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My heart dropped!
How was I going to tell her that this kind of a thing had happened?
I carried the little babe in the shawl and hugged him tightly as tears gathered in my eyes.
I looked at the pastor and our eyes met.
He gave me a questionable look and I nodded
His shoulders dropped as he leaned on the window panes
I shook my head in anguish
My pastor threw his right fist in the air and released air from his mouth forming a whistle out of despair too.
“Is the baby a boy or a girl?” her voice brought me back to life and i looked into her face.
She looked really blue.
The pains of labor and the 14-hour long travail had really sapped her strength.
“It was a boy” i said and she opened her half-slit eyes a bit
“Was?” she asked and I nodded wearily
She faced the pastor
“Was?” she asked him too, dramatically
“Yes” he answered silently
“He’s dead?” she asked and there was silence.
How were we supposed to tell her?
What would it say about our God?
Wont she believe that God had brought her this far to leave her daunted?
I was clueless and my heart raced
She sat up, not mindful of the intravenous line connecting the saline drip into her vein.
“But God could still do this to me?” she asked in a sure tone and I walked to the cot to place the dead baby there
I looked at my pastor who tried to hold her but she retreated.
“I promised that I was going to serve him didn’t I? I did promise! So why all these? why am I in a pool of bitterness again? why?” she cried, tears streaming down her face.
“Hmmm….It is well o” I exclaimed as was my usual habit.
She looked at me somewhat fiercely and shook her head.
In a twinkling of an eye, she caught my hands and squeezed it till life was no more felt in it.
“How do you feel? How does your hand feel?” she cried out.
I understood her frustration and tears could only flow down my face
“I paused blood flow in y our hand for a few seconds. See how white your hand is now. see how lifeless it were . See how dead you feel in here. That’s exactly how I feel now Miss Doctor!” she said somewhat rashly.
I nodded quietly as tears flowed down my face
Of course I understood her
Her youthful age hadn’t been rosy;
The death of one of her first twins had been worse on her
The insanity of her husband and the sudden realization that he had been fetish all along had been the worst of all.
Now, the pregnancy she nursed for months in pains, shame, regret, hunger and all had died again- immediately after birth!
“Dear Mrs. Olowo…” Pastor was saying when she raised her hand defiantly as she let go of my hand.
“Don’t call me that! Not now, not ever! I had rather remained Olosi- a totally poverty-stricken woman than to be called Olowo when the reverse is the case for me. Not anymore!” she said, almost screaming.
Her voice struggled to escape her vocal cords because she was really in pains beneath her
Her pelvic was tight at first as she labored, so that was the first challenge we faced
Eventually when the pelvic would give way a bit again, there was a big tear which we had to sow
Definitely, she was in pain!
“All things work together for good to them …” I started quoting when she slapped the bed hard
“Stop that MA!” she exclaimed, stressing the MA to the extent that my heart jumped into my mouth.
I looked at the pastor who had sat down at the feet of the bed, his head buried in his hands.
“Madam, the baby would have died anyways” I said and she looked at me questionably.
I had to explain further
“He wouldn’t have survived for a long time. he would have died after a few days. his survival would have been hell for you. it would have been really brutally painful for him. no wonder God took him before the problems started unfolding” i quickly rushed my words before she could stop me.
She looked at me instantly, tears strolling down her face
“Ehn?” she muttered
I sat beside her and held her shoulders as I patted and rubbed them.
“The baby had a very poor bone formation and it is due to calcium and iron deficiency of the mother”
“Ehn?” she muttered again.
“He has a very big hole in his small heart and I tell you that it would have been costly to maintain it.”
Her eyes widened
“Hole in the heart?” she asked to be sure and I nodded.
She shrugged from my hold and stood up abruptly
The pastor looked up, his eyes red.
Glory removed the canullar and I stood up so shocked.
“Why…” I was saying when the pastor held my shoulders and i sat down.
We watched as she slipped her legs into her shoes and carried one cheap, tattered handbag that she had probably gotten as a gift from a ceremony long ago.
She walked close to the door before turning back.
I was perplexed but pastor’s reassuring smile kept me seated.
“I will be back” she said
“Where are you going…?” I was asking when she cut me short herself.
“To have a chat with God…or isn’t it right?” she asked and I smiled, nodding like an agama lizard.
“It’s right” I said and she opened the door.
“But…” I wanted to say again, seeing how weak she looked.
I didn’t want her to faint on the way.
“And…I don’t want to be followed please” she said with a kind of finality and the door was jammed.
I looked at the pastor and he smiled at me.
“It should be fine” he said but I wasn’t convinced.
If he had used ‘will’, I might have calmed down bit; but ‘should’….ah!
If nothing, I knew about the story of Naomi in the Bible very well
I remembered that story lucidly.
I was taught in our Sunday school class while I was in the orphanage home that Naomi went out full but came back empty!
Of course I remembered so well!Some people suffer so that they will be better equipped to comfort others in their suffering
And what is the difference between us now?
But the fact that she went out full and came back empty while I had been empty all my life!
I had been the real Mara!
But I couldn’t bear it anymore…I had been pushed to the wall!
God had been so unfair!
As I alighted from the bike that brought me to the church- the one my doctor attended- with great difficulty, I faced the motorcyclist and he looked into my face
“Bani kudi” he said, stretching his hand in readiness to collect money.
“Ba kudi dan Allah” I quickly pleaded.
It just dawned on me that i had no dime on me.
He frowned a bit
“Me ne ne?” he was almost getting angry
“Dan Allah, ya ku ri. ka ya kuri” I started apologizing as I turned to go
My feet could barely hold me again.
I was about collapsing
The labor pains had been severe and I had nothing to show for the hours of pains I went through.
The child died!
Tears rushed into my eyes
Why my life was full of shambles and pains and calamities like this, I would appreciate if God could explain to me.
I turned back to see the motorcyclist and he was still there.
He looked puzzled as he held his chest out of perplexity.
What was he looking at so intently?
I turned to look at the back of my blue wrapper and there it was…
Full of blood!
I gasped in shock but I went further
“Sanu” he waved
“Muje hospital” he said but I shook my head
Whatever had brought me here should kill me here.
If it was death, it should kill me there
I entered the church and fell t the ground.
I gasped for air for a few number of time before I started dragging myself to the altar side
It was a very big church and so it took me minutes to get to the front.
By the time I got there, I had perspired like a Christmas goat and was gasping for air seriously.
The pain was much for me but I endured even as I gaped in pain as I felt the hot, sticky substance streaming down between my laps
Was I dying?
When one loses blood, it is said that life is being lost.
Was I losing my life too?
I could hear the sound of a piano
I listened more as I tried to quiet down my moaning.
Someone on the podium was playing the piano
Could the person not see me?
Could the person not rise up to help?
IS IT A MAN’S HELP YOU NEED NOW OR GOD’S?
I heard that down within me but I could say nothing!
I didn’t know how to pray
I didn’t know how to start bringing my allegations against God!
I didn’t know anything!
Nothing at all!
But I felt it deep within me that he could hear me…something told me with all assurance that He wasn’t deaf!
I became quiet and waited
The piano played on sweetly accompanied by the sonorous voice of the pianist
I must tell Jesus!
I must tell Jesus all of my troubles
He is a kind compassionate friend
If I but ask him, he would deliver,
make all my troubles quickly an end.
My heart became swollen within me with every word of the stanza
“I really must tell Jesus” I repeated on and on, my voice waning and fading as I spoke.
My eyes were still shut tightly and my voice scratchy
“If I only ask you, You will deliver Oh Lord…I ask you oh Lord!…I ask you Lord!” I repeated again, my heart’s burden outpouring
WHAT DO YOU ASK FOR? WHAT?
I heard that clearly too
Obviously, the Holy Spirit must be praying for me as it is written of Him in Romans 8:26 because hearing those spiritual suggestions sounded surreal to me
What exactly do I really want?
I wanted a lot of things but I had learnt that in asking anything from the Lord, specificity was key!
I’d got to specify
What do I want oh Lord?
I started crying again.
What was I supposed to ask for?
Hannah’s only problem was barrenness and reproach attached to it and she couldn’t voice out her prayers but could only moaned because of the abundance of bitterness in her heart.
What about me ?
What do I have to say?
That my husband be normalized?
What if he does something worse to me afterwards?
That my children be great?
What if I die and …oh my! What was I supposed to say oh Lord?
The piano started another tune and my heart was overwhelmed in quietness again
“Just as I am- though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt
Fightings and fears within, without
Oh lamb of God, I come, I come!
Oh yes I come Lord!
With many conflicts….down in my life, my heart, my family, my all!
With many doubt in my heart…a lot of them Lord!
I have fightings within me and a great fear lurking around me…
Oh I come…. I come Lord!
I cried out the more
What do you want exactly?
It was precise again and oh yes, what do I want?
The piano started again with the great voice
“I will never let you go, except you bless me…” the voice started again and I accompanied it
If the person couldn’t hear me or couldn’t see me, I didn’t know- I couldn’t say!
All I knew was that whatever it was that he was doing right on the altar was speaking to me too….
The wordings of the song were Jacob’s words
I could remember that story too!
Jacob fought with an angel….he fought!
BUT HE DIDN’T FIGHT AIMLESSLY, DID HE?
The voice asked again and I shook my head
That was so true…but what was his request ?
I heard again
PRAY UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS- PUSH!
I heard it so deeply in my heart and I was aroused in my heart
“Lord, I’ve got to Pray Until your Spirit Hovers over me” I heard the voice of the pianist too
Was he pushing too?
PRAY UNTIL SATAN HUSHES!
I heard again
Oh my goodness!
That’s the key!
The devil had to just hush and stp the nonsense he had been doing in my life and family.
He’d got to stop!
Teach me to pray Lord!
Help me labor in prayer and until something happens, don’t let me leave Lord!
I am ready to push!
“From today, your name shall no longer be called Jacob but Israel…” those words came like a spire on my ears and I smiled like a warrior that had found out the Achilles’ heels of his opponent.
I now know what to say!
A change of name!
That was all I needed!
“Oh Lord, I am Glory…Ogooluwa is my name. you made me gloriously and anything contrary to Glory in my life isn’t your will for me dear savior”
I was really pray, right?
“But the enemy has turned my glory to story. He had made my life so sour. He has turned me to Mara- to bitterness” I cried on as I beat my laps in anguish
“Mara isn’t my name anymore oh Lord! Change my name!” I screamed aloud as if my life depended on the volume of my voice and of course it did depend on it.
“I forgive all the assailants but I really do want to live for you- the way you had intended it to be from the very beginning”
RIGHT! YOU GOT THAT RIGHT!
It was as if I heard a crowd of people clapping for me as I said that prayer point
ONCE YOU FAIL TO FIND OUT GOD’S PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE, YOU ARE GONE!
THE EARLIER YOU FIND OUT THAT PURPOSE, THE BETTER IT WOULD BE FOR YOU!
I cried out the more as it dawned on me that I had ought to have sought God’s purpose for my life earlier!
I had had many men and women preach to me on many occasion but never did I pay them any attention!
Never did I take them serious
The pianist played on, singing with all seriousness while I travailed on in prayers.
For the first time in my life, I felt like I was doing the “rightest” thing ever!
As I said the last prayer of my long session of prayers, I looked outside through the opened window and it was stark dark!
The church had become illuminated!
I sat up and the pain in my tummy had drastically reduced
I smiled to myself
I needed a sign that God had heard my prayers now.
“If you have heard my prayers Lord and you want to reassure me, by the time I look at the floor, let there be no blood on the floor. Then would I believe you more” o said
I had heard that Gideon asked God for sighs from God
Moses did too!
I was only doing what the holy patriarchs had done!
I was more than justified!
As I looked down gradually, my heart started racing until my eye met with it, plainly, face-to-face…
I was disappointed
I had really bled and there I was, seated in the puddle of my blood
God failed the first test!
NO, YOU FAILED THE FIRST TEST!
I heard the voice retorting and I sprung up suddenly, defying the mild pains in my tummy
I had to look around
“How?” I asked, moving towards the altar
The piano wasn’t sounding anymore and the pianist was on his knees, backing me.
YOU FAILED THE TEST OF FAITH!
How Lord? How?
FOR THE FIRST TIME, YOU HAD A STILLNESS IN YOUR HEART AS YOU PRAYED…YOU FELT MY PRESENCE!
Oh yes Lord!…That’s so right!
YET YOU STILL ASKED FOR A SIGN!
SO, THAT WASN’T ENOUGH SIGN TO TELL YOU THAT I HAD HEARD YOU, HUH?
I gasped in realization of what I had been told through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
While we have obeyed God and we are on our knees praying and God says …”You are on point daughter. Come further”…we would start…we would pray like craze. Then, we would touch our pain, the swollen part of our diseased body and our already encouraged swollen faith would burst like a festering boil and like Peter, who looking at the waves after he had successfully started the On the water walk started sinking when he looked away from the master, we would start sinking too!
I just understood!
YOU FAILED THE TEST OF FAITH!
It was a calm yet stern voice!
I was shaken!
I hoped sincerely that I hadn’t spoilt my hours of prayer with the faithless act and words of mine
“I am sorry Lord. I am sorry” I cried out aloud
“Thanks for hearing me oh Lord!” the guy said and started playing the piano again!
Has it been this guy’s voice that I had been hearing since?
Or had he been praying for me?
Why was it that everything he said and did correlated with all I was doing too?
“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee…How great Thou art…How great Thou art…” the guy played on and on until I was confused
That was the song on my mind;
I was standing right in front of the guy and he wasn’t even bothered.
He wasn’t moved
He dint behave as if I was there
He didn’t flinch
This young guy should be up to 30 years and I am well over that…couldn’t he see that?
This boy is out-rightly spoilt!
I was madder
He grinned yet
“You are here right? You are here to take me away abi?” he asked and I looked so confused
“Who?” I asked to be sure, looking around to be certain that it was only the two of us that was around
He rubbed his head softly as he grinned yet
“You, my mummy” he said and I was confused
He wasn’t looking up at me yet
“Mummy? Your mummy?” I asked, very puzzled
“God told me that you would come for me today and you are here. Obviously doesn’t lie” he exclaimed, still facing down
I was more than confused
The stench from my already dried body fluid had irritated me and as I tried to decode whatever it was that was coming out from the young guy, I became more irritated.
Come for him?
Or someone come for me sef!
Or, did Adejare have a child outside wedlock?
What was he saying exactly?
Why wasn’t he even looking at me at all?
Why oh Lord?
I really did thought it would be the last episode but it had to be divided into two again….that would make the episodes 7 which means perfection…you sure like that don’t you?
Thanks for the wait!
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