The huge gates to the monastery was locked. The visiting times were displayed visibly. When the gates creaked open, and Mark was ushered to the meeting room. He could barely recognize Mr. Trevor. He was wearing a tunic like cloth that covered his body in the simplest way. His hair was unshaven and he wore slippers. He had a scroll on his palm and some beads. He embraced Mark and Mark was still perplexed at the simplicity of life in the monastery.
“Mr. Trevor” Mark managed to utter.
“Call me brother Paul or brother.”
“Mr. Trevor, I need answers to some questions. Perhaps you can help me.”
“You sound desperate” brother Paul remarked.
“Yes, I am desperate.”
“First rule, don’t be desperate. Everything in life is under control” brother Paul cautioned him.
“Thanks Mr. Trevor.”
“So, tell me how have you been and what brings you here. How did you know I was here?”
“Well like you know, I joined the army and was posted to Iraq. At Iraq I saw stuff. Some I can’t say but my mind has been in torment. I had a buddy, my best buddy. He got married just before we left the UK for Iraq. His wife was pregnant. His wife put to birth while we were in Iraq and he kept dreaming of his upcoming leave. He wrote letters daily to his son. He was looking forward to meeting his wife and son. He got blown to pieces. He didn’t make it. He left behind a wife and son. I watched him being buried. I watched the tears the wife shed. I watched as everybody walked away after the funeral leaving her alone to cater for her son. I don’t understand life. Why would this happen to Katenda? I keep seeing him in my dreams. I ask him questions and he does not answer me. The only thing he tells me is to make sure his son is okay. I have seen my mates disappear into the earth. I have seen some amputated. I have seen some make it back safely. But why would life be so cruel to a new baby and the wife. I need answers.”
“What makes you think that I am the right person to answer your questions. What makes you think that I have answers?”
“Well I remember when I was your student, all the things you used to tell us. I remember the day you prayed for Tinashe and he got well instantly. You told us of a supernatural being you worship and how his power is real. You told us how you commune with him. Maybe you can ask him some questions for me. I need answers.”
“How did you locate me?”
“Well after the funeral at Croydon cemetery, I needed to talk to someone. I was losing my mind. I talked to doctors and clergy men, they could not help me. So I knew I must seek you out. I went to Ingram and I was told you left. I looked for Owusu, your closest buddy then and I was told he had gone to Ghana. I went up to see Owusu’s rabbi. He gave me Owusu’s number in Ghana. I called him and he told me where to find you and here I am.”
“Fantastic! Sounds like a detective Mark.”
“I just need answers, period.”
“So what are your questions?”
“One, why would life be so cruel to Katenda and his family?”
“Why shouldn’t life be cruel to him and his family? Should it have been you? Mishaps happen daily in life. Misfortunes happen daily in life. People don’t care. People don’t panic because it was never close to them. Now that it has happened close to you, you begin to look for answers. If Katenda was alive, would you have come here to look for me?”
“That’s my point. You wouldn’t.”
“That’s the first thing. Man is innately selfish. Man will remain that way. Life was not cruel to Katenda. In fact to each an every one of us here travelling life’s pathway, we have a concourse to follow and it is an undulating pathway filled with mountains and valleys and plains and these manifest in a curtain of circumstances. Can we change these circumstances? I don’t know. Maybe we can, maybe we can’t for some.”
“Yes, you are right. But why would bad things happen to good people?”
“If Katenda was alive and went home to visit his family and had all his dreams and thoughts fulfilled, would you be here looking for me?”
“That’s the point. You wouldn’t be here. That is why we must embrace the supernatural in us. We must make contact with him, so that we can be ready to face the storms of life with a sense of purpose.”
“How can one embrace this supernatural?”
“You must want it. There will be a stir within you to seek for it like it is for you, now. You will start looking for answers, looking for some supreme satisfaction that career and man can never give. When once you strike that esoteric. You will enter into your Sabbath. This is what all men seek. Men foreordained to seek for this life. That is what you saw at Ingram. That was what healed Tinashe. That is what propels me.”
Mr. Trevor took Sgt. Mark’s hand. “Come, let’s go for a walk”.
“Listen son, the pathway ordained for each an every one of us is different. The challenges we face are different. How come some people are born with some deformity? Did they bargain for it? Were they consulted before being birthed? No is the answer, but they have embraced the challenge and made the best out of it. Brace yourself for the challenge. Take courage son. Look at the moon, stars and moon, learn their seasons. Look at nature, learn their seasons.”
They stood and stared at the moon in the horizon, they looked at the hills that laid before them in a beautiful haze. The dews came and encapsulated them and they dissolved in it.
“I will do anything to sit under your feet again, in your classroom to learn from you again” Sgt. Mark said.
Uwem Mbot Umana©2018