Goats have become very common in our national discourse. I have heard so much about them that I see them in all my latest dreams. In one of these dreams, I saw that our national flag had been altered; the only change being the black star replaced with a black goat.

Now, due to all the talks about goats, my affinity for my pet goat, Freedom and Justice, grew stronger. I treated Freedom and Justice as a pet because it was a gift from a judge friend of mine who insisted that I named the animal so to highlight how he upheld the motto of our country.

Ever since I received Freedom and Justice in January, I have resisted several coercions from Father Marcus to slaughter it for food. I gave in to his suggestion at Easter but decided against it minutes before a knife was driven through its neck because I realized that killing a goat to commemorate the death of a lamb – i.e. Jesus Christ – was too sharp a contrast.

After one tiring day of listening to the sins of men, I checked on my pet. I noticed how lean it had become since its near-death in April. I was filled with empathy for the animal that I rushed to my room and fetched a crumb of communion bread and a bottle of wine. I administered the Eucharist to Freedom and Justice with the hope that by it, the goat will fatten up. Little did I know that that was its last supper.

Later that night, I was awoken by loud bleats of Freedom and Justice. By the time I came out of the room, two guys were making away with my pet goat. I ran after them, screaming, “touch not my anointed and do my servant no harm”. The thieves would, however, have none of what I was saying and vanished into the darkness.

The next morning, I was sad. Father Marcus worsened my mood with constant trolling. I had barely sat in the booth when the first penitent whispered, “Father, can God ever forgive me for what I’ve done? Father, please beg God to listen to me. Please beg God to take away any curse He has placed on me. I am truly sorry”.

I was torn between consoling him with the Lord’s mercy and finding out what exactly he had done. I went for both.

“The Lord’s mercy abounds, even to the chief of sinners. Tell me, of what sin you do you seek forgiveness from the Lord? I said to him.

After a deep sigh, he started, “Father, yesterday, my friend and I stole a goat from an old pastor”.

My heart skipped a beat when I heard goat but I held myself from doing anything silly. “Continue”, I urged him.

“We sold the goat at the market this morning for a commanding fee…”

“How much?” I demanded.

“150 cedis”, he answered. “On our way to a chop bar, as we discussed ways to enjoy our money, a preacher on the bus shared a message entitled touch not my anointed and do no harm to my servant”.

I chuckled when I remembered that those were the exact words I screamed as I chased my goat thieves.

“Father, the preacher said that many and irrevocable were the curses one brings on himself when he touches the anointed of the Lord”, the man continued.

“I began to tremble in fear, owing to what we had done. My friend, however, tried to reason it out that it was the goat we touched and not the man so nothing will happen to us.

Ignoring calls from the preacher to confess our sins, repent and give our lives to Christ, we proceeded to the chop bar. A few minutes into our meal, Father, Koo, my friend, started complaining that a bone had choked him. We tried several remedies to help him but the situation worsened. A few people gathered around us and suggested other things we could do to save Koo but none of them helped”.

The man paused and sniffed three times. “Go on, my son. Tell me everything”, I asked, eager to hear everything.

“Now, fearing that he’ll die, Koo confessed our sins. Immediately, the people who were sympathizing with me turned against me. Some knocked me, others insulted and cursed me, a few others too took some shots of me with their phones.

In all these, I was too concerned about Koo to respond in any way to the cruel treatment I was being dealt. A part of me felt I deserved it so I accepted it as my punishment. At least it was better than choking on a bone. It was when I heard one man reporting me to the police over the phone that I realized how much trouble I was in.

I ran here immediately. Father, I want God to take the curse away. I would not touch his anointed anymore – whether it’s a goat or a man”. His voice was shrill.

Though I knew it was wrong for me to laugh at penitents, I could not help this one. I laughed hard and told him he had run to the pastor whose goat he had stolen.

“Jesus!” He screamed. “Father, please forgive me. I won’t steal again. I will return the rest of the money, recite the Hail Mary ten times in a day and fast for a month”.

This is the first time a penitent suggested his own penance. I took the rest of the sales money from him and sent him off.

He was a happier man than he came.

***

This story is among a collection of a series I wrote with Kossi on our Facebook page, The FB Magazine. Click on the page to read more of the series entitled The Priest.

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