“Forgive me father, for I have sinned.”
“God bless you, my child. Our God is a merciful God. Confess and it shall be well with you for the holly book says ‘for we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
“Aaah, aah, aah, … aaaah, aah, aah, ah,” he started to cry bitterly.
“My child, you cannot keep crying like this. Our good Lord have heard your pain and believe me, he has forgiven your sins already.”
He cried some more. His wails were low but long. I could tell how hurt and regretful his soul was. In my mind I wondered what this poor child had done. Decently clad young man, well shaved and gentle in his steps, as I watched him enter the confession booth. His unusual ways amazed me. I must confess, among the people who come into this little booth, his ways were totally unusual.Unlike others, when he came in he first inspected the room; each corner above and below his head as if trying to make sure no one else would listen. Then he removed a white cloth from his left pocket and whipped his seat. With utter attention to details, he moved his hands gently in circular motions careful not to miss a spot. He did this repeatedly on the bottom section, on the arm rest and finally on the back rest. He was not in a hurry.
“Furrrrrr, firrrrrr, furrrrr,” be blew his nose, posed, and blew it again dry.
I wanted to reach out to him and hug him. Tell him to put away his handkerchief because soon all that would be coming out of his nose would be blood, and not snort. But whoever designed these confession rooms gave me no such a privilege. A thin wooden barrage in between us made sure we only offer a listening ear, a listening ear and a little blurred vision of our client.
“Speak my child, speak and I will ask our Merciful Mother to intercede for you. Child, the Holy Book says that ‘Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as now; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’”
Then he stopped, wiped his face and composed himself on the seat. I expected him to start talking, pour his heart out like a chatter box then we pray together, of course you know the routine prayer, and call in the next client. Instead, he lowered his head and stared on the ground. His eyes open but fixed on one spot, I imagined he must be praying or even worse having delusions of his sinful acts. Two minutes, four minutes, the stare went on and on without a blink. His eyes were drying out and unless he blinked, they would soon start hurting.
Curious to know I pushed him, “My child, are you ready to speak to the Lord what it is that troubles your heart? Remember child, The Lord is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. Our lawlessness acts, He will remember no more. He says in Psalms that as far as East is from West, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. So my child, fear not to speak.”
His face still lowered to the ground he turned his head and faced the door and for a moment I thought he was going to leave. I didn’t want him to. So I opened the holly book and read some more verses about confession and absolution. But again like a statue, he remained still and though his face was turned away, I am sure he was not praying, just staring. I got interest in his story. I wanted to hear it. It could not be robbery, mmm ... maybe rape. Rape of a minor that led to murder and now guilt was munching him alive. For a moment I became less sympathetic and wanted him to hurt a little. This was the second time I was wishing the little barrage was not present so that I could pass my hands and grab him by his lousy balls and make him scream his sins out in real physical pain. I resented him and no-longer wanted him in my confession booth, maybe a a jail cell fitted him better.
“Why can’t all bad people just die and let the world be a safe place,” I asked myself without uttering a word lest he hears.
“Yes.” He turned and faced me and for a moment I thought he had read my mind. I wanted to confess.
“Yes Father, I have killed a man, maybe a woman am not sure. I helped a lady carry an abortion. I am sorry Father, I have sinned.”
“Ooh! Poor child, tell me how it happened. Tell me all of it and we shall pray together.”
“I have sinned Father, I helped a lady commit murder. I am a murderer. My hands are not clean father. My hands a filled with blood, blood of an innocent child. Father, I thought I was helping.”
“Whose child was it my child?” I asked.
“It was mine, my own child, ooh God what have I done? Father, I have aided the murder of my own child, the first of my body and blood. Father, I have sinned and I deserve death. My hands are thick in blood of an innocent being. What am I going to do Father?”
“Mary Mother of Jesus! Bless this poor soul. Relieve him of his sins.” I offered him a prayer not wanting to cause him more pain by going through the nit-bits of this this confession, but then he hushed me down and continued.
“Father, I paid a man for killing my child and even walked her down to the place of murder. She is my cousin and in his father’s abode is where I find my shelter and food. His father, a Good Samaritan, took me in as a homeless orphan and gave me a home. All comfort and pleasantries; he gave me a bed and a place in his heart, Father he treated me as his own ... can you imagine! Yet I still fell in love with his daughter, lay her down in the same bed he gave me in the thick of the night, spread her legs, stole her virginity and gave her a baby.”
“You bustard!” annoyed and outraged, the words slipped out of my mouth. He must have heard me, he surely heard it all loud and clear. “You must apologize to him.”
“No, I cannot. You see Father, this man is heavily built you would think he is a giant. His anger though, is greater than him, maybe four times his size. He would kill us both without even a blink. Father, he is a man who holds great pride in little achievements, this would get the town talking and people of his kind do not give a chance to reason. Father, I am not afraid of death. In-fact since that day, I have wished it many occasions than I have wished to live. But her daughter Father, I still love her daughter so dearly and I have caused her more harm already.”
I am a trained counsellor, I am a man of God and believe me, I have heard countless number of confessions and led many to successful reconciliation with their conscience and God, but through this confession I have been much more confused than this poor sinner. In my head I wrangle whether to lead him through the written confession and absolution or hand him over to a senior pastor. My head is not thinking straight and this can lead to more harm than help, worst will be if he notices the level of descent I have developed towards him, he will curse me and maybe resort into an unspeakable act. Still staring at me like a soulless ghost, he clears his throat; a definite reminder that he is still in the booth and wants me to say something. To tell him everything will be all-right because all sins are equal before God or a curse to eternal condemnation. The latter seemed befitting but instead I posed a question. “Why have you come to confess all these?” You murderer!
“Father, I have been having dreams. Dreams or hallucinations, am not sure. Yesterday I saw my dead father. Though he died a drunkard, yesterday he appeared to me in white glowing gown. He was in a white collar and a celebrant among his kind in a Holy Eucharist. On the table he had the Lords Body and Blood but there was a third chalice whose contents have brought me here.”
When this young man came in here, I had no any definite feeling for him. He was just a regular sinner like any other. Then his discreet acts and eyes made me curios. His story has now moved me through varied emotions, first sympathy then anger. He led me through a moment of confusion, open loath and now he is making me sin because my conscience has led me to bequeath him judgement. A haunted Judas, I knew he was surely heading for the noose.
“On this chalice, Father, were a foetus and a rotting placenta of my own child. I was ready for the Eucharist but instead of it, he handed me the rotting being and placenta and asked me to go dispose of it first. He said my hands were dirty and I had to clean them first before coming to the Lords Table. Father, I walked out through the whole crowd, cursed by my own blood father to damnation displaying my sin to the whole crowd like a garment on a cloth line.”
Such was our last encounter and today Ado is dead. I am presiding over his funeral and no one knows why he did it and they wail and cast blames on the wrong persons for wrong reasons. Nobody except me knows why Ado had to put his head through the loop. I knew it all, in time and even had a chance to lead him through a prayer that would have seen him not despair, yet I didn’t. Instead I pronounced my judgement upon him knowing exactly where he was headed. Today my sin is greater and on this pulpit I do not only have the Holy Eucharist, but I also carry Ado’s chalice of foetus and rotting placenta.