Eyes now swing to the man of God.
He tries to speak, but nothing comes out. That is new to the congregation, and it blows them off. No one knows that the revered pastor threw out his imprisoned son’s things. Mrs. Lois Bawa suddenly sees the pity on the faces of the congregation, and sees that it is going to affect her husband’s ministry.vShe quickly steps forward, angry eyes boring into her son.
He didn’t throw out your things, Chris! I did! I was sickened by the atrocities you committed, not only against my brother, your own uncle, but in harming that poor girl too! I was hurt, I was angry, and I was humiliated. God forgive me, but in that instant I was not a pastor’s wife, definitely not a Christian. I was a hurt and humiliated mother, and I was human! I’m sorry now! I wish I hadn’t done that, but I couldn’t help it!
There are murmurs of approval from the congregation, and once more the anger is directed at Chris, and the reverend breathes a sigh of relief, once again saved by his wife.
Chris looks at his parents for a long time, and then he speaks quietly.
You have done well.
His words are like a whiplash that makes his mother wince inwardly.
She looks stunned, and for a moment tears glitter in her eyes.
Chris then reaches into his pocket and brings out a twenty, two and one cedi notes.
He walks forward and drops them into the glass offertory tank standing on the platform which already contains some offertory money.
He straightens and looks at his parents again.
You sold my house. You threw my stuff out. I just put all the money on me into your offertory bowl, father. Now, as I stand here, I don’t have any money on me. All I have are these clothes I’m wearing. They are the clothes I was wearing when I went to prison. They’re the same clothes I’m wearing now. Like I said, you have done well.
He turns and slowly descends from the platform. Every eye is on him, and they are all mostly filled with anger and hatred.
Junior, aware that his mother’s attention is now focused on what is happening, suddenly slips from her grasp. He picks up a lunch bowl on the floor and quickly runs towards his father.
Junior! Come back, Junior!
Stan Bawa stands up and looks at his brother with venom.
God forgive me, Chris! But I hate you! I really hate you!
Junior, who has reached them, looks at his uncle with sudden tears in his eyes.
Why do you hate my Daddy, Uncle Stan?
His little voice, loud and clear, carries through the church, and its innocent hurt tones cuts through most hearts, reminding them suddenly that they are in church, and they are supposed to be Christians who should show love.
Stan looks down at Junior, and his face is contrite immediately.
(voice filled with sincere remorse)
Oh, Junior, I’m sorry, son! I didn’t mean to-
He reaches out to hold the boy, but Junior shies away from him, and then he stands in front of his father and looks at the broken man looking down at him.
(in a strong but trembling voice)
I don’t hate you. I love you, Daddy!
Chris cannot speak.
He looks down at his son, and he cannot see his son because sudden tears blind him. He is strong against the hatred of his family, but his son’s love breaks his back, and for a moment his legs almost does not support him. He nods, and then he steps quickly past his son, and walks on, and his son runs after him, shouting, crying, and telling him to stop. Chris stops, turns and falls to his knees in one swift motion. Junior runs into his father’s arms and embraces him tightly. Chris crushes his son to his chest, and buries his face in his son’s neck …and then Chris cries like a baby. He doesn’t make a sound, but his huge body shakes as his heart is broken to bits by the love of his son.
Effe, who has been following her son, stops and looks on. Chris gently pushes Junior back. The little boy reaches out and wipes tears from his father’s cheeks, and then he picks up his lunch box from the floor.
He opens the box and brings out a big sandwich and a sachet of Fanmilk.
This is for you, Daddy.
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Chris smiles through his tears.
He takes the sandwich and breaks it into two. He hands half to his son and then he takes the Fanmilk.
There’s a problem, Champ. How’re we gonna share this one? It’s soft, if I cut it up….
Chris laughs then.
You know what? You keep the Fanmilk, Champ. I’ll eat the sandwich.
No, Daddy. I want you to have it. I have a lot at home.
Chris hesitates, and then he bites the Fanmilk, sips, takes a bite of sandwich, and then he stands up.
He nods at his son.
I love you, Champ.
Junior does not speak because tears are falling down his face again.
It breaks Chris’ heart, and he turns away quickly and leaves the church auditorium.
Effe walks forward, at first intending to hold Junior, but the boy shrugs her hands aside and walks back dejectedly towards where he had been sitting.
After a moment Effe turns and leaves the church. She sees Chris walking towards the entrance, and she begins to run after him. When Chris walks out of the huge gates of the church he sees Baaba’s car parked across the street, and she is leaning against it.
She is dressed in a fetching white skirt and blouse suit with a black inner, and she looks very beautiful indeed.
He looks at her for a long time, and then he pushes the rest of the sandwich into his mouth and drinks all the Fanmilk. He opens a dustbin near the entrance, drops the empty sachet, and then he crosses the street and stands in front of her.
She smiles into his face.
Are you stalking me?
She smiles gently.
No, Chris. I’m a member of the church too. When I saw you in that drama with your father I suspected you might eventually need a lift somewhere, so I drove out to wait for you.
Chris gives a shuddering breath, and a look of such sheer dejection crosses his face that the smile drops from her kind face, and she moves forward and suddenly puts her arms around his neck and holds him tightly.
Chris holds her, grateful for her warmth and her kind heart, and for being there.
He hugs her tightly, and when Effe comes out she sees them like that.
She gives a sudden intake of breath, and stands looking at them. They do not see her as they eventually part and enter the car, and Baaba drives away. Effe recognizes the painful thuds of her heart, and on her face is a stunned incredulous look. She had not felt that way in a very long time!
She had not felt those pangs, and had even forgotten how it feels like to have those jealous bouts! She gives a shuddering breath, and as she turns away there is a little furrow of worry on her beautiful forehead. She knows that at that stage of her life, the last thing she should be feeling is jealousy …over Chris, the man who had humiliated and hurt her so, the man who had ripped her heart to pieces!
I’m not going to allow you to do this to me, Chris! Not again, not ever!
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