Madam Sade Olatise decided to move in with her sister for better care. Sade had just retired from the Civil Service and was alone in the house most of the time. Her three children, all male, were all married and living in other states. One lived in the US. Her health had been an issue ever since. Her blood pressure and blood sugar competed with each other on which would torment her more. She lived on drugs and was sometimes in and out of the hospital. Once her doctor diagnosed that her blood pressure was rising excessively, he would keep her in the hospital to avoid a major crisis.
Having lived without a husband since her late thirties, Sade was not alien to loneliness. Her husband abandoned her when their last child was seven years old. She had to look for extra sources of income to augment her meager salary as a civil servant and raise her children. Their father dated a woman who was his bank manager then. She was overaged and unmarried. She lured her handsome customer with money and eventually married him. That was the end of a phase for Sade.
Now about twenty-five years after, her children are all made and settled but her health deteriorated. Her decision to move in with her younger sister was based on fear. If she suffered a crisis in the middle of the night, who would come to her aid? The girl who lived with her could defeat Jonah in a sleep competition. Besides, her sister, Funbi was a widow who lived with her last daughter and a housemaid in the excessively big house her celebrity husband built before dying in a plane crash. So, Sade gave her three-bedroom house to tenants and moved to Ekiti State. Family and friends applauded her decision as the best.
Life was fun for the two sisters at first. They would go together to church and market. Sade would keep the house and cook while her sister went to work. Funbi worked as a Senior Accountant in the Federal Polytechnic. She had the ambition of becoming the Bursar before retiring in about a couple of years away. Sade was thinking of the business to venture into. Her interest was not in the money but to keep her mind engaged. She had since gone to register in her sister’s private hospital and come under the management of the doctor.
Barely six months into her stay in Funbi’s house, Sade noticed some changes in her sister’s attitude. Funbi would like to do things that they did together alone. She would just pick up her car keys and go to the market without informing Sade. Sometimes she would cook her own food alone and inform Sade that she should go and get herself something if she wanted. It was becoming obvious that there was a problem somewhere. Sade initially explained it away in her mind. ‘Maybe it’s mood swings occasioned by menopause’, she thought. Later, Funbi’s attitude became too loud to be ignored. Sade thought perhaps her sister needed some space. So, she offered to move into the boy’s quarters. Funbi agreed.
Sade cried her heart out the first night she slept alone in the boy’s quarters. She had never prayed like that since she gave her life to Jesus after her husband left her with their three boys. She went over the journey of her life from the beginning. She remembered their parents, how she had always been best of friends with Funbi since childhood, their elder brother in the village, and her failed marriage. She thought of her complicated health and her children, the only point of joy in her life. That night, she prayed fervently to God. She asked Him if her life was coming to an end before the seventy years He promised. She spent the whole night in prayer and slept.
The following day, she went to the market after Funbi had gone to work. On the way, she saw a group of young people distributing fliers and they gave her one. It was publicity for the Great Gospel Crusade. The popular evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke was coming to town. It caught her interest. She had heard the announcement in church on Sunday but it did not attract her attention like this flier. She made up her mind to attend. She told Funbi when she got home and invited her so they could go together but, Funbi showed no interest.
Stories of people getting out of the wheelchairs when the evangelist ministered started to excite Sade. She felt somewhere within her that something would happen to her at the crusade. It was not long before her heart sank. Her own condition was incurable. She only had to be managing it well with prescribed drugs and foods. She still made up her mind to attend the programme nonetheless. In the one week the programme took place, Sade did not miss any. She attended both morning and evening sessions. Sometimes her sister’s gate man would have locked the car gate before she came. On one of the nights, she left her car outside overnight, used her key to open the pedestrian gate and walked inside. She could not stop wondering if it’s possible that Funbi could have said something negative to the gate man about her. His rudeness called for such suspicion but she merely brushed it aside and moved on.
The fifth day of the programme was the greatest. Sade usually sat in front because she came early. She did not expect anything to happen to her incurable condition at the crusade. She only enjoyed the presence and power of God. But that Friday night, as the man of God began to pray, walking sticks and wheelchairs flew in the air. Artificial legs followed as new legs sprouted in their places. Crippled legs straightened out with the tempo of creation. It was an unforgettable night of power. The atmosphere was electrifying and the power of God was palpable everywhere. Suddenly from the podium, the man of God pointed at Sade and asked her to step forward. She was already shaking like a jellyfish because of the tangible power of God all around her. The Evangelist said nothing. He only laid his hand on her and a thousand electric current wires seemed to shock her body all over. But for the ready ushers, she would have been injured as she fell on the floor like a pack of cards.
It took about thirty minutes before she could get up from the floor. She noticed that she had vomited while under the power. Her body was very light when she got up. She felt younger and free. That night when she slept, she dreamt and found herself in a theatre. A Doctor attended to her. His attendants wore white and surrounded the operating table. The Doctor drained out all the blood in her system. Then He used a syringe to draw blood from His own body and transfused her.
The following morning at the fire conference, the coordinator of the morning sessions called her after the programme. He said he had noticed her regular attendance at all the sessions. He informed her that the ministry was recruiting intercessors and asked if she was interested and available to relocate to the US. Sade wanted to pinch herself to see if it was a dream. They collected her passport to process a visa for her. Three months after, she was ready to travel. Her son in the US was the happiest about it.
By this time, Funbi barely talked with her sister. She would sometimes travel without saying it. The night Sade asked to see her for a discussion, she was all cocked up again. Sade thanked her heartily for taking her in and managing her presence. She did not say much but informed her that her flight was the following week.
Funbi was stung as if by a bee. For the first time in months, she dropped off the garb of pride and was calm as her sister spoke. The following day as she saw her sister packing her stuff, she went to meet her in the boy’s quarters. It was her first time of stepping in to her elder sister’s room at the back of her kitchen. She simply knelt down before her sister and began to cry.
‘I don’t know what came over me, I’m sorry, ‘sister’. She said amidst sobs.
‘I thought you would be like the daughter I never had. But that would have made me so comfortable I would have missed out on God’s miracle and plan’.
‘But I’m happy for you’.
‘I thank you very much for the time I stayed here. I forgive you for everything you have done. It is time to move on’.
Omolara Owoeye is a professor of English Language at Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.