Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Flight

“We finally took off at 11.45 am, one and half hours behind schedule. Fifteen minutes into the flight, the seat belt sign went off, I took my seat belt off and proceeded to the rest room. The urge to use the rest room always overwhelms me during takeoff, by the time I returned the flight attendant was offering glasses of orange juice to passengers in the business class cabin.  I took my seat and the attendant approached me with a glass of juice, I declined but opted for water instead. The captain’s voice came over the in-flight audio system with the usual platitudes on weather en route destination, cruising altitude and other issues; finally he said “although the seat belt signs are off, ladies and gentlemen, you are please advised to fasten your seat belts while seated. Do relax, seat back and enjoy the rest of the flight”.

I was exhausted from the week long workshop, and all I really wanted to do was to crawl into my own bed and go to sleep. I always find it difficult to have deep naps inside planes except to steal five minute dozes from time to time.  Snoring and fast asleep in the third of the middle row seats, right beside me was my colleague. I put on the in flight entertainment, scrolled through all the options on offer to finally settle for the in-flight map showing our present location, distance travelled, altitude and hours to destination.

I was lost momentarily in my thoughts. When I came around, I looked at the video and realised the plane had reached its cruising altitude of 39,000 feet. Out of the blue, a familiar face descended from the first class cabin above and all the five Nigerians awake found ourselves standing up as if automatically impelled by an invisible force. I gave my colleague a nudge so he could see the new entrant and one of us broke the silence to say  “Prophet we did not know you are also on board, today must be our lucky day”, and another echoed “We did not see you come in, anyway  with your status Sir, I’m sure you were allowed to come in through a special gate”, and yet another chipped in “today is my special day, I never knew a day like this would come for me to meet the anointed Prophet of God, face to face”. 

My colleague had by now left his seat and can be seen kneeling at the aisle with both hands outstretched clasping one hand of the Prophet. After about minute the Prophet pulled his hand free from his grip and proceeded to make a sign of the cross on his forehead. Other passengers followed in tandem, except for the young white lady engrossed in her novel and myself.

One of us asked the Prophet to pray for everyone on board and for a safe flight, the Prophet responded in the affirmative but added that before he prays he will first let us on to a secret. He said “all the while the flight was being delayed I was praying and having a conversation with the Almighty. I normally should have been worried, since I have a programme scheduled for 7pm at the prayer grounds where multitudes will be waiting. I was reassured by Jesus that the programme would not only start on time but I would arrive the camp thirty minutes before the commencement of the deliverance service.” And continued “I said Lord, how is this possible? The flight to Lagos is six hours. Taxing on the runway will take some time, Immigration and Customs clearance; taking my privileged status into consideration will take at least thirty-five minutes. The relative ease with which my security escorts blaring sirens will try to navigate and negotiate the Lagos traffic would take close to two hours to get to the Epe expressway prayer ground” and he went further to say “ I told the Lord, there is no way I can get to the camp ground before 9pm. But the Lord looked at me with disdain and replied that my son in all I have accomplished through you, you still sometimes behave like a doubting Thomas. I immediately and repentantly, in full view of other dignitaries at the first class lounge fell to my knees asking God for forgiveness and for the Lord to remove the last vestige of doubt left in me”. My colleague then whispered to me “you are now a living witness to the humility and faith of the Prophet of God in action”. I remained silent.

The Prophet then proceeded with the prayer. “Father Lord, our God, the Alpha and Omega, the I Am that I Am, our Saviour, EL-Shaddai, remove any vestiges of doubt in your children. We know this flight was delayed, but you have assured your children that delay would not mean lateness. Lets us arrive Lagos by 4.00pm, I decree we shall arrive Lagos by 4.00pm”, the Nigerians responded with a loud Amen, He continued “your children from today henceforth shall suffer no more loss, I command that starting from today, they shall no more know sorrow; this year is a year of quadruple blessings  for your children” and the passengers apart from the young white lady who was by now sleeping answered with another Amen. He concluded the prayer by saying “let every lip hail Hosanna” and the Nigerians responded saying “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest”. At the end of the prayer session he shook more hands then went back upstairs to his first class cabin.

My colleague escorted the Prophet to the landing of the stairs before coming back to his seat with a glowing mien as he had the reassurance that all is well. I had to ask him if it is true that we will be on ground Lagos by 4pm and he responded with the air of confidence that since he had known the Prophet for over twenty years the man has never failed with his prophecies. I replied offhandedly “there is always a first time” to which he countered “we Christians walk by faith mostly, and not by sight only”.  I was not in my usual mood of engaging in a religious debate, hence I let things be and it was good I let things be because he was soon snoring. His snore was getting to me so I moved to one of the empty window seats, looked out, and could visibly make out of the coast of Africa. I straight away put on my video map to check, and realised yes, we were approaching Algeria.

The Pilot’s voice came over the speakers again saying “Ladies and Gentlemen, good news, we would be able to recover some of the time lost, we are lucky to have a tail wind assisting us, pushing us, and the way things are looking, we should shave thirty five to forty five minutes off the flight duration. Hope you are enjoying our in-flight service. Please stay relaxed and continue to enjoy the rest of the flight”. There was spontaneous chattering and clapping to the news, a passenger two rows before me reacted with the comment “dis Prophet sef  na talk na do, he is a real man of God” and another added “the man is an anointed man of God” and the chinwag went on. My colleague had by now been awoken by the uproar, he leaned across the aisle, to me, to inquire what the commotion was about and I told him the ‘good news’ from the pilot. He leaned back into his seat with wry smile curling his lips, his face looking smugly in my direction saying “proof -I hope now, you will give your life to Christ”. He closed his eyes once again and in another minute or so he was fast asleep, snoring.

I must have dozed off myself when I was suddenly jolted back awake, a loud bang hitting my eardrum. This came simultaneously with intense vibration of the fuselage, the fasten seat belt sign came back on, and this was immediately followed by the captain’s voice on the audio system “Ladies and gentlemen, it seems we have a minor problem which we are trying to resolve, there are no reasons to panic and we would get back to you”, the voice went off, but I thought it was trembling a bit, but this might have been my imagination, I was shaking all over myself. The noise and vibration were incessant, I started to pray silently, but I also could make out faint mumblings of my colleague “Our father and our God, take control of this situation, your anointed son, The Prophet  is on board, take control, in Jesus name”, he continued “Our Papa, the Prophet is on board, father take control, let all the blood sucking demons of the air be put to shame”, his praying seems to be increasing in intensity with the increasing vibration of the plane. This seems to have gone on for about five minutes; until the oxygen masks started popping out from the panels above the passengers’ heads. “This must be very serious” I thought. By now, I became oblivious to my colleague’s prayers, I went into a trance, seeing all my life flash before me; from birth all the major highlights and lowlights, thoughts of my aged parents, my children, my wife and regrets that it may end this way, in sadness and I said my last prayer “Oh Yama king of death, take my body but relieve my soul”. The plane went into a nose dive; we were suspended, hanging in our seats by the belts, each soul concerned about their own impending end. I thought to myself “this is it”, and in a few seconds it was all over.

I’m floating, out, of the macabre dance of death, my body, unrecognisable, mangled flesh and bones. I could barely make out my face, now caked over by dried blood.  I float out of the wreckage, looking down I see bodies intermingled with shard metals and broken cargoes strewn all over, a mosaic of death in an ocean of desert sands and dunes, fluorescence of the evening rays of the sun praying over the souls of the departed.

A while later, I found myself moving at breath taking speed in a dark tunnel whose terminal end seems to be a bright white speck, still infinitely far off. As the speed approached something analogous to the speed of light, the bright speck became closer and closer until I was totally immersed in her luminous embrace. At that instant I “passed” out to find myself lying on a bed in a room sparsely furnished with openings for windows and doors, but no window nor door. Through these openings one could see as far as the horizon would let one.

 I rose from the bed, only to take note of Ol’Pa and Ol’Ma (my paternal grandparents); they must have been in the room for a while. Ol’Ma asked me how the journey was and I replied “fine but strange”, then Ol’Pa chipped in “welcome back”. Ol’Pa and Ol’Ma were both in their nineties when they died about two decades back, but as I took a closer look at them, they were not looking old at all; actually they were both looking healthy and fit. Ol’Ma asked if I wanted anything to eat or drink and I replied “something little”. I was escorted to the outer room, where a larger welcoming party was waiting. Mam’Ma my maternal grandmother was seated in one corner, looking radiant as ever, she departed three decades back, her son who departed at relatively young age was standing beside her. There were also other uncles and aunties in the room. In the middle of the room stood a table, with fruits and a plate of stewed beans and fillet fish. I was prodded on to eat something; I sat down but could only nibble at the food. I noticed a bottle of beer and I opened it and downed a glass. As I stood up, I noticed a mirror in one corner of the room, I went to it, looked through, but could not see my reflection, I turned around, I saw others looking at me, enjoying my bewilderment. I could not make out their reflections either. By now the food on the table had somewhat disappeared.

I went out through the open door way into a bright street. The houses all looked the same. Far off, I saw two Suns in the purple sky dancing around each other and I continued walking.  I must have walked for a while, when I looked to the right, I took note of a meadow with blue grasses and orange trees with beige coloured fruits on them. I moved on to the meadow, in the distance I saw a bright light made out of a convergence of religious symbols of the various faiths on earth. I was inadvertently pulled towards this light. As I moved towards the light, I noticed the Prophet, with my colleague not far behind, also running fast towards the ‘being-of-light’.

As we approached the ‘being-of-light’, I slightly heard the Prophet saying “Dear Lord, I’m your trusted servant, most obedient, ever faithful”, he continued “O, merciful Lord, you cannot do this to me, I need more time to accomplish the tasks you assigned me”, my colleague joined in the pleading “Dear Lord, please have mercy on the soul of your Prophet, our very own father in the Lord on earth, grant him more time to accomplish your assigned responsibilities. O father, we beg of you, please father. Your Prophet is responsible for the souls of many. They would be lost without him. Father we plead in your son’s name”. There was no response from the ‘being-of-light’. The Prophet now lay sprawled on the ground prostrate saying “I need more time; I need at least fifteen more years to carry out the onerous responsibilities you Lord have deemed it fit to place upon my shoulders. I decree, I command, you should give me more time, by fire and brimstone, Lord give me more time, please lord.” The ‘being-of-light’ remained silent.”

 

I was startled awake and saw my wife leaning over me grabbing my shoulders. I stared blankly at her but she countered declaring that I was howling in my sleep saying “fifteen more years, fifteen more years”. “What is fifteen more years” she asked, but I could only respond with a shrug. I looked up at the wall clock and realised the day had broken for a while. As a throbbing headache hit me it dawned on me that I had too much to drink at the party and coupled with vigorous dancing I must have slept like a baby. I went down stairs, opened the medicine cabinet, took two tablets of analgesic out and downed the pills with water. I went to the sitting room and switched on the TV, there was breaking news on the news channel “The Prophet of the Renowned Church of Supreme Christians is reported to have died last night. Unconfirmed report says he suffered a heart attack during the monthly deliverance crusade, and all attempts to revive him failed. He was aged 67, may his gentle soul rest in peace”. It was then I remembered the flight, I mean I recalled my dream “The plane eventually took off at 11.45......”

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