Hello hello. Today’s story is dedicated to one of my friends and reader of my blog who was posted to Jos for Youth Service. Safe trip down tomorrow.
Back to our Izy…
Izy ran as fast as he could. He made sure he did not go straight ahead by running through streets- just in case the men changed their minds. He did not stop until he was far away from the ‘crime scene’.
Three hours later (Still New Year’s Eve. 2012)
Since it seemed the two men were not coming after him after all, Izy came out from behind the big tree he was hiding and set to find a place to lay his head for the night. At least a fellow needed a good place to sleep so as to wake up happy the next day- New Year.
The shop owners in this area were now more security conscious as there was not one shop that did not have iron bars properly fixed in the front. This was going to be harder than Izy thought. Is a place to lay too much for a fellow to ask?
After walking a little more distance, he saw a big church that was open. There was light all around the church building and it made the place look beautiful. Izy walked happily towards the church, knowing this was definitely his refuge for the night and thinking how pleasant it was to have to wake up to a new year in a church.
Two women were standing near the church door, contemplating on one issue or the other when one of them sighted the dirty-looking boy moving towards them.
The fatter of the two said, “Iya Zacchaeus, na wa for the kind of people that you see in church for cross-over night services.”
Iya Zacchaeus replied. “I tell you o! See how this dirty riffraff will come into the church and sit beside people like us. All in the name of love your neighbour as yourself.”
They kept quiet as Izy reached them. Though he heard some of their conversation, he did not care; after all it was their mouth and energy.
“Good evening.” He said as he smiled.
Iya Zacchaeus felt a pang of guilt instantly. Look at the boy they were just gossiping about- the way he smiled at them innocently not knowing whatever they said, if ever they even said anything about him.
“Please ma,” he faced the fatter woman. “Can I get a place to sleep here? I am homeless. It’s just for tonight ma.”
The fatter woman only hissed in reply and walked into the church where some people were already seated, some sleeping, all waiting before the service started.
Izy looked at Iya Zacchaeus questioningly.
She held Izy by the hand and took him through the back of the church to where her car was packed. She opened the back seat and brought out a loaf of bread that she had kept for her husband who was still on his way from Jos. She made a mental note to get another loaf from those selling not far from the church. Then she noticed the boy was a bit reluctant and he had this mixed feeling look.
Of course! He had to be reluctant. What sort of niceness was this? What a turnaround! One minute saying bad stuffs about him the next dragging him down here and handing bread to him. Not just bread- a whole loaf!
She then smiled and said, “I can see that you are hungry and tired. Eat this first then I show you where you can sleep.”
What’s the fuss about anyway? Izy thought. He was hungry now that he saw the bread. Might as well just take it and eat to wake up happy in 2013.
“Don’t be afraid boy. I can’t hurt you.”
He took the loaf and started eating as soon as it touched his hands. The kind woman went away for a while and returned with a bottle of water which she handed to him.
“Thank you ma.”
She went away again and came back just as Izy finished the bread. She smiled at him and he smiled back, contentedly.
“I hope you are alright now?”
“Yes ma. Thank you so much. Why are you so kind to me? No one has ever been this nice to me in my entire life.”
This sobered Iya Zacchaeus up a bit. Nicest thing? A loaf of bread and bottle of water?
She smiled again. “I like to be nice to young people so God will bless me too with a young one.”
And right there by her car, Iya Zacchaeus told Izy how she had been married for ten years with no children. And how she was tagged ‘Iya Zacchaeus’ since the day she taught about Zaccheus in the Bible during one of their Bible study sessions. She also learnt that Izy did not know his parents, but that he was told by the woman who brought him up that his mother left him with her, said she just wanted to buy something at the market but never returned. So he ran away at the age of ten when he could not bear the cruelty of the woman and her children anymore.
Then the bell was rung inside the church to announce the start of the cross over service for 2012/2013.
BY: AWOTIDE DAMILOLA (Olori)