The incident that happened two years past was reverberant in Tom’s heart. He’d tried to forget but he couldn’t. He loved Titi and he agreed with her that work was important than their love since he’s unemployed at the time. He consoled himself that since they broke up he’d became serious and focused. But he’s not going to stop longing for his lost love.
Tom’s diary was not for recording what was going on in his life but for recollecting what happened in his life when Titi became his dearest. “Every time I take this diary,” he thought, “I will remember that the gods are not kind and are to blame.” Tom had stopped going to church and he’d laugh at anyone who called on God or thanked God. “Ignorance!” he’d say, “they’re bunch of ignoramuses. These people just want one supernatural being to be responsible for their lives. When good things happen, it’s by chance but they’d thank the gods they created in their mind. When bad things happen no matter how they’d prayed, foolish people that they are would still say it’s God’s will. They’d still thank him. I think the government needs to ban religion or spare only the traditional religion. Those ones practice magic. We need to spend all time we spend worshipping our mind’s creations on the farm! Oh Titilayo! Why has God done this to me? Did I just say God? I mean why has this happened to me? I love you Titi.”
In a small house of which only two rooms were roofed, Tom was teaching junior secondary school students. One room was his office the other opposite room was the classroom. Mark was always in Tom’s office even when doing his class work.
Titi’s brother, Mark was Tom’s friend. Now Mark only served as a proof that the gods, if they are, must be blamed. Tom would ask Mark, “Do you still believe in God?” Mark always answered yes until he got confused and angry too. “Your mother would pray yet your siblings died. She’s still praying and you’re like this. Let her get money and get you a doctor abroad. Science has the answer to this situation.” Mark had listened to doctors’ talk of schizophrenia and other diseases and deformations science was never going to cure. “But science has no answer to all things. That’s why science is still on going.”
“Yes, but science won’t waste your time like hope does in the gods. Why hasn’t God healed you?”
“Did you influence my sister or did she influence you?”
“Does your sister not believe in God?”
“She still does but I don’t think she cares what God thinks about her life and how she lives it.”
“What do you mean? No, don’t talk about it.”
“Two months ago she asked me the same question and Mama told her not to blaspheme. She became angry and decided to leave.”
“Leave? You mean… finally?”
“She hasn’t come home since then.”
“May be it’s work.”
“Work can’t take family from my sister, you know that!”
“It’s still God who they say is the controller of our steps. Did she talk about me?”
“No! Not at all! When I mentioned your name that time Mama told her not to blaspheme, she got angrier.”
Tom stopped the questioning. He decided to stop teaching Mark and other small boys and girls. There’s no hope. His brows raised and his eyes bulged. And he shouted, “Mark, no hope in any stupid God!”
He had met with parents of little children around Mama’s house about two years ago and offered to teach the boys and girls and help them improve. He believed that one day he’d be able to meet Titi. Now he blamed God. “God, if you’re the one who ordered men’s steps why did you allow me to waste my time? I got stuck and I pegged my step on a spot deprived of fertility. Why didn’t I realise I needed to move on with my life? You cheated me this second time. I will make sure you cheat nobody else around me.
“Mark, I need to be honest with you. You’re an adult stuck with childishness. After your sister and I separated do you know why I decided …?”
“…To teach little children around here? If I were you I’d do the same?”
“You’d do the same? Don’t you get it? There’s no need to waste time on what you can’t get. Focus your energy on what is attainable not on wishes that are forbidden, not on fantasies.”
“My sister must have learnt this from you.”
“I was merely saying it then I never put it to action. I have said many things to many people who acted on them, for good, and I remain here, passive.”
Mark’s eyes were already raining tears. He wiped his face several times. “So, you won’t…”
“Don’t ask it … don’t make me feel sorry. Don’t just cry for me.” He kissed Mark on the cheek. He stroked his head. “Good boy. You’re great, Mark. You learn and speak as an adult. But on paper test your emotion makes you cringe. But I always believe in you.”
“I will miss you,” Mark muttered. There’s no need to wipe his face anymore. His friends who were always jealous of how Mark was always on Tom’s chair, eating with Tom from the same plate now wondered what Tom did to make Mark cry. They’d later understand that Mark’s only friend was going to stop teaching them. They’d pity Mark. Even Mama’s not as kind as Tom was to Mark. Only Titi always treated her kindly like Tom and it’s what she learnt from him.
“Where will you go, can I follow you?”
“No, no, you can’t. I don’t even know where I will go. Mark, you’re now crying too loud.”
Mark only cried louder. The other boys and girls had gathered close to Mark. They wanted to beg him or ask him to stop crying. “Go back to your sit, now!” Tom ordered and took Mark’s hands, “Let’s talk outside my friend, my good friend,” he said and pushed Mark out of the class. He hugged Mark and whispered into his eyes, “Please, stop crying. I promise I’ll always come during Christmas. Not for God but for you. So stop crying. I love you Mark. It’s the gods.”
That night, on his bed, Mark began to think about gods and humans. His own questions were about why some are fortunate and some are so unfortunate. “Is it true? Are the gods playing a Ludo game with humans’ lives? Athena, Hear and Paris and Troy and Achilles and Zeus and Helen and all these stories that Tom told me, are they true? Why would the gods be comfortable watching humans go to war, killing children and weaklings and even infants? Oh no, let me not get too far. This is not right!” he paused and suddenly shouted, “Bullshit, what is not right?” Mama ran into the room to check on Mark. She’s very scared. “Why? God, why?” Then he wept bitterly. The old woman wept while she begged Mark not to weep. “My son, God can’t be questioned. It’s blasphemy. My son, don’t lose your faith. Mark, my son, I’m sorry. Please, stop crying.”
“Foolish woman,” Mark said within himself, “when was the last time you told me you love me? You love God and it’s that God you love who caused me to be like this yet you won’t hate him but you’d hate me.” He didn’t know when he shouted on Mama, “You don’t love me. Is it my fault? Was it my choice to be a cripple and a burden? Now all those who love me are gone. You and God sent my sister and Uncle Tom away.” He cried.