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Onyeka Nwelue

34 years old from UK

My Experiences As An Atheist

Written 2006-05-27

I decided on committing suicide on a Sunday evening in 2005 when my mother came back from the church and indirectly blotted out a message to me: that my mentor, Ikenna Egerue had died. Actually, I didn't want to believe her, but my mother never and does not play pranks, talk more of playing with the life of someone I valued so much. Looking into her eyes, I saw tears filling them; I understood it was true-I quickly ran out of the parlour and headed for the backyard, with my head shattered. Like she knew what I was going to do, she followed me and said, 'I am here. Your father is here. God is with you. This is not the end of your life. Your sister and brothers are all here. They want you to live and show your greatness'. Those words struck me, but I knew that God wasn't with me. What I thought to myself was that was the third time he was disappointing me.
Three people lost their lives, while associating with me.
Moreover, I was reading Ikenna's novel, The Street Boy's Dream that very evening, when my mother came in and she asked, 'Have you heard the rumours?' I replied, 'What rumours?' That was how I got to know about the death of someone I spoke with just two days before (Friday), and I was told on Sunday that he had died. I could remember vividly the last mail he sent to me on the 12th of March 2005, in which he wrote: 'My dear brother, I am certainly very proud of you and will do all within my reach to encourage you. Ride on and the sky will be your very beginning'. I stood in stunned silence and visualised myself bidding farewell to him.
He was the third to die, associating with me.
It was from that moment that everything about atheism clogged my heart, which I believe almost, ruined my life, and indirectly raged my successes to an abrupt end. I was shattered. My life became ridiculous to live, everything I did failed, and people mocked me, including my friends.
On the 31st December, 2004 around 5:47 am, one of my Uncles woke me up from the parlour where I slept alone, because the entire rooms were filled up. That was Christmas remember, and everyone had just returned. So, as he took me to his room, he showed me a silvered box, and asked me to carry it, and I did. When I was at the backyard with the box, he asked me to burn it entirely without leaving any document behind. I demanded to know and he said: 'They said it is evil. They said I should burn it. But I don't see any evil in it'. My heart bumped. Who were these they? I soliloquized. It was at the long last, that I realized that the they was my aunt in Lagos; who apparently was revealed the secret to; that he was a Rosicrucian, belonging to the largest fraternity in the world, the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). From what I read from his initiation certificate, he was initiated around 1978...and to me, it was just a long story that I needed not to know, so I decided to keep those documents to myself. As I read them, I fell sick...That was when my miserable life really began...

Although I sensed what was happening to me: that someone was trying to rumple my destiny-this was what my grandmother revealed to me in one of my strange encounters with her in dreams. She told me that I had to disconnect from all the people I was associating with: that if I continued my relationship with them, that all of them would die. I started early in 2005, to make sure that I disconnected as many as possible, before I became a murderer, but before I knew it, Ikenna was gone. That was after my god father died. But what flabbergasted me, was that these people died in mysterious ways, if I should say it that way. Again, I succeeded in disconnecting them, but only one person was adamant to disconnect: Mr. Jahman Anikulapo, the Sunday Editor of the Guardian. Though he was quiet for some time, but he never disconnected actually, so I watched to see what would happen, but nothing happened.
I became happy.
I met him in July, 2004 at the National Theatre, Lagos during the Wole Soyinka Festival. As he was the one that facilitated my meeting and taking a photograph with the Nobel Laureate, I didn't want anything to happen to him. Moreover, whenever I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw demons. My mother thought I was mad; my father said fully that I was mad; my brothers said I was abnormal; but my sister didn't say anything. I had troubles with my friends, and asked them all to leave me alone. I became friendless. I had no one to talk to; I was never interested in going to church, because I thought that God had deserted me; everything I did those times failed and my life was completely shattered. With my abnormality, I decided to stay indoors and staying indoors, I got myself busy with the Rosicrucian Manual for Initiation. Still, my father cared so much about me, than he did to my siblings. He gave me everything I wanted...

Nevertheless, I was not deterred from writing my works-even when I knew that my destiny was in the hands of some men who read The Seven Books of Moses and glared with cats. Not only that; all the dreams I had during those periods were mysterious. My late grandmother visited me continuously. Sometimes,it seemed she came physically and she continued telling me to be careful, because as I know, she loved me so much, that even before her death, she never stopped urging me to become great, which I still dream of. She and God made me whatever I am today, and beyond our mysterious discussions, I could hear my mother's voice. She prayed daily, as I can say, those prayers troubled me so much. As everything went on, my mother guessed I had turned into something strange, and she tried everything she could to bring me back, but I didn't want to, because I had the belief that there was no happiness believing in God. Those prayers were like stones pelted on my head. I decided to run away from home, and that was to Lagos...
And I did.
I thought I was going to be ok in Lagos, but there my aunt was. We all know her as Big Aunty, mild and gentle. She was the one that pointed my Uncle as a Rosicrucian, I didn't know that. But when I realized, I was afraid she was going to see mine. She might have seen it, but never told me. But still, I was not at ease. Though I was no wizard, no cultist, I never believed in a single word from the Bible, I saw them as lies, as fabrications and as words written by my fellow writers. Fortunately and unfortunately for me, my aunt traveled to the US in August, but her husband was there. I decided that I was going to let the sleeping dog lie. I had left my home to see if I could find some rests in Lagos, but everything seemed like lies to me: they prayed each morning. Albeit, I prayed with them, I never believed in those words...and I continued to see demons living within the same building with me, as though we were foes, they fought me, and I retaliated. At the long last, I won.
I never knew that atheism was like being anti-Christ. I thought it was just not believing in God, because I started hating everything about God (I know he has forgiven me), I criticized the Bible so boldly and anyone who came across me, shuddered and watched me in shock. I lived a miserable life, full of fantasies and mysticisms. There was something again that struck me: when I had a hair cut, I fell sick. That really thwarted my mind, so I decided not to barb my hair, no matter what people said.
If anyone tells you he has talked with the dead and seen demons, don't say he is joking. Because I had conversations with those I didn't know. My life was demolished by some spirits that I didn't know. My aunt's maid had once said that I am mad, because of my conversations. That never bothered me.

My grandmother came back to me on a Sunday morning (that day I didn't go to church, because we talked throughout the day, but I didn't bother to tell anyone what happened), while I was in Lagos; and she told me that if I didn't abstain from not believing in God, that my parents were going to die. Each night I had a dream; it was either my mother or my father died in it. And on the next morning, I would telephone my father to hear their voice. So, I vowed that I wasn't going to lose my parents for some lofty things, so I decided to persuade myself into worshipping God. But it was not all that easy for me. I still tried. And God manifested gently in my life. That was the first day I had a First Thought about God, since 2003. Though I was a Senior Prefect in a seminary school; I preached the Gospel, because it was certain, I prayed heavily, but I never believed in a single world from the Bible.
My entire troubles came to an abrupt stop one day when I decided to go back to the Rosicrucian book, The Mystical Life of Jesus, written by Harvey Spencer Lewis, the founder of the Rosicrucian Order, the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, in which I read about the Jesus, who was born of 'Gentile' parents, of Aryan descent, but 'Jews by forced adoption', (p.55). The book goes on to say that there was this Mary, said to be the daughter of a high priest of the Temple of the Sun outside Jerusalem (p.97). Then, a Joseph who was a widower at that time (p.104)-and they have birth to a child in an Essene cave on the highway outside Bethlehem (p.199), so I guessed that was the same period Jesus Christ was born. As the story continues, the boy was named Jesus and after His education by the Essenes, he traveled with two Magi to the east. While in India, He took a short course in Hindu practices and also investigated Buddhism (pp.182, 185). Again, this Jesus was a reincarnation of Zoroaster, so reading that gave me another point: that this Jesus lived and died in India, with his tomb still in Kashmir, the capital of Srinagar...

Moreover, I had started a novel, which was part autobiography; I decided that I would go to India and research thoughtfully and deeply for it. I didn't want to tell anyone about my plan; but my aunt's husband was so concerned about me. I can say we made this secretive. I applied for an Indian visa and within one week, I was out of Lagos...

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This is a diary I kept in my blog (http:/onyekanwelue.blogspot.com) after joggling around in India.

a midsummer night's dream

Written 2006-04-17

The stage production of William Arden Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, by a British director Tim Supple was one in a million-that everyone talked about it and questions rode questions, on how the performance went. 'It is the best production I have ever seen. What grapples me most, is the cast, ravaging with a rich choreography', this was said by the British Ambassador to India in a chat with Times of India.

The almighty dramatist play was sponsored for production by the British Council, India. Staged at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, on Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi, on the 3 of March, the old, but became-new play was performed by what Mr. Supple described as 'an all Indian and Sri Lankan cast', spoken in many languages, from English to Hindi and Bengali.

It was free. But one has to get a pass to be admitted in. All and sundry came for this mesmerizing production-and all came and went, but only one person never went from my memory. The one and only Arundhati Roy-the world acclaimed author of The God of Small Things. She was there. She was there for good and praises poured on her. Her presence sweetened the sweet production, as well as heightened emotions.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare, written sometime in the mid-1590s. It depicts the adventures of four young lovers and a group of amateur actors in a moonlit forest, and their interactions with the fairies who inhabit it. Today, the play is one of Shakespeare's most popular and is performed across the world.

When the production came to an end with a big coctail and wide applauds, I realised that I have never read this acclaimed bestseller. And so, I wobbled into a bookshop around and got a copy. It is cheap here in India. Everything is cheap. And I read this book in three days. Unbelievable? That is the truth. Because the story line is straight and sweet. But before then, the writer-activist who lives in New Delhi spoke about life as a writer. 'You have to be yourself. No pretence. And if any pretence, that should be embedded in your characters. Think like your characters and see what this life is all about', Ms Roy said, intoned.

There is something surreal about her. Her benevolence and non-descriminative wit and candour. India has bestselling authors like Salman Rushdie (Satanic Verses), Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies), Chetan Bhagat (One Night @ the Call Centre), the Nobel Laureates and more. But who lives within? If any, how many are they? Just like our own (Nigeria), where 'everyone who succeeds as a writer nowadays, trundles around for visa and gets away', Ms Roy caught saying.

Anyway, the production which began about 7.00 p.m came to an end at about 9pm. It was like the same experience I had watching Wole Akinwande Soyinka's Kongi's Harvest at the National Theatre, yesteryears. And the two indomitable playwrights have things in common. Their vulgar way of expressing baldry and wit and humour. Just like their names, William Arden Shakespeare and Wole Akinwande Soyinka grill. WAS or WS, they are all the same.

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