Diaries of the Living Dead #2

But Joseph’s words stuck on his throat, threatening to choke him. He turned his eyes to the three middle-aged men to his right. He observed their lips. Their lips moved. They trembled and quaked like walls do when the earth farts. They said something that could not be inserted in a normal sharing of words between men. They were words for God’s big ears – ears the size of ten thousand elephant ears stitched together. God’s ears hung above the earth to capture incessant pleas of man.

A hand, gently, as if afraid to arouse, landed softly on a taut drum. Shakombo was the village drummer. Every man knew the language of his drum. It melted their hearts. Not even women could avoid the seducing rumble of his drums. It melted their insides. For his skills Shakombo was, by default, the church drummer. Using only the tip of his fingers, he tapped the tautness and listened as the sound filled the trough between high pitches, and when a new verse began, he opened his palms, smacked the drum and sent waves of heavenly vibrations up the high ceiling.

The fervency of praises shot higher with every drumbeat. Shy at first, the drumbeats recoiled around cracking voices of men. Their cries slammed on walls of pretence, as each on his own way, opened his heart to God. It was a rare show of unity between men, unity created by the fear of knowing what each of them, in their own way, must hide from the society. Their deeds written three weeks ago on their collective memory were not artworks to be paraded before the world. They kept them inside their chests and in collective deceit and requested God, albeit coyly, to delete and save them from the noose of guilt.

If tears could form a waterfall, the men’s voices were an underground waterfall of tears – unseen. But Joseph’s tears did not join the waterfall. His tears had condensed into a cube of ice and settled on his throat. His tears had chained his tongue and held his voice captive. He would wait. He would wait for the day of revenge, and then shed tears of immeasurable joy.

Father John’s roar ended his reveries.

“Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, sustained by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all  distress, as  we  await  the  blessed  hope,  the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

Now a lone tear escaped Joseph’s left eye and walked down the side of his nose. He slid his tongue out and licked the salty tears. Peace wipes memories of war but to some, peace never returns after war. He had a family before the war. A son and a daughter whose beauty reminded him of the first time he had set his eyes on the mother of his children. His wife was Petronilla, a woman like no other.

He recalled. It was a cold rainy morning twelve years ago. The village paths were soft beneath his akala.  Insects hang on the underbelly of leaves and maize stalks danced in the wind whistling between weaverbird chatters.

Shakombo changed tact and the sound became a soft coo that was almost submerged under the shuffles of feet towards the altar.

“When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord until you come again.”

Joseph’s feet joined the trail to the feast of wheat and wine. His eyes were on Father John but his mind travelled to that footpath twelve years ago. If you want to judge a woman’s beauty meet her in the morning with specks of sleep in her eyes. Better still meet her in not-so-glamorous clothes when she’s from the farm. That was what his grandfather had always advised. That morning the truth about these droplets of advice came floating on Joseph’s eyes. Petronilla, young and supple, walked daintily with a basket of cassava balanced on her head. The white garb of the priest stood before him.

“Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

Joseph opened his mouth and listened as words escaped from his throat.

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

He opened his mouth and felt the soft Body of Christ being placed on his tongue. He bit it, cracking it at the centre and felt the two halves melt on his molars. He took a sip of wine. Good wine always speaks for itself, confidently and without interpreters. Still, Petronilla danced inside his head. He walked back to his seat. How times change! Twelve years were dead and forgotten. A happy marriage it was, a sad end it will be.

War changes allegiances. His wife had betrayed him, sold his confidence to her Father and brothers. Now he had no sons, no daughters and no brothers. Could he kill her? Not yet. She had run away from his house. He would seduce her. He knew her bones well enough. He would bring her home and then …

Petronilla was heavy with a son. The doctors had said so just a month ago before she ran away. Did not his grandfather teach that a child was the greatest gift from gods? A gift of mercy, a gift of forgiveness? He had been blessed with a seed for renewal. He’d wait.  He promised himself he’d wait until … His name will be Emmanuel – his saviour, the bridge to the future. And when the time comes his vengeance would be louder than that of the God of Israel. He will block her spring of life from flowing – forever, he vowed.

“Go in peace, glorifying the name of the Lord by your life,” Father John said to the dispersing faithful.

Joseph walked out into the noon-day sun.


If you never read Chapter 1, Click Read Diaries of the Living Dead #1 to read the previous posting

Richard Oduor

(Next posting on June 19th 2013)

12 thoughts on “Diaries of the Living Dead #2

  1. Another excellent read. I loved the personification on most instances. The descriptive language used is more than wonderful. I am not after flatter but I give credit where its due – am awed a kind of trepidation by your wit. Then again I am left hungry for more. I always love your use of the Afican setting and I see vividly what Joseph goes through, his faith, his Petronilla and anguish. I await the 3rd part.

  2. Your words and manner of description is exceptionally unique and not possessed by many.
    The way in which moving images, full of colour and sound, spring to life in the mind of a reader, is nothing short of unforgettable.
    Good work!

  3. His name will be Emmanuel – his saviour, the bridge to the future. And when the time comes his vengeance would be louder than that of the God of Israel. He will block her spring of life from flowing – forever, he vowed.
    Let the twists begin!!!Am ready to see part 3.Courageous writing Richie!

  4. Pingback: Diaries of the Living Dead #3 | The Grand Debate

  5. Except for these few slights in this sentence “A son and a daughter whose beauty reminded his [him] of the first time he has [had] set his eyes…” I am gripped.

  6. Pingback: Diaries of the Living Dead #3 | Oduor Oduku

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