Chapter 2: The Past Bleeds Red
I woke up early trying to get my mind right. I’m in charge of a dangerous and pointless meeting. The irrational thinking of my father led us all to this point. As my eyes become glossy with tears, I vividly remember Bako’s suit as he laid in his casket. When I saw him that last time, everything paused. All the dreams we had rushed back. Now I have to live those dreams out for him. Either win the battle or runaway to a distance land and start anew.
The verse I stumbled across today was Matthew 5:44. “But do say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.” My face frowned up thinking about this passage. Absalom did more then just hurt me, he hurt my whole town. Down the block our team was meeting, the hour is ticking until we attack.
The ride to the meeting hall, the only thing I thought about was how it would feel to kill Absalom. “Toby.” When my dad said my name it made me jump a little and he chuckled. “Son, I did not mean to shock you, just wanted to chat.” I wasn’t expecting a story time, so I straightened up and tried my best to focus to what my dad was about to preach to me.
He went on to tell me about his youth. When he was nine – years – old, my Uncle Azi and him were playing futbol in the streets. They grew up admiring Pelé, Sandro Mazzola, and Eusébio. They were playing futbol in the streets when they saw a trail of blood and heard gut quenching screams. Like any young ruffled haired boy, they unwisely went toward the chaos. What they stumbled upon made their mouths drop and they stood there frozen. This large man, standing 6’7 about 280 pounds was pulverizing this man’s face in. They saw the whole theatrics play out. He then put his bear like hands on the man’s throat. The man kicked and pawed at the man but he did not loosen his grips. Finally he dropped him like a heap of potatoes leaving him lifeless like the dirt he fell upon. Slowly his gaze looked up. Hair drooping over his eyes, black cloth mask on his mouth, all you could see was some of the red of his left eye. “You boys came right on time. You want to be next.” The man’s voice sounded like thunder.He then took out a katana sword from his long bag that slung across his body. My father and Uncle snapped out of their trance and ran throughout out the neighborhood back to their town. The man stopped as he reached the trees, peering through with red piercing eyes and an evil grin. The two brothers saw him and anger swept across their face and the village hearts broke. Like my father told me the other night, the fight was brought to them.
“Fahter I never heard this story before. I thought grandfather died from a heart attack.” My voice cracked as I spoke, trying to wrap my head around what I just found out. All this time I thought this was was for no reason, now I know. This is the first time I seen my dad cry and to be honest, he is stronger now than ever before. “Son none of us wanted this war. Your mother and me kept things away from you all to preserve your joy and innocence. Yes you were in a battle without knowing why, but that is life at times. But now is time for you to know. The man who killed your grandfather, my dad is none other then Faruq Okafor. He is Aminu Okafor’s Father. Absalom is his son.” My dad spoke with a slight tremble to his voice.
I wanted to say something but my mouth would not open. My thoughts danced around as I tried to wrap my head around what I just heard. The Okafor’s are the reason for this war, they are the reason for Bako’s untimely death. The only thought going through my mind is revenge and guilt. I should have went to the store with Bako that day but I told him I had to write my story. All I did was watch movies while my brother was gunned down.The unfortunate truth about the past is that once it is written, it cannot be unwritten.
Finally, we pulled up to the meeting hall. As we got out the van, we were welcomed by cheers. Men, women, and teens fighting with us cheered us on. I saw the children we saved from Lamlech, now they are teens freely choosing to fight with us. We went over and hugged them and we were about to cry. I continued to walk with father through the crowd. He stopped me at the podium and reach down for this box. What is going on? He opened it and inside was a dark purple cloak and a brown wooden staff. He looked up and his glossy eyes showed that of a father’s love and approval. “First son I want to say sorry for how I spoke to you last night. This world is an evil place at times and I did not want harm to come toward you. The day before your brother psssed, he gave this cloak and staff back to me. I asked him why he was doing it, I was very confused. He told me that when the sun sets on his time that you will be the one to lead us to the Promise Land. After that, that night I was searching for answers and stumbled across this book. As I opened it, the pages opened up to that of a man named Moses. I couldn’t put it down. Although his mistake caused him not to enter the Promise Land, he still saw it. Your brother did not want to make that same mistake. He wanted to be patient and listen to God. I gave my life to God that night then the next day Bako died. I was at a crossroad, I wanted to curse God and prove that I never needed him but I couldn’t do it. Something deep down told me that it was true and that Bako is going to see the land through you. So this cloak symbolizes royalty and the staff symbolizes a leader with the heart like a Lion but – also – a heart of a dove. Son I will go to any battle with you.” After he spoke he did the craziest thing, he knelt down in front me.
Time froze for a moment as my father was kneeling there, tears hitting the ground.His hands holding up the cloak and staff before me. Others joined in with cheers and crying. Yet I heard none of it. I was not worthy enough to recieve this. My father accepted Jesus into his life. My mind is spinning, I feel sick. Time came back and I grabbed the cloak and staff from my father’s hands. He quickly stood to his feet and brought me in for a hug. I can’t remember how warm and comforting his hugs were, this one made me feel as if I was — worth something more. Tears leaking out of both of our eyes, we looked at each other no words said but nodded. We on the same page already. I turned to go up the steps of the podium and before I spoke I wiped my eyes.
“Hey family, we are not crying it’s just something in our eyes.” Everybody laughed and that helped me breathe a little. “So here we are. Nobody wants this war but yet we are still in one. I know that some of you do not believe in God but that’s none of my business. In 2 Chronicles King Jehoshaphat was going through what we are facing now. He needed answers, he wanted a victory. Did he retreat? No he did not. He spoke to God and God said, “But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; than stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.” Don’t you all want that, to be able to chill and watch the victory.” Again cheers and laughter broke out. “You who are laughing now will eat your words and your laughter. It does not tell us that when we are lazy we will see a victory. No far from that. Jehoshaphat had to make an action. He had to stand and walk to the battle. We must do the same, whatever we do in life we have to do it unto the Lord. The Okafor family and there allies are not ready for this. We must stand together, we must fight, we must watch the Lord’s victory. Thank you.” As I walked off the stage there was a mixture of cheers and boos but I was in a group consisting of my Uncle, my father, my cousin Banjoko and his sister Oluchi. This man shouted out, “You are ridiculous if you think God is real and you will never be a true leader.” My dad and I smirked, like man come on we are the ones that help your family eat.
Bako my brother we will bring our families and friends to the Promise Land. Whoever is against us will be wiped away.