When Mama Uloma told the police constable the same story she had been telling everyone all day, she did so with the same energy and enthusiasm as the first time she recounted what she saw. Keeping up the energy was easy, what else could be the result of seeing the impossible? As she gesticulated wildly recounting the experience to the disbelieving officer, she re-tied her wrapper a million times.
“Officer! Wetin my eyes see today no be am!” She said “I no know wetin happen for that house, but I no dey go there again!”
The officer, Audu Yahaya, a slender man clad in the black uniform of the police force took notes, staring intently at the excited woman in front of him.
“Madam, you need to calm down and tell me what happened.” He responded.
Mama Uloma narrated the story of how Pastor Mike and his wife had been quarrelling throughout the previous day. They were both known to be hot-tempered and occasionally had spats over the six years they had lived in the neighbourhood (in their 2 bedroom apartment with their five children, she graciously added), but the argument of the previous day seemed particularly heated. Pastor Mike and his wife (now identified as Mama Emeka) had been arguing over a woman whom Mama Emeka had accused of trying to steal her husband. Pastor Mike seemed particularly upset that his integrity had been called into question so easily, while Mama Emeka continued to reel off events to prove that he had no integrity. Things took a turn for the worse when Pastor Mike began quoting scriptures promising fire and brimstone against his disrespectful wife and was met with a slap that melted his composure, or what was left of it. In the ensuing battle, it was reported that Pastor Mike kept hurling curses at his wife as he assaulted her.
“Na im Pastor Mike come talk say she be goat, and she go die as goat.” Mama Uloma added.
“And that was the end of their fight?”
“Na after that he leave am, she come dey cry. Pastor Mike carry im bible talk say him dey go church. We no see am until everything scatter this morning.”
“When you saw the goat?”
“Officer no be goat, na Mama Emeka be that!” Mama Uloma added close to tears.
It had happened that after Pastor Mike left his wife wailing and weeping on the floor, and had gone to the church presumably to handle a vigil and maybe seek forgiveness for his violence while at it, Mama Emeka had dragged herself into her house and locked herself in the room. Their children, embarrassed by their parents’ duel, had quietly left the house to meet up with friends who had not witnessed the debacle. Mama Emeka was supposed to still be in her room when Pastor Mike returned from the vigil that morning, but to his horror, in place of his wife, a goat, clad in the same blouse as she was last seen in, was parading the room. Pastor Mike could not contain the shock and promptly fainted. This caused the children to start screaming and brought the neighbours running into the house, first of which was Mama Uloma, who upon seeing the goat in the room, fled for the sake of her sanity. She was followed closely by the other neighbours, and then the children. When everyone summoned the courage to return to the house, they met Pastor Mike, holding down the goat and praying vigorously over it for his wife to return. Chaos ensued as the rumour began circulating that Pastor Mike had cursed his wife into becoming a goat. The people came in droves, all trying to catch a glimpse of the pastor’s goat-wife, armed with phones and trying to get a picture. The police were called and the officers arrived on the scene.
As Audu concluded the statement he had just received, Pastor Mike was led out of the house to loud cheers as well as boos from the crowd. A woman tried to cling on to him, begging him to “speak the word” and heal her child, but the police shepherded her away. Another policeman emerged behind his colleagues, carrying a goat covered with some clothes and the crowd lost it. They moved to mob the policeman and he colleagues had to block them off. A gun was fired and the people backed off, some running away to save their heads. The policemen loaded the goat and Pastor Mike into the back of their truck and promptly drove off, leaving what was left of the crowd to chatter excitedly on what had just transpired.
At the bus park a good 20 kilometres away from the chaos at Pastor Mike’s house, a woman hopped into the back seat of a bus leaving town with a small bag and a scarf draped over her face. As talk of the chaos in town filtered into the bus now filled with passengers, she turned her face towards the window and sighed. As the morning sun warmed her face, she thought about what had happened the day before; the goat was supposed to be a statement to her husband to value her. As the bus conveying Mama Emeka pulled out of the park, all she could hear was the sound of her fellow passengers talking about the Pastor’s wife that turned into a goat.