The sound of Lilian’s claps resounded in the room even when that of the others had died down. She moved her body enthusiastically and her voice rang out, so pure and clear. Lilian was in the spirit. When she had woken up that morning, she reached for her phone to know if what happened the night before was just a dream. It wasn’t hard to find out. As soon as she unlocked her phone, she was greeted by the details of the night call. Before she could process it enough to cry or breakdown and call Peter, Ijeoma was in her room telling her about the prayer session that would be held in the house for three days. Distraction, exactly what she needed. She jumped on it, nodding her head as she said she would be glad to join them. But right now as she moved her body, the thoughts that needed her attention were still nibbling at the edge of her mind. She refused to think about it. Ijeoma and her husband wouldn’t be going back to Lagos until they solved whatever that was troubling them. Another reason to stick to what they had planned. When she returned to Lagos, she’d deal with her failed relationship.
Ijeoma stared at the pastor as he continued telling them his revelations. Ridiculous, she wanted to say. But she could only listen to the pastor. Someone had placed a curse on them, that was obvious. What shocked her was that the person was not Angela, and it was not just one person. She’d been so sure, so certain that it was Angela that put them in their current state. Hearing the words from the pastor’s mind exonerated her. She looked to catch the smug look on the face of the woman. Today, her face was bare of the make-up that often caked it. She is beautiful, Ijeoma admitted reluctantly. And she was, even with the lines of age that were beginning to stretch out from the edge of her lips. Angela caught her look and gave her a smile, not a taunting smile, but of undisguised pity. She looked away and continued to listen to what the pastor was saying.
They had two enemies. One she already knew, her family, or rather the rift she had created with them when she left the house. Apham was still afflicted by the curse they had placed on him when Iyora returned to the country a former shell of herself. Their marriage without an attempt to get the forgiveness and blessing of her family had obvious consequences on their marriage. The other was from Apham’s family. She had seen the look of dread on both Thomas’ and Apham’s face to know that whatever they had thought of would not be easily dealt with.
She was already thinking of ways to approach her own part of the problem. Iyora. So curses worked. Her thoughts were scattered. Nights spent with Iyora as they piled curses on the man that had ruined her. Ironic much. She had cursed herself. May he never know any happiness. May anything he put his hand to fail. She was tempted to laugh. She still couldn’t believe it. Four years ago, she had dragged her bag out of her parent’s home with a resolute look on her face. She had ignored Iyora’s calls, her mother’s warnings, her father’s threat to disown her, and never looked back. Now she had to go back to that house. Of course, it had always been a matter of time that she goes back to plead their forgiveness, but she had wanted to do it with her children, flaunt her happy marriage so that they wouldn’t tell her We warned you.
Everything wasn’t about prayers, the pastor said when Apham had asked why he couldn’t just pray and break whatever was holding them. There were many things in life that were caused by people’s actions, they needed to take responsibility for it. Sometimes, these things hold them back, not moving forward or backward but just remaining stagnant in one place. It wasn’t always as spiritual as it was physical. She didn’t understand the last sentence but she understood what he meant.
They were going back to Lagos sooner than they had expected. They’d first deal with her family before traveling to Apham’s village to settle whatever they had waiting for them there.
“I’m scared,” she told Apham later that night as they prepared to go to bed.
“It will be all right, honey. I believe that.” He kissed her on the forehead and clasped her thin hands in his.
They returned to Lagos the day after the prayer session ended. Thomas embraced her before they left, apologizing that he could not do anything to help them. Ijeoma had asked about the problem from their village, but he shook his head and said that Apham could handle it, she just had to focus on making peace with her family. On the ride to the airport, Ijeoma busied herself with drilling the nurse for what was bothering her. While she had been over-active during the prayer sessions, her mood had turned awry as soon as the prayer ended. It was hardly difficult to spot a fake smile on the face of the young girl that was always filled with positive energy.
“Are you okay?” she asked while the driver loaded their bags in the car.
“Yes ma.” Lilian smiled tiredly.
“No, really. You don’t look okay. What is the matter?”
Lilian looked away. Ijeoma put a hand round her shoulders. “Is it a relationship problem? Your boyfriend?”
“Ma,” Lilian choked out. But said nothing more.
Ijeoma sighed. They were about to enter the car. She told Apham that she would sit in the front with Lilian while he shared a seat with the bodyguard.
“How long have you been dating him?” Ijeoma pestered, fighting through the defenses the girl had placed.
“I don’t want to talk about it ma,” she said. The car was driving out of the house now.
“Come on.” Ijeoma nudged her. “They a problem shared is half-solved.”
“Not my own,” Lilian retorted.
Ijeoma laughed. Her sharp mouth was still very much there. “Well, if you don’t want to talk, I will talk. I have problems of my own as well.”
It wasn’t a long journey to the airport, but in that little amount of time, Ijeoma poured out her story to the nurse. Lilian listened raptly, the only sign of her attention was the constant frown that dotted her brows and the hums of encouragement that came from her throat.
Ijeoma was glad that they were not seating close to each other in the flight. After telling her everything, she suddenly regretted doing it. She knew what the nurse would say when she opened her mouth, she shook her head. “I don’t want to hear it.”
During the nearly two-hour flight, the two women were left to ruminate over the condition of the other woman.