I stood on the barley field and watched the Israelites scatter like chaff before the winds of the Philistine’s military might. During the battle, I had been cut off from the rest of the Israelite army. Now, I was the only one left on the barley patch and the uncircumcised battalion came at me, bulls to the red flag of my oneness. Like their former champion Goliath, they were giants. Clothed in heavy armour, they had struck fear in the stoutest Hebrew heart. I was alone and out-manned. They rushed at me, predators about to decimate a prey. I stood, immobile, a lone figure about to drown in the flood of unveiled hatred. My name is Eleazar, the Ahohite, the son of Dodo….
Tricia stared at the piece of paper on which the verdict of her destiny had been written. The print was blurred and smudged from the tears that ran down her face unto the sheet. She had tried holding in the maelstrom that was going on within her but the last vestiges of her fragile self control had been overcome by the fury of her sorrow. She trashed around with the abandon of a beheaded reptile, bawling like a kid in mortal agony. The pain; a machete had severed the cords of her emotions and she felt all chopped up. She kept shouting, “temi ti baje ooo, I am finished, I am done for!” The tears swirled, surged, poured and flowed until she felt all dried up in the foetal position she had assumed in a futile search to find some amount of comfort.
The tests from the last fertility center she visited had been explained to her by the Consultant Gynaecologist, the best in the country. He had told her that the eight abortions she had in her wild days had damaged some vital parts of her anatomy and was never going to have kids. She was advised to adopt, in kind tones. Managing to thank the kindly old man with a smile, she left his office but on getting home, she had let it all rip.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with adoption but she badly wanted her own. She wanted to suckle a baby, wanted her nostrils invaded by baby smell, wanted to rub Vaseline on her baby’s smooth butt so badly she invariably carried an ache as heavy as an ocean liner in her heart. Any time Tricia saw dimples fill up with the wine merriment on a baby’s face, pain plunged into her heart. The feeling was that of a serrated knife in the hands of a maniac twisting it here and there for sadistic pleasure. Exhausted, she fell into a deep sleep, her head cradled by a pool of tears….
As they came at me, I gripped ‘Old Faithful‘, my sword, like my life depended on it (it actually did). As I lifted it, the rays of the sun fell on its blade and were diced into slices of shimmering reflections. It had never failed me. The feel of it in my hands gave me faith and ignited courage within. I stood my ground and as they came, I fought like a lion. I hacked, ducked, slashed and parried. I thrust, plunged and cut until I was tired but I did not let go of my steel. Letting go meant death. It became an extension of my weary hand, an appendage delivering death and terror to my foes…
Tricia woke up to find her body aching all over and her emotions raw. She looked around the room for something to alleviate the pain torturing her psyche. Her eyes fell on the bible beside her bed and she grabbed it like it was the last drop of water to a desert traveler dying of thirst. She opened it randomly and read Exodus 23:25, which said none shall be barren and none shall have a miscarriage. She never knew a passage like that existed and she drank it in over and over again. She had tried every option to no avail and this was like a lifeline to her. The words of her Pastor’s last message kept reverberating in her mind that God never never lies. Having nothing to lose, she decided to believe God’s word with her whole being. The words gave her hope and strength and by the time her husband came back she had taken a bath and was so bright and chirpy that the man was confused when she told him the outcome of her hospital visit.
However, she still did not get pregnant as the months rolled by. One day her eldest sister came to visit her.
“Se ori e pe sha?The grief of these past years has made you soft in the head,” said her sister in her usual domineering tone.
“Bawo, aunty mi, how do you mean?” Tricia inquired gently.
“Instead of you to go find a solution to your issues, you go about toting a bible. I think you have completely lost it! At the last wedding we went for, it was so obvious that your childhood sweetheart still fancies you. The guy has four boys and might be of help here even though your doctor said there is no hope. Sometimes it takes another man to make things happen”. Her sister winked at her. “It’s no secret that I have always thought your husband is an impotent wimp.”
“Aunty mi, I will not have you come to my house and insult my husband, you might as well leave if you are going to persist,” said an enraged Tricia.
“Sebi, I said you have gone mad, anyways, I don’t blame you, I am the one at fault for showing concern towards your pathetic manly situation. I was trying to help you silence all the people saying you are only full of testosterone and there is no bit of oestrogen in you! You ingrate, I am leaving!”
She left and slammed the door.
Tricia was so upset that she sat down and cried some. She had been aware of the fact that Bade still liked her after all these years and would readily want to “help” her situation. His number was stored on her contacts and she unconsciously scrolled down her list, toying with the idea of calling him. However, she could not bring herself to, as much as her sister’s last words rankled and hurt.
She went into her room and looked at Exodus 23:26 which was stuck all over the room in different fonts and prints. This was her reality and she read those words over and over again, held on to them until they became a part of her….
There was finally one and as I lopped off its bearded head, I released a long scream of exultation. By holding on to my sword, God gave me great victory. I quickly forgot I was tired to the bone when I saw the Hebrew soldiers who had fled returning. They rejoiced as they looted the spoils of war left behind by the defeated Philistines. Harps, lyres and tambourines surfaced out of nowhere and ignited a party of wild singing and dancing. Not even honey tasted as sweet as the joy of victory. Leaning on the hilt of my bloodied sword with sweat pouring down my face and leaching into my armour, I smiled…
The months rolled by and merged into years, yet Tricia held on to the sword of the spirit even though there were times she nearly despaired. It would have been the easiest thing to throw in the towel and explore some other options, however, she held on for dear life. By this time the whole world, even her husband, thought she was mad because she had made a beautiful nursery out of one of the rooms in their three bed-room flat. It was a beautiful room with cheerful colours filled with children books, clothes and shoes. Long hours were spent in that room imagining kids running in them. She made up her mind to die childless believing than let go of her faith.
Four years later, the praying unit of her church of which she was an active member had their annual retreat. It was usually a period of intense praying and fasting. On the second day, during the quiet time, when everyone was asked to seek the face of God alone, she was led to read the story of Hannah. When she got to the part where the Prophet told Hannah to go in peace, something exploded in her heart. Those words seemed to have been screamed specifically into her ears by a bullhorn. They came out of the pages and clutched at her spirit. Each letter was a flame of fire that burned in her soul. To Tricia those words were not written more than four thousand years ago anymore, they were written for her, right there and then. It seemed the Prophet, Eli, spoke to her face to face and not to Hannah.
After the meeting, she called her husband back home from a business trip on the basis of her excitement. Of course, he thought she had now completely lost it but for her sake, he played his part. He did it perfunctorily not expecting anything to happen. You can imagine his shock when he saw her positive pregnancy test two months later. Tricia finally delivered a beautiful baby girl and guess what?She had dimples….
The story of Eleazar, the son of Dodo is found in the books of 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 9.
© 2013 Ekpo Ezechinyere.