The Devil Wears Okirika by Kingsley Olanrewaju Efughi
The fume from the generator entered his office, making him cough in his sleep. His eyes fluttered open as he inhaled the gas. He mumbled incoherently to himself and got up, dragging his feet tiredly as he shut the window. His ceiling fan didn’t provide much breeze and he had to rely on cross ventilation from outside most of the time. But his office was badly positioned and anytime the generator was on he had to shut his window because of the air pollution. He stretched and cracked his knuckles as he returned to his seat. He had been updating a form about the monthly expenditures of the youth church before he dozed off.
Osita Azikwe, called Osi by everyone or pastor Osi by his church members, mostly the youths had been ordained as the youth pastor of New Life Ministries barely a month ago and he remained devoted to his duties.
He was two weeks shy of his twenty sixth birthday and remained the youngest pastor in the church. Osi was the fifth and last child of his parents. For long he had harboured resentment towards his parents because all his siblings had been born in the United States. But when his mother was pregnant with him, she had risked having a miscarriage and flown back to Nigeria to be beside her father who was dying. Osi had been born a week later and his grandfather had gotten better.
When his visa application was continually denied while his two brothers and two sister had flown in and out of the country, going to the states and coming back with pictures he had been filled with so much bitterness and had sent himself on exile. When he graduated (Mechanical engineering) from the university of Portharcourt, he remained in the state vowing to settle down and cut all ties with his family.
All of that changed when he met Reverend Benji Okafor: The overseer of New Life Ministries. The reverend took a special interest in Osi and took him under his wings.
“We need a new Drum set, new amplifier…..definitely a new generator,” he said to himself as he resumed his duty, shaking off the lingering effects of the nap.
There was a knock on the door and he glanced up. “Come in.”
A young lady walked in, “Pastor Osi, good afternoon, please the reverend wants to see you.”
“Theresa, how are you. You’re in church for choir practice?”
She nodded shyly, “Yes. I have a special number to perform tomorrow.”
Osi smiled, “Wonderful. I can’t wait, tell the reverend I’d be with him shortly.”
Reverend Benji Okafor leaned on the pillar, watching the choir go through the practice for their song in preparation for the Sunday service the next day. He saw Theresa hurry to take her place; she had such a lovely voice: He thought to himself. He was about to ask her about the youth pastor when his eyes caught a movement from the rear of the church. He watched Osi’s lanky frame make his way towards him. He had a special fondness for the young pastor and indeed loved him like a son.
“Let’s go to my office.” he shouted over the choir’s uniform voice blasting from the overhead speakers.
Osi nodded curtly.
“Are you done with filling the expenses?” Reverend Okafor asked, settling behind his desk, sinking into his massive comfortable leather seat.
Osi sat down across from him “Not yet sir, I’m almost done.”
“Okay, that wasn’t why I called you anyway.”
Osi got up and opened the mini fridge. He removed a bottle of water and returned to his seat.
The reverend’s office was spacious; the walls were decorated with framed photographs of motivational quotes and bible verses. On the table was a framed photograph of his wife and two daughters.
Osi drank from the bottle. “I’m listening sir.”
“Well,” The reverend studied him intensely “you know of our rural uplifting crusade coming up.”
“There have been some changes.”
“What happened? What kind of changes?”
The reverend leaned back in his seat. “Osi do you believe God has a unique purpose for everyone?”
Osi had no idea where the reverend was going (or coming from) but he nodded slowly.
“Years ago,” the reverend continued, “Your mother had to rush back to the country to be with her dying father, she was pregnant with you and so you were born in the country.”
Osi wondered why the reverend was recounting his own history to him, in fact everything the reverend knew about him, he was the one who had told him.
“Interestingly, your mother’s father got better the moment you were born and would live for another decade, meaning his time had not yet come then.” The reverend drummed his fingers on the desk, “You see, we serve a mysterious God, he works in mysterious ways, do you believe if your mother hadn’t come back when she did, you would have been born over there and as a citizen, you wouldn’t remain in this country but would be living there as we speak.”
Osi nodded “That’s true…I know.”
“Also you never would have met me, and more importantly you might not have met Christ,” he cleared his throat and Osi waited for the punch line, “But the interesting thing is you would not be able to go for this assignment God has placed in my heart for you.”
This time Osi sat up, “Assignment, what assignment?”
“You are going to lead the rural uplifting crusade.”
“Me? But what about evangelist Tomori?”
“This assignment is for you,” the reverend waved hand “The
Lord wants to use you for great works.”
Osi was silent for some seconds. “How long is the cusade?”
“It would last for a week.”
“Who would accompany me?”
“Your team of youth leaders and deacon Oforbuike as well.”
Osi winced when he heard of the deacon. The deacon disliked him immensely and didn’t bother to hide it. According to him, Osi was too free and wordly to be a pastor, to be the head of the youths.
He was more qualified for the position but still remained a deacon. Osi had been chosen.
The reverend fired on, “We would be hosted by the pastor Mr.
Bartholomew, he has assured me of maximum hospitality.”
Osi nodded for the umpteenth time that afternoon. So be it, he was a leader and he had to be firm. He couldn’t let anyone as the deacon get under his skin.
“One question sir, where is the crusade taking place?”
At 21 years, Amarachi was the most sought after lady in Amaife. Her beauty had no equal. Her father, Dé Nwachukwu was one of the three leaders of the community and he was tired of receiving suitors. Amarachi had been clear: she planned to finish her education before any thought about marriage would cross her mind. Her father knew she was intelligent and very strong willed and so he didn’t force her. Moreover he had a high regard for education and wanted his two daughters to be well educated.
Amarachi was in the kitchen stirring a pot of soup over the fire. She touched the spoon to her hand and tasted it. “More salt,” she said to her friend. Oluchi was her best friend since childhood and they were inseperable.
Oluchi passed the bowl of salt to her. “Did you hear about Chisom?” she asked as her friend sprinkled salt in the food.
“I heard, so, so bad.”
“They said her mother fainted when she heard.”
“My God, she was the only child, who found her?”
“It was little Ndidi and her sister,” Oluchi replied setting up another fire.
“Who is this devil? What kind of terror is this?”
“That is the third girl in four weeks,” Oluchi replied striking the matches. “Ehen…Paul is coming back tomorrow,” Oluchi said after a while.
“Paul? Oh…your brother.”
“Yes he’s coming from Lagos, and he can’t wait to see you.”
Amarachi raised her eye brows, “Really?”
“Yes. We would go and pick him at the park, me and you pleeeeaaasss.” She flushed her eyes.
Amarachi rolled her eyes, “Oh, all right then.”
The devil walked round the market square, enjoying the clear sky and the cool breeze. His appetite had been satisfied temporarily but very soon he would need to have another girl again. Very, very soon. He had someone on his mind. She had been hunting his dreams recently.
He waved at a woman selling oranges, flashing a charming smile and licked his lips in anticipation as he thought about Amarachi. Sweet Amara…
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