“I hope you die and burn in hell you cruel dog,” said Mother Bishop to her husband.
The figure was sleeping in what seemed like a thick pile of blankets. Matter of fact the blankets were few, but because of the scrawny physique of the man the blankets looked like they were many. Eyes filled with pity, languishing in eternal gaze. His skin was losing complexion, from being a normal black to being a greenish-black. There he was lying and out of courtesy the members of his church had come to pour in condolences to the family and wish him a speedy recovery from whatever had rendered him bedridden.
The smell that hung in the air could’ve been that when Jesus told his disciples to drink from a pond with a dead dog in it, they still braved it out. A skunk would never stand a chance against the stench; some people would call it the stench of death, one that could deflate a fontanel. And no matter how hard they tried not to frown, reflexes betrayed them and they were left with, despite the frowns, a hearty “hello Bishop”. The women kept teeming in the house wearing their church regalia. Navy-blue skirts, black panty hoses, black tommy shoes, azure blouses and white capes.
Although they were women of prayer there was menace in their conduct. There were two women standing outside of a house, one blaring with a neighbour while the other was shouting into a phone to a person on the other end.
“And I hear that Dumazile was in the league of the vixens … yes dear, the three names Dumazile … yes dear by three names I mean Z3. I know!”
Their tone reflected nothing like the concern that had gathered them to the house. But they were rather jolly and their speech was punctuated with peals of laughter.
It was when one elderly woman, from those who were inside the house, popped her head out of the door did they show any sign of shame. On the inside, with an exception of the elderly woman, the situation was tense. Some of the women were staring daggers at the wife of the bishop and others had faces filled with dread, Mother Bishop still looked at them with some sense of content and a twitch of smile. They sang a hymn lead by the elderly woman. The smile on Mother Bishop gradually turned into a grin.
A few months earlier, in the bedroom adjoining the current bedroom, Father Bishop was sitting on a stool putting on his shoes, no sign of imminent ailment. His wife stood in front of him like a tower, her face filled with distress.
“How do you claim to be man of God when you ill-treat your wife like this? How could you? How could you deceive all those poor souls like this, have you no shame?” she said, tears welling up in her eyes.
“Listen here you abbreviated piece of nothing!” Jabulani Orbed Bucibo retorted trying hard to stiffen his rage, because even within the walls of privacy he had to be a man of character but not devoid of human-weaknesses. Although a mother may know what she has raised in her son, a wife knows worse. We are all human before any status bestowed upon us.
“Never ever, ever talk like that to me.”
Impulsively, he stood up slapped her with the back of his hand. Poor wife was reduced to tears. The person the people knew to be a father figure for the children of God was a monster at home. He was a monster to her best friend whom he had introduced to God, his wife. When a man has had enough of his wife, he sees her as a burden; baggage. He tries by all means to rid himself of her.
Love went cold and Bishop Bucibo lost respect for his marriage. Not his wife but his marriage. The moment he lost respect for his marriage, he lost love for his wife. A wife loves marriage and respects her husband. A husband respects his marriage and loves his wife. On the other hand Mother Bishop Bucibo was tenacious to her vows that till death do us apart.
When his wife couldn’t bear him children he consoled himself that God gives you strength and tests you on it. Then it moved from the faith fused mantra to blaming the devil.
“But children are a gift from God,” he would say when he was alone with Busi. He would recite the verse where God says ‘Multiply and fill the whole world’.
“Yes, God said we should multiply and fill the whole world. Is God contradicting Himself by not giving me children? No, the vent of a sin into Eden was Eve, a woman. And so the wrath of God upon me is because of this woman? This woman is unclean. She is a true descendant of the serpent.”
The fact that other men from the bible got the children at the most impossible ripest age didn’t cross his mind. And his pessimistic thoughts were motive enough to have him venturing into a string of fornications. He saw himself as David, a highly esteemed officer of God who had innumerable wives. Or mistresses.
His new way of life was demanding, both on his time and money. He increased the congregants’ offerings towards church and had little time for his duties. He had unending workshops to attend. He always took with him the church’s committee which consisted of women only. Mother Bishop was left at home always. She was never consulted when trips of that sort took place. He made home visits for the widowed and divorced.
The competition became unbearable. The mistresses competed for his time while his wife kept quiet. News reached her ears but she was never surprised. She had been expecting them. Meanwhile his mistresses concocted love portion, tried to trap him with a child, made him spend more on them than others. His wealth was diminishing, his health deteriorating and his congregation dwindling.
“Father Bishop, when I see you, I see a man from the bible,” the elderly woman began preaching after the hymn had stopped. “We have called you Job because of the first letters of your names but today here you are father, you are indeed Job of the Bible.’
She looked at the congregation of women that has gathered there and continued to preach.
“Just like the Job of the bible, the Job we see here has lost a lot. Although he has never had children but he lost his sons. Or daughters. Only God knows what he had in store for him. You have lost all your wealth. Indeed you are the re-enactment of the Job of the bible. But unlike the Job of the bible you have never lost your wife.”
She looked at mother Bishop.
“Mother, our mother, I am elderly and older than you but I call you mother. I say God bless you. Not all women would have done what you have done. God bless you for your tenacious spirit. That spirit of endurance that I wish our young women had. I wish they could learn from you what is meant by ‘in hardships and happiness’. Amen brethren.”
“Amen,” said the other women as if against their will. The elderly woman started another song but, not gaining much back-up, it died carelessly. A young woman cleared her throat and started:
“Let me greet…”
Looking sternly at her husband, Mother Bishop vociferously cut in,
“You are going to hell, you hear me? You are going to hell!” she lifted her face and her gazing roving around the room.
“I hope you all bitches…” overcome with grief she trailed off.
“Haibo! Mother Bishop, athe, what is going?’ the elderly woman asked calmly, filling in for the unsaid words of Mother Bishop.
“I have your baby. Look I have your baby. You are going to be a father, please heal. Please! I love you,” Busi, one of the girls with a bulging stomach said spontaneously.
“Haibo! My God, athe, what is going here?”
“Has he made the amendments on his will? I asked for the church building. That is all I need. Can I see the will, where is it?” Mamoleko inquired, her mouth dribbling a chewing gum.
“Haibo! My God, athe, what is going here?”
“What are you going to do with the church building?” Mother Bishop asked condescendingly.
“Duh! A church is a dying business. I am going to use it for a trending business of course.”
“Oh no! My saviour! Not the church building my saviour! No!” the elderly woman said.
“Why did you poison him?” Busi asked mother Bishop, “If he dies my child is going to be fatherless. He was right, you are indeed a serpent, a cold blooded viper.”
“Poison him, me? I wanted the bastard dead but he was not worth my effort,” responded Mother Bishop.
“Haibo, Mother Bishop!” said the elderly woman her mouth still gaping.
“When you saw him getting sick and weak, why didn’t you take him to the hospital then?”
“My husband,” she swallowed with disgust at the mention of the ‘husband’ word and sarcastically concluded, “was a man of faith, a reliable and trustworthy officer of God. God will heal him from this leprosy of these times of omega.”
Leprosy? Dieketseng thought.
“Oh my God please don’t let her affirm my suspicions,” Dieketseng said a prayer under her breath and audibly asked, “Dumazile, were you one of us? Please say no.”
“Ribababababashe! Rabababababashe! Please God, let her say no,” the elderly woman prayed.
“Yes, duhrling! And don’t blame me, blame him. Everybody knows I have ‘enter at your own risk’ written all over me,” Dumazile crinkled her nose, twisted her mouth, wiggled her neck and folded her arms arrogantly.
“Haaaaaaaaa!” jeered Mother Bishop, “she who has the last laugh laughs the longest.”
The elderly woman fainted and the bishop drew his last breath.
Tell us what you think: Do you know of church leaders like this? Have you had experience with them?