A Novel Written By: Kolade Segun-Okeowo (KSO)
Those were the exact words of the woman. The whole scenario began to play out to him like a movie!!! The rope!!! Gbayike was the first rope that was difficult to get while the second, barely manageable rope; referred to Oyinkan!!!
‘This is getting clearer now!!! But why didn’t I pay attention…A sister walks up to tell me she is a missionary and…Pronto! I accepted her and we started working together…This is crazy!!! Morakinyo…what went wrong with you?’
He remembered Sister Gbayike and her doggy attitude when she heard about the mission work in the village. He knew it was the mission work that scared her!!! It was glaring she was no longer interested in him, the moment she heard about the village mission.
Suddenly, some of Oyinkan’s clothes hanging inside the wardrobe caught his attention. He stared blankly at the wardrobe and stood to inspect the clothes. To the best of his knowledge, none of her clothes was missing. He checked the shoes, the handbags, books and other belongings. Everything was intact!
‘So she could not have run away… She is still coming back!’
‘To where? …After all these?’
‘What will the whole town say after they have discovered all these…Oh my God…Haven’t I messed up the wonderful assignment the Lord graciously gave me and released great grace to back me up’
He remembered his first day in Onigba-Iwofa and how miracles trailed his maiden outreach. He remembered the exploits at the shrine of Olojongbodu and the many other miracles of healing and salvation of souls. He could not stop the tears from coming. The bowels of his eyes gave way to a torrential flow of tears as he cried for mercy. He wept bitterly like a baby and asked for renewed grace.
‘Lord I have missed it. Lord I have messed up!!!”
He wept and prayed throughout the night. Mercyone danced all through! Greatone smiled when he started the prayers, then he laughed and became ecstatic with joy. His strength was completely renewed and was ready to fight again!!! The blade of his sword shone again like the brightness of lightening. He had been waiting for this moment all along!!!
The meeting of The Pythons’ Confraternity was holding for the first time after the initiation ceremonies which claimed the lives of three initiates. Ever since the incident, the campus had been tough for any underground activity to hold. The testimony of Larry Bee had added to the tension on the campus. Policemen were drafted to the campus a day before the testimony at the Christian Union Fellowship programme.
Unfortunately for the Pythons, the school went on vacation immediately. The VeeCee ordered all students to vacate the campus immediately. How Lanre escaped from the campus remained a mirage to the Capone and the Silly Gene. Strikers had been mandated to gun down Lanre and Benson Osarode who joined him to declare for the fellowship at the programme in the amphitheatre.
The strikers made all efforts to trace Lanre and Benson that night. Unknown to them, the Dean of students Affairs Prof. Victor Bankole had arranged for Lanre to be lodged at The Vice Chancellors’ Guest House with tight security arrangements. No one knew when Lanre left Ile-Ife for Ibadan. Benson Osarode was moved by Police escorts to Ore, for his onward journey to Benin.
Due to the closure of the campus, the meeting of the Python’s could not hold on the school premises. The Capone had to make arrangements for the meeting to hold in his father’s residence somewhere around Ijoka area of Akure in Ondo Stae. His father, a senior military officer has been posted to head a tactical military formation in the Northern part of the country. Thus, he had the freedom to hold the nocturnal meeting in the expansive residence of his father. Only 17 members were present.
“Pythons!!!” The Capone started with the greeting slangs of the cult.
“Deadly and Brutal” The members responded
“No retreat …No Surrender”
“Forgiveness is a Sin!!!”
“Mercy is a Taboo”
“Every deserter is a traitor”
“Every traitor deserves to die”
The words of The Capone were few. “Lanre Durotoye and Benson Osarode are traitors…They both deserve to die! My investigations reveal his family live somewhere around Felele Rab in Ibadan. Benson Osarode is presently in Benin living with his uncle on no 17, Aiguobamsinwin Crescent” He paused and looked around the members for any response. There was none. He repeated the slangs!
“Forgiveness is a Sin!!!”
“Mercy is a Taboo”
“Every deserter is a traitor”
“Every traitor deserves to die”
“Where is the head of the Strike Force?” From the end of the living room, a tall, heavily built member lifted his hand and stood.
“Divide yourself into two groups. One group proceed to Benin and the other to Ibadan. Lanre Duroye and Benson Osarode must be traced…Force their sun to set with immediate effect!!!”
That night, Pastor Kalejaye could not sleep. He stood from the bed and paved around the room, managing to speak in tongues without disturbing his wife who was fast asleep. At a time, the woman turned around on the bed and gave a small grunt. Pastor Kalejaye looked in her direction and decided to walk away to the living room. What he thought to be silent prayers was already disturbing his wife.
He first sat on the couch and began to review, the whole Onigba-Iwofa mission and the recent errors of Morakinyo. He was truly disturbed.
‘Why would Morakinyo be this obstinate? Despite all my messages and letters to him…What did we do wrong Lord?’
He was asking that question for the first time since the crisis started. Then he began to ruminate on the events that led to the mission in Onigba-Iwofa. His mind raced back to the meeting of the Mission Team on the assignment. The Evangelism Team Leader had argued that sending a lone missionary to an unknown field was dangerous. He believed the church should wait for another male missionary to accompany Morakinyo on the mission to Onigba-Iwofa.
Other members of the team joined the Team Leader to agree that Morakinyo should wait till another brother would receive the conviction about the Onigba-Iwofa mission. They all argued that lone missionary work was dangerous and fraught will all kinds of possible errors.
Pastor Kalejaye had waited for all the members of the Team to speak before he cleared his throat and spoke for the first time since the meeting started.
“Brethren, I thank you all. I am deeply convinced that your concern is borne out of the love you all have for Brother Morakinyo. That concern is not out of place” He stared at each of them as he spoke, making sure that the words are laden with emphasis and ensuring eye contact with each of them.
“The decision our brother took to embark on this mission is the product of a two-year burden that the Lord had placed on his heart. He did carry me and The Evangelism Team Leader along all the while” He paused again to see the effects of his words on them. Silence reigned everywhere.
“In the last three years, our Missions Department has suffered. No one has volunteered to go on mission. That Brother Morakinyo volunteered himself for this mission is an answered to our prayers”
The brethren sighed. Pastor Kalejaye was right. Everyone in the Evangelism and Mission Department consciously prayed that The Lord will raise missionaries, but none was ready to go for missions. Pastor Kalejaye was hitting them hard.
“Your suggestion that we wait on The Lord to raise another brother to join the mission of Brother Morakinyo in Onigba-Iwofa is a good one. However, what happens if we wait for another two years and nobody sees what brother Morakinyo is seeing now. Don’t you think we will kill the burden in his heart and water down the zeal burning in him now?”
The words came like stones from a catapult hitting each member of the Evangelism Team. None was ready to see what Morakinyo had seen. The occasional evangelical outreaches to the town and nearby villages were enough.
“This is my counsel” Pastor Kalejaye continued “Let us continuously back up brother Morakinyo in prayers and trust that the Lord will be with him on this mission. Apart from that… Team Leader!”
“Yes Daddy!” The Team Leader stood promptly and bowed.
“This is what you should do. Draw a roaster of visiting missionaries who shall go once in a month to check on Brother Morakinyo on the field and join him to pray, evangelize and do follow up works. Let’s do that continuously until the Lord will speak to one of us to join him on the field”
The whole team agreed and accepted the proposal from the Senior Pastor and committed themselves to the plan. A roaster was drawn immediately and agreed upon. The roaster was to start the first month after Morankinyo’s arrival in Onigba-Iwofa.
The roaster took effect as planned. The Team Leader and two other brothers were the first to visit Morakinyo at Onigba-Iwofa a month after his arrival in the town. However, that was the last time anyone from the Team visited Onigba-Iwofa again. The tortuous journey and the reports they gathered from Morakinyo about the wicked priest terrorizing the community and the strange epidemic of Orogojijogo sent shivers down the spine of the members of the evangelism.
Although the Team Leader did not discourage the members like his two colleagues who travelled to Onigba-Iwofa with him, he simply kept mum and concentrated the activities of the team into other assignments around Ibadan and the adjoining villages.
‘I take the blame’ Pastor Kalejaye said to himself as he reflected on all of these. ‘I shouldn’t have assumed all was well with him’
Pastor Kalejaye trusted the spiritual maturity of Morakinyo. For a man who has risen to the peak of his career and accepted to give it all for God on missions, Pastor Kalejaye believed there was not a better proof of spiritual maturity than that.
‘My judgment was wrong. I accept the blame…’ He knelt and began to pray for forgiveness. He laid in that position; groaning and sighing as he prayed for Morakinyo. The groaning gradually turned to weeping as he begged God to have mercy on Morakinyo and the Onigba-Iwofa mission.
He didn’t know his voice had attracted his wife who had walked into the living room and heard her husband praying. As if beckoned by a conductor, Pastor Mrs. Kalejaye joined her husband on the kneeling position and continued the prayers with him. They remained in that condition for another two hours, groaning and weeping on behalf of Morakinyo.
As they finished the prayers around four in the morning, Pastor Kalejaye stood and appreciated his wife for joining him to pray.
“I was already getting tired when you joined me. Your presence fired me on for the next two hours. God bless you my dear.” Pastor said and planted a kiss on his wife. The woman chuckled, giggled and smiled sheepishly.
“To God be the Glory” She said “So, what do we do now” She asked, still smiling after the kissing spree.
“Today, we are going to Onigba-Iwofa” He said with finality.
“Praise God…I was going to suggest that too. There is nothing as good as you seeing Brother Morakinyo yourself…can I come with you?”
Pastor Kalejaye smiled. His wife had made the burden easier for him. He was going to ask her to come with him but he considered the stress of the night prayers and other assignments the woman had been involved in during the day but chose to spare her. Now that she has voluntarily released herself; the job is done!
“Ah thank you very much my dear” He drew the woman closer to himself and planted another kiss on her. Goose pimples rose all over the woman as her husband carefully guided her into the bedroom. She continued chuckling and laughing as Pastor tickled her and touched her lovingly.
Soon, the door of the bedroom was shut!
Early in the morning, Morakinyo was set to go out again. The night was the longest ever since he was born. Sleep had completely disappeared from eyes. Just as he set to remove the latch of the main door and step out, Lanre emerged from the guest room and greeted him.
“Oh, you’re awake; I didn’t want to disturb you. I intend to see the Police men early enough before hitting the road again” He explained to Lanre as he bent to unlatch the door again.
“Uncle, can I discuss with you before you go?” Lanre chose the words carefully, unsure if he was saying the right thing.
“Oh why not” He returned the latch and they moved back to the living room.
“Uncle, she won’t come back!” Lanre dropped the bombshell. “She left because I was coming. She knew I will reveal all her secrets…I told you everything yesterday. She meant to destroy and kill me…God’s mercy delivered me” Lanre said soberly.
Morakinyo’s jaw dropped as he listened to Lanre’s second round of testimonies again. A part of him felt ashamed that Lanre; his nephew who got born again less than two weeks ago seemed to know more than him. He bowed his head to avoid the lines of tears that were already forming.
“Lanre…What do you suggest that we do now” Morakinyo lifted his head and asked. The tears were no longer hidden but had become like a string of beads around his eye. He was sure it was God who sent Lanre to him at this time. He imagined what would have happened if Lanre was not available to be with him at a time like this.
“Sincerely, I don’t know what we should do now. But I suggest we do nothing than praise and pray. I am sure God’s mercy is working something out”
Mercyone nodded and smiled. Greatone winked at her. Morakinyo sighed. He stared at Lanre and sighed deeply.
The search for the Pastor’s wife continued in the early hours of the morning. Although, the King did not send out the Town Crier as agreed, the news found its way to the town. Some of the hunters who went with the policemen to Awofalaju told their wives and that was it. The news leaked!!!
Unfortunately, it was a market day so it formed a major topic for discussion.
“Their Pastor’s wife is missing” Mojoyin the wife of Badipe announced to her mate, Ilelomia, at the garri stall.
“Missing? Noo. I heard she was kidnapped by the men loyal to Baba Ajamolaya. You remember they all moved to Igboologun after their leader was killed by the Pastor. Since then, they have been looking for an opportunity to strike back at the Pastor” Ilelomia explained without blinking an eyelid.
“Ilelomia…You are a liar” Mojoyin almost shouted at her friend. “May your lies not kill you”
“I swear by the grave of my mother. That is the truth. I heard it from one of the friends of the one of the wives of one of the men loyal to the late Chief Priest”
“Heeeh!!! Ile-lo-mia!!! I had better stay away from you immediately…When the police comes, you will take them to the house of one of the friends of the one of the wives of one of the men loyal to the late Chief Priest” Mojoyin half whispered and half screamed as she quickly carried a big bowl of garri and returned to her stall.
Other women gathered in groups within the market, discussing the incident that the whole of Onigba-Iwofa was experiencing for the first time in history; a house wife disappears suddenly without traces. To make the matters worse, she is the wife of a pastor!!!
To be continued in Episode 31