Sunday, January 28, 2018



There remained only nine days before Levi would die, the medical experts had predicted.

Levi sat in his veranda, using his eyes to scan his compound, pondering where he would be buried when he died. He thought about how befitting his burial would be, and then realized that since he asked his wife to sell most of his valuable property, and there was nothing left in the family, he would be buried like a poor church rat.

He called Fabian in a croaked voice, and showed him where he wanted to be buried. Pointing at the place, "You see that cocoa nut tree, beneath it is where I want you to bury me, if your cousin fails to return. Who knows how he has been managing?" Levi asked.

"Father, you are not dying yet. You still have many years to live," said Fabian, "forget about what the doctors said. Haven't you read from the Bible where it asks, “Who is the man that says and it comes to pass when the Lord has not spoken?"

"Fabian," Levi called, "I think you are right. These days you people have been quoting Scriptures right. I think the right drug for a sickness is a comforting word; it heals a broken heart. If I have followed what some people said, I would have decided to commit suicide. How will a doctor tell a patient that he will die?" Levi moaned.

A few minutes later, Mildred came with a phone to give to Levi to speak with Dominic, his nephew. Levi was delighted to hear his nephew's voice, and they exchanged their pleasantries before Dominic began to ask him how serious the illness was. Though Dominic knew that sickness was serious, he still assured his uncle that all would be well. He promised to contact Nigerian nurses who would give him a proper treatment.

The conversation broke down when Levi began to cough. Then Dominic realized how severe the sickness was, and he wept bitterly.

Mildred picked up the phone, while Fabian and Adanta attended to Levi.

"Dad was taken to the General Teaching Hospital for diagnosis," said Mildred. "They discovered he is suffering from lung cancer, as the result of smoking and the snorting of snuff. Mum has sold our dad's Nissan Almera SE and other valuable property for the cure of Dad's health, and yet no improvement. We tried to reach you on phone, but no one has your new international number, since you said your old number was blocked. Please, Domi, see what you can do to ensure that our dad's health is restored. As I'm speaking with you right now, we are away from the hospital. Doctors said Dad has only ten days to live, starting from the day he was discharged from the hospital. No one is giving him medical care, except the drugs the doctors gave to Mum to give to him until he dies," Mildred groaned.

"The problem is that our dad doesn't listen to us," said Dominic. "When he was young, we used to tell him not to smoke, drink and use snuffing. See the sad effects of what he had accumulated. Nevertheless, we tried to do something before it is too late. Here in America, there are many lung cancer patients who have been living for more than five years. Even in Australia, such patients would be sent home under the care of palliative nurses like Silver Chain. I really wonder why our doctors would ignore treating Dad, instead giving him sad news that he will die. Who told them?" Dominic asked.

"Not only doctors from our country,” said Mildred, "medical experts from India and US affirmed that death is hanging at the neck of Dad with its knife to slay him.”

"Then, one thing is clear: we will not do anything without God," Dominic said, "we'll continue to pray, and by this, the world will know that we are born for signs and wonders."

Dominic asked Mildred to give the phone to Adanta to speak with her. Adanta could not utter any word because of her sorrow. She wept as she saw the deplorable condition of her husband.

Dominic decided to speak with Fabian later, as he was busy attending to Levi. Thereafter, two women in white garments came to Levi’s house. They introduced themselves as nurses from Emma's Specialist Hospital sent by Dominic to treat Levi, his uncle. Ann, one of the nurses, took measurements chest to determine his body temperature, while Lilian, the other nurse, engaged herself consoling her daughter that her husband would be alright.
Nurse Lilian later joined Ann in checking Levi’s body temperature. They discovered that Levi's blood pressure was high. Ann injected Levi with a medicine so his blood pressure could be reduced to the normal level. After a while, the nurses gave Levi drugs that would sustain him, because no one who had ever suffered lung cancer survived. The nurses knew it as well. They only wanted to prolong Levi's life.

"Sir, we are through with you for today, and we have prayed that nothing will happen to you," the nurses said.

"Young ladies," Levi asked, “How will you go without giving me your bill? Is the treatment for free?" 

"As we have said before, Dominic, your nephew, is taking care of the bill. What we'll do is to keep a copy of the bill with you, and send one to him, though he has already paid us some money for your treatment," the nurses grimaced and then left.

After a while, Adanta looked at her husband's face and found that there was still a ray of life in him. Her grief was a bit relieved. She allowed Levi to sleep, and she went to talk with her children. She met them at the veranda where I was also sitting, talking about the admirable deeds that Dominic had done in rescuing their father.

"My children, today marked the restoration of joy in our family. For many days now, our family knew no joy nor happiness. We have been living in pains and fear with endless sleepless nights. Now we have cause to give God all the glory," Adanta said.

"Mum, there is God!" Mildred said.

"Yes, we know, and we should also thank Domi for sending those nurses to treat Father," Fabian urged.

“There are really specialists who know the right drugs for patients. Can you see that your dad is no longer complaining of chest pain again, and he can sleep now unlike before?" Adanta asked.

"Mum," Fabian remarked, "don’t you see that Father is responsible for his sickness? When he was young, he could drink ten bottles of alcohol in a day."

"And not only that, he smoked,” Mildred added.

Levi was a renowned drunkard, and he smoked beyond his capacity, which had badly damaged his lungs.

There was a day he came back home drunk. It was around 6:00 p.m., after scolding his wife in a loud voice, he then bathed and went to bed. He slept, and woke up around 8:00 p.m., and yet he was under the influence and stupor of alcohol.

Since it was night, he thought it was the beginning of the dawn, and the sky was gloomy ready for a downpour. He called his wife for them to pray that it was time for God to destroy the world. He asked his wife whether it was how the weather used to be, and yet students had never started going to school.
Though Adanta knew that Levi was drunk, she joined him in prayer to avoid being beaten. While they were praying, Fabian and Mildred were outside laughing, and believed that none of them would sleep that night. Levi would be disturbing everyone in the family.

Once Levi had ended his prayers with his wife, he came out and was still complaining that the sky was heavy for rain. He saw Mildred coming out of the toilet room that night, and greeted her, "Good morning."

Mildred then smiled, believing that her dad had miscalculated time. At this time, Mildred knew that her dad would not stir up quarreling with her mum. This was because the level of the alcoholic influence over him was mild. Whenever the drinking gauge of her dad was mild, he played with everyone; beyond that usually resulted in war and his destruction of property.

At times, Levi would drink to such an extent that his eyeballs would turn to red like those of a hen laying eggs. When he was such a state, none in the family would dare talk to him. The worst part of it was that whether Adanta avoided him or not, he would look for a way to beat her up and command her to pack all her belongings and go back to her parents' home.

This disturbed Fabian and Mildred greatly, and Levi would never admit that he was drunk.

"No drunkard would admit that he is drunk," Fabian would say.

Adanta would bring food for Levi, who would be under the stupor of alcohol, sitting on a large stone with his eyes closed. He would use his hand to seize the plate of foofoo, and then make a ball of it with his right palm. While his eyes were closed, he would stumble with the plate of soup, and could not connect with the soup. He would become like someone eating from the ground, and then he would immediately open his eyes.

Fabian considered such behavior stupid. He would, together with Mildred, talk to his father about the shame Levi was bringing to the family. This was true because no one would be glad to have a drunk as a father.

"Dad, how long before you stop drinking alcohol?" Fabian asked, "I ask because no one respects the family of drunken father, and whenever we are with folks, I find it so difficult to condemn the drunks and their attitudes while you are one of them."

"Your dad is not a drunk," said Levi, "but what you need to know is that I have a light brain, I don't take more than four small bottles of alcohol."

Levi was a man who had a light brain, but could not control himself whenever he saw a bottle of wine sparkling. This had gone to the extent that he didn't like drinking soft drinks, and he considered them as what caused diabetes. If he would try to drink Maltina or Fanta (soft drinks), he would make sure that he had added a drop of alcohol to it, and then smoked his pipe.

Levi had one day rejected a nice wine that Fabian bought for him. Though when he saw the wine sparkling in the bottle, he thought that it contained alcohol, and therefore he opened it. When a drop of it entered his mouth, he spat it, and then called Fabian to collect his wine. While Levi was avoiding drinking soft drinks, he considered himself to be trying to avoid contracting diabetes.

Adanta and her children had wanted to stop him drinking alcohol. They were happy that Levi had completely stopped drinking when people got the rumors that Kaikai, a local gin was killing people because people were allegedly found using ethanol to produce it, and Levi became afraid to drink it again.
That did not stop him from drinking foreign alcoholic wines, and intaking tobacco, cigarettes, and snuff. When he moved onto such stupor, he would begin to misbehave with women around him, and he would not come back to his house with money, because those women would take advantage of his drinking, and then collect everything from him. This was how Emilia outwitted him since her husband died. And any woman who knew when he had money would invite him into her house, and gave him wine. Immediately, the wine began to disrupt his brain, and the woman would request money from him, and surely, Levi would give.

This inordinate but unnecessary spending of money caused Levi not to execute all he had planned to achieve. It was out of luck that he sent Dominic to America. He could have done more than this before this sickness came up.
Now, Fabian and other members of the family were no longer happy about the health of their dad, not only that he was suffering from lung cancer, but also could not remember anything, including ay discussion he had previously with someone. Mildred, who had been working to gain admission to study medicine and surgery, said that her dad was now suffering from a memory loss.
Mildred was able to identify alcohol, tobacco, and smoking as the major causes of memory loss before she brought her biology textbook to find out other causes of memory loss, such as head injury and stroke. She knew that her dad had never had a head injury or stroke.

Adanta did not think the causes of Levi's loss of memory were alcohol or smoking. She maintained that the memory loss was occasioned by stress, depression, and sleep deprivation. She knew, like a psychologist, that since Levi had been reported a lung cancer patient, he had been depressed, both mentally and emotionally, which had caused him endless sleepless nights. She therefore believed that as soon as Levi's health improved, he would straightaway regain his memory.

"We have lost dad, as he has memory loss," Mildred said. "We should not allow this particular ailment get us distracted. Our main concern is this cancer that has marooned him, leaving him in a depressed state. One thing about a memory loss patient is that he can still remember what had happened a long time ago, but cannot recall recent present happenings", Mildred affirmed.

Adanta responded, "My dear children, I was thinking that your father is suffering from one sickness, and I didn't know that all the sicknesses and diseases have teamed up to snatch your father from us. To me, I'm tired. I know the hell I went through before I could obtain the one million naira I paid to the hospital we came from, not counting the little money we had spent in the various medical centers where we took him to.

“What has demoralized my spirit is the decision the medical experts have taken to bring your dad home. If a patient is brought home uncured from the hospital, what would be the patient's fate? Nothing more than death. Thank God that the Minister for Health has reported that the decision which the doctors have taken by sending your dad back home is unjust and is against medical ethics. However, in his speech, he affirmed that the doctors have seen the condition of the patient and didn't want to be bothering the relatives of the patient for money since afterwards the patient will die."

"Let all be hopeful," said Mildred. "The words of Domi keep resonating in my mind, ‘by this, the world may know that we are born for signs and wonders.’ Now, I think, we need not put our hope in doctors, but God. With Him, everything is possible."

"I'm speechless to see sickness sapping Dad's strength, but one thing about him is that despite these pains and the grief he is experiencing now, he still believes that all will be well," Fabian moaned.

Adanta then went to Levi's room with me where Levi was sleeping. 

Unfortunately, we discovered that Levi was breathless. We wept, and a drop of Adanta's tears fell on the late Levi. As I wept, Adanta raised an alarm for her children that their father was no more. Fabian and Mildred ran to the room and saw Levi dead.

I then saw many faces that had never visited Levi when he was sick come to see what was happening. I looked at them, thinking that I would see some of my church members, but saw none.

I then said that if the church members failed to show up now that Levi had finally given up the ghost, that I would report them to the bishop. Thereafter, there was an emergency meeting of the elders of the land, and immediate arrangement was made to carry the corpse to a morgue until Dominic returned from US.

Before the lifeless body was conveyed to the morgue, Mildred called Dominic on the phone. Dominic answered the phone and thought that Mildred was to give him feedback about his father's health, since he had sent some nurses to take care of him.

Unfortunately, Dominic got the sad news, fainted, and then could not utter a word on the phone.

Mildred kept on saying, "Hello, hello, hello" several times.

I became confused, thinking possibly that Dominic was grieved to hear the news about his uncle's death or the network was extremely poor.

Sympathizers who gathered blamed Mildred for informing Dominic in the manner she did. However, none of us knew what happened to Dominic, so we were all speculating about the cause of his inability to respond.

Suddenly, Fabian's phone rang, and I thought it was Dominic calling.

Fabian, a little relieved, picked up the call, answering, "Hello, Domi."

It wasn't Dominic himself calling. The US lady made the call and reported that Dominic had just fainted after receiving sad news from one of his relations.

"Hello, I'm Rebecca Silver calling from US. I hope I'm speaking with Fabian, a cousin of Dominic?
"Yes, you are right. I'm Fabian.”

"Right," said Rebecca, "I've seen calls from Nigeria, and the last caller who spoke with Dominic is Mildred, who seems to be Dominic's sister."

"That is right. Mildred is his sister," Fabian answered
"OK, I'm sorry to inform you that Dominic fainted after receiving shocking news about his uncle's death from Mildred. Right now, he is receiving medical care," Rebecca said.

Thereafter, Fabian's countenance became pale. He did not let anyone know what had happened. For now, he did not know whether to think about the death of his father or about the health of his cousin. He felt his head spinning due to the accumulated grief and sorrow. He recalled what his father had said: that when he died, no one should cry for him because he knew that he was going to see God face-to-face. This made Fabian calm his mother and sister down, telling them not to make a mournful groan nor a grieving lamentation; the sympathizers were struck with awe to see none of Levi's family members crying, though Adanta's heart was sore and was inflamed by sorrows.

"Levi, you have gone to where you came from," Adanta moaned, "not that none gave you medical treatment, even after the doctors rejected you; we still tried our best to ensure your survival, but after everything, death stole your very soul from us. I have reasons to cry for you. First, your death has created a vacuum in the family. We can no longer enjoy your lovely stories, and second, we felt secure whenever you were around us, but now you are no more, our security is now uncertain. What an irreplaceable loss! I hope that your God will accept your soul, as you repented before dying. However, I will not cry like a person with no hope of resurrection. I say dear husband, rest in peace as death has healed you, and parted us. Yes, death has proven that God heals the sickness that proves stubborn to doctors".

A few minutes later, an ambulance came to carry the cadaver. The ambulance attendant left immediately. Though the cadaver had been carried to the morgue, Fabian and Mildred did not show any sign of grief. in  Each of them was affected by their dad's death.

Mildred thought about her education. To her, all hope was lost because her mother could not carry the responsibility unless Dominic would help her to study medicine and surgery. This was her ray of hope, as though a prisoner in trouble, hoping to be released. So, Mildred thought about what she was about to face as her dad was no more, and then she shook her head and exclaimed, "It's well,"

Fabian, who had joined the ambulance man to put the corpse in the morgue, was inside the ambulance and remembered that his life had been ruined because his dad did not live to bless his union before dying. There was a prophecy that said Fabian would not succeed in his nuptial union unless the union was blessed by his father.

"Aha, the grief of my dad's sickness and death has made me forget about a prophecy spoken on me," Fabian cried. "What will I do now since my dad is dead. I'm undone!"

As Fabian was groaning about his apparent predicament, the driver did not utter a word of comfort, since he was carrying a cadaver. He believed that no one should talk while carrying a corpse, though he felt for Fabian.
After depositing the corpse in the mortuary, Fabian returned home with a tally the morticians gave to him. The tally served as a receipt for the deceased, and must be presented the day the deceased would be carried away from the mortuary.

When Cornell heard that Levi was dead, he was a bit glad because he saw Levi as a barrier to his union with Mildred. He thought that since Levi was dead, the chance of wooing Mildred would be better. He then strengthened himself with tobacco and local gin, and went to console Mildred and her family.

Different faces crowded Levi's compound, including Rodwell. While Cornel's intention was to woo Mildred, Rodwell's was to ask Adanta to forget about what the burial would cost. This assurance of helping her bury her husband was to allure Adanta again into accepting him.

Adanta was not pleased to accept Rodwell's assistance. Rodwell had let people know about the amorous advances which he had forced upon her when her husband was in the hospital. Almost everyone knew that Rodwell gave Adanta half a million naira before doctors could begin to treat Levi. Therefore, Adanta vehemently rejected Rodwell's offer.

"Away with your money," said Adanta, "I dare not ask you for help; your money will not help me to forget about the colossal loss. For what reason do you want to help me? I'm not your wife. Nor no man in Africa like you could do any favor for a woman and demand nothing from her. I begged for help from you when I needed it most, but you insisted that I should sleep with you. Thereafter, you made a mockery of it. I want to tell you that I'm a fully born-again Christian. I have denounced such immoral acts and have embraced Christ. It is only a fool that will see a blazing of fire and put his fingers in it," Adanta said, crying bitterly.

"I'm sorry about that," said Rodwell. "Since I realized that you could not show up anymore, I then decided to make a public pronouncement of it. We can also forge ahead with the relationship, since Levi, your legal husband, is no more. Besides, what separates couples is death. Levi has no legitimate right over you anymore. Don't allow your creamy body to wither away like a withering grass in a blistering field," he pleaded.

A few hours later, the mortuary van arrived, along with police officers. Cornell thought Dominic had returned from US. with police as his bodyguards. He waited to see Dominic come out from one of the vans.

As Fabian stepped out of the house, the ambulance man then pointed his hand on him, signaling that he was the person that brought Levi to the morgue.

"Are you Fabian, the son of Levi?" the police officer asked. 

“Yes, I am,” replied Fabian.

“Then you are under arrest for bringing a living man for embalmment,” said the officer.

"No," replied Fabian, "my father was dead, and that is why he was brought to the mortuary. If he was alive, what would make the ambulance man to take him to the morgue, the first thing he would have done was to confirm whether he was still breathing, or he was completely lifeless".

The police officer was touched, and then he granted Fabian relief. The police, however, went inside the police van and opened the door for Levi to come out; thereafter, they drove away.

People who saw Levi could not believe it. Some thought that it was his ghost, while other believed he was the one. They marveled at this miraculous work of God. Looking at Adanta’s face, it sparkled with a blend of sadness and gladness. She was partly sad because, Levi had risen from the dead, though he was not healed. As Levi came into his house, he wept. "I have seen those who came for my funeral," said Levi, "those who mourned for my departure, and those who valued my existence. Cry no more. I expected a sad farewell from nobody. For now, I am willing to embrace death when it comes. This should be what every thinking human being ought to approach death. Accept it if you have made a right relationship with God. Since all the period of my pain and grief, my relationship with God is absolutely cordial. I have learnt a lot, and my spirit bears me witness that I will not die. This sickness will not kill me. Since I have returned from the valley of dry bones, my storm is over.

“And I want to expose one secret sin existing in the mortuary.  As I opened my eyes in the mortuary, I saw a man mounting a young fair lady that was brought to them few hours later after my arrival. I was speechless when at first I thought he was an evil monster as everywhere was crowded with corpses. Out of fear, I groaned, the man dismounted her. I realized that such men – morticians –are no longer human beings. They do no longer have consciences. They have a room where they first deposit any fair lady corpse who dies a sudden death. They use them first before putting them to the general whalehouse of corpses. No one knows if what they did is for a rightful purpose.

“As I moaned in fear, the man came to me, and made a lot of promises to me if I would not expose what he did in the mortuary, though as he made his unfulfilled promises, I also promised not to expose him so that he would not kill me and then put me back in the cold room, since it was confirmed by my people that I was dead, no wonder that they came along with some police officers to arrest Fabian that he brought them a living man for embalmment.

“Though, it could be because of their heinous crime that I have discovered that made them, by coming to arrest Fabian, to protect their image, I think when someone dies, he or she should be given some time before carrying him/her to the morgue. This is true, because those morticians are heartless towards the cadavers given under their care. There are people who would have regained their lives after death, but the way they throw the bodies makes some who would come to life remain permanently lifeless.

“Also, some people who regain their lives are at times beaten to death so that the morticians would not lose the money that would be given to them by the owners of such a fellow. If not that I and my children are born for signs and wonders, I would have still remained in the morgue," Levi moaned.

Since it was getting toward dusk, sympathizers began to leave one after the other. Cornell and Rodwell were not happy to see that Levi was alive, as they wanted him dead in order to get what they desired. However, they still hoped that Levi would soon die.

"Whoever suffers from long careers is at the door post of his grave,” Cornell yelled.

“Yes,” replied Rodwell, “and he should be willing to forsake whatever he owns, property and wife.”

“And his best, charming daughters," Cornell added, as he was making another plan to marry Bianca in case Mildred failed to marry him. He had heard from Levi the reason he was not allowed to marry her. Though he didn’t understand about Mildred’s sudden change of attitude towards him. He thought perhaps Mildred had known that he had amorous feelings towards Bianca, the daughter of Rodwell. Rodwell had never had an idea that Cornell was in mutual amorous dispositions with his daughter. If he knew, he would not accept him marrying his daughter on the basis that he didn’t like him.

Really, no right-thinking man would give out his daughter in marriage with an irresponsible drunk like Cornell. But one thing about Cornell was that he had enough money, and could lavish it on women. He had wasted his money on women, but this time around, he wanted a wife seriously. He didn’t want to marry one of the women that he had spoiled and women of good manners feared to marry him; not only that, he always got drunk, but no one knew about the source of his income.

Cornell had built a nice five-bedroom house and had also bought cars. He wasn’t a civil servant. He only bought pieces of red cloths, and a small clay pot and then constituted his own shrine. He was a servant of his father, Hullquist, who was a native doctor too.

People believed that Cornell was more powerful than his father, and so his father’s clients devoted much of their interest to him, Cornell. There was a rumor that had spread that he did occultic job for kidnappers so that no gun bullets would touch them. This kind of mystic work or service had made Cornell rich beyond peoples’ expectations. He had before tried to charm Levi into accepting him to marry Mildred. The first day he did it, Levi was speechless, until Cornell left his house.

At times, Levi would complain that any time Cornell came to his house, he would not feel at ease, unless he said “the blood of Jesus.” Once Levi said “the blood of Jesus,” Cornell's charm would not work again; though Levi did not know what Cornell was doing, he usually warned him not to come to his house again or to think of marrying Mildred.

“Young man, how many times have I warned you not to come to my house," Levi asked, "because each time you come, I never feel at ease? My daughter is not for you, and I can never be your father in-law,"

"Sir, with little conversation and interviews that I have had with your pretty daughter,” said Opete, “I realize that you are the only barrier against this union. Though Cornell is a drunk, with the influence of your daughter, he will be reformed. Don’t you know that there are women who are reformers? Your most respected pretty damsel is one of them. Please sir, give me Mildred or I die".

As Rodwell had walked towards his own place, Cornell got a cyclist and then went back to his community, with many things in his mind. As times, if he wanted to stop thinking, he would light up his pipe and then smoke it. Smoking and drinking had become part of him.


This touching novella, by Nigerian writer Fortune E.C. Nwaiwu, has been edited for American audiences by Dr. Douglas Winslow Cooper, via his firm, 

It will be serialized in this blog over the next several weeks.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


by Nigerian writer Fortune E.C. Nwaiwu


The news about the arrival of Levi reached Cornel, Mildred's lover.

Cornel immediately went to a supermarket and purchased a large quantity of beverages – Five Alive, Millo, Peak milk, big tins of glucose, and energy boosting foods. He brought them to Levi so that he would give his consent to the marriage of the daughter.

Mildred was not happy that Cornel had come to her father without informing her. She feared what her dad would say. She knew that nothing would make her father accept his gift, since my dad had earlier denounced him for marrying her.

Mildred looked at her dad, and her dad's eyes met hers, and she wept bitterly. 

"I did not ask him to come, Dad," Mildred purred. "I don't know who told him that you are back from the hospital. I only want to keep a distant relationship with him."

"Be quiet, my daughter," said Levi. "Neither a distant nor a close relationship do I permit you to keep with this bastard who has enriched himself by crooked means. I have made it clear that you are not a match to marry this man. As your father, nothing will make me bless your marriage with this man; our tradition is against any woman who disobeys her father's instructions. Such a woman must surely die unexpectedly. And therefore, I consider your relationship with Cornel null, unmatched," and Levi groaned.

It pained Cornel to hear Levi use the word "bastard" about him, though he endured this because of his love for Mildred. He pleaded to Levi to accept the gifts he brought for him, but Levi discarded them.

"Young man," said Levi, "you have done what no lover could do to his lover's father, but drinking your beverages will sap my little strength. However, your drinks are still yours. I ask you to pick them up from the table where you placed them. How may I accept gifts from someone who is not my certified son-in-law?"

Adanta and her children were silent while watching all the drama, though Adanta did not approve for Cornel to marry her daughter, since she had heard that smokers die young. She did not want her daughter to be a widow at an early age. She knew what she had endured in taking care of her husband's sickness. She used to warn Levi that smoking and the intake of snuff did not match his Christian life, but Levi would not listen to her.

Instead, he would ask her, "Where in the Scriptures is it written, 'thou shalt not smoke or snuff?’"

Now Levi was facing reality, and he would never advise his children to smoke nor to marry a smoker. This was the only cause of disagreement between Cornel and Levi; even after Cornel decided to quit smoking, Levi refused to bless him, because given the long duration during which Cornel was once a smoker, its harmful effects would soon manifest.

Mildred recalled what her dad said in the hospital about her relationship with Cornel. Though she loved Cornel, she could not bring herself to marry him without her father's consent. This subdued her.
Even when Cornel was reluctantly leaving the house, the situation did not permit her to utter a word. Instead, her face was downcast until she formed the handsome image of Cornel in her mind. She then raised her gaze and looked toward where Cornel had hissed like a big python in despondency.

Mildred thought about one absolute barrier that would never be overcome in her relationship with Cornel: the effect of drug addition. What really demoralized her in her love adventure with him was how much her father’s drug addiction had harmed her father. She did not want to pass through this terrible stress that her mother, Adanta, was undergoing, and she feared what a curse her father might lay on her; therefore, her love for Cornel began to dwindle. She remembered that Bianca was another lady who had also charmed his heart.

In tears, she groaned, "Let him go. He did not heed the preaching of the clergies. All that occupies his mind are flirtation and the pleasures of this world. He doesn't care for his spiritual growth. Let the spoiled spoil, and let the good be good, but what I know is that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I have seen a reason why my father does not want me to marry him, though he has money.” Mildred yelled, “Money is not everything. Despite the one million naira my mother paid as the hospital bill, my dad is not yet okay. What will make me marry someone whose life is shortened by drugs?"

Soon after, I came along with a member, Rodwell, to pray for Levi. As soon as she beheld the face of Rodwell, Adanta could not feel at ease anymore.

Levi did not know what had transpired between Rodwell and his wife. He thought his wife's uneasy attitude was occasioned by his own ill-health.

I ordered Adanta and Mildred to cover their heads with their head-ties. Adanta looked around herself and found a piece of her wrapper to cover her head, while Mildred used her white handkerchief to veil hers.

I prayed.

Levi felt the mighty power from above. He asked me to offer a prayer of forgiveness on his behalf. "Despite all the messages you delivered concerning abstaining from drugs, I did not put them into practice," Levi moaned, "I now bear the consequence of drug abuse. How I wish the Lord in His infinite mercy would forgive and heal me!"

I consoled him: "Our Lord is the God of impossibilities. He works in ways that surprise us. If He decides to show mercy on you, He will heal you. What the world considers impossible is what God sees as possible. Every giant storm in the world's eyes is very small before God. When a man co-operates with the God of impossibilities, he then operates in the realm of possibilities. Be patient and trust in the Lord. He will revive you."

Levi asked his wife, Adanta, to bring out what Dr. Smart had written to him about the date of his death. Before he could finish saying what he wanted to say, his speech was obstructed by a cough, persistently. As he coughed, thick blood oozed from his mouth, and he had no strength to talk.

What Levi did was to point with his right hand toward his chest, indicating that his chest was paining him. None of us was aware of that except Adanta and I, both of whom had been in the hospital with him. We were aware that when Levi coughed excessively, it caused him to experience chest pain.

Adanta got her purse and searched for the drugs that Dr. Smart gave to her. She gave her husband a morphine-based pain-killer as instructed by the doctor, to relieve chest pain whenever Levi coughed out phlegm with blood, part of the chemotherapy which might prolong his life.

Levi managed to drink the drugs with a wry face. His wife comforted him with soft words full of encouragement and reassurance. Such an encouragement could easily heal a broken heart.

"Take heart, no one drinks medicines happily. The only aim of drinking them is to make it through sickness and to keep the body healthy. Be patient. All will be well," Adanta reassured.

"Do you think that I can continue to live by drugs?" Levi asked. "Is it not written in the Scriptures that man must not live by bread alone, but by the word of God. The word of God gives life, and by faith the righteous will live.” Then Levi affirmed, “I still have the feeling that one day all my pains and sorrow shall be over."

"May your faith heal you," I prayed.

Fabian and Mildred added, "Amen."

"Brother Levi," I said, "now that you are undergoing pains and grief, you need to confess your sins before the Lord, so that He will show you his mercy. At this time of pain, you only need Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul. If not, after this, your perishable flesh is destroyed, your soul will likewise rest in hellfire. Brother Levi, imagine that what is killing you now is the sin of drug addiction. No one could think that you would continue to smoke or talk of snuffing. You appear innocent, but now your secret sin has exposed you to the core. As Moses told Israelites, ‘Your sin shall find you out.’”

He continued, “How will people feel to hear that an elder of Saint Philip Church is dying of lung cancer as a result of drug addiction? In our church doctrine, this heinous sin attracts suspension, but looking at your situation, to suspend you is to hand you over to Satan. If only you can reconcile yourself with God within this limited time the medical experts have predicted you have left, you can win your soul back from Satan. However, the church has forgiven you and has requested you to come to church to deliver your last sermon here on Earth before you join your ancestors. As you do it, may the Lord be with you."

Mildred and Fabian wept, seeing that in my spiritual inclination I had confirmed the impending doom of their father, as predicted by the doctors.

All hope was lost.

Their crying voices echoed to very distant places, and people that heard them thought that Levi had finally given up his ghost. Adanta moved straightaway to her room, weeping. She wept not only for the sickness of her husband, but also for the breach of trust which she had committed to try to save his life, and even so, death was certainly encroaching upon him. She feared about the moral purity that she had forfeited with Rodwell. She lived in the debris of her guilt, and she knelt there, praying for God to forgive her.

Mildred and Fabian were moved by the intense groaning sound of anguish in their mother's room, yet none dared open Adianta’s door to console her. Instead, they committed the whole matter to the hands of God.

"I believe that there is nothing that prayers cannot do," said Mildred.

"If Job was restored even after passing through a rigorous series of trials, what about our dad, wouldn't God resuscitate him?” Fabian asked.

"God is able to heal him, though the medical experts have spoken of a day of his death. Are they God?" Mildred asked.

"They are not," Fabian replied.

Levi rested in his bed, meditating on God's word. He had decided to forget about the thought of his death, but it wasn't easy.

Mildred moved towards him and said, "Dad, never you think about anything else; a time like this demands a total commitment to God. Remember the soft and comforting words of Job, ‘As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last, He will stand upon the Earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God, Whom I will see for myself, and Whom my own eyes will behold, not another.’ Wouldn't you learn a lesson from Job? After the period of Job's trials, he was revived. God did not forsake him. I think, at this time, God is closer to your situation. You should think this: is there anything too difficult for God?"

Mildred said this to her father, who nodded his head, affirming the consoling words of his daughter.

Some words damage souls. Some words uplift spiritual beings.

Levi then thought that my words and the advice of the doctors had ruined his soul.

He groaned, "But your words, my daughter, have healed the wounds in my lungs. Even if I die now, I still have people who will mourn for me, but I appeal to you, all my lovely children and wife, that whenever my journey begins, none should cry for me. I believe I will see my Maker, though people have concluded that I will not make Heaven since I am dying of drug addiction."


This touching novella, by Nigerian writer Fortune E.C. Nwaiwu, has been edited for American audiences by Dr. Douglas Winslow Cooper, via his firm, 

It will be serialized in this blog over the next several weeks.

Friday, January 12, 2018


by Fortune Emerence Chinemerem Nwaiwu

Chapter Three

A few days later, I returned to the hospital to ask Dr. Smart if there was nothing he could do to sustain Levi's life. As I entered the hospital, my mind whispered to me to follow the route to the patients' zone.

As I walked along, I heard a groaning sound. I then looked up to decipher the exact place where the groaner was. Suddenly, I saw her lying in her sick bed, moaning as she breathed.

I was told that she had been in such a state for long. I was grieved, and wanted to pray for her before other patients cut in. 

She spoke to me: "Man of God, we recognized you as the only one who visits us here always. Ever remember us in your prayers, since no one asks about us, neither friends nor relatives. We are always reminded that our sins are the cause of our sickness and suffering. We have, though, learnt a lesson out of it, as this ordeal prepares our souls to accept Christ, drawing us nearer to God. 

"Such is our greatest gain, because after our bodies have decomposed, we shall see our God in His glorious kingdom. We have no reason for doubting, nor questioning him, nor thwarting what he has designed to be our fate.

“Here, we not only bear the pains of our sickness, but also the pains occasioned by the doctors. At times, they don't feel sympathy for us; instead, they take their injection needles and insert them into our arteries and buttocks. 

"Whether we moan or not does not concern them. If we are unable to open our mouths to drink drugs, our wretched bodies receive sound blows, and our mouths are opened by force.

“Even so, thereafter, we remain uncured. No one knows if we are being treated with the right drugs and vaccines or if our sickness has no cure. We are kept aside as soon-to-be-dying patients.

“Please intercede for us in your prayers, for the only source of our survival here after death is God. We also appeal to you to preach to the world that we have surrendered to Christ, and we have forgiven those who wronged us, for we don't know yet the day our journey will commence. We are now at the verge of crossing over to another realm of life. 

"Since no one cried for us as we are in pain now, we desire no sad farewell from anyone; no one should bother himself or herself to sacrifice a ram for us, for naked we come into the earth and with nothing we shall return home," thus she and the patients moaned.

I sighed as I listened to their pathetic story, and I felt sad for them. 

I really understood what they were passing through, because I had known someone like them before, though his own sickness was minor compared to theirs.

I remembered that on December 29, 2016, I was awakened in the night by my mother and told that my dad was lying down, sick.

"Peterson, come out now or you’ll hear sad news that your dad is dead," my mum wept. 

I thought that the sickness would be minor, a fever or a spiritual attack, since I was not told before that he was sick.

I moved to my dad's room and found him writhing in pain. I began to sing songs of praises to God and then of healing with my siblings.

We prayed.

Thereafter, we thought about where to take him. My mum referred us to his brother at Okpala, who could take us to a man who had cured him when he had been spiritually poisoned.

I entered my car immediately with my younger brother and we drove off. We saw my uncle, and told him about my dad's health. He took us to one Cherubim and Seraphim Church, not far from his house. 

As we entered, they asked us to wait because they were having fasting and prayers. So, we parked our car near the gate of the church, and stayed inside it because the harmattan wind was too severe. As we sat in the car, I told my brother that the priest would think that we came with gifts and money to give to him if he saw our car standing outside.

We laughed and discussed the matter, then stayed n the car for over three hours before the priest's servant called us in. We came out of the car and saw the man. We did not realize that he was blind before he told us, and in his infirmity, he served God faithfully.

I asked myself if such a blind man can serve God faithfully, what about people with healthy bodies?

My uncle told him about our mission, and the priest asked his servant to give us a bottle of alabaster oil, as my dad complained of stomach ache; the priest commanded us to allow no woman in her menstruation to touch it.

We returned home, and gave my dad a spoonful of the oil to drink, which he did. The only things the oil did was to disturb my dad's stomach and cause him to go for toilet, which he hadn't done for two days. 

After this, my dad told us that his sickness was a surgical case, that we should look for a gastroenterologist who would perform the surgery.

We did not take what he said seriously because we didn't know that he had a hernia. We kept quiet. My elder brother and I then went to a computer and logged onto the Internet to discover the symptoms of a hernia. What we saw was exactly what my dad was passing through.

We then consulted our bishop, a seller of medicines, a man who also gave people treatments. We told him about my dad's problem, and he said exactly what we saw in the Internet.

He then referred us to Odagwa, where he had been treated for the same problem. We left for Odagwa, where it was discovered that my dad had a dangerous, strangulated hernia.

Having been asked to buy tissues, a bucket, cups, and the things needed for the operation, we drove down to the Eketa market, where we bought all these supplies. while we were in the market, two of my church members saw me and my two brothers. They knew that something was wrong. I had tried to appear happy, but it wasn't so easy as my heart was so saddened.

"Sir Peterson,” Adanta yelled, together with her daughter Mildred, who came to the market with her mum to buy Christmas cloths, "Is anything the matter?”

They asked me this staring steadily at me.

"My dad is right now in the hospital for a surgical operation, and we have come to buy some necessary items," I answered.

I left them and then joined my brothers. We were in a hurry to meet up. We even thanked God that my damaged Nissan Almera was fixed by then. I had bought the car directly from the UK, and it was new, until enemies in the village damaged it to invoke a spoiling spirit on it. 

As I was converting the steering from the right-hand to the left-hand, many things were found to be damaged, the battery busted, the ignition system damaged, the car radio burnt. 

I thought that the auto mechanics were incompetent. I did not realize that what was happening to my car was a spiritual matter, later revealed to me by God through his prophets.

I said a series of prayers, and still my car was not in normal state. By then I had spent a lot of money. I challenged God, making a vow for God to work on my car, and yet I was not seeing any improvement, until I fulfilled my vow.

Now that my dad was sick, my repaired car could take me to wherever I wished to go. This convinced me that believers facing challenges with great assurances are all part of being “prisoners of hope.” So, due to my dad's prior sickness, I knew how painful it was for one to be sick.

Looking at the patients in the hospital, I comforted them with God's word, full of hope. I prayed for them.

I wanted to speak with Dr. Smart, but my mind whispered to me not to see him. I thought: you have achieved the very purpose God brought you here for; leave the doctor, and God will take care of Levi."

As I was leaving, a voice was raised indicating that God had harvested a soul in the hospital.

"Rapture has begun," I said, my mind was occupied by the fates of the patients.

My phone distracted me by ringing. I dipped my hand in my trousers pocket and brought it out.

It was Dr. Smart calling. "Hi, Reverend Peterson, I heard that you visited my hospital."

I did not know whether to give him a straight answer or not. I thought, maybe he would accuse me of killing the patient who had died immediately as I left the hospital.

I recalled what happened to me when one of my students in school told me that her mum was bedridden. I went with her to pray for her mother. It was after the prayer that the woman saw angels in white garments, and then became afraid. When I came to see her for the second time, the woman's behavior showed that she didn't like me to pray for her because of her religious beliefs and what she had seen the first day I had prayed for her.

The woman crawled like a tiny crab to another corner of the room, away from where I was praying.

As I opened my eyes a bit, I saw her looking at me disgustedly.

Bad religion has spoiled your mind, I thought. I left my prayer unfinished.

The woman’s daughter knew what was happening, and she apologized that her mum's church did not like prayers offered by a non-member.

This, I thought, may be the reason Dr. Smart was calling. "Yes, I was in your hospital some minutes ago, and I prayed for some of the patients who said they were soon-to-die patients," I replied.

"Please, let these patients be given the privilege to attend the service when Levi delivers his last words, as your church deems fit. As a Christian, I don't want the souls of dying patients to go to hell fire," the doctor yelled.

I replied, "Sure, I will be glad to see them. God bless you," and the call ended.


This touching novella, by Nigerian writer Fortune E.C. Nwaiwu, has been edited for American audiences by Dr. Douglas Winslow Cooper, via his firm, 

It will be serialized in this blog over the next several weeks.