You wake up one day and discover that you have been living a life built on unquantifiable illusion— a long life built on deception. You look back at your life and wonder if you’ve been under a spell or something.
The first person you contact when you get back into Lagos is Zainab.
You are worried about meeting her. You are worried about calling her line. You worry about how she will behave when she realizes that the voice on the phone is yours. You wonder what she will say when you tell her that it is you on the line.
You don’t even bother about your parents. You know that by now they’d have forgotten about you, cried over your presumed death and buried an empty coffin.
When you find yourself standing in front of Zainab’s door, you can’t stop your hands from trembling as you knock on the metal door. There is a little girl by your side, holding your hand tightly, as if you’d leave her by the door and run away.
After knocking for some time, Zainab unlatches the door without asking who the intruder is. She rubs the back of her right palm on her eyes. When her eyes adjust to the light outside and she notices who is standing at the door, she screams loudly:
She bangs the door on your face. Your little girl begins to cry. You can feel Zainab’s back at the door, breathing heavily. You can hear her muttering some prayers, speaking in tongues.
Shoribababa Jesu! Shoribabababa Jesu!
You knock very hard on the door, “Open the door, Zainab. It is me. It is me, Blessing. I am not dead. I am alive!” you call. When after some time she doesn’t respond, you knock loudly again.
“You are dead!” Zainab calls from inside.
“I am not dead, Zainab! Dead people don’t talk, do they? And I know they don’t go walking around in the company of a little child. My baby is crying, Zainab!’
Zainab is confused. After a while she says; “Who is the child with you?”
“My child. Her name is Ara! Abeg open this door. Zainab I am tired of standing here.”
The door opens hesitantly. Zainab steps back and surveys you and the baby. You walk into the room, and she takes care to ensure your body doesn’t touch hers. When you turn and your eyes meet and she see the tears that escape your eyes and run down your cheek, she swoops you into her arms and hugs you so tight. Both of you stay like that for what seems like eternity. Ara is standing by your side, giggling. By the time both of you pry yourselves apart, Ara is already playing with the television remote control.
‘I can’t believe this,’ Zainab says. She offers you a seat. She hurries away to her small kitchen and returns with two glasses on a tray and a pack of some kind of orange drink. She pours the juice into two cups and offers you one. The smaller cup—a plastic cup, she gives to your baby who she has made to sit on the floor beside her. As Zainab talks to you, she studies the baby. You know that she is wondering who she looks like.
When she lifts her face, she says: “This baby is Pastor Samuel’s?”
You nod. Tears fall from your eyes.
Ara looks up and asks innocently: “Mummy. Why are you crying?”
You quickly wipe your eyes. “I am fine, baby. Now, drink your juice.”
“Where are you coming from? Where have you been, Blessing?”
“Where is Lithuania, Blessing? What have you been doing in Lithuania?”
You tell her that Lithuania is in Northern Europe.
“Zainab. I don’t know how to tell you this, but you have to believe me. I didn’t mean to end like this. Look at me. I ruined my life. I fell in love with… was it love? I think it was lust. He took advantage of the feelings I had for him…Pastor Samuel…he brought me home one evening after the church service… remember when he invited us to the Wednesday service?” Zainab nods.
“He brought me home, Zainab. As I unlocked my door, Pastor Samuel descended on me. He made love to me… not like he raped me. I yielded, after he brainwashed me. I think he brainwashed me, told me a lot of crap, and because I was already lusting for him, believing that he had extraordinary powers, I yielded. Zainab, this went on for long, for months! I didn’t want to tell you… I am sorry. I knew how much you hated him, and I didn’t want to tell you what was going on. He would come to my apartment every night before going for his night vigils at the church.”
You take a draft of the juice. Zainab watches you lick your lips. You can see tears in her eyes. You can see worry too. And fear.
“I became friends with his wife too. But she never knew that I was sleeping with her husband till one evening. She came to my house to collect the sim-card she had requested that I buy for her. She entered my sitting room when Pastor Samuel was making love to me…“
“I was devastated, Zainab…“
“Yes. The woman ran away. She nearly committed suicide then. That was when I discovered I was pregnant. I confronted him, and he wanted to save face, so he used his connection and got me a visa and flew me to Lithuania. I have been living in Vilnius all these while. It will be two years next two months.”
“God. How have you been managing?”
“He paid some money into my account. After some months, I took a job in Vilnius as a kitchen help in a restaurant.” You make your baby to sit beside you, her head resting on your lap.
“All these while I have only seen him twice. He visited us while en-route a program in some country. One time, he spent four days. The other time he spent just a night.”
There is silence for some time. Zainab asks about Ara, and you tell her everything. You tell her that pastor Samuel is not aware that you are in the country right now.
Zainab tells you about one Damilola, and how the pastor took advantage of her. She tells you that the young woman was seduced by the pastor and that he ruined her marriage just few days after her traditional wedding. Now the girl is having some mental problems and ever since, the pastor always asks his congregation to pray for all the mentally imbalanced people they know, including the insane roaming about in the streets.
But Zainab doesn’t tell you her own story. She doesn’t tell you that she was devastated after you got missing and ended up in the pastor’s trap the same way you did. She doesn’t tell you that since then she has been sleeping with Pastor Samuel, even up till the last couple of nights. She meets him at his home because his wife and kids have gone on a vacation.
Instead of telling you about her affair with Pastor Samuel, she tells you some more of his scandal. A young man and his friends who had just returned from Mexico pursued the Pastor naked to his home. Apparently, the young man had caught the pastor on top of his fifty-two year old mother.
“Oh my God! I can’t believe this. What is wrong with Samuel?”
“He’s been overtaken by evil spirits.”
“He is not even worthy to be called a Pastor. As far as I am concerned, he is not a Pastor.”
“So what will you do now?”
“I don’t know. I need some time to think.”
“I think you need to alert your family. Let them know that you are safe. Let them know that you are back in Nigeria.”
“My family? No. Not yet. I need to sort myself out first with Samuel.”
Zainab reflects on what you’ve just said and then responds.
“If I were you, I’d leave him alone. Let this matter die. What can you do? Who will believe your story? People will call you names. They will say you are a prostitute. They will even say you are the daughter of Lucifer who has come down to the earth to ruin the life of a man of God and his family…”
“Do you think I care? I need to settle down first and clear my head then I will think of the next thing to do.”
Both of you are enveloped in an uncomfortable silence.
“How is your brother, Zainab?” You really don’t know why you asked.
Zainab says nothing.
You decide to go back to your hotel room. You are not comfortable with Zainab’s demeanour. You wonder what she is hiding from you. She doesn’t mention to you that she is sleeping with Pastor Samuel, and that soon she plans to be his wife.
Pastor Samuel is a man with many secrets who would do anything to protect his image and investments. You are afraid of what he might do to you if he finds out that you are in Nigeria, and you wonder if he will bundle you to the Third Mainland Bridge in the middle of the night and throw you into the river. You feel goose pimples appear on your smooth skin. But your heart hardens. Your eyes turn into red and tears force their way down your cheeks, dropping on the quilt of the hotel bed.
You look at your life, the two years spent in a foreign country, where you had to suffer, working day and night to fend for yourself and your baby. You recall the racial discriminations you faced. You recall that day in Vilnius when you walked into your boss’s office and demanded for the coming week’s wage to enable you buy medications for Ara and he refused. He said he’d agree if you had sex with him, or if you agreed to suck his manhood. You stormed out of the building but had no other option but to return two days later. As soon as you walked into his office, he pulled down his trousers, and you took his little flabby thing into your mouth and sucked it till he came. He gave you your wage upfront and invited you to Crown Plaza hotel, and said he’d make things more comfortable for you if you slept with him. That was how you began to make love to him every week for money.
Your life is ruined, and you need to reclaim it. You need to confront Pastor Samuel at his home, preferably, with people around so other will hear your story.
It is 4pm when you board a taxi to the Pastor’s large compound. Ara is with you. You’ve dressed her in her jean trousers and white polo. Her hair is cornrowed.
When you get to the Pastor’s house, the gateman recollect your face and opens the small gate immediately.
“Is madam inside?” you ask the gateman.
“No, aunty. But one female Pastor dey with oga. Pastor Zainab.”
“Pastor Zainab. You no know am?” You wonder if it is the same Zainab that you know.
“Na your baby be this?” the gateman asks, touching Ara’s shoulder, “fine girl,” he says to her.
“Yes. Thanks.” You wonder if he can notice the striking resemblance with Pastor Samuel’s children.
You carry Ara and walk to the front house. The compound looks just the same, nothing has changed. The mansion is painted white. The four columns in front of the building is painted brown. There are flowers everywhere in the compound. You notice a lot of Bougainvillea, clinging to the wall like you used to cling to Pastor Samuel. You reach the door and press the door-bell. When no one answers, you push the door. It opens, and you step inside.
Pastor Samuel is just climbing down the stairs to the sitting room, perhaps to answer the door, when you step in. He is startled at seeing you. He is dressed in singlet and boxer shorts.
“Oh my God! Oh my God!” his eyes bulge out as he screams, “What are you doing here, young woman?”
You force yourself to be calm. You place Ara on the nearest sofa beside you and raise your face to stare at him.
“Did I not tell you not to come back to Nigeria?” He climbs down the stairs. His gruff voice sounds threatening. You will your body to be still and to be brave.
“You abandoned us! You ruined my life. You ruined our lives, your daughter, Ara.” You scream at him so loudly that your voice reverberates in the building.
“Lower your voice, young woman!”
Just then a voice calls from the inside, perhaps from the kitchen; “Honey! Who is there?”
Just then you recall what the gateman said.
“Who is the whore you are fucking this time, Samuel?”
Just then a woman enters the sitting room, holding some vegetables and a kitchen knife. She is dressed in tight mini-shorts. She is wearing only her bra, and her hair is tied with a scarf, her feet bare. She is your friend, Zainab. She drops the vegetables on the floor unconsciously.
You don’t need the Holy Ghost to come down and inform you that they are sleeping together. You wonder when Zainab fell for Pastor Samuel’s romance antics. You wonder why she didn’t mention her name when she enumerated to you the number of women the Pastor slept with.
“ So you also fell for him?” You shake your head in disbelief.
“So what. Why don’t you go back to where you are coming from?” She screams at you, pointing her kitchen knife at your face.
“Calm down, Pastor Zainab. Please go back into the kitchen.”
“So this is it? You are the Pastor Zainab? Who made you a Pastor? This idiot? This nincompoop?”
You ignore Zainab and walk towards Pastor Samuel. Zainab blocks your way, posing with her kitchen knife.
“Get out of my way, Zainab.” You can hear Ara crying. But you ignore her.
“You abandoned us in Lithuania! You wicked man! You evil man! You cocksucking motherfucker! You are doomed forever, Samuel!”
You are pointing your fingers above Zainab at Pastor Samuel. He is sweating, pleading with his eyes. Asking you to leave.
“Get out of here, Blessing. You are the whore. You are the one who ruined your life. You allowed yourself to get pregnant…”
“I am not talking to you, Zainab!” you wonder why Zainab has turned against you. You wonder if she is scared that since you are back, the pastor might leave her for you. You wonder if she is planning to marry the pastor.
“Get out of here, whore! European whore! Get out!” Zainab screams, “Go back to where you are coming from. Leave my husband alone woooooh wooooh wooooh!” Zainab’s left palm is clapping on her mouth as she makes the sound.
“Who is your husband?” Pastor Samuel asks, surprised.
“Stay away from this, darling!”
“Stay away from this, Zainab!” you scream. You try to side-step her, but she blocks your way again.
“Get out!” she calls.
Somehow your make you way past her, and when you are in front of Pastor Samuel, you slap him on his face. “This is for running my life!” you scream. You are crying now.
You look up to see that Zainab’s face is ashen. You notice that her eyes changes to something you’ve never seen before—like the eyes of a zombie. She swoops on you and pushes you to the ground. You grab her throat and bite off her left ear. While Zainab’s ear is in your mouth, you scream as her kitchen knife penetrates your stomach.
The room is dark now as your eyes begin to close. You can only see images—in silhouettes. You see the image of the gateman hovering over you. You hear Ara’s cries heightening to an endless shriek, calling you, “Mummy! Mummy! My mummy” And finally, your eyes are filled with void.
No matter how much you try to find out where they took your daughter to, you cannot. You flew to the hotel. These days, you don’t walk or enter taxis. You fly. You flew to the hotel, to Zainab’s house, to the church, to your village, where you saw your mother crying over a coffin that had your body inside it. You stood by and watched her crying and rubbing her two palms on the gold-coated coffin, which you overheard someone saying was provided by the church. You still cannot find Ara. You go to Pastor Samuel’s house. He is loading some luggage into the booth of his BMW. His wife is loading some into their jeep. You call him, but he does not hear you. When you try to touch him, your hand enters his body and comes out at the other end. You cannot reach him.
You call his wife.
“Mummy! Mummy Ada!” but she cannot hear you.
“Mummy Ada, I was killed by your husband and my friend, Zainab.” But she is adamant. She cannot hear you. She is busy giving directives to the members of God’s Works Department who are helping them load their things into the cars. Pastor Samuel’s four children are running around.
You kneel on the floor and weep. You watch as they enter the cars, all of them. You wonder where they are going. You wonder why Pastor Samuel’s wife is still married to him after all that she has heard about him—about the number of women he sleeps with, not to mention those he forced to commit abortion. You wonder if she sometimes thinks that her husband might be a murderer. You wonder if she believed the story that you killed yourself in the pastor’s sitting room, while the pastor went upstairs to get you some money because you confessed to prostituting in Lithuania. You wonder if the woman knows all the truth about her husband. You tell yourself that she must be aware. After all she caught her husband red-handed with you. You wonder why she didn’t divorce him back then. It dawns on you, as the cars are driving away, that she may be under a spell, under an enchantment.
“We will miss Pastor Samuel.” You can hear one of the girls that work in the church say.
“Oh yes. He will enjoy Abuja. He is going to head Saving Grace Incorporated, Abuja branch. They are lucky to have him.”
You call on the girls, but they cannot hear you.
“Please listen to me! Pastor Samuel killed me. Pastor Zainab killed me! Both of them killed me! They lied to the church!” You tell them. You are still sprawled on the floor. But they do not pay any attention to you.
“Listen to me, please! Listen to me, bitches!” you curse them. You rise and swoop on them, but you cannot reach them no matter how hard you try.
“Ara! Where is my child, Ara!”
They ignore you. You watch them move towards the gate. The cars have left the compound, heading to Abuja. You watch in anguish and scream in sorrow:
“My Ara! Oh my Ara! Where is my Ara?”
Then you are sprawled on the floor, as empty as a vacuum.
Read Episode 1 HERE.
Read Episode 2 HERE.
Read Episode 3 HERE.
Read Episode 4 HERE.
Read Episode 5 HERE.
“Holy Sex” is a 6-part series exploring the sex life of Nigerian pastors. Click HERE to learn more about the series.