I was so sure when I came here two ago. So sure that it was what I wanted but now everything blurs my mind's eye with uncertainty. I wonder now how that proud certainty dims now in lost faith.
Before I came here, I used to sit on Father Sunni's step and listen to him talk about philosophy. he was the young priest that the bishop had sent to our village, one of those missionaries who came to rural people. I loved that he spoke clear and good English. Not like the broken, rotten one I tried speaking in our rural primary School. He wore fine, white robes and laughed with the dirty villagers who came every Sunday to lick the stew off plates.
I liked that he said mass in Latin, a language that amused me. The one I wanted to learn so badly. My like for Father Sunni was born of mere curiosity and hunger. Hunger for the things I was not, the things I did not know.
Father Sunni charmed me in his tight curls and white garments, fringed at the shoulders. I chose to be an alter boy to get me the attention I needed from him. Everyday, I would fill the incest with charcoal before mass and proudly flinge it at entrance. After Mass, Father Sunni would pat my head and say in his Clear, still English, "God boy". Then I would listen to him talk that Sunday afternoon about a book I needed to read and about how I needed to speak more English.
This was all two years ago, after I told Father Sunni I wanted to be a priest like he was. I still remember how he hugged me into his perfume smelling garments and smiled that heavenly smile( I like to think of it as that). This was after high school. Of course my parents had disagreed, shouting that they would had never allowed me to be an alter boy in the first place, that I had been brain washed by Father Sunni. Mother had broken down crying and father had stormed into his hut, hurt by everything.
But I left to the seminary still, certain that it was what I wanted and loved. The first year, I still had the enthusiasm of the previous year and made some friends with some boys from my village. I loved that they all had dreams like me. Until, I became sick of everything, of the church bells and the long walls with barbed wire stalked with broken bottles
It was in my second year in the seminary that the uneasiness became discomfort. It felt like I was stalking many tiny pins down my throat. I lost the zeal to be that type of priest that Father Sunni was. I realised that it was not always what I wanted, infact it had never been. I had so many questions about things I knew I wouldn't tell the next boy beside me. I had many questions about God that my theology books couldn't answer.
Every Sunday morning, we go to mass and listen to a priest, a very old priest deliver the sermon. He tells us to believe in God, to cast the devil aside, to have faith. I think of faith as a thing I had lost in this institution instead of getting faith stronger, I have lost it.
I imagine the priest as Father Sunni. only that Father Sunni is younger. I would climb up to him and tell him in Clear English that faith had departed from me.
Just yesterday, I was reading a book, the same book Father Sunni liked reading to me. It sounded like what I would have loved to believe in. But I read the book with a sadness in my heart, a kind of longing of what was not there, faith.
After Mass, We stalk back to our rooms, I take the curve around the hibiscuses to get to my room up the stairs because I want to be alone. I look from the outside of my window and the sun shines through it, I stare across the wide chapel by the left of many hibiscus bushes, the large image of Jesus in the middle of the circle the seminary forms and the tall, black gate.
Life here is slow and the same everyday. Classes, prayers, study, masses. It mocks me because I have stopped liking these things. I no more look forward to theology classes on Fridays, because every time my hand itches to ask an absurd question in class. I no longer look forward to singing hymns in church with the other boys. I no longer look to fasting on first Fridays, or to tests or exams. I no longer bury myself in those library books. Because faith has evaded me in this place.
Today, after lunch and prayers, I plan to call Papa and Mama after these two years. They will hide their happiness with anger. I hope to hear their voices again and I think "Maybe my parents will welcome me home."
The evening is widening in darkness, the boy I share a room with, Tobi, comes in. He is holding a pen on his right hand and laughing wildly.
"What are you doing by the window. Let's play some cards. you are always reading, Star". Star is what I am called her. Because I like gazing at the stars through my windows.
"Not today, Tobi" He gives me a weird look before slumping on his bed and making a hissing sound.
"Are you prepared for that test tommorow?" He asked.
I ignore his talking and lay on my bed pretending to sleep. I shut my eyes and turn my face towards the bland white walls. His voice fades away and I do not listen again. I stay this way and I do not come out for the night prayers. it is almost fair and when Tobi leaves, I wet my pillows with my tears.
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Your story is deep ....it is fiction yet it perfectly connects to reality .....truly there are faithless souls in the seminary .your choice of words are not questionable and that's an art .your work is dauntingly beautiful