Story by Praises Chidera Obiora
I was only Ten years old. Yes, I was still Ten. I could still remember how Mrs. Amaka’s hands ran through my body, sending shivers down my spine. Her soft touch on my skin summoned goose bombs. I was old enough to have an erection at that age. Even though it was not as hard as a matured man’s manhood. I was just an innocent young boy.
Madam Amaka as my parents called her, was our neighbour. She lived just three doors away from us. She was a christian and a God fearing woman. She had just lost her husband Tunde and was still mourning him.
Before her husband died, I was a constant visitor in her house. Madam Amaka practically watched me grow. She carried me in her arms when I was a baby. Many mistook her for my mother. My mother insisted that I called her mummy too.
Just like my mother, she had shown me love in bountiful measures. On two occasions, She had paid my complete school fees.
Whenever she was home, and I returned back from school after being chased for school fees, Madam Amaka sent me back with half the fees to pay, and she never even demanded for the fees back. She had won my parents love and trust with her kind gestures and Christian way of life.
Most times, my parents let me sleep in her house when ever I chose to. She was just like family to us.
Her prayer life was full of fire. She was devoted. She never missed church service. Madam Amaka would wake up at night and pray until 4am every day. She would cast and bind. She prayed like one who was in a physical combat with demons.
The walls shook in terror from the vigorous shouting and banging on the doors. When she prayed, we felt like the walls of Jericho was going to fall down flat a second time. Sometimes, she cried out in tears while praying.
My mother was one big fan of Madam Amaka’s prayer life. Madam Amaka was so much admired by her. My father on his own part, had issues with Madam Amaka ways of praying. He called it noise making.
One night, during one of Madam Amaka’s prayer sessions, she blew up in a wild cry, praising and worshiping as usual.
My father who was in the parlour watching the NTA network news, heaved a loud sigh.
“Somebody cannot pray in silence again? Must you shout? Na wa o” My father mumbled.
He reached out for the television remote to increase the volume of the TV set, when my mother, who was already coming out of the kitchen overheard him.
“You know Madam Amaka loves to pray. Besides, Madam Amaka has been going through a lot lately. Her husband has not been feeling fine. You know he is seriously sick. She really needs Gods intervention.”
“I am not stopping her from praying for her husband or family member. But you should not shout for others to know you are praying na.” My father said, fumbling with the remotes in his hands.
“But she is a woman. You know we have emotions.” Mama threw in support as she approached to sit beside papa.
“It is true that a woman should pray. The bible says she should pray for her home, pray for her husband and children. Not to make noise up and down the house like a generator. Just listen to her. Listen to how the whole house is shaking. She hits the walls like she is fighting with Satan himself.
Do you know that woman can actually be in trouble one day. She will be shouting and crying for help and we would sit down here thinking she is praying. This is how people die o.” Papa said, heaving another loud sigh.
Mama laughed. I sat at the opposite chair close to the TV set and flashed a smile too. I loved listening to papa talk. He was so funny. He knew how to make a Joke out of things. It was one of his talent. Sometimes I wished he was a stand up comedian.
“Do you know I planned praying this night? And I want to pray like her.” Mama blurted.
“Eh eh..” Papa quickly interrupted waving his hands at mama’s face. “If you try this kind of prayer in my house and wake me up from sleep, I won’t only pour you cold water, but I will make sure that there is pepper inside when am doing it.” Papa said Speaking with all seriousness. “Her husband is trying o. If her husband takes that, Me I wont.” He said, turning back to the television.
Mama suddenly became silent. She did not say a word again. No doubt, she had wanted praying that night. And probably raising her voice just the way Madam Amaka did. But good thing, she had jokingly told papa, and had seen his reaction even before she attempted it.
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Days later, we received the sad news of the death of Madam Amaka’s husband. He had slept the previous night and didn’t wake up anymore.
Madam Amaka’s husband was quite young. He was still full of life. His death had come as a shock to us. My father couldn’t believe his eyes. Yes he was sick, but that sickness was not enough to claim a man’s life that quickly.
Doctors said he had suffered from a heart attack. A heart attack during the night was what Papa couldn’t comprehend.
“Why will a young vibrant man suffer from a heart failure. It was not even the sickness that killed him. What could have caused it.” My father asked.
“Probably he was having a bad dream, and his heart kept beating fast and it struck him.” Mama tried to explain.
“Or may be they were both …” Papa stopped to gesticulate with his hands in a funny manner. “And he died.” He added.
“Ah ah… Papa Wale. They were doing what? Haba. Don’t say that. Now.”
“It is true na. We both know that woman is too hot for Tunde. You yourself know. If not that she is a prayer warrior and a devoted christian, I would have mistaken her for a runs woman who does not keep to one man. Any way, something must kill a man. I just pity the poor woman.” Papa said.
Mama shrugged papa’s shoulders. And gave him a child’s look, with her mouth pushed forward like a baby, who refuses Eba, and instead craves for biscuits.
Tunde’s death had brought Madam Amaka down. She would lock herself up in the house every single day and would refuse to come out. It had weakened her prayer life too. We no longer heard her pray and cry, or even worship the way she had usually done when he was alive.
The last time she prayed or worshiped, was when her church members paid her a condolence visit, two days after her husbands death.
No doubt, her husbands death was a big set back for her. She had loved him so much. I felt pity for her; so much pity. My mother also felt pity for Madam Amaka. She tried her possible best to keep Madam Amaka company with discussions and gist when ever she was back home and free.
Sometimes, mama will send me to Madam Amaka’s house to spend some time with her. She didn’t want Madam Amaka to be alone during this trying period she was going through.
One day, I was helping mama pound the pepper and crayfish in the kitchen. She was preparing vegetable soup and pounded yam for dinner. Mama was chopping the Ugu leaves with her blue sharp knife, when she suddenly stopped.
“Wale have you seen Mummy Amaka today? She haven’t stepped her legs outside.”
“No ma. I haven’t.” I replied.
“O poor woman. Always alone inside. Wale go and stay with her. Just keep her company in the house. Make sure you disturb her so that she does not think much.”
I was happy. That was a relief for me. Leaving Mama in the kitchen and all her cooking, and going to Stay with Madam Amaka, was like telling a child to leave school and hang out in an ice cream shop.
I jumped up happily and washed my hands. I felt so much joy as I ran over to Madam Amaka’s house. This was going to be a day of adventure for me. I thought to myself.
To be continued….