I need jeans, I don’t have any.”
“I need a new sponge, I’ve been using this red one for months.”
“There’s no toothpaste. Water has finished. Oh God!”
I sat in silence, listening to my family put their requests on the table, literally, because that was all we could do. We never had what we wanted.
We were a family of nine. Mother gave birth to far too much than our finances could handle; Toni says to me sometimes, in whispers.
Most times, it was just Mom, Dad, Teni and Teju at home. The rest of us stayed in school and barely returned for holidays, trying to escape that atmosphere of lack. But like a phantom, it sort of trailed us everywhere, it was ever near.
When we were younger, we would sit around the big, orange, plastic table in the sitting room and talk about the time when we’d all be in Universities and it would just be the parents and the last born, Teju, at home. The unspoken hope we all held in our hearts was that by then we must have had our ‘big breakthrough’ and we would be living in the lap of luxury.
Sigh. I sigh now, that I think of this, because nothing has changed. Nothing ever does.
Yes, nothing except the spiritual atmosphere. We needed answers to our prayers and we weren’t getting any, so our prayers began to weaken. Daddy stopped attending all the mid-week services and mummy stopped going for MFM’s Fight to Finish on Thursdays. When Segi tells me, her voice dripping with disdain, that our now prayerlessness means that we were only serving God for his blessings, and nothing else, I want to pick up a big, dirty stone and break her head. But I do not say anything. I do not even look at her, because I am afraid. My mother has put the spirit of timidity into me, I must say.
For lack of nothing to do, I take out my earphones and listen to my best jam, The Work Of The Blood. The woman singing the song must be an angel. I turn the volume up to the highest because the song gets to me. It gets to a part where she says Christ stood in the way for her, her sins, and the devil couldn’t accuse her anymore. Yes, that is the part. The part where I want to channel the feeling I’m having into something; sing, shout or scream. The part where I can surely feel a power in me, filling me with some kind of boldness and belief in the words. The part where I have goosebumps. The part I love most.
But as I listen now, I wait for the goose bumps, but they never come.