A Novel Written By: Kolade Segun-Okeowo (KSO)
Morakinyo saw her off to the motor park. The ten minute walk seemed like eternity, the silence was almost visible. The two of them knew there was nothing to talk about. When eventually they got to the motor park, Gbayike could not help saying “Praise God”. Morakinyo heard her but thought she was just thanking God that the wagon had not gone yet.
“I’ll wait to see the vehicle leave” Morakinyo said, though he did not really mean what he said.
“Oh … no, please don’t be bothered. I’ll be okay. I’m sure you’ve done enough, thank you very much”
As soon as Morakinyo left the vehicle, the tears already swelling burst. Gbayike quickly brought out her handkerchief to wipe the tears. She turned back to see Morakinyo leaving the park. She had turned just at the same time Morakinyo looked back and their eyes met. Gbayike quickly withdrew and turned back into the vehicle. She knew her destiny has been affected for life. A part of her had been lost!
She loved Morakinyo passionately, but now that dream was gone… gone forever.
She stayed another one hour in the wagon before it got filled up. It was not the market day. So the number of passengers was lesser than in the morning. As soon as the journey started, she bowed her head into a face-towel and wept, her sobs completely submerged by the noisy engine of the wagon.
Pastor Kalejaye is not a man easily betrayed by his emotions, but the news was too shocking for any man to keep emotions. He stared straight into Gbayike’s tear-filled eyes unable to believe what he just heard. His wife sat there transfixed her arms clasped across her chest. She broke the silence.
“You mean Morakinyo has married someone in the village?” It was more of a statement than question.
“Will I tell lies mummy, he confirmed it himself” Gbayike was tired of saying it again. It was not only depressing but also disgusting.
“But that is surprising …” Pastor Mrs. Kalejaye could not suppress the words “He did not tell us before doing such a thing … or My Dear, did he mention it to you?” She turned to her husband and asked.
Pastor Kalejaye sighed heavily and cleared his throat so as to make the words would come out clean and clear.“Not at all … ever since he came to share the testimony of how the Lord provided the village church with generator and other items, I’ve not set my eyes on him” explained Pastor Kalejaye.
“But Gbayike … the fault is yours” He turned to Gbayike who has not overcome the shock. Her tears were still flowing freely. She knew what the pastor meant and prayed he doesn’t go on. The prayer was not answered. Pastor Kalejaye continued.
“I told you to go and confess to Morakinyo on time but you refused. Now after almost three months, you went and came back with this … see what your procrastination has caused…By the way, didn’t I instruct you not to go alone…Ehn…Anyway, we shall address that act of disobedience later”
Pastor Kalejaye’s voice was emotion-laden and shaking. Gbayike’s sobbing increased.
“… and this woman Morakinyo married” continued Pastor Kalejaye “Is she a child of God?”
“She said her name is Oyinkansola … I don’t know if she is a child of God or not” Gbayike said amidst sobs. “The only thing I noticed was that something was shinning strangely in the woman’s eyes”
“Oh my God!” Pastor Kalejaye’s wife was the first to react, her hands still clasped across her chest.
“You mean this woman Bro. Morakinyo married?” Mrs Kalejaye continued. She’s an expert in the area of marriage counselling. She has headed that office in the church for over ten years now. She develops interest quickly in issues pertaining to courtship and marriage. She knew everything that transpired between Morakinyo and his late fiancée who died in an accident three months to their wedding. She was also conversant with all the efforts Morakinyo had made to convince Gbayike before he finally left for his mission work.
“Daddy, this is strange!” She turned to her husband “Do you remember the dream Brother Morakinyo had before he left for the village?”
Pastor Kalejaye kept quiet for about thirty seconds considering what his wife had just said. It was true Morakinyo told him about the dream but since he had prayed for him, he had completely forgotten about it.
‘Oh my God, the dream!’ He thought. ‘What if the dream is now coming to pass … God Forbid?’
Pastor Kalejaye knew something had gone wrong but could not explain… He wanted to say what the Holy Spirit told him concerning the dream just then but held his tongue.
“It would scare this young girl” He sighed deeply and said; “Gbayike, did you deliver my message to him”
“Yes Sir, I told him you’ll like to see him as soon as possible, he said he’ll come within a fortnight”
“It is well” Pastor Kalejaye said smiling. “Let’s pray for him”
A whole month passed and Morakinyo did not make good his promise to see Pastor Kalejaye within a fortnight. Oyinkansola did everything possible to discourage Morakinyo from going out of the village. She had told him of a terrible vision she had over the night and concluded it was a warning from God that Morakinyo should not travel out of Onigba-Iwofa. Morakinyo believed her. He had no reason to dispute or reject. Oyinkansola’s prophecies and revelations have always come to pass especially concerning the village church.
Once she had prophesied that the enemy was planning to destroy the lives of members of the church. Two days later, a mighty wind blew off the roof of the church while an evening service was going on. Almost immediately, a side of the church wall collapsed almost killing all the worshippers in the service. They however escaped unhurt. Since that incident, Morakinyo had learnt to take Oyinkansola’s prophecies and warnings seriously.
Immediately after the wedding, the prophecies increased especially the negative ones and they all came to pass. Soon the negative seemed to retain the upper hand. Terrible things started happening in the town. Within two months of the wedding twelve deaths were recorded in the village, three of them coming from the church.
Before long, the whole town was again gradually getting engulfed in the Orogojigo epidemic saga. Soon, church membership declined. It started from the weekly services and gradually affected the normal Sunday worship.
After one of the usual evening services, Morakinyo called Elder Bodunde, one of the most senior members of the church and spoke to him on the recent developments in the church and the village.
“Elder Bodunde, I’m surprised that many of our people are not turning up for weekly programmes these days. Today only seventeen people came. Last week Sunday only twenty five people came instead of about one hundred that we normally have … what is going on Elder?”
The old man waited patiently for Morakinyo to finish, he sighed and started another speech. “Pastor, I thought you must have heard that people have been saying they are not sure Jesus can do anything again”
Morakinyo adjusted himself.
“In fact, the strange disease that was ravaging the whole village before your coming has returned”
“Oh my God!”
“Last night, two children died behind my compound. I heard screams and rushed to the place. I saw the dead bodies myself …”
“I wish this is a dream” Morakinyo was visibly shaken.
“Some people have started returning to their Idols. For example the Akinsowon family sacrificed to Egungun, their ancestral god yesterday”
Morakinyo wanted to scream. He could not believe the news about the Akinsowon family. He remembered vividly that Akinsowon had been one of his first few converts when he arrived Onigba-Iwofa. The Akinsowon’s had single handed donated ten benches to the church.
“Even the King is gradually getting discouraged. In fact the belief of many is that things have not been going on well since … since ….em….” The old man stammered and stopped.
“Since what Baba, please tell me?” Morakinyo urged him. He knew Bodunde was keeping some vital information away from him.
“Don’t worry Pastor, it’s nothing serious”
“No, you must tell me! Please I want to hear whatever it is, at least I called you”
“Em … well, what people are saying is that since you got married, many things have gone wrong” Bodunde said, carefully choosing his words.
“My wedding?” The shock was too much for Morakinyo to believe. The people of Onigba-Iwofa were becoming ungrateful.
‘Now they want to push blames over me, eh?’
“But what has my marriage got to do with the issue at hand…. Baba, I don’t think they are right… what I think is happening is that our people are not doing proper follow-up and visitation I mean the leaders”
Elder Bodunde looked up. He found it hard believing what the Pastor said. ‘If only he knew all what the people are really saying’
“Baba, I’ll want all the Elders and other leaders to start proper visitation from around six o’clock everyday… I’m sure you must have returned from the farm by then?”
“Ah…. I would have returned” Bodunde responded.
As he stood to go, he turned around and said “Pastor, don’t you think this issue requires more than visitation only?”
“Not at all, the spirit of lukewarmness has entered into our members. We must flush it out. There will be changes within two weeks.”
Elder Bodunde shrugged. What else could he say? He must accept the pastor’s opinion, though something told him something was going wrong. He never liked Oyinkansola, once she moved in to join Morakinyo in his house, long before their marriage.
“Where are we going to meet tomorrow before going out Sir” asked Bodunde.
“The church! It’s better here. We‘ll pray before going out. Please inform other elders to join us at the same time”
Elder Bodunde shook his head as he walked out of the church. He knew what to do. He and the other Elders would meet and take some other steps different from the one suggested by the pastor.
None of the steps was taken!
That same day, Elder Bodunde passed away! He died over the night.
According to his wife, he had shouted from his sleep holding his neck as if trying to release it from a grip. She screamed and rushed out to call for help. Before anyone came, the poor old man had passed away. He was about sixty-five.
The news shocked Morakinyo to the marrow of his bones. Oyinkansola wept bitterly. She led a group of women from the church to console Bodunde’s wife the following day. Morakinyo remembered vividly every word of the dead man the previous say. He couldn’t believe Elder Bodunde would die just like that. As he returned from the Elder’s house where he had gone to console his family, he walked straight to the church. He knelt at the altar and wept.
“What could have gone wrong?” He asked himself. He tried to pray but could not. For sometimes now, his prayer life has suffered heavily. Greatone stood there beside him looking pleadingly. His sword was not shinning any more but rusted. His helmet and breastplate were broken and plastered all over. The shield was no longer on him. He looked weary and weak. His usual mien was no longer visible.
Since Oyinkansola moved in to join Morakinyo in his house, Greatone had suffered. Morakinyo’s usual prayers dropped sharply. He hardly prayed, neither was anyone praying for him. The church at Ibadan did not help much. Apart from sending Morakinyo’s allowances, no regular prayer support was given except for occasional prayer points during Sunday services. Immediately after their wedding, Oyinkansola met regularly with Sapientia in their bedroom! Greatone would stand there looking at them helplessly, though his presence still protected Morakinyo from physical harm, he could not do more than that.
Greatone had become weak!
The crowd was getting increasingly large. The news had spread round the campus very fast. Another clash between rival cults had claimed the life of a final year law student.
“This is sheer wickedness” One of the girls gathering around the dead body said as she hissed and turned away from the scene.
“I wonder why some people cannot think… have they forgotten that they too will die one day” Another student commented. The body was already swollen. The murder must have been carried out somewhere else and the body dumped in front of the Zoological Gardens. The spate of such killings has increased on the campus in recent times. A few weeks earlier, two separate clashes amongst rival cults had claimed the life of seven students.
A Dean of Faculty caught in the web of the fighting on his way from the office after staying there into the night was seriously injured. Doctors said the poor professor will never be able to use his left eye again. A deep cut was inflicted on the eye slashing straight into the eye ball.
“I don’t pity him, who knows how many people he too had killed” said Brenda, the Students Union Director of Socials.
“Who knows whether he was the one who stabbed Professor Adelakun and left the poor old man disabled for life” She was apparently angry. On many occasions she had through her office arranged seminars and film shows to speak against cultism and its evil consequences.
“I only wished this…” She stopped as a hand tapped her by the shoulder. She turned around and saw Lanre the President of the Students Union Government.
“Brenda” Lanre started in low tones as he pulled her away from the crowd “Please say no more; walls have ears. I have received information that the guy is the Capone of the Black Vultures Confraternity. His mates are bent on vengeance … you can’t really say who and who are in the crowd…. Do you understand?”
Brenda suddenly realised the implication of what she had done. It was true; members of the guy’s cult could have listened to her pouring vexations on the dead “Capone” She stared blankly at Lanre unsure of what to say.
“Don’t worry, you’ll be quite safe, I’ll get the Commander-in – King of the Man O’ War Club informed about this” Lanre assured.
“Has anyone gone to inform the Health Centre, the body should be removed?” Brenda managed to speak, her voice shaking.
“Yes, the Welfare Officer had done that; the ambulance will be here any moment from now.”Lanre said and led Brenda away from the scene towards the Students’ Union Building. The sound of the ambulance siren hit their ears as they stepped on the staircase of the Students’ Union Building.
Lanre got to his office and looked through the window. He saw two Health Centre officials lift the body on to a stretcher. He shook his head and returned to the table. He placed his left arm behind Brenda.
“Brenda… now don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill, I’ve told you, the Man ‘O’ War will hear about this”
To be continued in Episode 18.