Cold For Few Minutes by Joy Aniju Ogbitse

Cold For Few Minutes by Joy Aniju Ogbitse

I felt the urge to wake up. No, it was more like a tap on my shoulder, and a soothing whisper in my ears to rise up for the usual; my morning devotion. 

That had become part of me. The early morning tapping from the Holy Spirit, at exactly 5:00am. It was quite shocking to me at first how I was always waked at that time, and this prompted my telling my spiritual mother.

She told me it was awesome, and that it was because I always told the Holy Spirit to wake me up every morning, whenever I did my night prayer. Although, I didn't take it serious, it was funny how it became normal.

The tapping had now become persistent, but my eyelids wouldn't heed. I stretched my hand on the shelf behind the bed to check the time. It was 5:05 am. I yawned, and decided to rest for a while. I would stand up by 5:20 am.

I could hear mum and dad's shuffling in the room, and I rolled on the bed to show my disgust. I still wanted to sleep, but they kept chattering, even as they prepared for dad's niece wedding ceremony .

"I know they will be shocked to see me. It's been so long ". Mum said. I could see her from the corner of my eyes, tying her head tie. Dad was just wearing his shirt.

"But they will see you now ". He picked up the brown duster from the table, and used it to wipe his shoes. "If anyone asks for money from me today, I won't answer. Do I even have?". He asked.

I sneezed, and rolled again. Mum then threw her wet wrapper on me.

"You won't stand up abi? Or you do not know that we're going out? If you like don't stand up, you'll know how to cater for yourself and your sisters ". I didn't answer her, but just grumbled. 

"What do you want to eat ?"

"We’ll cook rice". I yawned again.

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"Okay. Collect money for rice from your dad ". Mum said, quirkily. I knew she was joking, because we all knew dad didn't have money on him, except for the t-fare. He said it yesterday. Mum brought out 300 from her purse, and asked us to manage it.

"But it's remaining N50". I sat.
"That's all I have. Ask your dad for the N50".

Dad laughed, and said he only had the transport fare. He didn't have much apart from that. 

"But I don't have also now ". Mum complained. I could see that her countenance had changed. I sat on the bed, rubbing my eyes. I was still feeling dizzy.

Once, her voice changed, and she began to grumble. Then, it escalated to insults. I tried to caution her with my eyes, but she kept talking, insulting. It was strange and quick. Dad too flared up. She kept insulting, and he persistently warned her. Then like a splash, it happened. He slapped her. I was shocked and speechless. My two siblings were already crying. 

By this time, mum had already held his clothes, and he was beating her. I pleaded. We pleaded with dad, even as we screamed, as tears streamed down our eyes. Mum kept biting him, even as he slapped her more.

It was an awful scene. I didn't want the neighbours to come, and I prayed desperately in my heart.
Then like the way it started, he stopped, and walked out of the house. Mum knelt, her head on the edge of the bed, weeping. My siblings were on the bed, sobbing, and I just stood there, guilt taunting me.
I heard the spirit so clearly. If only I had prayed earlier when He was waking me up, all these wouldn't have happened. If only I had listened; that was what he was trying to evade.

"You caused this. Your dad has never beaten your mum, but he did it today because of your coldness. If only you had listened and kept the altar burning earlier, all these wouldn't have happened. You caused it".

The tears poured uncontrollably. I couldn't control my feelings anymore. Yes, I caused it. Though, dad later called and apologized for what he did. He said he didn't know how it happened, I still felt guilt , especially when I looked at mum's body with red marks.

I had to go to my spiritual mother's house in the evening to explain to her. I couldn't bear the guilt anymore. Even as I explained to her, tears flowed down my eyes.

She nodded and said, "This is a lesson to you to be obedient to the Holy spirit. He knew what the devil was planning, and that was why he persistently disturbed you to keep the altar burning, but you disobeyed."

"This is not the time for guilt. Ask for mercy, and thank him for the lessons. Then, learn to listen to him more.  Do not give any chance for a cold altar. The devil is very tricky. Know that the worst punishment ever is guilt ".


Now, it's been four years, but the memory remains fresh in me. For the devil keeps looking for lives to haunt, and the best way to shun him is to keep a burning altar. Since then, I've learnt to stir the fire, no matter what.

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