Ndidi was in Ijeoma’s house. Already, she had heard all that went down at the hospital and was still clucking her tongue at the incredulity of it all. It was a Sunday afternoon and Magnus was out. Her children and Ijeoma’s were playing outside, supervised by Mofo, her Nanny.
“Has Pastor Shedrack called you?”, She asked.
“Not yet”, Ijeoma replied. “The meeting was to hold after service. I guess they are still there or have just concluded”
“Na wa O! Even in the house of God! What excuse will this girl give for her behaviour? ”
“The devil, of course. The devil made her do it”, Ij mocked.
“Ara gbachikwa ya nti, if she says that!”, Ndidi cursed. “And to think that Ekene and Miriam knew all this while!”
“People are mean! You see women? They can be so evil! How could they be friends with us and condone such a thing? “, Ijeoma snapped her fingers.
“Particularly Ekene who is so ‘spiro'”, Ndidi added.
“Don’t mind that girl! She even put up a picture of her engagement ring as her blackberry display picture yesterday. Does she think it will be well with her marriage? “, Ijeoma spat.
“I was really fooled”, Ndidi mourned.
“He will get the divorce Regina was hoping on. Then she can marry him and see the other side of him. Nonsense! ”
“She probably sees him as an angel”
“Yeah. A few days of marriage will take the wool off her eyes. She will see how indolent, undisciplined, and stingy he is”
“The grass always looks greener on the other side”
“Uh huh. Till u get bitten by the green snakes in the grass. Hahaha”, Ijeoma laughed bitterly.
They settled back to watch the programme on TV but neither woman’s thoughts were on the show.
Pastor Shedrack had several meetings that Sunday afternoon. It was 3pm before he asked that Magnus and Regina be shown in. They had sat in a pregnant silence in the reception. Even when they had to communicate, they sent texts. Neither of them wanted to give ammunition to any onlookers. Besides, the office had CCTV cameras.
Pastor Shedrack was seated, sipping from a glass of orange juice. His secretary let them in and shut the door behind them. They stepped forward gingerly, keeping a wide distance between each other.
“Good afternoon, Pastor”, both greeted.
He responded warmly and offered them seats. “Did you get some lunch yet? I’m sorry you waited so long”, he rose to join them on the sofa chairs where they were seated.
“I had a snack”, Magnus replied.
“I’m not hungry”,Regina said
“Okay, then. Let’s get to it”, Pastor Shedrack reached for the remote to adjust the temperature of the air conditioning. “Bro. Magnus, your wife alleged that you and Sis. Regina here are having an affair. What do you have to say about that? ”
Magnus squirmed in his seat. “Pastor……..”, he stuttered.
Pastor Shedrack leaned forward, gazing at him intently. Regina’s eyes were cast down as she fidddled with her purse.
“Sir, she is fond of jumping to conclusions. Regina and I are just friends”, he mumbled.
“What sort of friends?”, he raised an eyebrow.
“Very close friends. We have to chat a lot because of work”
“Regina is not a lawyer….”
“I represent the firm she works at”
“Really? Interesting”, he nodded and turned to Regina. “What say you?”
“Pastor, Magnus is my soul mate. He understands me. I don’t see why she is reading meanings into nothing ” Regina protested.
“Is this an emotional affair that generated into a sexual thing?” Pastor Shedrack pinned them with his gaze.
“No!”, they protested simultaneously.
“We are not having sex”, Regina added, waving her hands frantically.
“Magnus, have you ever spent the night in Regina’s house?” he asked directly.
“Yes, or No?”
“I have, Sir”, he averted his gaze.
“What happened? ”
“We were discussing some work. It was too late to go home, so I stayed”, he explained.
“Of course you called your wife to explain? ”
Magnus bit his lip.
“You spent the night in the guest room?”,Pastor dug deeper.
Magnus was silent.
“You prayed all night?”, he wasn’t letting up.
Magnus crossed his arms over his chest, hanging his head.
“Sis. Regina, how many times have you had sex with this man?”, he turned to her.
She looked away.
“Answer me before I lose my temper!”, he raised his voice slightly.
“Sir…….”, she stammered. “We have never gone all the way”
“What does that mean, exactly? How far is too far?” he spat angrily.
The duo kept mum. Pastor Shedrack rose and rang for his associate pastor. It was obvious that he needed to have a witness in the room. Besides, he could feel his composure slipping and needed that interlude to cool off.
Ekene and Miriam were in Miriam’s house. They were waiting for Regina to text them that her meeting was over. It dampened the mood which should have been upbeat, following the proposal the day before. They had waited in church till she asked them to leave. Both ladies wanted to be together as the tension tied their stomachs up in knots.
“Somehow, I feel more tense than when I had to tell Pastor that I was pregnant”, Miriam was hugging her knees as she huddled on the sofa with Ekene.
“This is just nerve racking”, Ekene agreed.
“Why, why, why,didnt that girl listen to me? Pastor will now be waiting for you to come to him with your own sob story”, Miriam complained
“God forbid!”Ekene snapped her fingers.
“Imagine what Ndidi and Ijeoma are thinking of us right now”
“Should we have told them?”
“I doubt it was our secret to tell”, Miriam shook her head.
“What a sticky mess!”Ekene sighed.
“Do you think Ndidi will forgive us?” Miriam wondered.
“It was doomed from the onset. We chose to be loyal to our friend even in her error. No way we get to eat our cake and have it”
“I really liked her. She was telling me of her dreams of owning a school, Ndidi I mean. I hoped to come in as a silent partner”, Miriam murmured.
“Nne forget that one. She won’t trust us after this” Ekene shook her head.
“Not that I blame her”Miriam murmured.
“Not that I blame her dear. We did what we had to do”
Pastor Ekpiken entered Pastor Shedrack’s office. Mrs. Shedrack was the last to arrive. She was a buxom woman in her 40s, pleasant and maternal. Today, however, she was not inclined to be friendly. “Bro. Magnus and Sis. Regina, you know Mrs. Shedrack and Pastor Ekpiken. They are here to lend their wisdom to us, so we can resolve the matter at hand”, Pastor Shedrack began. Everyone took a seat on the sofa chairs. His secretary served drinks and pasteries. No one reached out to take any. Magnus and Regina were squirming in their seats, darting anxious eyes about the room.
“Pastor Ekpiken and Mrs. Shedrack, these 2 were reported by Bro. Magnus ‘ wife for having an affair. Their defence is that they are ‘soul mates’. Also, they have not gone ‘all the way’. So we should let them be”, he went on, sarcastically.
“What is the meaning of ‘soul mates’?”, Mrs. Shedrack asked.
They turned to Magnus to explain. He looked up guiltily, then cleared his throat.
“We just understand each other. Our thoughts and opinions on issues are usually the same. Sometimes, we finish each other’s sentences. I can tell her mood even over the phone. She just gets me”, Magnus waxed philosophical.
“Clap for yourself”, Mrs. Shedrack mocked, clapping her hands. “The one you married and kept at home, what is she?”
“Ma, she is a nag. No matter what I do, she is not impressed. I have been there for her but she calls me names in front of the kids and constantly puts me down. We are headed for divorce, the way things are going”, he defended.
“Marriage is not like a car that you sell when it develops faults. In fact, you try to fix the car until it is irredeemable. How can you acquire another soul mate while your wife is alive?”, Pastor Ekpiken.
“All this soul mate talk is thrash. You are the one who turned that woman into a shrew. If you were treating her the way you treat this girl, she would have reciprocated”, Mrs. Shedrack scolded.
“So, if I come home from church and madam is upset about something, I should go to the choir and select a ‘soul mate’?”, Pastor Shedrack asked.
“Ntefi soul mate or is it soul meat!”, Pastor Ekpiken made a hissing noise.
“In the body of christ, there is no such thing. You should have come for counselling when you noticed issues in your marriage that threatened it. To go so far as having an affair……”Pastor Shedrack went on.
“Pastor, we did not have an affair”, Regina cut in.
“Eh eh?”, his wife leaned forward eagerly. “What exactly were you having?”
“Magnus and I are in love and we want to get married. We decided to wait till after his divorce, so we have never gone all the way”, she stated calmly.
“What!”, the three pastors exclaimed simultaneously, mouths hanging open.
She crossed her arms over her breasts defiantly. Magnus lowered his head into his hands. No one could speak for a full 60 seconds. Her boldness had floored them. Finally, Pastor Shedrack spoke.
“Magnus, are you in on this plan?”
“Sir, I can’t continue with the marriage. I believe I missed the original bone of my bones. Regina is my missing rib”, he insisted.
“Huh?”, was all Mrs. Shedrack could manage.
“Besides, Ijeoma is having an affair. Just call her and ask her about Chike, her supervisor at work”, Magnus brought out his joker.
“It gets worse and worse”, Pastor Ekpiken cried.
“Such should not be heard in the body of Chrst. Believers are meant to judge the world. Just look at the rubbish you are vomiting! “, Pastor Shedrack protested.
“These 2 are hardened. I don’t see them listening to us”, Mrs. Shedrack shook her head sadly.
There was silence for a long while. Then Pastor Shedrack arrived at a decision.
“Sis. Regina, you are hereby relieved of your position as a leader. If you can’t lead yourself, I don’t see how you will lead others. Magnus, you and Sis. Ijeoma should see me in my office, tomorrow at 6pm. We will unravel the mystery of whether she is cheating or not. Did I make myself clear?”.
They both responded that he was understood. His wife led them in a short prayer, asking for God to show them the error of their ways and enable reconciliation between Ijeoma and Magnus. As the duo left, the pastors stayed back to discuss the issue and decide on the next course of action.
*Ara gbachikwa ya nti: Curse; Be stricken mad.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Dear silent readers, this extra long post is to move you to drop a comment. Just click on the title. Feel free to go anonymous. Cheers, Dr. N.