It had been a surprising Saturday morning for Pastor Kabudula. For the years he had spent pastoring at Kabula Church, he had on average been visited by six members of his congregation who sought illumination and counselling on spiritual matters that were perturbing them from him. But on this day, as he was arranging things back into his briefcase to depart for home, none had visited him.
The day itself was muggy. The giant hills that stood to the south of his office were enshrouded in fog. Thunder was muttering in the distance presaging a wet afternoon.
He reached for his office keys and grabbed his briefcase and started for the door. In that same instant, a knock came on the door and the pastor frowned with annoyance at it wondering why the visitor had preferred such an ungodly hour. He hesitated a moment and invited the visitor in.
A woman he instantly recognised as Sister Chisomo ambled in and Pastor Kabudula felt his heart trip and breathing alter as he recalled the details of the night he had committed adultery with her. The woman had a profile of a finely honed hatchet and he had failed to resist her when some months ago she had approached him over a problem with her stepfather and upon seeing her in the office, he wondered what she was up to.
He jerked his mind back to the present and offered his hand. “Hello, Sister Chisomo,” he said with a smile scratching his massive forehead in the process, “How may I help you.”
“Pastor, I’m pregnant,” she said without hesitation and his face turned pallid at the news. Pastor Kabudula stopped smiling.
“Pregnant?” His tone was genuinely puzzled as he gaped at her in surprise. For a moment, he had a thought she was joking, but she was wearing a long face. “And…who put you in the family way?” he asked formally though he knew what lay ahead. Beards of sweat had started to form on his forehead.
“Of course, it’s you Pastor,” she said dryly.
“My God,” he grumbled in disbelief and stood absently from his seat and covered his eyes with his hands as if in prayer and said: “Sister, listen, you need to understand me well,” he forced a smile, “My reputation as a Pastor is at stake here. Of course you pretty know that. Now listen carefully, please. You need to seduce any young man to bed. You know men are such fools, dates don’t mean much to them or you can just get rid of the pregnancy. I can arrange for that.”
“Pastor, you need a trip to Cavalry. That’s right. How come you suggest something like that?” she contradicted him harshly. Her beautiful face was contorted with utter disgust at the suggestion. “Do you believe I can implicate an innocent man or murder my own baby?”
“Sister Chisomo you must cool down,” he felt weak but still forced a smile. His tears were very close. “What will the congregation say about this? Don’t you know that if you keep it you’ll tarnish my image? Please, consider me. I beg you, please. I’ll do anything,” he pleaded with ineffable desolation in his tone.
“Nonsense,” she bluffed and her expression hardened: “When you’re doing it, you never considered your reputation. Did you?” she looked him in the face: “Well, I came to inform you about it so that you should get ready.” She headed for the door. Pastor Kabudula threw himself across the room, barring her way to the door and flopped down on his knees and repeated his glib pleas. He was close to tears of humiliation. But she laughed heartily and left the room.
His inner weather was disturbed. He was left bereft and afraid and thrown into utter confusion as he tried to figure out the damage to him it would bring. His thoughts were the confused orders of a ratted army to rally itself before it was too late. He realised he had to chew with caution.
“Sister, I’ve written a cheque of K200, 000 in your name. You can use part of it for abortion and keep the rest for yourself,” he told her hopefully on her mobile hours later after the incident in the office.
“I’m sorry, pastor,” she confessed: “Even if you promise me the whole world, I won’t bulge an inch to my stand and I’m keeping the baby.” She told him in very clear and unmistakable terms.
“But how will you compensate me for the consequences?” he asked hopelessly. However, every plea he forwarded, the prospect of her accepting faded until he gave up. He was thrown into confusion and consumed with fears. If she talked, he knew he was finished and the shame would be paralysing. He could not picture a life without what he had built.
He could not afford the scandal and he needed no one to tell him that. The deed would blot his copybook at the speed of lightening and he would soon be the joke of everyone. His confusion was exacerbated by her refusal. He had been on her palm and danced to her tune, begged her but still she was wedded to her stand.
Was he going to sit down and watch her destroy him; the reputation he had spent so much to build? A lot was at stake. He was not ready to suffer unnecessarily. He would go to any length to silence her and save himself the embarrassment. But as he recalled that his efforts of reasoning with her had gone down the drain; that he had exhausted everything to make her change her mind, he knew he had one solution and that was to kill her for it was the lesser evil.