Story Berry 12- The Night Sings To Me

The night is singing to me
A serenading melody;
Washing over me
With notes of reminders
That dawn is imminent
-Goodness

One thing Okafor Obiora loved about nights was the fact that he didn’t need to close his eyes to see just blackness. The night was a great companion, the kind that tagged along in silence; giving presence without intrusion.
Now that no one was here, that he was alone in the company of darkness, he could roll back the layers and layers of smiles, and bless-you-brother, and it-is-well, that pressed down the dollop of grief in him. He could lie on his side, curl into a small first alphabet of cry, and cry without walls, unlike the sneaky tears he dropped in the bathroom of his office.
Now he could dump the pressure to have himself in one comported piece and let the ravaging emotions in him dice him, while he plugged his ears to a sobbing catalyst. It was necessary for his music to be cranked to the highest volume and right inside his head, till he could feel his whole brain resonate with it, his lips pouring the lyrics between sputters and wails, because hearing himself weep -that guttural, feral sound- could make him stifle his wail. But today, in the company of the night, he would give wings to the pain that had been scampering in his chest, even if the beating of those wings sounded like the crashing of scraps, the lowing of a donkey and the shrill of a baby at once.
Today he would retch till all the putrid things in him were out, today he would allow this paroxysm. That would be the start of his healing.
He said the words of the song to God, dumping his cares on him, the transporter being his lumpy words that were sometimes terrible music and other times just stolid words:

Decisions must be made
And now I have a choice,
I need your wisdom Lord
I need to hear your voice
I’m facing challenges
And the walls are closing in.
I’m crying out to you, my one true,
Faithful friend.
Hear my prayer oh lord
I need you in my life
I cry to you
Oh, lord.
Please lead me to the light
Show me the way
Oh lord
And cleanse me from my sin
I need you
I need you once again
I need you
I need you once again

This song rendered by Brooklyn Tabernacle choir over a decade ago, still spoke his truth with the newness of a freshly scythed lawn. It was a relief, a release, a reminder.
Bereavement still throbbed in him. First it was Delani leaving him, then his brother was diagnosed with leukemia, now his job was hanging on a thread. The company was spurious in its laying off of staff, to buoy itself in a sea of a capricious economy.
His brother Mbaeze was the most optimistic person he had known. Always with a reason to meet the world with his organic smile even on the worst of days. ‘There’s always something to be grateful for. God is always good,’ He would say.
But early today when Obiora went to see his brother, he met slouched in a couch, staring at the tiled floor. He didn’t move when the door opened. Only grunted in response to Obiora’s greeting. He didn’t smile at the usual jokes they shared. There was no colour in his eyes, a smile was the farthest thing from his chapped lips.
His stillness didn’t border on peace, it bespoke lifelessness, despondency.
When Obiora told his brother he loved him before he left, Mbaeze chuckled -his chuckle was a dry leaf. Brittle. Dead- and said, “I never thought a day would come when you will say that”. He moved the inner part of his arms to surreptitiously wipe the corner of his right eye.
Obiora ached for him. He forced a smile and whispered. “It is well” The words tasted acrid on his tongue.
Mbaeze smiled in a way that barely lifted his cheeks. “Even in the well. Mum loves saying that” he opened his mouth to say something and then he drew a breath and pressed his lips together. He smoothed his trouser and rose up. Obiara saw how frial he was.
“Let me see you off”
“You don’t have to worry.”
“I don’t know if I’d get to do this again”
Obiora swallowed painfully. As they walked in choking silence, Mbaeze held on to Obiora’s hand. Obiora’s throat closed. His brother was just 25. 25 for God’s sake.

I know you are the one that guides me day by day
The answer’s found in you
You’re the truth, the life, the way.
When others seem to fail,
And troubles all around
Lord, you’re always standing there
The one true hope I found.
Hear my prayer oh lord
I need you in my life
I cry to you
Oh, lord.
Please lead me to the light
Show me the way
Oh lord
And cleanse me from my sin
I need you
I need you once again
I need you
I need you once again
I need you, beside me
I need you, to guide me
I need you , please hear me
I need you, be near me..
I need you, beside me
I need you, to guide me
I need you ,please hear me
I need you , be near me!
Hear my prayer oh lord!
I need you in my life!
I cry to you
Oh, lord.!
Please lead me to the light!
Show me the way……
Show me the way….
Show me the way..
Oh lord
And cleanse me from my sin
I need you
I need you once again
I need you
I need you once again
I need you
I need you once………..
Again

He continued singing, turning the words in his mouth, broading on them, till he slept. Even in his sleep, the song was still in his head, causing his whole brain to resonate with its rhythm.
When he woke up, he expected his company to have left. But it was right there with him, around him. The night still rendered his eyes useless. But the night wasn’t the only company he had. He had the presence of light, the Holy Spirit right there, with him, around him, within him. He was closer than his skin. Closer than the night. The night was bound to leave, but never would the Light leave him nor forsake him. Now he remembered.
A new song was on his mind and so was the word of wisdom that was televised to him in a vision while he was asleep.

I’m trading my sorrow
I’m trading my shame
I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord
I’m trading my sickness
I’m trading my pain
I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord

It was a fast song, but he sang it slowly, savouring the words. It was the kind of song one would dance to, but he only rocked back and forth, a pillow cradled between his knees and chest.
It started as a stir, a bubble, a gush, a well, a river; the joy in him.
He recalled the short and simple vision he had. It held a promise so strong he didn’t want to ponder on it, he didn’t want to dare such hope.
He had seen Mbaeze with grizzled hair, a walking stick in one hand and the other hand was wrapped around the waist of a woman a few inches taller than he and a luxuriant cascade of hair graying at the temples, in spite of the crinkles and lines on her face, her bent over posture and her futures that sagged under the gravity of age, she was still striking. Mbaeze called out to his grandchildren. Four of them rushed to him from where they had been playing under the shade of a tree. He said their names: Chinonye, Chibuikem, Ifeanyi and one other name the hands of Obiora’s memory couldn’t reach.
When the children were gathered before him, he smiled at them and said, “God is good?”
“All the time!” The children screamed in response. Then Obiora woke up.
“Bright and morning star, in the dark you are my light” Obiora confessed.
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
The scripture dropped in his spirit. Did he believe God could heal? Yes, but this is Leukemia and- Did he really believe without staggering? Was he persuaded that God could do it?

Exceedingly, abundantly and above all
All you could ask of him,
According to
The power that worketh in you,
Yeeeeeah,
God is able to do,
Just what he says he would do.
He’s gonna fulfil,
Every promise to you.
Don’t give up on God
Cos he won’t give up on you.
He’s able.

“Lord, help me trust you without staggering” He whispered after singing.
He felt the need to call his brother. But it was late, what time was it? He checked his phone. 3:24AM. He dialed his line anyway. No sooner had the phone started ringing, than Mbaeze picked it.
“Obiora, tell me. Am I going to die?” He spoke quick Igbo, his words tumbling out of his mouth. Obiora could tell that he was crying. The way he jabbered reminded Obiora of when they were much younger, when Mbaeze would hurry to him jabbering about a boy or a group of boys that wanted to beat him up. He would ask Obiora to come to his defense. Even though Obiora knew that it was Mbaeze that went hunting for trouble, he would still go to beat the boys up and when he was done, he would watch Mbaeze stick out his tongue at them and say, “I told you I have a strong big brother”.
Now was the time to really be the strong big brother.
The words of Christ to Martha came to his mind, he said it to him:
“Jesus is saying to Okafor Mbaeze Julius, “I am the ressurection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?””
A moment of silence elapsed. Mbaeze sniffled before he replied, “Lord I believe”
“So now also Christ will be magnified in your body, whether by life or by death. For you to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Mbaeze repeated the words. Obiora wanted to leave things that way, to leave his brother’s hope neutral. He didn’t want to push him too much. Hope was a risk. But he remembered what God told him only moments back.
“And you will live,” He declared. “You will live to declare the goodness of God in the land of the living. You will live to see your children’s children, Thus says the Lord of host”
The silence over the phone lasted for a while. Mbaeze started singing in a low, unsure voice at first and then his voice became louder, bolder. His faith rising.

Resurrection and the life,
Jesus is your name.
At the mention of your holy name,
Dead things would come alive!

By the time he was singing In Jesus name by Darlene Zschech, Obiora knew he was smiling.

I will live, I will not die
The resurrection power of Christ
Alive in me and I am free
In Jesus’ Name

And when they sang I’m Trading My Sorrows together, Mbaeze was screaming at the top of his lungs.
******
Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
Dear child of God, what are you listening to?

13 Comments

  1. Amazing piece…timely and insightful…God bless you for this.

  2. I am listening to the word of God.
    Thanks so much for this heaven sent piece, brother!

  3. It’s elating that I found your blog and to think it’s a babcock connection? I attended Babcock too! God bless you.

  4. Permit me to say, your style of writing is unique. But the story is captivating but much more full of Christ. Like @tinycoloredmiracle has said, it even strikes me cause its a Babcock connection. More ink to your pen.

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