He began reading his judgment: “I’ve heard the argument of the state counsel and the defence counsel. Witnesses have been called. The accused has been unable to prove that he was not the one who put late Miss Tosin Adelanwa in the family way and caused her to undergo an abortion which the autopsy report has shown was responsible for her death.
‘The fact that Mr. Alani Atotonu ran away, changed his name to Prophet T. C. Jeremiah, and started running a church strengthened the case against him. If he had nothing to hide, why did he disappear on the exact day that the late Miss Tosin Adelanwa kicked the bucket? Why did he also become an emergency Pastor, with a new name?’
The judge took a break to sip water from the glass cup in front of him.
‘His lawyer has tried to create some alibi, to wriggle him out of this. But the prosecuting counsel has been magnanimous enough to discover the gaping holes in the alibi. When his lawyer realized that the game was up, he started preaching the gospel of tempering justice with mercy. I’m not for that balderdash. This is my judgment…’ He took a break again to drink some water.
‘You’re hereby sentenced to death by firing squad. And the sentence will be carried out immediately. Take him away.’ And he was driven to the Bar Beach, where he was tied to the stake. It appeared the sea did not approve of the blood that was about to be spilled in it. The sea was roaring angrily like a wounded lion. But as far as the four soldiers who were going to do the execution were concerned, they read no meaning to the whole scenario. A pastor soon came to him.
You have the last chance to talk to God and atone for the sins you committed while you were alive,’ the pastor said.
But Alani, a.k.a. Prophet T. C. Jeremiah, spat on the pastor. The man of God just behaved as if nothing happened.
“The Bible makes us understand that no matter our sins. Once we confess our sins, Jesus Christ will forgive us and we’ll become a new person, an entirely new person.’
‘Go away, go away,’ Alani shouted at the pastor.
By now the soldiers were loading their guns. To think that they were only going to kill just one person. The journalists there were busy taking notes of the goings-on. They were waiting for his last words.
‘Since you’ve chosen to be stubborn,’ said the pastor, ‘do you have something you want to say? Some last wish.’ This was the moment the journalists had been waiting for.
‘I’ll start first of all by saying that I don’t see you as a man of God. And for that reason, everything that you represent and say means nothing to me. Why on earth will you accept to come and do this job when you know that this is a rape on the normal procedures of the law? Judgment was delivered today, no ratification has been done, no room was given for an appeal, and here I’m tied to the stake about to die. And you a man of God does not consider it your job to point out the rape of justice perpetrated by the judge… My last words: Angels live in heaven.’
Everybody scampered away from him to allow the soldiers to do their job.
Alert! shouted the commander.
Just as the gun boomed, he woke up, sweating.
‘My God, so it was all a dream!’ He sat on the bed.
What kind of a dream is this?’
He looked up and began talking aloud: ‘Tosin, you know I didn’t know what killed you. Yes, I knew you were pregnant. And you suggested you were going to get rid of it using some spiritual soap. I don’t know if it was the soap that led to your death. I only ran away because I was not sure of what would come. I am very, very sorry. I also did not change my name as a way of distancing myself from your death. I did that strictly because of the new person that I now am. Rest in peace and let me prosper in my new endeavour.’
Sleep did not come easily to him again. He got himself his Bible and started reading. He concentrated basically on reading the Psalms. Later he was saying the Lord’s Prayer:
Our father who art in heaven…
Excerpted from Olukorede S. Yishau’s In the Name of Our Father, one of the 11 novels shortlisted for the Nigerian Prize for Literature 2021.