“Stop that driver pleaseee, look at what he has done” the woman cried out.
The driver was already speeding off. It was obvious he did it on purpose and didn’t want to stop; all efforts made to get him to a halt didn’t pay off as he zoomed off. The woman was left there with her little children; one on her back and the other beside her, about 4 years old.
Some passersby waved for him to stop, others just stood and looked, trying to understand what just happened. There were only few of us that knew what had transpired in a matter of seconds. I just stood there stunned and speechless; I wondered how someone could be so heartless.
“Madam, sorry. What happened?” A man stopped to ask.
“Stupid man! Idiot! Ole! This Christmas, you want to kill my son for your ritual, it will not work for you. Onye ogwu ego!”* She said, ignoring the question. She was referring to the cab driver.
People were gathering gradually, everyone was asking the other, what happened.
“My God is alive; he will never let me be put to shame. The devil is a liar; your plan will not succeed. It will never work for you; it will not be well with you…”
She went on and on raining curses and abuses on the cab driver
“Madam it’s ok. Calm down, What happened?” another passerby asked
“That stupid man almost killed my child with his useless speed. I don’t know where he is rushing to, that’s how he will drag others with him to an early grave” she continued.
Her little boy was sitting on the floor, crying. He had fallen down in shock but thank God he was unharmed. I reached for him and carried him. The baby on the woman’s back began to cry too… brother’s love things on point.
The woman continued her story; “that man is wicked, I asked him to drop me in front of the primary school close to that Zuma road junction, he refused and continued going, I kept telling him yet he refused. Now he dropped us off here and as I was coming down with my child, he didn’t even wait for us to alight properly; he sped off, almost knocking down my little boy. Who knows what he wanted to do with us this Christmas period?”
People had gathered at the scene. Everyone tried to calm her down, telling her to thank God for the safety of her life and that of her children. The lady who followed me from the saloon was helping to pack some of her things that had scattered on the floor, while I tried to make the boy stop crying.
Just then, someone tapped me from behind.
I turned, I was stunned! “Good afternoon sir”
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m just coming out from that saloon, I went to make my hair.”
“Oh Lord! God is good. I have been praying and wishing to see you. I was going home and decided to take this route so I can meet my vulcanizer who stays across the road to pump my rear tyre that was slowly going down. While he was at it, I saw some people gathering and decided to check what was happening and here you are.”
He looked really excited to see me.
“Please I am really sorry. I lost my phone and I couldn’t get to you. It was just the day before yesterday that I got a new one. I came to your place thrice but didn’t meet you on any of the occasions. I am really sorry”
“Ok sir. No problem”
“Please forgive me, my excuses are lame. A letter was supposed to be delivered to you, I don’t know if you got it?”
“Letter? From who? I didn’t get any?”
“Really? That’s serious. Am sorry about that too. It’s a letter from our Church calling you back to continue worshiping with us. I co-signed that letter with the Senior Pastor and we gave it to Bro David to deliver it to you.”
“I am yet to get any letter Sir” I said sounding a bit defensive
“Alright, how are you doing? How have you been? It seems like ages to me now”
“I have been alright.”
“Please let’s get to the car so we can talk more.”
I gave the little boy back to the mother, she was already set to go and Pastor Emeka offered to give her a lift which she declined since her house was not too far away but he insisted that she joined us in the car so that he will take them back to where they were meant to stop. We all got into the car and left. People were gradually dispersing too, everyone muttering abuses on the driver and thanking God for saving the little boy.
“Sorry sir that I didn’t call.” I said as we drove off. “I was afraid and didn’t know what to do. I thought it would be an offence to call”
“No dear, I should be the one apologizing, we shouldn’t have left off on a bad note. All the same, thank God I met you today. We can go to my place to have dinner, I am sure my wife prepared something nice and she would be glad to have you spend the evening with us.”
“You don’t need to bother sir, I ate before leaving home”
“That must have been a long time ago, I insist. It’s also an opportunity for you to get to know my place and my family.”
“Ok, thank you sir.”
We dropped the woman and her kids off and headed to Pastor Emeka’s place. She was glad and thanked us.
It was a bungalow, well furnished and decorated. Pastor Emeka had a decent and comfortable home, the peace was palpable and the atmosphere reflected the joy in his house hold. His two little boys Joel and Japhet ran out to welcome him.
“Welcome Daddy.” They echoed
“Thank you my soldiers. How are you guys doing? Where is your mum and your sister?”
“Mummy is in the kitchen and Ruth is sleeping in her room.”
I didn’t need to ask why he called them his soldiers, Pastor Emeka always talked about his two boys and the strong men they were growing into. He even used them to tell us stories during his messages and he always referred to them as his soldiers.
“Darling, you won’t believe who we have here.” He called out to his wife as he headed for the kitchen and motioned for me to have a sit.
“Welcome Darling, who could that be?”
“Come and see for yourself”
She came out and exclaimed on seeing me.
“Wow! Sister Nnenna we have been looking for you all over the world. Welcome my dear”. She said as she gave me a warm hug.
“Thank you ma”
“Exactly what I was just telling her” Pastor Emeka said.
“How come? How did you two meet?” She asked him
“I ran into her along that Zuma road today, a crowd gathered near my vulcanizer’s shop and I went to see what was going on, and behold, there she was in their midst helping out a woman who a cab driver almost ran over her son.”
“Heyaaa, hope the boy wasn’t injured?”
“No. I don’t think so”
“The best part of the news is that she was right in front of me and I almost didn’t know until I looked well and recognized her”
“Thank God. You are welcome my dear, how have you been?”
“We are really sorry about all that happened. You are most welcome to our place, this is your home and you are welcome here anytime.”
I was elated, they made me feel wanted and at home. We talked more about what has been happening in church.
“Thank God today is Friday, I will just call Pastor Jerry now and tell him that you will be with us in the meeting tomorrow”
He called Pastor Jerry and they spoke about me.
“Sister Nnenna, though we decided to keep your suspension within the church board, we still need to dissolve it officially. It will be done within us instead of the whole church so no need for church announcement. It will not take more than 15 minutes after which you are free to go. Then you may now come to worship with us anytime, you will be free to sit anywhere and participate in all church activities without restriction.”
I didn’t want all that meeting with church board, I hadn’t forgotten my last encounter with them. I even wondered if it was that necessary. I tried hard not show my displeasure.
“Meanwhile where have you been worshipping all this while?”
“I haven’t really been going anywhere for some time now, though last Sunday I followed my neighbor to their church.”
“Sorry about that, I have personally missed your presence in our services. Am glad to have you back”.
I didn’t know what to think, I still had doubts about going back to that church, not with all their plenty drama and rigidity. Besides, I imagined how people would look at me and point fingers. What if someone asked me about what I did or mentioned it again? I will probably flare up and give them a piece of my heart.
It was as if he read my thoughts.
“Don’t worry about what people will say, I strongly believe God has planted you here for a reason. I will see to it that nobody brings it up ever again”
Hmmmm… I wondered how he intended to do that.
Pastor Emeka’s wife treated us to some good delicacy. She made white yam and egg sauce with freshly prepared orange juice. I was glad to be part of that dinner. We ate happily and he couldn’t stop commending her top notch culinary skills, it was true after all.
After the meal, Pastor Emeka reassured me that everything will be alright, he also told me how he believed that God had a purpose for letting all that happened and he would use it for my good and his glory. I thanked him as he dropped me off and bid me goodbye.
When I got to my room I kept thinking about the meeting and Sunday service too, I still had mixed feelings. Seeing those faces again, saying hi to them, what if I saw Bro David and he tried to talk to me? What would I say? I knew deep down that I hadn’t let go, I didn’t want to either. I resolved to stop worrying and let the events unfold. With that, I gave in to the waiting arms of sleep, my good friend.
It was another Sunday service, the hall was packed to the brim as usual The usher led me to a sit at the right side of the hall. I sat down and bent my head to mutter some prayers as was my custom, though I always didn’t say anything but it has been that way since Sunday school days in the children department: anytime you came into church, you bowed your head in prayer.
As expected the AC was on point and the sound was just too good, nothing had changed. Besides, what major changes was I expecting to see in a matter of few weeks?
When I raised my head, the Pastor was saying something like “Turn to your neighbor give him a handshake and say: Neighbour, welcome to Church, I am happy to be seated near you this Sunday morning.” I turned to my neighbor and behold, it was Frank.
I reached out to shake him, but my hands stayed still. I was about to tell a lie…
*onye ogwu ego means Ritualist