Things took a drastic turn for my family and the whole villagers when the white missionary from Rome came to our village. My youngest brother, the only heir to my father’s imaginary empire went down with a strange sickness. Nobody could diagnose the nature of the sickness. The herbalist and Erohnla priest tried their best but, their best was not good enough. Day after day, my brother was passing away into oblivion. My mother became a shadow of herself and my father too was not helping matters. Villagers started insinuating that my mother had delivered my brother for sacrifice at her covenant meetings. She became the talk of every villager. My brother was rejected by the god after a month and he was brought back to our house.
One day the white missionaries were moving from house-to-house for evangelism, they entered our compound. After their preaching, we were prayed for and just like a thunderbolt, my brother who had not talked for two months, cried out from my mother’s room. That was how happiness- my brother, was healed from the strange illness that almost killed him. My family started worshipping with the white men. Their God became our God and we stopped our obligation to the gods. My father too became involved with the white men and vows not to worship Erohnla who could not save when his help was needed.
Even though the missionaries tried to let me see the reason why I should not respect and fear Erohnla, I was told that Erohnla is just a graven image who cannot talk, hear and see. I still fear Erohnla in my heart. In no time, my family compound became the fellowship centre and my father was one of the early elders of the Christian fellowship. That marked my family face-off with the god and his priests.
The god was known for settling conflicts ranging from land disputes to financial conflicts and some other problems among the villagers. The head priest came to our compound one Sunday evening after the Sunday fellowship. He told my father that the god is angry with him for accepting the strange people and their religion. He told him that the god said he should denounce his new faith or face the consequences of his actions. He called my father a traitor and a poor pig that only sniffs where there is food for his belly. He said so many outrageous things. When my father could not stomach it anymore, my father too called the god a fraudster who only rejoice in people’s predicament. He called his priests the unseen gluttons that share the sacred sacrifices. He told the head priest to tell Erohnla that nothing would make him denounce the new faith and that the god should go ahead with his threat. The whole issue resulted into a verbal attack. The priest left our compound promising my father hell on earth. My father too promised him a coffin the next time he set his legs in our compound. The priest left in rage. I was eighteen and half years then.
Normalcy returned after some months and everybody went back to their daily routines. One year
After the threats, nothing seems to happen. My parents were full of life and my siblings were hale and hearty too. The birds of Obiyahku still sing the way they used to and the crickets still makes their noises at night. The farmers still goes to farms and the traders still sells their products. The god of obihyahku still manifests himself and the Christian body continues to wax stronger. The only thing that changed was the level of hostility displayed toward our family by the faithful of Erohnla. The hostility was growing furiously day-in and day-out.
My father was excluded from attending the meetings of the village elders and my mothers stall was separated from others at the market. She was not allowed to go to their meetings and she seldom makes profits. My siblings had no friend in school and they were tagged “children of the traitor”. I did not face much hostility except when I wanted to fetch water at the village well. I would not say they stopped talking to me because when I was in school, I did not have any friend except Chinedu, the son of the village head and since he had left our village to further his studies at the city, I did not deem it fit to associate with anybody. My family was subjected to ridiculing. The dogs, goats and pigs of Obiyahku hated us. The daily activity in my family is to pray after waking up in the morning, eat our breakfast, and then my siblings would go to school while I go to the farm with my father or to the market with my mother. During school holidays, I always stayed at home to take care of my siblings. After taking our supper at night, we would use the old rusty lantern to read the bible and then go to sleep.