Sometimes I can not differentiate my past from my dreams. They come in same shade of sepia, fusing into one body.
I’m falling into a bottomless pit. Down, down, down I go. My voice stretched so thin as I call my mother.
‘Hang in there’ her voice reverberates.
‘The pastor will soon be here’
‘You’re covered by the blood of Jesus. Nothing will happen to you’
I fall into something hard and soft; my father’s chest.
‘Why didn’t you call me’ he asks.
I wake up panting.
Mother is heavily pregnant. I meet her in labour pains after school.
‘Get the baby bag at the corner of the room’ she says in between clenched teeth.
‘Don’t forget my anointed handkerchief’
‘And my bottle of olive oil’
I stop a tricycle outside our compound.
‘take us to Trinity hospital’
‘No, take us to United Church of Christ’ Mother interjects, panting.
‘Madam, hospital dey there?’ The tricyclist asks, confused.
‘What is your problem?’
I’m mopping the blood on the pastor’s stairs. Thick droplets that reminds me of watery tomato paste. Father runs in, worry etched on his face.
‘Where is your Mother?’
‘They just took her to the hospital’
‘Which hospital. I’m just coming from Trinity’
He runs out.
It is testimony time. Mother and father are carrying the miracle baby. Everyone is happy and smiling, it is the baby’s dedication.
‘I thank God for our Pastor’ Mother begins.
‘If not for his timely prayer, I would have been in the mortuary by now’
‘God forbid’ the congregation mutter, snapping their fingers.
‘The enemy wanted me to die during childbirth but God showed them he never fails’
‘The pastor and his wife laid hands on me and the baby came out, there in their sitting room’
‘ because of that, I and my husband decided to name our child Miracle’
‘Praise be to God…….’
My baby brother has his first convulsion. He is frothing at the left side of his lip, his leg and hands stretched out like pole.
‘I cover you with the blood of Jesus’ Mother sings, wedging a spoon between his teeth.
‘Mummy let’s take him to the hospital’ I scream, frightened.
‘Shut up, just call your daddy’s number. Call him’
My hands shake as I dial my father’s number. I’m crying heavily when he picks.
‘Nneoma m, what is happening?’
‘It is Miracle. Miracle is very sick’
‘what is wrong with him?’
‘He is foaming…’
Our house is a graveyard. It has been this way since mother and father returned from the hospital without Miracle.
Mother sits near the window and watch the day go by. Father buries himself in his transportation business. I read novels upon novels and pretend my family is perfect. I pretend everything is fine. That my brother is not dead. That the doctor did not tell us some months ago that my brother is epileptic. That mother had not lied when the doctor asked if the baby had fallen down on the floor during birth. I pretend so well. Covering my ears whenever mother and father quarrel.
My home is scattered into tiny pieces. I’m looking for the debris all over the place. In the cupboard, drawer and abandoned shelves.
I see a photocopied letter written in my mother’s spidery handwriting. It is the letter that blew my home apart. The one she had sent to my father’s relatives. The one that made father travel to the village and return with sadness- a permanent tenant on his face.
In this letter, Mother says father is trying to use her for ritual. That she hears his voice in her head, calling her slowly and slowly. That she knows within her, that father is responsible for Miracle’s death.