Monday, December 15, 2008

Novella: Choices (Chapter 14)

Bayo was on top speed. He had left an hour behind schedule. He had planned to leave at 6am, but it was already past 7. He had mixed emotions as he traveled; different thoughts plagued him. When he had sobered earlier this morning, he remembered a few of Macho’s words the night before. He had been lured into helm with wrong motives, and now he was practically stuck.
He thought of the many girls he had slept with; starting with Sunbo in secondary school till his present conquest, Bimbo that he hoped to sleep with after his exam. Since he had slept with Moni four months back, he had only spoken with her once; the day she broke up with him. He had gotten what he wanted from her and there was nothing more he needed from her.
His mind went to Amaka and what she had threatened. Recently, whenever he saw her, she had this triumphant look in her eyes that scared him; he was sure she was up to no good but wondered what she was planning. He wondered why he’d gotten himself so stooped in this lifestyle. Analysing it all, he admitted to himself that it wasn’t worth it; it wasn’t fun at all. Guys saw him and thought he was hip, but deep within, he wanted to be nice to these girls and become clean again but it was like an external force was controlling him. He hated himself for what he had become.
At that, he remembered the conversation he had with Thomas, his roommate, before leaving. Thomas had tried to dissuade him from traveling. He remembered his roomie’s words “It’s not wise for you to travel Bayo. Please let it wait. I’m saying this because I care about you”
“You care?” he had scoffed.
“Yes. I’ve been praying for your conversion since the day I met you and I’m still praying because that’s the greatest thing that can happen to anyone.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it” he had said sincerely. “But I’m not ready for this yet.” He had dismissed himself, leaving Thomas behind, who was preparing for his last paper.
Just as he remembered Thomas’ words, he also remembered Sunbo’s words from the night before. A conviction came on him and he was about to cry out to God for forgiveness. But just as fast, he was overcome by his desire for Bimbo. He had seen her at a party in Lagos and had literally been obsessed with the thoughts of having her for one night. This was his chance and he wasn’t going to blow it.
‘I’ll stop! God I promise; I’ll stop after this one’. With that, he dismissed the conviction and looked forward to seeing Bimbo in a few minutes. Subconsciously, in the excitement of seeing the girl again, he floored the turtle up a hill and swerved to overtake a trailer, throwing caution to the wind because it was a one way drive. ‘No vehicle can be approaching’ he thought.
But he was wrong. There had been a diversion on the other side and a truck was coming in full speed but Bayo couldn’t see from his vantage point. By the time he was up hill, just beside the trailer to his right, he faced the truck headlong and practically left the stirring, there was nothing he could do. The truck rammed hard into his car. The last thoughts on his mind were; ‘Is this how I’m going to die? I am too young!’ and as he was thinking, everything began to fade and soon all was black.
There was a little crowd around the notice board in Fajuyi hall. Anyone passing through the hall to their different destinations would definitely notice the handful of people; that was gradually increasing as passersby sought to see what others were seeing.
Amaka walked over to the place and tried hard to see but didn’t because of her height. As she was about to move on, a word caught her attention ‘demise’. She stopped. It was an obituary, obviously fresh for it to have gathered so much attention. She waited for the crowd to thin out but she already knew. The folks who had seen the obituary had started passing comments.
Bayo was dead. She smiled, triumphant. She read the photocopied obituary. It was obviously done in a rush; his friends probably knowing that after that day, most students would be traveling. It was the least they could do for their friend. A candle-light procession was to be held for him that same night, according to the information Amaka read.
What caught her attention most, which she had wanted to know was the means of his death. She had hoped it was painful, and now she was sure it was. It read that he died in a ghastly accident. A fellow there commented that he was in the OAUTHC when Bayo was rushed in, unconscious. That means he didn’t die immediately. ‘That’s good for you, Bayo’ she thought as she eased away from the notice board.
As she walked away, her conscience smote her. ‘How could you be so callous, Amaka?’ she dismissed the thought and walked away. As she did, she walked past an old poster but didn’t notice it. It read, “Never repay evil for evil. Whatever a man sows, that he shall also reap!”
The Mercedez Benz was in good shape and glided on smoothly and quietly. But that couldn’t account for the dead silence in the vehicle. Thomas had heard about the death of Bayo just before leaving his room for the journey. He had been immobilized at the news. It took over ten minutes before he could get himself to rise from his bed after hearing the news.
Now, over an hour of hearing the news, he was still numb with pain. Shola understood how it could be and allowed him grieve. They were both seated at the back in the vehicle. He needed the time. “I prayed so hard for his salvation” Thomas lamented. “I still talked with him this morning. Father, I really don’t understand. Why didn’t you save him?” Tears came down his face now. He had held them in since he had heard the news, he was finally grieving indeed.
“But Lord, I prayed for him. You could have saved him!” Thomas was besides himself.
“It’s not the Lord’s fault, Thomas. You prayed for me too, right?” Thomas nodded. “And I chose God’s salvation. It was a choice. Bayo had a choice too but he chose otherwise. God offered us both the same grace”
Thomas nodded; glad Shola was around at such a time. It was still hard to bear though. “Guess I need to be a little more aggressive in soul-winning. Maybe if I had…”
“Stop Thomas.” Shola chided him. “You’re not in God’s place. You did the best you could. It has never and will never be in your power to save a soul. Remember you taught me that!” He nodded; amazed that it was now Shola teaching him. “I’m sure God is pleased with you and doesn’t hold it against you.”
“Thanks Shola”, Thomas smiled through his tears. “I needed those words”
“They are your words, just echoing them back to you”
He nodded, thankful to God for blessing him with his fiancĂ©e once again. “I’m blessed to have you, Shola. I might not know how blessed I am yet to have you until much in the future but I still know deep within that after the salvation of my soul, you’re the best gift God could have given me, and I’m indeed grateful to Him for you. I’ll always be thankful for you”
Shola was flushed. “You’re my knight, Thomas. God used you to save me from my distress. But I have grown from loving you out of gratitude to loving you for who you are and all that you stand for. I see a great future ahead of you and have been praying that God will prepare and build me up to be a help, meet for you indeed.” She said and squeezed his hand as he swiped at his tears with his free hand.
Soon, they drove into Lagos and turned in at Berger. Thomas lived at Ojodu, while Shola lived at Apapa. The driver had said he knew the way to Thomas’ house. As they turned at Berger, Thomas remembered a word God had spoken to him. “Shola, while I prayed at night, God revealed to me that He was going to use both of us today to save a soul from hell. I wondered how He would do that since we were not going by public transport; I would have said that would happen when either of us preached in the bus. I still wonder how He’ll bring His word to pass”
“I don’t understand so many things yet; especially this hearing God audibly thing, but I know God brings His word to pass. Just experienced it once so far, you remember?”
“Yes, I do” Thomas said. “When God told you He’d surprise you after Prof’s threat”
“Yes. It was such a great feeling.”
“You’ll still have more of that as you grow closer to God” Thomas affirmed.
“I can’t wait.” Shola smiled. “Knowing God is so exciting. I only wish I had started earlier. There so much to know, so much to experience…” her voice trailed off in the excitement.
“It’s never too late to start. Thank God you’ve started and if you continue with this crazily hungry tempo, you just might overtake me if I’m not careful”
“You better stay on your toes in the Spirit” she said, pinching him. “I’m closing up on you fast!”
Thomas smiled, and just then, as he looked out the window, the Spirit spoke to him. “Please can you tell your driver to stop?”
“Oga Kehinde, please park” she said to the driver and then faced her fiancĂ©. “What’s the matter?”
“God just ministered to me that the soul we’ve been called to save is in that hospital.” He said pointing across the road.
“Bethel Hospital?” Shola said, reading the signpost, still amused. “Have you been there before?”
“No, I haven’t. I see it often, when I pass this road but hardly pay attention. Can you spare thirty minutes?” Thomas asked Shola.
“Don’t be silly. This is God’s work, and I’m with you, remember? I can spare all the time in the world.” She tapped the driver. “Please, park well, we’ll soon be back.”
With that, they got down, crossed the road, and walked into the hospital not knowing what or who they were going in for but trusting the One whose voice is better obeyed than ignored.

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