IF WITCHES WERE HORSES … Episode 5&6 – Kolade Segun Okeowo

IF WITCHES WERE HORSES… Episode 5

Professor Adarabioyo had poisoned his mind. He was confused. Totally confused…

As he hurried out of Professor Adarabioyo’s office, he remembered the words of Pastor Kalejaye; “If you answer the call of God, will your students leave the school… or will the campus be shut down?”

Two days had passed after Folagbade the King of Onigba-Iwofa sent for Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru the Chief Priest. By the time Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru came, fear had already gripped Folagbade. Why would the Chief Priest refuse to come? Has he offended the gods or has the Priest decided to abandon him at this crucial time of stress?

Several thoughts raced across his mind. If the Priest eventually refuses to cooperate, what hope does he have again? Within the two days, six more deaths have been announced in the village, all of them youths! Folagbade’s world was already crumbling.

He was ready to give up that the Chief Priest would ever come when Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru stepped into his palace, his eyes red with anger and burning with fury that almost sent Folagbade into wishing he had not sent for him, but he knew he had to withstand it all, no matter what.

“Folagbade!” shouted Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru. He always called him by his name. He cared less to respect him. Folagbade’s grandfather was his contemporary. Despite his advanced age, Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru’s strides compare him favourably with men, two generations younger.

Being the most powerful and feared medicine-man in Onigba-Iwofa and the other adjoining twenty villages, Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru was ready to dare anyone. When Folagbade ascended the throne, Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru had said to himself; ‘I will not hunt tigers in the morning with the father and squat in the evening to shoot antelopes with the son’

He simply sent a congratulatory message to the new King.

“The little child in his folly speaks evil of the iroko tree.” Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru continued shaking his fists violently at Folagbade. “The little child looks back and rejoices saying ‘did they not say that the iroko kills?’ The child is ignorant of the fact that the iroko strikes when least expected!”

Folagbade knew he was in real trouble. He searched his heart for the right words to use. Finally he got some and stood up to address the aged Priest, unsure whether his words would ever be appropriate.

“Baba Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru, you wrap your words in riddles, why must you pelt me with arrows of words like this. Why do I deserve all these?”

The words came out as if from an unwilling mouth. Folagbade stopped, looked at the priest like a student waiting to hear the result of his promotion examination. The words seem to have fallen on the wrong side of Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru. His eyeballs shot out with anger, starring bitterly at Folagbade, he grind his teeth and bursted!

“What have you not done?” He screamed “I say what have you not done?” He repeated, shaking his horsetail menacingly at Folagbade.

“Ever since you, Folagbade son of Ajagungbade got to the throne of your fathers, how many times have you come to pay homage to me; the wicked python across the pathway! Your father Lagooku never ceased in consulting me all the years he spent on that throne” He said, pointing menacingly at the throne.

“I thought you have neglected me! What else do you expect from me?…… Well you sent for me and I have come to answer since I know it’s a taboo to ignore the call of the royal highness. Folagbade, I take my leave!”

Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru stormed towards the door. Folagbade ran after him and went flat on his chest in prostration.

“Baba Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru…. Forgive me! Consider my prostration. I beg you in the name of my father ‘Lagooku Agbaruru bi Agabdo’ The little child can never boast of perfection in eating the wrapped pap. Please put me not to shame” Folagbade remained glued to the floor as he pleaded.

Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru looked at the King on the floor; he felt like spitting on him, he smiled sheepishly to himself.

Folagbade paused, waiting to hear from the old Priest. When he heard no word, he continued the pleading. “According to the wisdom of you our elders, one does not get angry with the rubbish dump and discard one’s rubbish into ones house. Do not allow calamity to destroy my reign I plead. You elders say, one does not get angry with one’s head and therefore use one’s cap to cover one’s buttocks. Permit my effrontery to say proverbs in your presence”

Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru turned back, considered the King on the floor, he smiled to himself. He had always known that a day like this would come. Having witnessed the reign of three Kings before Folagbade; all of them his ancestors, he saw no reason why little Folagbade will not pay him homage.

He knew one day, the arrogance of Folagbade borne out of his experience of working with the white-men and the government in the city would give way. He turned around from Folagbade still lying on the ground, hissed heavily and returned to his seat. Folagbade rose and followed him like a rain-drenched chicken.

“If I were to do that which I have conceived of, I would not have come at all….” He hissed again. “A young python, seeking assurance of adulthood measures itself with the length of a palm tree.” He stopped, looked at the young King disdainfully and turned away from him and returned to his seat.

He hissed again. “It is only in a small stream that the crab can make its oil; when it becomes huge and swift the river sweeps the crab away… Well, may we hear that which has been troubling your feeble heart? I will listen to you this last time, just for the sake of your father, Lagooku….. Let’s hear you!”

He relaxed fully on the cane chair, his head resting on the wall. He tapped his left feet on the ground causing a monotonous rhythm in the palace room that has become completely silent as Folagbade waited to gather himself together and be able to use the right words.

“Baba! May you live long. I believe this issue is not strange to you.” He was choosing the words. He paused again to see if the words were doing well; the expression on Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru was simply blank. He quickly continued hoping that the words were sinking at least.

“Sudden deaths have become rather rampant in the village. There is hardly any family that has not been hit by this calamity.” He paused again to feel the response of the old man, but there was none. The Priest turned to him as if to say; ‘Why did you stop?’ Folagbade quickly continued, hoping that he has not offended him.

“The most disturbing aspect of these deaths is that the victims were always screaming a strange name ‘Orogojigo’ as they die. I have investigated from the elders and they said such a name has never been heard of and neither is there a god that goes by that name in Yoruba land.” Folagbade said with an air of authority and assurance as if to let Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru know that he was confident of his report.

The old Priest maintained his non-challant stance expecting him to round off his speech.

“All these has brought me much confusion, as a result, I have decided to call upon you….. Please Baba, come to my rescue…”

He prostrated again rising immediately to ensure none was watching around the palace. He knew it was a taboo for him to prostrate to any of his subjects but in this situation, taboos could go to hell! Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru stared at him in a pitiful mockery, laughed and sneered at him drawing up the tip of his nose to mock the King.

“Terrible words indeed” The old man said sarcastically. “Are those all the things that trouble your heart?” Folagbade nodded sheepishly. “You see! You’re but a small child that possesses not the spirit of bravery. If only you associate with people of our caliber, things of this nature will never trouble your heart again… a position of valour is not for childish minds.” The Priest said relaxing and speaking with such boldness that gave Folagbade a bit of comfort, at least there seems to be solution if the Priest could talk like that.

“We shall make necessary enquiries from the gods that we may know what is the cause of all these calamities in the village.” The Priest announced with an air of finality, stressing each word as he mentioned them as if to let Folagbade know that he was sure of himself.

“Through the enquiries, we shall know what necessary appeasements and sacrifices to make.” Folagbade knew it will come to that. Sacrifices and enquiries are ‘twin brothers’, they walk hand in hand. Whatever be the case, Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru the Chief Priest will be looking for an opportunity to strike back at him and collect his long overdue ‘entitlements’ from him.

Folagbade smiled to show his appreciation of the presence of the Priest. He had to, although he knew Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru would cheat out through the items of the sacrifices, but what else could he do? The bitter alternative would be to allow the village deteriorate and be wiped out by the strange epidemic; the cheating of Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru was better than the devastating effect of the strange epidemic.

“The devil you know is better than the one you don’t know” Folagbade thought.

“But Baba, what sort of enquiry are we to make and how do we go about it?” Folagbade asked trying to force the words quickly out of the Priest. He hated the old man, but he was his last ‘Messiah’. He had no choice than to accept him. Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru is known all over the twenty villages around Onigba-Iwofa, no other medicine man could withstand him. After him, Folagbade knew no other medicine-man.

“We must not waste time on this at all!” said Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru with pride and confidence. Secretly within him, he was rejoicing.

“Go into the power room of your father, Lagooku and bring out the calabash of Onimomotirimo; the knower of all truths. We shall make enquiries from Onimomotimo the one who divinates for Onimomotirimo, the brave and mighty spirit who knows all things!”

The Priest has already changed his look. He turned strangely away from Folagbade and widened his eyes as he spoke. Fear gripped Folagbade as he mentioned the calabash of Onimomotirimo. Ever since he ascended the throne of his fathers, he has never entered the power-house of his father let alone touch the strange calabash.

According to the legend of the village, the King must never look into the calabash except on a suicide bid. One of the Kings who reigned about a century before him was said to have died when he opened the calabash. The village hated him and rejected his regime. He felt bitter and chose to end it up a brave man. Only powerful medicine-men could look straight into the calabash where a strange demon who knows all truths resides.

“You mean I should bring out the calabash?” The fear was clearly written on Folagbade….. ‘What if the calabash opens while carrying it?’ ‘What if the lid breaks? ‘What if …..’

“You waste time!” barked Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru, forcing Folagbade out of his soliloquy. “Go bring the calabash. It is the only source of truth!”

Gradually, Folagbade arose from his throne and turned towards the inner palace. He walked briskly out of Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru’s sight pretending and trying to keep his fear. As soon as he stepped out of the palace hall, his legs grew weak, he shivered.

A thousand ‘what ifs’ ran across his brain. He tried to answer all but none came through. Could it be that Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru wants him dead? He thought. “Why did he ask me to bring that deadly and strange calabash?” He stood there not knowing what to do.

“Be quick!” The loud, husky voice of the old Priest boomed from the palace hall. Folagbade shivered, a drop of urine managed to escape through before he could stop it. Death! He thought. Fear ran through his spine. He thought again “What could be worse than what I presently experience now?……. Even if I don’t die by the calabash, what if the epidemic strikes me next?” He let out a hiss and dashed towards the power-room. He was confident that death could not be a sufficient threat for him.

“I have seen enough deaths than to fear death again!” He got to the door of the room and stopped, his heart missed a beat. He looked at the imposing door of the room painted black with stripes of blood, a human skull hung above the door. A look at the skull melted away his boldness.

Then remembered Psalm 23!

He had been taught series of Psalms when he enrolled for the compulsory baptismal class. In those days, baptism was a compulsory prerequisite for students who wish to enroll in the only public ‘Modern’ Schools. He had taken the name Francis, but that was all! He tried to remember the words of the psalm, but they simply will not come.

He closed his eyes and pushed the door gently, he waited for any strange sign so that he might bolt away…nothing happened. He pushed a bit further, nothing! He entered gradually, still closing his eyes. He turned around three times as he had been instructed by the elders, a few years ago when he ascended the throne.

He opened his eyes slowly and saw six human skulls staring wickedly at him, he jumped. He remembered Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru waiting outside; it would be a tragedy if the old man gets annoyed and leave. He looked around for the calabash; it was there! Conspicuously placed on a table covered with a dark, dusty and faded red cloth!

The room was dark though he could slightly see. Fortunately, the calabash was painted white, there was no way he could miss it. He stepped near the table and picked the calabash, his hands firmly gripping the lid to avoid any form of accidental opening.

He turned around to survey the deadly room. It was already over grown with cobwebs. The dust on the calabash had almost turned it to brown.

He quickly stepped out of the room, locked the door and walked back to the palace hall holding the calabash firmly to his chest. The dust had entered his nostrils so he sneezed twice grabbing the calabash closer each time he sneezed.

“The lid must not open” He said to himself.

“Baba, this is the calabash you…” He stopped, froze and opened wide his mouth. He could not believe his eyes, the old man was not there again….!

‘Ha! He got annoyed! I delayed too long and he left!’ He told himself.
‘So what is the essence of living if the only hope I have is no longer there?’

He dropped the calabash gently adjusting it to sit perfectly on the floor. ‘Why don’t I open the calabash now and die. What enquiries do I know of now!’ He turned around, surveyed the palace and knelt beside the calabash; he placed a hand over the lid and set to open it.

“Death is better than shame!” He closed his eyes and said a silent prayer.

IF WITCHES WERE HORSES… Episode 6

He dropped the calabash gently adjusting it to sit perfectly on the floor. ‘Why don’t I open the calabash now and die. What enquiries do I know of now!’ He turned around, surveyed the palace and knelt beside the calabash; he placed a hand over the lid and set to open it.

“Death is better than shame!” He closed his eyes and said a silent prayer. He opened his eyes and…

“Coward! Feeble hearted coward! So, at last you have brought the calabash of Onimomotirimo!” Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru mocked as he entered the palace adjusting his trousers. “I went to answer the call of nature while you take your time to bring out the calabash.”

Folagbade could not believe his eyes. He stared at the old man with stern hatred. A minute more, he would have been dead! Yet the old man was enjoying his mockery!

He stood from his kneeling posture and returned to his throne leaving the calabash on the floor. It was hard trying to hide his anger. Beads of sweats were already forming across his face. Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru drew the feather-dotted calabash closer and opened the lid. Folagbade quickly turned his eyes away as Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru looked across just to be sure Folagbade was not looking.

‘If he must die, let it not be in my presence’ Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru said to himself. He brought out an object from the medicine bag hung across his neck, he chewed the object and spat into the calabash, and then he started to chant an incantation. Folagbade stole a glance to see what the old Priest was doing.
“Onimomotirimo, Onimomotirimo
The brave Spirit who bears Onimotirimo
O ye knower of all truths
Akiriboto the most senior of all demons
Who drinks pap with tortoise shell
The sharp and witty demon who dines with Lucifer
O ye Lucifer, Laalu Oganranganjan
Laburumbata, short but wicked!
You know all, yet I am full of follies.
Reveal to me the secret of what goes on in the village. Why are the villagers dying….? We desire to know, speak to us, Onimomotirimo knower-of-all-truths.”

He spat into the calabash again and gradually, the appearance of the Queen of the Coast emerged from the water filled calabash. Surprised, Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru crouched closer to the calabash as the appearance in the water began to speak to him.

“Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru! The deadly viper that lies across the footpath. The one who roars in the forest and fear grips passers-by. The one who steals from the farm and punishes the farmer….. Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru!”

“It is me you greet” Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru said, not opening his mouth.

Apparently, the King did not hear anything. He simply turned his head away avoiding any eye contact with the water-filled calabash.

“Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru you seem not to have recognized the gravity of the situation at hand!” the Queen continued. “This case is beyond your intervention. I simply respect your person if not, I would have attacked you fatally. Now let it be known to you that I, the Honourable Queen of the Coast and my daughters are behind the calamity in Onigba-Iwofa!”

Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru turned around to ensure Folagbade was not looking at his direction, then he stopped, remembering that he would not see or hear anything no matter how much he tried to glance or listen.
“Must you claim ignorance of the fact that the Lord Lucifer announced at the last Conference of the Rulers of Darkness of the Earth that your village has been chosen as the base for the supply of souls needed for the next meeting of the Grand Council of Spiritual Wickedness in High Places.” The Queen said from the calabash her face squeezed as she fumes heavily with anger.

Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru changed his perch and dropped his horse whisk. “Honourable Queen of the Coast, I never knew all these, but why did you not inform me before starting the operation. You know an operation of this magnitude is not carried out except with the prior knowledge of all powerful herbalists of my worth. The mistake is yours” Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru said the last word pointing at the face in the water.

Folagbade stole another glance and saw him pointing at the calabash he wondered why the old man was merely gesticulating and munching “I hope he is not drunk today” Folagbade said to himself. He quickly turned back as the Priest stopped his gesticulating.

“Are you drunk?” shouted the Queen, completely annoyed at the statement of the Priest. “Were you deaf when the King told you that all the victims were screaming my name as they die? Was that not enough a sign for you, must I attack your children before you understand?” The Queen’s anger caused some bubbles in the water, the calabash shook.

The conversation was next to reality. Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru stared wildly into the calabash; he knew the mistake was his. He had a long standing agreement with the Queen of the Coast never to treat any patient she afflicts. The idea of victims screaming the name of the Queen, though novel, should have delivered the message to him.

“Honourable Queen of the Coast, pardon me, my power of memory failed me. The loss of memory that rendered the chicken toothless, the same that befell the snake, thus leaving him without legs; forgive me….. So what can be done to appease you now that …”

The calabash shook violently causing huge bubbles in the water.
“You dare me! You dare my authority?” the Queen screamed, rocking around the calabash. “Are you deaf? I said the village was set aside by the Lord Lucifer himself! Do not trouble me again; nine hundred souls shall be taken in the village. Presently, only four hundred and a few more have rolled into our ovens here under the water, therefore, our operation continues!” The Queen said this with firmness that shook the Priest. He looked sheepishly around trying to form the right words.

“Em…. It is well, but then, what shall I tell the King who called me … please I must not be put to shame.” Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru said pleadingly.

“That is your headache!” the Queen roared back “It is none of my business…… anyway, find some ways of deceiving him. Tell the villagers to appease Iroko Oluwere in the forest of Alupayida if they’re attacked by the disease…. This will work for the first few, at least for your own glory thereafter, we shall continue our operations!”

The Queen let out a loud hysteric laughter and disappeared from the calabash. Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru breathed a sigh of relief; he replaced the lid and packed the calabash aside. He returned to his seat and relaxed.

“How did it go Baba?” said Folagbade anxious to hear the report. He saw the gesticulations but could not understand what they meant.

“Folagbade, I congratulate you!” Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru said beaming for the first time.

“Congratulations? How?” asked Folagbade his anxiety had mixed with fear and confusion.
“I have just spoken with the gods who held this village under bondage. They’ve been vexed and were on the verge of destroying this village but for my appeals.”

The Priest was speaking with such boldness, concern and seriousness that it will take a genius to detect his real intentions.

“The gods accused you of neglect and disrespect” continued the Priest.

Folagbade simply hanged his head on his palms concerned and troubled. He had truly neglected the gods. His training and experience as a court clerk of over thirty seven years had taught him not to believe superstitions and fetish ideas. Now, those experiences are negatively affecting him.

“The weekly sacrifices you were ordered to make to the gods at the time you were undergoing coronation rites has never been fulfilled.” Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru was enjoying himself. He knew the words were hurting Folagbade. “Have you forgotten? Obedience aids, disobedience kills!”

Folagbade stood; he strolled around the palace hall recalling his seven years as the King of the village. No sacrifice apart from the coronation rites was made. He turned to Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru with pleading eyes “Baba you are right, I have not taken the sacrifices serious. Forgive me! I will be willing to obey you now. What shall we do to avoid more deaths?”

“Sacrifice!” interjected the Priest. It was an opportunity he had been waiting for. Sacrifices were his own blessing. This time, not only the King will make sacrifices, all the villagers will be involved. He smiled to himself as he remembered that meat will soon become surplus in his house. Great!
“The gods have asked that whoever is struck by the disease should appease the iroko Oluwere in Alupayida forest.” Folagbade shook his head. He knew what that meant; a goat! “Moreover, you and the elders will make a special sacrifice”

“What special sacrifice again Baba?” He asked

‘I wish he is not going to ask for a cow’

“Walls have ears!” Folagbade rose and moved across the palace hall to hear the old Priest. Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru smiled, rejoicing as he remembered that once again, meat will become surplus!

Two days after his discussion with Professor Adarabioyo, Morakinyo went to see the Pastor again. Things have started moving faster than he expected. Having resisted the temptation of the Doctorate and the prospects of overseas trip, he knew more were likely to come. He had arrived the Pastor’s place as early as seven in the morning. It was an issue that gave him a sleepless night.

He had stayed awake all the night ruminating and wishing the day would break earlier. As soon as it was five, he stood up and started preparing to see the Pastor. He must see him before he leaves for the office. Not only was the issue an urgent one, he has to be on campus by eight, his students were to defend the proposals of their Long Essays that morning. Morakinyo was never in the habit of playing with time; if he says lecture will start by nine, it certainly started at nine. The students dubbed him ‘Time Freak’.

“Why have you come so early in the morning like this Doctor?”

That caught Morakinyo by surprise “Doctor?” ‘Who….who told him’ He asked himself. Morakinyo smiled. He knew Professor Adarabioyo could not keep the news to himself alone.

“I’m sure you’re surprised……. Anyway congrats” said Pastor extending his hand “Professor Adarabioyo spoke with me on the phone yesterday, he told me about it and the new department; praise God for that!”

Morakinyo stared at the Pastor with amazement. He wondered why the man of God was rejoicing. Can’t he understand what hindrance the ‘good news’ was to him? They shook hands.

“You remember my last discussion with you Sir?” He was almost sure the Pastor had forgotten the issues of the Lord’s call, thus his rejoicing over the ‘news’.

“Perfectly” The words rang out too clear to be mistaken. Morakinyo stared at him again in disbelief ‘The Pastor remembered everything?’

Pastor smiled and said “My son, I know why you are surprised at my reaction.” He leaned across closer to him. “You expect me to pronounce that the promotion is a stumbling block or a temptation to be resisted? Well I have chosen not to” He stopped smiling now and wore a serious look “You have heard enough words from the Lord to take your decision. To whom much is given, much is expected…Do you understand?”

Morakinyo breathed a sigh of relief. He understood why the Pastor took that stand; God called him not the Pastor. He knew he had to be responsible for his decision and convictions. At thirty-two, with nine years of knowing the Lord, he knew what it meant to be responsible for one’s decisions and actions. He smiled and shook his head confirming that he understood the Pastor’s decision and short exhortation.

“Sir, there’s another important reason why I’ve come to see you.” Pastor Kalejaye leaned forward to hear the young man. Morakinyo’s expression was enough to tell him the troubles he had gone through on the about-to-be-discussed issue.

“I have accepted to serve God, but what of my marriage? Is it not appropriate that I get married before going for the mission work or should I just start without an helpmate?” The Pastor sighed heavily; he knew Morakinyo was deeply depressed. He prayed silently that God will give him the right words to console the young man.

“I am glad you’ve decided for God….. The issue of marriage should not be allowed to hinder you.” The Pastor started with an assuring smile. Deep within him, he was pleased that Morakinyo could overcome the huge temptations around him. If things work out well, Morakinyo would be the first missionary from the church in two years. In recent times, the response of the congregation to missions has been very dull and discouraging.

Supports and donations did come in for missionaries but no one was interested in going on the mission field. He was proud of the young man who was willing to leave the prospects of a Doctorate degree for mission field.

“I have prayed concerning the sister you told me the Lord laid in your heart” Pastor continued, struggling to fight back tears of joy and gratitude to God for answering his prayers of many years. “I have no reservations concerning her. If am not mistaken, she is presently the Assistant Leader of the Welfare Unit?”

“You’re right Sir, Sis. Gbayike” said Morakinyo.

“Why not go ahead and speak to her, explain your convictions to her. Hhowever, don’t be disturbed or overwhelmed by whatever response she gives. If truly she is God’s will for you in marriage, she will soon join you in the assignment the Lord has called into….but don’t wait until you are married before answering the Lord’s call….. Marriage is not a condition for entering God’s service” the Pastor said with firmness.

“Thank you very much Sir” said Morakinyo beaming with smiles as he rose to leave. “I have to get to the campus Sir; my students have their defence today.”

Suddenly, the Pastor’s countenance changed, he looked straight into Morakinyo’s eyes and spoke “My son…exercise great patience! Do not mix the sheep with the goats!”

“Mix sheep with goats? I don’t understand Sir”

“Remember Abraham? Check through Genesis Chapter 16 and see how he derailed the Lord’s plan through impatience…stay blessed!”

For seven days, Morakinyo pondered over those words. He read Genesis Chapter 16 twice every day. The story was clear; Abraham impregnated a maiden with his wife’s consent and approval and had a child. “So in what way is that related to me?” He asked himself again and again, but the answers simply refused to come.

Another great hurdle stood before him; how to propose marriage to Gbayike. He knew her quite well in the church. They’ve once worked together as members of the Welfare Unit before he became the Director of Evangelism and Outreaches in the church. However, no close relationship existed. In fact, he had visited her place only once when she celebrated her last birthday.

‘How do I know she’s not engaged to someone already?’

‘What if she says no?

‘What if she looks down on me?’

‘What if she’s not interested in the vision?’

‘What if she says no marriage for now?’

‘What if her parents refuse to ……?’

‘What if… What if… what if… ‘

The small alarm clock on the table went off at four in the morning. He stood up and looked straight to the clock as if to say “Are you sure?” He had slept off asking a thousand and one “what if’s”. He knelt and started his usual quiet time of devotion and worship.

Gbayike was planning to leave the house when Morakinyo came. Though on vacation, she wondered why he had to come in the morning. Her heart jumped when she saw him. Morakinyo had never visited her before. He came briefly during her birthday party simply to say congrats and drop a card. He did not even wait to eat. He gave excuses that he had some important field work with his students.

Gbayike had always admired Morakinyo in the church. She thanked God for Bukola when her engagement to Morakinyo was announced in the church. As a member of the Welfare Team, a big surprise was being packaged by the team for Bukola’s wedding with Morakinyo until the unfortunate happened. She died in an auto crash three months to the date.

It was a big loss to the church and the Welfare Team in particular. Bukola was nice, sacrificial and courteous. She would offer herself to do any available work in the Welfare Team, even sweeping; her job as a senior bank official notwithstanding. She was a model of what the Welfare Team expected her members to be.

But she died three months to her wedding!

“Please have your seat Bro. Morakinyo, it’s nice having you around though I must add it’s a bit odd to see you at a time like this; I hope all is well?” Gbayike said, not knowing exactly what to say. She was happy that he had come when her vacation was on, she would not have been able to attend to him if the session was on.

“I’m really sorry to have jumped on you without any formal notice, em….. I must say…. that……. em….. I’m sorry that…..” The words would not flow.

Gbayike cut in “No problem, I understand.” She really did ‘understand’. Morakinyo was not the kind of man she will resist his visit. After praying for about two years hoping to get a brother to propose marriage to her, it was only right for her to welcome a man like Morakinyo; only God knows what he came for.