Dial Episode 60 is on…
I frowned slightly and looked at the Holy Man.
“In a way, I understand why you had to do the things you did,” I said softly. “But I still wonder why you had to do it the way you did it. I have gone through physical and emotional trauma, and lived through the hardest of situations. Couldn’t you just have come to me and told me you were a man of God? Couldn’t you just have preached to me like normal men of God do? Did you have to do this to me?”
He gave me the full blast of his gaze.
“I win souls for God, my son,” he said quietly. “And I don’t win ordinary souls, no. I go after hardened hearts, and there was only one proven route that had worked for me, and I followed the procedure I use all the time. I have been able to turn many evil-hearted men like the former Okomfo Basabasa to God. So I used what had proved right all these years. Secondly, coming to you as a man of God to preach to you would’ve backfired miserably.”
“Why?” I asked numbly.
“You were an arrogant, rude and uncouth young man, Yao,” he said calmly, as if explaining a thorny issue to a child. “You had no place for God in your life. Foolishly, you believed in your wealth. The only way to make you realize your folly was to take you out of your comfort zone, and make you face the reality that your money wouldn’t help you when your life depended on it. And indeed, your life depended on it.”
“My life depended on what, if I may ask?” I asked, very puzzled.
He sighed and again looked at me.
“When I realized you were the son of the man that helped my family a long time ago, and I prayed for you,” he said softly. “That was even before I came to your office with the policeman for the very first time, Yao. I saw you in a vision, and the spirit of death was upon your soul.”
My body went numb as I stared at him, and suddenly my breathing was shallow. He was not joking now; I saw the seriousness in his eyes and on his face, and deep within those dark eyes I saw something approaching deep sorrow.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute!” I said numbly. “The spirit of death was upon me? What do you mean by that?”
He sighed and put a kind hand on my shoulder.
“God has gifted me with special abilities, my son, and I see things in the spiritual realm,” he said quietly. “I’m a Seer, and yes, there’s the spirit of death on you, because your sinful life has been displeasing to God, and the wages of your sin is death.”
I shuddered with fear.
“Still on me?” I gasped. “Meaning I’m going to die?”
He didn’t take his hand from my shoulder.
“Listen to me very carefully now, Yao Biko,” he said calmly. “What you were doing…this Dial List thing…was very despicable in the sight of God. You had purposed in your heart that there was no God, and you were worshipping and leaning on your wealth. You were hurting young women, some quite irreparably. This made your soul covered with sin, and so it is your destiny to die young.”
We stared at each other, and this time the horror I felt was real. I was trembling, and sudden sweat had broken out all over my wrinkled body.
“Let’s say you’re right,” I said hollowly. “Am I still going to die?”
“That depends on you, son,” he said quietly. “I have been fasting and praying for you constantly. I called upon the name of the Lord to spare your life, but the spirit of death remained. That was when I knew I could not come to you as a man of God! You needed to be shocked out of your very skin to believe the evil around you. That is why I put the curse on you, to make you age, to bring you here finally and tell you the truth. What I did was meant to open your eyes to the fact that the world we live in is filled with forces we can’t control. You’ve experienced real horror, and now you see the grace of God. Choice is yours.”
“Am I going to die?” I asked fearfully, my eyes boring into him. “Am I still going to die young? Please, answer that! Don’t keep avoiding it! Answer me!”
“That depends on you, son,” he said quietly. “I believe that if you really come to the Lord, with a changed heart, and a heart that lives in His son, your life will be extended. However, if you still remain in your sin, and you leave this place…you will die.”
“Are we talking about repentance of sins here?” I asked hollowly.
“Not just repentance, Yao, but true repentance that leads to accepting the Lord into your heart. And then, when you have fully believed, I’ll baptize you, and the Lord will make you as clean as white linen.”
“But you can’t force me to repent! Isn’t it supposed to be free will? I’m still going to die!” I whispered painfully, tears bubbling in my eyes. “I’m still going to die!”
“No, you’re not, boy!” the Holy Man said sharply. “I can’t force you, yes, but few have been given the privilege of choice before death! Use your heart! You have a choice! No one can force you to accept the ways of the Lord! It has to be an individual choice as you say, Yao. And it has to be genuine. Do that, and you’ll be free from all curses, and armoured by all the good graces of God. It is absolutely up to you!”
“And until it happens I can’t leave here?” I asked numbly.
“If you leave here, unrepented and not baptized, you’ll die,” he said softly. “But if you find true repentance, even right now, I’ll baptize you, and you’ll be free. The choice is yours. I’ll guide you, of course.”
“But Adobea is waiting for me in the town before Wowo!” I cried earnestly. “I have to go and see her, and let her know what is going on, please! She thinks I’m here to marry Dede. If I don’t get word to her she might think I married Dede, and she might move on with her life! Please, let me go and tell her the situation.”
“There’s no bargaining with truth, Yao,” the Holy Man said sadly. “It is your life. If you descend from this mountain without true repentance, you’ll die, because death is still hanging over you. You don’t have much time, Yao. Abena Adobea and marriage will not benefit you if you die a horrible death within the next few years.”
“But I’ll lose her!” I cried desperately. “Please, I beg of you! If I can’t go, just get word to her for me, please!”
His eyes became hard then, and his hand squeezed my shoulder quite hard.
“You don’t know what you’re playing around with!” he said in a fierce voice. “I am telling you things of the spirit, and all you can think about are things of the flesh! Wise up, young man! Theirs is death on you! Have you ever heard of Hezekiah?”
I shook my head numbly.
“He was the king of Judah, and reigned over the people of Israel. He was just twenty-five years when he was made king, and reigned for twenty-nine years. Hezekiah was a good king, but eventually he sinned, and on his death bed God sent His prophet Isaiah to tell the king that he would die if he didn’t set his house in order!
The spirit of death was upon the king! But Hezekiah prayed fervently to God, and the good God changed His mind from killing the him, and added fifteen more years to his life! You don’t have time for Abena or Dede or any other woman, boy! This is your life spelt out in front of you! You can go and tell her anything you want, I don’t care!
It is your choice to live or die, and I’m not going to make that choice for you! It is simple really…seek the face of the Lord and live, seek your earthly pleasures and die! Two choices, no leeway! And you’re lucky, extremely lucky, to have your life presented to you in such a way. Many just perish!”
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He stood up then, and I saw the embers of fury deep in his eyes, fury that was mixed with shades of pity, and sorrow. It struck me that this man was really at his wits’ end now, and really worried about my fate.
Before I could speak I saw a massive anaconda slithering out of the bushes and coming toward us! It was no doubt that horrible reptile that had entered my car that day this Holy Man had followed me home after the fiasco at the Bare Light International Church.
I got off the bench and raced indoors just as I heard the Holy Man chuckling.
I was glad to hear his laughter. Somehow, to know that he was no longer angry made me relieved, to a point.
“Come and meet Sydney, Yao,” he shouted. “He wouldn’t hurt you! He’s tame!”
The anaconda coiled itself around the Holy Man, and put its head on his shoulder.
I raced into the house.
That was how it panned out in the end.
I couldn’t get out of that beautiful place in the mountains in two months. I couldn’t even attend the funeral of Akos the next week, even though the Holy Man and Mansa attended.
And I was left with Attah Panyin.
I opened up my heart as best as I could, and tried to accept that faith he talked about, but each time I asked him if it was time, the Holy Man shook his head sadly.
“You can’t accept this with your head, Yao, because it sounds reasonable to you!” he once told me sadly after we’ve gone through the life of Christ. “It has to come from your heart.”
A month passed, and my pain continued, because I knew just how badly I was treating Abena Adobea. She hadn’t heard from me, and yet she couldn’t come to Wowo too as she knew I had been warned to come there alone.
Getting to the end of the second month, I had a horrible dream one night.
I wasn’t a man who dreamed, but that dream was as lurid as it was horrible. It wasn’t a scary dream, but it was a nightmare in all ways.
I saw my Pappy.
My dearest, loving Pappy. The best man in my life. My father, my friend, my companion…my life! A man I loved with all my heart…my own human god!
And in the dream my Pappy was weeping, and seemed to be in great anguish. I didn’t see his surroundings though. It was quite dark all around him, but I could only see his face as he wept, and he kept telling me to be careful, to be careful, to be careful…and the I saw a horrible hand suddenly appearing behind my Pappy, grabbing him, and pulling him savagely into the darkness, and his scream of horror brought me awake!
As I sat up in the bed, shuddering and scared, I felt a wetness on my cheeks, and realized that my agonies in the dream had manifested in reality…and I was weeping.
That night, for the very first time in my life, weeping and torn and shattered, I got off the bed, fell on my knees…and I prayed.
I prayed. Yes, I prayed.
And I accepted the faith finally, and it was as simple as it was exhilarating. I felt a deep peace washing over me, a gladness in my heart that I had never known before. There was a clarity of my life, and I saw my folly for the very first time.
And I spoke to God from a sincere heart…and I prayed for my Pappy.
I was that broken, and I was that shattered over that dearest man’s life.
And somewhere in the glory of my new-found happiness, the door opened, and the light came on, and when I turned, the Holy Man was standing there in his pyjamas, and there was an exquisite smile of pure joy on his face.
“You made it, son,” he said quietly as he watched my tear-streaked face. “Death just passed you by. Come with me.”
I got to my feet slowly and followed him outside to the swimming pool. I was bubbling with an inner joy I had never felt before as he entered the chilly water with me. It was still dark, but the lights were on, and in that ungodly hour, the Holy Man baptized me.
Later he embraced me warmly, and he cried.
“I’m happy for you, Yao Kyekyeku Biko,” he said happily.
“Don’t call me Yao Kyekyeku Biko!” I said instantly.
He smiled broadly then as we made our way toward the door, both of us drenched.
“Alright, my apologies, wrong order,” he said. “Yao Biko Kyekyeku then.”
“What’s with you, old man?” I asked with mock severity. “Don’t call me Kyekyeku.”
And we both laughed that night, a laughter filled with mutual happiness.
“On a more serious note, Yao, Kyekyeku is your father’s name, and your family name, son,” he said softly. “You must start using it.”
“Yeah, I guess I would,” I said. “But, really, talking about names, I don’t want to call you only as the Holy Man, and evidently you’re not Nana Bosomba. Mind telling me your real name, please, sir?”
He smiled again.
“Not many people know my real name,” he said. “But I guess you should, seeing you’re going to be my son. My name is Kwesi Kumankoma Kyenkyenhene Ketiampongkese Kupualorkpokpo.”
“What the fu*k! What’s the matter with you?“ I said it before I could stop myself, and we both guffawed with insane laughter.
It was a good feeling that dawn…a really, really, good feeling.
I went in and took a cold bath, and as I stood in the mirror and looked at my old, wizened face, the tufts of grey hair on my head, and my sagging and repulsive flesh, I felt no fear for the very first time since the curse was put on me. The joy in my heart, the sheer bliss, was too much for fear.
Giggling, tired and sleepy, I went back to bed.
The sun was up when I woke up in the morning, and I was luxuriously happy. I stretched and yawned, feeling incredibly hungry. I padded into the bathroom to wash my face, humming a snippet of a gospel song the Holy Man loved to play.
When I stared into the mirror… I screamed shrilly!
I almost ran from the bathroom!
Yes, it was that scary!
I shut my eyes tightly, giggling. My whole body was trembling uncontrollably. Fearfully, I turned back to the mirror and stretched out my neck tentatively to peek into the mirror…yes, I hadn’t been dreaming.
There he was, the most handsome young man on earth.
Yao Kyekyeku Biko!
The old age was gone. I looked down slowly at my hands.
That was what I was talking about…so smooth, so young, so fresh!
Whimpering, excited, filled with uncontrolled happiness, I stripped off my pyjamas and threw it away. I stood in front of the mirror…my chest hair was back, dark and curly and glorious! I looked down at my balls, and I almost fainted with happiness when I saw that my balls were no longer loooooooooong!
They had returned to their original size!
I held my javelin elongation…back again, powerful and lovely!
I shook it hard, and turned it round and round.
And then I spun my waist round and round and round, watching my gonjon pin dancing and my brogos spinning until it hurt me.
Giggling insanely, I pumped my waist forward backward, forward backward…fast and hard, and my instruments oooh-oooh-aaah jiggled, black and powerful…
I did some Michael Jackson back slides, and then I did some MC Hammer side-shuffles…and then I opened my mouth and howled like that wolf in the Werewolf movie…whatever the hell was its title anyway? Who cared anyway, huh? Who the hell cared anyway?
I stood in front of the mirror, and then I laughed like a madman, and as I continud to laugh hysterics set in, and the tears simply bubbled out and stormed out. I simply couldn’t stop crying. My chest heaved with profound relief, and I sank down slowly on the floor and sat with my back against the bath…just weeping.
It dawned on me, quite suddenly, that I was saying some words over and over again, and as I paid attention to myself, I realized what I was saying over and over again: