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“We cannot join you together!”
That was the response of the head of the marriage committee immediately Jean and I entered the church’s board room on Sunday.
I turned sideways subtly to see Jean’s face and it was expressionless. He was looking indifferent. I sighed repeatedly but silently.
As much as God wasn’t in support of this relationship and I was ready to obey His will, I still loved Jean and his expressionless face actually broke my heart.
He wasn’t going to miss me!
Perhaps he never really loved me!
Just then, while my head was bowed still where I stood, I saw some fluid falling to the ground and I was shocked.
I looked up at Jean and he was totally broken! He had unknotted his tie, his eyes were closed and his hands were dipped right inside his well combed afro hair. The other hand held his tummy as he let out a squeak that shook the whole room.
The four-man committee members stood abruptly, covering their ears with their hands. They looked really shocked.
I could only watch on as I felt his pains.
He squatted and started a real babyish cry and my heart shattered into pieces the more.
Who does that for God’s sake?!
Who leaves a man like this when real men are scarce outside?
Only a foolish person would do so!
Jean was a very good man. Even before I led him to Christ, he had really been a moral man. Never had he for once tried to touch me or played dirty with me during those times.
Even the day he proposed to me, he was very shy to do so. It took the efforts of his daughter to help. He never took advantage of his subordinates.
I loved mature men!
I hate ‘baby men’!
And, but for his marriage to Beatrice, I would have loved to get married to him. I had really opened my heart to him.
“You people don’t understand. You don’t!” he cried out again as he blew his nose into the handkerchief he was holding. The committee members sat down, still looking perturbed.
“Understand what?” Mr. Hosanna, one of the marriage committee asked and the others nodded in support.
“I had really endured a very bad marriage where my wife would bring in different men into our matrimonial bed and sleep with them right before my open eyes. If I dared to retort, she would send different touts to beat me up or even deal with me herself….” He swallowed hard and the committee members looked somber as he unfolded the story.
I shook my head as I imagined the whole scenario.
“I had a mixed feeling when she eventually travelled outside the country five years ago with another sugar daddy. I was happy to be free indeed but I hated sleeping around. What do I do?…” he paused as he sat on the floor. He looked really hopeless and a cold shiver ran down my spine.
“I had really been weaned from all emotions and love until I met Precious. If I got married at 20, I should be able to father her but really, I love her so much. I was scared of another failed marriage but I trusted her and wanted to give it a trial once again…”
“Marriage is not trial and error my brother!” Mrs. Hallow, one of the committee members retorted and Jean shook his head.
“Probably my use of English sold me out madam. It wasn’t for a trial at all. I wanted both of us to have a real great future together and all was going well until this committee asked us to come back.” He paused again and sighed in anguish.
“It was really worth the waiting as God met me and told me some vital reasons why this marriage cannot be. There was no way I could tell Precious and I felt we should get here first. Right now, it seemed that God had gotten here even before me” he said and the committee members whispered some things to themselves.
“God had been here since my brother. He is the Word personified and we have the Bible. Everything is in there. If we go ahead and join you together, it would mean adultery. That’s what the Bible says” Mr. Lawal, another member explained
“Then, what should I do? I should wait for a woman that had gone to join herself with different filthy men? I should?” he cried dejectedly. I understood his plight.
I felt really guilty
I shouldn’t have met him in the first place.
I had opened up the closed wound in his heart again and poured fresh pepper on it.
“My brother, marriage contract is till death do us part. As long as you are alive and she is alive too, there is no going back. You have to endure it.” Mrs. Hallow said again
“Endurance! That’s the word!” Mrs. Idile said as she shook her head, her lips pursed
What does she know about endurance?
Some people just find it easy.
The only thing she probably endured in her marriage was complaints about salt, not being enough or too much in a meal.
Mummy pastor sha! Very funny!
“We still have lots of people coming in to see us today and the time isn’t on our side. We have closed your file and we want both of you to really go and pray with all fervency.” Mr. Lawal said with a large, comforting smile
“My dear Bro Jean, I can feel your pain as I have been in your shoes. My husband left me for another woman and there were pressures here and there that I should remarry but I thank God for my pastor and his wife. Oh what a great specimen of marriage for our generation…” Mrs. Hallow paused and smiled, shaking her head in obvious appreciation while Mrs. Idile smiled too.
A pure, sweet smile!
“My husband is back to me. I have forgiven him and he is now a child of God. You would never know that something like that had ever happened between us if you see us together” Mrs. Hallow completed her own side of consolation.
“And who knows if your wound had actually been opened now because your wife is on the way and so that when she comes, she would find something to nurse, thereby, strengthening your marriage?” Mr. Hosanna explained too.
I looked at Jean on the floor and I smiled bitterly.
He was shaking his head vigorously as tears streamed down his face.
Does any of their advice makes any sense to him at all?
“It would be hard but that’s why we have Jesus. He can help. Wait for your wife and pray fervently for her soul. Who knows, you may save a soul from hell!” Mrs. Hallow said further.
“And you Sister Precious…”
That was my name right?
It was my turn to be lambasted for almost leading a new convert of mine astray even when I knew the truth. Right?
It was Mrs. Idile
“My sister, God is never too late. For some people, he comes at twenty years of age, some thirty, some forty, some fifty, even, sixty! He’s never late! How old are you? I am sure you are in your mid-twenties or thereabout. Why would you rush? Do you know what marriage means at all? Marriage is a padlock with its key thrown away! Do you want to miss it? This one that we can still enjoy beautiful renditions of songs through you, if you are sad and unstable in your home, would that still be possible? Sister Precious, are you praying at all?” Mrs. Idile went on and on and I was daunted.
There was an absolute silence
That was from her heart- deep!
I was speechless.
I realized that I hadn’t said a word since it all started and I looked for something to say.
“I love him…” I was saying when she cut me short again.
She was never violent or lousy.
What was the matter?
“Love, you say? Any sign whatsoever you have, be it vision, dream, deep love, revelation and all, should still be weighed on the word of God! Is God saying something to me in His word about this lady or guy? See, just like our speech could be influenced by the devil, out emotions can also be manipulated and used against God’s will for our lives” she explained and I looked at the Spilt Air Conditioner.
It was working perfectly well. In fact, 16 degrees Celsius!
Why then was she sweating- profusely?
Was it more than what was being discussed?
I am being blessed by all she was saying but I was worried about her. Was all well with her?
“Some marriages in the church are camouflages. They wear same outfits all the time, they seem to hug and peck and fan, wiping each other’s faces in the church and all and you feel, God give me a happy home like lagbaja’s! Do you know what is underneath? Do you?” she banged the table as the pimples of sweat on her face dropped on the table before her.
The vicinity was very solemn.
I looked around me and realized that everyone was taking what she was saying as just being a concerned Pastor’s wife’s palava. But I saw beyond that…something I would never want to believe myself.
I saw deep hurt in her face!
What exactly is the matter?
Just then, the dream flashed back to my head and I shook it off once more. It can’t be real! It can never be real!
“God will have mercy” Mrs. Hallow said, obviously touched by Mrs. Idile’s ‘Speech’
“Please, you both should go and pray more” Mr. Hosanna said too
“You can go and may God make your ways golden” Mr. Lawal said and Jean stood up, supporting himself with a chair.
“Thanks everyone” he said silently, moving towards the door
“Thanks” was all I could say as I approached the door too
“Sister Precious…” Mrs. Idile’s voice called out to me. I turned back and met her face.
So tender once more- smiling.
“See me in my house tomorrow by 4.pm” she said and I nodded
“I love you so much” she said further and my heart stirred.
She smiled again- that very sad smile !
My heart missed a beat!
Something was just not right!
“Welcome ma” my gardener greeted me as I parked the car, the lawn-mower he was using, making noise as if it was a tractor!
I didn’t want to have a headache but my lawn actually needed trimming. The other staff members had left their lawns unattended too but I couldn’t. I just loved orderliness, beauty and neatness. Since the state government had refused to renovate our quarters for us, I got some money and had the painting done, the plumbing works attended to and now, the lawn!
“Well done Mr. Bright. How work?” I greeted as I pulled the boot lever under my car seat.
“Work fine o madam. It’s just this sun” he complained. I smiled. I looked at the back seat and took a bottle of ‘five alive’ juice. It was very cold.
“Catch this” I said and he looked behind him. His face shone as he saw the drink. With open arms, he received it as I threw it and then he shouted for joy.
“It’s chilling” he said and I smiled.
Mr. Bright and his ‘wonderful’ English language!
I opened the boot and brought out the hamper inside it- an Easter gift for senior staff members in my department. I was privileged to be among.
I took my veggies basket too and walked towards the door.
Gosh! It’s already two o’clock and I had to be in Pastor’s house by four.
I really have to be fast o.
I had a really weird appetite while at work.
I just stumbled on a movie where they were eating coconut rice and an idea came into my head. On my way home, I had bought cucumbers, cabbage, leeks, tomatoes, fresh paper, mackerel fish (My best), and some coconuts.
I bought enough coconuts because my hair seemed to be losing its vitality. I wanted to make enough coconut oil myself since the homemade is better than the adulterated ones being sold. The shaft from the coconut oil and the coconut water was what I would use to cook.
I was already salivating!
After I finished preparing those, I would have a very cold shower and then set out for the pastor’s house.
Few minutes later, the aroma of my specially prepared coconut rice filled the house. I looked at the bowl where I had poured the coconut oil
That should be cold by now!
I quickly sent a ‘BRB’ to everyone I was chatting with on Facebook, WhatsApp and BBM- I really loved chatting.
I poured the coconut oil into different bottles and set them aside. Then I turned off my gas cooker and opened the pot- Hmmmm, indomitable meal!
I ran into the bathroom and richly soaped my body. As the shower rained down the thin streams of water upon my hefty body, I felt a tickling sensation and I chuckled repeatedly. I was somewhat happy- but about what?
I had really had a lot to do that very day and though I was fatigued, I had to go and see my pastor’s wife for whatever it was she wanted to see me for.
What could she want to see me for?
My happiness waned away as I jumped off the bathroom into my bedroom where I performed the normal beauty rituals and wore a very cool colored evening gown.
“Mummy will join you shortly Sister Precious” Abigail, the housemaid told me and I smiled at her.
The best treble part singer in our church!
“Do you mind a bottle of Charis wine?” she asked and I nodded
“No, I don’t mind please” I said and it was soon delivered in a tray. The phone on one of the tables rang and Abigail picked the receiver
“Hello ma…it’s alright ma.” She said and looked at me.
“Mummy said you should come into her room upstairs” she said and I looked surprised.
Who am I in that church?
What is my post or position?
What have I done to deserve entering the room of my pastor’s wife?
Oh, that would be a very delightful honor for me!
If the other parts of the house could be this beautiful and gigantic, I wonder what the bedroom would look like.
The staircases leading upstairs were sparkly neat!
I was told to take off my shoes and I slipped into some furry slippers before stepping on those staircases.
God, I’ve got to be rich o
Lord, I ask for the riches of Job but not his sufferings o abeg.
I laughed at myself for making that kind of selfish prayer request but if you had the opportunity of coming into this place, you would conclude that heaven must be too goldenly beautiful because this house looked like paradise.
I knocked the door
“Please come in” I heard the voice and I opened the door.
Oh, that sight!
The room was indescribable!
I wanted to run outside and confirm that I was still in the same house I was just coming from but I maintained my cool.
The room was disorganized. The settees were not well arranged and there were clothes hanging on the chair, around the necks of the gigantic wardrobes, beautiful shoes were scattered all over the floor and gasped.
“Sister Precious” I heard that voice and I was geared back to reality. I was lost in my own world of irritation and had forgotten why I was here.
I looked at the bed where the sound was coming from and I almost ran back!
“Mummy!” I called out, really surprised and she smiled sadly
“Good evening” she greeted and I couldn’t hide my shock and despair.
Her head was neatly scraped- totally!…like a widow in her mourning mood!
The gown she was putting on was black and she didn’t look like the normal mummy I knew. Tears gathered in my face as I looked at her.
“Mummy!” I called out in a heart-renting way again as I ran to her and fell on the bed, holding her hands as I wept.
“Mummy, what’s wrong?” I asked in a very sorrowful way. She smiled but I saw the tears welling up in her eyes.
“I wanted someone to clear up my room for me. And I chose you” she said calmly and I broke out into a serious fit of crying.
Mummy needed help to clear up her room?
Oh my God!
I scanned the room and I cried again.
Whatever it was that was happening to mummy pastor was very serious!
Oh my goodness!
Oh my God!
I looked at her.
She wasn’t crying
She had tears in her eyes but they were not falling. She looked really worn!
I stood up, removed my long evening gown and thank God my undies were moderate enough, I set to work even as I cried ‘Oh my God!” repeatedly.
After rearranging the furniture and returning the books to where they were supposed to be, I hung the neat clothes and dumped the dirty ones in the large laundry baskets. I saw a vacuum cleaner.
There is even a vacuum cleaner? Oh my God!
I ignited the machine and it swallowed all the dirt on the floor for me.
I went to the bed and faced mummy pastor.
“Mummy, let me lay the bed” I said and she sighed, held the pole on which the bed lamp hung with great difficulty and then stood up. I saw that protruding tummy.
The dream flashed back to my memory!
She’s pregnant for real! Oh my God!
I pulled a plastic chair for her and she sat inside it with care.
As I pulled the large, heavy white-turned brown duvet off the bed, I saw already used tissue papers. Some were very dry, some were still wet.
I dumped the duvet into one of the laundry baskets and the tissue papers fell to the ground- they could make a rug!
She must have cried loads and from the look of things, it didn’t just start yesterday.
By the time I was done with the laying of the bed and all, the five large laundry baskets were filled and the dustbin was filled as well.
“Carry everything and drop them outside the room. Abigail would come and get them outside. This is the first time anybody would enter this room apart from my husband. Even my children are not allowed to. I just needed an urgent help and my spirit pointed at you. Thanks so much.” She said and I could only nod as I did as instructed.
I then pulled the curtains, dusted the window panes, sprayed the air-freshener and switched on the split air conditioner while I wore my gown again.
I shook my head and my jaws dropped.
“Mummy, it’s time to get back into bed” I said again and she tried to stand up but couldn’t. I went closer to her and pulled her up.
Oh how light she felt in my hands!
As she hid under the new laid duvet, she signaled for me to sit down on the chair adjoining the bed which I did.
I was not happy!
What exactly was happening?
What’s the smiling pretense?
Does she think I am a baby?
“Sister Precious, could I perhaps call you Precious?” she asked, humbly and my heart softened and I forced a smile
“Definitely ma” I replied and she smiled again
“Thanks my daughter.” She said and looked into my face. I looked into her eyes as well
That was all I saw- No hope whatsoever!
She took my hand and though her hand seemed beautiful and fresh on the outside, it was scaly as she touched me.
“It seems that you know something about me, Precious” she said and I was shocked
“Ma, I don’t know anything o, nothing!” I retorted quickly.
What was she saying?
“That Sunday, you were shouting my name, looking for me all over the church. You even screamed ‘She’s alive’ when you saw me. That?” she looked at me with a ‘So, what are you saying’ kind of look and I shook my head.
“Ma…” I was saying when she cut me short.
“During the marriage committee session, while I was talking, why did you look into my eyes so penetratingly? Tell me if you know something please. I need to know” she squeezed my hand as she pleaded, tears streaming down her face.
What do I have to say now? I really don’t know anything at all.
“Precious, when you look into my eyes as you do, what do you see? Please tell me. I am sure you know something. Tell me exactly what you see that others don’t. What you see that my fellow women leaders don’t, what exactly you see that even my children don’t. What you see that my…my…even my…my hus…husb…husband doesn’t see” She pleaded further, stuttering greatly and I shook my head regrettably.
Exactly what I wanted to know!
Something was very wrong and no one knew- not even my pastor!
But what’s it?
This suspense is killing me Lord Jesus!
She smiled again and I could not help but speak my mind.
“Mummy, for real, all I see is fear, loneliness, frustration, pain, hurt, despondency, dejection, depression. All I see on a closer look is negativity mum! That’s all I see and I don’t understand why it should be so” I blurted out. I was tired of seeing her that way. She looked so weird.
Even her haircut was scary…bare!
Her big tummy
Her untidy room
Her hurtful face
Oh how much beautiful and expensive attires cover the problems of so many people!
We only look at their attires and envy them
We look at the hats and say, oh beautiful!
Not knowing that a sorrowful bare head hides underneath.
“Thank you for saying your mind my daughter. Thanks, thanks, thanks o, thank you, thanks” the more she said the words slowing, the more they tugged at my emotions. The more I wanted to know where the problem laid and put an end to it.
“Mummy, what is the problem with you? Talk to me. I can handle it. I might not be able to proffer solutions to the problems but I can help share in the burden. Talk to me ma” I pestered and she smiled.
“I will talk to you and that was why I chose you. But…” she was saying where the phone rang and she picked the receiver.
“Yes Abigail…good…lead him upstairs…thanks love” she said and dropped the receiver. She looked at me and smiled again.
“You have to go now Precious. I will see you some other time. I need to attend to someone now. Its urgent.” She said as she unwound baby wipes and gave to me. She took some too and wiped her face. I did the same too.
What could the problem be?
As the ‘what’ questions filled my head, I could not think straight anymore.
Was she dying?
That would be scary because she is still very young!
Where was her husband?
As I fumbled with the baby wipes in my hands and descended the stairs, my shoulders hit someone who was going upstairs and I just bowed in apology as I walked away.
Something struck me hard and turned back to look at who just walked past me.
He was at the door…that stature…oh how familiar!
I racked my brain so tirelessly but it didn’t come to my mind who it was.
As I turned the ignition key of my car, I relived the stature again and oh yes!
What was Tony doing in there?
Tony was just a serving corps member nah…exactly why would she send me away because she wanted to meet Tony.
“I am sorry. I just seemed to find out. A medical doctor would just know.”
Those words rung in my head like I had never heard them before.
Tony was a medical doctor!
The dream relived and I remembered how Tony bent to examine the dying Mrs. Idile in the dream.
Could that be what it meant?
The dream was all about this?
Or had Mrs. Idile been shown that Tony was my husband and she wanted to put in good words for me so he would pray about it?
I shook that idea off!
How childish that thought of mine was…she obviously wouldn’t do that!
Oh my God!
I dug my hands into my hair again, sighed so deeply, turned the ignition key and as I drove off, I remembered my coconut rice
“To hell with you dear rice.” I said loudly, my tongue turning sour.
I had lost my appetite.
…it continues still