by Eno Oluwawunmi

Ron sat on the patio, rocking back and forth in the bamboo chair and smacking his lips as though chewing rubber. His older sister Amy sat in the family room watching her favourite sitcom, Different Strokes. She had just given him some of her deliciously baked chocolate Biscotti. Alongside the Biscotti, she had baked scones, cupcakes, cookies and pies for the workers’ retreat taking place in a few days. Amy taught children between the ages of three and five every Sunday. Her ambition, she told her parents a few weeks earlier over dinner, was to own a daycare. Her mother differed, saying teaching children could be her hobby not a career and just anyone could teach them. Amy’s mother thought she should become a lawyer, but Amy’s father said  she could follow her dreams. Amy had already filled her career forms and was preparing for the matriculation exams in a few months.

She gave Ron, her last brother whom she nicknamed “Esau” because he was hairy at birth, a side glance, irked by the way he was chewing.  “Chew decently, goat!” she screamed. Ron shut his eyes, swung his small head rapidly, chewing louder, as if making beats with his mouth.

“You heard me, hairy brat, didn’t you? I’ve told you for the umpteenth time, animals eat the way you do.”

“Let your words be decent, sister of Lucifer,” he ran up the stairs as fast as his tiny legs and frail body could carry him. He swung his room door closed, blotting his sister and her wrath out of his sight. She stood outside his door fuming, tapping the door with her chubby index finger.

“I always knew you were an Esau, you idiot,” she barked outside the door.

“You’re fond of lashing out at your younger siblings, Amy,” Ron shouted back.

“Yes, because you don’t understand seniority.”

“Seniority, my foot!”

She felt all the more insulted by Ron. And in return, she threw sarcastic, angry words at him. When she had exhausted her bank of words, she walked down the stairs in slow motion, fulfilled. She sat on the last rung. Her black and blonde braids covered her face. “I did it again, Lord,” she whispered to herself, dropping her head between her knees. She stared at her large palms, remorseful about the words she used to describe her brother. Her palms were wet, and she shivered in fright. The words their father shared during the morning devotion came right back to her: “Let your words be whole…seasoned with salt.”  She knew Ron would stay away from her, refusing to come out of his room, and starve himself till their parents came back home. Her flesh said, “you did the right thing, he deserved to be whipped.” But she knew her words grieved the Spirit of God in her. She was to be a godly example to Ron, the rest of her siblings and the world round about her.

“Dear God, I am sorry. Please forgive me.”

She swung her braids to the back and ran up the stairs, hesitating at Ron’s door. “I…R…Ron, I am very sorry, Ron,” she said, stammering as she spoke. Teary, Ron replied from the room.

“I am truly sorry, sister, for being rude to you.” He flung open the door and ran into her arms. “Sorry with all my heart.” The hugged each other and made for the stairs.

Lesson: “Let there be no more foul language, but good words instead — words suitable for the occasion, which God can use to help other people” (Ephesians 4:29).

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