The pastor apparently surprised by my attack yelled incoherently. Rocking on his heels, his probing fingers stilled, he glared at me. Pushing away from him, I dragged down my skirt that had ridden up during the ‘deliverance’. The Pastor’s next words filled with contempt were not only disturbing but chilled me to my marrows.
“You do not want to be delivered from darkness?”
“But…you were touching me down…” My embarrassment wouldn’t allow me continue.
“Shut up there! Touching you where? How did you think the snake in your stomach was going to come out?”
“What snake? I thought you said I was from the water?”
“And so they don’t have snakes in the water? Or are you telling me that you didn’t know that the ones that have marine husbands usually have a snake in them?”
“God forbid!” I replied shuddering, there definitely was no snake in me.
“Ha ha! So you think calling God will save you?”
“Then, I want my mother here! I also want to see the snake when you pull it out.”
The Pastor paused for a while and then taking me by surprise stood up, raised his hands towards heaven and yelled in a loud voice.
“Oh Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; bear me witness that I have tried to help your daughter! Whatsoever demon just spoke out of her right now, I command it to be arrested in Jesus name!” Striding towards the door, he jerked it open and called for my mother.
“Eka Mfon,” he said to my frightened mother, “this deliverance is going to take longer than I had thought. Mfon will have to come and do a three-day vigil in the church.”
“No! I am going nowhere. Nothing is wrong with me.” Realizing that I sounded very much like a demon, I paused, took in a deep breath and spoke calmly. “Mama, remember that I have work to go to. I do not want to lose my job.” I hoped that the thought of losing one of our means of livelihood was going to change my mother’s mind but apparently it did not.
“What is that job compared to your deliverance? Don’t you know that when you are delivered everything would change, God will smile on us and even give you a better job?”
“Yes,” the pastor added “everything will change even her weight and complexion. For you see, this is not her true weight given to her by God. The marine world has taken part of her true self.”
“Mama, I will not go! The pastor…the pastor…he tried to…I don’t know mama, please I will not go.” I couldn’t bring myself to say it.
“Praise the lord, the marine spirit is getting confused. I tried to remove the snake in her stomach from her body but she resisted and instead a demon spoke out trying to stop me. I stopped because I didn’t want the snake crawling and hiding somewhere and coming out to attack any of you when you were spiritually down…”
“God forbid!” My mother interjected shuddering.
“That is why I want her in the church. In the house of God, the devil is powerless.”
My mother turned towards me torn between a mother’s love and what she thought was a mother’s duty. I cannot readily say what would have happened next if not for the fact that at that same moment, the landlord’s knock that I always dreaded suddenly was a blessing.
“Iya Mfon?!” The landlord’s voice at the other side of the closed door startled my mother.
Opening the door, my mother greeted the landlord. “Good morning sir.”
“Morrin Iya Mfon. There is meeting upstairs o. Where is James?”
“He is not around sir, I sent him somewhere.”
“Ehn, if your son is not around, you come for meeting upstairs now now. Mfon nko?”
“She is fine sir.”
“Ekaaro Baba Kenny!” I shouted from inside.
“Oh jare, Iyawo omo mi; okay Iya Mfon now now.”
Closing the door, my mother apologized to the pastor, who had already picked up his bible.
“Sir mbok, let me go for the meeting upstairs. We will talk later. Mfon, prepare the Ogi and if I don’t come back fast, you can eat and go to work, hmm?”
After the door had closed, I breathed a sigh of relief even if only temporarily. It was going to be fine but it wasn’t. For days, mother and I played the ‘silence’ game. Even though she didn’t speak further of the incident, I caught her many times looking at me blaming me especially when she started muttering that the landlord had just increased the rent for no just cause. I noticed her attitude going cold towards me. I tried but finally capitulated to her silent pleas. I agreed on going to see the pastor but on the condition that she came with me. And that is how I was ‘delivered’ of being a mermaid and having the invisible snake leave my stomach. And if you are wondering if things changed, I would have to say that they did.
I slapped one of the brats at where I worked and so got fired, we could not pay the increased rent and so we were evicted from the house but in all these, it couldn’t beat the satisfaction I had when I saw that the pastor was annoyed that my mother accompanied me to the vigils. Regardless of all our troubles though, my mother was happy, happy that finally my deliverance will herald the beginning of a new and positive change to her household in the near future even when months later, I lost my brother mysteriously to the cold hands of death.