[Fiction issue] ‘Man of God’, a new short story by Odafe Atogun

The JRB presents new short fiction by Odafe Atogun.

Atogun is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Taduno’s Song and Wake Me When I’m Gone.

~~~

Man of God

His name was Alasoadura. No surname. Just Alasoadura. He came from a family so poor the poor called them poor. At twenty-something, he still lived in the heart of the ghetto, in the same compound, in the same room, where he had been born all those years ago. His grandfather had bequeathed rags to his father, and, when his father died, he inherited the remnants, making him poorer than anyone in his lineage. He vowed that one day his story would change.

Alasoadura was a slothful man. Dark-skinned, of average build and height, neither handsome nor ugly, he wore a permanent grimace on his face. Having failed at everything because he had never tried hard enough, he had married a young girl who sold bean cake by the roadside. He had calculated that the union would not only take care of his physical needs, but would also bring food to the table. He had bean cake with every meal and sex with his wife at night. In the early hours of morning, when he rolled her over for more sex, she would resist with the same futile protest: ‘Ah, Alaso, you want to kill me again this early morning!’

‘If I don’t kill you, who do you want me to kill?’ Alasoadura would reply roughly, brushing her protests aside.

*

Early one morning, the hungry cries of their baby son Isaac, who was lying in a wooden cot in a corner of the room, joined those of his mother as she was being killed in bed, on the thin mat that was their bed. Alasoadura was deaf to the child’s cries. In fact, he too was crying, although his were cries of pleasure. He had consumed a whole bottle of whisky the previous night. So he went on and on, killing his wife mercilessly, until mother and child could no longer cry. At last he tumbled off his wife, spent, and fell into a deep sleep.

*

It was late morning when he woke up. He rubbed his palm over his face, to clear sleep from his eyes. His wife had gone to work by the roadside with their son. To his surprise, the table in a corner of the room on which she normally left his breakfast of pap and bean cake was empty. He sat up and looked round the room. Nothing. He rubbed his palm fiercely over his face and looked round again. Agitated, he jumped up from the mat and ransacked the room. Finding no food, he stormed off to find his wife.

She was sitting on a low stool by the roadside, legs spread carelessly, chin in hand, a gloomy expression on her tired, pretty face. Isaac was crawling all over the place, putting anything he found into his mouth. Alasoadura was surprised and alarmed that his wife was not frying bean cake, as usual, surrounded by a crowd of hungry customers clutching bowls to their chests like beggars. Other than casting the child a brief look of distaste, he did not pay it attention.

‘What are you doing?’ he asked, staring down at his wife, the look of alarm on his face growing.

She cast a look at him. ‘What do you see me doing?’ she snapped.

‘I see you doing nothing!’ he cried. ‘Where is the bean cake you are supposed to be frying? Where are your customers? Why did you not leave my breakfast on the table?’

‘Because you kept me up all night!’ she shouted back. ‘It is all your fault. I woke up late. When I got here, my stall had been raided by thieves. I have lost everything. Everything—my frying pan, my grinding machine, my bag of beans, my oil, my cooking ingredients, everything. All I have now is raw pain between my legs. It is all your fault!’ She pointed at their son in dejection. ‘Look, our child is eating rubbish because he has nothing to eat. Look!’

For several moments, Alasoadura simply stared into space. And then, as the implication of her words hit him, he closed his eyes for a long time, shaking his head. The sound of a bell jolted him out of his self-pity. It was the old prophet with white dreadlocks and waist-long beard, who often went round the neighbourhood. He carried a tattered Bible in one hand, a rusty bell in the other. He seemed to have aged more since the last time he had paraded the streets. Alasoadura caught his breath as he opened his eyes and found the man standing in front of him like an apparition.

‘Alasoadura, it shall be well with you,’ the old prophet announced in a guttural voice, ringing his tired bell. ‘It shall be well with you, says the Lord. But you must no longer neglect your inheritance or regard it with disdain. It shall be well with you. I prophesy that from this day forth it shall be well with you and the Lord will bless you.’

Alasoadura’s wife got eagerly to her feet and untied the edge of her wrapper. She found a few dirty notes of money. She threw them into the hat in the prophet’s hand. ‘Alasoadura, it shall be well with your wife,’ the prophet continued. ‘Her business shall not go up in flames. It shall be well with her.’

As the prophet went along ringing his bell and prophesying into people’s life, they scrambled to throw money into the hat in his hand, to seal the prophecy he had uttered concerning them. In the distance, the hat in his hand filled to overflowing. Alasoadura watched the prophet until he had disappeared from view. He remained motionless for a while, thinking about the prophecy the Man of God had uttered concerning him. Then he turned to his wife.

‘I’m famished,’ he said to her. ‘Give me some money that I may go and get something to eat.’

‘I gave the last money I had left to the prophet,’ she replied quietly.

‘You did what?’ Alasoadura screamed, at the top of his voice.

‘I did it for your sake! Without the money, the prophecy he made concerning you will come to nothing. It will turn to a curse and your life will become worse than it is now. I did it for you.’

Alasoadura stared at her, speechless, unable to believe that she had given all the money they had to the prophet. Not knowing what to say or do, he clasped his hands on his head, and, leaving his wife and son there by the roadside, wept all the way home.

*

His stomach churned with raw hunger and his mind clouded as he searched through the old metal box his father had left him, which still contained some of his inheritance. He took out the rags one after the other and shook them, hoping that a fortune would fall from them. Lying at the bottom of the box was a tattered book, which he had always believed was an account of his ancestors’ wretched history, degraded through the generations. He had never bothered to pick up the book. With his inheritance scattered around him, hopeless and sad, he picked up the book for the first time and soon realised that he was holding the Bible. Cautiously, he flicked through the worn pages until he paused to read a particular portion: ‘And I will make thee a great nation, and bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shall be a blessing.’

He stopped reading and rose to his feet. His heart began to pound. Hard. He stood there, staring wondrously into space as the words of the Man of God concerning him came back to him. He realised that he had neglected his inheritance for so long. He held the Bible to his chest. And then he kissed it with gratitude.

*

Not wanting to be disturbed, he locked the door. Then he sat down on the mat cross-legged, hunched over the Bible. He began to read from the beginning of the book of Genesis. As he digested the words, it occurred to him what a priceless inheritance he had received. From that day he began to read the Bible avidly. And, true to his name, Alasoadura began to pray fervently.

He fasted on some days. He went out at dawn each day, ringing a large bell, uttering prophecies that gave succour to the wretched people of the ghetto. He carried a wide hat that gradually filled with money as he went along, returning home at about noon. Not long after he started his ministry, he informed his wife that she no longer had to sell bean cake by the roadside.

‘So where will I be selling now?’ she asked eagerly. ‘If only you can buy me all the things I lost, I can get a bigger stall and business will be much better.’ She held her husband’s eyes in expectation.

He gave a munificent smile. ‘You don’t have to sell bean cake ever again. You are now the wife of a prophet. My story has changed. Soon I will buy you a car and get you a driver. All you have to do is drive around the neighbourhood and tell the people what a great prophet your husband is.’

‘I don’t understand,’ she replied with a frown.

‘You don’t understand? You see me going out and coming in with plenty money every day and you still don’t understand, eh? When will you understand that I’m now a Man of God? When will you understand that my story has changed finally, that God has blessed us and you can no longer go back to selling bean cake by the roadside? Tell me, when are you going to understand?’

She stammered inaudible words. Isaac was playing outside that afternoon.

‘Abeg come here!’ he snapped, tugging swiftly at her wrapper, the only item of clothing she had on. It came loose, revealing sumptuous breasts, her nakedness stark. He pulled her to him.

‘Ah, Alaso, you want to kill me again this hot afternoon!’ she lamented.

‘I have been out working all morning. I have made tons of money, and I cannot enjoy myself with my wife? Do you want me to start killing other people’s wives?’

He pulled her down on the mat and mounted her. Passionate cries of, ‘Ah, Alaso!’ soon filled the stale room.

*

Soon after, he moved his family into a big apartment, bought a second-hand car, and then he built a mighty Church in the heart of the ghetto. He had studied the Bible very well, so he knew what to do. Unlike the old prophet, Alasoadura had a big vision, bigger even than those of all the other small-time prophets in the ghetto put together.

He tried to obey the instructions in the Bible as best as he could. Whenever his wife complained that he was tiring her with sex, he explained that the Bible says that they should be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. ‘We cannot fill the earth having only Isaac,’ he would say.

Within nine years, they had eight daughters. Ten-year-old Isaac was their only male child. Their apartment was infested with children; they crawled all over the place like lizards. His wife had since become a fulltime housewife, old and haggard. He began to spend more time in the Church. Because he spent so much time in the Church, he would invite her there whenever he felt like killing her. He killed her in his office at the back of the altar. No longer able to endure Alasoadura’s insatiable hunger for sex, she begged him to give her a break.

‘Can’t you see what you have turned me into?’ she lamented. ‘I’m tired. I look far older than my age.’

‘You don’t want me to kill you again?’ he asked, alarmed. ‘If I don’t kill you who then do I kill?’

‘Ah, I don’t know o,’ she replied with a shrug of indifference. ‘Kill somebody else, please. Me, I’m tired.’ She sounded distraught.

He chuckled to try to relax her. ‘I should have told you …’

‘Told me what?’ She eyed him suspiciously.

He hesitated, saying nothing.

‘Told me what?’ she repeated, fixing her eyes upon him. ‘Tell me!’

He averted his eyes for a brief moment. ‘I’m already killing other women,’ he said and shuffled his feet uncomfortably. He had always wanted to tell her. He felt relieved that she had given him the opportunity to tell her the truth at last. ‘I know I should have told you. In the Bible, Abraham killed another woman in bed with the permission of his wife. I should have sought your permission before doing it. Please don’t be angry.’

For a few moments she was dazed by his confession. ‘The Bible allows a man to kill other women?’ She found her voice at last, but it was a barely audible whisper.

‘Yes … Abraham did it. In fact, his wife gave the woman to him.’

She did not know what to say. She looked away.

‘They are mostly married women,’ he continued his confession, boldly now. ‘I tell you because the Bible says that a man should not keep secrets from his wife.’

Aghast, she asked in a loud voice, ‘The Bible allows a man to kill another man’s wife in bed?’ Her eyes were flaming.

‘Yes … King David killed another man’s wife in bed.’

She had read that portion of the Bible. ‘But God punished King David for that,’ she jumped in to poke a hole in his defence.

‘Only because he killed the woman’s husband—I mean real killing. After he had killed the woman in bed, he killed the man in reality, took his life! That was why God punished him. I don’t take the lives of the husbands of the women I kill in bed. You see the difference? I’m not committing any sin.’ He spread out his hands in innocence.

She did not know the Bible well enough. She could not challenge the Man of God. ‘Well, continue to kill them. Let me rest, please.’ Her voice was resigned.

‘I tell you because the Bible says that a man should not hide secrets from his wife. Nobody else must know about it, understand?’ he warned in a steely voice.

A chill ran up her spine.

*

So, under the guise of praying for them, Alasoadura continued to engage in adultery with the wives of his congregants in the office at the back of the altar. The women began to bring their daughters for prayers, and their daughters brought their friends. He decided to make the Church his permanent residence, away from his family. Determined to absolutely obey God’s command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, he built a private apartment on the premises where he killed women.

His wife and children visited him twice a week in the car he had bought them. This arrangement allowed him more time with other women. He sired countless children he did not know, and who did not know him to be their father. Every birth in the Church was promoted as a miracle, attracting people from all over the ghetto and beyond. He showed them signs and wonders and performed all manner of miracles amongst them. And then the politicians came in a motorcade that gripped the ghetto with excitement.

*

The politicians came with bags of money. They asked the Man of God for difficult miracles. In order to give them what they desired, Alasoadura read deeper into the Bible, by candlelight, all night. He fasted for days, weeks. He pricked his ear to get a word from God. He tried to keep the politicians happy. Even though he was unable to perform most of the miracles they desired, he performed the easier ones and managed to convince them that, in time, they would get their big miracles.

While reading the Bible late one night, he found himself going over a particular scripture time and again. And then it occurred to him that the Lord was trying to give him a message. ‘Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest; and offer him for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.’ He paused briefly to ask himself, ‘To what purpose would be such a great sacrifice?’ ‘And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself I have sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and has not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore …’

Alasoadura began to shake with excitement. He had broken the secret code of the Bible. He knew what he must do to please God.

*

He closed the Church for one week to carry out the sacrifice. It was something he had to do alone, like Abraham. He went to fetch his son, Isaac. He told his wife that he was going on a trip with the boy. He had dug up the altar, leaving a deep hole. He invited the boy to lie on his back beside the hole. The boy obeyed silently. He tied him up without a whimper, gagged him. Then he brought out a knife and slaughtered him on the altar of God. Blood splattered everywhere as the boy jerked and kicked. He watched him struggle painfully until he became still. He buried the boy in the hole and put the altar in place. He cleaned up the blood. Then he plastered the grounds and fixed the tiles. He worked with cold dedication, showing no emotion. When it was all done, he knelt before the Lord and prayed for power.

On the seventh day, he reopened the Church to a mammoth crowd that spilled into the streets, amongst them fat, powerful politicians from far and near. He touched the blind, and they recovered their sight. He made the lame walk, made the dumb speak and unstopped the ears of the deaf. Never had the people seen such wonders. The revival lasted all night. In the morning they returned to their homes, astonished at all that they had witnessed.

Money like he had never imagined poured in, and he became one of the richest prophets in the region. But he refused to move out of the ghetto. It was where he had started; he was not a man to despise humble beginnings.

His wife asked him, ‘Where is Isaac? When will he return?’

She had come to pay him a visit in his private apartment at the Church. They were alone. Each time she had asked him in the past, he simply told her that Isaac would soon be back. Now, he remained silent for a few moments. And then, looking his wife straight in the eyes, he replied: ‘Isaac has gone to be with the Lord. But he will come back again one day.’

‘What do you mean, Isaac has gone to be with the Lord?’ she asked, alarmed.

He paused. ‘Come with me.’

He took her into the Church and had rough sex with her on the floor of the altar where he had sacrificed and buried his son. ‘Ah, Alaso you are killing me on the altar of God! Alaso, please don’t kill me here. Ah, please don’t kill me here …’

Her protests were futile.

When he finished, he said to her, ‘Isaac is now in your womb. You will bring him back into the world.’

‘Where has he gone to?’ she asked tearfully, trembling under a spell. She knew that Alaso was now a very powerful man. She looked into his eyes, but she could not recognise her husband anymore.

‘As long as my Church keeps growing, as long as you continue to enjoy a good life, you shall never ask that question again,’ he replied coldly.

She held trembling hands to her tearstained face, eyes fixed upon her husband in silent plea. ‘What will happen to my girls?’ she asked, her voice a ghostly whisper.

It was the last time Alasoadura would ever make love to her.

*

He built a mansion for his wife in the choicest part of the ghetto. He bought her cars, jewellery of exquisite quality, made sure she lacked nothing, showered her with care. Nine months later, she gave birth to Isaac.

A multitude came to witness the miracle, to see the child who had been born a second time. They came with gifts of money, expensive cars, and so on, and a week-long revival began. Alasoadura’s fame travelled faster than sound. The Church became too small. So he acquired acres of adjoining land and expanded it.

As Isaac grew into a healthy child, his mother blossomed, as though their development was symbiotic. She no longer looked old and haggard, she shone like a maiden. Men began to throw admiring looks her way, some of them handsome young pastors ordained by Alasoadura. To her surprise, her husband still did not care to invite her for sex. But he continued to be caring and generous. He gave her expensive gifts, hired maids for her and made sure she and their children were well taken care of. But that was where his husbandly role stopped.

She did not mind. She felt thankful. She focused on raising their children, tried to make up for the neglect and deprivation they had suffered, made sure they went to good schools. But even though life had become very comfortable for them, she had sadness in her eyes. And in her heart too. She carried the burden of a secret guilt. She could not imagine what had become of her first son. She felt complicit in whatever must have happened to him.

*

She attended Sunday service, the dutiful ‘Mummy’ of the Church. Anyone who needed to see the Man of God for a miracle lobbied her. They gave her gifts of money and clothes. She became very influential and wealthy in her own right. Alasoadura encouraged her to open an office at home, where people could come to consult her. Because she had plenty of spare time, she agreed.

Her office was tasteful. An endless queue of visitors thronged her daily. To her surprise, handsome young men came too, for no purpose other than to tell her how well she looked. At first she was angry. Curious, she took a long look at herself in the mirror and realised how right they were. She had transformed into a woman any man would desire. And then, with a frown, it suddenly occurred to her that her husband had not made love to her in years. Had she become less appealing to him because she now looked so beautiful? Was it a bad thing to look the way she now looked?

*

Without realising it, she became a foreboding figure. But this did not diminish her beauty to the men. Instead, it made her more appealing, an Amazon they would love to conquer and possess.

Now and then, some of the young men summoned the courage to pay her compliments. When they did not, she wondered if something had gone wrong with her, if her beauty had fled her, if she had transformed into the old, haggard woman she used to be. She would rush to the mirror. A sigh of relief would escape her. Then she would powder her face to pronounce her beauty, hoping to draw the attention of men. She recollected some of the stories she had heard being whispered around, of young pastors killing other people’s wives in bed. How come no man had killed her in bed in a long time, not even her own husband? Was she not good enough?

The mirror became her constant companion. And the more she looked, the more she became fixated on the young man whose compliments she desired most.

*

Joshua was his name. One of the young pastors ordained by Alasoadura. He was one of the few who had never complimented her. His smile melted her heart. He was not as bold as the others, maybe shy. She summoned him to her office on flimsy pretexts. He would stand before her, looking down at the floor. Compliant. When he spoke, he looked directly into her eyes, drawing her into the pool of his heart where she found herself almost breathless. Then he would smile, soft, charming. And then he would fix his eyes back on the floor.

She went weak at the knees each time he came before her. She could not tell what was happening to her. Her husband had never made her feel the way Joshua did. She wanted to tell Joshua so, but she was afraid to open up to him. After all, he was one of Alasoadura’s assistants. How would he react? He may take the matter to Alasoadura. Thinking of the scandal that could erupt, she tried to control herself. But each time he came before her, her feelings grew stronger.

*

No longer able to help herself, she sent for him one day.

She was flimsily dressed and had sent the maids to take her children out for a meal. She made sure she had no visitors. He came into the office quietly. ‘Good afternoon, ma. You sent for me?’ he said, looking at her in surprise before fixing his eyes on the floor. He was too stunned to smile. He had never seen her dressed in that manner before.

She smiled softly and asked him to take a seat. He complied. He looked very compliant. This pleased her.

‘Would you like something to drink?’ she asked.

Now he found it difficult to look into her eyes. ‘No, thank you, ma,’ he said, shaking his head.

A clumsy moment passed.

‘What is your position in the Church?’ she asked.

‘I’m one of the assistant pastors to Father Alaso,’ he replied.

‘But not chief assistant pastor.’ It was a statement, not a question.

‘No, not chief assistant pastor. I’m still a long way from getting there. But that is my ultimate ambition.’

‘I’m glad to hear that. It is good to have ambition.’ She smiled.

He nodded without looking up.

‘What would you do to get to that position? What sacrifice are you prepared to make?’

‘It is all I dream of. I will do anything, ma.’

She appraised him, not knowing how to proceed. ‘I want to share a secret with you. You must keep my secret.’

He stiffened visibly. ‘What secret, ma?’

She hesitated. ‘I will help you achieve your dream. But—’

He did not let her finish her words. ‘Thank you, ma! I’m most grateful,’ he said and bowed. ‘What secret do you want me to keep, ma?’ A big smile spread across his face. He looked into her eyes.

Feeling herself drowning in the pool of his heart, she blurted involuntarily, ‘I will help you, but you must agree to be my lover. And you must keep my secret.’

He could not believe what he had heard. He was too shocked to move or say anything.

Seeing how stunned he was, she stood up and advanced towards him, to try to ease his apprehension.

He jumped out of his seat and fled the room.

*

She began to live in fear, not knowing if Joshua had reported what transpired between them to her husband. Every attempt she made to see the young man failed. He avoided her craftily, even when she summoned him to come before her. She suspected that Alasoadura knew her secret. Even if Joshua had not reported to him, she suspected that Alasoadura would have found out what she had been up to. He was a very powerful man, a man with the gift of sight. She feared that he would expose them before the congregation and banish them from the Church. Whenever she found herself in his presence, she tried to hide the guilt in her eyes, for she sensed that he could see right into her soul. He was a prophet, after all.

She could not relax. She knew that she must meet with Joshua somehow and beg him to keep her secret. She sent him little gifts which were returned. Once, she managed to corner him alone. ‘Please, listen to me,’ she begged him.

‘I’m sorry, ma,’ he said with a quick bow and fled.

She tried to grab him unsuccessfully. He left her clutching his garment. She knew she was falling deeper into the hole she had dug herself.

*

If Alasoadura knew what she had been up to, he said nothing. In fact, he was unconcerned about what she did or did not do. Rather, he was obsessed about how to keep his Church growing for ever. He searched through the Bible tirelessly. And then one day he stumbled upon a portion that had been hidden from him all the while.

He read with interest how Lot had slept with his two daughters and they both gave birth to great nations. He deciphered the hidden meaning. He determined to do the needful so that his ministry would grow forever. He was sober as he spoke about it to his chief assistant pastor, the only person he confided in. He set the day and hour. He instructed him to order the whisky he would consume on the day, the finest money could buy. He was not aware that one of his assistants had overheard him.

*

Stories of infidelity and fornication began to sweep through the Church. Alasoadura’s wife would summon her most loyal maids and make them tell her all that they knew. The details often left her burning with desire. And then one day Joshua came to her, his eyes red and swollen. She could tell that he had been weeping. A great fear clutched at her heart.

‘Please, I need to see you alone, ma,’ he said.

Quickly she sent everyone away, leaving the two of them alone in her office.

The minute she locked the door, he broke down and wept bitterly.

She felt sad and sorry for him seeing him so distraught. She went to him and held his head to her chest, whispering quietly into his ear. She stroked his head very gently. He did not resist. ‘Tell me, what is the problem?’ she asked. ‘Tell me, please.’

‘I was loyal to him,’ was all he could say, as he sobbed quietly.

Her heart began to race with fear. Yet she was unwilling to let him go. If her husband had found out about them, she knew it was her fault. She was determined to console the poor young man and beg his forgiveness. Somehow, she felt grateful to him that he had not allowed her to lead him into temptation. She felt terribly guilty to see him so upset on account of her actions.

‘What happened? I’m really sorry, it is all my fault.’ Tears escaped the corners of her eyes as she held him to her.

‘It is not your fault,’ he mumbled. ‘It is not about you.’

‘It is,’ she said, ‘and I’m very sorry.’

‘I was loyal to him … I would do anything for him, anything. I believed in him, I kept his secrets. I would never question anything he did or told us … I found him with my mother. She has been a widow for years. I found him with her. She is pregnant by him. He said it is a miracle child. How could he do that to my mother? How could he?’

She stiffened at his revelations. Slowly, she released him. She felt suddenly ashamed that she had tried to seduce the young man. She felt angry at her husband.

‘I’m sorry about what he did to your mother,’ she wept. ‘And I’m sorry about what I did to you. Please forgive me.’

‘I understand the way you feel,’ he said, nodding. ‘I understand. I’m attracted, but I refused to do it because I was loyal to him.’

He moved away from her and wiped his face with his hand. ‘I came to warn you about your two eldest daughters,’ he said. ‘You must protect them from him. He has them with him at the Church right now.’

She stayed rooted to her seat in fear. ‘What does he want to do to them?’ she whispered, as if afraid to speak.

‘I have only come to warn you because I know you are a good woman deep down. You are not like the others.’ He smiled sadly at her, still with tears in his eyes. Then he jumped to his feet and was gone.

*

For a long moment she remained still. She wondered what her husband was doing with her daughters in the Church. She remembered her first son. Images of his innocent face kept flashing before her eyes, in slow motion, as if to unearth the guilt she had long buried. Suddenly, she jumped to her feet, screaming like a lunatic, and ran into the street. She took off her headgear and tied it firmly around her waist. As her deranged voice tore through the neighbourhood, people began to gather, wondering what had gone wrong with her.

She flung off her shoes and took off in the direction of the Church. An excited crowd tore after her. The entire ghetto went berserk.

She knocked down the security guards at the gate of the Church with a plank and charged to Alasoadura’s private apartment. The crowd followed, screaming wildly, not knowing what was going on. The chief assistant pastor confronted her at the door. But he was powerless to prevent her from going in. The crowd surged in after her, into the bedroom.

The sight that confronted them stopped them all in their tracks. A hush fell.

Alasoadura was standing naked, his penis erect over one of his daughters who was unclothed and apparently drugged. The other daughter was lying in a corner of the room, also naked and immobile.

‘Ah, Alaso! With your own daughters?’ she screamed at him.

‘Ah, Pastor!’ the crowd wailed as one. ‘Ah!’

She charged him, grabbed his penis and began to punch him in the face. He tried to restrain her, threatening to beat her.

The angry crowd attacked him.

‘Touch not the Lord’s anointed!’ he screamed in a drunken voice as they rained blows on him and dragged him out of the room.

She collapsed on the floor between her daughters, weeping.

‘Burn him, burn him!’ the crowd bellowed outside, drowning Alasoadura’s cries for mercy. She did not hear anything because she had placed her palms against her ears. She did not see the flames that shot into the sky, the dance that marked his end.

~~~

  • Odafe Atogun was born in Nigeria, in the town of Lokoja, where the Niger and Benue rivers meet. He studied journalism at the Times Journalism Institute in Lagos and is now a full-time writer. He is married and lives in Abuja. Follow him on Twitter.

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