Aina - Part 1

Real love is more than just words..."Do you love God, Aina?" The calm silence that enveloped the church was too noticeable for comfort. A graveyard couldn't have been so quiet. The hall was empty save for the two human figures that remained immobile at the altar. Outside the compound, a sudden noise broke out. Several monkeys invaded the compound, swinging through trees and chattering as they went.

"Do you love God? "Aina stopped listening to the silly beings and focused on the question that the pastor asked her for the second time. She looked up at the pastor, and his face held a brilliant smile as he looked down at her.

Do you really love him? Aina walked home quietly and alone, just as she did every Tuesday after Bible Study. Her Bible was clasped tightly onto her flat chest, and her headscarf hung loosely on her head. She had the appearance of a holy sister who was returning from confession.

Her world was different from the one the Almighty had created for the rest of mankind. It was where she lived and did as she pleased. No one could stop her here. Here, she could have everything she wanted. She could say whatever she wanted to say to whoever she wanted to say it to, however she wanted to say it, and she damned the consequences. But unfortunately.....

"AINA!!!!"

Reality is a bitch. "Yes, ma. I'm coming, ma". She answered, running towards the sound of her mother's voice. "Where were you?" She bellowed. "I was...." Aina started to reply, but her mother cut her short. "Come and carry these things inside. They are too heavy for me" Aina watched her mother walk towards a chair with her back bent over. She sighed and took the things in.

She returned to find her mum crouched by the fire. She was fanning the firewood, and the smoke went up in billows toward her face. She didn't even blink and kept it up. "Mummy, let me do it. Go and sit down". Aina took the fan from her mother's hand and bent down to fan the fire. "Mummy? "She called softly, not wanting to annoy her tired mother.

"Hmm, Aina, what is it?" Aina took in a deep breath and asked, "How do you know when you love God?" The old woman took her time. "Well, if you love God, you obey all his commandments wholeheartedly. The Bible says that Jesus said, If you love me, you will obey me." Aina reflected on this for a while. "So..." she began choosing her words and tone carefully. "If I don't obey all his commandments, then it means I don't love him, and if I claim to love him when I don't do as he says, I'll just be lying?"

"Yes," came the unsatisfying reply. "So what are his commandments?" "See, Aina, don't stress with your questions now. Ha! What is it? Aren't you supposed to know all these things?" she e. "Go to church, you no gree. You are now asking me something that your mates have learned since they were five. See yourself". Aina didn't want to argue with her mum. She would never win anyway. She didn't consider attending only Bible studies as going to church, and Aina didn't agree with her. Sunday service was just the same. The only difference was long hours and double offerings, and Aina didn't like any of that.

"What is going on here?" Aina turned to face her father. "Welcome, sir," she greeted with a bland expression. He hummed back in reply, a gesture that Aina hated with her bone marrow. He was dressed like someone who was just returning from an important meeting, but she knew all too well what meeting it was. "I hope my food is ready. Don't let me come and remind you of it," he said, pointing his fingers at her mother. He walked into the house. Aina tightened her fists and teeth in rage, trying to keep control of the white demon threatening to reveal itself. She went back to fanning the fire.

A few minutes later, he emerged from the house, shouting, "You this woman, where is my food?" "Just wait a little longer. I sent Joba to go and buy fish and garri. The soup is already on the fire," she replied timidly. Aina's eyes widened in shock and anger. "Mummy, how could you? Did he give you money to cook anything for him? Why do you keep stressing yourself over him? "Are you mad? Is there something wrong with you?"

"No, I am not mad. Which food??" Aina exploded. "Which food are you asking for? Did you give her money to provide food for you? Or what were you expecting? That she would slave herself off and use her money to feed you while you go out there and spend your money on drinks and women?" Her mother stood up immediately. "Aina, keep quiet; that's enough. Don't talk to your father like that". By now, Aina was in a high dungeon and would not listen to her mother.

"Mummy, leave me alone" she brushed her hands aside. "What do you take her for? A machine? She singlehandedly provided the food we all ate this morning. That fish that you ate was her sweat, get she didn't even taste it. I the food you ate yesterday, I provided for it. The one the day before, little Joba hustled to bring out that money. You turned us all into slaves because we live in your house. Don't you work? You receive a salary, don't you? What do you do with it? You abandon us and leave to wherever to enjoy yourself. It's only when you have nothing left that you remember you have a family. Why didn't you eat where you are coming from?

The atmosphere screamed future bloodshed. Aina's father, without so much as saying a word to her diatribe, retreated into the house to retrieve his machete. Her mother tried to drag her away, but Aina's demon had already turned pitch black with murderous intent. She sought a bottle and broke it on her head. One of them must die today.

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