African Women Chronicles: Lara (Chapter 8)

I stood rooted to the spot as I looked from Nike, who was lying on the stretcher on the ground, to my father and then Tola. A man stood next to Tola; he was a complete stranger to me as I had never set eyes on him prior to that time. Tola and my father also stood rooted to the spot looking at me wide eyed as though they had seen a ghost. They exchanged glances and turned back to look at me; I could tell they were not only astonished but they were also unsure how to act in my presence. They had come to a healing service and desired the minister they had heard about to pray for their sick loved one except that when the minister arrived, it turned out to be their lost loved one, assuming that I was a loved one. After all I had been through; I was not sure what to think anymore. As for Nike, she clearly had no idea where she was so recognising me was certainly out of the question.

From the corner of my eye, I noticed my host pastor, Pastor Segun, was throwing funny glances my way, obviously waiting to see what I would do next. He heard my father say my name and witnessed my initial reaction, so he knew this people knew me and I knew them, although he did not know they were my family. I did not tell people my story, the last eight years I avoided situations that would make me share my story. When I talked about my family, and only because it was absolutely necessary, I mentioned aunty Bose, her husband and children; they were my family. I knew I owed Pastor Segun an explanation but I ignored him in the interim. This was neither the place nor the time for that explanation and it was certainly not the place or time for any drama, so I ignored everyone and focused on praying for the sick. Later, we would have our family reunion in private. I was fast becoming a public figure and the last thing I wanted was for the news of my family reunion to be all over Ibadan before I woke up the following morning.

I quickly regained my composure, and kept my face free of any emotion.  I walked over to where Nike lay and as I did, I avoided looking at my father and Tola. They didn’t look like they required healing so I gave my attention to the one who did. As I knelt beside the stretcher, the devil began to show me images I had put out of my mind for eight years, especially images of the night I walked out of my father’s house. I remembered the way she had hit me severally, the evil words that had come out of her mouth, each laced with the contempt she felt for me. As the pictures flooded my mind, I suddenly realised that God’s presence had departed from me and I was empty, at least I felt empty and I felt drained. I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep. Then I heard a groan and I looked up and saw Nike wincing in pain and my heart went out to her. She was only thirty years old but sickness caused her to look like she was over forty. As I beheld her, I was reminded of how much she resembled our late mother. The tears suddenly filled my eyes as I thought of mum. Nike, had hurt me, but she was mum’s baby too and as I looked at the stretcher, I didn’t see Nike anymore; I saw mum and my heart came alive with love and compassion. I leaned over, took her in my arms and held her close to me as I prayed violently in the spirit not knowing what words to pray in my understanding. I do not know for how long I prayed but I do know that suddenly I felt the presence of God return, then my spirit man was charged and my tongues became even more violent as I waged war with the enemy and took my sister’s healing forcefully. As I continued to pray, I heard the Lord speak to me and assure me that she was healed. He also reminded me of Reverend Femi’s declaration of a 48 hour miracle and confirmed that the miracle was my sister’s freedom from cancer. He said one after the other, all the symptoms would disappear and He instructed that I send for the reverend to come from Lagos the following day and put a seal on Nike’s healing.

I was relieved and grateful for the first time that the reverend had spoken into my life. I rose to my feet suddenly and faced my host pastor who still had a perplexed look on his face.

“Pastor Segun, please arrange a vehicle to take this woman and her family to my house. I will meet them there later.” Pastor Segun began to frown, obviously, he was not sure what was going on and why I was acting that way and I did not want to explain to him in front of them or stay in the room any longer. I walked out briskly and made my way to the toilet where I broke down and wept. I wept until I had no more strength; afterwards, I pulled myself together and went in search of Pastor Segun. I gave him an explanation without giving too much detail but also, without misleading him.

I stalled going home as long as I possibly could but I asked my PA to ring my house and ask the maid to prepare them a meal and a place to sleep so I did not have to rush home. Truth is I was slightly reluctant to face my family members who had suddenly appeared in my well organised life. They were the past and although I loved them, I wanted them in the past. I had a new life now and I did not want them in it as I feared they would mess it up as they had done my past life. I had forgiven them, but I did not know what their feelings were towards me and the last thing I wanted was to be reminded of my mum or how and why she died. The person I really wanted to speak with at that time was aunty Bose, so when I drove up to my house, just before midnight, I remained in the van and called her mobile phone. I knew it was late but I also knew she would take my call at any time and besides, like me, she was also a night person. Just as I had guessed she was still awake and obviously had her phone in her hand as she picked it immediately it rang.

“Oh, how lovely, my little sister, the Evangelist, remembered me today.” She teased.

“Yes, and I remembered you yesterday as well and the day before that, and the day before that one, even if I didn’t call. You know the last six months have been very hectic.” This was true, although I spoke to aunty Bose at least every other day, the last six months it had been drastically reduced to once or twice a week.

“That’s because you were all over the place with your sweet cakes.” She said, referring to Reverend Femi. She was the only person close to me who knew that Reverend Femi had asked for me to be removed from the church service all those years ago. Unlike me, though, she didn’t see anything wrong with his decision, and I had given up trying to make her see. She was one of his fans and he could do no wrong in her sight. Interestingly, when I had informed her of our chance meeting in Port Harcourt and then the invitation to his church planting crusades, she had been thrilled and said, “I just love how the Lord is throwing you both together.” And then she laughed. I did not think it was funny and I had told her so at the time but she didn’t repent and continued to speak as though we were an item. And she was at it again.

I rolled my eyes. I knew what she wanted to hear but I would not say it, so, I changed the subject.

“How are my babies doing?” I asked instead. “And how is uncle Dapo?”

“Everyone is fine. We are preparing for your wedding. We know it will be any day now, after all, Reverend Femi is not getting any younger. He should be thirty two or thirty three now.”

I sighed and shook my head. “You don’t give up do you?” I asked but didn’t wait for a response. “Listen, I will be getting married soon, I sense it in my spirit but as for the right reverend I have no idea what he wants to do with his life and it is none of my business.”

“Time will reveal it all, my dear.” She responded. “So, now that you are calling me at this time of the night, what is pursuing you?”

Her question brought me back to the situation at hand and without much ado I told her what had happened. She was just as shocked as I expected her to be and then she said that she was pleased for me as she thought it was a good thing for me to be reunited with my biological family. I explained that I did not feel any connection to them at the moment and perhaps I never did. They were like strangers and I did not know what to do, or where to start from but most importantly, I did not know how their sudden appearance in my present world would affect it and that worried me most.

We talked at length and she rounded up by saying, “Take it one step at a time, Lara, one day at a time and let God guide you. And if you become overwhelmed and need to get away for a while you know Dapo and I will be glad to have you visit us.” I knew that, she didn’t have to say it but I was grateful all the same.

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