It was Sunday.
Adobea and family were all ready and waiting in the living-room for Shalom to join them. He had not wanted to go to church but she had insisted, and finally he had agreed.
She felt strongly that there was a story behind Shalom, and she so wanted him to get well again. Now, she did not know if he had always been like this, and she found herself wondering through the night if, perhaps, Shalom had been like all normal grown men and something drastic had happened to turn his mind back.
One thing was for sure, though: she believed God could work miracles. If this was how he had been all his life, then that was okay. However, if there was another form of this man that had existed previously, she felt God was the only solution now.
“What’s keeping my boy?” Agya Asare asked impatiently.
“So, he’s your boy now,” Maame Fosuaa said with a smile. “Last night you wanted him out of this house because you saw a ghost.”
“Now don’t be sarcastic, woman!” Agya Asare said with mock severity, and they all laughed.
And then Shalom appeared.
Adobea had bought a smock for him too the previous day, a striped black and white smock that he was wearing over his black trousers.
And once again his sheer handsomeness and charisma dumbfounded all of them.
“Eiii, Shalom!” Naomi cried and rushed toward him to take his hand. “You look handsome papa! Eiii, you’re a fine man paaa o!”
Shalom grinned foolishly from ear to ear as he preened in front of them.
“What do you think, Adobea?” he asked immediately. “You think I’m fine too?”
Adobea felt the eyes of her family on her, and her face burned a little under their scrutiny, but she smiled and nodded.
“You look grand, Shalom,” she said.
“Do you like me?” he asked as he walked forward with Naomi.
“I like everybody, Shalom, you included!” she replied, trying to still the beating of her heart.
“So, do you want to marry Shalom, Auntie Adobea?” Naomi asked.
“No, no, no!” Shalom said shaking his head violently. “I don’t want to marry her, no, no, no!”
They were all stunned, but Adobea was suddenly feeling a bit hurt, for no apparent reason, and she looked at him with raised eyebrows.
“And why are you so vehement on not wanting to marry me, huh?” she asked.
“Didn’t you see what happened at the wedding yesterday?” Shalom asked her. “Ahhhh, so many people, singing, shouting! Screaming! Going mad! And then the horrible performances, the horrible food, yuuuck! For what? Just to say I will marry you? You have to go through all that just for the man to say ‘I do’, and the woman to say ‘I do’? Such madness!”
Kofi Gyan laughed and patted.
“I agree with you, Shalom, I agree with you,” he said.
Shalom looked at Agya Asare and frowned.
“Aren’t you going to church?” he asked softly.
“Oh, I am, my son, I’m so ready!” Agya Asare said with pleasure and spread his arms. “You helped me out of that wheelchair, son, and I’m so grateful.”
“I’m not your son,” Shalom said immediately. “Your son is the kakai man. But why are you wearing a cloth to church?”
“It is tradition, my boy,” he said gently. “Elders put on cloths. It shows class and poise.”
“You can’t wear a cloth,” Shalom said and tried to pull off Agya Asare’s cloth. “Go and wear some dress!”
Agya Asare held the cloth tightly and also pulled.
“Stop your foolishness this instant!” he cried in alarm.
In the end, it took Adobea and her mother to persuade Shalom to let go of the cloth.
And, laughing, they trooped out of the house. Adobea kept staring at him, and wondering why she felt relieved so suddenly. She sighed, reminding herself that this man just did not drop from the sky. He might have a family somewhere, and if his condition was a recent occurrence, there might be a girlfriend somewhere too, or even a wife.
It would be futile as a result to feel anything but brotherly love for him at this stage.
The church, as usual, was filled with a lot of people.
When they arrived, it was ‘Welcoming’ phase where the congregation greeted and hugged each other in a jovial, happy mood. The Head Pastor was Reverend Laryea Odamten, a large man filled with fire and brimstone and who had little patience for laziness. He was filled with wonder to see Opanyin Asare walking into church, and immediately took the microphone and screamed praises to God.
The church auditorium was huge with a raised platform at the end for the pastor and elders of the church.
The instrumentalists were banging away in frenzy as the welcoming went on. Adobea was whisked away by some of her friends and so minutes later, when she came back, saw that Shalom was not sitting with Noami and the rest of the family.
Her father had been given a seat on the main platform with the elders.
Concerned, Adobea looked around, but she could not find Shalom. She quickly sent a text message to Grace asking if she knew where Shalom was. It took about two minutes for Grace to respond, telling her that Shalom went to the gents.
Adobea was a bit relieved then.
Soon after worship began.
Ten minutes later, as the woman leading the worship was in intense prayer, Adobea heard raised voices that intruded. They were very angry voices coming from behind her, distracting many of them. Her eyes suddenly flew open when she heard Shalom’s voice, and she looked behind her with apprehension at the same time that the woman ended her prayer and said ‘amen’.
All eyes turned to the entrance.
And what Adobea saw appalled her!
It was Shalom!
He was holding the hand of a mad woman and trying to drag her into the church, but the ushers were preventing him, and he was shouting at them.
“Oh, Lord!” Adobea said with sudden trepidation.
The mad woman always loitered around the church. She was a middle-aged woman with a wild growth of hair that had speckles of grey. Many people always gave her clothes, but she always took them off. Sometimes, Adobea gave her money when she asked for it. One thing about this mad woman was the horrible odour around her. She stank so badly that it was very hard to be in her presence, and many people shooed her when she came close.
Three male ushers were trying to stop Shalom from bringing the mad woman in, and he was also pushing them back whilst the mad woman cackled and laughed insanely.
“Why can’t the mad woman come to church?” Shalom screamed loudly. “Is the church for you?”
Pastor Laryea, beginning to look angry, took the microphone from the lady that led the worship and spoke harshly into it.
“What is going on there? Can we have some peace?”
Adobea quickly left her seat and approached Shalom. She saw that Kofi Gyan was also approaching, but her father was sitting on the platform laughing.
Kofi Gyan had reached them.
“Hey, hey, hey, Shalom, please stop doing this!” he said desperately. “You’re causing a scene. You can’t bring this woman in!”
“And why not?” Shalom asked crossly. “I saw her outside and she said she wants to come in.”
“You spoke to her?” Kofi Gyan asked fiercely. “It is not right!”
“It is what you’re doing that is not right!” Shalom said indignantly. “Madam Etwe Donko also deserves to be in church!”
“Madam who?” Kofi Gyan asked, suddenly flustered.
“That’s her name,” Shalom said. “She told me. Etwe Donko.”
“Yes, that’s me, Etwe Donko!” the mad woman said and laughed gleefully, causing Shalom to laugh too.
“Listen, Shalom,” Adobea said desperately. “Let’s send Madam to the back, okay? She will also hear the preaching!”
“Why should you send her to the back whilst you sit in here?” Shalom asked crossly, and just then the mad woman dashed past all of them and rushed down the aisle.
“If you don’t send that woman out this instant the Holy Spirit will move me to slap somebody, trust!” Pastor Laryea said angrily.
Shalom also started running after the mad woman and he was throwing his hand into the air with glee, happy that the mad woman had ran into the church.
“Sayooooo!” Shalom shouted.
The mad woman had now reached the front of the church and two ushers were trying to drag her back. Shalom rushed forward and pushed both of them to the floor heavily.
“Leave her alone!” he said crossly. “Allow Madam Etwe Donko to be in church!”
More ushers were approaching, but Pastor Laryea held up his hand, and it was obvious he was quite angry now.
“Allow them, allow them, trust,” the pastor said and glared at Shalom.
“Young man, who are you?” he asked with repressed anger.
“I don’t know who I am,” Shalom said immediately.
“If you don’t stop the foolishness the Holy Spirit will move me to give you a hefty holy slap, trust!” the pastor growled.
“Kwasea!” Shalom replied immediately. “Onye gbemi! If I don’t know who I am, should the spirits slap me?”
His voice carried through the microphone, and the pastor looked at him with sudden horror.
“Young man, you’re not wanted here, do you hear me?” he growled ominously. “You better take that mad woman and clear out of my church!”
“She is not a mad woman!” Shalom cried indignantly. “She has a name! She is Madam Etwe Donko!”
The mad woman cackled hard with laughter and clapped her hands, and then she grabbed the wild growth of hair on her genitals and pushed her loins outward.
“Yes, yes, Etwe Donko!” she cried.
Adobea had reached them again, and she grabbed Shalom’s arm desperately.
“Adobea, dear, do you know this man, trust?” Pastor Laryea asked ominously.
Adobea sighed with shame.
“Yes, Pastor,” she said miserably. “Please, forgive him, and forgive me. He’s my friend. I brought him to church!”
“He’s not normal, trust!” the pastor screamed. “This boy is a fool! He’s not normal, Adobea!”
And this incensed Shalom so much that he jumped on the platform and gave the pastor a hefty push in the chest and he fell down heavily on his butt, causing everybody to groan with horror, but Agya Asare was still laughing.
“You’re not normal, pastor!” Shalom screamed. “I brought Madam Etwe Donko to church! And you want to sack her! Onye gbemi!”
Now absolutely incensed with fury and forgetting for a moment where he was, the huge pastor got to his feet and pushed his face angrily against Shalom’s forehead.
“You too onye gbemi!” the pastor screamed. “Wo maame twe kankan, wate anaa?”
And the congregation went hushed except Agya Asare who put his palm across his lips to stop tittering.
Shalom stepped back and pointed all his fingers at the pastor with a sardonic smile on his face.
“Look at this man, waaa look at this pastor, insulting my mother’s vagina in church,” Shalom said with great disdain. “Shame on you. A mad woman has come to your church instead of healing her you’re standing there shouting wo maame twe kankan.”
Pastor Laryea tried to kick Shalom, and some of the elders held him back tightly, preventing him.
“Get him out of this church!” the pastor screamed. “Adobea, did you plan this disgrace on me? Is this my payment for being loving toward you and your family, Agya Asare?”
Some of the elders had now approached Shalom too, and were trying to get him off the podium.
“You people should be ashamed!” Shalom screamed. “If Jesus is sitting here right now what would He think of you? What would He do? Is this the love that Jesus showed you? He died on the cross for you so that you will be free, and today you see Madam Etwe Donko and you behave like Sadducees and Pharisees!”
His stringent voice carried over the microphone, and suddenly all of them froze, including Pastor Laryea Odamten. Everybody in the church suddenly felt the chilled essence in the auditorium, feeling the sudden cold seeping through their veins. It was as if something had been poured over them.
Even the mad woman was looking at Shalom without cackling now.
Pastor Laryea Odamten shrugged free, and he stood looking at Shalom with fear in the depths of his eyes.
“Wh-who a-re y-you?” he asked softly.
“If you ask me that question again I will slap you harder than I slapped the kakai man!” Shalom shouted. “I told you I don’t know who I am, onye gbemi!”
Adobea quickly climbed the platform and spoke calmly to the pastor.
“Sorry, pastor,” she said quickly with desperation. “I came across him a few days ago and brought him home. He does not remember his name or where he came from. He just told us a couple of days ago to call him Shalom.”
“My God!” Pastor Laryea whispered as he took a step forward. “Why didn’t you say so? Are you an angel?”
Shalom looked at the pastor and pointed his fingers again.
“Look at this man,” he said. “Do you think an angel will remain in heaven for saying onye gbemi? Are you going to heal Madam Etwe Donko or what?”
Pastor Laryea licked his lips rapidly and stretched his hand for the microphone. One of the ushers picked it up and gave it to him.
“Today is a day of revelations!” he said in a spirit-filled voice. “The day when those unctioned to function will stand tall in the sight of the Lord and say…..yeeeeeeee, the spirit of the Most High is great! Shaban tangu la shifo foorla gbim! The devil is a liar! The glory of God shall descend today!”
“Ameeeen!” the congregation screamed.
Pastor Laryea got down from the platform and wriggled his nose with distaste at the stench emanating from the mad woman. He looked at Shalom apprehensively as he put a hand on the head of the mad woman.
“The devil is a liar!” he shouted. “Today, the spirit of the Lord will descend in a spectrum of fire in the grand grandeur of the Hooooly Spiiiirit, and all the spirits of madness that have possessed this woman will vamoose into the doldrums, into the everlasting fire of Hades, into the apocalyptic depths of the shingogo abyss….”
And Madam Etwe Donko drew back her right fist and delivered a horrible right blow into Pastor Laryea Odamten’s nose.
“Agyeeeeeiiiiii!” Laryea screamed as he tottered back, startled and with blood running down his nose.
Angrily, he threw the microphone into the mad woman’s face, and the woman fell down.
“Get her out of this room!” the pastor screamed as he put a white handkerchief to his bleeding nose. “Get her out this instant!”
Shalom knelt beside the mad woman and picked up the microphone.
“Sorry, Madam Etwe Donko,” he said gently and patted her shoulder. “That pastor has a problem!”
The mad woman cackled insanely and turned around in a full circle on her buttocks, and Shalom laughed for a moment.
“Why are your breasts so long?” he asked suddenly, intrigued. “It is too long and loose. You must replace them or change them. What is that?”
The mad woman laughed again.
“You fool o!” she said. “Can you change breasts? Do you want to suck them? If you do I’ll open my etwe donko and you put your thing in it and we do sholanbaga!”
“Apuuu!” Shalom said with a giggle. “I craze? I won’t do that with you! Look do you want to get well? Just say ‘Jesus heal me’ and you will be well.”
The mad woman stopped giggling and looked at Shalom seriously.
The ushers that were trying to hold her suddenly became still. Even Pastor Laryea Odamten paused on the podium and looked on.
“Are you sure?” the woman asked.
Shalom extended it to her.
“Yes, I’m sure,” he said. “Just do it!”
The mad woman took the microphone, and suddenly she adjusted her buttocks, put the microphone into her crack and delivered a mighty flatulence that reverberated through the auditorium, startling everybody.
Shalom laughed so loudly and so strongly that tears came to his eyes.
“Do it again, do it again!” he shouted.
The mad woman put the microphone into her crack and tried again, but noting came. Her face contorted alarmingly and veins came on her neck and face as she forced to flatulate.
“Hey, hey, hey, Madam Etwe Donko, stop it, stop it!” Shalom screamed and pushed her. “You’ll puupuu if you force it!”
The woman laughed happily as Shalom pushed the microphone into her face.
“Say it, Madem Etwe Donko!” Shalom said. “Say Jesus!”
“Say Jesus!” the woman screamed and laughed.
Shalom giggled and shook his head.
“Ei, Madam Etwe, no, no, no, no…you craze too much!” he said. “Let’s do this one more time. Jesus!”
“Jesus!” the woman shouted and clapped her hands.
“Please!” Shalom said.
“Pleeeeeeaaaasse!” the woman screamed.
“Heal me!” Shalom said.
“Jesus please heal me!” the woman screamed succinctly.
“Goooood, Madam Etwe Donko!” Shalom screamed. “Gooood!”
He was laughing so hard that he did not notice that the mad woman was sitting very still staring at him, and then she did a very strange thing; she crossed her arms across her chest as if she was ashamed.
Opanyin Asare, who had craned his neck and looking at her, suddenly got to his feet and came down the platform. He noticed that tears were running down the woman’s face in torrents.
“Oh, Lord!” he whispered quaveringly as he quickly took of his cloth. “You’re healed, aren’t you?”
“Oh, my God!” the woman whispered painfully. “Where am I? Where are my children? Where’s Addison? Where’s Buckman? Oh, please, where are my children?”
“My goodness!” Pastor Laryea whispered, stunned. “She’s healed!”
Opanyin Asare covered the woman with his cloth and smiled down at her gently and embraced her.
“You’re okay, don’t worry,” he said gently. “You’ve been healed, and everything will be alright.”
Adobea, weeping unashamedly, knelt down beside Shalom and put an arm across his shoulders.
“You’re a very special man, Shalom,” she whispered in a trembling voice. “Oh, how I want to kiss you right now!”
And he smiled a huge, shy, goofy smile at her!
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