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It’s the safest thing to do…
Those were the words I heard faintly and I moved my leg.
Where was I?
“Mummy, but God is against that. He never would love it. You would break God’s heart with that decision of yours”
That should be Tony.
“Well, I know quite alright but it’s funny how I have been going against everything I know in the Bible. It’s funny” I heard some sniffing.
That should be mummy pastor!
Was she crying?
What happened to me?
Was I sleeping in the middle of an argument as hot as this?
I racked my brain for a long period of time and it relived in my face and in my ears.
Oh my God!
Don’t tell me I fainted!
I felt a sensational surge run through my spine and I felt almost useless.
How could I faint like that- in the presence of Tony?
That was why I hated surprises- good or bad!
I wondered why some girls and even married women cherish it when their spouses surprises them.
If it were to be me, my hypothalamus wouldn’t just decode the signals well- or probably it decoded it well but my heart couldn’t take it.
“If Tony wants to propose to me, he should sha not go and do mad surprises of balloons and candlelight o. They would have to send for an ambulance if he does that” I said and chuckled silently. The thought alone made me cringe.
There was a deafening silence and I wondered if the duo had left what they were doing or discussing. I opened my eyes halfway and saw Tony staring at me with a funny smile on his face.
He shook his head, fixing his eyes on me.
I shut my eyes quickly.
“What did she just say?” Mummy pastor asked and my heart jumped into my mouth
They heard what I said?
I was only lost in my own world o Jesus!
I had to save the situation…what should I do?
I stretched my arms and coughed.
“What sort of a bad dream is this Lord? Tony and I? God forbid!” I hissed again and pretended to be asleep.
“Jesus! What is happening? She seems to be having a nightmare. Let’s wake her please. Abi?” mummy pastor asked and I opened my eyes halfway again to see the frowning face of Tony.
I shut my eyes again and smiled.
Tony laughed hard and pinched my arm
“Enough of this nightmare sleeping princess” he stressed the ‘’nightmare’’ that I knew assuredly well that he understood my tricks
I tried to harden my heart.
At least mummy didn’t understand.
I stretched again and coughed three times before I opened my eyes.
I looked around so naively.
I was in mummy pastor’s room and it was still as clean as I had left it few weeks back.
She held my shoulder softly and I shuddered.
“Thank God you are alive.” She said with gratitude and smiled deeply.
I smiled too- faintly
Tony shook his head and his nose was cushioned up in contempt.
What’s with this guy abeg!
“You fainted because you heard the story of my life. What if you experienced it?” mummy asked again and I looked up at her.
She smiled still and I called my spirit, soul and body together.
What if I experienced it for real?
“So, I have decided to file for divorce” she blurted out and my heart rang very loudly.
“Mummy, divorce!” I exclaimed so loudly holding my chest as I stepped out of the bed in which I had been laid.
I didn’t hear correctly!
“I can’t bear it anymore. Even though it costs me anything, divorce is my last resort and I am going in for that” She said and tears ran down my face.
I could imagine the news headlines the following day about my pastor’s divorce after a failed marriage. I could imagine critics and enemies wagging their tongues in interviews and my tummy dropped.
This isn’t good oh God!
I looked at mummy pastor and she looked really resolute- her mind was made up.
What else could I say to a woman who had gone through hell in recent times- or even all her life!
“Mummy, God still hates it. No matter what! Even in Matthew 17 versus 25 or thereabout, He stated His hatred for divorce clearly. Even in the case of adultery, He still hates it!” I tried to pursue my argument.
Mummy pastor laughed
“It’s not Matthew 17:25 o lady evangelist. It is Malachi 2: 16” she corrected
How hard it is to preach to a backslidden preacher!
He would just turn you from one side to the other and quote scriptural references with you even before you land.
But, is mummy also a backslider?
The bible says the first shall be the last and the last shall be the first. Was that bible verse coming to reality already?
I shuddered at the thought.
Mummy put her hand on my shoulder and pressed softly.
“I am going to die anyway. Just two weeks and I would be gone” she said, dejectedly and my heart skipped a beat.
I looked at Tony who buried his face underneath his palms.
“So, why not divorce him before I just waste away just like that? Why not?” she asked again, her voice shaking vehemently.
What to do?
Please Lord, don’t allow her die.
I pushed Tony’s shoulders but he didn’t look up at me.
“Why would she die? Isn’t there anything that could be done? Nothing at all?” I cried
“Miracle” he muttered.
Was he crying too?
I left his shoulder and faced mummy
“Mummy, tell daddy. He still has the money to do something about this. You can fly out of the country or something. You should not allow an ordinary private doctor to dictate to you what is not”
I didn’t know when the words came out of my mouth but whatever I said sure had an inestimable effect on Tony who looked at me through the space between her fingers and shook his head.
“Who is the ordinary private doctor? Tony? Nope! Don’t ever see him as such. He is definitely a big gun when we talk about medicine.”
I looked at him and lots of thoughts ran through my mind.
A big gun?
“Dont judge a book by its cover my sweet girl” she said and I just nodded.
What was I supposed to say?
I am sorry?
I am regretful or what exactly?
It is well o
Wasn’t he just a serving corps member?
My mind travelled far and I wondered.
I shook my head afterwards and focused on mummy pastor.
“Ok, lets assume that he is a bug gun for real ma, what is the probability that all he had told you is true?”
I talked so childishly that it hurt my heart but I couldn’t just express myself any better.
“It isn’t only me working on her ma. It’s a group of international gynaecologists” he explained and I felt bad.
Why did he talk that way?
He didn’t like the way i talked- it was so obvious.
“This is the second phase of the leukemia thing my daughter. Its a relapse” she explained and I looked at her lips as they danced.
I wanted more explanation.
“Dad had a foreign mission in America- Oklahoma to be precise. We went together. You at home would think ‘oh, love things’ but we were apart. I ached to see my children while there and I succeeded. They looked really awful! My boys’ eyes were red and my only daughter looked so jezebellic. I really cried that day. I put a call through to my husband since he was away to allow us bring them back to Nigeria but he refused and ordered me to come back to Oklahoma- he didn’t even see the children! He only sent money.”
Tears ran down her face and my heart yawned for her.
“While there, my bp rose and since my husband wasn’t even around for me to complain to, I went to the hospital and to my greatest surprise, I was diagnosed with full blown leukemia.! I couldn’t die but chemotherapy begun immediately” she explained and I watched on, warm spittle gathering in every corner of my mouth.
“So, dad knows about the first case of the leukemia?” I asked and she smiled painfully
“I went through chemotherapy, my hair started falling off, my teeth started rotting away, yet on the 3rd day after my 3 weeks’ admission which he didn’t know about, he still climbed me and all this marriage intimate things still happened, you know? He didn’t notice that I wasn’t active in bed. He didn’t notice my pain, my teeth, my hair, nothing!”
My body cringed
I could only imagine that.
That’s sheer insensitivity!
“But mummy, you could have told him. You could have” I retorted
“I know I should have. But I was hurt. That wasn’t the man I married. He just changed when he was asked to head a large church. I felt it was too big for him. Anytime I put my hurts aside to tell him I wasnt well, he wouldn’t even let me land before he says I should be a woman of faith and he would pray with me. I would be embittered the more and would then keep quiet. I am phlegmatic by nature”
She allowed the tears to flow and I allowed mine too.
I had read about these temperaments stuffs and for her to really endure such pains, she was a real phlegmatic and her husband must be a choleric melancholic man not to even notice at all!
“He called that we were to leave for home soon with the mind that I had been with my children all these weeks. I told my doctors who told me that i was surprisingly getting healed. I was given lots of drugs and we came back home.” She explained and I swallowed
I watched on as she explained further how the symptoms started four months ago and she started chemo again.
“When the news got to my hospital in the US, a top Nigerian gynaecologist who originally had something doing in this country was sent to take over my treatment…”
“And thats Tony?” I asked in a very raised voice.
“Oh Lord of lords!” I exclaimed.
Tony shook his head and fixed his gaze on me.
“Ah, it is well o. I didn’t know o”
I respected with utmost sincerity medical doctors trained abroad.
If nothing, I knew they had been trained with probably the best technologies ever.
“This is the divorce letter. My lawyer brought me a copy today because I requested for it.” She said, spreading it in the bed and I shivered as I held it in my hands.
Tears rolled down my face.
“Mummy, this can’t happen! No!” I cried loudly
“Daughter, Let me do it. That would give me joy. Enough of deception and camouflage. Its time to tell the whole world that I had been a candle in the wind all the while and that since I dont have a shed anymore, I am giving it up to the wind”
“Mummy, don’t give up at all. Please, don’t” I cried the more
….but her mind was made up!
Her phone rang
She picked it up
She winked at us and then placed it on the loud speaker
“Hello hon” she said
“You are awake now?” He asked
“I was to go to South Africa but unfortunately, I have been reassigned to anchor a revival next week. I cant go again”
“That’s not unfortunate at all hon. They want you to have enough time for the wife of your youth. Love things you know? I have missed you”
He laughed loudly
“Sweetheart! Funny you! Miss me when I just left you few minutes ago?”
Tears rolled down her cheeks
“Did you even know that I am sick? Do you know?” She cried
“Sweetheart! Let the weak say I am strong… Let the poor say I am rich, because of what the Lord has done….” He sang Don Moen’s song so sonorously.
I looked into mummy’s face and I really felt devastated.
She looked lonely and lost.
“Dear, come on stop it! Please do! I am not fine. I am tired of everything. I mean everything as a whole. This marriage isn’t working anymore. I want it over! I quit!”
She screamed ‘I quit’ three times before dropping the call.
She panted for few minutes before collecting the bottle of water Tony extended to her.
She gulped almost three times before looking up.
… And she smiled!
The gate opened and mummy pastor moved to the window to peep.
“Its him” she said and turned back to the bed.
She picked the divorce form, put it inside a large brown envelope and moved to the door.
“Mummy, please don’t do this to us. Please” I cried out loud and she looked back at me.
“Just watch! Shush your mouth! ” She exclaimed and I became mum, still crying.
She opened the door and we followed, tiptoeing.
As she desended down the stairs, we hid behind the balcony and watched from up the stairs.
“Dearie, what was that call about? Exactly what?” He asked as he dropped his briefcase.
Mummy pointed the brown envelope into his face.
“Exactly this” she said.
Pastor collected it, checked and went down on his knees.
“Don’t do this to my ministry please. Please don’t!” He raised his hands towards her and she pushed them away.
“That’s it! The real you! You are very selfish! As selfish as anything! His ministry first. His wife could die for all he cared but his ministry shouldn’t” she was almost screaming
“But would you love the ministry to die? Why are you talking like this? Why?”
“Your ministry was long dead dearie!” Mummy shouted loudly
“What!” He exclaimed loudly too, charging at her defensively.
“You want to beat me? Please talk to me Kelvin! You really wanted to?” She asked in a shaky voice.
“God forbids that I do that. I can never lay my hands on you. I can never beat you”
“Is this the first time you would beat me? You have beaten me on several occasions hon. You have” her voice shook
“You’re talking strangely. First, you said my ministry had long failed. Then, you said I had beaten you. What is it?”
“Your ministry failed when your marriage failed Kelvin! You ministry failed when Gem and Ruby started smoking, drinking and clubbing. Your ministry failed when Rose, your only daughter started delving into prostitution as if it was her profession. Your ministry had long long failed Kelvin!”
She started crying as Pastor stood up from his kneeling posture.
“What are you saying?” He said again as he sat down.
“You have beaten me several times. You beat me when you moved out of this house and rented another apartment outside.”
“That was to give you privacy”
“What stupid privacy is that? I ask again. Talk! What stupid privacy is needed between a husband and a wife? What?”
Pastor looked shocked
“Did you just say stupid? Did you just say so?” He asked
“Yes I did… Because I am mad! I did because I no longer use my brain. You sent all children abroad against my wish.wasn’t that a huge slap?”
“I only wanted the best for them”
“And who says the best is only abroad? Since we didn’t agree and you just took laws into your hands, treating my opinion as trash, it was a slap”
“I will change dear. Just tear this form. Tear it. God hates divorce!”
“Yes he does! But the separation for how many years now would be called what? When last did we meet as husband and wife? When last did you say you love me? When? Exactly when?”
Pastor’s head was bowed low.
“You’re simply a wicked, insensitive pretentious, bad hypocrite!” She exclaimed again.
“I have been a good wife to you. I had obeyed and submitted to you all day long. What have I gotten in return? Heartache, hate, bitterness, sickness and death!”
She fell on the cushion and cried to stupor!
Pastor knelt beside her and they both wept.
“Dear, I didn’t know you were hurting. I felt that I was the only one that felt that our marriage was in shambles. I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t place it” he cried.
“You tried prayers too?” She asked defiantly.
“Yes I did but I gave up when it seemed like I was failing and all seemed worst. I will change dear. Give me another chance” he cried.
“Sign the paper” she cried on
“Dear, no! I still love you” the pastor said.
She held his shoulders and shook him.
“Sign it!” Her voice rose the more.
“No love! I will make it work again! I will rock you in my arms like a baby and carry you upstairs when you fall asleep. I will go back to the way we started before. I will sing for you, bring back our children, we will have a very large and lasting reunion. Just trust me again dear. Please”
“Empty promises!” She exclaimed.
He shook his head vigorously.
“Not empty this time around. I am serious. Ok, any goal without a deadline is as good as dead. Give me a week. All would be new again” he said, going on his knees again.
“And I wouldn’t be dead by then? She asked
“Dead? God forbid!” He exclaimed hurriedly
“Put it in writing” she said
“That?…” He asked looking at her intently
“All these promises you have made. Write them down because after a week, it would be all over if there is still no change”
He unzipped his bag, picked a paper and a pen and scribbled something down. He gave it to her.
She nodded affirmatively
“Sign here” she said again and he obliged.
“All because of your ministry shae?” She asked again and he shook his head.
“Not totally… Because of both my family and our ministry” he said, standing up and straightening up.
“Where are you going to?” She asked, looking up at her
“To pack my load from that house. I am coming back home” he said, moving to the door.
Mummy pastor smiled.
He looked back at her.
“Would you love to go with me?” He asked and mummy smiled
“To prove to me that my husband has changed?”
“Wifey, I promise to be a better man, husband and father. I really do mean it” he said and as he looked at her, he picked up the divorce paper and tore it to pieces.
“We wouldn’t be needing this.” He said and I said a bug amen! in my mind.
I loved the style everything took.
It was cool!
As pastor pulled her close to himself, his arm round her neck, mummy looked back at us and smiled.
Then, I saw the tears!
Oh my God!
What expression was that?
What was running through her mind?
That it was too late to mend?
Was she going to die now that we can see silver lining overshadowing the dark clouds?
God please intervene again!
Nothing is impossible for you!
And thanks for this sudden turnaround.
I was happy.
I stood up from the stooping position from which I had watched the drama from upstairs and I met Tony’s open smile.
I felt butterflies in my belly.
The space between us was narrow and I inhaled his scenting shaving cream.
I took a closer look at the face of the man of my dreams- all the contours and all.
From his full eyebrows, to his very white eyeballs, the fleshy nose… I could see the nostrils… His lips.. Oh my!
“Hmmmm… Flee all youthful lust o!” He exclaimed, still in that position
I came back to my senses.
This guy is too blunt!
I summoned courage
“Why were you standing so close?” I asked
“Why were you looking into my face intently. You wanted to commit sin?” He asked again and blood rushed into my ears.
This guy wouldnt kill me with this outrageous level of his bluntness o!
As I turned to go, I noticed the smile on his face.
It was somehow.
“What is it again!? Why are you gazing so deeply!?” I asked too.
The smile was still on.
“Precious” he called out and I looked on
“What?” I almost shouted
“If it’s not the candlelight and balloons, what style do you love since you hate surprises” He asked, the contemptuous smile still on his face.
… and I died!
My ears, heart, mind, soul, spirit, all stopped!