Matilda sat on the first row. Clasped hands to her midriff, the holy book at her heel, listening to congregate voices, bellowing a tone she’d known since was born with all their energy, they sounded like an approaching thunderstorm. The man she called father sat on a pulpit, glaring earnestly at the crowd who sat with their heads bowed. Not a minute later, he erupts from his place, yelling at the rolling thunderstorm to cease, the heads dare not raise. He starts;
“You depraved unruly wantons, surely not only four people have ten shillings for the offering basket, for it is not I, but he, who commands us to give in order to see his glory.”
In unison, the congregation lurched towards the basket, including the leper who could barely move unaided, for they yearned to be worthy.
Satisfied with his deed, the preacher wore a pleasing simper. The choir continues. Matilda was deep in thought, for the family did not give, they were only benefactors of the offering, as preaching was her father’s sole profession. The church dispersed, wearing a dolorous aura after the sermon, for father had told them that they were sacrilegious and the Lord died for the righteous, like him. He told them that they were fortunate, for he served as a light, leading sinners to righteousness.
Ma would do a big cook-out after church, every Sunday, usually Matilda would be delighted, but she was older now, she felt contrition, perhaps due to insomnia and night terrors she had each night, or perhaps she was befuddled by the travesty of her family’s faith.
In the following week, Matilda stirred a ruckus at home by refusing to go to church. In her family, there was no bigger offense. Ma pleaded and cried. The preacher reiterated;
“Listen to your mother, foolish girl. This burst of rebellion is a ploy from Satan to destroy your righteous soul, if I do not see you in that front seat, then you might as well not be home when we return”. Satisfied that he has scared her straight, he yanked on his wife’s arm and they left, for where could she run to, she had no friends.
Matilda sought this golden moment, she slung a bag over her shoulder and set off to discover life without looking back.
Over the next months, Matilda lived in a shelter, she met with all categories of people, a disgraced former militant named Joel, and Katya, a trollop and mother of three were her best friends. They had such ample life experiences that it moved her to keep a journal. One day, she would publish their stories.
In the following year, Matilda moved in with her boyfriend, Harry. His affections for her were questionable, but she figured that inviting her to live in proved them. She relied on him and soon exhibited a proclivity for debauchery, like Harry. Over the next three years, a more brusque, sullen part of him began to unfurl. He’d criticize her for everything, including what she dared to think. Consequently, the night terrors reappeared. She had an epiphany of why she left her family, Harry was no different from the preacher. By morning, she was gone.
Two years after rehab, she started working in a small scale company that rented qualified potential employees to big scale companies who need employees on a short-term contract. In rehab, she had learned to focus through meditation. She got to interact with people, channeling back her hobby, journaling.
Matilda made decent money with her job, she quite enjoyed it too. It was at work that she met Paul, who became her life partner. She was content, but one night, the night terrors resurfaced. Paul woke up to see her in frantic tears, he prompted her to talk about the most dreaded topic; her past, her parents. Paul intuitively discerned the source of her panic, that weekend, he took her to his fellowship. She worshipped with believers and for the first time, a glimmer of peace like no other intruded her heart.
Over the following weeks, she studied the holy book and to her amazement, she found a deeper understanding, in contrast to what her father taught. She realized she needed to forgive her Pa, so she prayed about it daily until she became whole.
She became an Associate Manager at her company. One tumultuous day, Judit, a colleague requested for her. Judit informed her of a man seeking a menial job to make ends meet. Matilda went out to see a gaunt version of her father. His eyes leered on her, a deep cry fell out his mouth as he fell to his knees, disdain overtook him, but she looked at him with compassion and declared;
“I forgive you, but I am not God.”
This story delineates the hypocrisy of religion, as in Africa and most nations. Most times, budding believers lose their faith because of the scrutiny. The morality of our actions doesn’t inhibit Christianity from being an individual race; Moreover, we are not our parents.