“Let us see your God save you” the inmate said, before raising the improvised knife up, held it up for a while, trying to enjoy every minute possible of the dastardly act, grinned and counted down unconsciously to his favorite number.
“Saul are you ready for the task ahead?” “Yes Lord” …. “Remember I have sent you and faithful is he who has called you”
Back in the room, the Inmate is about to strike when the door quickly opens, and the warders rush in with their guns, “Stop there Kazi! If you move, we will gun you down with no remorse. Inside prison again you wan kill person, your own don finish today”. They quickly rush in and remove the weapon from Kazi’s hand, “You are going into the hole for a very long time, if you survive you better thank your stars” the warden continued. The Doctor who had seen Kazi walked in, “Doctor you are here, thank you for that timely info”“You are welcome Warden, I just knew something was up when he wanted to clean the rooms and it was not the time designated for the chore, besides I had never seen his face around this part of the prisons”, “good job once again, I am glad you followed your instinct and you are aware of your environment, if you had not this young man would have been dead”, “Yes ooo Warden, I guess there is something he still has to do on earth, something very important”, “Do you believe in those fables of chance and luck and destiny doctor?” “I believe ooo at least you can imagine the timing, one second late and this man lying down would have been dead”, “na you know doctor”. Immediately Saul wakes up from his unconscious state. The pain gradually begins to settle in, but he tries to overcome it, trying hard not to give anything away. He stares to the place of the noise and finds Kazi in cuffs, the warders and doctor and he was confused.The last thing he remembered was feeling a sharp pain before going unconscious.“What…. What…… what is going on here” Saul managed to ask, still drowsy from all the drugs. “Just in time Prisoner 3160!” the Warden exclaimed, “and you say this is all not planned and a stroke of luck. He also woke up just in time to see the person who wanted him dead right in this room”, “No!!!! You mean to tell me Kazi was the one that stabbed me and was about to kill me?” “Oh yes Prisoner 3160, thank your stars, or gods or whatever you believe in. you where whiskers way” the Warden added for effect, “I believe in the one true God and He alone delivered me from the hands of death”. Saul countered softly, “here we go, please all of you, religious people should free me biko. Let us move this prisoner to the hole quick!!” The warden ordered. “Please before you go sir,can I tell him something?” Saul asked, the warden was irritated but was inclined to allow considering the danger Saul had been just few minutes ago,“Be quick ooo!” He finally said, irritation written all over his face. “Thank you,Warden,” facing Kazi, Saul came down from the bed and walked gingerly towards Kazi, everyone was at alert ready for any revenge act, Saul finally stopped facing Kazi, so close to him they could feel each other’s breathe “I forgive you Kazi and I hope you find Christ someday. I am sorry for everything I have led you into and I don’t deserve the mercies I enjoy now, but I also want you to feel the freedom I feel even within these walls. For the very last time I will ask you to follow me and this time around you will never regret it Kazi”.Immediately Saul finishes, he feels a warm liquid substance on his face. It was so quick. Kazi spat at Saul, “you will never lead me again Saul and if I ever see you again outside these walls, I will kill you, that is a promise” Kazi countered. The Warders took Kazi away as Saul walked back to the bed dejected and in pains. He saw another life he had ruined with his hands and the guilt was overwhelming, the tears flowed uncontrollably.
“Chidi where are you coming from?” Shade quizzed anger written all over her face, “what do you care, in fact why should you care?” “I care because you are my husband and it is my duty, my God given duty”, “Oh please cut out the God…… God this and God that, what has he done for you lately?”“At least I can breathe and wake up that is good enough for me” “Is it really good Shade?! You vomit from time to time and cannot even go out for a proper function. See the rashes all over your body and the odor from your mouth, is that the life Shade? I cannot even touch you or know you as my wife and you say God has done so much for you. I lost my job and we are living from hand to mouth and this is what your God has in store for us. I don’t want to be a part of such a God”. “You are drunk Chidi, I can smell it all over you stop talking before you bring the wrath of God upon us” “is this not enough wrath upon us Shade, really think about it. I might have had a couple, but I am still within my right senses, your God has failed us”, “maybe if you stop spending the little,we have left we would fair better”. “Like it would change anything hian. See just free me, you should be happy I am not sleeping around, and I still love you or else I would have left a long time ago”. The tears that had been building released from Shade’s face. His words hurt very much but that last line was the deal breaker. She collapsed on the floor and wept, Chidi looked at her once and for a second the old Chidi could be seen in his stare but immediately he went back to his new self, went past her and went to lie on the bed and in minutes he was snoring away.
Shade was left on the floor crying out her heart, “What have I ever done to deserve this Lord! Why is it me?! Did I not serve you enough? Did I not give you my time, my life, my all?! Why do I deserve all this? This is more than I can bare, and I am breaking! I cannot do this anymore, I really cannot!” She collapsed on the cold floor sobbing. A gentle breeze filled the living room “through it all, my grace is sufficient for you”
Few weeks later….
Small runs towards Saul, “bros shey you don hear?” “Hear what?” “bros, Kazi don mud oooo” “Are you for real he is dead?!” “I no fit lie you now Pastor”. The tears swelled up in Saul’s eye, he could not believe what he just heard. “Lord but why, he could have changed” Saul murmured to himself,“toevery person, time and chance… He had his chance” ……………… “Bros, wetin happen who you dey follow talk, or you don dey head yaba left?” “don’t mind me Small I was just talking to my Father in heaven”, “Bros, who be this man wey you dey always yarn about, wey you talk say change your life. But honestly eeeh, you don change oooo and na good change I no lie. E be like say the old you don die and na another person carry your face put” “Thank you Small, I am anew creature, old things have passed away, all things have become new my brother. He has taken away my shame and reproach, he has given me a new name and also guaranteed that I spend eternity in peace and joy walking down the street of Gold” “Gold ke, you mean say all of us go get free gold for yonder”,“Yes Small, when you totally surrender you will walk the streets made of gold and here on earth though we are paying for our crimes our hearts will be at peace while at it” Saul replied, chuckling at Small’s narration. “I no too mind that your Father make He come Father me too oooo. You know say I dey loyal”“Small I am no longer in command of you, right now you lead your own life yourself. You are your own man and do things your own way, that is the liberty you have in Christ. So, you do not do this for me, you do this because you want to from the depth of your heart. You have been given free will to decide your future Small, I can only advice and guide you if you want. I am done manipulating or forcing you to do anything. You can be free Small, you can. To every person, time and chance” Small looked at Saul long and hard, then stared at the ground. It looked like there was an inner conflict on the inside of him after what felt like forever, he finally replied, “Bros, I don ready. We don too do bad thing for this life, na time make we change and as I see the change for your body he fit you die and me sef wan be like you, shey you go show me the way Boss?” “I am no longer your Boss, I am now your friend Small, please kneel if you may”. Small knelt down and was prayed for by Saul.
FEW YEARS LATER…
“Saul you have been a good example to all in here, you are the epitome of what the Prisons are meant for, built for and funded for. To correct those that have gone against the rule of law and make them better citizens and it is clear to all that you are all that and more and it is no surprise to all that you receive a state pardon. As you go back out there, do not forget the important lessons you have learnt in here. Remember the life of crime does not pay and in the end, you will face the repercussion. Go out there and prove to all that you really are a better person, and this is not a rouse but facts. I believe you will be better. Congratulations Saul, I am so happy for you”.
Saul could not believe his ears, he was already settling down in prison and getting people to give their life to Christ. He was comfortable where he was and glad the inmates where coming around. He felt so overjoyed till the voice told him he had greater works to do and he wondered. Now he understood perfectly what the greater work the voice was referring to.Nevertheless, he was excited, though he would miss Small and the rest of the converts that held fellowship with him from time to time, there was nothing like being free. He finally replied the Warden “thank you very much sir, I will make sure I don’t disappoint you”. Immediately he finished the words the voice spoke, “Through you I will build my Church and bring succor to many”
“Baba Landlord, you have to understand me I will get your money I promise” Chidi cried out for the umpteenth time but the Landlord was adamant, he was not going to bulge this time around. “Chidi you leave my house today, I have truly tried Chidi, what else do you want me to do? Six months you have been in my house without paying a dime and I have not for once harassed you about the rent but I have got new tenants for this place and see I will not even ask for the rent you owe me again, I will write it all off”, “Baba Landlord, for the sake of everything you believe in help me”, “I believe in God but I also have a family to feed, even God knows I have tried and he will not hold it against me” At the mention of God, Chidi flinches at the mention of Jesus, obviously fighting the irritation and trying to cool off. “Baba Landlord consider my wife and her health”. “I have that is why I have kept mute for six months hoping you would come around and fulfill your promise. You have to understand Chidi, if you were in my shoes you will not do differently or even evict me this late”. Chidi sighed down casted, the fire of hope finally extinguished from his eyes. “I do understand” He muttered, he sat down on the floor beside the house and watched as the boys brought by Baba Landlord packed their belongings out of the house. Shade kept begging and crying but Chidi knew better it was hopeless, he knew the Landlord had tried and there was nothing he could do about it. The landlord came close and held his shoulder, “For what is worth I am sorry I had to do this. You have been a wonderful tenant and great person. I pray you get help from the man above. I pray He shines down His mercy upon you”. “Thanks Baba Landlord but no thanks. My destiny as at this minute is in my hands, I decide what I do now and where I go. Believe me I understand though” and Chidi put his head back down soliloquizing. Deep in thought he pondered to himself “but where did I get it all wrong? What step did I take that was actually wrong? I love this woman I call my wife, I served her God to the best of my knowledge and ability, I did away with everything that was instructed of me not to do and look at my life, from one mishap to the other.First the robbery gone wrong to the transmitted disease, the loss of a promising career and now eviction from this house. Is this how my life would be written? Is this how it would end, what hope is left there for me sigh and I really do love my wife. Why of all people on this earth it was me all these evils fell on?”.
Few months later Chidi was on the street walking, and then saw some people sharing papers around. He was deep in thought and did not know when a small boy tapped him. “Hello Mr, how are you doing today?” Chidi gave him this curious look but his heart was soon melted when he saw the infectious smile of the young lad. “Hello, you there, how are you doing” “I am fine sir,thank God. I would love to tell you about something important” the boy said still smiling so warmly, Chidi was in a hurry but he felt transfixed to the spot, he imagined the boy and wondered how a child of his would be like, the thought made him all emotional, but he hid it perfectly from the boy. “So, do you want to tell me son?” “I am with that group we are from Faith Bible Church and while sharing the program handbills, I saw you and saw how sad you looked.I told my mum to allow me to come talk to you and find out what the matter was?That is why I am here”. Chidi was irritated by the church talk but he did not want to kill the spirit of the child so he quickly masked his irritation,“Thank you child but adulting is never easy, it brings with it responsibilities and challenges and obstacles but as a man you have to wake up and continue regardless”, “Sir, I may not understand everything an adult goes through but I do understand there is nothing God cannot do and there is no storm he cannot cause peace to come on. I remember in my Sunday school, my teacher said David faced a Goliath that was huge, with a spear that was very large and a shield that probably required two men to carry but God used a boy like me with stones to defeat such a man and I know He can also defeat those adulting challenges of your life” Chidi was impressed, the boy knew his onions. There was one time in his life he would have probably believed with these simple words from the mouth and heart of an innocent boy, but right now he was too scarred with the realities of life to know it was all talks. “Sir, I don’t expect you to believe my words, I am but a child. But I do have a feeling that if you come for this program something different would happen in your life. It might not be your first experience trying God and it might look like He failed you but try Him again. The truth is He never fails us, we fail Him. Are you married sir?” Chidi was now curious, this small boy seemed to know so much, if it was any other person Chidi would have walked away but its like this God of the little boy knew he so longed for children and sent just the person that would hold him down long enough to listen. He was struggling with all the words, but he knew there was something, “Sir, did I say something wrong?” “No son, you did not I am actually married” “Oh great, I love a great family and the reason I asked is because the program we are inviting everyone, and I am inviting you for is the Family weekend program. You should come with your wife. She would certainly thank you for it” The boy handed the handbill to Chidi who collected it, so he would not offend the small boy and quickly put it in his pocket. He was not about to go back into a church for any reason. He was headed to the bar to cool off after another day of job search with no positive result.
Later that day, Chidi staggered into the self-contain, dead drunk. Shade was already used to this side of him and she did not put up a fight like she use to anymore. She watched him collapse on the bed and in next to no time he started to snore. She gently started taking off his clothes when the handbill fell off his pocket. She was curious, curious at the fact Chidi collected something related to God to start with. She was surprised someone was bold enough to probably talk to him and then handing him a handbill. It must be a sign from God she thought to herself. She kept on staring at the handbill and a flicker of hope ignited in her heart again. It was a family program for one,she knew her family needed a miracle real quick because it was on the brink of collapse. She also saw a revival and healing service and thought to herself,should she dare believe she could be healed after so long? She had prayed, she had fasted, she had gone to men of God to pray along with her and nothing had changed. So why did she think this would be any different. But the flicker began to catch fire in her heart, she would find a way of convincing Chidi if it was the last thing she did. She was going to drag him to this program even if it cost her, her life and she knew just what to do.
The next day, Chidi woke up to see his wife with a knife, a bible and her eyes filled with tears. He was confused due to the headache he felt, and he tried to get himself before he said a word, “Shade, what is going on here” Chidi gingerly said, “What does it look like my darling Husband?” She countered, “Woman I do not have time for these games, what are you doing with a knife and why are you crying” Chidi demanded, almost shouting, “I have a preposition for you Chidi and your answer would determine my next action”,“Sigh, woman I am not in the mood for games this morning, just go straight to the point and talk”. “Do you love me Chidi?” Irritation spread across Chidi’s face, “What sort of question is that, if I was not in love with you, would I still be in this marriage? Wouldn’t I have been long gone?” His reply hurt Shade, but she was determined not to let it show because she had a mission.“Thank you, my husband, for your honest reply, now down to the real reason. I saw this handbill in your pocket and I want us to go!” Chidi was first confused, then he took the handbill and looked at it. He then realized who gave it to him, “Woman, you know I am not going for anything related to church, I have told you times without number. The only reason I even took this was because it was a small boy that approached me, and I did not want to crush his spirit”,“I know there is still some good left on the inside of you Chidi. Why don’t you honor that boy and let us go for it, it would not cost you anything? It is within the area even. Chidi over the years I have not asked you for anything but this one time please grant me my heart’s desire and I promise never to ask again”, “Woman why do you hope only for your heart to be broken again, have you forgotten how you went for the vigils, and prayers and all the fasting you did that landed you in the hospital over and over. Do you think He will heal you now, something He did not do then? Really answer me?” Shade was almost at the brink of exploding but she knew if she raised her voice against him at this critical period, she would lose her chance of convincing him. She said a silent prayer and continued. “Chidi, I know all the disappointments, it happened tome, so I know vividly but I am still convinced about this program not because of the healing I crave but because of the teachings to heal our home. We are at the verge of collapse and you know it. We need divine intervention. I love you Chidi, very much and you are the reason why I keep hoping every day, please help me this last time Chidi”. There was silence in the room which seemed like hours before Chidi finally spoke. “I am sorry Shade I cannot” He slowly said.Looking down remorsefully. “Then you leave me no choice Chidi”. Shade picks up the knife and raises it up readying herself for the impact. In one swift move Chidi leaves the bed and grabs her hand before she could stab herself. “Please Shade don’t……… Please!!! Okay it is fine I will do this for you. Only this once shade agreed?” The tears rolling down Shade’s eye she nodded her head in agreement and said a little prayer of thanks in relieve.
The day came and Chidi was grumpy from the time he woke up. He looked for fault in everything and everyone in the compound they stayed. He did not want to go but Shade did not give him a reason to renegade from his promise. So, she joyfully and humbly did everything he asked and replied his sarcastic replies with sweet replies. She was not allowing him to get out of this, not a chance she thought to herself.
Eventually they left together for the Church and had to walk because they where low on cash. On getting to the gate of the church, Chidi was hesitant to enter, “Are you sure about this Shade? We can still go back home and save ourselves from another heartbreak”, “Chidi let us go inside, don’t worry about me I will carry my cross myself this time and not disturb you with it”, “It doesn’t feel right you blackmailing me here though” Shade for the first time in a long while chuckled, “You still have jokes, I never thought I would see this side of you. I guess it is already working and we are not even inside yet” “whatever woman be deceiving yourself there. Sha don’t expend too much energy while inside we do not have food for the night ooo” Shade laughed out this time, dragging him inside. As they entered the man on the pulpit announced; “Let us welcome the man of God, who God is going to use to bless us today. Prepare your hearts and mind, channel them to heaven as Pastor Saul comes up to bless us”. Everyone stood up to welcome Saul on stage and when he faced the congregation with Chidi and Shade walking in. That was when Chidi saw him and horror filled his eyes!!! “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!”
“It has begun!”
TO BE CONTINUED……….
Categories: Short Stories