father in God, unless he finds something of God in his father.” I felt like God was just there, saying nothing, atimes it also did feel like he did nothing. It felt like he didn’t care about my feelings and all. A no nonsense guy. I also think he rarely smiled, just like my dad. So I ruled God out of my life, a long time ago. He couldn’t help me with my dad or my reading problems. You see, I didn’t know much about God beyond being the almighty one who we sang and prayed to. In fact, it’s more like an open secret that most people don’t know God, despite coming to church. With my dad, my relationship with God ends the moment I step my foot out of church every Sunday. Confessions? nah. The only time I went for a confession was two years ago before my first holy communion.

3.

“Duke!” he slams the sheet of paper on the table.

“Yes Dad!” I say. My heart beat faster than a drum, as if wanting to escape this place, without me.

“What is this?” He glares at me in bloodshot eyes.

“It’s.. its…it’s my report card” I grip my left hand tight, to prevent it from shaking.

“You must be very stupid and useless, do you think that I make money, only for you waste it on your coconut head!?” He pulls my ears so hard that they threaten to fall off.

“Dad please, I can explain” I cry

“Shut up, you retard.. give me one reason, as to why you flunked all you subjects, and topped the class from behind again?!” He smacks me on my head.

“Kneel here, don’t move an inch, if you do, I’ll kill you with my bare hands!” he zooms off.

I want the ground to open up and swallow me, even more I want to die, to let all the pain stop. Tears roll down my eyes, as I wished mother had taken me along with her. I wonder why she didn’t either. Adjusting my collar to accommodate more air into my body, even though the room is fully air conditioned. I kneel. There were specifically two items which my father used to wipe away every trace of happiness in my life for days. He uses a cane, and a mopping stick. At first it was a cane, but as I grew it changed to the mop stick. The moment he reappeared he had none of that beside him, but when I looked close I could see a wire. He brought along with him the cord to his charger, my eyes watered and my lips trembled the moment I realized he would use that on me.

“Duke!”

“Yes…dah dah dad” I rub my palms on my clothes.

“ Give me one perfect reason why you flunked all the subjects and came last in class again. Think carefully and give me an answer, or else I’ll use this to design your whole body” he stretches the cord to its length before folding. Tears cloud my view, so I wipe it off, as fast as I can…so my father knows I mean business. So he knows I don’t want to be whipped like a donkey.

“Dad… this is what happens. Any time I try to read, the alphabets just keep changing, it’s as if they are dancing” I say. With the boldness of one reciting the national anthem.

“They dance? Which kind of dance? Salsa? Eh? My father chuckled. For a moment I thought he had calmed down, even though I had a ghostly smile on my face, but that was wiped off, when he went behind me and whipped me into reality, three times.

The pain was piercing. I squirmed, reaching for my back. It touched my soul and out of reflex, the next thing I screamed was “ Mummy come and help me!

“You this sissy, no one will come and save you. Honestly You are a sorry excuse for a son” He hit me again and again. I writhed on the floor, as my tears soaked the floor. It was hell on Earth.

“Daddy please forgive me, I’ll do better next term, please daddy!” I said squirming like a worm which was poured salt on.

My words had the most little effect. I feared for my life at some point. He kept at it until the nannies ran in and carried me off the floor. They begged him profusely to stop, that it was enough. That I had learnt my lesson. A lesson on what, I asked myself. They took me in and started applying first aid. The first nanny asked me what I had done that warranted this kind of beating. She wondered aloud to her colleague, what could an eleven year old do to take such treatment. The other nanny, which had lived the longest with us, said it was because I was a dullard; never bright at school. She asked me why I failed at school, that I had all the resources that could help me in school, so I had no reason to fail. She ended it by saying, most of these rich men’s children were spoiled brats, that my father didn’t beat me well. I wanted to tell them that the alphabets changed, the longer I stared at them in class. I wanted to tell them that a p resembled a d and a b resembled a P. Lots of words were confusing, but they didn’t wait to listen.

That night I cried myself to sleep, as my whole body burned . I agreed that I was useless because I couldn’t understand how stupid I was. I wasn’t scared of the beating, I was more scared that it would happen again, because I was a dullard. Beatings like this were normal with African homes. I have come to understand that people in Africa didn’t joke with the wise saying “spare the rod, and spoil the child”. They often used the rod, but didn’t know how often they were hurting the child. I also believe that there’s a thin line between physical/ verbal abuse and discipline. This line which many parents in Africa had crossed.

4.

At school, l always stayed by myself. Not because I was sad about yesterday, but because I had no friends. I didn’t go near my classmates. I was a dullard, and nobody wants a dummy for a friend. Deep down I didn’t know that my father’s words had penetrated my mind. What I didn’t know was that, the more you stay with a verbally abusive parent, two things are bound to happen to you. One, either you become a mini version of them by being a bully or two, they shred you of every single form of self esteem you have for yourself. My case was that of the latter.

On Saturday, I went out with one of my nannies. When we got there, I found out it was a church. She had come to perform a pious duty. As we approached the entrance of the church, I slowed my pace, but she beckoned on me to come. So I did. One small step after the other, I reached the altar. In the far end of the church, people were moving in a set of seven pews to the priest. That must be a Confession. I took slow strides and got there. I sat waiting for my turn. When it got to me, then it Dawned on me that the only thing I remember about confessions is the beginning prayer. The walk towards the priest was the longest. I rubbed my palms on my trousers and my clothes suddenly became a prison cell for my body. What do I tell the priest, I ask myself.

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned” I kneel. He mutters things I can’t comprehend. Then. I go silent.

“Please, speak,” he sighs deeply.

Silence.

“Father please help me, I think something is wrong with me” I sniff

“What is wrong?

Silence

“Please tell me, I can help you” He moves out of his chair.

I sniff more. He peers into my side and stands up. He holds my hand and we walk out the church, and sit outside. The sharp smell of detergent and incense filled the air. Buckets, brooms, and dustpans of different colors and sizes were talking in their loudest voices. The voices of little children echo as they run around like gaseous molecules in a tube, in their usual erratic self, because only they understand well enough what it means to be in their ‘father’s house’ . Shawls draped around shoulders, little colorful scarves swing low from heads, the cutest are that of children’s. Little old prayer books and beads clutch to both young and old hands as Chairs squealed in pain, when people moved them, to let the brooms do the talking. Brown fog that made people cough and raise their hands to their face filled the air too. With all these going on, my ears doesn’t fail to pick up the sounds of, slapping of water on the floor, swishing of brooms on soapy water from left to right, and the hasty dragging of buckets to meet the mop, as if in a contest, of who made the most noise. Then there’s both of us.

“ Do you want to talk about it”

Silence.

“Please say something, It hurts me seeing you like this”

Silence.

“Am I useless, Father?”

“No you are not. Nobody is. Now who told you that?” He tilts my face upwards, wiping away my tears.

“My father” I say while blowing my nose with the Hem of my shirt.

“Tell me what happened” , dragging his chair closer.

“I brought home my report card. I came first from behind… again” I say. “I really tried to read but the letters kept dancing in my eyes..” I am wiping my face with the back of my palms. “ I…” my voice goes dead on me.

He immediately throws his big arms around me. And that is the safest I have been in all the 11 years of my life. I weep. Shoulder heaving, heart wrenching tears. He responded by patting my back. I told him about the verbal abuse, the physical abuse, the loneliness….through my tears. He understood, he heard the words in my tears. And maybe… just maybe this is what it feels to know the emotional side of God, to know he truly cares about my feelings.

 

 

About the Writer

Arueze Chisom Precious, a passionate writer, can be reached through sommytilly1402@gmail.com

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