Hosea planned to host the party of the year and invited his best friends – the brostars as everyone knew them. These were the boys and girls who over the years had saved each other from one thing or another, and had stuck with each other through thick or thin. He, of course, did not give a reason for the party and invitees had to read between the lines of his favourite African quotes, “A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.” ― Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. And so, the brostarhood did not RSVP with remarks like “shall I bring a bottle?” or “do you want me to cook something?”: no, they all RSVP’d “Thank you and see you then!” Others added “Can’t wait!”
On arrival, the brostars realised they were not the only invited guests. There were some people from the church Hosea attended – he was the only brostar who attended church regularly and believed in the teachings. For a few moment mixed feelings and thoughts flooded the minds of the brostars – Jade wondered if Hosea was relocating and wanted to throw a farewell party; Joshua, the uncontested leader of the pack, wondered if Hosea had committed a heinous crime and wanted to confess to all of them in front of a religious leader to gain forgiveness from the most high; Ade wondered where the food and the jack Daniel was at: no one communicated these thoughts, but you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Whenever the brostars met, it was to celebrate something or drink copious amounts of alcohol for no reasons at all. Live and let live. But now Hosea has invited them and added a few extra non-brostars to the party. It was very confusing.
Hosea introduced everyone. The pastor said he hoped to see the same faces on Sunday in his church. “Keep hoping!” thought Safira, the atheist in the group. She hated gatherings with pastors and overzealous Christians who often told her the (hers) path to hell was paved with gold. She keeps her opinions to herself because if the day she will speak out will be the day she’d send these sanctimonious beings to meet their maker – prematurely.
As custom dictates, the pastor prayed for the food. Safira’s boyfriend, Ade, another atheist, insisted on thanking the ancestors by pouring a few shots of Jack Daniel on the ground. He did so by while reciting some inaudible verses from a book no one ever heard of. The pastor looked at him from under his glasses – if eyes were bullets…. Safira saw the look and smiled.
After dinner and before the brostars got drunk and the pastor and church leaders left disgusted with Hosea heathen friends, he [Hosea] stood up and made an announcement. He lifted his glass, tapped it lightly with a knife to get people’s attention.
“I’d like to thank you all for coming today. I’m highly blessed to have all of you in my life. I have invited the church elders so that they can bless this day.”
“What the fuck is going on?” Safira whispered to Joshua.
“Hell knows.” He replied without looking at her but his eyes squarely on Hosea, who, come to think of it has been behaving differently.
A few months ago, he had texted on the group chat “watch this space something massive will happen.” People waited, and nothing happened. Surprisingly no one followed up, actually it was not that surprising – Hosea was the only staunch Christian in this mix and most of his messages to the group were scriptures and doomsday predictions that no cared to read.
“I have come to a huge blessing.” Hosea continued in a voice that was getting higher and excited at every syllable. His chest was rising and falling as he narrated a ludicrous dream that was vivid and lucid at the same time. Finally, he was now getting the attention even of his brostars who he’d recently started having doubts about. He feared for Safira and her future generations.
After the lengthy monologue Hosea handed sealed envelopes to his guests. Each bore the name of the holder. Hosea asked his friends not to open the envelopes until they got home. This was a very scary moment for everyone especially for realist Safira.
“Hosea, I will open mine now. Because if this is a suicide note and I don’t do something about it now, then it becomes a homicide. I will not be a part of that.”
Bizarrely Hosea was grining idiotically and this only worsened Safira’s fears and soon everyone joined in the paranoia. Collectively they decided to open the envelopes. Hosea did not protest. He was by then laughing and saying ‘Amen’ ‘praise the Lord’ etc that everyone was ready to call an ambulance that would transport him to Bedlam.
The envelopes contained cheques. The amount to each person varied – the pastor got one million pounds. The brostars got 100K and most of the other low-profile guests got between 50K and 10K. Everyone was stunned. No one said anything for at least 5 minutes. The only person heard for miles was Hosea and his ‘praise the almighty’ and ‘he is god’ rants. When the silent pandemonium died down, the pastor asked Hosea to explain.
“I’ve won the lottery!” he declared and ranted one more time.
Another stunned silence.
Then real pandemonium and exaggerated hugs between friends and foes.
The pastor asked for a two minutes silence and prayed for the next twenty-eight minutes. This time he remembered to thank God for blessing Hosea and for opening his eyes to what was important. The gift to the church was truly a blessing. Half way through the prayers he asked Hosea to write a cheque and be explicit in the word ‘gift’ so the church can claim tax return or something.
The whole time Joshua said nothing, because he had noticed his cheque was post-dated.
“Are all the cheques post-dated?” he asked out loud. Everybody looked at their cheque. A blanket of doubt fell on them.
“Camelot said my cheque will take 10 days to clear.” Hosea announced convincingly, and the blanket was lifted.
Joshua made a mental note to talk to Hosea privately and advise him against making this too public in case the Kamaus and Ayos visited his mother in her remote village somewhere in Malindi, Kenya.
It’s been one month, and no money was forthcoming. Safira and Ade are under police investigation for fraud. Hosea is nowhere to be found. The pastor lost ‘wood’ after his envisioned Joel Osteen lifestyle extinguished and is now a permanent resident in Bethlam in the South East of London. Joshua did not deposit his cheque and is being watched: he plans to sue Hosea for deception and petition for him to be sectioned under mental health act 2007.