Rev. Anthony was blessed with the commitment the Landings brought to the table. Jonathan and Matthew were readily available to do repairs and other menial tasks in the church. Ebele was in charge of the church’s men wing. He organised them for outreach and other social welfare programs until he fell sick.
Ebele’s sickness took a huge toll on the Landings and not only did the church work suffer, his business and home felt the impact.
Ijeadie had to be on her toes to make things work in the home. She sold firewood, corn, plantain and whatever fruit that was in season. The little she made was split between feeding and her husband’s medicines. Jonathan and Matthew were on scholarship at the missionary school, so the burden of school fees was off Ijeadie’s shoulders.
One morning, as Jonathan and Matthew prepared for school, they stopped by their Father’s room. Ever since he fell sick, he slept alone. Jonathan knocked gently. There was no response. He looked at Matthew and silently prayed that the worst hadn’t happened.
Matthew nudged him to knock again. Jonathan knocked again.
” Come in ” Ebele said faintly from inside.
Jonathan gave Matthew a wry smile and opened the door gently. The room was dimly lit. Matthew tried to switch on the bulb but Ebele said ‘No! I don’t need that’
Matthew did not understand his father. He hated seeing him like that. How can the man who gave light to the whole of Elewele shy away from it? He thought.
” what are you still doing here? Will you two get going or face the wrath of the Principal!” Ijeadie shouted.
The boys ran out of the room, picked their bags in the parlour and raced out of the house. Ijeadie looked at her frail husband as he groaned in pains. She shook her head and exited the room, closing the door.
Jonathan and Matthew took the lonely pathway of palm trees to the missionary school. It was a short route. It was hard to miss Pascal, the palm wine tapper on this route. He was rich, famous, diligent and so humble. His palm wine was unusually so tasty. The boys spot him from afar, on a tree. As they got closer to the tree, they looked up and shouted together.
” Good morning Mr.Pascal! “
Pascal held on tight to his belt made of thick leather. He was too skillful. He looked down, smiled and said,
‘oh my! It’s the Landings brothers. How are you?’
‘Fine sir’ they chorused
” I hear it’s examination week at the missionary school. I wish you the best of luck. Success boys!”
” Thank you sir! ” They chorused again watched him continue his work at the top of the tree and continued their journey.
They had not gone more than ten steps when they heard a big thud in the shrubs. Pascal had fallen from the tree. The boys screamed and ran to the spot. Pascal foamed in the mouth and was stiff like a stick. Some passers by suddenly appeared and shook their heads. They looked at the boys suspiciously and wondered how the skillful Pascal fell from the tree.