The prayer was long and tense. The room around him seemed to revel in the ethereal presence he had been obliviously been wrapped in. Like a scene from a cartoon clip, anyone peeking at him would sure be entertained and enthralled by the synchronized up and down oscillation that was the movement of his lips as he soundlessly connected to his Maker, with sleep-shut eyes and the straightest face that would ever characterize his handsome features. In between there would be loud flashes of some unintelligible language, and that posture and activity dictated the next one hour.
It was Friday, and nearing time for Redeeming Grace Fellowship’s Prayers For the Needy. Shocked at the time, Edeme multi tasked on brushing his teeth as well as straightening out the savagely forlorn bed on which he had received fifteen vision clips, each no less than thirty minutes long. ‘Oh, my Lord and My Maker’, he moaned as he chanced on the part of the mattress where his fingers had unconsciously created a two-inch hole, as well as a threat to the oneness and unity of the bed sheet. He got hold of his bed sheet immediately, and his hands felt so sore. No wonder.
All charged up and humming the famous Israel Haughton’s You Are Alpha and Omega, he tidied the room, fixed himself a hot cup of tea and had his bath under the forty-five minute mark. Lifting his original King James Bible and accommodating it under his armpit, he slammed the door, locked and pocketed the key, setting his face straight ward and with focus. He had no time for any neighbour who would pull him from this hard-earned spiritual estate this morning with their banters and occasional tantrums. With the disdainful eyes of more than ten co-tenants fastened at different points on his slim frame, searching without success for the slightest leverage on which to throw a tease, he crossed them, not even uttering a word of greeting. There would be time for that later in the evening, he mused as the bright morning sun caressed his forehead. He was sure that was the part of his body that badly needed the Vitamin D.
‘Kishi! Abino! Kishi-Abino! Kishi-Abino! Ki-Abino! Kishi-Abi!’’
Though it was a rude cut into his meditations, he could not help admiring and laughing at the conductor’s skill at pseudo-naming his destination, Kishi, as he dangled from the weather-beaten Toyota Hi-Ace bus creaking towards him. The driver, fat and muggy, held the steering wheel with both hands like his life depended on it, as he bounced to a slow stop, at the outstretching of Edeme’s hands. The side door grumbled open, just as the hinge showed promise of falling apart, but the conductor was on hand to prevent any mishap. It did not stop anything anyway.
‘Chance dey inside inside!’he barked, giving the re-hinging of the door his best effort. Edeme made himself comfortable at the back seat, and snuggled close to the window. In an attempt to open it a crack, the glass suddenly cracked on the rusted window railing. He knew it was time to hold his peace.
The bouncing and jangling all the thirty-minute way to Kishi amused Edeme instead of frustrating him, surprisingly. Mid way into the journey there appeared a stranded Mitsubishi bus with passengers crowding round it, whose conductor was frantically flagging down other commuters, begging for a transload. He stopped when Edeme’s bus approached.
The frustrated passengers cramped into the bus hurriedly, and the people had little or no choice where to sit. He whimpered when a fat woman sank into the seat at the far end, consequently sandwiching him further close to the window. The remaining two passengers were equally weighty, but not as much as Orobo.He did not mind that much, but he saw and began to feel what should really make him mind.
Due to the lack of space, the contact between bodies on his row was disturbing, and when he looked at the face that owned the body fastened to his, he started praying earnestly, covering himself with the blood of Jesus.
She was not particularly beautiful, but her face had this perk to it that was capable of jolting a man out of his sensibilities. She had dark lush brows, and eyes that peered deeper than you thought. Her nose and mouth testified volumes of the work of a master sculptor, and the red on her lips completed the damage, just as her skin glowed in the early morning sun . There was this pulling about her that was not just endearing, but tended towards being real. Though Edeme caught glimpse of her for a split second, he was way farther out of his spiritual estate than when he got in, and cursed himself and the devil when there came a throbbing between his legs. He intensified his prayers in his heart, calling on the God that saved Joseph from Potiphar’s wife to come on the scene, for he was finished. He thought that was as far as it could go, but got another thing coming.
‘Dis woman too fat’, she cooed in his ears. ‘No vex abeg, make I relax small.’
Turning to face him, she heaved her chest on to his arms, and Edeme almost shouted aloud his supplication to God, as he sank deeper and closer to the window. Taking advantage of the space deficit, she edged closer, sparing no effort in making sure Edeme had a generous feel of her soft breasts. To make matters worse, she pretended to stare out of his part of the window, and faced him directly. The state of the road and the bouncing of the vehicle added tons to his spiritual rout, and she kept her eyes on his mouth, which were reflexively mumbling something. Edeme battled hard between what his hands were going through, and what they must not do, to what the fair gaze of the girl was plodding him to. The battle was fierce and long. Both sides explored their strengths, and applied their most tested and trusted armoury. Edeme could bear it no longer, suddenly.
With thanks to God for this leeway, he noted Stanbic IBTC bank as they climbed the causeway. Though it was at least three hundred metres from his destination, he knew it was better to hike the rest of the way than to pollute what God had in store for His children. With shivery hands, he furiously knocked on the wall of the bus, signalling his intention to disembark.
Save some inches, she was practically lying on him when the bus creaked and croaked to a halt. She kept her eyes connected to his as he breathlessly made efforts to alight, as room was made for him. He finally jumped down, and expunged a large amount of breath.
The bus moved off some metres, and stopped. Hands were waving at him.
He heard the hisses and catcalls, and turned. What was it? The bus reversed, and he came face to face with her again.
‘Your Bible’, she said, thrusting it at him. ‘Thanks. Thanks very much’, he shamefacedly said, receiving it.
Trotting slowly along, Edeme was grateful not only for the fresh morning breeze which coolly brought him back to life, but for the deliverance from what he was sure was the devil’s effort at scuttling his flow today. He got into the church hall, of course over thirty minutes late, and dashed into the sanctuary to sanctify himself. He then waited to be introduced. He got so engrossed in choosing the preparatory Scriptures, the most appropriate hymn, and general prayer that he totally forgot this morning’s episode. Then he heard his name.
He stepped out, and mounted the podium.
Their eyes locked. There was now a blue scarf on her head. The skirt she had on blew her curves, as she stood listening to his opening remarks. But he was sure he had seen that face somewhere. Slowly, recognition dawned on him. She looked even more beautiful now.
She stepped out for prayer, and knelt before him. It took him time, but he composed himself, and gathered momentum and anointing.
Immediately, a Technicolor clip of twenty-five years of her existence played right in front of Edeme, even as he prayed.
That was the solution to ten years of a strange ailment in the life of Grace, a final year Law student.
Three years later, the maids of honour were scrambling for her bouquet of flowers which she had thrown backwards, as Edeme, resplendently dressed, looked on, and then at his wife. Without warning, he swept her off into his arms and headed for the Toyota Camry 2010.
‘The airport’, he told Charles, his chauffeur. He fished out two tickets and flashed them at his wife.
The Grange Hotel, Mailbu.
He thought she only saw the flight tickets, which read just Faroe Islands. She held her peace. There were more important things to say.
‘If you had succumbed to that temptation that day…’she said, her voice trailing off as she was looking directly at him. Edeme smiled, and so did Charles, as he looked at her through the rear view mirror.