By Mankhokwe Namusanya:
Before this, he used to be prayerful. Night of prayers. Fasting. And Bible verses. The things religious people do.
Fridays, like today, he would be in the mountains by the time the sun sinks. Saturdays, eyes tired and flesh overpowered, he would jump into a dry fasting —that one with not even water allowed. Sundays, the icing on the cake of religiosity; it would be a whole day.
Those hypnotic trances—if you are an unbeliever — where people are taken in spirit – if you believe in such, he knows them. From both angles. In secondary school, he went into one —of many. In college, he sent his first one – of many – into them.
If you ask him about those things now, if they are real, he will either say they are real or prefer to not attack what he used to be. He will not, in a mocking or even respectful fashion, dismiss them. That is the distance he maintains with his old self, the religious person: respectful, kind and gracious.
It never ended acrimoniously like a journey of a gospel sojourner in a foreign land.
When it was coming to an end, he did not even know it. Because he met her in the church. And you may have over a million reservations for people you meet in Church, but you would hardly have for a sister whom God leads you to in prayers.
“How did he do it, God, leading you to her?”
“Those things are spiritual, a carnal mind would not understand.” The way he says carnal, he still has the vestiges of Pentecostal Christianity on him.
However, it was done. he got the message. When he relayed the information to her, she said she should pray over it. God should show her too. You, of carnal mind, would never understand this; those whose minds are not carnal know why this is important.
He did not push. She came back. The Lord had confirmed what he had seen.
They hit the road. The first days, those days of uncertainty in a relationship when you tell the truth and block all other potentials, it was religious. The Bible says no to sex outside of marriage? They said no to spending time in a place where they would be tempted. The Bible says that one must not admire another person when they have another (check me on this those of you conversant with the gospel). They did not just admire, they opened up to each other when they felt one drawing closer than necessary.
But the human flesh is weak. Its function, apart from carrying our consciousness, is to shame those who assume a rank next to divinity. In one unguarded moment, it let them down.
The details are not important. It is the trajectory afterwards that is important.
“After that first day, there was regret. And shame. And sadness. I felt dirty, incomplete and un-whole. I remember going on an Esther’s fast for three days from there.”
It only helped for those days of the fast. The road not taken had been taken. Just at the end of the fast, he was back in the ways of sin. Feeling guilt after that was a luxury. He embraced his fallen status with grace.
The positions at the Church, he still had them. The prayers, he still made. Sending people in trances? He did that as well. It was just that he lived two lives. One before the Church people, another with a Church person.
If the story was mine, and in fiction, I would make her get pregnant. And either finish it with her getting complications from unsafe abortion or have a false abortion. Either way, I would have wanted the whole story to come to light in the most undignified of ways. But the story is not mine…
“She never got pregnant. She found herself, in the rubble of sins, and stretched her hand to a pastor from another Church who rescued her…”
The day she told him that she could not continue with the sinful life was not the day he lost his faith. Neither was the day that he got the card of her marriage.
“It was long after I thought that episode was gone. I thought I had healed and moved on.”
It was hard, apparently, to return to that old prayerful life. If anything, when she left and he realised that there was nothing for him, he went playful – not far from Church. Relationship this week. A fortnight later, a new one.
“There was no need to wait for directions from God. It was what it was…”
Until the weight of that life caught up with him.
“I just could not. I was tired.”
He quit. There were a few options. He could have gone to his Pastor, make a confession and perhaps deliver another in Church. They could pray for him. But that seemed a hard option.
“I was deep in, man. Irredeemable. Written off.”
He decided to embrace his sinful life with grace.
“Has it been easy?”
“No, it has not been. But it has been manageable. The weight of having to run and hide from the eyes and tongues of Church elders was making me insane…”
These days, he takes his bottle with peace and honesty. His women? As well with the same openness. And they are not from Church. He says it is on a matter of principle, and belief. The good book says it is wrong to cause anyone to sin.
Lately, there is that feeling. A calling.
“It is as if I am wanted back there. But man, I have done worse things to go back to that life. I counted my losses and moved on. I am not happy here, not comfortable here. But I feel at home.”