Thelma arrived at her catering outfit at nine-thirty am, her staff were already at work except for one. She noticed the staff’s absence and asked the others where she was.
“She said she has some kind of overnight program at her church.” Brenda, her assistant said.
“A church programme? Is today Sunday?” Thelma asked already getting angry and worked-up.
“When she comes to work, make sure you tell her that I want to see her. I think I need to review her salary and make necessary cuts for lateness.” Thelma said.
As though on cue, the staff in question hurried into the office, she had bags under her eyes and looked as though she had skipped a good night sleep.
“Good morning ma.” She greeted.
“Hannah! Why are you resuming work at this time?” Thelma asked in a clearly disappointed tone.
“I am sorry ma…I had a church programme and…”
“Spare me that rubbish talk! This is work and not church and even the bible says, ‘he who doesn’t work should not eat’.” Thelma said.
“I am very sorry ma…” Hannah said looking contrite.
“Everyone get to work, we have to start making the seven tier cake for Diamond’s wedding and we’re almost behind schedule.” Thelma said to her staff.
“Yes ma…” They echoed.
“Ma, can I…see you…briefly?” Hannah asked in a shaky voice.
“Okay, step into my office.” Thelma said and turning around, she walked into her office with Hannah in tow.
As soon as the door was shut behind them, Thelma asked.
“What is the problem….do take a seat.” Thelma gestured.
“Thank you ma…” Hannah said and sat in front of Thelma’s desk.
“So, what do you want to see me for?”
“I don’t know how you’re going to take this ma but I spoke to my pastor and he said that I should tell you.” Hannah said.
“You told your pastor about a work-related issue?” Thelma asked in disappointment.
“No ma…it’s not work related.”
“Then why are you here? This is an office and only work related issues are to be discussed here.”
“Please ma…hear me out, it really took me a lot of courage to come here to you..” Hannah started.
“I give you ten seconds…” Thelma said impatiently as she quickly began arranging some files on her desk.
“We had a seven days programme of prayer and fasting in my church and last night we spent all night praying. So, while praying, the visiting pastor said that there’s a lady in the crowd who works in a catering facility. He said that the lady’s boss is going to face a very big trial as her family is going to be torn apart. I didn’t pay heed to the message because I felt that I’m not the only one working in a catering company at the church. We ended the prayers at about three am and I closed my eyes to sleep and I dreamt of you ma, I saw you running about in tears with blood on your hands declaring to everyone you met that you are innocent. I didn’t know the crime you committed or the crime the people claimed you committed but you were in tears and in deep sorrow, you kept calling a name…Obinna…I don’t know…”
Thelma was feigning nonchalance till she heard her husband’s name.
“Obinna?” She asked.
“Yes ma…that’s the name you were calling in your dream. I woke up and told the pastor and coincidentally he was with the visiting pastor as I relayed the dream. The visiting pastor told me that he had been referring to me during the prayer session when he spoke about a catering business. He said that I should tell you that war has been unleashed in your family and that the war won’t end till it ends your life and that of your family.” Hannah said and stared at her.
“My God! I can’t believe this! I don’t believe this…” Thelma said to herself.
“I am sorry ma if this seems as though I am prying into your life….but I need you to be prayerful. You are the best boss I have ever known and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Thank you for telling me this Hannah…” Thelma said to her.
“I am so glad that you opened your heart to the message.”
“Hmmm…I too had a very strange dream last night, I saw so much evil being done and I saw my husband, Obinna, run mad.”
“God forbid madam…the devil is a liar.”
“Can your pastor…maybe come and pray for my family today?”
“Ofcourse, I could call him now and ask him to come and pray for you today.”
“I am asking that he comes to my home because I know my husband, he won’t be dragged to any church for anything…” Thelma said.
“No problem ma…I’ll talk to the pastor and get back to you.”
Hannah left the office while Thelma stared at the closed door for a while in tensed silence.
Stephanie walked the short distance from the bustop to her house, life seemed so difficult at this time and she was so tired and wished she had enough money to afford the luxuries of a taxi from the office to her house every working day. She walked into her compound and shuffled her feet to her mini apartment, unlocking the door, she pushed open the door to her self-contained house and stepped inside. It smelt like dead fish.
“Urrrggghhhh…my soup is spoilt….ugh…this light problems.” She sighed as she walked to her bedside fridge and brought out the small plate of soup in the fridge and cringed her nose in the process. “Chai! PHCN….are you a blessing or a curse?” She hissed.
She took the plate to the kitchen and emptied the contents of the soup into the sink. She had spent the public holidays and weekend at Sunday’s house which means she had spent five days away from her house. She had spent all day in anticipation for a phone call but Sunday hadn’t called yet.
Soon, she had opened her windows to rid the bad smell and by the time she had finished cleaning her fridge, the light went out.
“Ohhhh…my God! What is this na? Haba! Nepa!” She started as she walked over to bring out a torch light which was kept on the bed in her room.
Stephanie had relocated from her family house in Asaba to Lagos in search of greener pastures. She was from a polygamous home as her father had added wife number two to his family when her mother gave him his third daughter. At first when Auntie Maggie, their dad’s wife came into their home, they had vowed to make life unbearable for her but when she walked in bearing a peace flag, everyone had let down their guards and became friends with her. She had two sons and a daughter for her father and Stephanie loved her step siblings so much.
Her phone rang and she thankfully picked the call, hoping that it was Sunday but alas, it wasn’t. It was her immediate younger sister, Pamela.
“Sis…what’s up?” Pamela asked.
“I’m good…how are you?”
“Fine ooo…did you hear that Alvin is travelling abroad for his masters?” Pamela said referring to their step brother.
“Really? Did he get a scholarship?” Stephanie asked.
“Which kain? Daddy is sponsoring ooo…our daddy that has been lamenting over lack of funds since forever.”
“Will you blame him? It’s his first son…”
“And you are his first daughter….”
“Please let’s stop this! We are one big happy family, if Alvin is travelling abroad for his masters, then let him! He is our brother after all and his success is our success too…”
“I don’t think so ooo…mummy has even been worried. You know how long it took daddy to complete Ivanka’s school fees at DELSU, and all of a sudden, he has three million to blow up for school fees abroad.”
“Forget this gist abeg…have you forgotten that Ivanka has spent six years in the university instead of four? She can’t get straight C’s to save herself.” Stephanie said of her littlest sister. “How are you?”
“I am fine…how are you? How’s your boyfriend?”
“Don’t tell me you’ve switched…” Her sister said.
“Switched to what?”
“Abeg jo…tell me… when is your wedding coming up na? You’ve been dating for like forever! I am waiting for you ooo…”
“Abeg…it will all happen in God’s time.”
“Okay ooo…how’s work?”
“Work is good it’s just that they never seem to increase my salary when they are increasing that of my colleagues and the worst thing is that when I get money, something takes it away. The last time, Auntie Maggie asked that I buy her a phone and…”
“Which phone? She hasn’t changed her phone ooo…”
“I sent her some money for a phone, didn’t she buy it?”
“Nope! Anyway, it’s late and I should go to bed now…talk to you some other day.”
“Okay dearie…bye, say hello to mom…”
As Stephanie hung up the call, she felt so low and wished that Sunday would call her. Two hours later, she was still waiting for his call and soon dozed off.
Thelma was watching Channels television with her husband, they were both lounging on the sofa listening to the news when a knock resounded at the door.
“I’ll get it…” Thelma said hurrying to open the door.
Obinna shrugged, it wasn’t too late to expect visitors and not too early either, it was some minutes past seven thirty in the evening.
“Welcome pastor…thank you for coming…” Thelma said ushering in two men holding bibles and Hannah.
“Thank you for inviting us…” One of the pastors said.
Obinna looked up to see the strange faces, he looked at his wife for some sort of explanation.
“Honey this is err…my staff Hannah and her pastors at her church. I asked her to tell them to pay us a visit so that they can pray for us.”
“Pray for us for what?” Obinna asked already getting angry.
“Sir…we are men of God and we are here to pray for you.” One of the pastors spoke up.
“I wasn’t deaf when my wife said that…” Obinna replied rudely.
“Thelma! What is the meaning of this? How dare you invite charlatans into our home?” Obinna demanded.
“Calm down sir…” The second pastor said.
“Don’t you dare tell me to calm down! Get the hell out of my house! Now!” Obinna shouted.
“We are sorry for disturbing your peace…” The first pastor said.
“Get out! I attend church every Sunday and if I need prayers I know where to get them.” Obinna said rudely.
“Obinna…please…”Thelma said in a painful voice.
“Don’t speak to me Thelma, you brought these people to our home and I don’t blame you, I blame that Africa Magic you watch every time that gives you these superstitious notions.” Obinna thundered, then addressing the pastors he said. “Now, get out!”
The pastors and Hannah left the house while Obinna banged the door loudly as soon as the exited. Thelma stared at him in fear, she was terrified and when he turned to face her she ran off to the kitchen and locked the door.
To be continued on Sunday…..