Like a woman with all the time in the world, death wrapped it’s coils slowly around my father. As if someone had poured bleach into their sockets, his eyes turned fluorescent white. An ocean of crimson oozed from his chest and lazily spread its liquid tentacles to the farthest corners of the room.
He died five minutes before the ambulance arrived. The droopy eyed police men, who arrived shortly after, said the murder was the work of a professional. The stab wound had been too cleanly executed.
Bad news travels fast. The morning after the night before was evidence of this. The first signs of daylight were barely visible when the first visitors, a motley crowd of pastors and elders of the church, their faces and mouths unwashed, stopped by the house. They did a bad job of hiding their rabid curiosity. I told them of the loud scuffle at midnight, father’s anguished cry for help and the late arrival of the ambulance.
I showed them the cordoned off room where the body had lain and the window through which the killer had made his entry and exit. Each hour saw the arrival of a new set of wide eyed callers. By the time the Married Women Association of the church arrived at midday, attired in their uniform adorned with pictures of father and howling like lost wolves, I had told the story for the umpteenth time and was in no mood to go over the gory details.
Thankfully, Pastor Vincent Okafor, not one to pass up the opportunity to stake a claim for father’s now vacant seat as the head of the church, satisfied the women, each of whom after a fresh bout of melodramatic tears treated me to a buffet of bear hugs featuring breasts with varying degrees of softness and camphor scented clothes.
By the time talk drifted from the brazen daredevilry of the killer who had touched God’s anointed to the insensitivity of the government of the day, the throng had begun to thin out. The women had hungry mouths to feed with new gossip.
The sun had begun to set when Pastor Vincent cleared his throat a little too loudly and asked those left to hold hands in a prayer circle. He motioned me to the center of said circle and enjoined those present to pray that father’s killer know no peace and that all lines would fall in pleasant places for me.
As the gathering exploded into prayers and showered me with flecks of oozing spit, I wondered if they would ever realize both prayers had the same subject.
*This story was originally published on my blog.