ON MY JOURNEY TO GOD: LEARNING THE LESSONS THAT LIFE SERVED ME (Part 1)
Growing up I was not a religious person.
My father visited our family church, St. Saviors Church close to Tafawa Balewa Square, on occasion, and it was our mom who usually drove us from our home in Surulere to Lagos Island on Sunday mornings.
She would take us all, the Ken Emechebe offspring, and ferry us off to church while Ken Emechebe himself would recline on the sofa reading his weekend papers.
I detested that drive and I remember telling him, when I was no older than 7 years of age, that I didn’t want to go to church.
I remember what his rejoinder was.
In effect it was a quip that basically meant I would need to grow up and be an adult before I could stop going to church.
That response convinced me that going to church was not a rational and grown up thing to do, so I decided to bide my time and ride it out as I was sure I would be an adult soon enough. “Maybe in 3 years time” I told myself.
We moved church to Chapel of the Healing Cross in Idi-Araba, and I gave up on going to the children’s church and stayed listening to the Rev. Olaitan, the vicar of the church, even when I wasn’t listening to too much of what he was saying.
Life happened shortly after that and something that altered my family came with it. My class at the time in Fountain Nursery and Primary School was a Primary 4 class and it had a vantage position where it overlooked the main road of Adelabu street.
One afternoon, when parents and drivers had come at the close of school and were all parking at the space outside the school walls my classmates and I suddenly saw a huge crowd running and instinctively we knew what it was.
This was Lagos in the 80s. That sort of movement only meant one thing.
We spoke among ourselves in class and groans of “All these armed robbers and their wickedness, when will Babangida deal with them finally? Only God knows who they have killed now.”
As we looked out the window, I saw my teacher Mrs. Nwandiko looking with us. Shortly after, another member of staff who I cannot remember now walked up to the door of our class and beckoned on Mrs. Nwandiko, she went to her and whispered something in her ear. Almost immediately, my teacher’s face contorted in an eclectic mixture of horror, pain and grief as she let out an inaudible scream.
She bent over and held a wall to steady herself. When she had straightened herself out she walked straight to me. As I saw her approach I wondered what I had done, as I peered with fear into her oncoming face my fear left as I saw she didn’t have any anger etched on her face, but the fear was soon replaced by a deep sense of unease and worry as I saw the streaks of tears running down her cheeks and her expression of deep concern.
She gently led me by the hand to the office of the Headmistress, Mrs. Olaitan. As I walked in I saw my other siblings in her office. The only person who wasn’t there was my kid brother who was in Madonna Nursery School at the time.
Another parent, we later learnt his name was Mr. Sanni, took us on the short drive to our house on Nnobi Street. We were wondering why it wasn’t our mum or the driver that came to pick us up.
As each of us glanced at ourselves and engaged in soliloquy and Mr. Sanni turned off into Agbonyin Street on our way home he stopped to exchange pleasantries with another motorist who was another Fountain parent.
As her eyes alighted on the back seat she saw us and asked, “Are these not Uzo’s children?”
“Yes they are”, Mr. Sanni replied, and then he continued in a shocking level of callousness that instantly eclipsed his previously congenial and warm disposition, “she just got shot by armed robbers.”
The collective consternation that erupted in the car is better imagined…..
(To be continued)