The Daughter of my Father

African woman

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth… He will come again to judge the living and the dead…

Frank peered through the crevices on the cracked walls, of the dusty neglected room where the middle aged woman declaimed the apostle’s creed in pious devotion. She was on her knees. Palms open as if asking for divinity or maybe, for a considerable amount of the Holy Spirit to help vent her hunger on a demon she disdained.

Her eyes were glued to the cracks streaming sunlight into this seedy house, in diffracts.

She went on and on with words. Praying. Mumbling mysteries in between litanies of Hail Mary’s, Glory(s) and Hail Holy queen incantations.

It was evident that she grumbled about her variant pains to her maker. It never occurred to her that it would be this soon. 

If someone had mentioned that there would come a day when she would go down on her knees and weep and wet her face with copious tears and plead for redemption; she would have laughed the beast out of her chest.

She would have hurled insults at that person face and on the face of the God he served.

She would have questioned what that God wanted with her,  what He was doing when she lost her mother, young an infant – young and vulnerable to exposure of  a sordid life. An insidious life of the slum she learnt to call home. She would have questioned why that God did not show her compassion when she asked to be pointed to the direction of her earthly father. The man who ought to have raised her in the ways of the church, faith, belief and in the traditions of the holy Eucharist.

She would not have grown up a pagan. A non-believer. An infidel of spiritualism. A heathen who openly said belief was for the pupa – that one day it would become a butterfly and jump with wings so bright and luscious, in celebration of its elusive achievement.  

Like Jezebel, she considered herself bad shit – inclined far, far on the paynim end of the prism.

But here she was. Today. Praying.

‘Father! He said, ‘Everything is possible for you, take this cup away from me. But let it be as you, not I would have it.’(Mk 14:36). Her face was more puffy and distraught than it had been before she came here with her husband.

She fiddled with a rosary in her fingers.

When did she become Catholic? She too could not tell!

… That dejected face is a face that Frank was never accustomed to – it bore woebegone and despondence – each word she spoke came out cracking with emotions.

Lord do not put me up to test. She lunged forward and cried.

And when these words came out of her mouth, Frank pushed the door open. Slightly. To creaks and squeal and grind but Lilly in her little faith kept going… Going deep beyond the clouds and the white shiny light where her son’s spirits she felt rested.

Give me the strength to do your will

Frank sunk into his knees too… by her side… and in unison they said, “Lord, give us the grace to persevere and be faithful to the end.” This part came out as a chorus of words said trillions of times but still sounding new and untarnished as a newborn’ heart.

This was a tough time for both of them. It was tougher than getting the pass to a nirvana that they were seeking. It was tougher than the Lord taking away that heavy chalice that He had already trusted them with.

As soon as they said the last word to that long monotonous prayer, Amen. Their hands slipped into each other.

Lily turned and rubbed Frank’s hand with her other palm. She looked at his face. An elusive smile curved her lips, widening it further into a sadly genuine smile.

“Oh my dear Lily. We are not at fault on this. We didn’t choose destruction. We did not choose that you miscarried 20 weeks into your pregnancy. It was God’s will. Don’t beat your head on the wall in blame. Stay positive. Believe. Maybe we should not blame him. Maybe we should hail him. In fact we should honor and bless his name. Everything happens as He wills.”

She slipped her hands off the entanglement with ragging fury.

How could Frank coax her to hailing God for taking their children? Didn’t he have a heart anymore? What solace did he find in kneeling by her side and telling her to honor a God who took her twins away and now was on the verge of wrecking her marriage? She sobbed uncontrollably. Why did they have to die?

She did not understand.

She abhor Him. She’d felt her fear of death assuage when she was buried in prayers but now, now that she was sober of it all, every depressing feeling came back. That bout of calm was gone. Her fury was back.

She remembered why she knelt to pray to God.

It all came back to her.

She did it because it was the best thing to do for the souls of her departed kids. If she had known that there was an icing to the café, she would not have endured the pressing grit of gravel and shingles underneath her knees.

“My dear, God gives and takes. Please, let it go. He will give you others. In abundance. Let’s figure out how we ended here and how we will live afterwards. It is important.”

Mhhh! I see, you have given up on our love… It’s fine. You have taken your father’s side.

It’s Ok.

So that is it. She shook her head

Lilly does not belong?

Right?

She can’t hold a womb for 9 months? Yea?

She wouldn’t give your family an heir, a son, right? I see your plot. It wasn’t God who took my sons. You are murderers. You killed them. Your father did. You killed them.

She threw herself to the ground…

Lily!

Hold it!

Frank shouted. We can’t do this every time you feel like dropping your pugnacious temper on someone. We can’t continue doing this… This ends now.

His earlier grim and taciturn face turned with bewilderment. We have to go our separate ways. He said

I’ll see to it that we get the best counseling when you are ready.

For now, we can’t sleep on the same bed. Not as husband and wife and not as the best of friends.

The fervor she had once felt in his arms tickled her heart – the inebriating way. Their marriage was ending, ending a cataclysmic failure – by virtue of an earthly father they now learnt to be sharing.

She’d found him.

She searched for him all her life. And now that she knew who he was, she wasn’t happy. The truth bristled cold air in her body. In an unkind way.

She was confused.

In her her marital life she pussyfooted around despite Frank begging that she stayed committed to him. And now that he set her free, she got a heavy heart. She couldn’t trudge a foot.

We have to live by the truth. You are the other daughter of my father! He said. Our love can’t be. He strut away.

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