I sincerely apologize for the delay, my network has been bad all day and I haven’t been able to put up the post. Thank you for your patience.
Rosita walked briskly into the small hall space inside the large multi-purpose hall of the George Mavi center. She was a tall dark skinned lady with a large bust line and a trim waist. She was dressed in a shirt dress which skirted a little above her knees and she had a black pair of sandals on her feet. Her shoulder bag was slung on one hand while her very big Goodnews bible was held proudly in the other hand. She shut the door of the small hall space and dropping her bag on the table as well as her bible, she began to push open the windows while humming the song, ‘You are worthy of my praise’. She was the first to arrive, the only one in the group of the four women who made up the ‘Women Of Faith sisters fellowship’ to be on time. She pulled open the table drawer and brought out a dusting rag which she used to wipe the chairs, after which she brought out four plastic chairs and arranged them in a circle format, leaving some space at the center. She was to begin praise and worship today and she’d already jotted down the songs she was going to sing. She soon finished arranging the place for the meeting and took a seat, folded her arms under her breasts and waited, tapping her feet on the ground in steady rhythm.
The next to arrive was Marianna. She was ten minutes late, she rushed into the hall, dropped her bag on her favourite chair and crossed over to give Rosita a hug. Marianna was the most striking of the group, she was light-skinned and stood at about six feet. She had braces on her teeth but that didn’t deter her from flashing an easy smile to anyone that came her way.
“Hey baby…good morning, sister in Christ.” Marianna greeted.
“You are late again…and that’s the same for Anna and Patricia.” Rosita said in disappointment as she looked at her wristwatch. “Anna always arrives two minutes after I arrive. I wonder what’s holding her this time.”
“Shouldn’t you be thankful that you are the early bird? I’m sure that on judgement day, you’ll be the first to get to heaven.” Marianna sang out happily.
“Stop trying to butter me up. I just dropped off my kids at school…please…let’s be quick with this meeting so that I can go back home and get to my chores. I still have to pick up my children after school and you know that school closes early on Fridays.” Rosita said.
Marianna looked at Rosita and looked away, she didn’t look too happy.
“Let’s just wait for the ladies and we’ll get started with our prayer meeting and spiritual talk session.” She said stiffly.
Rosita looked at Marianna and asked.
“You look lovely today, I love your crop jacket and your jumpsuit. It’s a jumpsuit right?” Rosita asked, referring to the outfit Marianna wore beneath the crop jacket.
“Thanks. How are your children?” Marianna asked.
“They are fine…Manuel is enrolling for the soccer team in his school and Anita is joining the ballet class. I can’t believe that they are just four and five and they’re already doing big things.” Rosita started. “I’m such a proud mother.”
Marianna nodded and blinked, she hated hearing Rosita’s constant chatter about her children.
“How’s Ifeanyi?” Rosita asked about Marianna’s husband.
“He’s fine…he went for one of his business trips as usual.” Marianna said.
Rosita spied Marianna’s outfit again, she was always the best dressed of all the women in the Women of Faith prayer group.
“I bet he’ll return again with a truck-load of nice things for his beautiful wife.”
“He spoils me silly.” She said.
“My husband only buys things for our children but I don’t mind. I’m not really the shopping type. Anita’s closet is so full of clothes and Manuel’s…”
Marianna raised her hand to silence her friend.
“Can you stop it already? Why can’t you be considerate for once in your life?”
Rosita was stunned by her friend’s words, she wondered where the anger was coming from.
“What…what is going on?” She asked. “What should I stop?”
“You are not the only one with children in our group but you talk about your children every chance you get. Don’t you realize that the more you talk about them, the more I feel bad because I don’t have any children of my own?”
Rosita stared at Marianna and didn’t know what to say, she had never intended to make her friend and prayer partner feel bad.
“I…I never meant for ….” She started.
Just then, Patricia rushed into the small hall, she looked a sight. Her eyes were swollen and her face glistened with tears. Marianna and Rosita looked at her in concern.
“What is wrong? Why are you crying?” Rosita asked.
“It’s Anna….Anna…” Patricia cried.
“Anna? What happened?” Marianna asked clutching her chest with her palms.
“She…she’s dead.” Patricia blurted and fell to the ground in tears.
Marianna and Rosita looked at Patricia, it all felt like a joke.
“This…this is a joke right? We’re in April…that’s why you’re trying to prank us. April fool’s day was over a week ago.” Rosita said.
“This…morning…just before I left my house, I received a call from her husband…she…she went out to get some eggs from the supermarket down the street when a truck driver lost control of his vehicle and hit her and she…she… died on the spot.” Patricia wailed.
Rosita and Marianna stared, there were no words.
Rosita sat at the dinning of her house and stared at the cup of tea in her hands, it was the first time today that she’d decided to feed herself. Anna’s wake keep and burial seemed like a dream. Her friend and prayer partner had died, leaving three children and a grieving husband behind. She couldn’t understand what was happening. She recalled the day that Patricia had broken the news to her and Marianna, it was two weeks ago but it seemed like yesterday.
“How could she have died just like that? I thought that God’s promise to us is that we are safe from all mishap. Why didn’t He prevent the accident?’ She sniffed, and then looked up to the ceiling of her house. “Why God? We’ve been serving you even before we were married, we have dedicated ten years of our lives to serving you. We started the Women of Faith sister fellowship to fuel our faith and grow closer to you but you abandoned us when we needed you. Why did you have to take Anna? Of all the people in the world, of all the sinners, you picked the righteous Anna. Anna was the one who started the Women of Faith fellowship. The hall we use for prayers belong to her uncle and we’ve been using it free of charge these past few years. How can you do this to us? Why did you have to take Anna? Why?” She cried.
She sat there, cradling the cup of tea in her hands while tears streamed down her face.
Marianna curled on the ground beside her bed and wept, her husband was out on business as usual so she was home alone with a few of her husband’s relatives. The five bedroom detached duplex where she lived was quiet as it was the dead of the night.
As she cried, Anna’s face kept flashing before her eyes. Anna, the thirty- year old friend she’d met ten years ago through Rosita. She remembered Anna’s wedding, and the day she’d had her first child and then the second, as well as the third. Anna was the best of the group of the four women, she was compassionate, loving, kind and very generous. Anna never left her wardrobe full, she always gave out her clothes to those who didn’t have any. She was the leader of the pack, the very first one to have suggested that they build a Women of Faith sisters fellowship. She had made each and every one of them more invested in the work of God. Anna was the philanthropist, the God lover and the one who settled quarrels and made sure that everyone was in good terms. In fact she was obsessed with everything that had to do with Christ but now, He had taken her away from them.
“Why God? Why? How can you do this to us? She was just thirty years old! She had not even started living life….she…she…” She burst into tears.
Patricia sat in her apartment and stared at her ring-less finger, she was the only one of her group of friends who was still single and waiting for the right man to make her his wife. She stared at her bare fingers and cried, she remembered the life of her friend, Anna and sobbed some more. Anna had been her roomie in the University of Ibadan, they had been the best of pals and even though there was a year gap in their ages, they were inseparable. Anna had introduced her to Rosita who happened to be her childhood friend and Rosita had introduced them to Marianna and that was how a friendship of ten years was formed. Luckily, they were all born-again so it was easy to create the ‘Women of Faith sisters fellowship’.
Five years ago, Anna had decided to form the prayer group, ‘Women of Faith’, it was her aim to build a deeper relationship with Christ and she’d invited her friends to join in. At first, they’d wanted to make it a large group filled with women with thirst for God’s word but on second thoughts, they decided to make it a group for the four of them. The Women of Faith group was a kind of escape, a place they sought solace every Friday morning and a place where they prayed and felt God’s presence. The Women of Faith sisters’ fellowship held them together like pieces in a puzzle. In the Women of Faith prayer group, they prayed for themselves and made everyone’s problem, a priority. It was a chain of godly women and it was like a family gathering.
Rosita was always the first to arrive the prayer meeting, she was a stay-at-home mom so, she was able to make it to the venue first before the rest trickled in. Marianna was a big time fashion designer who ran her own business and Anna had been a caterer, always baking the best pastries for every gathering. Patricia was a marketing executive at a top multinational company and her Fridays were free as she made sure to keep up with clients from Monday through to Thursdays. The ladies had created a perfect schedule for themselves in order to pray and grow closer to God.
What would happen now that Anna was gone? Anna had been the cheerleader, the perfect supportive friend, the prayer warrior, the counsellor. What would happen now that she was dead?
Patricia brought out the bottle of vodka she’d bought from the store that evening and opened the bottle. She hardly ever drank as the most she could have was a glass of red wine but today, she was throwing caution to the wind. Seven hours ago, she’d stood beside her best friend’s husband and children and watched as her beloved friend was lowered to the earth.
Her eyes watered as she pushed the bottle into her mouth and drank. She was tired of it all. Where were God’s promises? Didn’t His word say that He will never let harm come to His faithful? What was the point of serving a God who could do away with one of His most faithful children as though she didn’t matter? She recalled some the pastor’s words at the gravesite.
“God gives, God takes. It is His will.”
“What will?” Patricia cried. “God isn’t loyal to anyone! Look at the sinners, the unrighteous…they are living life like it’s golden. Look at the evil people in the world, they are the ones basking in God’s promises. If God can take Anna away from us…if He can…” She cried.
Her phone rang and she jolted, she looked at the caller ID, it was Rosita, she sighed and answered the phone.
“What do you want?” She spat with a teary voice.
“You’re angry too…right?” Rosita asked. “Don’t worry dear, all will be well.”
“All will be well? Anna is dead! Nothing will ever be the same again.”
Rosita paused at the end of the line.
“I was thinking of organizing our meeting for this Friday…”
“I am not interested.”
“Patricia, don’t say that…please…”
“What do you want me to say? God is making a fool out of us. He’s taken Anna from us. Anna was the one with the good life, she had a good husband and kids, she was the foundation of our prayer group but now she’s gone.”
“I understand that you are upset, I am upset too.”
“If you are upset, then stop calling me to ask if I’m coming for a stupid prayer meeting.”
“Patricia! There’s a reason for everything under the sun and…”
“Stop fooling yourself. Look at all of us. How long have we served God? Ten good years! I was an every Sunday service goer till Anna pointed me towards Christ’s direction. From then on, I changed my ways. I was a virgin when I started my walk with Christ and I am still a virgin today but where is the God-fearing man that God is supposed to send my way? Where is he?”
“Patricia, you’re getting things twisted…”
“Shut up and let me speak. Look at your life for instance, you are the most prayerful woman I know and you have a good life with two beautiful children but being the perfect wife and mother didn’t stop your husband from cheating on you.”
She could hear Rosita’s sharp intake of breath.
“Since the movie, ‘War Room’ came out, you’ve been watching it and praying so hard for your husband to come to his senses but lai lai….the guy has refused to zip his pants.” Patricia continued. “Look at Marianne, she’s so gorgeous, and even with all her beauty, intelligence and godly life, she’s still childless. What have we done wrong to God? How could we have decided to dedicate ourselves to serve Him and He decides to deal with us this way?” She cried.
“Anna won’t be happy to hear you say this.” Rosita said.
Patricia let out a harsh shout of laughter.
“Anna? Did you call the name Anna? Are you talking about the Anna whose body is decaying right now in the earth?”
“You are hurt Patricia and so am I. I will pray tonight for all of us who are grieving for Anna…”
“Save your saliva my darling. I’m done with prayers. If you don’t have anything useful to say to me, goodnight.” Patricia said and ended the call.
Patricia tossed her phone to the corner and picking up her bottle of Vodka, she drowned herself in it.
To be continued…..