The Gist! – A Short Story by Joy A. Adewumi
‘Prisca, come, did you hear the gist?’ I overhead Mimi’s voice from the other side of the door as I let myself into my room where she was visiting with my roommate, Prisca. As I walked in, both heads turned to me and Mimi chirped, ‘ehn-ehn, it’s even better that you’re here too.’
I gave her a sidelong look that screamed, “what did you hear again?”
‘Welcome,’ Prisca greeted as she laughed at my expression while Mimi twisted her mouth and said,
‘Ehn, welcome! Sha come and sit down. Apparently neither of you has heard the latest.’
I shook my head at her and replied, ‘Me, I have to pray first, so that the Holy Spirit can guide my contribution to your gist.’ Prisca chuckled again, shaking her head at our exchange.
Barely had I sat down with them than Mimi launch into her gist.
‘So, there’s big news about one Senior Pastor at Glory of Heaven Church!’ I groaned as I threw my head back while Prisca got into another laughing fit.
‘So this pastor, Mimi, what did he do? Did he raise the dead under the anointing or were there a million converts recorded at his crusade?’ I asked with my lips twisted to one side.
‘Ah ah! What is it now? If you don’t want to hear the gist, kindly excuse us. What is your own sef?’ Mimi retorted. I could see her ire rising and I smiled as I conceded.
‘Oya, sorry. Ma binu (Don’t be offended). I won’t say a word again till you’re done with your gist.’
‘You had better.’ She replied.
‘So as I was saying, this pastor was rumored to have collected money from a couple for a miracle prayer for the fruit of the womb, and then he drugged and slept with the woman during a one-on-one prayer meeting with her.’
Same old, same old. I opened my mouth to say just that when surprisingly, Prisca cocked her head at me and wiggled her brows. I shut it promptly. If Mimi noticed the interaction, she didn’t say a word.
‘I don’t get it. If she was drugged, how did the story get out?’ Unexpectedly, it was Prisca who asked. I didn’t think she was going to get serious with the conversation. Usually, she preferred to be the one who lightened the mood and balanced things between Mimi and I. She did however look particularly interested. So, I sat up and listened more objectively.
‘Good question, Prisca.’ Mimi replied as she wagged one index finger excitedly at Prisca. ‘The woman wasn’t the one who broke the story. It was the Pastor’s secretary.’
‘Wawu!’ I exclaimed, I didn’t see that twist coming.
‘And why would she?’ Prisca asked again without batting an eyelash. What was wrong with her? This felt like it was already more than a gist to her. Mimi was probably excited about releasing all the facts that she didn’t realise Prisca’s uncharacteristic interest.
‘Reportedly, they had a falling out and she decided to come out with a release of all his terrible deeds she was privy to. This particular story about the woman he drugged took the front row.’ I swallowed as I watched Prisca’s features, wanting to get a hint of what was going on in her head.
‘That’s interesting, you know? She was privy to a rape incident and she came out with the news only after she had a falling out with the perpetrator. Does she know this could pass for aiding and abetting?’ Was this Prisca the law student, or Prisca the someone-else? She looked too vested. And how had Mimi not noticed that she was being interrogated yet?
‘According to her, she wasn’t exactly privy to it. It was actually a scene she chanced upon on a day she shouldn’t have been at work. She probably feared for her job and even maybe her life, who knows?’ Mimi shrugged.
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Prisca scoffed, ‘how convenient. Apparently, seeing as she has now come out with the story, she doesn’t fear for those things anymore. And the woman, the alleged victim of this rape, has she come out to corroborate the secretary’s story?’ Mimi arched her brows at Prisca like the latter just spoke Portuguese. Then she turned to me and asked,
‘Where dem from bring this one?’ Then she turned back to Prisca and asked, ‘if you were the one, would you step out? And what if she is in fact with child now? Did you even listen to yourself? Corroborate ko, collaborate ni.’ Prisca rolled her eyes and I chuckled lightly. Then she asked,
‘So, except her word against the pastor’s, what else does this woman have to prove her claims?’ At this point, Mimi sighed placing one palm atop the other wrist as she replied,
‘Madam, don’t think I did not notice that you’ve been interrogating me like someone in a witness box since morning. I did. And up until now, I indulged you because I like breaking gist. Right now however, I’m beginning to feel attacked.’ I smiled slightly. So she did notice. Then I added,
‘That’s true though, Prisca. You look kind of vested in this thing like it’s your personal business. How far?’ Prisca shook her head as though disagreeing with us and asked me,
‘You nko? What do you think about the whole thing?’ So now she wanted me to talk. How convenient for her too.
‘See, stuff like this is old news in Nigeria. Every other week, we hear of one Pastor or the other committing one atrocity or the other and as much of an aberration as it is, I’m afraid we have grown used to it. News like this stand a fifty-fifty chance of being cooked up or for real. And I’m sorry I can’t call a verdict except I see solid, indisputable evidence to prove which of the two is true.
‘What I however don’t agree with is the fact that everyone will get talking about it and before you know what’s happening, there will be several versions of the story. Then even if the man is found in fact innocent, his reputation is probably ruined forever, because people love bad news more than the good and will not share the correction to the rumor like they shared the rumor. It’s after all the bad one that sells. And even if he is guilty, we have just given the accusers and critics of our faith something to run their mouth on. So your turn, what’s your deal?’ I asked as I crossed my arms across my midriff. Mimi mirrored my posture and added,
‘Yes, you apparently have an interest beyond the ordinary in this gist. So, how far?’
Prisca sighed as she rubbed a palm down her throat, a mannerism she had whenever she was uncomfortable or nervous, and she looked both at the moment.
‘Last year, we had an issue in my church back at home. We had a chorister who had been in the church for about a decade and was unmarried in her late thirties. One day, her mum barged into my Dad’s office and demanded he did something about her daughter’s plight.’
‘Shuu!’ Mimi exclaimed as she spread out her hands, ‘na your papa dey dash husband?’ I chuckled despite the gravity of the situation. Prisca’s dad was an assistant G.O at her family’s church and he led their headquarters at the FCT. Obviously, Mimi’s comment worked wonders as Prisca produced the closest thing to a smile since Mimi began narrating her gist.
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‘When my dad tried to reason with her, telling her that he wasn’t a matchmaker and he trusted God to bring the right man to her daughter, at the right time, it fell on deaf ears. She threatened to go to the gossip blogs with rumors about my dad on how he sleeps with the choristers in our church and render them unmarriageable.’
‘Haba!’ Mimi exclaimed.
‘That’s sheer evil! Who does that!?’ I demanded.
Prisca scoffed softly and replied, ‘apparently, the woman under discussion does.’ Then she continued after rubbing a hand down her face.
‘We prayed hard about the issue and then called the chorister in question to ask her about her take on the issue. The lady was shocked to say the least. She had no idea her mum visited or that the woman issued any threats. She even went on to tell my dad and the church’s leadership that she was in fact engaged to be married and she had planned to take her fiancé to see her mum the next day. Can you imagine that?’
‘Wawu!’ I exclaimed, eyes wide.
‘Lobatan!’ Mimi interjected too as she threw her hands up in the air. Ever-dramatic.
‘She said she had decided to wait till the guy popped the question before she took him to her mother. This she said was because though it was nothing spiritual, she was convinced her mum was the cause of her issue. From her negativity to her overbearing attitude towards every man she introduced, her mother always succeeded in running the guys off.’ I shook my head while Mimi sighed deeply beside me.
‘She was fed up with the issue and that was why throughout the 18 months she courted her fiancé, she didn’t say a peep about him to her mum. At the end of the day, no one could blame the poor lady; apparently, her mum was the problem, not her. Anyway, miraculously, that solved the problem and we all moved on. Since then however, except I see solid evidence like you said, Kitan, I don’t believe rumors about pastors committing atrocities. I just imagine they got blackmailed like my dad was.’
We all sighed after she finished her narrative and then I added,
‘And even if you didn’t even have this experience, I don’t believe Mimi would have been so enthusiastic about sharing the news had it been a pastor in our campus fellowship.’
‘What did I do again bayii?’ Mimi whined.
‘No one is saying you did anything. Kitan is just saying the closer you are to the alleged culprit of a rumor, the less impersonal you are about discussing it or spreading it for that matter.’ Prisca explained and Mimi scratched her neck sheepishly at that point.
‘The truth is we all like gist, but it borders on ungodliness when the gist we love discussing centres on someone else’s downfall or misfortune. To us, it just might be some random news, but to the victims, whether they’re religious leaders or celebrities, they probably can’t step out of their houses for the shame and humiliation.’ I said.
‘So, in essence, what we are saying is that when the gist we have is something that is probably turning someone else’s life upside down, we should be emotionally intelligent and Christ-like enough and know better than to contribute to its spread. After all, the fewer the people discussing a gist, the less viral it goes. And it starts with us.’ Prisca added.
‘Wo (See), you guys are right jare. There’s a fine line between backbiting and gisting. Besides, the Bible did say we would give account of every idle word we speak, and if many of these gists are not idle, I don’t know what is.’ Mimi agreed and I smiled at Prisca who returned my smile.
‘And there are a thousand and one positive gists out there that no one is talking about. So we can never run out of gists, what matters is the kind of gists we are gisting.’ We all laughed and then Mimi readjusted herself on the bed as she asked,
‘Ehn-ehn! Talking about positive gists, have you seen Pastor Lazarus’s proposal video? Oh my word! It was legit lit! I was just smiling throughout like mumu,’ Mimi intoned.
Both Prisca and I doubled over in laughter as Prisca said,
‘Hmmnn… Won de! (They have come!)’ My laughing fit only came harder and I had to grab unto my stomach for dear life.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. This mind was not just the mind of humility as it further revealed in that verse. It was also the mind of love, sincerity, care and one-mindedness with the ones He loved.
Let us be careful of our words and discussions knowing we will give account for them all at the final analysis.
And finally, let us spread love and not strife. Laughter and not pain. Good news and not negatives.
The joy of the Lord is our strength, let’s keep basking in it.
The Girl with the Winning Smile,
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