By Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto
“It’s him again,” my elder brother complained. We all peered through the window to see the man approaching our front door.
Mum hurriedly called the four of us – my two brothers, my sister and I – and instructed us to sit beside her and listen carefully. We all knew Dad was on his way home from work. The man spoke briskly as Mum frenziedly flipped through her black King James Bible. They listened. I observed the man.
Just days before, the man had sat on our new couch and talked about sinners, sins and saints; hell and heaven. The word “sins” particularly reminded me when Mum called me a sinner after flogging me ruthlessly the day she met me holding an egg- the only one left out of the three crates kept in the kitchen. I was barely four years old. When she questioned me, I told her worriedly the balls could not bounce like normal tennis balls. I had broken all eggs in the crates except the one I was holding.
The man prophesied about the end of the world and said a big trumpet would blow on the last day for everyone to be judged before the Maker. I eyed him frantically.
I imagined how mighty the trumpet would look and envisioned the muscular Angels chosen to carry it. I was sure the particular Angel selected to sound the trumpet would have a mouth as wide as that of a hippopotamus.
He also said no one knew when the world would end. This specially worried me because the trumpet could sound while I would be filling Five Alive juice cartons with water after stealing sips from tiny holes I pierced at the sides. It could sound when I would be in the kitchen at night, pocketing assorted meat from the soup pot; an act mum had always blamed on the ‘witch’ next door. It could even sound immediately after I’d added more salt to Dad’s food to punish Mum for flogging me each time I wet the bed.
“…if you truly want to walk with Christ, you must pick up your cross and follow Him. Let us pray.” The man quickly wrapped up his talk, prayed and left.
Thursday passed. Friday. Saturday. Then Sunday. We were ready for church.
“Where are you going with that?” Bewildered, Mum asked.
My posture was slanted and imbalanced. Inspired by the calendar of Jesus on our living room wall, I repentantly carried a construction of uneven pieces of wood stolen from a nearby carpenter’s shop.
I didn’t understand Mum’s reaction. It was equally bemusing. Of all people, she should have been the one to understand the man from our church better.
“Mum, this is my cross. I want to follow Christ.”
Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto is a Nigerian and studied English Language and Literature at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria. He is a lover of literature and his works have won Association of Nigerian Authors’ Literary Award For Mazariyya Ana Teen Poetry Prize, 2009 and National Association Of Students Of English Language and Literary Studies (Certificate of Honour as the Best Student Poet, 2012, Delsu Chapter). He was a runner-up in the Etisalat Prize For Literature – Flash fiction, 2014 with I Saved My Marriage. He has contributed his works in journals, magazines and blogs such as Of Minstrelsy and Mask, Matatu, Germany; Awka Journal Of English Language and Literature; Lunaris Review, AFREADA, KALAHARI REVIEW and Elsewhere.