She steps confidently onto the podium of the auditorium, her fitting, red skirt-suit accentuating her figure and screaming class! She carries herself gracefully and is widely respected as the leader of the Women’s Group of the Divine Miracles Tabernacle, as well as the wife of the Presiding Bishop. Her calm, polite demeanor contrasts sharply with that of her eccentric husband, Bishop Dr. Alphaeus Kithinji.
She is the more educated of the two. Actually, she is the real Doctor…not an MD, but a Ph.D. The Bishop is semi-illiterate, but street smart. He is accomplished, of course, having built the gigantic 15, 000 member Divine Miracles Tabernacle, and having managed to amass a huge personal and cultic following among his members. These people would do anything for their Bishop. They have already made him a millionaire.
The cultic following makes what she is about to do dangerous.
The Bishop is proud of his wife’s academic credentials, at least in public. For a class 7 drop out, having such a highly educated wife is an achievement in itself, and he broadcasts it in public, including the fact that he encouraged her to study and paid for her education. The funding part is not true, because she studied through scholarships, but what is the point in challenging his narrative?
But her education also makes him very insecure in private, and he would never allow her to accept a teaching job, something she yearns to do. He insists that she must dedicate herself to the Women Group. The Bishop is a difficult man to understand.
And now she is fed up with him.
She is tired of the humiliation. She is tired of putting up a fake persona, masking her pain and humiliations for the sake of being the perfect Bishop’s wife. Sure, being a professor at the University of Nairobi would not afford her the opulent life she lives, but she would be a happy woman. Sneezing with her students because of the dust at the Jomo Kenyatta Memorial Library at UoN main campus, striking over meager pay and driving a Toyota Vitz would be better than having to deal with a monster of a husband every day, and worse, having to fake a happy marriage every single day.
“Praise the Lord brethren. As you know I am here to read the scripture and invite the Man of God to come and preach. But before that, there is something I need to say,” she says calmly.
She is frightened, but over the years she has become a master, or mistress, of masking her emotions. There is even a hint of a smile on her face as she speaks.
She sizes up the congregation. The church hall is full to the brim, including the balconies. The overflow is in tents outside, watching on massive screens. The Bishop has acquired the neighboring land and is constructing a massive complex that will house the new, much larger church hall. It has been alleged in some media outlets that the plot was a school playground that the Bishop acquired fraudulently, but no follow up was made on the story.
“As you know, I have been married to the amazing Bishop for twenty years now, and we have two lovely children,”
She glances at her husband, who is looking on with a satisfied smile on his face. For some reason, that look reminds Catherine of a well-fed gecko.
“I have for the most part enjoyed working with the lovely women of this church. We have done amazing work especially with orphans and the destitute. That is work I am immensely proud of,”
The Bishop is alert now, sensing that something is amiss. His street instincts have already warned him that she is about to say something that he will not like. Usually, he sanctions everything she says and does except for the usual adulation that she heaps on him.
Catherine knows she must say what she needs to say quickly because she will almost certainly be stopped. She has even started second-guessing herself, wondering whether saying it will have any value at all. Who will believe her? It is his word against hers, and he has the advantage of a loyal following and money to bribe whoever needs to be bribed.
But their services are aired live on national television, and perhaps, just perhaps, someone out there will believe her. She knows that the Bishop will retaliate, but she has no idea what he might do. He is so cunning and unpredictable that even his wife of twenty years cannot guess his next move. She does not even have a plan beyond saying what she is saying now. This was a revenge plan schemed last night in fury.
“But I cannot continue to serve in this church. I cannot continue to be the Bishop’s wife. For twenty years I have overlooked his adultery. He sleeps with our house helps, secretaries and other girls in this church, and I have looked away. He gets drunk in his private bar at home and beats me up, and I look away. He calls me names and I look away. But last night, he crossed the line. Last night your Bishop forced me to participate in a sexual threesome alongside him and his current girlfriend, the girl who has just been leading worship just now. That is humiliation I can no longer stand,”
She wills herself to finish what she has to say, but she chokes up in tears. The Bishop has been stunned up to this point. He had conditioned this woman to follow his orders for twenty years. She existed only through him. Where has she suddenly gotten the guts to stand up to him, in front of his congregation? Catherine has lacked the spine to even disagree with him even in private. She cowers in his presence. What has gone wrong?
He recovers quickly, and his survival instincts kick in. He strides to the pulpit and tries to hold her in his arms. She fights him furiously, and he signals his security detail to restrain her. He grabs the microphone from her.
“Brethren, we need to pray for my wife. She is mentally ill. We will pray for her then I will send her to a mental health clinic. You see even Jesus after healing people from leprosy told them to go and get examined by a priest,”
“I am not mad! He wants to have me locked up at the facility owned by his doctor friend who aborts his mistresses’ pregnancies!” Catherine hollers as her husband begins to pray, joined by the congregation. She fights her husband’s security detail, kicking and biting. Then she realizes that the more she fights, the more insane she looks. So she calms down.
She knows this is the end. Her husband will have a locked up at the upscale clinic and she will never be seen in public again. Nobody will look for her because they will assume she is getting medical treatment for her “mental” condition. She is led out through a side door as her husband and his flock celebrate “chasing the demons” that had plagued her.
As she leaves, she glances at her husband and he gives her that gecko grin that indicates he has won. His secrets are safe, and she was insane anyway to challenge him publicly. As he begins his sermon, a convoy of church vehicles whisk Catherine out of the church compound.
(Continued at A Woman Scorned II)
Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/girl-afro-american-black-sad-1866959/