One evening, Mike, a senior friend, during my undergraduate years, invited me to his office. Mike was a so-called “big boy” and an engineer working with a multinational oil servicing company in Port Harcourt City, Nigeria. What laced our unusual friendship was our mutual love for women. The engineer was an “aristo,” a slang for middle and ageing men who patronised young girls for sex. My job was to arrange these girls for him at a negotiated fee. On my part, I wasn’t so much into fornication although I barely kept a relationship. The motivation for doing what I was doing was the money I received for being the middleman for Mike’s illicit sexual desires. After a few months of procuring girls for the engineer, his friends got to know me and from then on, I began to run a virtual dating agency for many aristos in the city. Most of the so-called “big girls” on campus were all my friends. Many of my course mates often wondered what kind of bonds I shared with these girls, for I was more or less an introvert.
On that fateful evening that Mike sent for me, I was in for surprises.
“Celestine, there’s a girl that came all the way from Owerri to see me. I had to lodge her in a hotel in town because Bellima is right now at home with me. I don’t want a fight abegi,” he whispered to me as we stood outside his apartment.
“How can I help you out of this?” I enquired.
“I’ve already told the girl from Owerri that she can’t stay in place because my mother is in town,” the engineer explained.
“Awesome excuses,” I laughed.
“… but she’s scared of sleeping in the hotel suite alone. You know she’s not used to Port Harcourt. She needs someone to spend the night with her. Can you do that for me?” he explained.
“Okay sir,” I replied, as I immediately began to imagine what the girl would look like and whether she would be worth my sacrifices.
Mike drove me to the hotel where he had lodged the girl and quickly abandoned me after he had introduced us. That was how I met Olive, about the most beautiful girl I had ever seen outside Nollywood. She was tall for a girl; light complexioned, with pronounced hips and bosom although she looked incredibly young like an overgrown teenager. I found it difficult to believe that Mike could sacrifice Olive for Bellima, his steady girlfriend who I regarded as average in appearance.
Olive seemed shy for she deliberately avoided my eyes as we chatted into the night. I got to know that she came into Port Harcourt in pursuit of a university admission. I behaved like a gentleman and went straight to bed once we ended our conversation since I regarded her as Mike’s girlfriend. I reported to Mike the following morning that the mission he had given me the previous night had been accomplished, without any transgressions.
“You’re not done yet,” he replied casually, “she’s going to be in that hotel suite for three days. You have two more days to go. If she has not finished with her school runs, you can take her to your place and keep her there. I dash her to you if you’re interested.”
“Just like that? She’s a fine girl sir …” I began.
“Celestine, I am not interested in that girl. You can have her. You dey carry women come give me. Make me too dash you woman,” he retorted cheekily in pidgin English.
“How could any man give out a girl like Olive to another man unless he was blind to her beauty?” I delightfully wondered.
In a nutshell, that was the matrix of my relationship with Olive. The three days at the hotel had quickly expired, and I had offered her my place which she accepted without any hesitation. Olive had moved into my self-contained apartment near school. She didn’t act like she had any prior commitment to Mike as she became my live-in-lover. Somehow too, the pursuit of a university admission ended when she moved over to my place. Within a fortnight of her stay in my place, I discovered that Olive was a chain smoker. Anytime I left her alone in my room, she quickly smoked and gulped spirits. She would then chew mint gum to conceal any traces of tobacco and alcohol in her breath. I was not a smoker of any substance, and I only drank alcoholic beverages occasionally when I sat out with my friends. When I found out that Olive was smoking, I was shocked, but I tolerated her. When I left the house for lectures, she was content to sleep at home, smoke, and drink. My little apartment reeked of tobacco and spirits. Thankfully I lived in a premises where the majority of the occupants minded their business.
Three months after Olive had moved in with me, Deacon Enoch, an elderly co-tenant invited me for a private talk in his parlour. He was a member of the Assemblies of God Church, and I didn’t particularly like him because I felt he was always poking his nose in other people’s business in order to judge them. He apologised before beginning to speak and asked me to forgive him if it appeared that he was delving into my private life. I assured him that I would not be angry with him for I was curious to hear what he had to say. Deacon Mike informed me that he perceived in his spirit that Olive, my girlfriend, was possessed.
I had given Deacon Enoch my word that I will not get mad at him, else I may have insulted him right there on the spot. Nevertheless, anger welled up in me and but for his age, I may have struck his face. He handed me a book titled, He Came to Set the Captives Free by Rebecca Brown.
“Celestine, please make time out to read this book,” he advised me. I threw the book back at him and walked out of his parlour with a hiss.
I need to mention one or two things about my background here. I come from a home that worshipped education, science, technology and human abilities. My father was a knight in one of the prominent Orthodox churches in Nigeria. He raised us to believe in the power of self, education, and work. Father often demystified the spirit realm and told us that the black man was the scum of the earth because he was perennially caged by superstition and the fear of witchcraft. I naturally grew up with the belief pattern that had no regards for demons and the ethereal realm. It was thus normal that I would hiss and walk away from someone who told me that my girlfriend was possessed. However, more observations were to follow Deacon Enoch’s accusations, albeit some were rather comical in my ears as at the time.
“Celestine, your girlfriend sways her hips like a marine creature,” Ochejola, one of my friends remarked one evening when I sat out with Olive to drink.
Another of my male friends remarked that Olive virtually undressed him with the way her eyes raked his figure. The comments came in torrents. I had a very beautiful girlfriend, but there was something unusual about her.
About the sixth month of our living together, something occurred that was to change my belief pattern. On a Friday evening, I decided to give Olive a treat. We went to a nearby restaurant, ordered grilled fish with alcoholic beverages. After we had devoured the fish and gulped our drinks, we returned home, about an hour before midnight, where we had marathon sex until we were exhausted and slept off. I don’t know how long I slept, but eventually, I saw a masculine figure hurriedly approaching our premises. He came straight to my door as if he was a postmaster with a message to deliver. I was expecting a knock on my door, but he didn’t knock on my dock. He walked through the walls adjoining the door. That’s when I knew that this nocturnal visitor was not human. I screamed.
“Who are you? Neighbours come oh!”
I didn’t even realise that I was asleep, and yet, I was shouting in real time.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” I heard Olive whispering. One of my neighbours, an Ogoni man rushed out of the room with his machete:
“Wey the thief? Make we finish am?”
I had awoken the whole compound with my screams.
Needless to say, that I was acutely embarrassed by morning. I was later to brood regularly over that night and the entity that had so effortlessly walked through my wall. Spirits seemed to be real, and they were not as aloof to us, humans, as my father had often made us believe. I also remembered Deacon Enoch and his allegations that my girlfriend was possessed. I was now living on the verge of fear and worry. All of a sudden, having a beautiful girl by the side did not seem as worthwhile as being able to sleep in peace.
One night, about five weeks after the first bizarre incident, I returned from campus to find my beautiful doll smoking joint right inside my house. I was aghast. I had battled for the past five weeks to stay sane and scientific; trying to explain away my surreal encounter of that Friday night and here was this girl smoking Indian hemp in my house. If the neighbours got to smell the stench of the hemp, my stay in the premises would be over. My landlord tolerated anything but illegal activities on his premises. I descended on Olive as I had never done before since I knew her. I began to tell her what many people thought of her.
“I am beginning to think they’re justified,” I scolded her; “there are limits to decency. Look at this compound; how many people smoke cigarettes, talk less of igbo?” If you’re not ready to quit smoking and drinking, you’ll have to leave my place.”
Olive began to cry.
“Please don’t send me away,” she sobbed.
“It goes beyond my sending you away. It’s about your life. Don’t you see you’re destroying your body? In the future now, you’ll be asking God why you have cancer or fibroid when you’re the one that induced it,” I rebuked her.
“I am sorry, honey. I will stop,” she begged.
“And what about school? You come into this city to secure admission into the university. You have to revive your educational aspirations. You’re ruining your young life,” I continued.
“Honey, I promise you that I will stop smoking and drinking. Don’t leave me please,” Olive begged in between sobs.
“I love you and I want a change. I feel like my life is going into a downward spiral because of you,” I candidly replied. After a while, Olive said something that startled me.
“Honey, do you know that since I was born, nobody has spoken the truth to my face in this manner. No one …” she sobbed.
“What?! Not even your parents?”
“I don’t have parents …”
Olive then went on to tell me about how she had grown up in an orphanage and how she had been adopted at three years by a couple. She said the couple was just part of a crime syndicate that specialised in human trafficking and high-class prostitution. She told me how she had begun oral sex with arranged clients before she was seven. She had grown up with the perception that she was born to satisfy the sexual urges of men. She narrated further how one of the clients she had spent time with, organised her escape from the syndicate. She told of how the same man abandoned her after a year of living with him in Douala, Cameroon, and how she had managed to find her way back to Nigeria.
“They just take me, and when they’ve had their fill, they leave me,” she wept, “this is the first time a man is telling me about the effects of smoking on my health and my reputation.”
I was heartbroken. Tears streamed down my face as I held Olive to my bosom because she seemed so crushed. And then we slept off.
I don’t know how long I slept off when I saw that same figure I had seen the previous Friday night, walk into my room through my wall. This time, he didn’t seem to be in a hurry. He seemed to be amoebic, for once he entered my room, he became as tall as my ceiling. He had the eyes of a cobra, and he was wielding a cudgel at me as he scrutinised my face. His eyes were wild with rage and resentment. He stared at me for what seemed like an eternity before he spoke in a grotesque foul bass voice. He spoke in English.
“Do you think she’s now yours? Oh, I see! You think you can now tell her what to do and how to live her life? She belongs to me and the earlier you know that the better for you.”
For every word he growled, he edged closer to towards me. I tried to scream, but I realised that I was very weak. I could not even lift an arm, and my voice box seemed to be sealed. I wished Olive would awake and help me out. And then all of a sudden, the figure swept down over me and struck me with the cudgel. He struck me on my groin! I found my voice and the scream came. I was awake, and my body was covered in perspiration as if I had been jogging for over an hour. And then, there was this burning sensation in my groin area. I felt myself. Thankfully I could still feel my genitals in place. There was a power outage. I turned to look at Olive within the darkness of my room. She was still fast asleep. I sat up on the bed till daybreak. By the first streaks of dawn, I woke Olive up.
“I want you to leave this house now,” I ordered her.
“Honey, to where?”
“Don’t honey me,” I yelled, “just leave to wherever you came from.”
She began to weep, but I was not in any mood to be cajoled
“You’re just like the rest. After having me all these months, you now want to throw me out,” she accused me.
“Say whatever you like, all I know is that I want you out of this apartment within the next six hours, or I will be forced to throw out your things myself,” I warned her.
“It’s okay,” she whispered hoarsely, “it’s okay. I will leave.”
Olive moved out of my place that same evening to God knows where. As for me, I never wanted to see her again; make I go come die because of woman. Immediately she was gone, I went to see Deacon Enoch that same evening and told him what I had experienced the previous night. Deacon Enoch didn’t seem to be surprised. He narrated to me how he had seen Olive in the embrace of a merman by a forlorn coast. He began to tell me about water spirits and demons and how they operated to destroy the destiny of human beings who were not engrafted in Christ. Listening to him was like watching a horror movie.
“Celestine, it’s time to give your life to Christ. You have to be born again,” he persuaded me.
“But I have sent her away. He won’t attack me again, and moreover, I am a Christian,” I mumbled away my hesitation to accept the offer to receive Christ.
“Ordinarily, being a Christian is being born again, but we use the term ‘born again’ to describe that commitment to the Saviour and not just to be a churchgoer. Sending her away is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. In fact, she needs deliverance herself. Celestine, what I am telling you is that you need Jesus in your life. If you abide in Christ, and He abides in you, no merman or demon will overpower you. You can never tell what evil seeds this attack has even left in your body,” he insisted.
“Evil Seeds?” I asked perplexed.
Deacon Enoch sounded like a native doctor as far as I was concerned. I didn’t like what I heard so I made an excuse and left Deacon Mike’s presence. But it was only a year later that I clearly understood what he meant by “evil seeds” when I realised that I was impotent. I was in a new relationship, but I discovered that I couldn’t have sex with my girlfriend even when she was ready and willing. It was a most embarrassing experience for me. There is nothing I didn’t use to get an erection but all to no avail. It was then I remembered that Olive’s spiritual husband had hit my groins with a cudgel. He had successfully destroyed my erectile muscles in that attack. My new relationship ended suddenly on account of my sexual incapacitation. It was then I was forced to seek Deacon Enoch’s counsel again. He asked me to come to prayer meetings in his church. I agreed. I was now ready to give my life to Jesus. That was how I became born again. By this time, I was preparing to graduate from the University.
During those prayer meetings in Deacon Mike’s church that lasted for about three months, I had to confess certain scriptures. I eventually memorised several of them, but my favourite was 2 Timothy 4:18:
“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
The fellowship prayed for me, breaking every covenant that worked against me, binding and loosing, and renouncing evil associations; all in the name of Jesus! All my life I had never seen prayer like this. I came from a background where worship and religious activities were templated. During the night vigils, I saw prayers in different dimensions. I saw deliverances. I saw people set free. I came to realise that life goes beyond what we see on the outside, for indeed we’re on a battlefield where the enemy is bent on destroying us.
“The only way to ensure that you’re not open to the enemy’s attack is to live in obedience,” Deacon Enoch counselled me. He quoted Jesus in John 14:30 from the Amplified Bible: “I will not talk with you much more, for the prince (evil genius, ruler) of the world is coming. And he has no claim on Me. [He has nothing in common with Me; there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, and he has no power over Me.]”
Immediately after my new birth in Christ, everything gradually fell into place. It was as if every step of obedience came with favour and blessings. I graduated a few months later, went on youth service to Ilorin, Kwara State and from there proceeded to United Kingdom where I did my postgraduate study before returning to Nigeria to pick up a plum job with a Federal Government parastatal. I got married, and God has blessed me with five lovely children. It pays to be born again.