The rain just refused to stop!
As I lay still on my very hard and comfortable bed with my eyes shut firmly, I felt that strong, muscular palm on my head.
It was so warm.
It felt so warm that I never wanted it to be taken away from me.
I wanted it to touch every parts of my body- my face, my arms, my big belly, my legs…even my heart if possible!
It felt so good to have my husband back.
It felt really good!
“The Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His light to shine upon you…”
My husband prayed on and on.
Should I just pretend like this while he prayed on?
Or should I open my eyes and smile at him saying that I heard and felt his touch?
“Oh my God! Oh no my Lord!” he cried out still
What was that about?
Was he moaning?
Was he crying or lamenting?
What was the matter?
Should I open my eyes?
I feared that he was seeing a vision and that opening my eyes would disrupt the flow so I kept mum, praying silently.
“I shall never lose my wife…ah no Lord! Oh God!” he labored on in prayer and my heart started beating fast.
What was the problem?
God was speaking to him?
A week had already passed from the two weeks ultimatum I had given him before the ‘divorce’…and he was doing prettily well in his remedial efforts.
I wished something could extend the years I would live on earth.
I had stopped all medicine and even chemo had been placed on a halt.
He was changing- he held my hands while we prayed; he prepared food for me, he looked into my eyes so deeply as if to read my thought (the part I loved most)and he allowed me to fall asleep in his arm while we watched the new MZFM TV station on CONSAT(I wondered if he never realized how light I felt)
Of a truth, a man does not know the value of a thing until he loses it!
If nothing, – if I was going to die, I wanted it to be in the arms of the first lover of mine because that would be the greatest joy of my life.
The rashes on my body had increased and I felt very pained.
When am I going to be healed from this Leukemia oh Lord?
Is there no longer any balm in Gilead?
Heal me oh Lord and I promise to be a better wife- a better mother!
As his hands moved over my face, I felt life surge through my veins- the hands were trembling seriously
What was happening to him?
Was he crying?
“Lord Jesus, I have really been a bad husband and father. I have missed it. Forgive me Lord”
I felt tears drop to my body and I was tempted to really open my eyes.
“What’s wrong?” I asked in a husky tone. He was holding my hand prayerfully and I sighed
His eyes were really teary and his eyes were red!
“I suddenly realized that you are growing old and I am pained!” he cried the more and tears ran down my face.
What a realization!
“What’s wrong with you?” I asked again and he cried louder the more.
He covered his face with his hands and wept bitterly
I cried uncontrollably too
If my frame alone could make him cry this much, what would the revelation of my present health state do to him?
But why must he come to his senses just now oh dear Redeemer?
“You look so lean. Your skin looks so rough and what are these spots? You bald head has little stands of grey hair and they even look weak! When did you become this old? When did I become this insensitive? I never knew! Oh my goodness!” he cried further, sitting on the ground with a great thump
I tried to laugh in order to console him but cries were my portion!
Why was life being unfair to me oh Lord?
“Are you sick? Is there anything I don’t know? Anything at all? Please tell me. I really do want to know. Please”
He looked into my face intently and my heart shattered into pieces
“Oh my husband” I exclaimed as hot tears ran down my suddenly hot face.
This was just too late!
“Tell me please. Please do” he said again, squeezing my shoulders softly.
“Yes, I am dying” I dropped the words and he shut his eyes firmly while tears streamed down his cheeks.
There was no retort of any kind!
Where was the man who always preached faith at any slightest headache of mine?
“Oh my God! Oh my God!! Oh my God!!!Why was I busy tending to your flock without…oh my God! Who am I to question you Lord? Of course I failed you!” his anguish continued.
That was so true!
My husband’s major spiritual gifts were knowledge and discernment but he never for once knew nor did he discern what his heartthrob was going through.
He never did!
“Oh God! Why? Why? Oh why?” he lamented, sitting on the bed and banging his legs on the floor forcefully.
I smiled bitterly.
He turned abruptly and held my hands.
“Is it cancer?” he asked and I looked deep at him.
“Your spiritual antenna is sharp again.” I said as my head asked for lack of tears to shed.
My veins thumped almost loudly.
“My father! Cancer?” he exclaimed
“Cancer!” I mimicked him and he looked at me intently again
“Blood Cancer?” he asked assuredly and I nodded bitterly.
Why was it now that his gift of knowledge is at work?
Why could he not sight this earlier on?
How could he not foresee?
Why my Lord?
“I was sharp-eyed to the matters of my church members but I was blind…I was insensitive…I was totally dead to my…oh Lord! My wife! My beautiful, supportive wife…the wife of my youth! Oh my God!” he broke down into another fit of tears.
He was totally broken!
“And I have watched ‘Busy but Guilty’ but the Mount Zion Ministry oooo….how did I fail? How on earth did I fail? What unguarded moment of mine did the devil use against me oh Lord?” he cried bitterly.
I sat up from my sleeping position and looked across the room at the wall clock.
“Dearie, it’s still very early in the morning. It’s just two o’clock. Let’s sleep please.” I tried to say.
There were no other words in my mouth to utter.
He was crying – his hefty, muscular frame shook to the extent that it scared me.
I hope he wasn’t going to break
“My dear, the two weeks ultimatum you gave me for the divorce was the time given to you by the doctor to live right?” he asked, his eyes looking fierce.
I looked at him as he spoke on.
That’s my husband!
The one that sees what an ordinary man cannot!
But it’s too late!
“Yes. So, by the doctor’s dictate, I have just few more days to go” I said again and he stood up.
“The doctor’s dictate is not the Lord’s dictate!” he almost screamed. He walked to the wardrobe and checked through. He moved to the shelves, then to the table.
He picked up his Bible…tears ran down still.
“My God is never late!” he repeated as if he was singing- his voice shaking really bad!
I looked on at him.
I wished he was there when I was battling with this illness at the inception.
Probably I would have clung to his faith and fought this cancer with all the breath in me.
But….it’s too late…just too late!
“My God still has spare parts” he said as he wore his slippers.
His words reiterated in my ears but I had great doubts.
I was supposed to have the bone marrow transplant and much radiation with chemo but I didn’t do it.
I had heard that it would effect, real, noticeable changes in my body and I didn’t want him to notice- or the members of the church either!
He came close to me, held my face gently but firmly.
I lost my stance and flashed back
That was how he used to hold me then our love still burnt…and I really loved it.
But instead of a passion-driven husband, I could see a desperately compassionate father and pastor on a mission.
He planted a quick peck on my lips —-it was nice!
“I will be back in the next 21 days. Prepare for me Pounded yam, Egusi soup with assorted stuffs and freshly squeezed squash juice by you.” He said as he clutched his bible to his chest.
“21 days? After 3 weeks?” I asked him
Did he know what he was saying?
I have few days left
He was leaving me again
Why oh Lord?
I need him best this time and he was leaving again
Tears rolled down my face and he bent down beside me. He held my knees.
“We will go to the USA to visit the kids thereafter. You hear?” he asked again and stood up.
He turned his back at me and cleared his throat
“Forgive me for my past insensitivity” he said and my head got swollen the more and I started real, loud, dry cry.
“I will go and I will meet you safely. Pull yourself together and be of good cheer. I love you” he said as he walked towards the door.
Was he crying again?
The door opened and then, it was slammed loudly!
He didn’t even take any cloth with him.
Where was he going to?
Didn’t he know that this case was a very difficult one?
I knew it wasn’t difficult for God but I still feel it was difficult!
Acute one at that!
But as the door slammed when he went out, something like a screw fell from my chest and I wondered what it was.
I looked around for the screw but it was nowhere to be found!
I felt somehow…indescribable!
Was it peace like a river?
Was it the love that emanated from a long-gone husband?
Was it sadness?
Was it the brokenness of my heart that he left me again?
I feel different! – I felt like shouting these three words to the air so that everyone could hear me.
I introduced the four pieces of drumsticks that I had bought from a chicken store today into the boiling oil in my enamel frying pan.
As the pieces of chicken cried, I danced to the rhythm of the song emanating from the television in the sitting room.
Joy! Joy!! Joy!!!
My phone rang and I went to the socket above my microwave to check who the caller was.
My heart started racing really bad!
Since the blunt experience I had with him at the Pastor’s house, i couldn’t look into his face anymore.
I allowed the phone to ring on.
He called again but the limit alarm of frying pan sounded so i rushed there to turn the content, thereby missing the call again.
I laughed… Really satisfied that i was getting a ‘huge’ revenge.
He tried calling again
My heart rang fast to Pastor Idile and his wife.
Could it be that he had an urgent message to pass across?
I picked the call.
“Hello” he started
“Yes?” I really didnt have much tine to spend with someone who would tug at my emotions and then would leave me empty.
“How are you?”
“How was work today?”
I was getting bored abeg!
“Great thanks! Anything the matter?” I asked so curtly.
“Woukd you be around for the choir practice today?” He asked
I racked my brain so badly.
Today is Monday for God’s sake.
Choir practice was Wednesday.
“Oh sorry… Don’t mind me” he quickly replied and laughed sheepishly
“I forgot today is Monday…. But would you be around for the Bible Study?”
“I have never missed it” that was my response.
Why was he behaving like that?
Was he missing me?
I shook my head at that thought.
“Ok. See you then” he responded again and I laughed.
“Why are you laughing?” He asked
“Your behavior today is weird… ”
“In what sense?”
“You kept on stuttering as you spoke and i am left to wonder if all is well”
“All is well”
I went to my gas cooker and switched it off.
“Are you missing me?”
I didnt know when i asked the question.
“Yes” that came the prompt answer and my heart dropped.
I never expected him to reply and I felt blood gushed into my face.
“I really do miss you” he said again
My heart couldn’t bear it anymore.
I dropped the call and when it started ringing again, I switched off my phone.
Let this guy allow me eat my drumsticks in peace abeg!
I wasn’t just ready for any adrenaline malfunction that very day!
The passing out of the outgoing Batch A corps members was very near so the church decided to organize a special Sunday service for them as a send forth package.
The serving Batch B corps members were the ones organizing the programme and as I got to know that very day, Tony was the General Corpers Liaison Officer (CLO) for that local government so he was on the high table.
It had been two weeks now since I last saw Pastor Idile and when I asked mummy, she said that he was fine and he would be back soon.
The associate pastor had been the one in charge since then and though the services had been power-packed, it was nothing compared to Pastor Idile’s vibrancy and authority.
I really missed him, hoping that all was well with him since mummy was not opening up.
“We call on our general CLO to present his own thanksgiving message on behalf of his outgoing colleagues” the announcer said and there was a huge round of applause.
He stepped forward and I saw his attire…oh my!
It was huge!
Fully embroidered in pink, the well starched and ironed brown adire cloth hung down his slim frame.
He looked heavenly.
“Thank you Lord for this great opportunity. Thanks to my fellow corps member. Corpers wee o” he called out
“Waa oo” they echoed in response, jubilating happily
“It is not my turn yet to go but you guys have successfully ended your own portion of service to your fatherland and I say a bi congratulations to you all” he started and they screamed as they put their hands together
“You have achieved one or two things, I am sure, right?” he asked and they all chorused ‘Yes’
“Oyo State is a very good place to serve o. with about 6 months still remaining for me to spend here, I could say of all certainty that the lord had really done it in my own life as much.” He said and everyone listened with rapt attention.
“For me, God had done it in all ramifications. I left my job in the US to carry out an assignment in Nigeria and many job opportunities are lined up in front of me now that if I choose one, I would just have to resign at my working place in the US. So, in my career, God has done it!” he announced and everyone screamed, clapping.
I clapped too
“God used Pastor and Mrs. Idile for me so much, guiding me in the way that I should go and revealing the real truth of God’s word to me. So, spiritually, God has done it!
“Accommodation, relationship with people, financially, everything, God has done it” he said on and there were claps again
“Halleluyah!” somebody cried out from the congregation.
“Also, to cap it all, the Bible says he who finds a wife had found a good thing and obtained favor from the Lord. So, martially too, God has done it!” he said, smiling happily.
Everyone stood up, clapping, drumming, playing different instruments and all.
What expression was supposed to be on my face?
Should I start crying?
I felt a real jab on my chest.
Why was I feeling this way?
Why was it too painful for me to bear?
“Tony never told me about the last aspect of his speech o.” the associate pastor said as he took over the microphone
There were different reactions from the people- excitement all over!
“So should we call on him so he could tell us what he meant by that ir so he would tell us who the lucky lady is?” the associate pastor asked, beaming with smiles.
How I wish the pastor knows that he is tampering with somebody’s heart right now.
How I wish!
I felt like my heart was arrested and the rib cage ransacked and broken into different pieces.
The pastor handed the microphone to Tony who was just laughing as he held it.
What a guy!
For his mind now, he thinks he is funny o…
I hissed as my lips shook out of anxiety.
“Sir, I wouldn’t like to disclose her identity now because I know the state of her heart. She doesn’t like this kinda public thing” he said and I sighed deeply
That was a nice one my guy!
I wonder what he meant before by disclosing all about him like that, all in the name of testimony!
The lady is lucky sha!
But I pity her o… that Tony guy is too blunt abeg!
As I smiled to myself, satisfied that he didn’t disclose what could have killed me that day, I looked around me to see if nobody had watched my reaction and all and from among the congregation, to my right hand side, I saw a solemn face looking deeply into my face.
I was dazed!
Who was that?
The look was not just sad…it was attacking!
It looked like it wanted to swallow me up.
Why was she looking like that?
I gave her a questioning face and tears dropped down her face.
She wiped it quickly and placed her head on the pew in front of her.
My heart jumped into my mouth.
Was anything wrong with Pastor Idile and his wife?
None of them was around in the church.
I stood up since all was standing and I walked over to her side.
I placed my hands on her shoulders gently and she turned to look at me.
As if my hands were fire, she shook my hands off her with a great alacrity.
“What’s the problem?” I asked her softly, trying not to interrupt the service.
I was confused.
“Leave me alone” she said almost loudly.
I was embarrassed as few people looked towards our side.
Thank God for my big stature.
With a hand covering her mouth, I pulled her out of the church, despite her struggling.
What sort of a thing is this?
“Leave me alone” she almost screamed
She looked at me and charged at me.
“Wicked, hefty monster” she cried out and my heart froze
This was the best treble singer in the whole church
Sister Holiness unto the Lord!
What were these words coming out of her mouth?
Oh my goodness!
“Were we fighting before sister Abigail?”
“Don’t sister me! Miss seductress!” she continued to howl insults at me and I felt like dying as some women leaders were gathering already.
“Why would someone like him, choose you over me? Why? If not because jazz and seduction is involved. Why?” she started crying.
I was more than confused
What was she talking about?
“I don’t understand you” I tried to say.
“Liar! You think I don’t know of your vices? You think all your seductive acts eluded my eyes? You would come with the pretence of coming to take care of mummy but both of you would not even…” she continued and my spirit was vexed
That was an unclean spirit talking!
I refuse to be ignorant of the Devil’s handiwork
“I command quietness from above upon you unclean spirit in Jesus’ name!” I prayed from my spirit and she held her head and screamed.
She fell to the ground while the leaders watched on.
She started crying
“But, I am the one Tony loves…I loved him first before you did” she said.
Now I know why she was doing this.
“You had a crush on him?” I asked and she nodded
I pitied her
She was just like a small girl whose lollipop had been snatched away from her.
“Sorry dear. But you are wrong. I wasn’t the one he went up stage to talk about. I am a bit close to him too but I am just hearing this for the very first time” I tried to explain to her.
“It’s a lie!” she spat it into my face and I was embarrassed the more.
One of the leaders came to my side and hugged me gently
“Don’t be embarrassed my dear. It sometimes happened to her like that. We have warned her against such costly assumptions especially in regards to marriage but she has roped herself into another one, it seems. Sorry dearie” she said, trying to pull me away with them
I was speechless!
What exactly was happening?
I don’t have anything with Tony, so why this one?
Then, I remembered that very day we both went to the pastor’s house and she was trying to bar me from entering into the house and the look on her face…oh my!
I never even suspected much!
How Tony held my hands and pulled me inside, authoritatively as if I was his…
This sister read another meaning to that action!
Oh God of mercy!
This Tony guy won’t put someone into wahala o….what’s all these now? what?
How I wish Abigail could understand that she was not the only broken-hearted lady crush in this case.
…I was broken hearted too.
….watch out for the Penultimate episode.
God bless you!