Sule stretched and slowly freed his eyes. The sudden contact with the sun streaming in because of the open curtains hurt them. He shut them and rolled off unto the other side of the bed. He got unto his feet and squinting, he walked towards the curtains and grabbed them shut. He threw himself unto the bed again and pulled the pillow under his chin. He remembered the dream he had. Dzidzor was in a fist fight with Tara. He was the prize. In the most funny way imaginable, he was actually a title belt to be wrapped around the waist. The funniest dream ever. But even funnier, he is tempted to drift back into sleep. He badly wants to know who won. As though who wins is an indication of future realities.
His mum pounded loud on his door.
Sule yawned, gathered himself off the bed and got the door. His mum stood with her face covered with dismay.
“You’re late for Bible study.”
She said, chuckled and run down the stairs to the ground floor. Sule gaped, standing and gazing after her a full thirty seconds. He overslept! As the words his mum spoke sank in, Sule rushed from his door. He fell into an ordered trance, running about the room to get done. In fifteen minutes, his car was taking the junction out their neighbourhood.
“I won’t make the time.”
He bellowed and sprang unto the Aburi road. His church, the one of the many Assemblies of God churches he loved is about quarter of a kilometre stretch off the main Aburi road at Oyarifa. He sped on, parked and jumped out. He jogged inside. Heads were bowed for prayer to end the Bible study. His church, the one of the many Assemblies of God churches he loved is about quarter of a kilometre stretch off the main Aburi road at Oyarifa. He sped on, parked and jumped out. He jogged inside. Heads were bowed for prayer to end the Bible study.
Amidst the chorused amen is when he saw a lady he swore is Dzidzor in a blue flowy dress five rows from the front. He tilted to see her face but she was seated and he had to wait till service ends. He laughed to himself and sat down. He isn’t imagining now, is he? He shrugged and decided he’ll wait for after service. But it couldn’t be possible now, could it? He’s never seen her parents. No one hear ever called a Mr. Awoonor. Not for the one year he’s been a member here. Maybe once. Mr. and Mrs. Awoonor purchased for the church their first bus to pick and drop distant members. But they hadn’t come forward. Nor was their affluence mentioned. The church never mentions those things. His second self volunteered. There was so much more emphasis on Christ, differences were non-existent. Almost. The Awoonors church here. Assuming they do, why hasn’t he met Dzidzor ever? By chance even?
The question hang in the air, disturbing his perfect assumptions. He has no answer obviously. The reason can be part of a long winding list. She attends elsewhere. She is involved with the IT workers backstage somewhere. He is an assistant at the youth church when needed so they could have missed each other. The church has over a thousand members. You can miss anyone in the crowd.
He felt a hand tap him. He turned. A woman in her late fifties was smiling widely at him and clasping her hands noiselessly. Oh they were praying. About to. The opening chapter must have been read. He smiled, mouthed a thank you and shut his eyes. Close to an embarrassment.
As the elder kept on at his prayer, Sule had travelled two years back in time. Sessy was seated by him. They were engulfed in a sweet conversation in the middle of the sermon. She had passed a note. He replied and passed it. But the air carried it off and decided to land it in front of an usher, Uncle Timoo. That’s how everyone called him. He was feared and respected with such awe you could mistake him for the pastor if you’re a first timer. He had picked it up and had given him a stare he was sure he’d recount with Sessy to their first son. He felt his eyes wet. They had a dream forming beautifully like a painting on a canvas. They had a dream he splashed paint on and destroyed. Their son, or daughter – there wasn’t a certainty – killed her because he allowed it.
He dabbed his eyes and stood with the rest of the congregation. The sermon was to start. Then there’ll be worship, praise with the offertory, announcements and fellowship. He had planned to find Dzidzor then. But that was fifteen minutes ago. Long before he saw Sessy lying in state, her cheeks blushing without a smile, her life gone because of him and decided that path was too messed up to try to travel.
The sermon echoed through the room and his whole being, the forty-five minute Pastor Davies preached. He went on about God’s guarantee of a forgiven past. He softly pointed out God’s faithfulness in first John one and His love in John 3 towards us, like Nicodemus and finished off with Romans 3:23-24. All scriptures he had to grab unto two years ago, the dark months after Sessy died sinning for them, their love.
He could feel God’s presence tearing him off his guilt. He sure was here with him. But he won’t let go. He didn’t think so. He’ll always want God’s help. But in this moment, his heart wanted the guilt. He owed Sessy that. In case Dzidzor was truly in this church. And she should be. Ken, the youth pastor had told him about Target when he was sinking low with Paps. The coincidence of Ken’s timely suggestion is illogical. The Awoonors church here. Which left him with the undesired possibility – Dzidzor wasn’t coming or wasn’t a regular. If so why? He must stay for fellowship, make her out and ask. But he knew he wasn’t going to.
So after an extremely choking worship and the offertory and announcements and the benediction, Sule sneaked into his car and drove off. He ran so he wouldn’t have the time to change his mind. Dzidzor was here alright. During the offertory, he had passed by her. She was the lady in blue, second seat from the aisle on the fifth row. She saw him too. She had smiled. She looked as one would beaming with hope. He had smiled politely too, dropped his envelope and wound off to the back.
Was his dream true? She churches here. He does too. Tara doesn’t.
He hit the main road and breathed. She’s at least half of a kilometre away. He won’t brood on the fact that she had seen him leave. He saw her through his side mirror. Her face was paled. Or he had just imagined. She won’t care he’s left. He told himself but he didn’t believe it. She looked betrayed. Like a child left alone on a deserted path on a cold December evening. He had seen her mum – her exact replica – come to tap her and they were engulfed in some conversation afterwards.
“I saw him stroll out, hop into the BM and drive away. He fellowships here?”
Dzidzor asked her mum, bewildered. Senam saw between her words the disappointment.
“I can’t be sure honey. But Pastor Davies has mentioned a Sule to your dad before. He was delighted at his teaching abilities. He had said he was asking him about Pastoring the youth.”
Dzidzor nodded, her mind far off to the offertory time. Sule’s smile wasn’t usual. For the month and half they’ve become acquainted. They aren’t friends particularly. They are just becoming.
“Mum, I’m grabbing two balls of Kakloo. Want some?”
Dzidzor eyed the table with just Ghanaian snacks.
“No. Go ahead. I’ll find your dad.”
Senam entered the church. Dzidzor found solace in food. She’s worried as her mother for forever. As a young girl her dad will buy her sweets after a tiring school day. Those years, she waved the mum card and halted the frequency. She started picking her from school. Now she was too grown up and today obviously she’s hurting because Sule drove off without a word. They sat together in church, three seats apart and she had smiled widely during the offertory, her eyes lit. She hasn’t seen to whom. She does now. Obviously, Sule was in church.
Senam found Jonathan laughing and tapping the back of a gentleman. She could see his back. He was quite petite, very dark and hairy. She must know him. Jonathan turned, caught her eye and beckoned to her.
“Matey has grown into a splendid young man.” Jonathan raved on. “He got back Saturday.” He could choke from the excitement. “He greeted me after service. Mine I had completely forgotten who he was.” Jonathan laughed, an uneasy laugh. Matey attempted a grin. Senam smiled and held her hands to him.
“How have your parents been?”
“Good. Except Dad passed.”
“Sorry to hear.”
“Don’t worry. He was good to go. He got saved some months before. I am always glad I made the visit.”
“Good news at least.”
Jonathan chipped in. Seconds of silence passed as the three stood. Senam wondered who should bring Dzidzor up. Matey was her first date. Her only. After him, she threw herself into fun and started piling on skin. Junior’s hard luck is thanks to Matey. He left in a way a mother should hate him for.
“Dzidzor still comes with you?”
She died. Senam winced inside. She could say that. She won’t.
“Yes. Go find her. She’ll be by the snack table. She was going for Kakloo.”
“I hope I recognise her.” Matey forced another grin. “Thanks.”
He left, the two parents staring after him.
“You hate him?”
“I could. I doubt however.”
“We must pray.”
Jonathan held onto Senam’s waist.
“You have no idea. You happen to know how she’ll react?”
“Dzidzor? Jona if she’s a typical woman, she’d go along and reflect later.”
“She won’t think of slapping him. You know in movies they make scenes.”
Senam tilted her head to see his face. He shrugged. He loved japping. Senam knew that. She laughed.
“We should go quick then.”
The Awoonors strolled to the outside of the church. Dzidzor met their eyes.
“Nice meeting you again Matey.”
“I feel same.”
Dzidzor used her parents as the perfect excuse to end the conversation and walked off.
Matey’s eyes were glued on her. She could feel them heavy at her back. He may be wondering why she’s looking like herself plus half.
“Can we go?”
Dzidzor implored her parents. They said a few more goodbyes; to the pastor and his wife, her mum’s best friend, Aunt Emma and got into their SUV. Her mum drove. She always drives on Sundays, like a tradition.
“What’s Matey doing now?”
Her mum joined the main Aburi road and gushed off. Dzidzor loved her mum drove. She sped. She won’t admit to it however. She thinks Dzidzor rather reckless.
“He’s practicing now. Law. Apparently he’s joined Kwaku’s firm.”
Jonathan leaned over his seat to see his daughters face.
“Yes dad. Same Kwaku.”
“Oh I see. He’s impressively smart.”
“Definitely. Mum what are we eating for brunch?”
Dzidzor hated the small talk about Matey. If anything, her parents should be angry for her. They’re here saying how impressive he’s done. He walked out on her for no good reason after two years of dating. She’d have been married like Kate should he have stayed, committed.
“I’m thinking fufu.”
“Why not the yam. There’s garden egg stew.”
“I’m tired of fufu too. Wears me out.”
Jonathan glanced his daughter’s way. Dzidzor was on her phone. She’ll be reading. She was such a goal getter. He wonders why her weight is a different ball game. They hardly cross to the subject. Today obviously will be the worse to try.
Soon, they were home. Dzidzor undressed and slipped into shorts and a big shirt. She put herself to work in the kitchen. Her mum came downstairs to meet an almost cooked yam. She was heating up the stew.
Dzidzor felt a piece of yam.
“I’ll start setting up while it boils a few more minutes.”
Her mum sat. Sunday brunches were Dzidzor’s treat. She loved to cook for them and they loved to eat.
She was back from the dining area in no time.
“Mum can you please get the juice while I bring this off the stove and strain it?”
Senam removed the jar of pineapple juice from the fridge and made for the dining table. They’ll add ice cubes when they’re ready to drink after meals. Jonathan will have his before. Dzidzor picked each piece of yam gently into a ceramic tray. She garnished with onions and tomatoes. In minutes everyone was at the table. They linked hands, prayed and ate amidst light talk. Dzidzor hurried, excused herself and went to her room. She’s had her fill. Too much she couldn’t breathe. When she was upset she stuffed herself. She hurried to her sink, about to thrust her hands down her throat. Her heart started racing as always. Then her phone started beeping. She would have ignored it. Not today. What if Sule has texted. She lifted her phone from her bed. It was a message alright.
I hope we can meet and talk soon.
She cringed. Why was he even back? Why when she was faring nearly perfect.
She gave up the thought of inducing vomit and lay on her bed. She’d rather have her afternoon nap then get dinner ready and finish the advertising schedule for Kusi Cement. She thought back on the sermon at the service. Pastor Davies said to let a past go and forgive yourself for it. She felt her eyes becoming wet. She had too many pasts wrapped into her present. She’s forever felt inferior to her parents, she’s overweight and has slipped into bulimia, she’s angry at Matey and confused about Sule. The verse she read Friday morning crept into her heart.
Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.
A desperate tear escaped her eyes. Rest is what she needs and rest is what she has to find. She just needed the strength. After her nap, she will find it – strength.
© M’afua Awo Twumwaah 2016.