MAMMON

 
Mammon
Image by pawel czerwinski via unsplash

It was not weird for you to have an affair with your fathers' age mate, as a matter of fact to you it was the same thing, the only difference was that one was purely biological and platonic while the other was just erotic and beneficial.
  He sipped the freshly squeezed orange juice like the straw was a pole and his tongue was a stripper.
It always fascinated you how modern and energetic he was at that old age. He was nothing like your father, the legendary Pa James, old and grey with a mustache as thick as those of the colonial masters you saw in his old history books.

Your father drank from a square stainless steel mug and he gulped whatever liquid it contained with no care for class or sexiness. it was easy to see why Chief became the ideal father figure for you. After all who wanted to have a man who wrapped faded tie and die material around his crotch and sat on a cane chair all day long as a father.

The smell of cigarettes, alcohol and cheap perfume pervaded the space with the harsh stench of weed wafting through your nostrils. But what more could be expected of a club packed with Jobless boys and cheating men?
It was the only club in the neighborhood and certainly not a safe place for a girl considering the number of rape cases vaguely reported on daily times. You knew your mother would turn in her grave if she saw you, scantily dressed with slits as high as the slave walls in Badagry. but the disco light flattered your skimpy neon dress and you liked the strut you achieved with your toned thighs. Your mother could summersault in her grave if she wanted to.

Women as modest as she never remained the only wives of their husbands and the younger women that stole the attention of their husbands were brainwashed daughters of the high chiefs or whitewashed African waitresses who were really just glorified prostitutes.

The foreigners found them attractive thus they became the hottest assets in the market for local men to price and pride in.
You scanned the room for chief but he was not at his regular VVIP lounge. He sat loosely at one corner with four men and a swamp of desperate girls, you knew how to swerve his attention so you walked over to the table and twerked to the beat of ‘Lady by Fela Kuti’ as his caressed your butt cheeks in ecstasy.
The drunken men cheered at your sensual talent and they hailed chief for the good catch while bickering about making money from the new government.

’ you know we are not truly independent’’ The Oldest man in the group yelled, a dry-looking retired university professor who in your opinion had been deeply submerged in theories that practical things became nothing short of fiction to him.

His glasses slipped down the bridge of his flat nose and it intrigued you how this man presumably in his late sixties found solace in seven bottles of whiskey but you ignored him this time. The men laughed at him and cheered prof! Prof!

‘’why didn’t you leave with the colonial masters, so that you can go there and continue to serve tables and kiss feet’’ another retorted.

‘’The left us brainwashed, now we are going to chase after what we have chased away ‘’ Prof yelled caressing the long weaves on a girl's hair; he made jokes about not wanting to spending the night with her because the real owner of the hair might come to interrupt their copulation.

You were uninterested in the conversation and Chief perceived it. He knew you hated their company but according to him, a woman as intelligent as you were deserved a sit at every table.  He held your waist to a stop as he whispered for you to continue in his motel room. You stood up to leave and the old men looked at you hungrily in the same way your father looks at overripe paw before he plucked them from the tree.

You swayed your hips to announce your departure when the prof hit your buttocks. Just  as the white men did with their canes when trying to get natives to twist their tongues into syllables their ancestors were not even familiar with. The audacity of man!
You slapped him to the surprise of everyone at the club. He remorselessly gave you a harsh snare and bantered loudly about the calamitous arrogance colonialism has brought to African women.

The men yelled distinctly, calling you prostitute and all sorts as you walked away with chief but prostitution was far from your job description. You only slept with the men you dated and when you met Chief he became the only one.

    It first started from the famous Campus in Lagos, you had just one year to finish your degree in literature and your father could not afford to pay the tuition after his cocoa plantation was burnt down mysteriously.

As if wearing cheap clothes and being broke all the time due to the meager amount given to you per semester in a parcel from the village as pocket money was not enough suffering, he wanted you to become a dropout and marry Emekus, a trader in Onitsha with a very thick Igbo accent that made your name sound like a vocal expression of peppery sewage and slime as opposed to Cynthia.

 According to your father, he was well to do and he would open a provision store for you in the market.
 Chief saved you from this misery. He saw you dancing at the club; you had to be wild about your last days so you effortlessly landed on his bed that night. He must have really enjoyed himself because he called you every weekend from that day and he even helped you secure a Visa at the embassy so that you could keep him company in Europe when he was bored of his wife and three children.

You spent fewer holidays in the village with your father and when he asked about your refusal to come home you told him you had to stay back in school because of the bulk of your course work.

The girls in your hostel thought chief was your father because it was very uncommon to see a man possibly in his early seventies with a girl who was barely twenty. but he was better than the small campus boys who wore long chains and tried to sound like 50 cents just to impress girls.

It was not weird for you to have an affair with your fathers' age mate, as a matter of fact to you it was the same thing, the only difference was that one was purely biological and platonic while the other was just erotic and beneficial.

Your roommate lotanna was a bright student of international relations and she was not very pleased with your open lifestyle. She was also very religious because you had lost count of the times her songs of exaltation startled you out of your hangover. It sounded like your fathers' incantation when he poured dry gin on the soil of the dilapidated shrine beside the yam barn in the village.

 The same one your mother destroyed many times because she said the white priest taught them about a man who will come to save the world from sin.

Father knew some scriptures too but he was not obsessed like your mother or at least he was taught during the adult education classes he had to take to become a cashier at the post office. The only scripture that escaped his lips when mother called out his supposed heathen behavior was ‘ give to Ceasar what is caesars and to the gods what belongs to them.’

God! God! Not gods’ mother would yell. She said you were worst than your father at least he believed in something but you didn’t.  She told you it was better to be swayed by every wind of doctrine than to be out of tune with the entire belief systems of the world.

When she caught you with Jon the elementary school teacher just before you gained admission, she held your hands and gave you a sermon about being unchaste and how it demeans a woman’s pride and reduced her bride price. You barely listened.

She asked you to stop before you get possessed with the spirit of polyandry like your grandmother. She looked at you like a rascal in need of dire redemption just the way Lotanna looked at you when you told her you were traveling with chief so that he could see his family and you would keep him company. She disapproved but she said she would ask God to forgive you, you liked her because unlike the rest of the religious people you met on campus she was the most spiritual and the less judgmental.

She would look at you with a forced smile and say
‘’you know for someone who is not studying international relations you travel quite much’’ and then she would hug you goodbye.

Chief wanted one last night at the club with his friends, the ones he knew you despised so much. You were not really the wild girl chief was smitten by, the club was just a  place where people converged to blow off steam, a crowded gathering of different personalities with diverse motives.

You told Chief his professor friend was a rapist
that was not professor Ike’s intention’’ he yelled with mild irritation  removing your hand from his boxers
‘’All I am saying is that it is hard to decipher the true intentions of a man who touches a woman’s body without her consent’’ you said apologetically.

You left for the club with chief, at the round table they were fewer men than there ever was. They said the professor got a job offer from Cambridge and another man who you never paid much attention to was found dead in his motel room.

It was obvious he died on top of a woman. The local security went looking for her.  You wondered if it would ever happen to you and chief, for once you considered his family.

From the photograph in his wallet you saw the innocence in his last daughters' eyes, the fierceness in the first, and then his son; a fine young gentleman in his early twenties. Didn’t they know their father was a womanizer? Did his wife just trust him or did she just buy the idea that all men are polygamous and shoved it aside? Was it because he was rich so she chose to ignore his infidelity because surely she would have suspected the late-night calls chief received from various women even when he was with you.

The flight was going to leave in about eight hours you didn’t want to leave, this was not the first time you flew across borders with chief but this time it didn’t feel right or maybe it was because Lotanna said that God showed her in a vision that the plane crashed.

You were not one to believe the visions and dreams of religious fanatics but indecisiveness left you open to any consideration that could solidify your uneasiness. Chief hates to waste his money and he beat you once when he paid for two nights in a guest house and you didn’t show up because you were not in the mood. He never beat you after that day but you saw the tendencies in his eyes.

You did not travel and the plane did not crash as prophesied. You waited for the chief to come back from his trip so that you can apologize. It was very easy to apologize chief was easy to please, just five minutes of mild foreplay you could get him panting like a bulldog and singing your praise as an indication to stop. He was just a very perverted old man if not, wisdom entailed that he be fully retired and stayed home with his family.

You hear his first daughter is a lawyer that walks for shell and you wondered if there was a provision in the constitution that tried adults for infidelity and fornication. He didn’t show up that night nor the night after neither did he call. You used your savings to rent an apartment off-campus because chief said he was tired of motels and brothels.

You changed your wardrobe too because a free graduate like you had to keep away from campus trends especially those jeans that fitted tightly at the waistline became extremely triangular and lose at the end. The last time you made such extravagant expense chief covered for it. Had he not suggested refunding you after his trip you wouldn’t have bothered with house hunting let alone gone on a shopping spree?

A parcel came from the village. This time it was typewritten and Pa James was not known to punch hard keys to the detriment of his wrinkling fingers. He wrote on, no matter how long the letter. Cell phones were very expensive and only a few city people owned it, even if you bought one for him he would not be able to use it, not because he couldn’t learn how to control the white man’s gadget but because there was no network reception.

 After the vacation of white men from the villages, the mast was brought down mysteriously and it took sweat, tooth, and nail to build it in the first place. If your father asked the local typist to type this letter then there was a problem. You decided not to read the letter.

Chief came by your house and was impressed with the furnishing of the one-room apartment. He didn’t seem angry at all and he didn’t apologize for disappearing for a month and putting you in a position where you had to cook your meals and sleep with a random man at the club in order to conserve costs and pay your bills, but you forgave him. His visits became more frequent, each time he came it seemed like he wanted to salvage what he could before vanishing again.

He didn’t last five minutes again, he would go multiple rounds of pleasure and ask that you cuddle. He said his doctor added energy-boosting supplements to his blood pressure dosage He told you that there was a problem with his account officer and he was buying shares so it was hard to withdraw cash and that’s why the cheque he gave you bounced four times.

You believed him knowing full well he had a lying tongue because it was easy to bask in the uncertainty of a lie than to face the harshness of the truth in your disbelief.
One month had passed since the letter.

The cheque continued to bounce. You sat up and wondered about your life, how you became so dependent on a man for upkeep. It seemed like you stuck with him to keep up with the expensive lifestyle of rich girls in your town and you had not thought about savings because cash was always a booty call away.
Tufiakwa!’ God forbid, you would often yell after two hours of deep worrying and a rush of goosebumps.

The first time you stole money, it was from your mothers' hymnals. You overheard her say that she had gathered money for her tithe and you were perplexed. The Family fed from hand to mouth yet she was willing to give away ten percent of the proceedings from her small stall. You didn’t understand how your mother could be bought into that sort of foolishness.

It was better you spent. the money than for her to give it to an Invisible God that only existed in her naivety. She punished you for stealing and made you kneel for two hours as she cried and prayed.

She anointed your head with oil that smelt more pleasant than the regular kernel oil used to eat roasted yam. She poured what he described as holy water which was just normal water from the borehole which she refilled and took to the parish twice a week for blessing and asked you to drink.

It was the holy water that would wash away all your infirmities. You never stole from her after that and this was not because you repented but because of the emptiness and fear in your mother's hollow eyes when she held your shoulders, shook you vigorously after the deliverance session and yelled

‘’ My child you will burn  because you cannot serve God and mammon!’’

Insomnia was not a condition you thought you could suffer because you always slept like a baby regardless. But for three nights you sat on your sleepless pillow replaying your life as though you were in a theatre and all the mishaps were just rehearsals for the grand show.

Chief Oladeji Olukanmi had just told you, Cynthia Nwakeogo Nnamdi, that he wanted a new life and his family was moving back to Nigeria. He callously spewed the fact that he could no longer afford you like you were some overpriced piece of figurine he had to dispose of.
’Baby  Cy you must understand the effect of the new government on the economy and my family ‘’ He said still panting from pleasure.

‘’My wife and children must not know about our flimsy friendship’’ your heart raced to wait for the bottom line.
’sorry I don’t have any more money to give you, but you know you are a sharp girl, I am sure you can find another man to leech unto’’ He said as he smiled and put on his agbada.

You watched him leave without uttering a word and since then you had spoken only a few words. As you sat sleepless on your bed you picked up your father's letter. Two weeks had gone by and you thought to do him the courtesy of at least reading it. He didn’t write the letter but they were his words. He had just been diagnosed it a heart disease and he wanted to see you before he passed on.

You didn’t know what to do with that information. once you thought of praying but to what, to whom? You understood for a fleeting moment what hope meant. You felt what it is to believe in something even if there was no guarantee the pain would pass, just the feeling that something divine was at the helm of affairs was a ray of hope.

You didn’t know whether to call on Amadioha and the ancestors like your heathen father praised who for some reason could not heal your father or strike chief down or to pray to the God of your mother and speak in unknown tongues like Lotanna.

Your mother died trying to birth another child because she said she must bear your father more children unless his seed would fly to various fields of desire and become a hunting weed.

None of them seemed worthy of the praise from your tongue but you were losing your mind so you prayed to both of them. You asked your ancestors to make chief pay for using you and dumping you like trash and you asked the Christian God of your mother for strength and prosperity.

Lotanna came to pick you up with her husband’s beetles. It had stickers, flyers, and posters plastered all over the windscreen and rearview mirror. She was going to introduce you to her pastor who was going to pray for you and lead you to salvation. On the way to church, she told you her husband dreamt of an angel sending them a new convertible and the lord was about to change her status for good.

The service was good save for the members who screamed ‘yes sir! Ride on sir!’ after every word from the pulpit. This was not the way your mother worshipped. Hers was more orthodox and solemn. You stayed and became a member of the Gods Radicals ministry and it was not long before you started casting out demons and speaking in a language that sounded like a posh incantation.

A letter came in that your father had died and he needed to be buried based on tradition. Lotanna said the pastor must pray for God to accept him in heaven. It was a futile idea to you so you did not indulge. You went home and home felt like homelessness.

Your father's Shrine had been demolished and it became a center for block Rosary, the sofa was soaked due to the leak on the roof and the whole house smelled like decayed rodent and bush meat. You let them bury him and dedicate his corpse to the gods. It almost felt surreal if it wasn’t a sad occurrence that you were the last of your father’s name, the only surviving of your mother’s seed. It was almost heroic.

You returned to Lagos a broke orphan who believed in a new God. The new pastor said forgiveness is a necessary virtue for a Christian. He said vengeance was for God and that God always repays the best way. Now that you see chief had been arrested for embezzlement and his properties seized, you believed in this new God even more.


I wrote this story with no clue what to do with it. What do you think about this story? Criticism, appraisal, anything. 







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11 comments

  1. This comment from divine. She has trouble commenting so she sent it to me a private message. I think it's so apt so I will share ~ [3/18, 2:51 PM] Bestie💖: The first words of the story already got my attention
    [3/18, 2:51 PM] Bestie💖: I got a lot of stuff from this
    [3/18, 2:52 PM] Bestie💖: Sin drags you away from belief
    No matter what you believe in
    It leaves you hopeless without a place to turn to
    [3/18, 2:53 PM] Bestie💖: It fills you with guilt that you feel less of a person and ashamed to pray to who or what you believe in
    [3/18, 2:55 PM] Bestie💖: This story showed how lost Cynthia was
    She didn’t know any way
    Her father wallowed in depression and could not spare her the time of day and her mom cling onto the only hope she felt she had so desperately that instead of correcting and training her with love she lashed out on her frantically any time she misbehaved
    [3/18, 2:56 PM] Bestie💖: She was scared to stand for what she believed in because the money was coming in so what more could she need
    [3/18, 2:57 PM] Bestie💖: What she did isn’t commendable but it is understandable
    [3/18, 2:57 PM] Bestie💖: Especially in colonial eras when money was hard to come by especially for women

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  2. Speechless. This piece leaves a long lasting effect Roseline, it’s has a nostalgic effect as if one has experienced things like this somehow somewhere. And of course your way with words could literally be felt rather than seen. I loved it ♥️

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  3. This piece was a unending thril.Paragragh to paragraph is just wave after wave of (to me) relatable life experiences so beautifully collected... Simply wonderful

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  4. First of all- loved this.

    Let's start from the beginning shall we, you have a girl -Cynthia who grew up with religions that had beliefs soo opposites that anyone put in that position would run mad, and you wonder why she left both things to live her life how she did?. One religion states " do not worship any other god" while the other prays to the ancestors with a shrine as a place for praying and communicating to the gods.
    Facts is, her upbringing especially with her religious belief wasn't straighten out!

    Yes there are some certain morals and principals you should have even without having a religion or believing in something, e.g- being a side piece to an old ass man ( surely everyone knows that's not the way to go) but, that was definitely something that was lacking in her because it added to her life regardless of the name or thing it was called.
    Anyways, i'm glad she found her way through it, it's really important to have someone close to you that straightens you out and looks for the best in you.

    Oh one more thing,
    This whole situation pissed me off because of one thing. I guess i can see that happening withing our community. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO BE MAD OR UNLEASH YOUR ANGER ON YOUR CHILD NOT BELIEVING IN YOUR GOD OR ANYTHING WHEN YOUR PARTNER DOES THE SAME!!
    I think in our community, the replacement for this situation in some homes is with the different churches, and which one to go, and it doesn't help that you can really tell the difference with churches now-a-days.

    Oh and by the way, apparently there's a difference between Christians and catholics.
    I had a friend tell me she wasn't christian but catholic. Come and see the look on my face that day mehn.

    Enjoyed reading this mami, keep it up.

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    Replies
    1. I love this review like loveeeeee. GOD BLESS YOU FOR TAKING TIME OUT TO READ!

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  5. Your way with words gets me everytime. Mgbodichi came almost fully made. Emma

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