It took lots of courage for Martha to present herself at the church, on the day the penalty for her derailment was announced. Not with the fact that she had become a pariah to everyone, including her parents and siblings. No one believed that the act that led to her pregnancy was a forced one, as she claimed.
Immediately the Deaconesses left the Aboderins’ on the day of the confrontation, they moved back to the pastorium, not minding that it was late into the night.
Expressing their disappointment as they gave the Pastor the feedback, they advised that action should be taken swiftly before the pregnancy would be harmed.
Martha was tested, and confirmed to be three months gone. Her parents were devastated, and nearly died from shame and heart- break. Her dad had to be summoned back from his station, to stand by his wife, who was almost having a mental breakdown.
Even before the Pastor made an official announcement, majority of the church members were in the know, and warned their children to beware of the Aboderins, because the children are wayward.
Before then, the church council had invited Martha into their midst for further verification and counselling, preparatory to disciplinary action.
At the meeting with the council members, Martha sat in- between her parents, both of whom were bowed and shrunken from shame, especially because of several accusatory eyes looking at them. Albeit, there were some kind and sympathetic faces among the council members, but such were few, very few.
Both parents tried as much as possible, to sit far away from Martha. One was to the wall, and the other to the extreme end of the bench, as if they were dissociating from her. More especially because, she had not trusted them enough to mention the name of the person responsible for her predicament, insisting she would only talk when she gets to the council meeting.
They sat facing the council members, who were on chairs around a mahogany table, with the Pastor at the head.
Without mincing words, the Pastor confirmed what almost everyone had known; that Martha Aboderin is carrying a three months old pregnancy, as confirmed in the laboratory and through scan. He condemned what had happened in its entirety, and emphasized that stiff penalty would be taken against her, and whosoever is responsible for the pregnancy, if he is a member of the church.
Nevertheless, he admonished everyone to look at the happening from the perspective of love, and have the mind to encourage and be kind to the Aboderins, especially at such trying period. He said since Christ came for all and sundry, including those that are presumed sinners, no one should be condemned but rather, Christians should carry one another’s burden in love.
After that, the questioning began.
For how long has Martha been sxually active?
She answered that she was a vrgin, and the event that led to the pregnancy was her first sexual encounter.
Asked if she had ever noticed some characters to show that her daughter had been seeing men, Mrs. Aboderin took the boldness to stare directly at the council members, replying that nothing has ever been suggestive of such. Martha had always been a decent girl, and she is yet to come to term on what has befallen her.
Ask if Martha had mentioned the name of the person that put her in the family way, Mrs. Aboderin burst into tears saying, “That is the problem. Despite the beating, the cajoling and everything, she refused to talk, insisting that she will only mention the name at the church council meeting.”
“Ngbo Martha? The Pastor asked, “Who is the man responsible?”
Martha looked up and said, “I waited to mention the name here, because if I do so before now, he might look for a way to extricate himself. He warned that on no account should I tell anyone about what happened. I threatened to tell my mum the day I was rapped, but he said no one will believe me. And really, I made a great mistake by honoring the invitation to his house, knowing he had been pestering me for sx.”
“Story- story,” Mrs. Johnson whispered into Mrs. Williams’s ear.
“Wait Martha,” the Pastor cut her short. “You will have all the time to narrate about what happened. But who is the man that rapped you?”
Martha looked at the Pastor, her parents, the council members, then pointed to the door saying, “He’s out there in the choir, he’s having choir practice with them, and I can’t even join.”
“What? Who?” the pastor asked gently.
“Looking towards the two Deaconesses at the back, Martha emphatically called the name- Jide.
“Jide, Jide,” the Pastor repeated.
“Yes! Jide Williams, the coordinator of the praise team.”
“It is not possible,” Mrs. Williams said, standing up and moving towards Martha, as if she would pounce on her. “You can’t rope my son into your mess, just because I was the one that first discovered you are pregnant, before you could ab©rt it as usual. What a liar? What a useless girl?”
“I beg your pardon,” Mrs. Aboderin responded and stood up. “My daughter is not useless.”
“Then, she should stop trying to implicate innocent people. What will my son do with this thing? He’s a graduate awaiting youth service, a well brought up son.”
“It doesn’t count,” an elder spoke from behind. “You can’t just trust the children of this age.”
“The girl is not sure of what she’s saying,” another elder said.
The room became rowdy, as the council members exchanged words. It took lots of effort before the Pastor could restore order.
Facing Martha, he asked if she was sure of what she said.
“I’m very sure sir,” she responded. “He forced me, and slept with me.”
“A week after the revival service, precisely on August 25.”
“In his parents’ sitting room.”
“This is a tricky knot that needs to be loosened carefully,” the Pastor said. “Our aim as a church is to do justice to all, and let no offender go scot free. Deaconess Williams,” he called. “Where were you on August 25?”
“I wasn’t in town,” Mrs. Williams responded. “I and Daddy were at a wedding in Kano. But Pastor, this girl is lying, my son can never do such.”
“Don’t worry, we will get to the root of it,” the Pastor responded, and sent for Jide.
Jide expressed utmost surprise as he entered the room, to behold the faces
of the council members, consisting of church elders and Deacons.
After responding to his greeting, the Pastor apologized for calling him out of the choir, and threw the first question at him.
“Son,” he said. “Look at the lady seated there,” pointing to Martha. “Do you know her?”
“Yes sir,” Jide replied smiling. “She’s Martha Aboderin, one of our choristers.”
“What else do you know about her?”
“Nothing more than, she’s a praise leader in the church, and…”
“I don’t know if it is appropriate to say it here.”
“You are free to say anything,” the Pastor said.
© Bosede Fagbemi