Short Story: Messengers of Men by Ezekiel Efeobhokhan


I never liked sitting in front of the class,
hence I carved out a niche at the 3rd row
towards the end of the class. I usually go
very early for my night reading, as early as
5pm. This is because I detest reading in a
class with a chockfull of students. I was
perhaps the second student to arrive the
class. It was already 25 minutes past 10pm.
I was tired of reading hence I started a chat
with a friend.

I thought our conversation would be
awkward and boring but thankfully it
wasn’t. I did not want unnecessary silence
during the discussion hence I drafted out
the agenda for my discussions on a small
sheet before meeting her. My friends,
especially Victor, have the habit of making
fun of me for not being able to sustain a
discussion with a lady for more than a
minute.

After a chat for about 35 minutes with
Benedicta, there was a long silence which
lasted for nearly 45 seconds, I scratched the
back of my head as if it would help me
recollect any forgotten chatting skills, but it
didn’t. Anyway, I knew victor would be
proud of me, as I had made a new ‘chatting
record’.

“I am off to my seat, see you …,” I tried to
terminate the protracted silence. “Osahon,
which church do you attend”? She cuts me
off before I completed my sentence. She
usually calls me by my middle name,
adding that my first name —-Ezekiel, does
not sound well on her tongue.

“The name of my church is, The Church of
God…, please do not add mission, just, The
Church of God,” I said, looking straight into
her eyes. The eye contact lasted for a few
seconds before she turned her eyes away.
Victor had also taught me to maintain eye
contact when chatting with anyone
especially ladies. “Eye contacts show how
virile you are as a man” he would say.

Just then, a student walked in, his hairs
were as black as the suit he put on. He had
a red colored bible in his axilla and with
just three swift strides he was at the front of
the class. A young girl stood beside him.

“Good evening all, I won’t take more than 5
minutes of your time…, let us pray”. He
was the 3rd preacher to patronize this
class. Most night class preachers usually
don’t finish on time, as they commonly
promise, let alone this preacher who gave
himself just 5 minutes.

His female partner was a little taller than
he was; her complexion resembled that of
the branded butter—blue-band. Her
attached hair almost got to her waist at the
point where her trousers seemed unironed.
Her shirt was colored like the sky when the
sun shone in its full strength.

The color of her hair was lightly brown like
someone who consistently used locally made
soda to bathe. Her trousers were saggy, the
tighter it became as the trousers traveled
towards her foot. Her facial expression and
the color of her eyes showed that she was
still in her teens, she looked innocent and
precise.

Her eyes scanned through the class before
her colleague started praying. Her ‘Amen’
was the loudest, she had a Yoruba accent
that unnecessarily stressed the first syllable
of the word, sounding like; ‘Are….min’. Her
English was a faded lilt.

The first two buttons of her shirt were
opened as if she was trying to expose
something on her chest. A light incision was
made on her left cheek, like an exclamation
turned upside down. The mark made her
beautiful but not as beautiful as Benedicta.

Benedicta was a slim beauty. She hid her
smiles behind her face and her set of neatly
spaced tooth were exposed whenever she
smiles. Her hair was long, each of the
braids that hung down to her neck ended in
a soft fuzz. She smiled easily; her teeth were
the same bright white of her eyes. She wore
a short sleeve shirt that look crisp from
ironing. Her high level of intelligence was
reflected on her spoken English as she utters
every word with composite inventiveness.

“The love of God is wonderful, it is
powerful, it makes you express yourself to
God because God is Love and Love is God.
That was the reason he sent his son to
die”… I followed his message with rapt
attention. He sounded like the pastors of
these new generational churches. No
wonder his hairs were permed and oily
curled. His gesticulations made his tie swing
this way and that.

“Love makes you free, free from the chain
of the law”… he continued.
“You are free, don’t let anybody tell you
that you can’t put on trousers as a lady or
you can’t put on earrings as a boy, these
things affect only the flesh and not your
spirits”, as he said those words he moved
away from the front of the class and was
walking in the aisle towards my seat. My
ears tingled, and I wondered if the love of
God makes us ‘free’ to put on earrings?

This rhetorical question was written on my
face as I stared at this educated ignoramus.
He had drawn the attention of the whole
class including Benedicta’s. Everyone
looked at him in awe.

After several episodes of ranting, he
progressed further into another unknown
direction, “there is a boy here, your name
is, no… no… noooo”!
He stressed the last “no” like someone being
scared out of his sleep by an evil spirit. “…

You are in 300 level and you are being
caged, spiritually, financially and
academically. God is telling me to call you
out”.
This caused a little stir as a student cried
“please, tell us the name of the student”?

This student wore a black polo, the name ‘2
PAC’ was written boldly on the shirt, he
had the hair style people commonly
referred to as ‘afro’. He was dark in
complexion, very dark indeed; just like the
back of a roasted yam just after pouring
water on it. His lips were big; maybe that
was why he had the courage to challenge
this controversial preacher to tell us the
name of this “financially, spiritually, and
academically challenged 300-level student.”
The preacher continued as if he never heard
the comment.

Just then NEPA interrupted power. Hisses
and sighing followed the ensuing darkness.
This preacher never relented as he raised
his voice as if the power supply to the class
was channeled to his voice. The preacher
was still speaking in loud tune when the
school generator was turned on. The
fluorescence above his head refused to come
on and it threw a glassy shadow on his
face.

A while later, a female student walked out
of the class. She wore a mini-skirt, a
sleeveless top with long earrings, her hairs
were loosely tied and seemed unkempt, and
her hand bag was hung on her right arm.
Her mouth moved from side to side in a
slippery manner, perfectly simulating
ruminants when performing their
regurgitating schedule. She was chewing a
gum. The male student who was seated
beside her accosted her as she made her way
out.

A few moments after they passed, the
preacher commented, “They are going to
commit iniquity, children of Jezebel!” the
whole class erupted in laughter. I almost
joined in the laughter but when I noticed
Benedicta didn’t join the crowd I sealed my
lips.

“Bariskamadaaadevus”… still lost in his
unknown world. He suddenly stopped as if
trying to hear from an esoteric force. He
swayed his body back and forth, jerked
forward and bent over the young lady
sitting in front.

He screamed, “You!” His index finger was
firm in my direction. His eyes were
annoying and he was sweating profusely. I
imagined his heart beating so fast, and he
expressed anguish in his face like someone
having a running stomach and unable to get
to the convenience.

His suit has been flung opened as a result of
his boisterous gesticulations, revealing his
inner white shirt. I looked at Benedicta to
confirm if I was the one he pointed at, she
wore a warm smile which indicated she
knew the finger was for me. I touched the
left part of my chest and nodded lightly,
“Me”? “Yes, yes, you”. The whole class
turned to my direction.

“You have a sister who wrote UNIBEN Post
JAMB, her score was not up to the cut off. I
want you to tell her that, she would be
admitted with that score”.
I smiled, and tried very hard to cover for
his lies. I never had a sister, not to talk of
one who couldn’t pass UNIBEN Post JAMB.

These young preachers who want to imitate
their pastors embark on a lost pursuit of
fame and miracles. When God has not sent
them, they would run; when they didn’t
hear from God, their voice would be the
loudest; they claim to be men of God when
actually they are men of men!

“Osahon, why did you lie to me, why did
you tell me that you didn’t have a sister”? I
had to convince Benedicta that the preacher
was seeking cheap popularity by showing
her a family photo; of which she could not
find any female except my mom.

“You were saying something about your
church” she said. “Oh, the preacher has
made my explanation a lot easier. The
preacher is opposite of the Church of God.
From his appearance, misinterpretation of
God’s love, glossolalia to his false
prophesies, all these never feature in the
church of God.”

I gave her a warm hand shake and the
broadest of smiles, my smile was ricocheted
on her face. We exchanged smiles as if it
was the air we breathe. I watched her as
she made her way to her hostel. She wanted
to know more about The Church.

Would she yield, would she drop the old
path for the new, was she really interested
in the Church or was she just trying to
generate a discussion?

These were my musings as I lay on my bed.

About the writer



Ezekiel, a 300-Level student of Pharmacy at
the University of Benin, freelances for The
Nation’s CAMPUSLIFE. Connect with him on facebook here