Chapter One - The First Dream
‘Yes, a candle. It burned its height to liquid white and back to solid white wax again - it solidified.’
‘That’s interesting. What else?’
‘Its fire could not illuminate the dark. The room was dark. It emanated a beautiful and tiny smoke.’
‘Smoke? Wait, did you say smoke? Did the smoke make romantic gestures to the darkness?’
‘Yes, it did. It twisted its waist amorously in front of the dark like a dangerous stripper on her pole. And danced to heaven. It wasted the candle off. It didn’t mind. I mean the candle, the smoke didn’t care about it. I watched it die. It was sad to know what a romantic smoke could do to a gigantic candle which stood perfectly erected and lighted, though its light was just not enough for the dark.’ the boy whispered.
‘but at least, it had a second chance to be a solid again’
‘but not as it was. it didn’t stand erected again.’
‘Hmm! Go back to sleep son, when next you have such a strange dream, pray and forget about it all, for where the name of God is invoked, we trust no danger can ensue.’
Though the boy retired to his side of the bed, sleep was not an option to consider. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling all night. He had seen more in the dream than he had narrated to his father. He saw his dead mother and the Freemason also.
In what could not be clearly defined as a dialogue, he listened to the Freemason preach to his mother about salvation and baptism for the dead.
In the dream, the Freemason told his mother that the Apostle Paul spoke about the baptism for the dead in the Bible at chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians. That Baptism was a requirement for the soul to enter into Heaven. But not all people had the chance to be baptised while alive. It was for them that God in his merciful wisdom designed the baptism for the dead. For what you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
He abruptly recollected his personal encounter with the Freemason the previous day.
It was in the twilight of the day. When the sun was fast nearing its rest in the west. It was strangely windy, but there were no signs of possible rainfall. It was usual of the boy to sit under a mango tree on the other side of the road, opposite the Freemason’s house.
He thought about his loving mother, about how he missed her warmth and how life could have been with her. He sometimes thought he would have been in the university if his mother existed. The boy planted his jaw in his palm and unconsciously stared into the sky. Thoughts were playing a hard game on his mind. He was awakened from his stargaze by the horn of the Freemason’s car.
The Freemason drove the latest 4 × 4 Fortuner, a 1999 model. The man had blown the horn as an alarm for his entry into his house. His son, Karl, came to open the black painted metallic gate. When Karl spotted the boy, he beckoned; his own way of greeting the boy whom he has known all his life. The boy was three years older than Karl, but the boy was more skinny and smallish than Karl was. Sometimes it was jokingly said the boy didn’t eat at home. Though the boy had traces that he could someday put on some flesh, hunger and poverty reduced him to something a little bigger than one.
Mr Otchere, the Freemason, decided to, for the first time in a year, talk to the boy whom he saw almost every day in the same sitting posture under the mango tree opposite his house. He gesticulated the boy’s admission into his home.
At first, the boy was nervous and thought of taking to his heels, but he gathered in himself some courage and made an involuntary but rather reluctant approach. Life belongs to those that take risks. It begins by stepping, for every step you take, you have arrived.You are not the same person who worried about how and where to begin. It is always in the action that experiences are expensively formed, it is not the knowing that is life but the doing.
The Freemason urged him to follow him upstairs. The boy was uneasy and it showed in his steps, on his face and was more confused in mind.
It was a rumour in the community that Papa Lodge (that was how the neighbours called the Freemason though in his absence) sacrificed humans for his blood money. In one of the many scuttlebutts, it was said that he was responsible for the death of his mother-in-law. In another, in fact, more evidently supported than the previous, it was on the lips of the community that the Freemason was a homosexual who slept with young boys as a money ritual.
Though the boy wasn’t born when it happened, he grew up with the story of how a boy had gone to play on the Freemason’s lawns and the next day, he had complained of anal pains just minutes to his death.
Stories of this nature scared the boy as he ascended the winding staircase which led to the living room of the house.
After he had gained the summit of the winding staircase, he arrived at the door of the hall which he found opened. He was ushered in by Karl and was offered a seat on the sofa. The large sofa. It stretched from one end to the other of the room. Full-grained leather cushion. The type used for old Mediterranean Italian furniture. The boy took a quick excursion of the pictures displayed on walls. He saw many portraits of Jesus Christ and that of the Freemason being ordained as a priest of the Anglican church. He was not sure of his eyes. He saw another, and this particular picture caught his interest. He stood from his seat and tiptoed to the wall. He wanted to have a vivid view.
‘Yes, that was taken after my initiation into Freemasonry’ Mr Otchere said as he walked in from his bedroom. He picked the TV remote to flick life into the TV set as he spoke. GTV showed a man with his flute. He browsed through channels until he settled on one showing a choir singing hymns.
He had changed into casual wear with the writings ‘Jesus is the master of my home’ printed boldly at the front and at the back was ‘On the level’ with the all famous Masonic signs- the square and the compasses.
The boy was tensed by the mention of the word ‘initiation’.
‘Initiation?’ The boy’s eyes gawped wide. The fear in him was apparent.
‘Yes, my initiation in the lodge, I mean.’ The Freemason explained in an effort to calm him down. Mr Otchere was aware of the community’s perception of certain words yet he deliberately wanted to make an impression on the boy.
‘Lodge?’ The boy was sweating profusely. He didn’t know what to think again at the moment and of the man.
‘Of course, the Masonic lodge’ the Freemason said loudly realizing the boy’s anxiety.
Just by that picture hanged another of the Freemason. He was being baptized in water.
‘This was during my baptism into the Anglican church.’
‘Was that before your initiation?’
‘Yes, some twenty-one years before my initiation. You can see it for yourself. I was a boy as at my baptism but already a man at my initiation.’
The boy battled thoughts in his head. At one half of his mind, he wondered if the Freemason was truly as evil as the rumours surrounding him in the community, and the other half of the stories the pictures, the TV channel and his shirt seemed to be telling him. Papa Lodge is such a cool gentleman, God-fearing and even an Anglican priest but the stories around him, the boy fought thoughts in his head and the urge to sound stupid.
Karl walked in with a bowl of water and placed it on the dining table.
‘Come and dine with us’ the Freemason invited the boy to a round table supper with his family.
The Freemason instructed them to hold each other’s hand while he said the Grace before meals. That was a powerful prayer, the boy thought.
The boy was relieved of his fears and was no longer tensed. He felt very much at home. When everyone had been refreshed, the Freemason ordered the boy to say the Grace after meals, which he did with some level of difficulty.
The Freemason after the supper employed the boy in a tête-à-tête under a summer hut on the lawns. It was a beautiful night’s sky, adorned with little-little stars and the moon majestically governed the night. They talked about many things, about the boy’s mother, in particular, her death and what actually was the cause.
‘She was a good woman though she was not a Christian, she believed in God and His son Jesus.’ The boy continued with how his mother’s death had cost him his entertainment.
‘Do you believe in the Bible?’ the Freemason asked.
‘Yes, I do but I don’t get the chance to read it often.’
‘Well, the Bible promises us of salvation and baptism for the dead.’
Suddenly the lights went out and the place was thrown into darkness. The moon mysteriously evanesced.
Karl brought them a candle and the Freemason lighted it up. The smoke danced sexually with the wind and towered into the dark sky that canopied them. It was a beautiful scene. A silly thought crossed the mind of the boy- a stripper stripping her way to God in heaven, he thought and smiled but only for a brief time.