Pearl was seated in the passenger’s seat of her step-father’s Lexus jeep. Her brother, Michael, was seated on the driver’s seat. Her mother was at the boot dishing food. Her step-father was a stone throw away, talking with another parent. She was happy seeing her mother and brother again. She pinched her brother. “They are feeding you well in your school o!”
He smiled. “Guess so”
“You’ll soon be much taller than me” she said, absorbing the masculine developments in her kid brother who was just fourteen. She took his hand. “It’s good seeing you again. How is mummy?”
“As in, how is daddy treating her?”
“Fine. They seem are okay”.
Pearl nodded. That was something else about the man; a good thing however. He took care of her mum, and always paid their school fees. The two problems he had were the bottle and skirts. She was certain that while she was in school, he would have found an alternative to her.
“Do we have a house-help now?”
“Yes we do.”
“Like how old is she?”
“I’m not sure, but she looks about fourteen to me. Why are you asking?”
“Just curious” Pearl said, and she had her answer with that. The probability was really high that her step-father would have started harassing that young girl too. She had intended to be harsh on him, asking him if he had a heart; hoping to allude to his childlessness being the result of his inhumane acts. She had however learned otherwise from her new friends and had been told that it’s a lust spirit operating in him, that he can’t help himself even if he wanted to.
So, along with her friends, she had prayed against that spirit in him. She was not going however to keep being used; she wanted out. She had told her mum not to dish her food yet; she hadn’t regained her appetite yet, she needed to talk first. She looked in her step-father’s direction and saw he was shaking hands with his friend, rounding up their conversation. She stood and leaned against the jeep.
When he was done and was walking back, she met him before he got to the vehicle. “Dad, I need to talk with you”
He had a mixed look; surprise and fear. “Let’s talk in the car”
“We need to talk privately. Please!”
He looked in his wife’s direction and signaled to her that they would soon be back. She smiled and waved them off. Pearl saw the look of admiration in her mum’s eyes and wanted to cry. Her mum had always been happy when she saw her husband and her daughter together, thinking they were close, not knowing it was the direct opposite.
They walked to the Chapel and sat towards the back where no one was close enough to hear their conversation. When they were seated, Pearl played with her fingers, looking at them. She didn’t know where to start from. Her step-father reached out to hold her shaking fingers. She flinched.
“What’s the problem dear? Have you missed me this much?” he asked.
Pearl was nauseated. It was then a strange courage stirred up and she blurted out, as quietly as possible, taking her hands away from his. “I haven’t missed you and don’t think I could ever do.” He just stared at her.
“I made a decision”, she started saying, still looking down but she remembered the counsel she received. ‘You don’t look down when you refuse a guy no matter how old he is; you look him in the eye, not in disrespect but with confidence and tell him a big no’. She looked up and continued.
“I cannot and will not allow you ever touch me again” She saw he was affected by her directness. He looked around to be sure no one had heard what his step-daughter was saying. Her timidity had been her undoing all along. “I forgive you for all you’ve done to me, but it can’t continue. I’ve found Jesus and he’s set me free from the guilt. I will not allow it any longer”
No one said anything for a while. Her step-father looked at her for a while. Pearl noticed his eyes were filling. ‘Thank you Jesus’ she breathed. He blinked back the tears. “Pearl, I’m sorry I had to wait till this before I could get myself together. I have been addicted to sex since when I was twelve and I can’t do with one partner; I’m never satisfied. I really didn’t want to touch you when I married your mother but I couldn’t resist you.” He looked down.
“But when I discovered that when I threatened you, you kept it a secret, I couldn’t help continuing.” He looked up. “I know I can never undo the wrongs I’ve done you but I beg that you forgive me, I’m very sorry.”
“I’ve forgiven you already. Jesus has made it easy for me. You could accept him too.”
“I’ll think about that. But in the meanwhile, please pray and ask Him to help me overcome this habit”
“And drinking too?” Pearl asked, seriously.
“And that too!” he added sadly. “But do you know the worst part, the part I can never tell your mother. “It’s this addiction and the things I’ve done to satisfy my yearnings that have rendered me unable to have children.”
Pearl could see the deep sadness in his eyes. The man she had always viewed as cold and hard actually had a heart.
“You’ll notice I was always protected with you because I couldn’t take chances and sincerely didn’t want to ruin your life with an unintended pregnancy. I’m very sorry again”
Pearl nodded, eyes filling too. She still had a question to ask. “How about the new house-help?”
He nodded and she understood his message. “I have been careless with her because I know nothing is at stake; I can’t get her pregnant. But with this conversation and if your Jesus hears your prayers, I hope never to touch her or any other woman, apart from your mother, again.”
Pearl smiled as tears spilled down her cheeks. She was happy for the change but wondered why she had to suffer so bad before this deliverance came. ‘Lord, you know best and I trust You. Thank You for working things out’ was her silent prayer to God.
“I’m sorry again”, he said as he wiped at the stray tear that made its way down his cheek. “Hope we can still be family?”
“Yes, we can” she replied and they rose.
“A hug from daddy; a noble hug”
She smiled and received his embrace. “Please remember to pray for me” he said as they made their way out of the chapel. Pearl was so happy, she wanted to tell the world, she looked out for any Maranatha girl but didn’t see any on her way to her step-father’s vehicle.
She passed a familiar vehicle and excused herself. She peeped in to see Moni’s uncle. “Good afternoon sir. Has Moni seen you?
“Yes” he replied. “She said I should give her thirty minutes. She wanted to see a friend”
“Okay. I’ll come back later” she said and hurried to catch up with her dad. When they got to the car, Pearl asked for her food. She had regained her appetite; she was famished. She hoped her family, the Okposu family, would live happily ever after. She wouldn’t have dreamt that their happiness and oneness at the moment was soon to be threatened.
Moni had been talking with her uncle who was representing her parents when she saw a familiar face enter the school. Their car was parked close to the gate, so she could the person clearly. She was shocked. ‘What is Bayo doing here?’ she asked herself. ‘Don’t tell me he came for my Visiting Day – Oh! How romantic’.
He was looking round as he walked. He was looking for someone. She asked her uncle to excuse her and she went to him. He was walking towards the other side, with his back to her. She came up from behind him and pinched him. He turned, and on seeing her smiled with arms extended. She eased herself into his embrace.
He pulled back and looked at her. “You are looking real sweet.”
“Thank you. So, why did you come?”
“To see my love, what other reason could there be?”
She smiled. “You could have come to scout for another babe”
“I would be stupid to do that.” He paused. “I’ve missed you badly, and missed the bonding we had in those days. Yesterday ignited my longing to be better bonded with you. Do you feel me?”
Moni nodded, already getting excited and looking forward to it. Since the day before when she kissed him, she couldn’t get her mind off the feelings it stirred in her.
“Where can we go?”
“Everywhere would be bustling with people today” but as she said that, she remembered a place some girls had mentioned earlier where they used to ‘play’ with the ‘cool’ male teachers. It was an abandoned store. “I have a place we could go”
“That’s my baby.” Bayo said and they agreed that Moni should walk much ahead, with Bayo looking out for the room she entered, and that he should follow a few minutes after.
When they were both in, they made out for a few minutes and they were quite comfortable, relieving the earlier days when they were dating. But because of Bayo’s predetermined desire, he added a twist to it that heightened Moni’s desire. It was at that point that he asked her. “Can we do it now?”
An alarm went off in her head. “I want to but…”
“Talk to me. But what? Don’t you love me?”
“Oh! You don’t trust me anymore, right?”
“Bayo stop! It’s not that. If we do now, knowing my present condition, I could get pregnant.”
Bayo laughed. “Is it that?”
“Yes” she said sheepishly.
“I wish you were my first but you know you’re not. I’ve come to know how you we can do it without protection and you still won’t get pregnant” he lied.
Moni brightened up. “Really?”
“Yes. So are we good to go?”
She nodded and Bayo smiled. “You’re the best girl.” Bayo couldn’t believe it was coming so easy. ‘Na wa o! Girls could be so naïve. If you get pregnant, na your own wahala o!’ he thought to himself as he deflowered her.