By: ABAH, Abah Oyagaba
IT seemed to Jerry within the three minutes of his climbing the in-between-forest mountain, with a cemented stairway and having hundreds of different categories of people clustered like pilgrims on a pedestrian journey, as though the uphill movement to ORI-OKE SOLUTION CENTRE PRAYER GROUND would be endless somehow. His waist pinched him first after he had counted ten stairways behind him, but he was a young man and if old women and crutched men could meander their ways up the hill, he should be braver. Some fellow climbers stepped aside to take some volumes of fresh air. Jerry was young and, so, he shouldn’t join them. Besides, time was ticking out. He must make sure he seats in the first pew to catch his solution quick and unbiased. After leaving not less than thirty stairways and dozens of fellow climbers behind, his waist no longer pinched him; it ached him, but the aching of his waist was nothing to be weighed with his expecting solution.
‘Hi’. Jerry waved at a young lady by his side whose perfume announced her passage who unlike Jerry and other pilgrims, hid her desperation in seriousness.
‘Hi’. She replied casually as though there were other important things to be concerned about.
‘My name is Jeremiah, though people like you call me Jerry.’
‘Good. I am Jessica.’
‘Wow! Nice name; it reminds me of one of my closed course mates back then at the university.’
‘Good.’ Jessica winked.
‘I am going to Solution Centre for an employment opportunity. I have been jobless for more than half a decade. I graduated with 2:1 from UNN. I studied Petrochemical Engineering and as it’s endemic to this our country, I am still roaming Abuja city looking for a job after I had tried PH and Lagos for three years.’
‘Good.’ Jessica replied and Jerry became embarrassed as he quickly realized he had vomited to this Jessica of a lady who is obviously haughty almost everything about himself.
I better leave this lady alone so as to save my remaining rep. Jerry thought and hasted ahead of her though it was already a few meters away from the auditorium.
‘If you’re happy and you know surely that you’re happy and there is no doubt that you’re happy to be in this Ori-Oke this evening to catch your instant solution, can you give the Lord a thunderous shout.’ The chorus leader motivated and the foundation of the auditorium vibrated as the voices of the people filled the air and cumulated into something heavier than abstract.
Everybody sang and danced and rejoiced as the chorus leader had taken them deeper into a different realm. Everybody’s spirit was lighted up and everyone’s face was already aglow. Jerry danced and danced and sang along with the crowd, though at some points he had to move lips so that no one could notice he didn’t know most of the songs.
‘The word of God says we should cast all our burdens on God for He cares for us. Brethren, before we cast our burden on God, we are going to cast our first offering to God. You know, the bible says that it is more blessed to give than to receive.’ The moderator, who Jerry didn’t understand why he chose to keep both beard and mustache at the same time, announced.
Offering song was raised by the choir and Jerry didn’t know when three ques were filed up and everyone was dancing and rejoicing to the offering post. He wanted to follow them, but he quickly remembered he had just his fair back home in his pocket. He looked side left, side right and everywhere, he discovered he was the only one just dancing motionlessly. He quickly remembered back his childhood smartness and the game they used to play during offering time when they had arranged how to rather enjoy the coin they had been given for offering in school the following day. He danced. He swayed his hands in the air rejoicing as he joined the moving brethren for the offering. The que he joined moved until it moved him to the offering box and he played his game well –at least, his right hand went the same direction others’ hands went.
‘It’s time for your solution.’ The moderator announced.
‘Hallelujah!’ The audience chorused.
‘I said, the long-awaited solution time has finally come.’
‘Hal…le…lu…jah…’ The audience was excited.
‘Come on, let somebody give the Lord a shou…t!’ The moderator directed and the mountain sent the people’s voices to the entire Abuja city.
‘Brethren, join me as I humbly make welcome to the podium the man of anointing. The man of power. The man of authority. The man of ….’
The audience’s exciting roars interrupted the moderator. Everybody was agitated at this point. Everyone was twisting here and there. Jerry had to follow every bit of what was going on whether he understood it or not.
‘Hallelujah!’ The moderator gathered composure to continue and conclude the introduction.
‘Amen.’ The ‘Amen’ of the audience brought absolute quietness.
‘He is the man of solution…’ The moderator continued.
‘A…me…n!’ The audience jumped up and turned around and demonstrated. Jerry pitied the old people and the crutched people who were trying very hard to be part of the excitement in the auditorium.
‘With a standing ovation and thunderous shouts and applause, join me to welcome to the stage, Pastor, Prophet, Evangelist, Doctor Jeremiah Adebayo.’
The audience roared and shouted and jumped up and clapped their hands and demonstrated their excitement.
‘Hallelujah somebody!’ The bearded pastor who Jerry doubted if he could be up to forty years began his ministrations of prayers. He spoke calmly and gently and the speakers echoed his voice round the mountain and circulated it around the city.
‘As you know or you should know, I am not the expected solution giver. I am just an errand boy. Baba is on his way coming. But expect your first miracle of solution even right now.’
‘Amen o!’ The audience chorused.
Jerry’s mind was really charged up to receiving his long-awaited miracle. Everybody seemed ready to catch his or her solution as if the solution would be thrown to the audience and only those who were fit would catch it. Jerry was ready to catch his own. After all, he was still a young man. If ten persons in the auditorium would be able to catch their own, he believed he must be among them.
‘As you know, the prayer would be offered batch by batch as the spirit leads and according to the problems be solved.
The minister called the first group. The group of those looking for the fruit of the womb. They filed up and were matching to the podium. Everybody in the auditorium (except those matching to the podium) was firmly instructed to close his or her eyes in prayers for that was how to get connected to heaven. Jerry closed his eyes but opened in frequent intervals though he was really praying. Jerry noticed that those to whom prayers were offered at that point in time were dropping parcels in a box which he believed were their respective prayer points that the pastor would anoint and set ablaze. The group matched back with excitement on their faces.
Wow! So that’s quick the solutions come. I am really lucky to have come to solution centre today. Jerry thought.
The next group was those looking for husbands. Jerry was shocked as he saw Jessica at the forefront as if she was the one leading the group. Jerry couldn’t believe that as beautiful as Jessica looked, she could be going to prayer houses before having a husband. The procession continued.
It was the turn of Jerry and he went. As he had seen others in the previous group did before, he folded his prayer point which he had scribbled on a paper hurriedly as soon as he discovered the need. The other people in front of him dropped theirs and they were poured ointment on their heads one after the other. Jerry did same and he became excited when the man who manned the place like an observer ordered him to open the paper. Jerry quickly opened the paper and showed him the prayer point written boldly on it.
‘Are you new here?’ The man asked Jerry calmly.
‘Yes, man of God.’ He replied anxiously.
‘Prayer for employment is N50,000 only.’
‘But, sir, I am jobless. Where do I get such amount of money from now?’
‘Anywhere, anyhow. Whatever you can do to get your dreamed employment, can’t you do it?’
‘I can, man of God. But please, pray for me. As soon as I get my first salary, I swear, I will come and pay back.’
‘This is my problem with people who come for employment prayer; they would never put their faith into action. Please go and come tomorrow. We don’t pray for people on credit here.’
Abah, Abah Oyagaba was born in Ogo Oluwa L.G.A. of Oyo State and brought up in Idiri Okpoga in Okpokwu L.G.A. of Benue State where he has his biological root. He is a graduate of English/Education from Benue State University, Makurdi. He served as the President of Writers League during his undergraduate program in the University. He is a Ghost Writer, a Freelancer and a Copywriter. His works have appeared on both national and international literary platforms. He was the first runner-up of the 2017 Albert Jungers Poetry Prize and was also shortlisted for the 2018 Tony Tokunbo Fernandez International Poetry Competition and the 2018 African Writers Award (Flash Fiction category).