(Continued from Pawns II)
Waking up in the morning was not difficult for Jackie, since she had hardly slept at all. The image of the dog with a human voice kept appearing behind her closed eyes, forcing her to open them as soon as she closed them. Her only comfort was the sturdy body of Adam beside her, even though she knew that he was also scared.
Jackie was brought up a Christian, and she was taught that pre-marital sex is a sin. She and Adam had initially vowed to remain chaste until they tied the knot. But the Weodakas changed that. Jackie made love to Adam for the first time about two weeks after that first night when Wilfred raped her. It was her idea actually. She told Adam that she had been preserving herself for the wedding night, but since Wilfred had robbed her of that privilege, she did not see the need of waiting. If a man she was coming to loathe was having her body, what was the point of denying it to the man she loved? It turned out that Adam had been feeling the same, but had been afraid of voicing that feeling because he did not want to seem like he was enjoying their predicament. Jackie told him that she would have actually offered herself to him on the day following her defilement, but she was sore physically and emotionally.
Now she is pregnant, and she doesn’t know who the father of the baby is. Adam has promised that he will bring up the boy, whether the child is his biologically or not. His exact words were: ‘it is my child even if he or she is born in the likeness of Wilfred.’ But there many huddles before they can talk about bringing up the child. The biggest of them, of course, being the demon that wants the child as a sacrifice.
Adam has also gotten out of bed, and has gone to the farm to milk the goats. It is after he brings the milk that she can start preparing tea. In the meantime, she is boiling arrow roots-two of them-and frying sausages. She will apply margarine on bread later, after she has already cooked tea. The eggs will be fried last.
Even as he milks the goats, Adam’s mind is churning. Is there a way out of the mess that he and his girlfriend are finding themselves in? Ideally, the pregnancy would have been his biggest worry in circumstances like these. Being a Christian youth leader in a conservative Christian village, getting a girl pregnant would invite a lot of scorn. But with a devil or rather the devil looming over their lives, the potential embarrassment that comes with a pregnancy is inconsequential.
Adam has always been a prayer warrior. But ever since he started having sex, he has been too embarrassed to face God in prayer. He has been sleeping with not just his girlfriend, but also a married woman. Under the Old Testament, if it was discovered that he had deflowered Jackie, he would have been required to go to her father, pay her bride price and take her home as his wife. Marion would be another story altogether; because she is a married woman, both of them would have been taken to the fields and stoned to death.
We now live in the dispensation of grace, Adam reasons, so there is nothing like stoning. But then Apostle Paul has made it clear in his letters that the dispensation of grace does not mean that people are allowed to sin. So it is possible that even if he continued praying, God would not listen to his sinful pleas anyway.
Once he has milked the third goat, Adam walks back to the kitchen through the back door. Jackie gives him two sausages, which he goes to the farm chewing. Jackie will separate the milk: she will take some to prepare the family’s tea, put a liter in a bottle for the pastor and the rest will go to the church kitchen. While she is doing all this, Adam will be on the farm harvesting vegetables for the day. He collected eggs last evening.
As Adam walks to the farm, an idea starts forming in his head. All his life he has believed that God is all powerful, and all merciful. In spite of his sinful life, God will take him back if he goes before him with a repentant heart. Wasn’t that the whole point of the parable of the lost sheep? When he goes to the church this morning to deliver the vegetables, eggs and milk, he will break down before God and pray. He will ask for forgiveness for his sins, including sexual sins, and then he will ask God to rescue him, Jackie and the baby. Surely God will hear him the same way he always heard David, who was another deeply flawed character.
When he returns to the kitchen from the farm, he finds that Jackie has already separated the milk, and that she has already set aside a basket of eggs to be taken to the parish house. She sorts out the vegetables: she takes what she will cook today, sets aside some for the Reverend and his family and packs the rest for the church kitchen. Adam, in the meantime, gets the motorcycle ready. The motorcycle was bought by Wilfred to help Adam run errands. The church is not far from the Weodakas’ home, but because of the number of things he is carrying, it makes perfect sense to ride instead of walking.
Once Jackie helps him to pack everything nicely on the motorcycle, taking special care of the eggs, Adam starts the motorcycle and leaves the engine running as he opens the gate. But as he sits astride the motorcycle, he can see that Jackie is near tears.
“I don’t want to be left alone with these monsters,” she tells him softly. “Please come back quickly.”
Adam hesitates. He doesn’t want to lie to her.
“Today I may stay for a little while longer.”
Alarm quickly spreads over Jackie’s face, so he quickly moves to reassure her.
“No, I will not be gossiping with Jane and Mary. I will be in the church vestry praying for our protection and pleading with God to fight this battle for us.”
Jackie still looks scared, but she smiles at him.
“Okay. Say hi to Jane and Mary before you go to pray.”
Jane and Mary are the two cooks who prepare meals at the church kitchen.
Adam gets to the church at 6.30 am, as usual. He delivers milk and vegetables to Jane and Mary, and teases them a little before he moves on to the parish house, which is just a few meters away. The parish house is inside the church compound, but it has its own live fence that gives the Reverend and his family privacy. The gate is wooden, and is never locked. The gate and fence are meant for privacy, not security. Since the parish house is inside the church compound, and the church has a stone wall around it, an iron gate and night guard, everyone feels that the parish house is secure enough.
Adam walks to the front door of the parish house and knocks. As usual, the door is opened by Doreen, the parish minister’s housekeeper. Doreen started working for the pastor a few months ago, after their long-serving housekeeper, Donata, passed away in an accident. But the one thing that always strikes Adam as odd is how sad Doreen always seems to be. She has always been a bubbly girl, full of life and for years was responsible for injecting fun and laughter in the church youth group. But ever since she started working for the Reverend, she turned melancholic. Adam has tried to find out why, but she always dismisses him with a three word sentence: ‘I am fine.’
This morning Adam greets her and she returns the greeting with her usual aloofness, already stretching her hand to take the groceries. As always, Adam wonders if there is something that he did that offended her; but he cannot think of anything.
“Can you get me the key to the vestry?” he asks her. “I want to spend sometime this morning in prayer.’
The church hall is open, but Adam cannot conduct his prayers there because that is where breakfast will be served. School children are already in there, waiting. But church members are allowed to use the vestry, if it is not being used by the elders, to conduct private prayers when the church hall is in use. The vestry is a sort of boardroom where church elders meet to conduct their business. They also congregate there on Sunday mornings to prepare for the church service, and then walk from there to the church hall in a procession, as is the Presbyterian custom. Every PCEA church has a vestry.
Before Doreen can respond, Mrs. Waithaka, the church minister’s wife, appears at the door. She is wearing a thick robe, and her hair is wet as though she has just taken a shower.
“Good morning Adam, it so good to see you this morning.”
“It is so good to see you too mum.”
Mrs. Waithaka, just like her husband, is a jovial woman who is beloved by everyone in the church. Most of the young people call her ‘mum’. Older people call her “Angela”.
“The Reverend and some elders are praying in the vestry. But the parish house is a house of God too. Come on in, I will show you where you will pray.”
Doreen, who is standing behind the pastor’s wife, shakes her head vigorously indicating that Adam should not take up the offer. Adam is confused, but he nonetheless heeds her advice and declines the offer.
“Thanks mum. But this is still your house. I don’t want to intrude into your privacy so early in the morning. I will find a quiet spot out in the fields to pray.”
“I insist,” Angela says, pulling him into the house. Adam had already removed his shoes before stepping on the porch. “You will speak to the Lord for as long as you want, and then Doreen will serve you breakfast.”
She leads him into the house, up a flight of stairs and into a room, which turns out to be a master bedroom. She locks the door and smiles at him.
“I know this is not the kind of worship you had in mind, but it is also a form of morning glory,” she says as she unbuttons the robe. To Adam’s dismay, she is wearing nothing inside. He is too stunned to move as she undresses him. She pulls him towards the bed, and he feels himself getting aroused. He wishes he could stop it, the same way he wishes he could stop it when Marion visits his room, but his body disobeys him.
“Marion says you are so good at this,” she murmurs. “Please make me happy.”
“I know you wanted to pray for Jackie’s baby to be saved from the jaws of the High Priest. You are wasting your time on that, because the High Priest must have that child. But you can save Jackie.”
Adam stares at her in disbelief. They have already had sex and are lying naked on Angela’s matrimonial bed.
“How do you know all that?”
“I am the one who invited the High Priest of Ironda to form a shrine here when my husband and I came many years ago. I know everything that goes on in that shrine, including the fact that Jackie will disappear after she gives birth. But you can save her if the two of you become members of the shrine in your own right. The baby will still be sacrificed to the High Priest, but it will become your sacrifice, not the Weodakas. You will get other babies, and the Spirit of Ironda will bless you with wealth, just as he has blessed the Weodakas”
Adam nearly chokes on his own saliva.
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