Every morning in my father’s house was like judgement day - you wake up to loud bell ringing, a signal that everyone under the roof must converge at the living room for the morning devotion. If you fail to get out of bed in time, you will begin to hear some sweet songs, a feeling like heaven is waiting for you; if you dare tarry, judgement might just meet you in your sleep. Your judgement might be ordered through a piece of beating with cane - why in the world would you not wake up? That bell rang so loud, it already woke every dead people in the neighborhood. LOL
My dad always have a special “judgement seat” at the devotion. This is the kind of idea I get of the judgement day recorded in the book of Revelation, the Almighty God will have a special seat and everyone else will find their level. That picture is so bright in my head.
In the devotion, there goes rounds of praises and worship songs. You must come to the table with at least one worship song. Then the youngest person in the house would literally take reading lessons by reading some texts from the scriptures. He or she dare not make any mistakes or not pronounce some words right. After the Bible reading, the next elderly person would read the daily bible commentary; that also would be some kind of reading test. Instant judgement awaits whoever make any grammatical mistakes. Prayers would then signify the end of the morning devotion.
After the morning devotion is done with, the real judgement would commence - for anyone who is found wanting in one way or the other, you get served accordingly. No one is perfect, but there is some kind of level of perfection you must attain to survive in my fathers house. The earlier you reach this level, the better for you, because if you don’t... Either you run away, or get the daily tormenting like you might just die here. But this is really a story for another day.
This particular morning, about 12 years ago or so, my Dad picked up a sheet of paper and was reading a passage from it. It was like a letter writing. Everyone was trying to figure out what information was in it. In my mind, the writer of that text wrote exactly the same way I would have written. It was like the person who wrote that text was a second me. But then, the content of the letter didn’t make sense; it was like the writer was sending a message to an uncle somewhere. The uncle in that context didn’t seem like any uncle I could relate with. “This is me, abi, this is not me? We will soon find out na, abi?”, I thought.
No one could say anything because we had no idea of the motives behind my dad’s actions, reading the text. Could it be that someone is in trouble? The text didn’t seem like something that could put anyone in trouble though. It is not one of the love letters I may have written. Certainly not one of the result sheets somebody’s child would have hidden somewhere. So what is going on?
Apparently, my father had kept one of my Secondary School writings in his files. He thought the text was really good and he decided to keep it. That morning, he was just going to read it to us, to show off the prowess of his darling writer boy. “This was written by Ayoola Falola” he said, after he was done reading the whole text. I was blushing. It just occur to me that I had been a great writer all along.
Just last week, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine. She had all the kind words to say to me about how great my most recent article was. She concluded that writing wasn’t her “destiny”. “Certainly, you love to write”, she said to me. I was just laughing. If only she knew!
Do people actually love to write? Well maybe, but I am just not one of them. I won’t categorize myself as someone who loves to write. I would rather say that I may have discovered early, the importance of putting ones thoughts together into writing. I also would have got a number of occasions where I got a good comment about my written work. Words of encouragement certainly helps us do more of creative work. I am a beneficiary of this, being around people who recognize and acknowledge my brilliance is helpful in a lot of ways.
Afterall, the judgement days in my fathers house wasn’t all about scolds and punishment. Many times, it was also a day to celebrate, blush and forget about every other days in which you wished you didn’t wake up.