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.

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