#4 Reverberations

In our society, the belief that the spiritual or invisible world control the physical world is held high. This belief is held by different persons, religious adherents and self –proclaimed atheists. It forms some of our decisions and contemporary culture. As a result, it is possible that many people do not see present happenings as a result of past decisions. Maybe they do, but as is consistent with human nature, they find something outside themselves to blame. The Devil is the major culprit. Other culprits are as follows in no particular order: one’s grandmother; the aged relatives in the villages; witches; enemies and evil people.

This was the same view Chioma held as well as her fellow gang members when interviewed on television. The church joined in the same voice denouncing the devil as the architect of the downfall of such valiant soldier of the Lord as Chioma. Prayers were held for her release and the services of a lawyer was employed. Eventually, she got out of the case, mysteriously, while other members of the gang were taken to court. The following Sunday, a big hallelujah was given to the Lord who had saved her from the lion’s den amidst much music and dancing.

I left the church, and so did others too. It was too much for us to bear. We wondered about the logic behind someone caught during a robbery and assassination incident and the devil. The devil must be a boring sadist!

At school, Tobi and I continued to top results at every examination. Fellow students saw us as a force to be reckoned with. Soon, some started asking us to write exams, do projects and assignments for them. I did them because I needed the money, I don’t know why Tobi did. I made a lot of money from this “business” as all of my clients were never disappointed.

I came into the department office one day and came upon the HOD scolding a guy whom I had helped write his project over some inaccuracies in some data input in his work. As soon as I got in, he saw me and threw a cold stare at me. I looked away, turned and left in a hurry. Later that day, he sent me a text threatening to harm me should he repeat the project.

Now, I didn’t put in wrong data, I got it from someone he had directed me to. Since I was the only one he saw at the time, he decide to lash out on me.

He had to repeat the project as the data inputted were very wrong and affected his results. Also, he couldn’t say a thing about the project topic during the Defence. Now I am in trouble.

While ruminating over what to do during the drive home one day, I ran into a guy with whom I served at the church. I found out from him that the pastor had been dragged to court by his wife over marital infidelity and she wanted the church and its businesses as part of her divorce settlement. Trouble started when the pastor was caught in bed with Chioma. Yes, our Chioma!

Now, who do we blame this incidence on? On what do we blame the inability of a graduating student who cannot write his own project and defend it? On what do we blame someone who takes on the job of writing other peoples’ exams, assignments, and projects?

#3 Something higher than us

Chioma stopped coming to church, just like that. Several visits to her place revealed that she no longer stayed there. I kept going to the church and joined the technical team. The zeal of the young worshippers in the church spurred me on and life became less unbearable.

Tobi gave up on his girlfriend even after his mother reached out to her. Tobi began to complain a lot. He kept talking about the selfishness and obstinacy of girls and concluded that they were evil, after all, they follow after their matriarch, Eve.

School life was hectic with lectures, projects, and assignments. We were committed to our academics and put in our best. Exams came and went and we came out with good grades, having the best GPAs in our different departments. Tobi started dating again. I was happy for him; it was a sign, to me, that he had moved on. I encouraged him, not knowing I was leading my friend into trouble.

Tobi started keeping late nights and changed his girlfriend. At first, I didn’t object. After all, he is a grown man with rights and he could do whatever he wants. As assiduous as ever, he took his studies seriously and went to church but he changed his partners like the cloths on his body. He doesn’t think women should be given any chance. They were not worth any genuine attention. I saw the light go from his eyes.

Our Pastor preached a lengthy sermon one Sunday about life after death. He spoke about the beauties of a place called Heaven where the saints dwell, of the wonderful conversations he would have with Jesus when he got there. He spoke also of a place called Hell. His description of it gave it off as a horrible place for those who did terrible things.

Why would there be a place for people who did terrible things if we could do what we wanted? Why would such a good God, who gave up His Son to die, send his creatures to such a terrible place? Or maybe it was just a fable to make unbelievers convert. Or maybe not.

At the least likely moment, Chioma resurfaced. She was paraded on television as a member of a gang of robbers who attacked and murdered an influential politician. This girl whose passion made me a Believer is now a known and paraded criminal.

I shed tears.

#2. The Way Things Are Meant To Be

In the months that proceeded, Tobi traveled to his home town to see his mother. I went to church for the first time in months due to the pestering of a neighbor, Chioma. She was a lively girl and full of passion for the faith she professed.

The service was awesome; the music presentations, sermon and prayer sessions. One particular thing the preacher spoke about was the assurance of salvation by the believer as long as he was born again. This was regardless of how he lived his life or the moral choices he makes. “Just believe” he said, “… the blood always speaks for us…” It sounded loudest above everything else the preacher said. As against the puritanical background I grew up in, here was a breath of fresh air, a sweet release. I am free to act as I want. All I had to do was believe. The blood spoke for me.

I was ecstatic with this newfound doctrine and went to church services often with Chioma. I thought back on my parents’ divorce. It was one of those occasions whereby married couples decide to separate when they get tired of seeing each other. The poverty we suffered still tugs at my heart. My father was in Europe with his new family, probably having the time of his life while my mother struggled to get by every day.

Despite the poverty, I felt the new-found knowledge gave me power over my life and what happens. It resolved the guilt of writing that exam for my friend.

Tobi came back soon afterward and with bad news. His longtime girlfriend was with his child. She has insisted on having an abortion after he had begged her to keep it. He promised he would take care of them. She insisted that her body was hers and she could do whatever she wanted. Tobi explained to me that he didn’t care if she wanted to marry him or not, but since the child was his first, he wants to keep it.

I am confused again! Both of them could do as they wanted since my new-found doctrine preached that we are free to choose, but it seems to be threatening the foundation of a relationship that has stood for 7 years. I think back to my parents: after 20 years of marriage and five children, they still divorced.

Is this the way things are meant to be?

#1 Questions I wish my father gave me answers to

Tobi and I live in a metropolitan city where people from diverse cultures meet. Life in this city captures the vibrancy of youth, the elegance of class, the beauty of culture, the power of religion, the tales of history and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Tobi and I go to the Federal University not very far from where we live. I was in the Medical Sciences and Tobi was in the Management Sciences.

In our second year in school, my parents separated and got divorced. My father absconded with another woman to the UK, leaving my siblings and myself with my mother. Life became hard and full of uncertainties. Tobi was sympathetic and supportive. I decided to take up odd jobs to support myself financially; one of which included working at a cyber café.

One day, an argument ensued between two men who were regulars at the cyber café about what a right or wrong action is and how to measure what is right and wrong. It occurred to me that I had been given an offer by a friend to help him sit for an exam in return for money. I thought about it for a long time and even discussed it with Tobi.

What puzzled me wasn’t the offer but that I kept thinking about it. I wondered if it was right or wrong to indulge in such. Don’t get me wrong. Sitting for someone in an examination is wrong, it is Impersonation, a moral wrong.

I need the money and my friend needs to attend his dad’s burial on the same day. So, on the one hand, I’m helping a friend out. On the other hand, I’ll make some money to sort some financial need. Why does it feel wrong and hopeless? Does it even matter? What defines right and wrong?