Father Joseph woke up from sleep with a tremor running down his spine. His body was drenched with sweat. This had become a routine now: a nightmare would kill his sleep halfway through it.
In his nightmares he was a sorcerer, or a witch hunter, or a medieval knight tilting at some mysterious windmills. He dispensed magical potions and panaceas to the people who came and knelt down in front of him with childlike trust. He drove a stake into the heart of every sinner in the parish. He led some amorphous army to he knew not where. Every dream ended with somebody like John the Baptist making a mocking apparition to him and accusing him of cardinal sins of all hues. Often the Baptist had only the head; there was no body. There was fury in his mockery. His words lashed out like lightning and thunder.
Father Joseph put on his white soutane as he got ready for his morning meditation. He spent an hour every morning in silent prayer and meditation before the parishioners came for the morning Mass. He mortified his flesh in many ways during the day in order to ward off all evil. The devil prowls round everywhere and can overpower you at any time. One ought to be on constant guard.
Darkness enveloped the church as Father Joseph came out of the presbytery. He had forgotten to switch on the outside light last night. Darkness had swallowed the whole world, thought Father Joseph. What use was the artificial light of bulbs? Light had vanished from the hearts and souls of people.
Father Joseph’s meditation was about to end when Sara appeared before him. Sara had the beauty of an angel and the seductiveness of a witch. She must have come to confess for the umpteenth time about her marital infidelity. Yet another night in the arms of a man who was not her husband. Her husband was in Dubai making money.
Father Joseph looked at Sara. Not into her eyes as he used to do. His eyes slipped. They fell on the beautiful curves of her youthful body. Father Joseph felt an unusual tremor in his loins. The tremor rose from the loins towards his heart, shaking up his whole body.
“My God, my God!” his soul cried out silently.
The lights had been switched on in the church. But Father Joseph saw darkness everywhere.
“The devil!” he muttered to himself, his eyes widening in alarm. “The devil is inside me!”