THE CROSS!! – By Fo Fovi

He stealthily walked into the cathedral which was situated on the big compound, looked around and saw no one; exactly what he wanted, so he made himself comfortable at the back of the sanctuary, on one of the long polished pews. He sat there, still, with hands clasped in the darkly lit room as he gazed into thin air. He was not trying to even familiarize himself with his environment because he felt safe wherever he was. The street was a strange world and he was tired of living there.

As he sat there trying to do himself some favor by not focusing on anything, he saw, maybe in his mind’s eyes, figurines and angels in the architecture spinning, which brought him to the present. He became startled at the tricks his mind was playing on him. To be sure that he was seeing right, he palmed his face, closed his eyes, opened them again and the sight was still there, it was not an illusion. Even though it’s been long, it was his umpteenth time and he still felt like a stranger in the Sanctuary. He was scared and wanted to leave.

He turned around to leave and what he saw distressed him the more, that he screamed and jumped out of his body. The Parish priest in a black cassock was sitting just an arm’s length from him. His scream reverberated through the void room as if legions of dead people who had ever worshiped in the cathedral were echoing and re-echoing his scream. “Behold, my Son, the Lord is with you”, the priest said in a husky but piercing tone with indifference as he signified the sign of the cross across his face. This is not turning out to be what he anticipated; he was actually running away from everybody and though impossible; himself.

He actually wanted to escape into a silent world where cruelty and insensitivity were non-existent, where none existed but him alone. There were so many questions running through his mind and he knew the Priest had answers to them but the last thing he decided to do was to be insolent to the man of God. “Father, my life is hard, so many incidents and accidents, it’s not amusing anymore, all I need is redemption’” he managed to say after his heart beat returned to normalcy. The Rev. Father looked down on the rosary he was holding in his hands, prayed another decade of it, which actually felt like a decade, murmured something under his breath and took the lead into the sacristy.

In his petrified state, he watched the Priest walk away. He only followed after the priest beckoned him to. He took solemn strides towards the confession box as gestured by the Priest, Rev. Father Jeremiah Alonzo, and the latter into the sacristy. While he laid in wait, he got lost in his own thoughts, an exercise he’s not done in a long while. He did not have the time and moral obligation to, because he lived on the fast lane and in the first seat, he has no time to reflect on his thoughts, let alone meditate on his life. A lone child that he was, he fell victim to a stupid custom, a bad one that mandated the first surviving Uncle or Aunt to take into custody what was left of a demised member of a family, his children inclusive until the child (ren) attained the age of eighteen years or more.

Selorm as he was affectionately called by all and sundry lost both parents in an accident when he was barely twelve years of age and nothing was ever the same again. Thoughts about how death could lay its icy hands on his parents and subject his fate into jeopardy made him so cold in this cruel world. To make matters worse, His ruthless Uncle, an insensitive and impious man pushed him into the world to fend for himself at the age of fifteen years because he claimed he was a thorn in his flesh and that of his lazy and mischievous children, which made him scrap the word ‘love’ and everything it connotes in his world. All he knew afterwards was hate and lots of it.

Every ego has the need to feed, so he joined a bad company because he needed to survive; and became part of the guys who thrives in the onset and later lost all clues to life and living it as soon as it’s about to really get started. Their survival instincts motivated them to engage in all kinds of mischief until it became fun, a lifestyle they cannot shed off anymore. He later joined an armed robbery gang, led by one jailbird, popularly known as ‘Terror’ and noted for his unsavory reputation. Terror took Selorm in, because he was tired of being in jail and it was also a source of power; building an empire they call it, that is to have ‘boys’ who can be relied upon as the extensions of their wicked and devastating thoughts.

Most wicked and recalcitrant people, whose conscience are dead are said to be victims of someone’s anger, someone’s selfish thoughts and worse of all, someone’s unmerciful ways which in turn makes them bitter and unforgiving thus holding everything constant and to get satisfied by all means necessary. He learnt the ways of his master expeditiously because he was too smart, a smartness that was too good for himself. He could think on his feet as fast as a dog could trot because of his childhood exposure which made him so deductive and analytical. So lost in his thoughts trying to recall how everything began, he was jolted into reality by the Rev. Father who had apparently returned without his knowledge. ‘My Son, shall we proceed’?….To be continued….

*Excerpts from an upcoming book #THE CROSS# by the Writer.