He shook his head hysterically, not just because he had missed the measurement, but because this was his fifth attempt– wrong. Joseph Akanni like his father was a pundit in carpentry and so was is grandfather. It seemed to them to be a family trait. They all enjoyed working with woods nd nails like taking pap with bean-cake. Little wonder they needed no measurements for no work. There eyes were perfect to calculate lengths and heights and widths like they were created for it..
But on this particular day, things seemed to be different, Joseph was only trying to make a stool. The task seemed almost impossible, he had miscalculated the whole factor of the stool. And as a result, he had the four legs in different incomparable lengths-2cm, 5cm, 9cm nd 3cm. What the hell could he do with this. He threw the hammer against the woods, split out the nails in his mouth, brushed the sweat on his forehead with the back of his right hand and leaned back against the Wall. He looked straight into the heavens, with his joined fingers behind his head. Something sure was bordering his mind that no one knew. He just got to know, fifteen minutes ago, that Mary was pregnant.Mary his love. For who? No body in certain. For some unseen spirit. He shook his head ferociously again than the first and continued in his well of thoughts. He stooped and thought of the good times, the pleasant days nd the promising once. He remembered she had once promised him to be a faithful wife. “Faithful wife? How can a faithful wife emerge from a promiscuous fiancee?” He mumbled. What can he do now! He wouldn’t want to disgrace himself, Mary and their parents on the matrimonial night, when he would be asked to bring the white handkerchief expected to be stained with blood. These so-called yoruba customs were driving him somewhat crazy. But crazy or not, one of his great-grandfathers was the greatest and strongest king of the old Oyo Empire- uniting the kingdoms of Yoruba land, their family was well known, he had to do something.
Then a plan filled his mind. He could call off the whole thing. But what would happen to all the yams, kegs of palm oil, baskets of fruits, bags of clothes and imported schnapps he submitted at the engagement party, five months before. Should it be just a gift of charity? He had done his best to gather the best of those things, all to impress Mary and her parents. But now mary was pregnant, if for him, would be just a little hitch. But not for him, not for no body he could beat-up or perhaps give a take back attack. For a spirit he couldn’t see nd hence couldn’t fight. “Mary why! Mary why!! How could u? Why did u? When did……..Ah Mary WHY! HOW!! WHERE!!!” Joseph lamented with tears rolling down both his cheeks. He was deeply hurt. Resting now on a bench, under a tree beside his workshop, he drifted off to sleep.
Joseph still couldn’t believe he had slept off. Not because of the time but because of the place. In his workshop? No! He has never slept in his workshop, not for once. Whenever he stepped into his workshop, his eyes becomes as wide as a rat being chased by a cat. All his nerves and body systems centre themselves on working….working and working alone. But after all, today was different from all other days he had spent in that workshop. He had slept off. Dozing was quite acceptable, but he was dreaming, sleeping and dreaming, dreaming and sleeping. He sat up, putting his twisted fingers below his jaw in such a way that it rested on it. He shut his eyes, trying to remember his dream.
Yes! It was more like a vision than a dream. A vision that analysed a mission. He was staying by a riverside, when suddenly a man approached him identifying himself as Angel Gabriel. Still now,Joseph thought angels were mare illusions. But when Gabriel called his name and told him a clear story of his generation from David like his father had said and more, he was sure there must be a spirit world. Gabriel had on him such a purely white apparel, that its reflection on joseph made him think he was wearing white too. All through their conversation, Joseph could look at Gabriel’s face just twice. When he mentioned his name and when he said ‘Mary’s baby’.
“… it is by the Holy Spirit…name him Jesus..save from sin…Isaiah’s prophecy…called Immanuel- God with us…” Joseph rehearsed the words of the angel. Normally, Joseph finds it difficult to believe the words of a stranger, but a man that knows his name, his father’s house, the history of Oyo,the future and the burden on his mind is certainly not a stranger. Joseph neglected his earlier plan of divorce and accepted responsibility- to father a child conceived of a spirit. Then Joseph rose up, went out, locked his workshop and headed straight to Mary’s house.