Do they know what it means to be fruitless?
Do they know what it means to be referred to by your husband’s people as fruitless, as a pumpkin with no seeds inside, as a wombless woman?
If they knew what it meant to find oneself in that kind of situation, then they,d not blame you for sleeping with your pastor.
You have a friend named Iya Bola. She has been your friend for God-knows-how-long.
She was with you while you were growing up in Ibadan. As kids, you played together in school and in the streets.
When you left secondary school, one godforsaken boy put you in the family way. Iya Bola was there to help you remove the blood. She called it blood and told you that it wasn’t a baby. Who would want to have a godforsaken baby, right?
Your friend has been with you through thick and thin.
When your husband’s people began calling you names and persecuting you, she was there for you, suggesting things to do and what not to do.
All the thirteen exorcists and diviners you have visited, she suggested all of them. She suggested the herbal medicines you have taken, countless of them.
She was the one who suggested that you travel to Nsukka to meet with one native doctor who knew all the secrets about producing the fruit of the womb. After your stressful trip to Nsukka and all the money you spent. Nothing happened.
Today, Iya Bola is very jubilant as she enters your boutique. Your salesgirl serves her a bottle of Heineken. When she is done drinking, she says to you:
“Sade. All your problems are over. The baby we’ve been looking for in Sokoto is right here in our shokoto! What we’ve been searching for in faraway lands has been right next door all along.”
Her voice is high pitched. She re-ties her wrapper and brings out her mirror to check if the tumbler she used to drink her beer has smeared her lipstick. You are silent, watching as she reapplies the lipstick and retouches her headgear there and there and there. When she is satisfied that everything is in perfect order, she says to you:
“Are you going to ask me what this new solution is? ”
“What is the solution, Madam Solution?” you tease her, trying to mask your burning interest.
“Sade. All the bickering from your husband’s people is over.”
You are getting slightly impatient with her theatrics, but you brighten up nevertheless. Something in her face tells you that Iya Bola may gotten it right this time. This new solution may be the right one. She is looking so serious, so very sure of what she is about to divulge.
She lowers her voice and says to you:
“Have you heard of this church called Saving Grace Incorporated?”
“Who hasn’t? Is it not Pastor Samuel’s church?”
“Yes. That’s him. Now I acquired this information from the right source. They say that he is so powerful that he can make a barren woman conceive merely by looking at her.”
“I have never been more serious.” Iya Bola narrates all the stories she’s heard about barren women having babies with Pastor Samuel’s help.
“Do I have to become a member of Saving Grace Inc.?”
“Not quite. All we need to do is pay him a visit at his office and tell him that you have been coming to the church for some time and that you like the work God is doing through him. We will tell him your problem and hope that he will assist.”
You are silent for some time. Customers come and go and their voices intermingle with the hums from the air-conditioners in the boutique. You are silent, studying your friend.
After some time, you say to her:
“Ok, Iya Bola. I will do as you have said. We will go.”
The pastor’s office is huge, like the size of your husband’s bedroom. He is seated on a swivel chair behind an oak table. There are bibles and prayer books on the table. There is a new novel on the table too, Ghana Must Go by Taiye Salasi. The walls of the office are lined with pictures of the pastor in different countries. You are struck by the picture of him standing at the foot of the Taj Mahal in India.
He asks you to make yourself comfortable. After exchanging pleasantries, he says to you:
“Madam. I’m pleased to have both of you in my office today. How may I help you?”
“I am Sade Abimbola, and this is my friend. We are members of this church.”
The pastor stares at you. His forehead contorts and lines appear, bringing out the beauty of his face. You have never seen such a handsome man in your life before. He is almost as beautiful as a woman. There are new sprouts of hair on his jaw that looks so sexy. You caution yourself not to feel lust. After all, he is a man of God, and you are a married woman.
“Madam, how long have you been coming to my church?”
Iya Bola answers. “Just a few Sundays now, Pastor.”
“Oh! Because I have not seen your faces before. You are welcome.”
“Thank you, Pastor. How is mummy, Sir?”
“Oh she is fine. God is good.”
“All the time!” both of you respond.
“Pastor, look at me.” Your voice changes and tears roam your eyes, threatening to pour out. “Pastor, can you believe that I have been married for nine years without any child to suckle at my breasts.” You touch your breasts unconsciously.
The pastor’s face contorts again. He places both hands on the table and wears a deeply pensive look.
“Pastor, my home is on fire,” you continue. “To make matters worse, my husband’s people are threatening to throw my things out. My mother-in-law has threatened to poison me or use witchcraft if I don’t leave her son alone. Pastor there is no sort of name that I have not been called.”
Iya Bola speaks up. “Pastor, she has lost everything. Her husband who used to love her so much has literarily abandoned her. He sleeps around. He drinks… he messes up and beats her. Pastor, we have prayed and fasted all to no avail.”
Pastor Samuel is silent. The office is calm except for the ceiling fan rotating and humming. You notice that the curtains are made of rich brocade.
“Madam, first I want you to know that there is nothing impossible before God. Only you must have faith.”
“Pastor. My faith is as strong as a rock.”
“Have you attended our special prayer service for barren women?”
“Oh, I wasn’t aware of that.”
Iya Bola nudges you. You bend down, lift your handbag from the floor, and unzip it. You bring out a cheque and hand it to the pastor.
“Madam, what is this? This is too much. What do you expect me to do with this kind of money?”
“It is from my heart.”
“Yes. It is from our heart, Sir. Use it and buy milk and drink. We know that you fast all the time,” Iya Bola jokes. He laughs.
“Six-hundred-and-fifty-thousand naira? This is too much for milk.”
“Yes Pastor, I can afford it. It is my tithe. See it as sowing a seed.”
The pastor turns the cheque over and over in his hand. He says: “I am speechless. What can I say?”
“Say nothing, Sir. All I need is your prayers. I have heard about the work God being done in this church through you. I am delighted that you are a blessing to our world.”
Iya Bola touches you. You rise to your feet reluctantly. The pastor stands up too. He says that you should give him your hands. You do, and he says a brief prayer for you.
“You must see me on Saturday, madam,” he says when he is done with the prayers.
“I will, Sir.”
“Come here on Saturday. In the evening, by 8pm.”
“Must I come with anything?”
“No. Do not come with anything. If you have a bible, please come with it. I will take care of everything. Don’t come with your friend. Just come alone. Okay?”
“Okay, Sir. Thanks a lot, Pastor.”
“Thanks, Pastor,” Iya Bola says. “We must run along now, Sir.”
The pastor’s eyes fall on your breasts, and even though you are dressed in a shirt, you wonder if he has dissected your body with his eyes. You wonder. But then you remember that he is a pastor, a man of God. You ask God for forgiveness. Who are you to think evil of a man of God?
You are wearing a lovely dress on Saturday when you tell your husband that you are going to the church.
He says nothing. He is sitting on the couch in the living room, sipping on a glass of Red Label and watching Aljazeera. Your husband’s sister, who has come to ask him for money, eyes you with disrespect. She sighs. You ignore her.
You arrive at the church and notice that Pastor Samuel is the only one around. He is in the reception area reading the bible from his iPad. He leads you into his office. He asks you to sit on the couch and then takes the seat beside you. He offers you a chilled glass of Chardonnay and insists that you feel at home. As both of you sip from your glasses, he says to you:
“I admire your determination, Sade. You must be passing through a lot in the hands of your in-laws.”
His statement floods your mind with thoughts of your misfortune. You tell him all that you have passed through. He is a good listener. He is dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt and jean trousers. He has on a pair of leather slippers. His Omega wrist watch had to have cost a fortune.
“I have lost count of the number of women who have become pregnant after this kind of session I am about to have with you.”
“See, Sister Sade. God is good and he works in mysterious ways. You see, some men cannot impregnate their wives. And because our society has always been unfair to women, the woman takes the blame.”
“It is true, Pastor.”
“But some men are blessed by God. For example, you may see a very poor man who can barely feed his family, yet anytime he sleeps with his wife, pum, she conceives…”
“That is true, Sir.”
“Some men are wealthy, extremely wealthy, but cannot impregnate their wives. Everyone has his blessings. I am blessed, Sister. When I place my hands on the sick they get healed. The blind see. The lame walk and the barren conceive. But sister, I must tell you that there is no woman, none that I have touched who did not become pregnant.”
“Wow! You are strengthening my hopes, Pastor.”
You imagine what it will feel like to have children running around in your large compound, playing on your husband’s laps.
“You are a good woman. God opened a lot of things for me in my dreams yesterday after my fasting and prayers. A lot of people are after your life, Sade, coupled with the fact that when you were nineteen, you had an abortion.”
He takes you by surprise. You become scared of him, scared of this man with the power to see your past. You wonder what he would say next, so you drop your glass of wine on the table in front of you as tears stream down your cheeks and fall on your dress.”
“I was a child. I did not know anything…”
“We all make mistakes, Sade. The most important thing is being willing to correct those mistakes?”
“I want to correct my mistakes, Pastor. I want God to forgive me and give me a child. Even if it is one child.”
“You see, Sade. You have not conceived not because of the abortion. It is because of some spiritual forces against you.”
“Oh my God. Pastor!”
“Yes, Sister. And I will help you. It will be a special kind of prayer. You may find it bizarre, but do not be scared. Do not doubt God.”
“I won’t, Sir.”
“I will make love to you,” he says calmly. His gaze is fixed on you, awaiting your reaction. You are speechless. Your hands begin to tremble. Your lips tremble.
“Pastor, why? That is a sin. A huge sin.”
“Who said so? Look, we are going to make love. As you climax, I want you to ask God for just one favor. Ask him for children. Ask him to break the yoke of sorcery and evil. Do just that and, you will be amazed at what you will see.”
“Pastor. I don’t understand. I can only make love to my husband.” You sit back and move away from him.
“Sade. Listen to me. I am a man of God. I have lost count of the number of women who have had babies because I offered this special kind of prayer on their behalf… countless babies suckling at their breasts because of me. God reveals to me that through the pouring of holy milk into them they can conceive. My semen has been blessed by God, especially when it enters into a few women, to whom God directs me—often times against my wish. Against my wish because I have a wife who I love and respect and adore. But what can I do, my dear? God owns me. He owns the power that I have. He directs me on what to do, and I do them. He has never failed me.”
There are a lot of things going through your mind now. What is this pastor saying? Is he to be trusted? You recall the stories you have heard about the women who were in your position but now have babies of their own. You recall that he informed you of the abortion that happened years ago. You wonder how he knew. You wonder.
Just as doubts begin to fog your mind, his hand, his long and smooth hand, wanders to your dress. He lifts it and reaches your thighs. You recoil, but he pulls you close.
“I am not forcing you. And I cannot deceive you. I am doing this against my wish, but I must obey God. Open your mind, pay attention and release yourself and your soul will be released. The very moment you receive my holy milk—the moment you reach orgasm—ask God what you desire and see the wonders he will do in your life.”
“Pastor, I am confused…”
Tears pour down from your eyes like torrents of rainfall. You allow Pastor Samuel to lay you down on the sofa and take your soft lips into his. He kisses you the way no man has ever kissed you before. Your cries are intermingled with moans of ecstasy.
When you climax, you are sure that up there on the ceiling of his office, you see something like a shadow, a silhouette, hovering.
You compose yourself and hold him so tightly. You realize there and then that he was right. You hold him tightly. When he tries to pull out, you refuse.
It happens twice that night and twice on every other night that you come for special prayers.
Just when you are about to lose hope that God will answer your prayers, you vomit one morning and the next.
Your doctor confirms that you are pregnant.
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Read Episode 3