Oookay peoples . It’s Ajoyo again. This is the much awaited second episode. Thanks to all the people who read and comment. Your comments reassure me everyday that pepole are following these stories. Find the follow button and make sure you get the weekly episodes on thepassionchronicles hot n fresh. As always please Read. Learn and Share. Enjoy!
Pastor Uche was stark naked, ramming into Ngozi , the choir leader from behind. Ngozi’s breasts were dangling over an open bible on Pastor’s table. Shock rooted my two feet firmly to the ground, and my two hands moved to cover my wide open mouth. After a few seconds my legs gave way and I fell to my knees screaming “Why?”
Till today I still ask myself why I did not shut the door immediately I opened it. Why did I sleep off in the bus? Why did I have to be a witness to such a despicable act?
Still in a state of hystreria, Pastor ran towards me and dragged me away from the entrance into the office with his hands clasping my mouth shut, and collecting the tears in my eyes.
“Jennifer! Don’t shout! Stop Shouting ! Shhhh! Shhh!”
He lifted me up and shook me until I opened my eyes to see his hairy chest dripping sweat like he had been in a heavy rain. His eyes were blood shot and he shook me vigorously for the umpteenth time.
“Collect yourself Jennifer! And calm down!” His voice was desperate.
Grabbing my two hands, he pushed me into the red couch close to the window and he started telling me words which were mumbled in my fuzzy mind. I was distracted with Ngozi’s sudden oblivion to my presence in the room; she gave me a side eye through her hand mirror as she brushed her hair and touched up on her make-up.
“Promise me never to tell anyone what you saw today.” Pastor pleaded.
His plea shredded me from my soul. My response was a torrent of words I am sure he still remembers till this day.
“Is that all you can think about? Is that the only thing that concerns you?” I screamed at him.
“Pastor, you just broke the innocence of a seventeen year old teenager!” The blank expression on his face disgusted me all the more.
Sister Ngozi picked up her hand bag and strutted out of the office without a word to either Pastor or me. Unable to face Pastor alone, I ran out of his office, through the church hall and I found myself walking down Allen Avenue looking for the nearest bus stop. I wanted to sleep in a bus all over again and wake up at 6am the same day. If that was not possible, I desired to pack my things and run away from home. The thought of sitting in the pews listening to Pastor preach every Sunday made me sick.
I almost became an emotional wreck in the days that followed. Singing to God in church became an onerous task for me, especially when I saw Sister Ngozi lifting up holy hands with the brethren singing along to her sonorous voice in worship to God. I became a recluse in the house and began avoiding face to face discussions with Pastor Uche. Insomnia besieged me night after night, while the image I saw haunted me once the sun was out. I became helplessly depressed, and realizing I could not confide in any of my friends in church lest I destroyed the ministry made me cry every day. This continued for weeks until the door to my room flung wide open one fateful midnight.
The lights flickered on, and standing at the door was Aunty Francesca, arms akimbo staring at me in my translucent pajamas while I lay still on the bed not knowing what to expect. My heart skipped several beats every second and I feared she could see the anxiety on my face. I stared at her in trepidation like a criminal waiting on a Judge for guilty verdict. She shut the door quietly, locked it, and slipped the keys through her clothes into her brassiere. I widened my eyes and braced for her next move, simultaneously struggling to stop the merciless pounding of my heart against my ribs.
“What is it you have been hiding from me?” Her voice mad me quiver in fear.
I hoped my worst fear had not come upon me. I hoped she had not gotten wind of my adventurous sight- seeing in Pastor’s office. My mind must have been a slate filled with graffiti of different thoughts.
Aunty Francesca was a very blunt woman. She called a spade a spade and dissected all grey areas until they became either white or black. She was not one to overlook any detail that came to her notice. I stared back at her with fearful expression.
“Look at the time. It is two O’ Clock in the midnight and God woke me up to tell me you have been hiding something from me.” She said emphatically.
I opened my eyes wider, and uncovered myself as if in self-defence. I scanned through my mind quickly for the events of the past weeks in search of a story worth a secret. I shuffled the events and ensured everything about Pastor Uche and Ngozi was carefully archived away in my mind. Aunty Francesca was not one given to mind games.
“I can see you are rationalizing. Don’t even try it. You have only ten seconds to speak!”
Her audacity enthralled me, and her penetrating stare carried a resplendence that made it difficult for me to open my mouth in falsehood. I spurted out in a few minutes without any interruption from her. I spoke as one whose heart was a plain tablet before God. By the time I finished, rather than anxiety I felt peace deep within.
“Thank you dear.” My Aunty Francesca could never be predicted. She slipped her hands into her bra, opened the door and disappeared into the dark passage way towards the sitting room.
My head armed with a nagging headache, sleep eluded me for the rest of the night. I feared the consequence of my confessions and emptied my wardrobe of all my clothes into the leather portmanteau my grandparents gave me when I was leaving the village. It was at this point that I wished that my parents were alive. In any event I had decided I was leaving before the break of dawn, but fate chose to sing a different song in the morning.
Pastor Uche hard barely started the usual clapping of hands to start the daily devotion at five am, when my aunty interrupted him.
“This devotion will not start until we discuss a certain matter in this house.”
Pastor knew when to listen carefully to his wife, and he sat quietly when she requested that we all sit down. My knees knocked together as I took the lone seat close to the passage door with a plan to rush into my room and lock the door in split seconds in case of the calamity I expected. I held my knocking knees together to prevent further vibration. Aunty Francesca’s next statement got me at the jugular.
“Uche. Jennifer told me a few hours ago that she caught you sleeping with Ngozi in your office.” She blurted the words staring bold-faced at her husband who flung his arms to the air and shouted on his feet.
“Hold on sir. Before you respond, I’d like you to stake your response on the success of this marriage and the ministry that God has committed into your hands.” It was as though Aunty Francesca stood before her husband in military regalia with a gun pointed to his chest.
“Hold on baby, I can explain what she saw.” Pastor Uche’s hands motioned aimlessly around as his two legs wobbled in several directions at the same time while his lips quavered.
“Listen sir. You will tell me the truth as your lawful wife under a holy covenant, and you will tell the truth as the shepherd of this young girl with us today.” Aunty Francesca was not going to allow her husband slip past her quest for the truth.
Pastor Uche stopped in his tracks, and looked up around him as though he wanted to escape through the ceiling . I pinched myself with the hope that this time around I would wake up in a bus driving through Isale Eko. It was already six am in the morning when my Pastor knelt down before his wife in my presence begging for forgiveness.
I saw Aunty Francesca’s light complexion turn red through the dim light supplied by the lantern in the sitting room. She threw her bible to the floor and ran through the passage door to the master bedroom. Once inside, I heard a loud wail like one who was about to be beheaded. Pastor Uche ran to the door, knocking and pleading that she opened the door. As for me, I wept bitterly on the couch where I sat asking God why all this had to happen.
I did not set my eyes on my Aunty for two days, but when she came out on the third day she spoke to me the words I will never forget.
“Jennifer, you are no longer a baby. You have just seen life in a different colour. Pastor Uche is my husband and our covenant will stand till death do us part.” I was awed by her heroic words.
“Our responsibility is to continue to pray for him. As my husband I will wrestle his case with God. As a man in charge of a commission, we will pray for God’s mercy. Please pray with me. This man may be weak, but I know God has called him to lead his people. He is a great man Jennifer, please pray for him.”
She wept as she spoke to me, and told me that being a Pastor’s wife could be very lonely. While other women can report their husbands to you, you cannot give them a hint that their case may be better than yours. After a long discussion I promised my Aunty that I will stand by her and pray ceaselessly for Pastor and the ministry. This I have done diligently for ten years since that year. I also promised her never to speak to anyone about the happenings in her matrimonial home.
The church grew in leaps and bounds in the months that passed, and we had to seek for a bigger site within Ikeja to be able to accommodate the soaring church membership. Pastor Uche was a preacher to die for. His smooth manner of speech delivery of the word of God was unrivalled at that time and many people joined the church in droves.
An old man showed up at our doorstep on Easter Monday of the following year, and things took a different turn.