Brother James ati Sister Rebecca (I)

by ahjotnaija

I cannot remember when Brother James, Coordinator and later Substantial Pastor of Ifelodun Branch of the Church of God, moved to Ijoko.

Unlike Brother Gbade, who moved to Ijoko at a time when we could plant watermelon. He brought and introduced Chinese yams from the School of Agriculture he attended where he got his Ordinary National Diploma in the Monotechnic.

He attended a Monotechnic at a time when nobody knew what it was and the idea was not popular among young people of that time. I saw his certificate that he placed carefully between books, one of which was the Bible. That was that one time that Moomi allowed me to sleep over at his place.

Brother Gbade moved to Ijoko to live and settle down. The latter part was realised when he prayed and saw the Will of God to marry Sister Kafaya, a Single Mother. We heard he was an old man who had his family already but Sister Kafaya fell for him, but she had since realised the error. She accepted Christ and stayed single in Christ all the while.

She left. To focus on Jesus, her child and her life. But she did or could not leave until the child had been scarified in the face with a minus mark each on both cheeks.

Whenever I imagine the child now, I picture her with the marks on her face and that one time or two when she had mucus in her nose, waiting on her mother to come pick her in the children church.

Sister Kafaya was part of the ushering team. Brother Gbade, her husband and stepfather to the child was a choir member and acted as choirmaster whenever Brother Opeifa was absent or on a bigger assignment at the Headquarters.

Brother James married Sister Rebecca. To say it was possible at the beginning was talking in the nonsense. There was until then no husband material among the available brothers that matched the beauty, industry and wealth of Sister Rebecca in the whole church. We had in our gossip kitchen from time to time considered the possibility of a brother coming from the Headquarters church to marry her off or any other branches of the Church of God. And we became angry at the thought of losing her to another branch.

And really, it is not as though he was a match for her, but she was talked into the idea by old mothers and relevant matriarchs in the church, those women whose words meant a lot to all of us. They were women, by whose countenance during church services the Coordinators and Pastors, especially the young ones, measured the effectiveness, acceptance and okayness to God’s standard. It was their words that persuaded Sister Rebecca to eventually give in to marry Brother James. 

To us, aside that he was former Coordinator and now Substantial Pastor who spoke good English, he was not a match for his wife. He owned an Alupupu that he rode to farm and to the bakery where he was manager, and to the bakery of his own, that bakery that went bankrupt the same night it started and left many bread-sellers, those he had promised better bread and cheaper rates, former customers of the other bakery, at a big loss for the day. It was a day loss, but big enough to ruin some people‘s reputation with their creditors. They all returned to their former bakery. With the absconding rebelling manager.

He was well-built and had a squared face, with obvious cheeky bones, that we knew only kitchen-cooked food from a wife‘s pot could fatten. He wore shirt and trousers all the time, tucked in and well-belted. He liked navy blue, the shirt light navy blue, the trousers deep. His shoes were either black or brown. He did not wear eyeglasses and had a deep voice that was not baritone.

To say more on what happened that the new bakery died before it even kicked off. Two theories. One that we knew really happened and two was that which we speculated. First the former. Brother James and Fowosere, the labourer that followed him, slept off. They did not check on time. When they woke up, the whole bread loaded into the factory oven was burnt beyond recognition. Completely burned and black. This is what Fowosere said while we laughed: I told him we were overworked, the two of us alone wanting to stay awake the next few hours to watch over the loaded bread. If he listened, I don’t know. When we closed our eyes to relax, it was the burnt beyond recognition breads we woke up to see. That we rushed to the oven was futile and of no use. What has happened has happened. Well, we were tired, Fowosere concluded.

The latter and most unlikely was the rumour that the owner of the old bakery had bribed Fowosere to ruin the new bakery. This could not be farther from the truth. Fowosere‘s parents, Iya Imole-Ayo and Baba Tunde, they owned a bakery too, one that was not as functional as the old bakery. If there was a bakery to ruin, Fowosere could have ruined the old bakery to keep his own parents in business. Plus, Fowosere himself denied any willful sabotage. If there was one, it was that Brother James refused to listen to the call of nature when God used Fowosere to warn of the impending catastrophe that was brewing before sleep took them both out.

Whether it was Brother James or Sister Rebecca that went to the marriage committee to inform about the will of God to marry the other person, we did not know. Moomi, who had newly joined the Marriage Committee, was too new in the committee that she was considered too new to have been approached by either of the intending couple to tell of their intention.

Now, this is how it works: should a brother or sister approached a Marriage Committee member to inform of God’s will to marry, the member shall at once praise God for this miracle and report to other members, after which they shall convene to deliberate on the matter. Prayerfully doing so. 

If it was Moomi who was approached, we could have known who it was that came forward first. 

We did not hear of their will of God until Pastor Akinleye announced in a church service that they both were now an item to be married if God so will. And that we shall be seeing them together more often than usual and that we should not worry because the church is informed of their intention towards each other. It was in the Lord and holy.

I did not attend their wedding. Not that I was unhappy for them. Far from it. I was sick and must stay in the hospital. Those that attended said Brother James walked right into the reception without the usual hymnal that played when couple walked into the hall where the chairman of the occasion, usually a pastor must have been seated. It was recent practice that family members like parents or their representatives were being invited to the high table. But even at that, walking in without a hymn is another level of holiness. Sister Rebecca came in through the side door. Holiness over-do.

In no time, both of them were on the high table and the chairman took over the microphone to start feeding the attendees with the word of God. I will not get started on what he preached. Like the sun that will shine after the rain, the people’s patience was rewarded with jollofrice and moimoi, water and softdrink. And zobo was not part of the menu.

Mummy Children came to our house. It was not unusual…