A Novel Written By: Kolade Segun-Okeowo (KSO)
He stopped and waited for Odesola to meet up with him. He tried to imagine what Odesola had come to see him for that early morning. His expression was not sad neither was he happy. Silently, Morakinyo prayed that all was well with Eebudola. She had been the most zealous woman since the church started. She did not attend the prayers that morning. Morakinyo’s heart missed a bit!
“Pastor, wonders shall never end!” Odesola started, as he got to where, Morakinyo stood. “I went hunting overnight… as I was coming back home this morning what I saw is beyond my understanding, so I said I should warn you”
Odesola stopped, looked around carefully to be sure no one was watching. He drew closer, beckoned Morakinyo to come near and whispered into his ears. Morakinyo listened very carefully and smiled. He looked at Odesola again and laughed in a you-fool manner.
“Baba Derombi… you see, certainly, it was not my wife you saw. Some demons can take the appearance of some other people in order to do some mischief.”
Odesola thought he was dreaming. He stared at the pastor blindly. He was not listening again.
‘So this man will not believe me?’ He thought.
“Don’t be alarmed, such things can happen. They are all devices of the devil… that is the more reason why you should give your life to Jesus, so that when next you see such a thing you can plead the blood of Jesus”
“I see” said Odesola rather sarcastically. He did not believe a word of what Morakinyo had said. He simply strolled away refusing to pray as the pastor had suggested. He was too sure of what he saw.
A few metres away Sapentia stood near a brick wall smiling!
Odesola did not say a word to his wife, or any other person. The sight at the riverside shook him greatly. Each time he remembered the incident fear would grip him.
“Baba Derombi, won’t you take your breakfast now, already the sun is coming down!” Eebudola said after several attempts to convince her husband to eat had failed.
“Woman I am not in the mood for food…did you beg me to eat yesterday?” he charged at the woman; anger clearly written all over his face. Silently Eebudola packed away the food. She knew her husband would not speak again. Whenever he spoke with anger, no one could change his mind.
“From today, you go to that church no more!” Odesola said as Eebudola returned to pack the water jar and cup.
That night, Eebudola tried to sleep, but the events of the day were too disturbing. What could have prompted her husband to stop her from going to the church again? She had prepared pounded yam and isapa soup; Odesola’s favourite with the hope that after eating, she would kneel and plead again.
That was not to be anyway. The pounded yam was wasted; by morning it would be sour. She counted the rafters for the fourth time that night unsure of what she was really doing.
Suddenly she remembered one of sermons in the church, when the Pastor said prayers can do all things including softening the heart of any man. The pastor said they could plead the blood of Jesus into the food of such husband. She hissed loudly remembering that he would not take any food that night ‘What if he refuses food again?
She stayed awake for another hour. She stood from her bed and walked towards the small lantern at the door to put it off as the rays of light from the lantern would not allow her to sleep. As she lifted the glass shade of the lantern and moved towards her husband’s room. She heard him; he was snoring heavily Eebudola moved closer and prayed.
“If I can’t plead the blood of Jesus on his food I can do it to his room. Maybe it would work” She silently pleaded the blood of Jesus on his bed and room and quickly turned back. He must not see her praying. She had received several warnings not to pray when he is around. She could only pray when Odesola goes hunting!
She tiptoed back to her room, turned off the lantern and climbed her bed. She checked Deroju, her only son lying on the mat a few meters from her bed. She shook her head, hissed and tried to beat back the tears as she remembered that the same mat used to occupy five children before Orogojigo struck!
“Thank you Jesus” She spoke aloud. Morakinyo had told her to always say that each time she wants to feel depressed about her dead children and each time she does that, a kind of sweet peace will come upon her and would sometimes burst into local songs of praise.
Suddenly she heard her husband scream; the scream was piercing. She scrambled up, it was pitch dark. She had slept only moments ago and she heard him shoring. What could warrant screams in the middle of the night. The thoughts raced through her mind as she searched frantically for the box of matches. She wished she had not put off the lantern. She searched again, raised the pillow and there it was, she herself had put it there but the scaring screams had confused her.
She quickly lighted the lantern and rushed to Odesola‘s room as the screams continued. What she saw scared her! Odesola was there on the bed struggling desperately to breathe it was as if some strange weight pressed upon his back and legs. He struggled to break his neck free from the unseen force. His screams were gradually going down; he was dying!
Eebudola sat beside him shivering and shouting his name. She could see it; her husband was dying but she could not do anything. She wanted to scream for help, but she remembered no one would respond. Deaths in Onigba-Iwofa had become such a common phenomenon that when a family laments the passing away of their beloved, others simply shook their heads and continued normal activities. It was not strange to hear that someone had passed away.
She tried to imagine what could be wrong with her husband, ‘This cannot be drunkenness’ she thought ‘They have poisoned my husband!’
Nobody heard her despite the dead silence of the night. Only Deroju her six year old son stood behind her crying. The screams had woken him…She held Odesola and shook him, the pains had not stopped but his consciousness was gradually draining “In Jesus Name!” She suddenly shouted as she remembered that Morakinyo had thought them to say that.
Just then Strongone, who had stood there all along lifted his sword and struck Sapentia and Scorpia who held on to Odesola’s neck, they fell heavily on the floor.
“The blood of Jesus… the blood of Jesus“ Eebudola continued; completely ignorant of what was going on around her. Pepperine saw Scorpia and Sapentia fall on the floor, she stopped holding the legs and looked up, she saw Strongone; his eyes glowing like a hot furnace and she quickly avoided his eyes.
Strongone lifted his sword to strike Pepperine, she quickly bowed, fell to the floor to join her mates. Strongone ordered them up and sent them out of the house. Head bowed; the Daughters of the River walked out of the house and disappeared into the darkness.
Eebudola continued her litany of ‘Blood of Jesus’ She noticed Odesola had stopped screaming since she started the prayers. The pains had also stopped but he was not yet conscious. Strongone stooped beside him and removed two scales from his eyes.
“Baba Derombi are you okay?” She asked as she saw him open his eyes gradually.
“Where are they?” He asked.
“Who? ” Eebudola asked, puzzled.
“Three of them….two pressed my neck; one sat on my legs. Did you not see them?”
She hissed “Baba Derombi… you need to rest….You can sleep back” said Eebudola. She was sure her husband was still drunk, if not why would he claim he had seen some people when in actual fact there was none. She was amused.
“Iya Derombi…I mean what am saying. I’m not drunk…I knew I was drunk when I came in yesterday night but now I know what I’m saying”
Eebudola sat beside him on the bed. This was serious! Her husband was no longer drunk. If he knew he was drunk last night then, he was no longer drunk. Suddenly she remembered her husband posses a strange telescopic power he had inherited from his grandfather so, in actual fact he might have truly seen some three people.
“Who was shouting “Blood of Jesus?”
“…Me” Eebudola said carefully unsure of what her husband’s reaction to that would be.
“I saw a man wearing white with a sword; he attacked all of them and sent them out!”
“Jesus” Eebudola shouted out of fear and gratitude “Jesus…? You mean Jesus came in to this ……room?”
Odesola stood up and walked around as if trying to remember something “The Pastor’s wife!” He said unconsciously as he remembered that Sapientia and the other two wore the same garment she saw the Pastor’s wife transforming from at the riverside.
“Pastor’s wife? What happened to her?” asked Eebudola. Odesola quickly stopped speaking.
“I said what happened to the Pastor’s wife” Eebudola asked again becoming more suspicious.
“Nothing” Odesola replied sharply.
There was an uneasy silence, the two stared at each other, not knowing whether to speak or not. Eebudola knew something strange was happening to her husband, but he would not talk. She would have to speak with the Pastor the next day.
The incident shook Odesola to the marrow of his bones such that for seven days after that incident he did not go for hunting, he was too scared. He had told his wife everything that happened and resolved to become a Christian but definitely not in Morakinyo’s church!
Eebudola could not believe her ears when Odesola told her everything! For her it was joy with mixed feelings. The Lord had removed the scale of spiritual blindness from her husband’s eyes but now a great hindrance lies in the presence of Oyinkansola, the Pastor‘s wife suspected of being an agent of darkness !
Odesola and Eebudola kept the discovery to themselves alone there was no way they could tell Morakinyo himself. He would assume they want to scatter his marriage. The news must not break out among the villagers; else the woman will be stoned! Odesola warned his wife sternly to keep sealed lips while they pray for God’s intervention.
Eebudola did not attend the church again. Though, Odesola had insisted she must not go again; she herself had lost interest completely. She knew Morakinyo was sincere and innocent but the events of that fateful night was too painful. So, Eebudola believed the best thing to do was to stop attending the church; at least that would keep the woman away from their family.
So she thought!
When Morakinyo left Ibadan for the Onigba-Iwofa, one of those who strongly opposed him was Mrs. Shade Durotoye, his elder sister. Though a born again Christian, Mrs. Durotoye saw no wisdom in a young man quitting his job for a missionary assignment in the village at a time when “the fruits of his labour were getting ripe” At that time, she thought Morakinyo was being directed by some evil forces until Pastor Kalejaye educated her better.
“Mama Lanre, all your brother needs is your prayers, because he has taken a hard but right decision” The Pastor said after Mrs. Durotoye had poured out her hearts amidst sobs “I’m sure you want the world evangelized …?”
He paused to get an answer from her, and then she nodded. “Good …. The truth is that some people will have to go… The white men who brought the gospel to us risked their lives in order that we may be blessed. Some of us have got to take the gospel to others. Thank God the risks are lesser these days”
Pastor Kalejaye’s counsel did wonders! Mrs. Durotoye changed her mind. Afterwards, the reports of the successes of Morakinyo at Onigba-Iwofa reaching the mother church further helped persuade her that her brother was doing something worthwhile. She soon started sincere prayers for her brother in addition to various supplies of provisions through the Church Missions Coordinator.
When eventually, the news reached the home church at Ibadan that Morakinyo had married, Mrs Durotoye thought her brother must have gone nuts! She wondered why Morakinyo, her only brother would take such a step without letting her know about it. Not only was Morakinyo her only sibling, he had grown up under her.
Morakinyo had lived with her throughout the period of his studies at the University for his first and second degrees. When she heard the news about his brother’s marriage to an unknown lady, Mrs. Durotoye made up her mind to pay Morakinyo a surprise visit and talk some sense into his head.
On three occasions, she had attempted to embark on the journey to Morakinyo’s mission base at Onigba-Iwofa but one thing after the other kept her back. On one occasion, a message from her boss in Abuja to report at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport to welcome a High Powered Delegation from the First Lady of Germany was what hindered her traveling. By the time all the formalities were concluded, she could not travel again.
When she eventually took her annual leave, she seized the opportunity to see her brother at Onigba-Iwofa. Deacon Layade, the Missions Department Coordinator had given her detailed description of how to get to the town. She decided to go by public transport. Mrs. Durotoye had never driven fifty kilometers at a stretch. To compound the problem, her official driver cannot travel with her since she’s on leave. The question of traveling in her car was completely out of place. Public transport was the only possible option.
The journey turned out to be for Mrs. Durotoye’s a rigorous adventure. The rough roads, the rickety vehicles and the dust, all combined their efforts to render her very uncomfortable. By the time she arrived the village in company of Akinlolu, her nine year old son, she was not only exhausted but also thirsty. The two one-litre bottles of pure natural water she bought at Ojoo Ibadan where they boarded a vehicle to Shaki had been exhausted.
The vehicle from Shaki to Sepeteri was worse; a mammy wagon that carried almost twice the number of passengers it was built to contain. Beads of sweat ran freely down her face as she inched her way towards the village parsonage. One of the villagers they met at the market square had volunteered to take them to Morakinyos house.
“Good afternoon here!” She said almost shouting as soon as they got to the house. She wanted water badly. She shouted again, no response came… yet the door was not locked. Mrs. Durotoye peeped inside and called again, this time around she sighed heavily. Already the woman who brought them had gone. She felt she could have asked her where they could buy bottled water. Suddenly, she remembered she was no longer in Ibadan.
“Only God knows if the villagers have ever seen bottled water in their lives”
She sat down on a wooden bench outside the house and waited. “Akinlolu, we have to wait for your Uncle here. Who knows, he might have gone to the Church” She explained.
“Church? He goes to church at this time of the day?” queried Akinlolu, her nine year old son. He has a penchant for querying almost everything. His mother had nicknamed him “Mr Why this?” Akinlolu would ask questions until the person being questioned gets fed up or annoyed.
“Sometimes, a Pastor may need to be at the church to attend to pressing spiritual matters at any time of the day” His mother explained.
“Does Uncle have an office in his Church like the Pastor in our Church? Does he ……?”
“No no!” Mrs. Durotoye interrupted. “No more questions, I’m thirsty okay?
“Sister!” Morakinyo’s voice rang out from the opposite direction; he had sighted the visitor in front of his house. He had only left the house about ten minutes ago to see the King who sent for him. Normally, Morakinyo and his wife are not used to locking the door except when they‘ll be away for long. No one would dare enter the Pastor’s house to steal or play some pranks.
To be continued in Episode 23