THE WAGES OF SIN

The Wages Of Sin

The Wages Of Sin

Today’s feature presentation is from Banjo Bankole Sijuade, and it brings to a close this special Month of Features package, to mark our one year milestone.

It is our way of appreciating the works of other writers but most especially, it’s our way of celebrating you, our reader.

Enjoy ‘The Wages Of Sin‘ by Banjo Sijuade.

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 “The wages of sin is death…”

The words catapulted him from sleep into the realms of consciousness. He shot up in bed, streams of sweat oozing from every pore of his 6ft-frame. Like a canine whose attention was pricked by the faintest of sounds, he looked frantically right and left, got up and surveyed his environment.

All seemed well. The room was as it was when he came in around 2 a.m. in the morning: a scattered assembly of clothes, shoes and the empty bottle of Pastis he’d drank before bed. The bed bore the semblance of one that had been fought in. Ruffled, and disorganised, a silhouette of sweat on the area which he’d just jumped up from. His eyes rested on his naked bed-mate, Bisi, her back to him, fast asleep on the far end of the bed. At some other time, her dark, smooth, naked body would have aroused some longing in his groin. But now, nothing mattered except the words that woke him up from deep sleep.

“The wages of sin is death…”

He checked the time: 4.20 a.m. He’d been asleep for barely one and a half hour. He’d come home with Bisi and they’d had steamy sex till past three, he remembered the time because he was just getting off her when his wall clock chimed 3 a.m.

“What’s happening?” he asked himself, “after all, i’ve heard those words severally, why does it haunt me so?” He remembered those were the exact words Sister Titilola had said to him three days ago when she had unexpectedly walked up to him in the Lecture Theatre. He’d shrugged it off, knowing fully well the beloved sister dared not pursue things further. He was not the number three man of the dreaded Snakes confraternity for nothing; his reputation was top-notch, enough for him to be touted as the next number one of the deadly cult. Being highly placed in the campus’s elite cult group came with its benefits. But she had been bold; very bold indeed. Very few of those supposed Christian brothers or sisters had the guts to come preach to him, yet she had, even left a tract with him.

The tract.

He snapped out of his reverie and started scouring the house for the 4-page leaflet. He hoped the leaflet was somewhere in the house for he slept in different places each night. He looked through his pockets then the reading table he’d dropped his things when he got in earlier, but he could not find it. He racked his brain for pointers to where he must have dropped the tract. Then he remembered. He had used it to smoke ganja two days ago when he couldn’t find rizla anywhere around. The paper was very light and it was the closest to rizla he could lay his hands upon. He wished he still had the tract but he had no time to regret anything.

He collapsed into the only chair in the room and closed his eyes. Her words ran into his thoughts again, like an unwanted interruption during sleep.

“Brother, the Lord loves you and he has told me to tell you to desist from your evil ways sir. If you don’t sir, His wrath might come upon you for it is written that ‘for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

He remembered the boys had burst into laughter, but he hadn’t found it funny. This was a lady he’d known as a spirikoko for years and who for once had never approached him for anything like that.

“The Lord told you to tell me?” He had asked, somehow interested.

“Yes, he came to me in a vision and showed me what would happen to you if you don’t repent now.” She answered quickly, the words dropping off her mouth like someone in a trance.

“So what did He show you?”

“The Lord directed me to the book of Romans 6 verse 23,” she paused to open the portable bible she held in her hands, ‘for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“Is that what He showed you?”

She nodded fearfully.

“Ok. Thank you.”

Her words had stuck in his mind, accompanied his nights and dogged his days. Every night since then, he’d been woken up by those words. They had become a haunting nightmare to him. The reason, he never knew.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“The free gift of God is eternal life? Through Jesus?” he asked himself, confusion threatening to overwhelm his sanity.

“Baby, are you alright?” It was Bisi, sitting up on one elbow, her full breasts hanging from her bosom like ripe pawpaw fruits. She looked worried even in her state of semi-sleep.

“I’m fine.” He answered firmly.

“You sure about that?”

“Uhn uhn.”

“Come to bed then. I want you baby,” her sultry voice prodded, the come-on very clear.

“I will in a while. Give me a few minutes.”

“Alright,” she yawned and collapsed back on the bed.

***

The residents of Princess Hostel were used to her loud prayer sessions. One only needed to stay in the hall for two straight days to know her worship schedule. She would start at exactly 4a.m. and praise-worship till 5a.m. After which she’d embark on an hour of relentless prayers, speaking in unknown languages interspersed with the known. She was to the hall a bastion of spiritual fortress. There was a feeling of security that came with staying in the same hall with her. Her hall mates used to complain of her prayer schedule, especially when she got into those tongues, but since she’d twice ‘seen’ and prayed against two different calamities that would have befallen two hall mates, they’d learnt to deign to her spiritual abilities.

That Thursday morning, when her praying pattern digressed from the usual, the whole hall knew something was not right. Not only was her worship session heavily punctuated with loud wailings and supplications to her God, every word of prayer she said was forced, hurried and sad unlike the free flow of unknown tongues they knew her for.

“Mercy, Lord. Mercy. Give him some more time, Lord.” A few lines of unknown tongues followed before they heard her say, “Your words say you do not want the death of a sinner; please Father, please.” They heard her say, amidst sobs, continuously and persistently. No one knew why she prayed that way. Was another hall mate in danger? No one knew what troubled her. But she knew. And He knew too.

***

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The words rang in his ear as he looked around the room for something to drink. He found none. Slowly, he dialled one of his lieutenants who always stayed in the same building he spent the night in.

He was a wanted man. As a top member of the Snakes and the heir-apparent to the number one post, he was heavily guarded. He dared not sleep anywhere without adequate security measures. He knew what he meant to a lot of people, rivals and friends alike. Not after single-handedly ‘scoring’ all six goals in the current ‘game’ of superiority his cult group was involved in with their main rivals, the Cats Confraternity.

Ding ding

The number rang but no one picked.

“That’s unusual,” he said to himself, the first streaks of panic starting to get to him, “something is wrong.”

He dialled again. No answer.

Quickly, he jumped up from the chair, reached for his boxer short on the floor and began dressing up.

“Baby, what is the matter?” Bisi asked, his sudden hurry had woken her from sleep.

“Shhh.” He shut her up with a finger to his lips. Fear jumped into the girl’s eyes and she shot up from the bed too, looking for her g-string. When she couldn’t find it, she abandoned the search and wore her jeans like that, quickly throwing on a tank top, there was no time for the bra.

“I think something’s wrong Bisi, Stone is not picking his call.” He hurriedly whispered to her as he pulled on his Arsenal jersey. He dipped his hand in the space between the bed and the mattress and pulled out a locally made handgun. It was his private weapon, for emergencies.

“Ah!” Bisi gasped.

“I’ll go check him now, but you just stay here and wait. Ok?”

She nodded, her whole being dripping with pockets of fear.

***

They knew he would come out. After two missed calls, they knew what his next step would be. So they waited. Today will be the day. After weeks of planning and plotting and three failed attempts, they could not afford to miss the opportunity. This was the first time he’d slept anywhere with very little security. His one-man security had been macheted to death a few minutes earlier just as his call came in.

They called him Python, the de-facto Strike man of the Snakes. He was not going to be an easy victim, but he would be their highest profile, yet. If they got it right, they would balance the score. At 6-2, they were losing the ‘game’. But this would be their sucker punch, and it’d definitely be worth 4 goals. Investing in mercenaries had been their joker. If this ended up badly, they could as well forget it. The Python and by extension, the Snakes, would never take things easy with them. It’d be a full war. They must avoid war; the Python must go.

***

When he stepped out into the corridor of the twelve-room hostel, he immediately knew he’d made a mortal mistake. He was greeted with the cold muzzle of a gun against his neck.

“Don’t try anything foolish, Python.” The voice was very familiar and eerily close. Before he could answer, two more figures emerged from the shadows, one held his hands while the other frisked him for the weapon. He was disarmed and shoved towards the main door.

“It’s been a while Steve,” it was Python, addressing his arrester. Steve and he had attended the same polytechnic where they both were influential members of rival cult groups. They had been on each other’s neck for years till Python left the polytechnic for the University. He wondered the cruel fate that had thrown Steve up as the mercenary that was to lead the manhunt for him.

“Yeah man,” came the steely voice, “good to see you again man.” He finished as they led him outside the house into the compound.

There, he saw they had come with quite a team. He counted twelve of them clad in purple round-necks with bandana, and he felt bizarrely honoured. He would go in a streak of honour and his legend would reign forever among succeeding generations of cultists. Death was the famed equaliser for all men; the manner of death is the only distinction a man of courage can get from mere men.

“Thanks for the honour Steve. You brought the whole house for me!” he chuckled and smiled.

A back-handed slap landed on the nape of his neck and a succession of blows forced him on his knees. When he muttered enough strength to look up, he saw they had formed a perfect circle around him.

“Certainly,” he said to himself, “the end had come.” He scanned the environment for a break, a hole he could explore. But he found none. The circle was close-knit and every one of them held one weapon or the other, the least being a portable axe. Four of them held guns.

“Guys, show him to the gods.” It was Steve who gave the order.

Six of the boys detached from the circle, lifted him up and threw him into the sky. When he reached maximum height, gravity took toll on his mass and he began the free fall. He landed with a thud, his 6-ft frame giving a ‘gbam’ sound against the concrete floor. As if on cue, the rest of the boys began to sing, a chilling song that reminded those within earshot of the Zulus performing a night-time ritual.

They didn’t allow the pain overcome him before they lifted and threw him up again. When he hit the concrete, this time with a cacophony of breaking bones and an unmistakable groan, he began to feel his life race out of him. Every bone in his 86kg mass revolted in pain and he found himself unable to move.

By now, the boys were jogging round him, singing and dancing, their axes raised to the heavens. It was a ritual they must carry out. To appease the gods of cultism, to remember and avenge the murders of their cult fellows the Python had personally sent to eternity. To satisfy their thirst for blood, the Python’s blood.

Few victims survive more than four throws but he survived five. But by then, his life struggled with death like in a lopsided wrestling match. Eternity rushed at him like a raging sea. He stayed strong; never for once uttered any word. He felt the tightness in his chest and his breath came in sudden bursts. His back ached from the several blows it had taken on the concrete floor while his heartbeat increased so much he thought his heart was running away from the pains his body system had become.

His assailants stopped throwing him and stayed back, watching him struggle with death.

For a few minutes, it seemed as if they’d leave him to die. But no, just when the Python was beginning to think so, he heard Steve’s clear command: “Put him out of his misery boys.”

The boys did as they were told. Two blows of the axe from each of the six guys pushed him into the warm embrace of darkness; into the same eternity he’d sent at least six others over the years. As he floated into eternity, he heard those words again as they poured out of Sister Titilola’s mouth:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

He understood the words just then. With the darkness gaining ground over the rest of his life, he found himself muttering the words, “Forgive me Father, forgive me, I am a sinner. Please, forgive my sins, accept me Lord.”

As everything went blank, he found peace like he never felt all his life.

***

Just as her hall mates were getting increasingly worried, Sister Titilola stopped praying. Those whose rooms were close to hers could hear her sobbing lightly, like a young girl who had lost her best friend. Nobody understood what was going on. But she did. And He did too.

“Lord, may Your Will be done,” they heard her whisper amidst her sobs.

Soon after, her voice was heard in a medley of praises to the one God she served and trusted. Her conscience was clear, her task completed. She knew the God she served; she knew His stand:

“I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy…”

The End

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ****
BANJO Bankole Sijuade is an anthologised, prize-winning short story writer. He works fulltime as a Copywriter with a Lagos-based Marketing Communications Agency. He’s married with a daughter. You can follow him via @banky_writes

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7 thoughts on “THE WAGES OF SIN

  1. I cried till the end of the story. So many young life's have been wasted because we believers are so afraid to say the truth. Let's make the world around us a better place. Speak the truth with boldness. May God help us.

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    1. @Abiola its nice to have your comments on the page...its takes a brilliant reader to appreciate a good work...lessons sure can be learnt from this work...thank you for stopping by

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  2. This story remind me again and again of God's mercy most importantly the power of Interceeding. We should preach more and interceed more. God really love the guy, just like the thief that was cruxified with Jesus, last minute Salvation through INTERCEEDING.

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    1. @beezy4lord its nice to be inspired in such a way and thank you so much for dropping your thots regularly ...it inspires us to bring you the best of the best works.u.i.m

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  3. wow! nice piece!....not every sinner can be this lucky, and I hope some will not be encouraged to delay their day of salvation, tomorrow might be too late 🙂

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