Father Desirade

Father Desirade

A Story by Haim Kadman

A excerpt of the novel "It's God's Wish", which describes the rivalry between two churches in West Africa.



The orange sphere of the setting sun glowed above the western golden hill tops, sneaking time and again between the broad leaves of the tick trees, which separated the hotel from the horizon line; a crimson sunset so typical to this part of the world, was in mid setting.

Father Felix Desirade parked his light bike at the narrow parking place at the feet of the balcony of the village's sole hotel. He climbed the stairs that led to the hotel's entrance ponderously, and uttered a sigh of relief as he reached the balcony's floor. He crossed the entrance of the small restaurant and reviewed with a comprehensive gaze the restaurant's empty hall.

A typical African music filled the air, and at the bar near the entrance stood a young African, listening to the local radio station.

'Are there any guests today Francois?' Father Desirad asked him while advancing towards the bar.

The young African nodded his head from side to side, and a shade of a smile appeared on his face as he asked: 'Pastis?'

'No thanks, a local lager beer please,' Desirade hastened to answer, and turned his face away from the mocking smile on the young African face. He rushed out to the balcony and sat at one of the tables that were next to the parapet. He watched the dying sun and glanced time and again at the road below the hill, on which the hotel is situated.

Every time when his lot of frustration reached an unbearable peak, he used to visit the hotel at about this hour of day; to watch the setting sun, and to exchange a few words with one of the village's residents, which could afford a visit at the hotel's bar and happened by.

In this forlorn village lived his church congregation, he was the spiritual father of this miserable village residents, which expanded on both sides of the road beneath the village sole hotel.

He was sent from France some eight years ago, to strengthen the influence of Christianity in this part of Africa. He did not entertain illusions concerning his future, this mission was in fact the last chapter of his life; a kind of exile, which he was forced to accept.

At the end of his first year of mission most of his congregation members left him, and his church that was no more than an African hut, which was a bit bigger compared to an ordinary hut was empty and deserted even on Sundays.

At the beginning of his second year he almost lost his mind out of desperation, each time he was assaulted with fears of his seniors in France, and the shame that this state of helplessness brought him.

He used to visit the huts of those few he was still able to convince to come and listen to his sermons, not before he begged them and promised them paradise or threatened them with the Day of Judgment. But the few that he managed to persuade to return to his church, after so many efforts on his part have deserted him time and again.

A slight trail of dust rose above the dirt road that climbs from the village to the hotel, and a clattering noise of a bike's engine was heard louder and louder as the bike was getting nearer.

Thank God someone is coming at last, Father Desirade thought relieved, watching the moving bike getting bigger and bigger and the ever increasing dust trail in its wake. When the bike reached the feet of the hotel's staircase, Father Desirade raised his arm and moved it towards the stranger in an inviting sign no matter whom he is, provided he will sit with him and pull him out from his stiffening loneliness.

'Hello Dave,' father Desirade called out cheerfully perceiving the handsome young man that has just switched off his bike's engine, and parked it at the hotel narrow parking space.

David Walters smiled back to him while mounting the hotel's staircase that led to the hotel broad balcony, having reached his friend he shook warmly hands with him and they both sat down opposite each other.

This handsome young man was twenty two years old; he was slim, tall and the fair forelock that fell on his brow above two blue intelligent eyes intensified his charismatic appearance.

'I wouldn't be surprised if your forefathers were French Huguenots that were discriminated in France and had to immigrate to the new world.' Father Desirade declared with enthusiasm caused by the appearance of that good looking young American

'My forefathers were Welshmen and they arrived at the new world with the Mayflower.' Dave replied him with an amused smile. 'It was checked and verified.'

'You should have been born a Frenchman so help me.' Father Desirade declared despite the slight disappointment his guest caused him.

'Francois,' father Desirade raised his voice turning to the young African that stood in the entrance watching the newcomer several minutes already.

'Do fetch us cold beers we're thirsty.'

'And who's going to pay?' The young barman asked with impudence.

'Don't you worry my son,' father Desirade answered him pulling a few bank notes from his coat's inner pocket.

Francois returned to the hall and after a short while he came back carrying a platter with two glasses and two bottles as ordered, and put his load on the table and smiled to Dave before he returned to the bar.

Father Desirade was very fond of the young and handsome American that arrived with a dozen of boys and girls, which volunteered to the American Peace Corps to serve in this forlorn village about a year ago.

Dave despite his charismatic appearance was a loner, and he kept away from his compatriots whenever he could, that was one of the reasons that brought father Desirade and him together and was the cause of their exceptional friendship.

'You're returning early tonight,' father Desirade remarked after they clinked their glasses and quenched their thirst.

'Yes that's right,' Dave mumbled and turned his eyes to watch the sun's orange orbit, which gleamed still above the green hills.

'I've been invited to have dinner with the Benson family tonight, but I don't think I'll accept their invitation this time, you do know them don't you?' He looked back at father Desirade.

'I wouldn't say that I know them although I've been introduced to them, but I wasn't invited yet to visit them.' Father Desirade answered him clearing slightly his throat. 'I doubt it very much if I'll ever be invited to pay them a visit,' He added with a chuckle to cover how edgy he is, but his facial expression did not change.

Dave watched his friend's face rather surprised, father Desirade downfall was never mentioned in their conversations, not even in a clue like it has been exposed this very time.

'Correct me if I'm wrong,' Dave turned to his friend with caution. 'Doesn't their success worry you? Their church is crowded to its full capacity every Sunday…' For a friction of a second Dave was assailed with feelings of regret, lest he has offended his friend inadvertently.

'I'm a very practical and a realistic man Dave; their success doesn't arouse my envy. I've been successful too during my first year here.' When father Desirade noticed the young man's embarrassment he hastened to add: 'During the eight years that I'm serving here, no eminent person of my church bothered to visit me; maybe the reason is the three hundred and fifty miles of dirt road strewn with obstacles between the capital and us and are the guarantee to my survival here, and to my loneliness though it may seem strange to you Dave.' Father Desirade remarked with a melancholic smile. 'Let's presume that the echoes of the Christian Unity Church success would reach France, and would emphasize my shortcomings; I'm not scared on the contrary I'm full of hope, let them summon me back to Paris through a telegram my superiors, and pull me out of this forlorn village… What can they do to me? They'll install me in one of their offices at the most, to take care of all the church's representatives, which are dispersed in the black continent. I'm tired and sick Dave out of disappointments and loneliness, and maybe I'd better stop preaching on Sundays.' Father Desirade summed his trial with a sad smile, as if he accepts his fate with tranquility.

Thus father Desirade masked the truth rather well in his supposedly open hearted confession, which was completely different from the true situation in which he was living. He followed with alarm the successes of Benson and his wife from the first day of their arrival at the village, their successful industrious activity aroused in him extreme hatred that pulled him out of his apathy and his feebleness, which have overpowered him for such a long time; and in what summed up his activity during the last years for truth sake... It was summed up in stealthily drunkenness and sleeping with the African female that served him; and in going from door to door between his ex church goers’ huts, begging them to return to his church, and in sending false reports to his superiors in France about the spiritual enlightening with which he endows his community of believers. While that American couple have no lack of means and they tend the needy among their community with money donations. So how can anyone wonder when their church is crowded every Sunday and that they are so successful, while he curses them every night on his bed unable to sleep out of jealousy.

@ Haim Kadman 1983 �" all rights reserved.

© 2020 Haim Kadman

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Added on October 27, 2020
Last Updated on October 27, 2020
Tags: religion, chrstianity, preacher, church, west, africa, friendship


Haim Kadman
Haim Kadman

Petach-Tikva, Israel

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