The Idemili family gathered at the dining table for breakfast; the thing to do before going for the Sunday service which would commence by 10am. It was still 8 O’clock so they weren’t in a haste. The couple sat on the opposite ends of the table while the sisters sat beside each other adjacent their parents.
“Sweetheart, please pray for us”, Mrs. Idemili requested her husband to bless their meal. The sisters grumbled. They knew they were in for a long prayer session. Mr. Idemili who had little or no time for his family on weekdays is committed to this philosophy of devoting enough time for prayers when the time is available. An act he often performs on weekends before breakfast. “Let us join our hands as we pray.” The family joined their hands in response to his command, and he went ahead to pray:
Heavenly father, we are gathered here today to thank you for this provision and more. We thank you for your love over this family as you have exercised in your security over us and your kindness to us. I thank you for my job. I worship you because of my beautiful wife and kids; thank you for rescuing Osato from that ghastly motor accident, accept our thanks in Jesus Name (the family responded with a big Amen). If we say we have no sins, the bible helps us to understand that we deceive ourselves. We ask that you extend your benevolence towards us and look upon us with mercy. Forgive our iniquities. We also beg that you forgive our wrong thoughts and any form of spontaneous sin in Jesus name (The family replied with a louder amen, Osato’s voice rising above others). Father, we ask that you perfect everything concerning us and bless us abundantly. I commit my job into your hands. The pressure in the marketing department these days is much, please secure my position. We also pray that you maximize the profit from my wife’s fabric business and make her brand a force to reckon with. Finally Lord, I pray for my daughters – he smiled and shook his head before continuing – all they have done since you blessed me with them is make me happy. I pray that you reward them with double of such joy and give me the strength to grant all their financial and parental needs. In Jesus name we have prayed (The girls responded with the loudest amen).
Mrs. Idemili stood up to serve her husband while she watched her girls attend to themselves; a breakfast of boiled egg, French fries and ketchup.
“What is it with the silence on the table these days?” Mr. Idemili questioned as he cast a friendly gaze at Osato and Osasu. But his wife cut in before any of the girls could answer,
“I think I enjoy the silence better. You people can always have your father-children conversation anywhere, but not on my table. In fact anyone who breaks the table rules henceforth will pay a heavy fine by not having the next meal.”
Osasu laughed at her in mockery before retorting, “Mummy, stop threatening us o, we all know you can’t starve your husband.”
“Okay then, let him break my rule. In fact, I don’t want to hear a word from anyone till after breakfast, break that rule and see me exercise my veto power as the wife of this house,”
“Oh, you this Benin woman, you want to starve your husband,” Mr. Idemili replied before she could say further, and then she countered,
“You this Igbo man, you just broke the rule, no lunch for you.” Osasu choked on her meal in silent laughter while Osato cut in innocently,
“Mummy, I am with you on this one,”
“Thank you daughter, but there is no lunch for you too, you just spoke,”
“Then there should be no lunch for anyone, you just spoke too mummy” Osato snapped. A long silence ensued before Mr. Idemili broke out in laughter,
“Sweetness,” he called his wife by her pet name, “you need to see the prank your daughters played on me last night.”
She stared into his eyes and asked, “What did they do this time around?” The girls remained silent.
“They tried to scare me by telling they were pregnant in unison. Osato sent me a text the same time Osasu was telling it to me. Can you imagine?”
The girls gazed at each other’s faces in shock. His wife voiced her response amidst laughter, “you could have played along by asking them who was responsible.”
The doorbell rang shrilly, and Mrs. Idemili, still in laughter, whispered, “Can any of the pregnant girls check who is at the door please?”
They both stood up in a hurry to get the door in order to get away from the brewing awkwardness; Osato who was ahead on getting to the corridor got pulled back by Osasu with a swift question, “Are you seriously pregnant?”
“Yes I am” Osato replied, “Are you?”
“Positive!” Osasu said nervously, and anxiously asked “who is responsible for yours?”
“Who is at the door?” Their mother shouted from across the dining room. Osasu moved to open the door and there was Tayo standing beside a stranger who was neatly dressed in a black jacket and well-trimmed jeans, looking smart. He appeared like someone in his early fifties, with a tiny moustache, a round face and a light complexion.
“What are you doing here?” the girls shouted in unison, and then turned to each other with an intense scream, ‘what!’ ignoring the stranger with him. Tayo just stood there in silence and in awe of the girls.
Mr. Idemili hurried down the corridor to find Tayo standing with the stranger, “What’s it with the noise?” he asked the girls before acknowledging the presence of the men standing outside the door, “Good morning gentlemen. Tayo please who is this gentleman, and why are you here on a Sunday morning?” He inquired cautiously and Tayo replied, “Good morning sir, I was actually on my way to discuss an important issue with you. Then I met this man at the junction. He asked me for the compound of the Idemilis and I thought it would be kind to show him since I was headed in the same destination.”
“Good morning. My name is George Elliot, and I am here to see Osahon Idemili.” The stranger finally lost his silence.
Mr. Idemili ushered them in. He knew Tayo, and if the stranger knew his wife by her first name, maybe he was no stranger after all. The girls walked behind them, sweating their make-up off. “Sweetness, someone is here for you,” Mr. Idemili called on his wife who swiftly walked into the living room at the sound of his voice. George stood up the moment he saw her and calmly said, “Good morning Osahon. Been ages, how are you?” Osahon, in quick realization of who the uninvited guest was, slumped. In quick reflex, Mr. Idemili held her up before she could hit her head on the floor. Screaming her name,“Osahon! Sweetness! Osahon!” An immediate chaos ensued. “Mummy! Mummy!” The girls screamed continuously. One of them rushed to the fridge to get some water. A confused Tayo stood helplessly behind Mr. Idemili and the stranger was oddly calm. Mr. Idemili was quick to question his motive,
“Who are you and what do you want?” In response the man reached into his pocket and produced a gun and answered, “My name is George Elliot.”