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Aireth sighed again. She wished her mother had been able to come on this critical mission. What a shame! She recalled the last conversation they had. She kept replaying that tape in her mind. Her mother had told her never to call her again about making peace with Jovinus. She simply did not care. She was truly her mother’s daughter. Aunt Gertrude started singing again, this time ‘Rock of Ages’. Aireth and Mama Komba joined her and they belted out the hymn. It calmed their nerves.


Komba pretended to be asleep. Even though he was a believer, what would his nephews' Warren and Harry think? No. He wanted the boys to grow into real men. Let the women sing. It wasn’t easy though, the song gave him a sense of nostalgia. It transported him back to the mission school he attended. He could see their village and homestead. The lush green leaves and hilly terrain. He saw his father the old bugger Mzee Komba. It was a wonder he had turned normal. No wonder Mwalimu was a village drunkard. He wondered how Jovinus' life had turned out. They would soon know.


He could still remember clearly as if it was yesterday, the day he decided the old geezer was nuts. He was 7 years then. He had never told anyone he had seen The Incident as mother called it. Typical of mother to trivialize big things and make mountains out of molehills. Komba shook his head involuntarily and shivered. Komba had been playing in the bushes far from his siblings when he heard Mzee screaming. He ran and hid. Curiosity got the better of him and he moved nearer to investigate. Mzee was wielding his machete at Jovinus. Jovinus being either polite or slow depending on your viewpoint; was defending himself with his arms instead of running away. He had deep scars to this day. He thought Jovinus would die that day. It was after The Incident that Jovinus' mother had sent him away to the city.


Jovinus' mom had paid dearly for that. Mzee had turned her to his new punching bag on a daily basis. Even though Komba’s mom had been rejoicing about it, something in Komba’s young mind had told him that it was all wrong.


Gertrude shook him out of his reverie and Komba acted like he had been asleep. Her questions were the same.


“Bro, are you sure they will receive us? Why did Jovinus not answer his phone? Did you tell them why we are going?”


“Woman, can you please stop asking the same questions? I told you, I spoke to Jovinus’ wife and she is very pleasant. You know the tribe she comes from is very polite. Even if Jovinus might not want to receive us, she will. I know because through the years she has periodically kept in touch. She said Jovinus was unwell and I believed her. I said I was coming to visit with some family members. It has been a lifetime! Don’t you think Jovinus is also curious to see us?”


“But why did you say that you hadn’t spoken to them in years if Jovinus' wife has been communicating with you?”


“Because she lost my number. I told you she told me this. She was quite happy to hear from me. I think she is a genuine soul. No one knows the reception we will get until we get there okay? Can I not be left in peace until we arrive? I need to sleep, so leave me be!”


“Auntie don’t worry. Did we not fast for this mission? Did we not pray all night on Friday? I didn’t tell you but I fasted again yesterday. I believe the Lord is with us. We shall be successful. Have faith. Don’t you believe in miracles and the power of the Lord?”


“This is why I love you Aireth. I wish your mother appreciated what a fine daughter you are. I hope you know how much I love you. Regardless, our sins are heavy. One look at our family and you will know that we are cursed. How can I not worry? Have I not told you how we stood by as mother and Mzee did atrocious things to our step-siblings? Did I not tell you how vindictive mother was? How she would visit the witchdoctor to keep Mzee beholden to her? I think she bewitched us too. That’s why we behaved like little devils. Though I take full responsibility for my actions....”


“Auntie you have.....You have told me how Mzee refused to pay for their education yet they were bright children. How they had to leave home and fend for themselves”.


“Yes, did I also not tell you that Jovinus struggled to pay his Secondary school fees until he finished and was called to Makerere University? And how he missed that opportunity because of mother’s black heart? Do you know that none of us belong to Mzee Komba?”


“What? But I am not even surprised now that you say it. It makes so much sense. But how is that possible? How could granny pull that off?”


“Because of the power mother had over Mzee. She had many men she slept around with, and each child is a testament to her waywardness. Mzee took her when he was well over 50. He was too old to keep up with his young wife. Mother was the age of Jovinus' older sister. She stole someone’s wife, continued with her lifestyle, and dumped 4 kids on the man’s lap without a twinge of guilt. She brought us up to hate our step-siblings and we did. They didn’t wrong us in any way. They did not treat us as we treated them yet they got punished if they as much as gave us a sideways glance.”


“Your auntie is right Aireth. We grew up as royalty. We would show off our new clothes for Christmas, we would show off our new bags, school uniform, while they walked in tatters. We would give false reports about them, and take front row seats when they got a beating. And that’s not the worst thing that we did.”


“I know....No wonder auntie Gertrude was asking you uncle all those questions. How did Mzee not know you were not his kids?”


“The power of Jezebel. I have come to abhor what mother stood for. Oh Lord, forgive us for our sins…..The whole village whispered about our whoring mom. Mzee must have thought they were jealous of him. He thought he had won the lottery by getting a young beautiful ‘wife’ in his old age. Because of this he despised his wife and viewed her as a burden.”


“So the only thing you share is granny? No wonder you all look different.”


“You think?”


“Enough of this pity party. Let’s put on some gospel music and think positive happy thoughts.”


“That’s why I love you, my sister-in-law. Amen. Harry, please put some music on. Never mind let Aireth do it; you concentrate on getting us there safely. Bro tell me again, how do you know where they stay? I don’t recall you giving me an answer to that question.”


“Why do you like asking questions so much? If you must know, I only know the area they stay in. We will call them to know the exact house, okay?”


“Okay!”


 “Harry, remember to keep driving until you see the 4 lanes change into 2. Y’all can wake me up then.” Komba closed his eyes and let the women sing along as usual. They were now singing ‘Can It be Right?’


He dared to hope that it would ever be right....if they could finally be rid of the curse. They had all paid a high price. He thought of his two nephews rotting in maximum prison. Thugs. Killers. They would probably die there. What a waste. Their father was perpetually inebriated. He wondered whether it was their profession that triggered his addiction, or vice versa. Who knew where their mother was?


His older sister was the scum of the earth. She’d inherited all of their mother’s blackness and then some. She was deep into witchcraft and worked in a brothel. Even she did not know which bed she would wake up on the next day. It was rumored that she was involved in human and drug trafficking. She had killed 3 of her children with her witchcraft and had not shed a single tear for them. Komba suspected she was a nutcase. Komba wondered for the nth time how Jane could have given birth to such a sweet child as God-fearing Aireth.


His mind drifted to Gertrude, the only one he got along with. Gertrude got pregnant in high school and eloped with the baby’s daddy. Now that man was a drunk who beat her whenever he felt like it. Yet she refused to leave him. Her older son had learned from the best and was beating his wife black and blue. Gertrude watched helplessly. She spent her waking hours in church looking for comfort and peace.


He and mama Komba were the ‘normal’ ones. Their only source of grief had been the death of their only son. He could not bear to think of it. He ‘woke’ up and requested they shush so he could call for the final directions.


When they arrived, his devout sister asked they pray again before going in. She asked Aireth to pray. Aireth ended her prayer with Our Father. They all joined in.


Soon it was the moment of truth. Jovinus' daughter came to meet them. She was warm and cheerful. This gave Aireth hope. Aireth was getting good vibes from her cousin-sister. She introduced herself as Maricella. She went further and gave them all a hug. Dare they hope? They followed her inside.


The house smelled of spices and biscuits or mandazi. It was a big house. Well-arranged. Her uncle Jovinus was reclining on a seat that leaned back as if he was sleeping. He stared at them with blank eyes. They all froze. Jovinus' wife then came and warmly welcomed them. After introductions and hugs, she turned to her husband and said;

“Jovinus? Do you see your brother Komba? Komba is here. He is here with his sister and his wife too. This is Gertrude here. Remember her? And this is Jane’s daughter. Her name is Aireth. She is here with her son Warren. Gertrude’s son Harry is also here…..”


Jovinus was no longer looking at his wife. He was looking at the TV.

“Each of you go to him. Take turns, shake his hand, and introduce yourself. Don’t be afraid.”


Komba took the first step and shook his brother’s hand. His heart ached to see Jovinus in this state. No wonder Jovinus wasn’t able to answer his phone. This was too bad! How could they get absolution if Jovinus wasn’t even there? Had he lost his beautiful mind? They were all afraid to ask what Jovinus was suffering from.

Jovinus' wife volunteered the information.


“He has Alzheimer's. He doesn’t remember much. He has good days and mostly bad days. Today is a bad day.”


Their hearts sank.


Food was served but they only nibbled. It was no fault of the cook, only their hearts were heavy. They had almost given up when Jovinus youngest son (John) called his mom and said he was passing by with his family. Their spirits rose. They all looked at each other with hopeful eyes. The Lord was on their side.


John looked like his father completely. He was equally warm and friendly. They were all doing well – this household.


As soon as they finished eating Gertrude said she wanted to talk.


“We have come on a mission of peace. We of the household of our mother have come to make amends with the household of the legal wife. We are late because Jovinus will not even understand us, but we thank the Lord that John is here. We believe the Lord sent him. We came to confess all our sins and ask for forgiveness. Our family is cursed and we want that curse lifted.


“Our mother broke a marriage. She fornicated with Mzee. We are the children of fornication. We brought misery and pain to the homestead. We did every evil thing within our power. Because of us, Jovinus and his siblings never finished their education.


“Every day we listened as Mzee beat Jovinus sweet mother. He beat her so bad that she needed a hospital. She crawled to our mother’s house and asked that we take her to the hospital that she was dying. She begged us. We felt nothing. We watched her die outside in the cold as she never made it back to her house. We killed his mother. We lied to Jovinus, but we killed his mother. Her last words to us? ‘May God see you.’


 “We didn’t care. We went further and grabbed their land and sold it. We left them destitute while we fed ourselves and wasted that money. Where did that money take us? Look at us. All cursed and unhappy.


“We are kneeling down here now. We are at your feet begging for forgiveness. We have repented of our sins. We ask that your household forgive our mother and Mzee and all of us. We represent our household in asking for forgiveness.”


Gertrude was now crying as was Aireth and his wife. Komba looked across and saw that Maricella was also crying. Maricella was watching her dad. Jovinus had tears streaming down his cheeks. Unbelievable! Somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind, Jovinus had somehow understood and he was also crying.


Komba stood up and went to hold his brother’s hand. He wiped his tears with his other hand.


“Bro, we are sorry for all the pain we caused your family. If you understand us at all, we beg that you forgive us. Please. Our house is cursed and only you can remove the curse.” Komba told his step-brother.


It was then that John spoke.


“First of all, thank you for taking the bold step to come and ask for forgiveness. It cannot have been easy. You are to be commended. It takes a lot of courage and humility to spell out all your mistakes. My only regret is that you didn’t come sooner. You see the doctor said that the things my father went thru in his life are what caused his current condition. He was too stressed and he never talked about it. He internalized it and it slowly ate at him. He had mild depression for years and we never knew! All the same, water has poured on the ground and we cannot pick it up. I know that father in his right mind would have wanted to make amends. Therefore I speak on behalf of this household and say that we forgive you. We want you to have peace. We want you to know that we have not cursed your household at all. Grandmama would have forgiven you too if she was still alive. She was such kind of a person. Rest assured that you are forgiven.”


They were all crying now and hugging and crying some more. Komba never let his brother's hand go. Gertrude then spoke;

“As is the tradition in our culture, when making amends, there has to be a peace offering. Here in this envelope is our peace offering. We can never repay the loss of life or properties we caused, but here is our gesture of peace. We would like to present it to Jovinus and you John. Please stand with your father and accept our offering”


Komba and Gertrude presented the envelope to them. Jovinus and John stretched their hands and took the envelope. Gertrude wept! She was now sniffing loudly.


“Bro Jovinus, please bless us. As the only son of our father and his rightful heir, you are the only one who can bless us and lift off this curse. We are at your feet requesting you bless us.” Komba implored.


Everyone held their breath. Gertrude and Komba were now kneeling before Jovinus. Jovinus looked at them like he was seeing them for the first time. Komba’s knees were hurting, he did not know how long he would have to keep kneeling. It was as if everyone knew that talking would break the spell. The air was still, like when Chopped participants are waiting to see whose dish has been chopped. Everyone stares ahead with bated breath. Even John’s rowdy sons were quiet. It was eerie. Just when Komba felt his knees were about to give in, Jovinus stretched his hand and put it on Komba’s head. Komba’s tears flowed freely. He didn’t care if he appeared manly or not. This was historical, hell this was monumental! Screw manhood!


They rose and hugged Jovinus.


They were free!

August 14, 2020 04:26

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8 comments

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04:27 Sep 07, 2020

Nice story

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Naomie K
08:57 Sep 09, 2020

thank you for taking the time to read and comment

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Thom With An H
14:25 Aug 24, 2020

I am so impressed with how you were able to make me believe this story. I found myself feeling the pain and the guilt and at the end the forgiveness and redemption. I don't know your story but this seems like something personal. You put a little bit of your soul into it and that's why it is so good. Thanks for inviting me to read. Great job!!

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Naomie K
14:34 Aug 24, 2020

You are very astute!! It is based on true events. Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to read and comment. Highly appreciate!

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Deborah Angevin
11:11 Aug 14, 2020

I liked the unique naming of the characters, and absolutely loved the pacing of the story! Well-written one, Naomie! P.S: would you mind checking my recent story out, "Grey Clouds"? Thank you :D

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Naomie K
07:45 Aug 15, 2020

Hey Deborah, Thanks! thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment. I will definitely read your story and let you know my thoughts. Thanks again!

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Angela Britton
21:28 Aug 19, 2020

This story sounds like something I went through. I enjoyed it

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Naomie K
10:19 Aug 21, 2020

Thank you Angela for your time. Hope it had a good ending like in my story :)

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