GBOHUN MI BY LAWAL SULTAN.
My father (Evangelist Rotimi) set out of the house, hoping to read one or two dailies before proceeding to a family function. Ifeoluwa (my younger brother) was running fast hoping to catch up with him, Dad you forgot to wear the shoe you polished he said breathing heavily. Lo and behold he looked down, he was barefooted. Everyone at the newspaper stand burst into laughter as Ifeoluwa handed my Dad the shoe. Evangelist was teased for been use to walking barefooted all the time even when he is not putting on white garment.
The following morning was a Sunday, we woke up early for church, we held different services and meetings afterwards. In the end we returned home for a good rest after which we had a family meeting later in the evening. The meeting was surprisingly about me, Evangelist younger sister opened the floor with prayers as preamble, praying for good health, wealth, prosperity and life partner. As she mentioned life partner in her prayers, Achebe came to mind ("an oldwoman is always uneasy when drybones are mentioned in a proverb"). She proceeded to the agenda of the meeting starting with parables of how a child should acquire a cutlass or hoe if he/she has come of age to do so and how one life evolves in stages just like how a look at the king's mouth will make one wonder if he had ever sucked his mother's breast.
Grin-grin. Hello how are you doing? Hope you are enjoying the holiday? Thanks for calling, Bye. Who is that? It's my friend sir, boy or girl. A boy sir. Don't ever call a boy your friend in this house again. So you now have male friends. You aren't facing your studies. Iya Gbohunmi can you hear your child. This incident among numerous others came as flashback. That was 200level inter-semester break. Fast forward to when I'm about completing my youth service the question of who are you dating is popping up. Change they say is the only constant thing in life but I never for once thought that someone who declared himself as Ilesanmi would later be lobbying to be the Lord of music.
A question was thrown by Mom "is it that they haven't been calling you or you've been turning them down?". I have been the one not answering anyone. There was a slight relief. I was persuaded to start giving love a chance but must be careful.
Ifeoluwa on the other hand is a good vocalist, and a member of the choir. Everyone sees him as Evangelist's heir apparent.
I opened up my heart to the possibility of a prospective suitor walking in anytime soon, while I also prayed and fasted.
You'll agree with me, if I say luckily enough, the first person that knocked on the door was a pastor. But we'll both be very wrong, because he was a Protestant with disdain for our mode of worship. I invited him to one of our programs and after which I asked for his thoughts. He muttered 'I'm impressed, it was highly spiritual, but I must state that I still find the mode of worship odd'. I couldn't cope with someone that have something strong against the white garment church. He sometimes liken us to idol...... The heights of it was when I confronted him about his regularly criticisms of the white garment church. 'You have no right to condemn anyone, your good intentions are all God needs. Leave mode of worship alone as God understands all language'. He replied 'God understands all language but he doesn't understand incantation'.
Moving on, I met someone with a white garment upbringing. This should be the last bus stop my inner mind posited happily. But our elders says a bird that flies off the earth and lands on the ant-hill is still on the ground. Everything was going smoothly till I discovered that he smokes, drinks and even fornicate. He once argued that there is no where in the scripture that polygamy was outlawed. The whole one man - one wife concept is a white culture and not a biblical one.
Then someone caring, loving, honest and tolerating walks in, but "life itself isn't fair" (see naked weapon). The key that pose a danger to the dog's dentition is religion, for he is a Muslim. He surely is everything i want in a man. He would drive me and Ifeoluwa to church for weekdays youth programs, but he rejects every offer to enter into the church. I tried doing everything to persuade him to enter in one of the instances, but he declined saying 'baby I love you but what you ask of me contravenes Quran109:1-6' . I love him even more for the sincerity in a world full of deceits.
What does the future hold for myself and Ibrahim? How do i break the news to my parents? What about the "but"? This is indeed like the proverbial shining moon which the Igbo says it makes even the cripple hungry for a walk.
I presented the love of my life to Evangelist and my Mother. 'What position does he hold in their parish' Evangelist asked. I stammered 'actually he's a responsible Muslim' It was like a tug of war. 'You brought an Allahu Akbar man to my house!' Evangelist was sparking. 'I expected more from you Gbọhúnmí'. I maintained that he is my love and I'll do anything to settle down with him. For he's indeed my joy giver. How is it heard of, that a Senior Evangelist gave birth to two children one turned gay and the other is getting married to a Muslim. What will become of the reputation that has been built for years.
Ibrahim in his imagination have a feeling, that when I get to see the beauty of Islam in full glimpse, I will fall in love with the Deen and covert. He had this ecstasy which he did not share with me. In my thinking, I felt Ibrahim is a lovely person, I believe when I start bearing him children he will atleast embrace Christianity even if such embracing will be in half-mast like a mourning flag and he will one day don the white garment gracefully. You can't blame us for this perceptions, since all religions attach lofty rewards (heavenly) to anyone that wins a soul over.
Evangelist feels so dejected from the very day I brought Ibrahim home. What crime has he committed to deserve this. It was a case of Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani. I made up my mind that i will not back down on this quest. Right from my birth they've always had their way even in the slightest of things, this is a big one that my will must prevail.
I had to do the needful. Threaten them with pregnancy. It's indeed a taboo for an unmarried woman to be pregnant in the white garment church. It's even more embarrassing if the person in question is an Evangelist's daughter. I succeeded in putting them to a tight corner. Will they take their usual no nonsense stand? Or will they succumb to the pressure?
Evangelist did all he could, to make sure he changes my heart. All was to no avail, I was hell-bent on this one, no going back. Nothing on earth can stop me from getting married to Ibrahim. My mother did her part too. She persuaded me every now and then. I maintained my stand, after all religion should unite and not devide, as Emile Durkheim put it ".....maintenance of group solidarity". Evangelist and my Mother were bound to fail in every of their attempt of "icing a rotten cake". Just like the French poet Victor Hugo submitted "No one can resist an idea whose time has come. No army can stop an idea whose time has come."
After lot of hullabaloo, we later got approval for marriage and became happily married. We held morning and evening prayer in dual sessions to accommodate each other.
We started having kids and as they grow, it becomes imperative to teach them morals, most of which naturally comes with religion. After all Edmund Burke said "Social virtues are inseparable from religion" It became a bit clumsy, going to Arabic school every evening and on Sunday they go to church to unlearn most of the things they've been taught in Arabic school.
Things were going well until a faithful day, one of our kids told my husband. 'Daddy you don't go to church, you've refused to give your life to Christ. Anyone that worship any except from Christ will perish in hell'. I was quick to react. 'Will you shut your mouth, you don't talk to an elderly person in such a way, not even when he's your father, come on go and apologize before I slap you'. Ibrahim didn't utter a word, he later complained to me behind closed door. Is that what the kids are been taught in church? He asked, have begged you not to be angry, you don't need to make reference to my church, for your information, we don't teach people to attack other's religion in our parish. Besides he was only stating the obvious.
"...stating the obvious" stating the obvious that I will perish in hell. Everything changed from that moment onward. I saw another color of him ever since. No one was allowed to go to church for what ever reason. The only congregational prayer allowed in the house is solat. And the kids can only go to Arabic school. I do everything possible to fraustrate any of their attempt to observe solat or attend Arabic school.
Things started getting sour. We only get to talk on things that revolves around the needs of the children. We lived like strangers under the same roof.
Can we get our happy home back? What will become of the children if things fall apart?.
Evangelist sent for Ibrahim and I, as soon as the news of our inextinguishable rancor got to him. Good evening everyone seated here, may we always be happy, have called you both here today as my children. The Holy Bible in 1 Peter 3:7 says, Ibrahim interrupted Evangelist there. 'Sir please sight reference we can all relate to'. It's nothing hard to decipher, it only reads "Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." After much deliberation and blame shifting, Ibrahim maintained his stand, that if the married must continue Gbohunmi will live with my terms of practicing Islam. Evangelist and my Mother disagreed with him hugely on that. We brought her up with church upbringing. You can't forcefully put a kettle in her hands.
My children will be Muslims, Ibrahim screamed. After all, the man is the head of the house. You promise to always allow me practice my religion, I reminded him. That was then. He later walked out on Evangelist and my Mother in annoyance.
They should always be alternative forgone in life. Will the wife or husband you want be the appropriate parent for your children. There should be no holy union without love, but on no occasion should you marry anyone on the basis of love alone. Marry someone that when the ecstasy of love ends, you will still want to hold on to each other, for other reasons.
Worries multiplied on daily basis, no one knows peace in the house ends forth, just like the proverbial stingy man that still wants to be honored, one must be jettisoned for the other.
Ibrahim seats on the couch reminiscing on the past, and how he should have let go of something with temporary benefits causing long time problems. He thinks of the kids and how this will affect their upbringing but he can't compromise on this one again, even Proverbs 21:9 clearly states "It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife." He handed me the divorce letter. With one other sheet of paper, I gladly collected it while I also gave him the sheet of paper I was holding too. It was some little messages we wrote individually, mine was addressed to religion and Ibrahim. He addressed his to love and myself.
"Dear LOVE, you're indeed an indispensable euphoria, for all the hopes you've raised and equally dashed I say thank you. For you Gbohunmi I thought of ending us but no one will look after the kids."
"Dear RELIGION for all the unity and division you've brought upon humanity, i say thank you. For you Ibrahim i thought of quenching us but the kids will be haunted forever"