BN Prose: Burden of Belief By AtokePosted on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 at 2:46 PM
Abide with me
Fast falls the even tide
The darkness deepens,
Lord, with me abide
When other helpers fail ;
and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless,
oh, abide with me
“Do you believe in jazz?”
“What do you mean by believe in Jazz? What kind of Jazz? The Earl Klugh variant or is it Chris Botti?”
“No jor! jazz as in juju or black magic as some people call it. Do you believe it exists?”
There was a pause, a deep reflection before Funmi responded to Bukky’s enquiry.
“I believe there is light and as such there must be darkness. I believe there is a God and so I believe the devil exists. I believe there is good and there is bad. So do I believe there is juju? Yes. I believe there is a metaphysical realm and I believe there are human beings who attempt to access this realm through different means. Do I believe there are wicked people in this world? Yes! Do I believe that these wicked people channel their diabolical intents to the metaphysical realm to wreck havoc??? Hell yeah! However, I don’t put too much stock in the existence of juju, neither am I going to live my life in a constant fear that the person who drops a thread beside me as I’m walking down the road is intent on causing me harm.”
“Hmmm, there is jazz oh my sister; and sometimes trouble go sleep yanga go wake am”
This conversation was taking place at a waterfront garden in Lekki. It was cool evening in July. The smell of the afternoon rain clung to the grass and lingered around the garden. There were canopies and chairs all around and people sat in sober silence. The sun had set and the sky was a darkened shade of grey. The garden was illuminated by flood lights and there was a large canvass poster as the focal point of the lights.
It was a life size picture of a young man in his early forties. Actually that picture was taken on his 40th birthday. He wore a grey suit in the picture and had a black tie with silver stripes on it. He looked really distinguished. The gathering was to celebrate the man in the photo. Adeniyi Kolapo Sawyerr. Everyone called him K.P. His wife called him “Deniyi”. If a closer attention was paid to that portrait, a glint of mischief would be caught in his eyes. Nike had cracked a joke about the graying of his hair, he had gasped in mock horror and the photographer took the shot.
Bukky and Funmi sat away from the teeming crowds who kept pouring in. Their heads buried deep in conversation; it was a question that had been plaguing Bukky and she couldn’t help thinking about it given the circumstances sorrounding where they were. They had to come here after work to celebrate KP Sawyerr.
Bukky pulled her jacket closer because of the evening chill. “KP Sawyerr ooo… Greatness personified. I would miss working with him, I’m not sure I’d find a boss kinder than him.” She looked in the direction of the portrait
“I remember the day that picture was taken so vividly. Mrs Sawyerr and I worked ourselves to the bone just to ensure that KP got the best surprise party ever”
I need Thy presence
every passing hour;
What but Thy grace
can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide
and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine,
Lord, abide with me
“It was around noon and about two weeks from his birthday. Mrs Sawyerr had come in to the office to beg KP for his driver to go and pick their boys because she needed an afternooon off. Plus she didn’t want him to suspect she had this do planned out. He called me into his office while she was there”
“Niyi nowwww!!! Why do you like behaving like this? I told you my sisters and I want to go have lunch and I need you to send Kabir to go get the boys this afternoon. I told you before oh! 2nd Thursday in November, I even reminded you last week.”
“She was obviously exasperated because KP didn’t even look away from his computer. He was just nodding. I remember smiling because they looked so cute together. I was his PA but even I knew Mrs Sawyerr was crazy about her husband”
“Are you even listening to me? O shey ma’n shey bayii na?”
“She sounded desperate. She needed the afternoon to meet with the event planner and if he didn’t give her the afternoon off her plans were about to be blown out of the skies. She moved to his side of the huge mahogany table and sat on his laps. She pressed her face into his neck and it was almost as if she was oblivious of my presence or she just didn’t care that I was standing there. Next thing I knew…. KP said I should ask Kabiru to come upstairs. She jumped off, grabbed her bag and ran out.”
“Thank you honey. You’re the best husband everrrrrr”.
“I started praying for a marriage that was as sweet and beautiful as theirs until I noticed a change in KP’s schedule.”
Bukky’s sigh was indicative of something more
“The beginning of adultery is usually like a game, especially if you have never done it before. It’s like a game, with every time you can get away with something, you push the boundaries a little further, and then even further still, till you’re completely immune to your conscience. It’s a little game of how much can you get away with and not get caught, and your prize is the satisfaction of knowing no one else knows but you. It’s your little secret.”
“But Bukky, the change of a schedule doesn’t mean a person is committing adultery, it just means human beings aren’t creatures of habit as we like to believe. Can a person not change his schedule without being accused of being unfaithful to his wife? Abeg me I like to be practical and logical in my thinking oh! Unless you have better facts to substantiate your assertion I don’t believe you should just go off on a tangent of this your adultery thesis oh!
I fear no foe,
With Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight,
and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting?
Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still,
if Thou abide with me.
“KP always seemed so larger than life, so when he fell ill it was just weird. I felt it was jazz sha!!!”
“Come ON!!!! The fact that a person appears larger than life does not automatically offer him immunity against illness now. Even the great Fela who was self-styled ‘the holder of death in his pocket’ died after a long protracted illness. Abeg abeg not every illness is the by product of juju”
“Ok look at this scenario….It’s May, the month when he usually tells me to plan the holiday for his family. Mrs S and the boys know this is their regular summer schedule so everyone is pretty excited about it. I get some vicarious pleasure from planning it too. Then that Sandra babe starts calling KP on the office phone, leaving weird messages. This means he’s obviously trying to shake her loose because he’s not taking her calls on his cell phone”
“Detoxing in preparation for family time right?”
“Exactly!!!! This lady refused to get the point. The messages got weirder and creepier by the day”
“Tell him that I’m destined to be with him. Tell him that we belong together and I will kill myself if he doesn’t return my calls”
“Are you sure you’re delivering my messages to him? Because I am not a fool oh!!! Tell him that nobody uses me and dumps me. Someone gave birth to me oh, I deserve to be happy too, and I deserve to have a home too oh. I deserve all the happiness he promised me. If I can’t have him I don’t know why anyone else should have him”
“She was just a burnt bi&ch but it was no concern of mine. I dutifully delivered all her messages to him. Then they came back from holiday and the sickness started. Exactly a year ago I remember. First it was body pains, then they said it was rheumatoid arthritis and then the craziest thing… necrotizing fasciitis.”
“Ehn…. Flesh eating bacteria???”
Funmi gasped and covered her mouth to stifle the sound. Her eyes widened in horror and she rubbed her arms involuntarily; goose bumps spread all over her arms.
“Why did it get so bad? Why didn’t they do anything about it? Was he in the hospital?”
“hmm of course he was in the hospital, not one, several hospitals. His case was a medical mystery. It was one thing or the other and he was slowly decaying before our eyes. Their home was like a shrine, people coming to pray their every hour of the day. Some people even suggested going the ‘traditional route’ to get to the source of his illness since modern medicine didn’t seem to cut it. Mrs S refused blatantly.”
“Is she one of those like serious born-again church people?”
“ah yes oh! Worker in their church and all that. She wouldn’t have any talk of ‘babalawo’ or ‘prophet’ as the adherrent of traditional medicine like to call their seers these days. Then one of his aunties couldn’t stand it anymore and brought one man. I was there that day. This was like after like 9 months of excruciating pain and suffering”
She paused as she walked back in time, tears rolled down her cheeks. Funmi handed her a handkerchief and for a few minutes they sat in silence listening to the songs being sang around them at the wake.
“This man said KP had been somewhere and ‘something’ had been done to him and for him.”
“And by ‘something’ he meant jazz?”
“So did this man profer a solution? Well he obviously didn’t since we are here now!!”
“Sadly he didn’t. He said KP’s case was far gone, and the antidote was with the other person he went with”
“Ha!!! So they never found out who the person is? Na wa ooo!!”
“sadly they didn’t”
Hold Thou Thy cross
before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom
and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks,
and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death,
O Lord, abide with me.
He checked his watch, 8.30pm. It was time to head home. He watched her sleep, the rise and fall of her breasts as she breathed was rhythmic. Even in her sleep she looked like a vixen. There was a fire in her personality that even sleep couldn’t put out. She was young and virile and always ready to explore something different. Insatiable was the only way to describe her; after three rounds she made short work of putting him in her mouth again. She called, and he answered. Her eyes had the gleam of mischief and adventure and a desire that couldn’t seem to be banked. It was her eyes that caught his attention that day in the spa when he met her. ‘Denike had planned a day of pampering him because he had been working very hard the past few weeks so they had gone to the spa for a full body massage and an afternoon in the steaming sauna. He thought he imagined the masseuse had winked at him but he wasn’t quite sure and he didn’t want to be presumptuous. Then she complimented his well toned muscles, asking if he played tennis. This pretty young thing was hitting on him and he liked it. It was ironic that he felt stirred by this woman when his wife was right there beside him, but there was something about her. She slipped her number on a piece of paper under his robe…in a simple scrawl. ‘Sandra. Call me’. Four months later, he still could not get enough of her.
She stirred as he made to grab his pants; she wrapped her arms around him
“I have to go. It’s almost 9.”
“Do you really? Can’t you say something came up?” she rubbed her legs down his thigh and he jumped up, knowing that he would have to stay longer if she started doing her thing.
“I’m sorry Sandra, but you know how this works. I have to go home”
She was getting really clingy recently, wanting to be more involved in his life asking about his work, calling to ask if he’d had lunch. He shuddered as he pulled on his shirt. She even asked him to come with her to her prophet so they would pray for him to prosper in his work. He thought that was creepy and of course declined.
“So have you thought about coming to see my pastor? I told you he’s a man of God. He just wants to pray with you and bless you”
He leaned over and ran his hands over her breasts, squeezing it lightly he had a leery smile and said “I’m already blessed already, don’t you think so”
He had gotten with Sandra for a good time but then it appeared she was getting ideas, and as he walked out of the hotel that morning, he decided it had started as an innocuous affair but it was turning out to be weird.
She realized a couple of months ago that she had started liking him and it was more than just sex. He was kind and hard working, a man of an almost extinct breed. He was a diamond in the rough that she found, only he belonged to another and she was willing to share. Every time he had to leave, a piece of her heart broke; she wanted to be with him all the time but she knew the deal. It was just sex. Why did her heart tell her otherwise? She told her spiritual leader about him when they started meeting up. She wanted him to pray for her man, to give her something for him to prosper. She wanted to prove to KP that she cared about more than his phallus; and even though he refused to come for prayers, she moaned to Prophet Kenneth
“Give me something that will show him that I want the best for him. I know we belong together”
He handed her a tube of lotion
“Use this the next time you’re going to see him. He will not be able to resist you. He will always be drawn to you and even you will see how things will turn around”
There was another tube on the table from where he picked the one he handed to her and she gazed at it for the longest time. An extra tube of the lotion won’t hurt, for a longer lasting effect. She wanted KP for a very long time so when Prophet Kenneth turned his back she slipped the other tube in her handbag.
Armed with her potions, she worried about how to get him to see her. She sent him a text message
“I know you are done with me, but let’s just have drinks. Soul Lounge; 7.00pm. For the good times”
KP read the message and ignored it, but he could not shake off this feeling. One last lay, besides he needed to be a man and tell her to her face he was no longer interested. He called Denike to tell her he’d be home late and headed for Soul Lounge.
It was the last time he was seen in good health.