The Oracle Africa
Published in

The Oracle Africa

And What Is Grace?

when sin abounds?

Photo Source: Kurniawan kami saputra on Unsplash

The evening breeze was light and majestic, softly stroking Emeka’s chubby cheeks and hairless head. He shifted ever so slightly in his seat, looking for that angle — and never quite getting it — that would send him into dreamland. He hit a sweet spot, and ahhh, in a few minutes, everything was blurry. His hands loosened their grip on the chair handles, body melting into the seat. Reality became fuzzy, and his eyes rolled upward beneath its eyelids. Sleep had come.

“Tell me, have you ever been chased by shadows?” a voice made him jump. He looked sideways to see his father settling into a seat beside him. He let out a sigh of exasperation.

“No, I haven’t. I planned to have the verandah to myself today.”

His father smiled at him, a knowing smile, and picked up two cans from the crate that had followed him outside. “Beer?” Pffft and they were opened. He stretched one towards Emeka. “No one rejects an open beer, boy.”

He accepted it hesitantly, and they clinked their bottles together. They settled back into silence after taking sips of their beer.

“You thought I spoke of literal shadows. I didn’t. I spoke of memories, the wrong types. So, tell me, have you ever been chased by shadows?”

Emeka shrugged. “No?”

“There are the shadows of plain bad memories, and there are shadows of sins past. The former lurks in things, events, people. You can catch a whiff of a smell you used to know and be plagued by a shadow of a person whose warm embrace you long for. Sometimes you break down. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you speak to this shadow. Those are the nice ones. You can see these shadows in a place you used to remember them, and your throat gets stuck, and you can’t breathe, you can’t speak, and you can’t control the tears that slip out from your eyes. It can be death or separation, but the absence leaves a gaping hole you can only pray to fill. The shadows of trauma are the ones I never speak about. It is not my place.”

Emeka took a sip of his beer, watching his father’s reddened eyes staring out into the sunset. He settled back into his chair and assumed the same position.

“These shadows of sins. What are they?”

His father took another sip, and Emeka thought he saw his expression darken. A tear slipped and danced on the southern curve of his face, falling off his chin.

“I have sought mercy all my life and never found it. These shadows show up everywhere; big, menacing, suffocating, threatening to expose me for the fraud I am. I never thought my sins would chase me for so long, but here I am, crying about non-existent shadows to my teenage son.

“Every corner I turn, fear envelops my heart: fear that I would run into someone I have wronged and break under the cold stare of their empty eyes; eyes I have plucked with my selfishness. Fear of driving through the city only to see my face strung up on one billboard with my misdeeds listed out in bold font for the visual pleasure of the entire city. Fear that I will die and my sins, not my good deeds, will plague my blessed memory.

“What good deeds, anyway? There’s only so much good a man can do in the world, you know: serve his parents, marry, train his kids, make a little donation to the community, die.”

Emeka coughed. “The evil men do.”

“Yes, yes. The evil men do. One day my sins will catch up with me, shadows that will morph into muddy waters that drown me in the ocean of memories of wrongs I have done.” His voice cracked. “That’s how I will die — gasping for air, begging for mercy, knowing none will come.”

“Have you asked for grace, papa?”

A pair of bloodshot eyes faced him directly. His father broke into a laugh. “Grace? Grace??” He shuffled his feet and stood up. “You know, that’s a good one. That’s what the preacher told me.”

He made his way to the verandah door and stopped at the entrance. “I think I remember what he said. ‘And what is sin when grace abounds?’ It sounded funny then, but it’s even funnier now.” He slammed the door.

Emeka heard his father’s retreating voice: “Call me when grace fixes your bad decisions.”

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Victor Kalu

Victor Kalu

for the sake of breaking the rules, this is not a bio. I will not write one. Find me in my stories.