The Maduka’s family queued up in twos at the entrance of the church. They were all dressed in matching blue and yellow native outfits. Behind them, the queue was continued by friends and relatives that had come to join them in the thanksgiving offering. The church was filled to the brim. The vibration from the musical instruments and the songs echoed by the members of the church could be heard miles away from the church.
“Come and see that the Lord is good. Come and see that the Lord is good. There is nothing he cannot do. Come and see that the Lord is good.” The lead chorister sang and the congregation chorused after her.
Chike and Nma were at the forefront of the queue. Chike had a serious expression on his face, clapping his hands mechanically to the rhythm of the song. Nma was jumping as though attempting to dance. Sochi stood behind. She moved her body to the song, clapping and singing at the top of her voice. Once in a while, she would pull Nma back if she made to move away from the queue. Violet and Oyim were behind them. Oyim held the thick envelope that contained their thanksgiving gift. Accompanied by friends and relatives, they danced into the church, prompted by the songs of praises that only grew in intensity the closer they came to the altar.
It was thanksgiving Sunday in the church. The day different families went up in turns to present gifts and receive blessings from the pastor.
Violet had a lot to celebrate. The past few years had not been easy. Giving birth had given her the best things in her life, her children. But it had also led to her sinking into a well of despair and depression. Even her husband who was supposed to be her greatest support worsened her situation by cheating on her. It had taken a strong resolve on her part to pull herself up from the well of despair and make an attempt at turning the tables.
For Oyim, he too had a lot to celebrate. After three years of planning and developing the idea of his business, he was finally able to get it up and running. A small start in electronics supply, but they were hopeful for growth in scope in the next few years. He had also purchased a plot of land in Amansea where he planned to build a tenant house.
Sochi had passed all three of her common entrance exams. She went for the interview of the two schools in Awka, refusing to go to that of the school in Enugu.
“Why should she go all the way to Enugu where the interview was being held when she didn’t even want to go to the school,” Violet had argued in her stead.
For the twins, Nma was becoming difficult to handle with her demands and stubbornness. Violet had learned that comparing her to Chike to get her to settle down only worsened her tantrum. Violet was too soft on her children, Nene often said and maybe it was true. But she was slowly getting tired of Nma’s stubbornness and when need be, she had to take extreme measures.
They were a happy family, Violet could argue. She still hadn’t gotten to completely trust Oyim. It would take a long time before she got to that place. Oyim had hurt her in so many ways and while she still loved him enough to overlook many of these, she couldn’t bring herself to have complete confidence in their marriage as she did before. She still had moments when she found him looking at his phone and that thread of suspicion tightened her chest.
“You’ve grown too cynical,” Oyim said once when she had remarked flippantly about the person he had been chatting with.
It was the outcome of being lied to and cheated on so many times. She couldn’t force herself to go back to that all-trusting, all-loving wife she’d been. But she was trying, she convinced herself. It was a tricky process. Oyim had certainly stopped going out of their marriage. She didn’t need anyone to tell her. She could feel it in her heart, but it didn’t stop her from imagining, from thinking, that one day, they would come back to the same argument.
She was learning to live with this part of her. Oyim tried to reassure as many times as he could. He wanted the Nneoma that loved him unconditionally and trusted him so much. It was too late, even he could tell. He had destroyed the trust that formed the core of their marriage. They could only start afresh. He would have to make her trust him again, not by his words, but by his actions. It was a task he took seriously.
Slowly, but steadily, their marriage was on the path of healing. Violet could only hope that one day, the shield of trust that had protected their marriage from external vices would be rebuilt, stronger and even better.