A Novel Written By: Kolade Segun-Okeowo (KSO)
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!!!
The journey to Onigba-Iwofa was faster than expected. The Church bus that took Pastor Kalejaye, his wife, the Evangelism Director and two other members of the team on the journey was still in very good shape. It was bought only two years ago and reserved for the exclusive use of the Senior Pastor and the Evangelism Team. The same vehicle was used to convey Morakinyo’s belongings when he moved finally to Onigba-Iwofa.
The driver, Brother Dasofunjo knew the road to Shaki and Onigba-Iwofa. Although, he had visited Onigba-Iwofa only once, he had a rare gift of knowing routes well enough. The Senior Pastor once dubbed him “Road Map”
The Hospital Visitation Team of Glory Tabernacle visits the University College Hospital every Saturday afternoon to pray with inmates and offer various material gifts of food items clothes and cash to the sick. The consistency of the group had endeared them to the doctors, nurses and the Para-medics in the hospital. On several occasions, they have prayed for some patients whom the doctors have written off, leading to astounding testimonies of healing and miraculous recoveries.
There was the case of a patient who was diagnosed with a rare case of cancer of the breast. The team took it upon themselves to fast and pray for the patient, beside the regular visitation during the weekends and some week days. After about three weeks of consistent prayers and follow up work, the woman was discharged after doctors confirmed an amazing and miraculous disappearance of the cancerous cells.
Mrs. Aarinola Paseda, has led the team for five years. Despite her job at the University of Ibadan as The Secretary to The Head of The Department of Engineering Physics, she has faithfully and consistently supervised all the activities of the group. She made the vow to dedicate her whole life to the Hospital Visitation Ministry ever since her husband died eight years ago following a ghastly motor accident on the way to Lagos for an official assignment. The incident left her devastated but strengthened spiritually.
Despite her widowhood status, Mrs. Paseda did not allow the bitterness of her husband’s death to weigh her down. Brethren who visited her after the death of her husband reported that she was the one encouraging them. Her kind of faith was rare. Within three years of joining the group, she rose to become the head of the over 25-man team.
The visit to the hospital that day was not only fruitful but rewarding. The time was almost rounding up when a nurse from the Accident and Emergency unit came to invite them. A female patient as brought in over the night as she was involved in a fatal accident. According to those who brought her, she was the least injured in the accident, yet she had completely lost consciousness and was actually brought in dead.
“The nurses on duty were already preparing her for the mortuary when she suddenly jerked up from her unconscious state and started speaking some gibberish. She continued the gibberish until the early hours of the morning when she passed out again” The matron on duty explained to Mrs. Aarinola Paseda and her team.
“We waited to see what will happen before packing her for the mortuary, just in case. All the vital signs proved she was dead, but something kept us convinced that we should wait. Just a few minutes ago, she jerked to life again and began the gibberish talks again”
“Thank you Jesus” said Mrs. Paseda as she moved close to the stretcher where the woman laid. Truly, the woman was saying much gibberish. At first she spoke in French, and then she switched to Igbo, Itsekiri and finally English with a deep guttural voice.
“This is the end of the battle…I cannot continue…I said I don’t have the strength to continue…Can’t you see…If you think you are brave, come and rescue me…You withdrew all my body guards and allowed the accident to happen, so I could die…So you wanted me dead !!!! Ah…That’s good…After all my years of service to your Kingdom. I am ready to die…and go to hellfire!!! No problem…I am ready to die!!! Death is not a big deal!!!” The accident patient continued the gibberish.
Annoyed in the spirit, Mrs. Paseda moved close to the patient, laid hands on her head and spoke. “You shall not die but live in Jesus name. Receive His peace in The Mighty Name of Jeesus!!!”
The woman became silently and slumped into a deep sleep.
“Brethren, lets join hands and pray for her” The team joined hands and began to pray in low tones.
The praises and prayers at the parsonage continued. Akinlolu had also joined his brother and uncle. They sang all manners of praises. Some people who passed by the house and heard the songs concluded the news about the missing woman was not true.
A woman ran to the market and announced publicly. “They have found the pastors wife ooooo”
Within seconds, a crowd had gathered around her to know the source of her information.
“How did you know?” Ilelomia who had just rushed in with Moriyeba her friend asked from the woman.
“Thank you” The woman started her narration “I was a bit delayed on my way to the market today…My little child, was having fever as a result of the new teeth he is developing…At first I thought it was worms, going by the way he was turning his stomach like this and like this” The woman said, demonstrating the stomach pains.
“Heeeh. Woman, speak if you must or keep your information to yourself if you must…Ah, must you say all these. Spare us the details and go straight to the point” Ilelomia shouted, apparently pissed off by the unnecessary details of the woman.
Annoyed, the woman adjusted the baby on her back, tied her wrapper very well and picked her basket.
“Habaa!!! Just because of what she said…Don’t mind my friend. Ilelomia, be patient, lets listen to her” Moriyeba intervened to appease the woman. What she brought is good news. Abi…! Who doesn’t want the pastor’s wife to be found?”
“No-ooo—bo—oooddy !!!” The crowd echoed.
“Please continue woman” Moriyeba concluded.
“So, I went to the chemist shop to buy drugs for my baby…On my way coming back. I decided to pass the route of the palace via the Pastor’s house. You know the Pastor’s house is behind the palace on the junction where three paths meet…One going to the market, the other going to the palace and the…..
“The last one faces the Pastor’s house!!!” Ilelomia impatiently helped the woman to complete the words!!!
The woman eyed Ilelomia wickedly and continued her speech. She was becoming a hero of some sort as everyone strained ears to listen to her. She was not going to allow Ilelomia to spoil her fun!
“Then I began to hear songs from the Pastor and some people in the house. They were thanking God that they have seen the woman”
Some people in the crowd burst into ecstatic shouts; rejoicing that the Pastor’s wife has been found. Moriyeba pulled the woman aside. Ilelomia followed the duo.
“Woman, did you see the Pastor’s wife with your two eyes?” Moriyeba asked investigatively.
“Nooo. I did not enter the house. But will they be singing and dancing like that if they have not found the woman?” The woman said smiling sheepishly.
Moriyeba and Ilelomia exchanged glances and hissed loudly at the same time. They stared at the woman with hatred and walked away from her. Others too walked away from the woman who had suddenly become like a villain.
Heavy knocks at the door of the parsonage forced the praise and worship session to a pause. They had been engrossed in the singing that they did not hear the gentle knocks at first. The increase in the knocks brought the presence of the guests to their awareness. Morakinyo quickly dashed to the door to open it. The police men and Dendoga, the head of the local hunters were standing at the door.
“Congratulations Pastor…We have heard the news. We thank your God” Dendoga was first to speak, smiling broadly.
“But Pastor, you should have informed us first. You know, we all went out yesterday night looking for her. Now that she has been found, we owe everyone who has heard, the duty of telling them that she has been found” The Police Sergeant explained.
Morakinyo smiled and explained “I thank you very much Sirs for your concern and cooperation. Although, we are yet to find her…” Shock and disappointment was clearly written on the faces of the men.
“However, we have contacted relevant authorities and they have given us assurances that all will be well. That is why we are rejoicing…”
The men smiled. “So you have spoken to her people?” The Police constable asked.
Morakinyo sighed, thinking of what to say. He knew he must not tell a lie. Just then the Police Sergeant bailed him out.
“Constable Beyioku, what else do you want to hear? Pastor said he has spoken to relevant authorities. That solves the problem. Thank you Pastor. God bless you”
“I appreciate you officers…Baba Dendoga, thank you very much”
He escorted the men a little. Just a few meters from the house, the church bus drove to the front of the parsonage. Morakinyo sighted the bus from afar. He could identify it because the name of the Church was boldly written on it; besides Adasofunjo drove.
“Ah Pastor, that must be your people!” The Police Sergeant said.
“Yes Officer, those are our people…” Morakinyo said struggling to hide his shock. He was not expecting anyone from the Church let alone the Senior Pastor and his wife. The shock was a mixture of joy and fear. Joy that at last, the Senior Pastor had come to visit him. The fear was the product of his mis-action and error of the marriage to the unknown woman. The sense of shame and guilt was causing a major rumbling in his heart. Tears had swelled in his eyes as he awaited the entourage to finish prayers and step down from the vehicle.
The Police officers and Dendoga waited as the brethren prayed, thanking God for journey mercies. Soon the door opened as Morakinyo ran into the warm embrace of Pastor Kalejaye. The tears flowed freely as he locked himself in a warm embrace with his Senior Pastor. Pastor Kalejaye too shed some tears, while his wife cleared her eyes with her handkerchief frequently. The others watched with emotions as father and son seemed to be locked endlessly in that warm embrace. As far as the policemen and Dendoga were concerned, he was weeping for his missing wife. Unknown to them, the issues were deeper than they could ever imagine.
Morakinyo introduced the men, who greeted Pastor and his entourage warmly before they left. Morakinyo could not relate their efforts about his missing wife to the Senior Pastor.
He simply said “These are the people who have been taking care of us since the whole issue started”
To the Senior Pastor and his entourage, Morakinyo was referring to the mission at Onigba-Iwofa. To the Police Officers and Dendoga, he was talking about their efforts since the wife was declared missing. Only Morakinyo understood what each team have no knowledge of.
“Ah, thank you very much brothers. God will keep your families and take good care of you too” Pastor Kalejaye blessed them further and they departed after Mrs. Kalejaye had given them a big loaf of bread each from the vehicle.
Mrs. Aarinola Paseda sat with the woman in one of the side rooms of the Accident and Emergency Unit. Following the prayers of the Hospital and Visitation Team, she had become stable and quiet. She requested for food and had finished a small loaf of bread, bean cakes and a bottle of soft drink. Mrs. Paseda had released some members of the team to leave but requested her assistant and two other members to stay behind with her so as to attend to the case of this special woman.
“Are you okay now?” Mrs. Paseda asked the woman after she had finished her meal.
She nodded in response and continued to look askance. She seemed to be emotionally disturbed.
“Do you want us to come back and discuss with later, so you can take some rest” Mrs. Paseda asked the woman.
She stared straight at Mrs. Paseda. Tears had formed rings round her eyes. “You’re a Christian?” She asked, her voice trembling.
“Yes I am” Mrs. Paseda responded. “I am a born again Christian, washed by the blood of The Lamb and saved by His Grace. Same with all these brethren, they are also Christians”
She sighed deeply and said “Please don’t go…I need to talk to you”
“Okay…We are all ears, you can confide in us” Mrs. Paseda said reassuredly.
The woman stared at each member of the Team as if to confirm what the leaders said from their eyes. As she opened her mouth to speak, she burst into tears instead.
Morakinyo bowed in the living room. Akinlolu had told everyone, everything about the Pastor’s wife. Then, Lanre explained all about Betty Campbell on the campus. His testimony left everyone mouth agape. Pastor Kalejaye requested Lanre and Akinlolu to excuse themselves from the meeting. He also excused the two other members of the Evangelism Team who came with them. He was was left alone with his wife, Morakinyo, and the Evangelism Team Leader.
“Brother Morakinyo, please tell us all these are not true. Tell us we are dreaming!” Pastor Mrs. Kalejaye was the first to set the ball rolling as soon as they left. Morakinyo went on his knees. The tears started flowing freely now.
“Mummy, sincerely, I can’t explain what went wrong…I am still yet to come to terms with the whole incident” Morakinyo said amidst sobs.
Pastor Kalejaye shifted his body from the reclining position on the sofa and moved closer to Morakinyo. “So, you have been married to a woman you don’t know for a whole month” He paused and shook his head. “Brother Morakinyo? By now she could be carrying your baby?”
Morakinyo sighed deeply. He had expected that question.
“Sir, that is another mystery too difficult for me to explain…Since we got married, I have not been able to make love to her. We tried severally but it did just work”
“Brother Morakinyo, you want us to believe that. Three months!!!” Mrs. Kalejaye almost exclaimed.
“Mummy it’s hard to believe, but that is the truth. I am completely impotent now”
To be continued in Episode 32