Dearest Monica
By: Matthew K Chikono

Two weeks after my daughter started attending a local community college in our neighbourhood, she woke up to find a woman staring into her eyes. She flew out of the bed, dashed downstairs, where the rest of the family was having breakfast, screaming that a ghost was trying to rip her soul out through her eyes. She screamed even more when she turned around to see the cloudy and unclear woman still hovering few inches in the air, right behind her. When she couldn't scream anymore, she collapsed on the floor and fainted.

I finished my toast and coffee and went to where she lay. Even unconscious, Emily looked small and innocent for a teenager with juvenile record and a history of drug abuse. Her dyed green hair didn't do any good to match her perfectly dark skin. She had always complained that she wasn't outstanding. She was wrong. In her usual shorts and bikini outfit I could swear she was not my daughter. I am sure the rest of the huge family thought so as I picked and placed her on the couch where she lay comfortably for some feel minutes.

My mother, who sat on the head of the table, stood up without touching her bread and came where I stood looking down at Emily. The face she wore, my mother, told of questions she was about to slap my daughter with. I knew most of those wouldn't be answered and the whole thing would end up being a sermon or a teaching my mother would deliver until lunch. She was the priestess after all. She was wearing her usual holy attire, a green plain dress with a matching head towel, jingles and beads hanging on her neck and wrists and her chocolate-brown face was decorated with red ugly lines and marks.

Behind the priestess, I could see my older my brother and his wife standing up following her. That's what they do, they follow behind mommy everywhere she goes. They obey her every command, no wonder they are my mother's favourites. Their oldest son, who is of Emily's age, stood from the table and started marching flamboyantly where we adults stood. My wife stopped him with a gaze before ordering him back to the table where the rest of my two children, three of my brother's kids and my uncles and aunties with their children sat with their eyes on their plates not sure what to do in during that awkward moment.

My wife was kind enough to bring a glass of water from the kitchen. She poured half of it on Emily's face. Emily jolted back to life with her mouth wide open, ready to lash out her scream again. We all placed our fingers on my mouths to stop her from screaming, luckily it worked.

"So, you are a woman now?" My mother was the first to break the ice.

"Who was it?"

I let my mother take care of the situation, she looked more capable than I was. She had done it so many times to members of our family that everyone had started calling her the priestess.

"Who was it?" My wife asked again.

Emily looked up to everyone's face, confusion pasted on her face.

"Gloria, will you keep quiet. Your daughter wakes up to find that she can see ghosts and you are more interested in knowing who took her virginity last night?" My mother said without taking a breath. It was something that couldn't be said aloud in every family. I was embarrassed, so I shrugged for the three of us.

She is not my mother, that’s what Emily usually screams whenever anyone one calls her my wife’s daughter. I think I heard her say so. My wife had raised Emily since she was three after Emily’s mother had lost her soul to a Monica.

I was delusional, I am sure; Emily was still in shock, and it seems impossible for her to utter a word in such circumstances.

The priestess sat beside Emily on the couch and held her hand. She knew how to calm beasts and Emily was a wounded one.

"Emily my dear, I want you to calm down." The priestess said to her granddaughter,

"I want you to look behind you, slowly."

Emily did take a glance behind her and saw the ghost patiently observing the small crowd. The ghost gave her a courtesy smile and Emily lost her mind. She leapt into the air and tried to escape upsetting tables and the couch, leaving my mother on the floor and the rest of the furniture in disarray. It took everything we got, my brother and I, to pin her down. After a while she calmed, and she forcefully gulped down the rest of the water my wife still held in her hand.

"When a descendant of our lineage knew a man or a woman for the first time," my grandmother started again after she had picked herself up from the floor," their eyes are opened to see our guiding angel, Monica."

Monica wasn't an angel, we all knew that, but we couldn't tell the young ones that she was a collection of ghosts of our departed ancestors guiding them into adulthood. On our first sexual intercourse, we gain essence from our partners that allows to see how our futures were influenced. Monica was the form the essence took. She would always be there, hovering around quietly and giving silent guidance.

My mother did a better job explaining it to Emily again for the thousandth time. After a while, Emily calmed and was able to eye Monica suspiciously without bolting away. Monica made her way to the table where the rest of the family smiled at her arrival. They loved and worshipped her; we all did. Thus, in return she fed our family gave use advise and made us prosper.

From the kitchen table I could see my brother's eldest son with his mouth open.

"Who took it?" I could make out the words from his mouth.

Emily raised her finger in response. It would be weird to talk about her first sexual intercourse I guess, especially with the whole family gathered.

I looked at my wife gazing at the spot where Monica had been a minute earlier, she didn't know she was no longer there. She always hoped to see Monica one day, even for a glimpse. That, unfortunately, wasn't a gift she was meant to receive.



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