Folake was sipping on garri in her office when her phone started ringing. She ignored the call. She had a ton of reports to review and forward to Mr. Ekweremadu. She took a scoop of garri with a hand and scrolled through a document on her iPad with the other, eyes fixed on her screen.
Her phone beeped. She hissed and picked up the phone.
-Sister mi, I think mummy is on the brink of a nervous breakdown-
Folake pushed her chair back and put her fingertips on her temples. She was tired, mentally and emotionally drained. Why must her family always spring one drama after another? What now? She hissed and glanced at her iPad, at her gaping drawer crammed with files of work begging for her attention.
Why did she think she was capable of taking on the task of head of advertising? She went against Ben Onuoha, that fierce epitome of panache and skill, and thinking back on it, she realized how much Ben was like Seun. Yet, Mr Ekweremadu chose her and the board agreed to his decision. Perhaps, the position was best suited for a male.
Folake, you’re probably not that good after all. Look at how you’re failing already.
Folake drew a deep breath. She picked her phone and called Erin.
“What’s the matter?”
“Mummy is not eating; she’s not saying anything. She bursts into tears sporadically and starts saying, ‘I killed him, oh, I killed him.’”
“Killed who?” Folake asked, pressing the heel of her hand to her temples while she wedged up the phone to her ear with a raised shoulder. She knew who her Mum was referring to. It was none other than Mr. Adeyanju and Folake could not deny the fact that she had thought the same thing before.
“She won’t say.” Erin replied. “But I think it’s daddy she’s talking about. I have Tope to look after and now mummy. I don’t know, I don’t know. Can you come around?” Erin sighed.
“I’ll come after work.”
“Thank you, thank you, sister mi. I feel overwhelmed.”
Folake could tell that Erin was crying. “Erin, hang in there. You are a warrior. The challenges of life can’t break you.”
Erin sniveled. “Yes, I can’t be broken.”
Folake dropped the phone and burst into tears.
Folake got the family house at 8:30pm. She met her Mum on the veranda, staring down at her fingers and sobbing.
“Mummy, ekurole, ma.” Folake knelt before her mother. “Mummy, what’s the matter?”
Mrs. Adeyanju said nothing.
“He died of hypertension; you didn’t kill him.”
She looked away and her sobs hiccupped to a stop. “But you know what triggered his hypertension.”
Folake was mute.
“It was me! I killed him!” The force of her words jolted Folake. Mrs. Adeyanju’s eyes were wide, her chest heaving.
What surprised Folake was not her mother’s strong feelings about her husband’s death but how belated it was. Her dad died seven years ago. Why was her mum going crazy over it now?
Mrs. Adeyanju jumped to her feet and for a moment, Folake wondered if her Mum had taken a shot of heroin too.
“Woli is here.” She was already running inside the house.
Folake straightened and looked in the direction her Mum had been looking. She saw a man in a neat native attire, holding a small white keg in his hand and housing a big Bible in his armpit. The moment Folake saw him, there was an inexplicable disturbance in her, a vehement stirring in her spirit. She turned into the house, praying under her breath.
Erin was sweeping the living room when Folake came in. She dropped her broom and ran to hug Folake. Folake couldn’t even be excited.
The door flew open.
“Alafia fun onile o, (peace be unto this house)” Woli Halleluyah boomed before stepping across the threshold.
“Call your mother.” There was a compelling audacity to his voice.
Mrs. Adeyanju came from her room, her tears wiped. She was smiling. “Alagba, good evening sir.” She went down on her knees.
“I have seen a vision.” He approached her. “danger looms around you like flies. Death has clung to you like a circlet. Confusion and darkness and haze have taken over your mind, there i-”
“Tell us the vision.” Folake stopped him as she settled in a chair.
Woli Halleluyah looked at her. “It is beyond words. I see death-”
“Then let’s pray.” Folake interjected again.
“Folake, have you lost your mind?” Mrs Adeyanju barked. “let the man of God speak!”
“Mummy, we are on the same page.” Erin said. “if there is danger, we should pray.”
Erin and Folake sprang to their feet.
“Father we bless your holy name!” Folake raised her hands heavenward. “We thank you merciful father. We glorify your name for we know that you have disarmed principalities and powers. We thank you because with you is the fountain of life and in your light we see light.”
Erin paced. “Jesus we glorify your name. Your name that has been lifted above every other name. Halleluyah to the lamb upon the throne, the lamb that was slain fr-”
“Shut up!” Woli Halleluyah was seething. “what we need is warfare prayers! Not thanksgiving.”
Mrs. Adeyanju nodded.
Erin smiled. “Sir, this is warfare.” She closed her eyes and continued praying.
Folake and Erin continued praying according to scriptures, dislodging fear and darkness as they did.
Woli Halleluyah was sweating profusely and this confused Mrs. Adeyanju.
“I’m leaving!” He huffed and made for the door.
Mrs. Adeyanju blocked his path, seeing a glimpse of a side of him she had never seen. Was that fear in his eyes?
“Woli, it’s just prayers. Let’s join them.” Mrs. Adeyanju said. By now, Erin and Folake were rattling in tongues, charging up the atmosphere.
“Your daughters are ignorant fools and your death is-”
“We shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord!” Folake declared audaciously.
Woli Halleluyah gasped, clutching his side. He lurched and stumbled. He landed on his haunch. Mrs. Adeyanju gaped. Erin and Folake didn’t stop praying.
“Please, let me go.” Woli’s voice was plaintive now, almost quavering even.
“Hitherto, you have deceived the unsuspecting and you’ve perverted the gospel, making it a means of gain.” Folake spoke to him. “henceforth, your hands shall not perform their wicked enterprise!”
“Amen!” Erin uttered.
“You will die a slow death. Shame will wrap its hands around you till life is snuffed out of you.” Woli’s jabbed a finger at Mrs Adeyanju. “Your husband’s spirit is seeking vengeance, he wi-”
“Quiet!” Erin snapped. “Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?”
“Who dares bring a charge against the ones the Lord has justified?” Folake looked around dramatically, as though challenging unseen foes. Erin burst into laughter and clapped, she switched to tongues, pacing back and forth. “who? Step forward.”
Woli Halleluyah stayed mute. He was a trembling bundle on the floor.
“Please let me go.”
“No. You have stepped into the atmosphere of Jesus. You are implicated by our presence here. We carry the Light, darkness cannot escape.” Folake retorted. “You spirit of divination and deception, I cast you out by the power in the name of Jesus.” She didn’t shout, she didn’t make a show of it. With simple, clear words, she exorcised the demons. Woli wriggled and slithered, scattering things. He sprawled himself on the floor and sneezed. A live scorpion crawled right out of his nostril, eliciting a gasp from Erin and causing Mrs. Adeyanju to scream, ‘Eje Jesu!’
Folake’s blood curdled as she watched the scorpion vanish out of sight. Woli opened his eyes and stood up slowly. His eyes were distraught and filled with tears.
“Rhoda,” he pointed to Mrs. Adeyanju. “your wicked daughters have taken away my call.”
Mrs. Adeyanju eyeballed him. “to ba pe ko to kuro nbi, (if you spend an extra second here) I will call the police and tell the whole world that you are a wizard hiding behind a pulpit.”
Woli made for the door.
Mrs. Adeyanju made a hissing sound to call his attention. “You are forgetting something.” She pointed to his keg of holy water and Bible. “Get lost with your lies and garbage!”
Erin put a hand on her mum’s elbow to calm her. Woli picked his things and left. No sooner had he left the Adeyanju’s compound than he started coughing up blood, stricken by the same demons he had followed and served for decades.
“I have been such a fool.” Mrs. Adeyanju whispered slowly. She was breathless and was drinking her third glass of water. She shook her head, staring through the kitchen window with unblinking eyes that were fast filling up. Erin hugged and rocked her slowly.
“It’s okay, mummy.”
Mrs. Adeyanju shrugged off Erin’s arm. “No, I’ve been a fool. How couldn’t I see clearly all these years?”
“Mummy, there was a blindfold over your eyes. It was spiritual.” Folake said.
“Do you remember Dolapo?”
Erin and Folake looked at each other, clueless.
“Dolapo now, that girl that used to play keyboard in church when you were younger.”
“Oh,” FK nodded. “Yeah, what about her?”
Mrs. Adeyanju shook her head. “Her Mum called me last week. She was in tears. Dolapo is married with children now, but her mum is not welcome in her life or her home. Mummy Dolapo has not set her eyes on her grand children since they were born. Dolapo’s first born is about six years old.”
Erin shook her head. “Wow! Why?”
Mrs. Adeyanju scoffed. “Mummy Dolapo offended her Prophet. That was it. She was unable to meet up with the deadline of a seed-vow and from there on she stopped going to his mountain. He decided to punish her by turning his daughter against her.”
“What?” Folake was incredulous.
“But how would Dolapo fall so easily for the prophet’s lies?”
“Here’s the thing. There was a root of bitterness in Dolapo’s heart. When Dolapo was a lot younger, Mummy Dolapo’s prophet told her that Dolapo was a possessed child, that she was the one holding back Mummy Dolapo’s financial breakthrough. They deprived Dolapo of food for days and took her through exorcism processes. Terrible, terrible things they do in the name of casting out spirits.
So, it was very easy to make Dolapo believe that her Mum was a witch. A few dreams, a couple of prophecies delivered by different men sent and strategically positioned by the same prophet and Dolapo barred her Mum’s number and told her estate security guards to never let her in.”
Silence filled the room as Erin and Folake took in what they had just heard and Mrs. Adeyanju pondered. She burst into tears.
“It could have been me. I can’t imagine my own children shutting me out of their lives because they believe I’m a witch. But it could have happened if you two were as stupid as I am, you could have been turned against me.”
“Mummy, Hebrews thirteen verse nine says, do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.” Erin spoke calmly.
Folake nodded. “That’s right. Ephesians four verse fourteen says that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,”
Mrs. Adeyanju nodded, smiling. “I’m surrounded by real prophets. I desire what you have. I’ve been too proud to submit to learn, and I’ve paid dearly for my ignorance. I want to be established; I want to grow. I want maturity. I’m tired of being tossed around by unprofitable nonsense.”
Folake lifted her face. “Glory to God!”
“I’m done with churches. I’m just going to stay at home, read my Bible and know my God on my own.”
Erin smiled. “Mummy, the fact that you’ve been hurt by imposters doesn’t mean you should totally jettison the place a local assembly or the leadership of a pastor. The same Bible teaches us not to despise the fellowship of the brethren. We have benefitted from sound churches. There are still sound churches were the doctrine of Christ and the apostles is upheld with integrity and devotion. In raising his children, God still uses his children. We need one another in the body of Christ. We need spiritual leadership, as God himself said in Jeremiah three verse fifteen, he will give us shepherds according to his heart who will feed us with knowledge and understanding.”
“What we are facing with false prophets in this age is not at all a new challenge. It has been in existence since Bible days. In 2 timothy three verse six, Paul talks about the sort of men who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins and led away by various lusts.”
Mrs. Adeyanju shook her head. “The Bible says that?”
Erin and Folake nodded simultaneously.
Mrs. Adeyanju hissed in regret. “I wish I had submitted early to studying the scriptures and knowing the Lord. I let a prophet lie to me about my husband. A man I knew and lived with. For years, I hid my money from him. When he got to know that I had built two houses while we were going through serious lack at home, it was too much to take in.” Mrs. Adeyanju shut her eyes.
Folake remembered. Her father’s hands were on his head as he walked around the house aimlessly. His mantra was, ‘I’ve been living with a woman I don’t know.’ And in response her Mum had said, ‘I simply did what the Lord asked of me.’
Mr. Adeyanju moved out of the house. He died few months later. It was said that he gave up on life. He refused to treat his high blood pressure or take care of himself. He was broken and betrayed and he never got up. And it all started with a vision, a prophecy. Needless to say, while Mrs. Adeyanju kept her money away from her husband, the prophet was feeding off of her purse.
Mrs. Adeyanju’s shoulders were shaking as she sobbed. Folake and Erin hugged her. Tope walked in on them; his brows were furrowed in confusion.
“Don’t just stare, come and join us and make the family hug complete.” Erin said.
Tope scoffed. “I’ll pass.”
Mrs Adeyanju scrunched up her nose at him. “He’s forming big boy niyen o.”
“Aunty FK, you didn’t tell me you’d be coming over now. I for cook better for you.”
Yeah, Top boy could be a good cook when he wants to be.
Folake’s phone rang. She excused herself to take the call.
Erin struggled to concentrate on the Bible she was reading. She was distracted by her sister’s laughter that floated from the bathroom of the room they shared. Folake had been on the phone for over fifteen minutes and it was Seun she was discussing with, giving him a detailed account of how her day went. Wasn’t he a disciple Folake was raising? Why was she being so familiar with him? Why was she even raising a he in the first place? Why was she telling him of the whole fiasco with Woli?
Erin drew a deep breath and turned on her side. She remembered the whole shampoo thing and how restless she had been. Was something really wrong or was she just being paranoid? If something was off, FK would notice. FK was sensitive and discerning. She was the first to intercept Woli with the Word earlier today.
Holy Spirit, give me light.
She decided to pray with Folake that night. If there was anything that was fishy, they’d gain clarity about it in the place of prayer. If there was a need for caution, they’d know as they sought the face of God. She didn’t want to come across as critical of Folake’s convert or suspicious of Folake herself. She didn’t want her sister to feel the need to close up. They’d first pray.
Folake stepped out of the bathroom, yawning.
“Sister mi, I think we should take some time to pray together.”
“That’d be nice o. But babes, after the whole episode with Woli, I’m tired to the bone.”
“I know, eve-”
“Plus,” Folake cut Erin off. “I have to leave this place really early tomorrow morning. You know how far this place is from my office. The last thing I want is to get a query from my boss for arriving late. Spirituality is no excuse for tardiness.”
Erin sighed. “Even five minutes?”
Folake rolled her eyes. “Fine.” She plunked on the bed. “Do the honors.”
Erin kept the prayer short but even with that, Folake slept off before she was done. Now, Erin was sure there was danger ahead. If Folake was like this towards prayers then there was indeed danger ahead.
Erin picked her Bible and journal and stepped out of the room. She had to stand in the gap for her sister. She wanted to go to the guest room to pray when it occurred to her that the generator house might still be open. It was unsafe to leave the generator house unlocked. Miscreants scaled fences and stole generators in the neighborhood. She decided to check the generator house.
As Erin approached the generator house, she saw the door ajar and inside she saw the frame of a man camping on the generator. She stopped dead in her tracks, her heart thumping wildly. She backtracked slowly and ran into the house to pick a knife and a torch. She’d blind the thief with a flood of light and raise an alarm. It was a feeble plan but was the best she could come up with on the spot.
When Erin flashed the torch, she saw something that made the knife slip from her hand and clatter to the ground. It was Tope on the generator, holding his leg with on hand and injecting something between his toes with the other.
Tope jumped and stared at his sister. He was caught red-handed.
Erin went back into the house, feeling dispirited.
Is Tope out of his mind? Is Tope a mad goat? Is he trying to kill himself? Isn’t he considerate at all? Can’t he see how his foolishness is affecting all of us?
Erin was angry. She came home for the holiday with the hope of getting a break from stress and getting some to time to unwind and be refreshed. But right now, she wished she’d stayed back in school. It was from one fiasco to the other in this house. If her mum wasn’t losing her marbles over guilt and silly false prophets, it’d be Folake and her sketchy disciple/boyfriend/whatever. And now Tope.
She went into the guest room.
“God, I am tired o. I’m really upset. Ah ah.”
Tope entered the room and fell on his knees, pleading. “I beg you in the name of God, don’t tell Mummy.” Tears rolled down his eyes. “She’d throw me out.”
“At this point, I think you should actually be glad to be thrown to the streets. Cos, from where I’m standing, it seems that’s what you desire. You want to live the life of an agbero, not so?”
“Please bring down your voice, Erin. I beg you.”
“What bothers you is mummy finding out? You’re not bothered by the fact that your life is going to pieces? Tope, do you think at all? No, really, do you think about your life?” Erin was on a roll and she couldn’t stop. “If you don’t care about your life, can you at least consider the rest of us? We are paying through our noses to put you through therapy, see how you threw all of us into dismay and got us running from pillar to post when you almost died the other day. Now, you’re hiding in the gen house, injecting heroin between your toes so your doctor won’t notice new track lines. Who do you think you’re fooling?”
Erin was shaking with frustration and crying. Tope stood up and came closer to Erin.
“I’ve tried. I swear, I’ve tried.” Tope’s voice was shaky, his feet tapping away and his fingers working feverishly at his side. “this shit just has such a strong hold over me. Whenever the urge comes it’s so strong, so forceful. My will power carried me for awhile but before long, I buckled. Salako gave me a fresh stock and advised me to inject it between my toes. I know I’m a mess. I’ll try harder, I won’t do it again, I swear I won’t.”
Erin sighed and closed her eyes. Resolutions, vows, promises. How may times did she vow that she’d never masturbate again during those years of struggle? How many pledges and promises did she write in her journal while she struggled to please the Lord in her strength?
Tope’s case isn’t different. Different fruits, same root. Different symptoms, same sickness and same cure: salvation, the word, a renewed mind, a heart submitted to the Spirit.
“You can’t conquer the flesh by the flesh, Top boy.” Erin held Tope’s trembling hand. “I’ve battled addiction before.”
Tope’s eyes widened. “You have?” There was a lilt of hope in his voice.
Erin nodded. “And I can tell you that resolutions and trying in your power won’t cut it. You need a power beyond yourself to overcome sin. A power that comes from being a child of God. John 1:12 tells us that as many as receive Jesus receive the power to become children of God. True liberation is in Jesus, Tope. Liberation from sin and death is in Jesus.”
Tope nodded. “I am ready. I am ready to receive this power. I want to become I child of God. I am tired of this life of sin and shame.”
Erin wiped her brother’s tears, while hers dried on her smiling face.
That day in the guest room, she led Tope to Christ and instructed him to avoid Salako. She decided to tell her Mum that they’d need to change Tope’s lesson centre. He wouldn’t achieve much progress if he didn’t lay aside weights around his feet like Salako.
Together, Erin and Tope interceded for their family that night. She saw Tope through new eyes. He was a budding warrior, a mighty man of valor in the making. She smiled.
This is my brother.
Seun toked on marijuana as he and Goke watched a football match on their newly installed 46-inch TV. It was there sprawled on the wall, an imposing expanse of luxury. A statement their wealth. It felt good to watch a match without worrying about one’s bet, to watch without the pressure and anxiety, to fully enjoy the entertainment of the match.
“See sweet chance wey this mumu waste.” Goke uttered, inching forward in his seat. “Pass the ball now, ode!”
Seun’s phone beeped in his pocket. He’ll check his messages after the match. His phone started ringing. He brought his phone out of his pocket and glanced at the screen. The caller was Felicity. His heart skipped. Why would Felicity be calling him this late at night?
“Hello Felicity, what’s up?”
“Seun,” Felicity voice came over the line with a strain that made Seun bolt from his seat and stand erect.
Nothing must happen to my baby.
“Wetin happen?” Goke queried.
Seun ignored him. “Felicity, are you fine?”
“Can you come over?”
Seun was already looking around for his car keys. “I’m on my way already.”
The call ended. On the other end, Felicity took a swig of her red wine and chortled.
Click here to get the book which contains the complete story of Ghetto Bloom.