“If you oh Lord should mark our iniquities, Lord who could stand? – Psalm 130 : 3″
PS: So we had been given a task about Domestic Violence on the TLC [The-Literary-Cafe] whatsapp platform and I had drawn up several ideas. I tried to reduce it in bits to make a poem but the more I tried, the longer it got. So I gave up and decided to do a story instead. Fortunately, my story coincides with the Lenten celebration and season of Easter. Maybe I can finally use my Talent in a way that praises God. Enjoy!
Preye darts her eyes across the end of the room as daddy’s belt swifts the air landing on her back for the seventeenth time. She gnashes her teeth, recoiling in pain as another stroke hit her. Jero, Uye and I stand still at the naughty corner as we watch Preye shrink in pain from daddy’s constant beating. We know too well than to interfere, after all we had just received our share of the spanking. Mummy stands at the kitchen door shouting and crying at the same time.
“Don’t kill her for me oo, leave her, I beg of you. You have beaten her enough. Preye, can’t you run?”
“You will tell me if I was the one that gave birth to you...” Daddy states in anger as he hit her another lashing round “Ask your mother who your father is!” He finishes as he instructs her to join us at the naughty corner and walks into his room.
Uye wipes the tears from her eyes as Preye joins us with a stiff face. She never cries when daddy beat her. Mummy says she has a heart of stone and I seem to agree as well.
“Everyday daddy will be beating us as if we are sticks because of a common mistake. Is it our fault that Uye broke the glass painting of Jesus on the wall?” He hisses as he finishes, sniffing back catarrh from his nostrils and examining the welts on his arms.
I look away not wanting to be dragged into any side murmuring because daddy could just spring out from nowhere and hit someone based on incessant murmuring. I pout my lips as I begin to scan my arms and legs for any bruises or red marks. There is none. I am lucky today.
I look up at Preye, my elder sister. She keeps tapping her foot on the floor. I wonder what she is thinking at the moment. Her face holds no emotions, no remorse. I want to sleep, my body is tired from all the beating and standing. My stomach growls of hunger pangs. I look at Uye who is still crying like drops of rain.
Mummy comes out with a big tray and looks at us…”next time, you all will be careful in this house. Don’t you kids know that that painting was very expensive? You people keep annoying your father all the time. Do you like the way he spanks you constantly?“
She looks at Preye and I as she continues “You two, why do you keep standing in one place when your father is beating you? Do you want to injure yourselves? Can’t you run or beg? Standing like a statute! I don’t know what is wrong with the both of you.”
She hisses as she set out daddy’s food on the dining. I silently prayed the food to choke him and hand him a share of our pain. A while later, daddy comes out smelling fresh from Extract soap and water. Jero who is squatting for ease quickly rise up to full standing height. Daddy looks at us before he proceeds to sit on the dining chair.
He sits mute for a while before he beckons on us all to come over. I move grudgingly as I watch Uye scamper to him. He asks us to sit, which we did and then he carries Uye on his laps. He looks at us individually and asks, “Do you know why I spanked you today?”
Nobody makes a move to reply the rhetorical question. He looks on at Jero and continues “Jero, you are the first son and I expect everything to be right when you are around. I cannot have you around and still come home to little mistakes here and there. Preye is a girl and will always move away to another man. You on the other hand, will continue this family when I am gone. Forget the fact that she is your elder sister. I will continue to beat you and Preye for any mistake more than the others, till things get steady in this house. Don’t expect me to overlook anything…do you hear me?”
“Yes daddy.” Jero replies looking up
Daddy looks at Preye and continues “Preye?”
“Sir…” She murmurs without totally opening her mouth
“I don’t expect you to notice some mistakes but I believe that there are some that should not be overlooked. Example is today’s mistake. Where were you when your little brother was playing with that painting that he had to finally break it? Are you not supposed to take care of your junior ones? One day, you will have children, is this how you intend to supervise them? Do not let this repeat itself again. Do you hear me?”
He looks at me with a warm smile and asks “Do you have a headache?”
“Yes sir…” I reply still pouting
“Come let me touch your head.”
I rush over to where daddy is sitting and bend my head. Daddy touches my forehead and Yelps. “Ouch, your head is hot. Go to my drawer and bring the pack of Alabukun.”
I slide away as I head to daddy’s room and bring out the pack of Alabukun. I start to smile because I know that daddy will offer me food after I take the Alabukun. I come back to the dining and hand over the pack of Alabukun to daddy. He looks at Uye on his lap and queries “Small man, why did you break the glass Painting?”
Uye starts to cry without saying anything. Daddy looks at him “I will beat you again if you do not tell me how you managed to break the glass painting. Will you stop crying and behave like a man.”
Uye wipes off his face with his left palm and starts “I was playing with the computer in the study and then I heard Jero shout my name downstairs. I was now afraid that he will beat me if I don’t come out fast fast, so as I was rushing out, I use my back to hit the Altar table. The painting now fell, after I looked at it a little, I now wanted to carry it and put it back up on the Altar table but it was very heavy so It fell again and broke.”
Daddy shakes his head “So why didn’t you tell anyone?”
“Because Preye and Jero will spank me if I did and Preye will lock me inside the fridge and Uncle Amos and Auntie Glory will not give me food.” He shouts. Daddy shoots a glance at Preye who looks away.
“How come you ran close to the Altar table, Uye? Did I not tell you people not to touch the Altar when I am not around? Next time you make such a mistake, make sure to tell people around you. Whether your brother or sisters or house-helps or mummy. Do you hear me?”
“Yes daddy…” he replies sniffing back a tear “but Preye will lock me in the fridge.”
“Preye why do you lock Uye in the fridge? Are you okay?”
“I’m sorry daddy. I will not do it again. He just keeps misbehaving all the time.” Preye responds.
“Uye the next time I hear that you misbehaved or acted funny, I will not take it lightly with you.”
Uye nods in affirmation after which daddy gives us all Alabukun to drink and thereafter, asks us to join him in his dinner. Mummy had been so gracious to add extra meat and soup in daddy’s meal. Preye declines daddy’s offer and goes off to bed.
I, Uye and Jero join daddy in his meal. Preye only agrees before going away, to take a chunk of daddy’s meat after daddy asks her to smile.
NB: Somehow, I am tempted to liken the ‘daddy’ in this story to God. When we do something wrong, He punishes us as well as those around us who were aware of our mistakes. Later, He forgives us and uses His right arm to gather us back to Himself by showing us His mercy and love. Most times, we act like ‘Preye‘ and refuse to acknowledge His mercy because to us, we have suffered unjustly and at that moment of His mercy, we just want to be angry at God. Other times, we act like ‘mummy‘ and blame people around us. We even go ahead to suggest easier illegitimate ways to avoid any sufferings that we feel are “Devil-inclined’. Some of us act like ‘Uye‘ and hide all our bad habit, thinking that God will not know or find out and when He eventually does, we blame the Devil.
How many times have we remained angry at God because of our sufferings?
How many times did we neglect to acknowledge by praise, a blessing because we feel that our sufferings are not commensurate?
How many times did we blame others for sins we ourselves committed?
Do we not feel it the right time to kneel before ‘Our Father’ and ask for his Divine mercy? At this season of lent, we should come before God in reverence and repentance. Remember, the Lord Listens and forgive those who are willing to submit.
Have a great day!