EXPRESSIONS Opinion

The Priest ( EPISODE 5) – Do not be too quick to judge people, especially when you don’t know their story.

On this day, all the confessions I listened to had a thing or another to do with pregnancy. Somewhat, it seemed like a planned thing. It was unbelievable. All day, I kept asking God why.

My first client was a man. He had impregnated his wife’s little cousin. It’s unfortunate how people do not know that sin, when the first or supposed smaller one is not confessed, has the ability to grow in graver magnitude. This man who was also a deacon in church decided to abort the pregnancy! Unfortunately, the abortion was unsuccessful. The young lady had an acute hemorrhage. This, however, was not enough for the man whom I expected to know better to turn to God. He claimed he could not bear the shame. He capped off his sin with blood on his hands.

In his explanation, the silliest I have ever heard for murder, he said, “Father, she was suffering too much from the blood loss so I help her to die with less pain.” To be frank, I was so tempted to go on to his side of the booth and bless him a dozen of slaps! You do not want to know the penance I gave him.

The second case; a distraught woman was on the verge of losing her marriage. Her union with her husband was as fruitless as Ghana’s search for a solution to our power crisis. And… she was the reason. In the early years of their marriage, she found warmth with her husband’s younger brother while her legitimate warmth-giver was away on military assignment. Just like the penitent before her, she tried to conceal her sin. I am sure you can guess how. Well, the deed went bad and her womb was perforated. Her husband had been back for one year now and had ever since been staying up at night with the aim of scoring a baby to no avail.

Her reply after I told her to confess this to her husband cracked me up. “Father, consider this an invitation to conduct a funeral service of two – mine and my brother-in-law’s.”

And there was a third. Hers was a ‘pre-confession’. She came to ask God for forgiveness for her intention to put in public domain sex tapes of her and a popular pastor who had impregnated her. Her confession was as brief as my account of it. She didn’t even wait for her penance. Not that I had one for her though. Anyway, if that tape ever makes it out, let your friends and your friends’ friends know that you heard it from me first.

After the third, I had had enough. I bowed my head and begged God to save my ears any more stories about pregnancies. I didn’t even say an amen to my prayer before the next penitent saved me the trouble of saying a prayer I was not going to get my desired answer for.

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“Father, I have sinned. I have sinned against God and I have sinned against man.” There was something about the voice. I thought it sounded familiar but when I scanned through the saved voices folder of my mind, there was no match. Her rendition of the confession preamble, as I call it, was very catholic – whatever that means. She continued, “Father, I am pregnant.”

There was a long pause after this as if to say I was expected to react in a certain way. But first, I struggled to see how pregnancy was a sin. Also, having heard several pregnancy-related confessions early on, my body had automatically replaced my pregnancy shock absorber with a new and stronger one. I was not moved one bit by her confession.

When she noticed that I was not going to indulge her, she continued, “I’m not supposed to be pregnant.”

“Isn’t that what you all say?” I said in my head. I kept mute and so she went on.

“I’m a nun!”

“What!?” I exclaimed.

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I resisted the urge to ask how it had happened; I expected her to be forthcoming. She got the silent message and proceeded.

“Father, it is an unforgettable experience.”

I asked, “How so?”

“It was a rainy night, about three months ago and I was returning home from the parish. It was quite late, I think it was around 10 pm. I was quite scared to use the isolated path that led to my rented apartment but there was no taxi available to send me. So I set off on foot. Alone. The night was dark and cold. Everyone was indoors. Or so I thought.  I was walking slowly and cautiously. Soon, I arrived at the last curve on the road I was using. At this point, thick shrubs hedged both sides of the path. That was when I set sight upon a scene that sent shivers into my bones.

Two tough-looking hooded men were heckling a young man. It was, unmistakably, a robbery. Silently, I retreated, in tiptoes. Father, I don’t know if it was karma or just bad luck or the work of God but when I was almost out of their sight, I stepped on a twig. It broke with a loud snap! The taller of the two men screamed, inquiring who was there. I kept silent. I was contemplating whether or not to run for my life with all of my strength. But in that case if they caught me I would be a dead goat. Eii, did I just say ‘dead goat’?”

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This lady was making me smile. Ha! I got the joke. But dead goats don’t have feelings, do they? I was smiling widely now. She continued. “I decided against running. One of them rushed over to my side and led me roughly to where his partner was. They requested that I gave them money. I saw the bloody face of their first victim and almost peed on myself. Quickly, I brought out the GHc5 that was on me. They sniggered. ‘You think we are joking here, huh?! If you know you don’t have money then start undressing.’ These were no wags; they meant business.

I pleaded with them incessantly, but their minds were already made. Before I could say ‘koose’, they took the first victim and me to a nearby uncompleted building and began ripping my clothes off. One had his way with me for twenty solid minutes then the second took over.”

I felt sympathy for her. A virgin…awwww. To cut short her story and the pain that I envisaged came with it, I asked her whether that rape was what caused the pregnancy. She said yes so I told her that in that case, it wasn’t her fault.

“Father, that is right, it was not my doing oo. What I feel sinful about is that when the second man started doing it, I began enjoying it! And I have been feeling guilty ever since.”

Chai! I did not even know what to tell her. I did not even know what to think. But I managed to convince her that she had even done well in keeping the baby, and that it was normal to enjoy sex, no matter how bizarre the circumstances so she should not be too hard on herself. I recommended the requisite spiritual exercise for her and she left the confessional booth with smiles on her face.

One message kept resounding in my head: Do not be too quick to judge people, especially when you don’t know their story.

By : Leslie Akplah and Nana Elikem, Writers threesixtyGh

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