Thursday, October 22, 2009

MINE Collection Centers!

Thank God! Our Collection Centers are increasing. God bless those offering their homes, offices and churches for this purpose. If you’re a subscriber or plan to be, please note the Collection Centre that covers your geographical location.
If none of them covers yours, your magazine would be posted to you until we get a centre near you.
We’re still very open for more collection centres, where subscribers all over Nigeria can go and pick their magazines. Please let us know if your home, office, school, church or wherever else you deem fit, can be used. The condition is that it should be a place subscribers can access easily, anytime and any day.
As at now, we have the following:
· Opeoluwa Odeyemi. T5, Mozambique Hall, OAU, Ile-Ife. (For ALL subscribers in Ile-Ife, both on campus and in town) Tel: 08068462717
· Queen Ejimbe. Emmanuel Anglican Church, by Rumuokoro Roundabout, Okoronuodu Deanary, Port Harcourt. (For ALL subscribers in Port Harcourt). Tel: 08034326636
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· Joshua Olaade. Assistant Camp Manager's Office, Opposite C.R.M bookshop, Redemption Camp, Ogun state. (For ALL subscribers in Redemption Camp) Tel: 08061366882
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· Mr. Francis Oduola. MegaFest Ventures. 11, Ijaiye Road, Opposite NIJ, Ogba. (For ALL subscribers in Ogba and Agege). Tel: 08038584799
· May Audu. Room 331, Hall 9, University of Calabar. (For ALL subscribers in UNICAL). Tel: 07031120627
· Mr. Raphael Akangbe Oladeji. Lagos State College Of Health Technology, 8, Harvey Road, Yaba, Lagos. (For ALL subscribers in Ebute-meta, Ojuelegba, Bariga, Shomolu, Akoka, UNILAG, Jibowu, Moshalashi, Iwaya, Onike, and other Yaba environs) Tel: 07027955199
· Precious Adigun. Room H125, Radiography Hostel, Yaba. (For ALL subscribers in LUTH, Idi-Araba). Tel: 08062957943
· Modupe Adelaja. Room 101, Kofo Ademola Hall – Newest hall. (For ALL subscribers in UNILAG, Akoka). Tel: 08066748434
Dear subscriber, thanks for your understanding. If you have any comments or complaints on any of these centers, please let us know. All correspondence as regards this should be sent to or 07034721385. God bless you. You are loved!!!

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 14)

Shade was practically floating. Utibe had shown her more attention than she could have possibly asked for. He had been looking over his shoulders in her direction all through the Networking preview. His number had been different from hers but he had changed group just to be with her. He was doing exactly what she had wanted him to do in the morning. He was sitting right beside her at the moment in her group and she just couldn’t make her heart stop beating fast.
They were seated outside, as her Networking group was one of the groups asked to have their meeting outside. Plastic chairs had been arranged and there were just two wooden benches. Shade had been surprised when Utibe had asked them to sit on the benches instead of the chairs. Now, she knew why. He was seating so close to her; she would have been uncomfortable if it had been another guy. But with Utibe, his closeness was all she craved for.
Their group leader introduced himself as Engineer Solomon. He reminded them of the essence of the group, telling them they had to form networks with each other; sharing ideas, abilities, contacts, and whatever else they felt could help the other person. He told them they would have to meet at least five new participants by the end of the conference. He stated that they were going to start with ‘same-sex’ networking, explaining that there were some things that could only be learnt from the same sex.
As he said that, there were reactions, as expected. “Guys you’ll have a chance with the girls tomorrow” he said, winking, and they laughed. Before Utibe stood up, he whispered in Shade’s ears words that made her ear hot and made her heart-beat intensify. “Babe, I’ll miss you. Can’t wait to talk to you after.”
As Utibe walked away, Shade could hardly think straight. She couldn’t believe she could matter so much to anyone. As she basked in the feeling, she remembered his words some minutes back in the hall about them making out behind the dinning hall after diner. She was scared and yet excited at the same time. No guy had ever touched her before. Not that she hadn’t wanted it but she had just never had the chance. She had been hearing her friends talk about their exploits. Hers was about to begin. She could hardly wait.
“Waky, waky!” someone said, tapping her.
“Yes?” she said, rather upset her pleasant thoughts were interrupted.
“I have been sitting here a while. Guessed you were thinking…”
“Faith!” Shade said, when she looked at the face, interrupting the girl.
The girl was surprised at the familiar look Shade was giving her. “Have we met before now?”
“Look at me very well” Shade said. “FEGGI”
It was then it hit her. “It’s a lie!” Faith screamed and then covered her mouth when she saw she was disturbing others. “Shade!” they hugged each other while seated. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been okay o. Heard you moved to Calabar. What happened?”
“My dad got a job to do some constructions at Tinapa, as per native-boy connections.”
“You guys are from Cross River?”
“Yes. And we’ve been living there ever since he got the job”
“Wow…that’s good money!”
“You bet! How come we’re just jamming?”
“I had seen you earlier”
“When I danced yesterday?”
“Nope. Even before then. Abeg, forget that. We have met now and it feels so good. But Faith, what happened?”
Faith frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“You used to preach to girls. You preached to me. You were an exco in the fellowship; the only junior student then who was an exco because of your fervency.”
Faith waved it off. “Plenty water has passed under the bridge. It’s a long story.” Faith paused and Shade could see some sadness in her eyes but just as fast, the look was replaced with defiance. “I know better now!”
“If you say so.” Shade glanced in the direction of the group leader. He was looking at them. “We had better start talking networking” Shade said mockingly and Faith giggled. Shade could still see the pleasantness in Faith; that character that made many love her. Shade only wondered what could have made someone like Faith turn her back on the God she had served so faithfully.
“What are you going to teach me?” Shade asked, trying to sound serious.
“Dancing” Faith said, with a mischievious smile.
“You want to teach me those dance steps of yours? My mother will kill me if she sees me dancing like that!” Shade said, and both friends laughed.
Tunbosun had been more than pleased to know she and George were in the same Networking group again. The other girl he had been talking to was put in another group. This was her chance to get something concrete going with him and she wasn’t going to let it pass. She had hoped she would be able to sit with him but someone got there before her again. The best she could do was sit directly behind him, which she did.
Before the group leader came around, she tapped him and greeted him. She could see that from his response, he was glad to see her. That was a good sign. As the group leader, Miss Akinsanya, began talking, she mentioned something about them sharing their visions and dreams with each other and see how they could help sharpen each other’s visions. She called it ‘Vision-Networking’.
At the mention of ‘dream’, Tunbosun remembered the dream she had had at night, and she suddenly became cold all over. She hadn’t shared the dream with anyone and it had been eating her up. It wasn’t the kind of dream Miss Akinsanya was talking about but she knew she had to let it out before it sucked up all the strength she had left.
She decided she would share it with George. She both had a feeling that he would have some good counsel for her, and she also felt it might connect them both. Both feelings appealed much to her. The moment she heard the leader tell them to choose a partner, she leaned over and spoke to George. She wasn’t going to let anybody beat her to it this time. “Can we be partners?”
George smiled. “That would be nice”. She had never seen him frown. She wondered if anything could upset the guy. As others looked for partners, she stood up, picked her conference file and moved in the direction she had been longing to go. She hoped it would be worth all the effort. ‘Tunbosun, I don’t understand you anymore. George had better be worth this childishness you’re displaying’, she said to herself as she took her seat beside George Ahmadu.
Uche found it so hard to believe. After talking with all five participants that he was assigned to, only one of them had read a book in the past three months. He sincerely wondered what they had been doing with all their free time. What he had shared with them was the passion for knowledge. That was his greatest gift and he felt it was the best networking possible. Without meeting great minds in person, anyone could still learn from them by simply reading their books. That was Uche’s philosophy. In the past three months, he had already read 10 new books and re-read 3 books.
However, he also discovered that there were things he didn’t know and needed to know. One of the guys he met knew how to design websites; another knew how to play musical instruments. A rather shy girl he talked with knew how to bake and cook all sorts of recipes. Even though shy, when she talked about her cookery experiences, he could see that she really loved cooking and baking. That just reminded him that everyone is different, and life is full of interdependence.
Confirming his thoughts, his group leader, while rounding off the session, asked them to say to each other, “I need you”. Uche would have been reluctant to say that if it had been another day, but now, he knew better.
When the session ended, they were told to take a short rest before dinner. As Uche made his way to the hostel, his mind drifted to his friend in the hospital. ‘I wonder what skill or gift Fatima would have shared with others if she had been here’, he thought to himself.
“Na maximum enjoyment for Utibe this evening!” Uche heard someone tell another behind him, interrupting his thoughts. He slowed his pace so they could walk past him. He then kept up with them from behind to hear what they were talking about.
“…he said Shade had told him earlier that she is a virgin” the shorter one was saying.
“Na her luck be that.” The tall, fair and muscular guy said. “By tonight, she’ll be just like anyone other girl, nothing special.” The guy paused, then added. “I have never told you something before”
“What’s that?” the short one asked.
“I respect those very serious Christian girls that won’t let you come close, not to talk of touching them. I usually don’t bug them.”
“Sounds strange coming from you”
“Yes. They remind me of my baby sisters. Pure, undefiled beings that need to be cuddled and protected, rather than harmed.”
“So, why are you intent on getting Tunbosun by force?”
“Okpara, are you deaf?” the guy said, and Uche noted the name. “I said, serious Christian girls, not moralistic girls. With what she wore yesterday, and how I saw her move occasionally at the songs played last night, I know Tunbosun is not that type and I’ll have her.”
“You said you were going to have five girls this conference; what of the remaining four?”
“I’ll start tonight” the tall one said and Uche could tell from the reaction of the one called Okpara that he was surprised.
“That is not possible. You haven’t talked much with any girl yet.”
“I know the easy types. I’ll be one down –four to go by the end of today. You just watch and see”
Uche felt sick to his stomach. He had heard enough. He stopped and allowed them walk far away from him. ‘When did girls become sex toys?’ he asked himself. He wished the Okpara guy had mentioned the taller guy’s name but he hadn’t. He would need to know his name incase something terrible happened and the culprits needed to be identified. He decided he would try his best to find out the guy’s name. As he replayed their conversation in his mind, Uche’s heart bled for whoever the victim would be.
As Uche was about continuing towards the hostel, he heard his name and turned. It was George, with the girl they had met earlier, with whom they had cleared lunch plates. They were some distance away, walking towards him. It was then it hit Uche. “Isn’t her name Tunbosun?” he said under his breath. ‘Weren’t those guys talking about a Tunbosun?’ Uche desperately hoped there were more Tunbosun’s at the conference. He looked at her as she approached with George. ‘Oh no! Not this pretty, intelligent girl’. He couldn’t imagine that tall guy ruining this girl. He only wondered if there was anything he could do to stop it.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 15)

Nurse Maureen was perplexed. She sincerely couldn’t understand why Fatima was so agitated.
“Calm down Fatima. I’m sure he’s okay.”
“You don’t understand. I must reach him now!” Fatima was worried. After the dream she had had, she hit the emergency button until Nurse Maureen showed up, panting. She had immediately demanded that the nurse call Doctor Festus. Confused, Nurse Maureen had done so, only to return to tell Fatima that the doctor wasn’t in the hospital premises. Fatima had demanded the nurse try his number. She tried and it was switched off. That was the last straw. Fatima was dead worried for the doctor.
“Relax! I am in control. It will all be fine,” came the familiar voice and only then could Fatima ease up a bit. ‘I’m sorry Lord for being overly worried when all I needed do was cast my cares on you’ she prayed inwardly. Even Nurse Maureen could see that the atmosphere had changed. She marveled; Fatima was just weird.
“Why do you want to see Doc? This is the umpteenth time I’m asking you”
Fatima tried to make light of it. “It’s top-secret” she said, smiling but remembering the stress she had put the nurse through, she added, “I’m so sorry for troubling you. There’s something I really need the doctor for urgently but God just told me all would be well”.
“Hope you’re not having any pains though?”
“Nothing outside the ordinary” she said, smiling.
“You’re strange you know?” the nurse asked rhetorically.
“Kinda!” Fatima said with a sheepish grin, then added. “That’s what happens when you have Jesus as a boyfriend.” She paused, put both hands on her heart, and dramatically tilted her head backwards with her eyes closed. “I’m so in love!”
Nurse Maureen couldn’t help laughing. “Maybe someday, I would feel that way about Jesus too”
“I hope so too. Your life will be worth living. Even in crisis, you’ll be at peace. It’s just so cool”
Nurse Maureen’s phone rang. She looked at the caller ID. It was her colleague at the reception; Nurse Maureen had informed her to notify her whenever Doctor Festus arrived.
“Doctor Festus just walked in”
“Thanks dear.” She said and looked at Fatima who was giving her a questioning look. “Doctor Festus is here!”
“Yipee!” Fatima exclaimed. “Please tell him I need to see him” she said then paused. “Please tell him it’s a life-or-death situation”, she added, winking.
The nurse smiled as she exited the room. Fatima smiled too. Anybody would have thought she just lied but she knew it was actually a life-or-death situation. She looked at her room mate and saw she was still sleeping. Fatima was happy the woman had found peace once again.
She sat up and started praying, as she replayed in her mind the dream that had woken her up. She needed wisdom to talk with the doctor. As she prayed, she heard the door creak. It was Doctor Festus.
“Hello dear. How are you doing?” he asked as he approached. “Nurse Maureen told me it’s urgent. You look quite okay”. He sat down.
“I’m not the patient this time around sir. It’s an emergency involving another patient.”
The doctor looked back towards the other patient and saw she was sound asleep. He faced Fatima with a bemused look.
“Who’s the patient?” he asked.
“I’m looking at him, sir”
“Who?” he paused, trying to understand. “Me?”
“Yes doc. You”
Doctor Festus was beginning to wonder if Fatima was suffering some side effects from the drugs.
Fatima guessed what he was thinking. “I’m very okay sir” she said, patting the side of her head, and doing a thumbs-up. That elicited a smile from the doctor’s face but didn’t clear his doubts.
Fatima’s look gradually changed into a sober one as she remembered the message she had to pass across. “Please don’t do it!” She said with so much pain in her words. Doctor Festus looked at her, really worried. He hoped she wasn’t going off balance.
He reached out to touch her. “Are you okay dear?”
She held his gaze, eyes now filling. “Please don’t kill that baby”
At that, he withdrew his hand, and studied her thoughtfully. “What baby?”
Fatima swiped at a tear that had found its way out of her eye. “That unborn child.” As she said it, she saw the look on his face and knew she had hit him below the belt. “I had a dream,” she continued. “There were many dead babies. Most painful was the bodies that had been severed heartlessly. There was so much blood. I was full of both sorrow for the aborted babies and anger at the perpetrators of such an act. It was then I saw a gloved hand about to start another abortion. The teenage girl was lying on the bed, waiting for the procedure to commence.
“Angry and wishing I could do something to stop it; I looked at the face of the doctor. I was dumbfounded. It was you.” She paused and looked at him. His face was down. “It was you, Doctor Festus. I was so distraught, I couldn’t move. It was then I woke up and knew I had to stop you from doing it to that girl.”
Fatima wondered why his head was still down and why he wasn’t saying anything. “Doc, please talk to me.”
When he lifted his head, Fatima saw what she had never seen in a man’s eyes. She saw tears glistering on the surface, waiting to flow out. “I have been haunted for the past five months.” The pain was so much he bowed his head again and the tears flowed out then.
Fatima reached out and touched his shoulder. “It’s okay sir. What happened?”
“Two years back, my doctor friend who I respected so much told me how he was making big extra pay. He lived large and I knew it wasn’t his salary footing those bills. He took me to an abortion clinic, somewhere on the outskirts of this state. When I knew where I was, I told him clearly that I could never do it.
“Two weeks after, my wife had to do a surgical operation abroad, and I needed some more money to pay the bill. That was how it all started. I made so much money from the clinic but I had no peace of mind. But something happened five months ago.” He looked at Fatima, unashamed as tears flowed down his cheeks.
“Something happened that has caused me sleepless nights and days of horror.” He wiped his face. “I got to the clinic this Wednesday. By the way, I used to go there Wednesdays and Fridays. When I got there, I had just finished with a rookie prostitute who wanted the pregnancy aborted. The moment I ushered her out of the room, the next girl came in, and for the first time in my one year plus of doing it, I met a girl who said she didn’t want to do the abortion. All others had come of their own volition.
“She said her boyfriend had told her to do it and she refused but said when her mother found out she was pregnant, she literarily dragged her to the abortion clinic.” Doctor Festus shook his head. “‘Please doctor, I don’t want to have this abortion’ she told me that day, weeping hysterically. ‘As a Christian, I know what I did just once with my boyfriend was wrong but I know this would be worse. I’ve hurt God enough’, she had said. On a normal day, I would have told her it was okay and would have asked her to leave and possibly counsel the mother on accepting the situation.
“However, I was so money crazy on that day, as every abortion brought me twenty thousand naira. So, the more I did on a day, the better for me. I convinced her it was okay. I lied to her telling her I was a Christian too; I claimed to be a deacon. I also assured her there would be no complications and she would never regret it. As I was saying all these, I knew I was lying to her but I didn’t care.
“She asked about the pain and I told her not to worry about it. I assured her that I was a very good doctor – I guess that was the only truth I said to that young girl.” He paused. “As I began preparing, she started whimpering until the anesthesia got the better of her. When I was through, and she woke up, remembering what she had come for, she began crying profusely again. Weeping uncontrollably, she stood up and looked in the direction of the fetus. My eyes followed her gaze. She then looked at me and at that moment, I knew I was a monster. Her look, the sight of the fetus and her sobs on that day have haunted me ever since.”
The room was so quiet as Doctor Festus made his confession. Fatima could visualize the horror the young girl must have faced that day and even afterwards.
“I have only been to that clinic once after that,” he continued “and it was to see if I could get the girl’s address so I could apologize to her for making her do what she didn’t want to do but I was told they couldn’t divulge that information to me. That was the beginning of my nightmares. Now, I hear screams of girls and see animated fetuses haunting me. It has been terrible. I even tried killing myself once but it didn’t work out.”
Doctor Festus looked at Fatima and saw she was feeling his pain. They were both with wet faces. “Now I have money, and some fame but I’m barely living.” He looked intently at Fatima. “Seeing you when you were rushed in and hearing you tell me what you did a few hours back, hope was restored in me for the first time in a very long time. Do you know what?”
“What?” Fatima asked.
“My wife and children don’t even have a clue about any of these things I’m telling you. Maybe God indeed brought you here because of me, and I feel so awed.” He said and buried his face in his hands.
“But if we confess our sins to God, He will keep His promise and do what is right: He will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.” Fatima said. “That’s God’s word. All you need do is confess these sins to God, and propose in your heart not to do them again, and God will forgive you; making you new and whole altogether.”
“I wish it were that easy” Doctor Festus said.
“It is that easy sir. Jesus died in our place, taking our sins on Himself. He only needs you to come to Him and receive His righteousness in place of your sins.”
“But that doesn’t undo the wrongs I’ve done. I can’t give those girls and women their children back.” he argued.
“That’s true and you need to settle that in your heart. You can’t undo the past but you can prevent it from ruining your present and future. As for the abortion victims, you could pray that God will reach them and heal their emotions. And if you meet any of them, you could apologize to them. That’s the best you can do sir. Don’t let the devil eat you up with guilt. Jesus became guilty so you could be innocent. Just receive Him into your life and run away from sin henceforth.”
“Sounds too good to be true, Fatima.”
“That’s my boyfriend for you”, she said, smiling through her tears. “He’s just so tripping.”
Without Fatima saying more or inciting him, Doctor Festus knelt beside her bed. “Please pray for me”
“I would be glad to do so”, she said. “But you’ll need to talk to Him yourself first.”
“Okay” he said, and began confessing his many sins to God. He prayed in tears and as he did that he could literarily feel burdens of his past lift off him. Fatima knelt beside him and strengthened his faith as he continued pouring his heart out to his maker and saviour.
As Fatima heard him pray, she had a strong sense of peace and knew she had accomplished God’s purpose for her being in the hospital. It was time to return to her folks at the conference. One day had seemed like a year to her. She missed them badly.
“That’s the one I will have tonight”
“Stanley, just like that? You haven’t even spoken with her yet” Okpara said. Looking at the girl again, he added. “Isn’t she the girl from Utibe’s school that danced last night?”
“Yes, she is, Utibe told me a little about her. Her name is Faith.”
“You’re sure many guys are not on her already?”
“I have my ways.” Stanley said. Dinner was almost over and it was time to act. Utibe was already seated with Shade, preparing for their escapade. “It’s show time. I’ll see you in the hall”. After dinner was the only convenient time for escapades as facilitators and group leaders ate then. Any other time was either during the day or a time when they would be closely monitored, and that wouldn’t do.
Okpara watched as Stanley walked to where Faith was seated. There was another girl talking with Faith when he got there but Okpara noticed that after a few minutes of talking to both girls, the other girl left them, laughing. Okpara was still a virgin but was addicted to pornography and masturbated. He had been told it was wrong to do both but he didn’t care. His brother was a faithful Christian and lived a clean life. He secretly admired his brother but felt he had gone too far to turn back. He had found it hard however to do the real thing, wondering if any girl will allow him.
But as he saw the Faith girl jell easily as Stanley talked with her, his desire to have the physical experience mounted. He remembered his brother’s words to him one day when they discussed fornication. His brother had quoted from the bible, saying ‘Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant’. His brother had said the enjoyment was very temporal and the suffering eternal.
He had been sober that day but had finally returned to his vomit. Now seeing Stanley’s exploits, and Utibe’s progress with Shade, he felt he had nothing to lose. He was going to try it out. He looked round, hoping to see any girl that looked like she was approachable. He didn’t have to look too far. Two tables from him was a pretty girl and she was actually staring at him.
Okpara couldn’t believe his fortune. He had gotten a far better bargain than he had planed for. He looked away and looked back. She was still looking at him. She then smiled, and Okpara was momentarily lost, admiring her. It was like she was calling him over.
He stood from where he was and walked over to her. As he got closer, he almost turned back. It seemed too good to be true. She was making some body movements that made him uncomfortable. It was like she knew what had been on his mind and was as ready as he was. ‘Is it this easy to have girls?’ he asked himself as he sat beside her. Sitting beside her made him see things he hadn’t noticed from afar. Her second button was loosened and her skirt was short.
“I’m Christiana” she said extending her hand, even before Okpara said anything. Okpara accepted the handshake and noticed she let it linger as she held his gaze with the most enticing look Okpara had ever seen.
When she let go of his hand, she spoke up. “I’m lonely and I need a guy”.
Okpara was dumbfounded. If someone else had told him about this, he would have said it was a lie. She was actually the one making the moves on him; a guy she had never met in her life. It was a sickening thought for Okpara that a girl would make herself that cheap, but for the sake of what he wanted to achieve that night, he put his sentiments aside.
“I have been watching you for a few minutes and I just know you’re my guy” she said. It was at this point Okpara began to get scared. He wondered if the girl was okay. He didn’t expect this kind of behavior from any girl at the conference. It seemed just too much. He was contemplating standing up and running for his dear life; he felt such things only happened in home videos when a witch wanted to seduce a pastor or something. She was actually begging and throwing herself at him.
As if she could read his mind, she said, “Don’t think I’m a cheap girl, I just need someone to love me.”
Okpara wasn’t still convinced. Just then, she placed a hand on his hand, pleading with her beautiful eyes. “Please don’t go away. I need you badly!”
As she said those words, with her eyes holding him bound and her hand setting him on fire, Okpara knew he was stuck with this Christiana girl. His heart beat fast with a combination of two strong emotions; excitement and fear.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 16)

‘This is fun.’ Tunbosun thought to herself. ‘I never knew helping others could be this much fun.’ She had just finished clearing the dishes. She had done it with George and Uche as they had done in the afternoon. She had been with George through the afternoon session and had learnt about his dreams. George wanted to be a politician eventually, able to influence the governance of Nigeria in a godly way. She was indeed impressed at how he spoke about the possibility of Nigeria becoming a godly and prosperous nation.
She told him about her vision of starting the first free private co-educational college. She felt it was possible to give people good, and quality education without them paying a kobo. “It’s high time we stopped being overly money conscious” she had said. She could tell that George had been impressed.
She had wanted to share the terrible dream she had had with him but the timing had seemed inappropriate. As she stood with both guys now, she felt it might be a good time to find a way of pulling George apart to hear her dream; it was actually a nightmare. But before she could speak out, George did. “Guys, I need to see someone during this free time before the film show.”
As he said that, Tunbosun was deflated. She was almost sure it was the girl she had noticed with George earlier on. Her next concern was where they, George and the girl, were going to see. She had heard of escapades that were meant to happen today; she hoped George was not that kind. Even if he wasn’t, she feared what that girl that looked attracted to George could do.
“I would see her in the hall” George said, as if he knew what was on Tunbosun’s mind. “Uche, please take care of our young lady” he said, excusing himself, but not before noticing that Uche felt uneasy. He had discovered in the short while of meeting the boy that he was very shy. He only hoped Uche would get out of his shell soon enough.
He hadn’t looked at Tunbosun’s face. If he had, he would have seen a look that would have confused him. Her face was sullen.
“There is something very unique about George. I’m still trying to place a hand on it” Tunbosun said when she was left with Uche.
“I need more than that Uche. You can’t be shy around me o! You had better start talking o” she said, poking him.
“Okay.” He said, smiling. “I think it’s the fact that he is a Christian.”
“Aren’t you a Christian Uche?” she asked, mockingly.
“Not in George’s way. I’m a Christian by religion but with what I’ve seen in George and Fatima…”
“Who’s Fatima?” she interrupted.
“George’s best friend”
Tunbosun wanted to faint. So, there was even another friend that was close to George; close enough for Uche to call her George’s best friend. The reality was dawning on her gradually that what she needed from George was not exclusive attention or anything special. She just needed to be his friend and learn whatever she needed to learn from him. It was a hard truth to stomach but she had to. She had to stop herself from getting jealous.
“Okay” she said, responding to Uche’s answer.
“Their lifestyle is so different from any other Christian I’ve met. They are consciously trying to please God in all they do. I’m personally contemplating becoming like them; that is, getting that committed to Christ.”
“Yes. But I’m waiting for something” Uche said.
“What’s that?”
“It’s confidential!” he said, seriously.
“Nonsense. What do you need secrets for?”
Uche thought a while. “Okay, it’s actually not a secret, just that it has nothing to do with anyone else but me and God.” He looked at her and saw she was waiting for him to talk. “I made a deal with God, that I would give my life to Him if Fatima returns to the conference tomorrow.”
Tunbosun pondered on that a while. “Why did you do that?”
“Because I have felt at different times that God doesn’t care about anyone. These two made me see differently but I need some confirmation. Fatima is in the hospital and she said she would be out tomorrow. I find it rather impossible, so I want to test how serious God is about having me.”
Tunbosun smiled. “You’re shy but hard inside”
“If you say so.”
“But I heard a preacher say it isn’t right to put God to the test.’
“I didn’t know that. I’ve already done it; the ball is in God’s court now.”
“God must have really dealt hard with you for you to be this callous about Him”
“What happened?” Tunbosun asked.
Uche couldn’t see himself telling another person. The only person he had told was Fatima but there was something he had omitted and that’s what he wanted to tell Tunbosun, he was going to leave the other details out. “My sister died in an accident. I later learnt that the car that hit the okada on which she was seated, was a church’s car. It had the logo of a church on it. People said there was a driver and someone at the back; who they supposed would have been a pastor. Onlookers said if he had stopped and taken her to the hospital, she might have survived but he sped off.” Uche paused. “That was the day I began seeing God as a despot who just did as He pleased.”
“I can imagine your pain” Tunbosun said, and Uche could see that she meant what she said. “I’m a Christian by religion. I hardly even go to church myself but I have not seen God as wicked, just as a boring big man upstairs. But that is changing gradually”
“Guess we are in similar shoes.”
“Seems so” Tunbosun paused. “There’s even something I wanted to tell George”
“Guess you’ll tell him when you see him.”
“Yep” Tunbosun said. She looked at Uche and asked herself if she should just go ahead and tell him the dream she had had the night before. She changed her mind and decided she would keep it for George. Little did she know that Uche had the solution. Her silence had just endangered her some more.
Uche was struggling. As he spoke with Tunbosun, he debated with himself whether or not to mention to her that he heard some guys talking about a Tunbosun that they wanted to have. They really sounded like they were going to do something terrible to her. He convinced himself that it couldn’t be a decent girl like this Tunbosun they would want to take advantage of. ‘It must be another Tunbosun’ he said to himself.
With that, Uche dismissed the thought. He would later wish he had spoken up.
As Okpara sneaked behind the dining hall with Christiana beside him, he couldn’t calm his heart. It was beating so fast. The girl didn’t even know his name and didn’t seem to care. As he tried to find a convenient spot in the dark area, he could see couples in different locations though he couldn’t tell who was who.
He wondered how come the authorities hadn’t found out about the activities that took place. Were they that blind or that careless? When they got somewhere he felt was okay, it occurred to him that he was about to lose his virginity in a place many had lost theirs; both boys and girls.
Something deep within him told him he was about to make the mistake of his life but he subdued the thought. ‘I have come this far. I have to finish what I have started.’ Okpara told himself.
It was just a few minutes to eight but Fatima was really fagged out. She had just eaten dinner and taken her drugs. Doctor Festus had left the room a new and happy man. Though tired, she couldn’t contain the joy that she felt at being an instrument through which God touched her room mate and the doctor. She could see God had started a work on Nurse Maureen but she had this conviction that God would perfect the work Himself. She had played her part already.
Before Doctor Festus left, she had told him that she felt alright enough to be discharged. Knowing her better now, he hadn’t argued but asked to examine her. By the time he did, he smiled. She was fine and ready to go. He told her he would take her back to the conference himself. That was indeed very tripping. “God is indeed wonderful!” he had said, awed at both how God had healed his patient so fast and how He had planed it as a means for saving a dying doctor.
Fatima was not left out. She was still basking in the wonder of all God had done. He was indeed a God worth living for and she was bent on pleasing and serving Him for the rest of her life. Still smiling, she lay down to rest, looking forward to seeing her friends the next day.
As George entered the hall, he could see Tara. She was seating on the same spot she had sat in the morning when they had their first conversation. “Father, please make me a blessing to this girl and help me not to lose my head”, he said to God as he descended the aisle steps.
“Watsup Tara” he said as he got close.
“Hi George. I’m good, thanks.”
“You’re quite early. Don’t you eat at all? Didn’t see you at the dinning hall throughout today”
“I don’t eat out normally, so I find it hard eating the food they give us.”
“So, what have you been eating since we got here?” George asked, curious.
“Buscuits” she said, smiling.
George shook his head; he couldn’t believe it. “I’m glad I found out about this before you collapsed. That’s about to change. You’ll learn how to eat out when you have no choice” George said, trying to sound big brotherly.
“I hear you” she said and then looked at her wristwatch. George understood. They had about thirty minutes to the start of the film show. They needed to get to business.
“I’m listening, go ahead”, George said, making her know he got the message.
“I’m not proud of what I’m about to tell you. I just feel I need to let it out. I hope you won’t hate me when I’m done”
“Sure not!”
She nodded, doubtfully. “I grew up in a very strict family. My parents, especially my mum didn’t give us any breathing space. We couldn’t voice out our opinions about anything. It was so suffocating. I can’t remember ever thinking well of myself. My self-esteem since when I knew myself was zero. We couldn’t go for our friends’ 10th birthday parties or other relatively harmless occasions. No one even wanted to visit us; we were practically in jail.
“I even remember a day when my friend in primary four gave me a fine biro; I had never seen the type. She said her mother brought it from Canada when she traveled. I was so happy I showed my mother immediately I got home. Do you know what my mother did?” she asked rhetorically, facing George.
“She broke it and threw it into the trash can.” She said and saw George’s expression. Anyone would wonder why. “She said I must have gone begging my friend for it. She was so cross with me that day. I cried my eyes out.” Tara said, blinking back tears. “It seems like yesterday. It was just awful.”
George listened carefully. He decided not to interrupt her with comments or sympathies.
“That was just one occasion out of numerous others. My father didn’t help matters as he was hardly at home, and whenever he was home, he left his wife to take charge of his children. We are five children. I am the third born and the first daughter. But things changed for me when we moved here. My father started a business here in Port Harcourt and we moved with him.
“I was enrolled in Rumuokoro private college to start SS1. That same week I met a fellow student who just seemed to pick interest in me out of the many new students. I was flattered by his attention. He kinda did some orientation for me; putting me through some things so I could get familiar with the environment and procedures in the college. It was like that for about three weeks. I was on cloud nine; I had never felt so loved before. I looked forward to going to school, and found reasons to leave school late, so I could keep gisting with him.” She smiled as she recalled those moments.
“He introduced me to his friends, so I had many people I was talking with. My self image began to improve gradually. But I soon noticed changes in him. The first day I noticed was the day he looked so hard at me; I was very uncomfortable under his peruse. He then said, ‘you’re the most beautiful girl I have ever met in my life’. I was so shocked to hear those words, I couldn’t even reply. He must have noticed my surprise; so he went on to make more comments, even those I thought a boy shouldn’t pass at a girl.
“I was so lost in his words; I didn’t want him to stop. It was the first time in my life anybody would say something so nice to me. One thing led to the other, and I got to trust him with my life, telling him about how I felt my parents hated me and all.” She paused. “Looking back now, I think that was when he decided to capitalize on my weaknesses. Shortly after I confided in him, he asked me out, and I gave him an answer immediately, scared he would change his mind if I waited a minute. He was the first reasonable guy asking me out. Others had been neighborhood touts or unserious uncles.” She smiled, a sad one. “At least, I thought he was reasonable”
“After one month of the euphoria of dating him, by the way his name was Douglas; he began demanding things I knew I shouldn’t give in to. I had gone to church all my life and I had a relationship with God, so I knew some things were wrong but I feared losing the only guy that had ever showed me love in the way I understood.”
Tara noticed students had started entering the hall; she knew she had to speed up. “It started with kissing, then smooching, till he did things to me I never knew I could ever allow. Then, he popped the almighty question about seven months ago when we just started the new session. He asked me for sex and I said no.” Tara buried her head momentarily in her hands, then raised it up, smeared with fresh tears.
“I wish I had kept it at no. I wish I never even allowed him to touch me in the first place.” She shook her head in regret. “He pestered me for a whole week. I couldn’t think straight throughout that week. I cried over and again. The pressure was so much because I thought he loved me. I eventually gave in and cried throughout the whole ordeal. He didn’t seem to care however.
“When I left his house that day, I cried till I got home. I had gone to his house from school, so I was still in my uniform. I cried myself to sleep. I hated myself for what I had just done. I told myself I would never do it again. I asked God to forgive me; I prayed for forgiveness a whole week.”
“Did he just let you be?” George asked, feeling it was high time he asked a question.
“For a while. Seems he was still enjoying his conquest. We kept talking but never talked about what happened that day. Two weeks after, he started behaving and saying things that made me know he wanted to have me again and I told him plain blank he would never touch me again. I told him what we did was wrong and that we should never do it again or any of the kissing or touching thingies until we were married.” Tara laughed. “I actually thought we would get married – silly me.”
“He agreed but I noticed our relationship began to turn sour. He snapped at me often. Most painful then was his flirting with other girls right in my presence. I wondered what he was doing behind my back if he could go to that extent in front of me. I was still wondering how I would handle his taunting when I found out, five months ago, that I was pregnant. My world turned around in that moment.” Her hands instinctively found her belly.
George’s eyes went there too, and he could guess what had happened, but he wasn’t going to guess. Just as she wanted to continue, the anchor for the film show picked the microphone and set the ball rolling. Tara swiped at her tears. George touched her hand lightly and withdrew it, a sign of comfort in the most decent way possible. “I’m so sorry Tara”
She nodded. “I’ll finish up tomorrow. I just know I have to finish telling you this story as it would help me.”
George nodded. He would have wished she continue but he knew she won’t be able to keep talking during the film show; those sitting near would be able to hear her. And immediately after the show, all would be expected to file straight to their hostels; no talking or loitering would be permitted at that time.
He longed to hear the remaining part. ‘Lord, even before tomorrow when Tara will finish opening up, please begin your work in her life. Touch her and make her whole’ was George’s prayer as the film began.
Shade was staring blankly at the motions on the screen. She couldn’t think straight. She had just done things that made her feel dirty. What some of her friends had made so much noise about now seemed like nothing after all. Utibe had wanted to go all the way but she didn’t let him. He did practically every other thing with her body and she felt like trash.
The only consolation she kept giving herself was that he loved her. ‘He loves me. He loves me’ she kept repeating to herself over again, convincing herself what she did was okay since it was with someone she loved and loved her back. He was seated beside her; holding her hand as they watched the film. The lights in the hall were off, so no one could see them. Moreover, most were engrossed in the film. The gesture itself was a source of comfort to her.
As the pictures of what she had done flashed through her mind again, she wanted to throw up. She held herself, but her greatest fear was that she was going to lose it all the next day. She could tell that Utibe wasn’t going to take no for an answer on their next escapade. Her head spun. ‘I came to the conference a virgin. Is this how I’m going to let it go; just like that?’ It was a question she was afraid to answer because she knew the answer.
The moment they got to the hall, Christiana said bye to Okpara and walked away. He had been thinking she would want to sit with him. Disappointed, he found a seat two rows away from where Christiana was seated, where he could see her easily, but not too clearly. She still didn’t know his name. They had just slept with each other. It was obviously not her first time but was Stanley’s first time.
He felt a void in his heart that he couldn’t explain. It was like something in his life that had been there all along was now missing; it was a feeling of being incomplete. The only thing that excited him was the thought of telling his friends that he too had done what they boasted about.
He stole a look in her direction, and what he saw made him pause to take a better look. The ongoing film scene was a bright one, so it lit up the hall and he saw what knocked out the breath from him. Christiana was already flirting with another guy! Now, he was convinced there was more to that girl than met the eye.
Okpara bit his lips in regret. He wished he could take back time a few minutes, but he knew it wasn’t possible. He decided he would tell the guys about it. ‘At least, Stanley would know how I should handle it’, he thought to himself. Okpara had no clue what he had just gotten himself into.
Stanley was slouched on his seat. One down, four to go. He knew Faith herself was a player when he had walked up to her in the first place. So, her type wouldn’t even want to be with him again, and he wasn’t interested either. His mind went back to Tunbosun and his desire mounted.
He decided he would ask Utibe how much progress he had made with Shade. If he had made satisfactory progress, Stanley would tell him to ask her to help him get Tunbosun where he wants her. Till then, he would wait patiently for the time his prey would fall into his hands.
‘You are wicked!’ Stanley’s heart pumped hard. Where did that come from? His conscience hardly pricked him when he did the nasty stuffs he did. He was really surprised that any part of him actually abhorred what he was about to do. But before his conscience could get the better of him, he silenced it. ‘Girls are not worth the stress of love. They are to be used and dumped’ he said to himself and continued watching the film.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 17)

It was Tunbosun’s turn to wonder what was wrong with Shade. She was still in bed at past 6. She tapped her Bunkie. “Shade!” Their bunk was at the extreme end of the room, beside a wall. Shade’s face was to the wall so Tunbosun couldn’t see her face to know if she was awake or not.
She tapped her again, and this time, Shade turned. As Tunbosun saw her face, she instinctively reached out to touch her face. “What’s wrong?” she asked, trying to wipe at the tears on her bunk mate’s face.
“Nothing” she lied.
“Don’t say that. Tears don’t just come out that way.”
“I had a bad dream” she lied again but that seemed to satisfy Tunbosun. “I’ll be alright”
“Okay then. Hurry up, so we could make the briefing on time.”
“Alright, thanks.” Shade said. Deep within, she knew she wasn’t alright. The pain she had felt about going all the way with Utibe was intensified when she woke up at about 5am and the first thoughts on her mind where the words she had spoken to her late mother shortly after her twelfth birthday. Her mother had felt it was high time to give her daughter some sex education.
After the lengthy talk with her mother, she had promised not to ever allow anyboy touch her. She had even advocated it while in school at different times. But now, she’d just fumbled. She was glad however that she hadn’t lost it all; her ultimate pride, her virginity was still intact.
As she got ready to go to the bathroom, she promised herself she wouldn’t allow Utibe touch her again. She was going to try to make right the wrong she’d done. She still wanted him as a friend, but nothing more. But if he insisted, she would have to cut off totally from him, and the thought of that brought more tears to her eyes.
This morning was just so different. Uche was trying to understand why he was this happy. It was then he remembered the dream he had had. In the dream, he had given his life to Jesus and was all together refreshed and joyful. That feeling followed him into reality. There was a deep sense of urgency within him that he needed to surrender to Christ immediately.
Uche couldn’t explain how he was feeling. He felt like he would burst; he was so full of joy. He had given God a condition on which He would give his life to Him but now, he knew he didn’t need that anymore. He knew what he had to do – what he must. He knelt down beside his bunk and confessed his sins to God; apologizing for all he had done wrong, especially the blasphemous statements he had made against God at different times.
As he prayed, he could literarily feel peace seep into his heart; gradually filling him up. He didn’t yet know how to talk to God well, but he talked with him as best as He could. He still wasn’t sure if he did it right but he knew God heard him and had forgiven him. He was refreshed and couldn’t wait to share the news with George, and Fatima, whenever she returned from the hospital.
George Ahmadu was lost in thought. He hardly had been about to think of anything else apart from the conversation he had had with Tara the evening before. As he laced his shoe, preparing to go for the morning briefing, he could feel a tenderness develop in his heart for her. He felt he had an obligation to care for her and protect her. He wanted to be there for her; to help her overcome this pain of her past. He wanted to do all in his power to make sure she was alright again.
She had said she was pregnant, and he could see that there was no life in her belly. It was either she had a miscarriage, which George desperately wanted to believe or she aborted the unborn child. The latter option wasn’t a pleasant one as George knew it was a terrible sin against God, the unborn baby, and even the body of the woman who aborted, not to talk about the complications that are known to plague the victims afterwards, mentally, emotionally and physically.
There were so many assumptions he could make, but he decided to keep his mind open and wait for Tara to tell him personally what happened to the baby that she carried. ‘I will be there for you Tara, till your hurts are healed and you’re restored’ he thought to himself. But even as he did that, he felt a cautioning in his spirit.
A scripture came to his mind. ‘It’s not by power, not by might, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.’ God was reminding him not to try to do it in his own strength. The message was clear.
George went on his knees. “I’m so sorry Lord. I know you’ve put in me a desire to see that Tara becomes whole again but I’m sorry for thinking I could play God in her life. Please let me just be an instrument in your hand to touch this hurting soul and to help her find joy again.” That was his prayer. Those few lines restored peace in his heart. He was sure things would go fine. He did not foresee however, a very big obstacle that was about to get in the way of Tara’s redemption.
“Guys, I never knew that was what I had been missing”, Utibe said, after updating his friends on the progress he made with Shade the previous night. “The experience was just outta-this-world”
“Those were just preliminaries. Wait till you get inside proper.” Stanley said.
“Yes o!” Okpara said.
“Okpara, I saw you with one chic yesterday, did you have her?”
“Yes, I did” he said, trying to sound exultant. His friends hooted.
“Now, we’re getting closer. I still have four more to go” Stanley said. His mind went back to how easy it was for him to have Faith, how easy it was for Okpara too, and the progress Utibe was making. He laughed.
“What’s funny?” Okpara asked.
“Just seems so ridiculous that a girl would just give a guy her body like that. Some girls are simply fools. Can’t they see that we’re just using them? But I won’t allow anyone do that to my sisters. You should see how much I try to protect them.”
“You’re cruel” Utibe said. “You can mess up other girls and then prevent others from doing that to those you love”
“That’s life men!” he replied. “Moreover, I only go for girls who are stupid enough to allow me or who dress in ways that make me know they have no value for their bodies.” He paused and looked at Okpara, who seemed distracted. “What’s up buddy?”
“I’m actually beginning to wonder if it’s only girls that are stupid when they give in to sex.”
“What are you trying to say?” Utibe asked, curious.
“I think guys are fools too doing it. I felt like a fool yesterday after I got back to the hall, Christiana walked away and I was left alone to think”
“We’re not fools man! Did you lose anything?” Stanley asking, scoffing. “It’s girls that have everything to lose. They are the ones that get pregnant, do abortions or carry the babies. Ours is just to have fun.”
“I don’t agree. I felt an undeniable void in my heart yesterday, after losing my virginity; my pride.”
“You dey talk like woman” Stanley said, laughing at him.
“You can’t tell me a part of you doesn’t hate this lifestyle and at times, you just want to opt out?” Okpara asked, directing his question at Stanley.
“Never!” Stanley said.
“Whatever!” Okapara said, dismissing Stanley’s words. He was beginning to wonder if the guy had a heart at all. He had not felt this adverse to sex before. In fact, he had always wanted it and had been the chief advocate of wanting Stanley to forcefully have Tunbosun if he had to, but his experience with Christiana had put doubts in his heart.
“Stanley, you’ve had many girls, right?”
“Have you ever felt that anyone of them was the one using you instead of being the other way round?”
“Never. Girls die to have me. How can they now be the ones to use me?”
Okpara was still not satisfied but he couldn’t ask Utibe because the boy was new to all these stuffs they were talking about. “I actually feel like Christiana used me last night?”
“Why do you think so?” it was Utibe voicing out this time.
“The way she went all out with me, after meeting me for just a few minutes and didn’t even bother to know my name. Worse was she started flirting with another girl once we got into the hall.”
“You be mumu!” Stanley said. “Faith wasn’t any better. I told her my name, but I’m not even sure, she’ll remember, but I was the one who was doing the using, not the other way round.”
Okpara still wanted to voice his fears about the way things were going but decided to shut up. Stanley was just going to demean him if he bothered trying.
Unknown to Okpara however, he had already succeeded a bit. A seed of doubt had been sown in Utibe’s mind, and the boy was beginning to wonder if he wanted to continue with Stanley’s advices anymore. He wondered if he wanted to take away from Shade what belonged to her husband. He indeed wondered.
Back at home in Calabar, the promiscuity level was really high. Somehow, possibly because of his dedication to his academics, he had never joined the train. Even during the well celebrated Calabar Christmas Carnival in which he was always actively involved, he had stayed away from getting himself involved with the many lewd acts that characterized the activities.
After holding on for so long, was he ready to lose it all; spoil everything, just in the bid to show prove that he was a big boy and capable of having girls. ‘This is not why I came for this conference.’ He thought. As he analyzed a little more, he came to a conclusion. It couldn’t and wouldn’t continue one more day. ‘I’ll call it quits with Shade on the touching part but we could still be friends if she wants’ was his decision. And when Utibe made up his mind about something, no one could stop him.
Christiana looked in the mirror. She smiled. She knew she was beautiful and very attractive. She was from Bayelsa state but lived and schooled in Lagos. She had qualified to come to the conference because she was the dinning hall prefect of her school. But she had chosen to come for a different reason altogether. It had taken her time to begin executing her plan but she was glad she had started.
Her plan was very grand and to achieve it, she needed to sleep with as many guys as she could in the ensuing days of the conference. She had started with the guy that had walked up to her the day before. That was just one. She would have to double up on her tactics if her objective was to be achieved. The guy she had flirted with during the film show was going to be the next.
Still looking at the mirror, she giggled. ‘Those guys will wish they had never given me a second look.’ She was going to give them the shocker of their lives.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 18)

The briefing had been indeed brief, giving some more free time before breakfast. George was seated with Tara. It was time for him to hear the rest of the story. “Hope you slept well?” he asked her.
“I tried” she said, sincerely.
“We have a short while before breakfast. Would you want to continue now?”
“Yes” she said. “Where did I stop?”
“At the point of discovering you were pregnant!”
“Okay”, she said. “When I discovered I was pregnant, I was so scared and distraught, I cried for hours non-stop. When I could think a little clearly, I called Douglas and told him I needed to see him urgently. When he came, I told him I was pregnant.” Tara shook her head. “When I saw his reaction, I wanted to die. He seemed so non-chalant, I felt like killing him then killing myself. He said I should abort the baby. I was so angry at him, I reached out to slap him but he held my hand and asked me why I was getting angry. ‘Girls do abortions daily. What’s your problem?’ he said. I couldn’t believe my ears.
“It was that day I knew he had never loved me. And it hurt more than words could say. The only person I had ever given myself to, thinking it was love we shared, turned out to be my greatest nightmare. I didn’t want to hear more. I was scared I would hurt myself if I stayed one minute longer. I walked out of the eatery. An eatery was the most neutral place I thought we could have met ‘cause it was a weekend and I didn’t want to go to his house.
“I walked away with tears streaming out of my eyes. I hoped Douglas would run after me, begging me to forgive him, promising to stand by me through the ordeal, assuring me he would be a great father to our child but he didn’t, and he didn’t call or text afterwards. I was in a terrible mess.
“When I got home, I went straight for my dairy. I needed to vent my emotions somehow, and my dairy was the most available. After expressing myself in the diary, I had the call of nature.” Tara said, tears beginning to well up in her eyes. “And I made a terrible mistake. I left my dairy open on my bed.”
“By the time I came back into the room, my mother was waiting for me, eyes aflame. She beat me silly and rained all sorts of abuses on me; words I chose not to mention; they were simply horrible. I tried to beg, or explain. She wouldn’t listen. When she felt she had beaten me enough, she told me I was going to have an abortion.”
The tears now flowed. Tara bowed her head. The memory was painful. It seemed like yesterday though it happened five months prior. She lifted her head and continued. “I told her I couldn’t have an abortion; that it was ungodly. That was when I saw a part of my mother I had never seen. She actually seemed ready to kill me; she was practically mad that afternoon. I still wonder why she hates me so much.”
Tara wiped her tears. “Let me not bore you with the details of that day. The summary was that she forced me to the abortion clinic. When it was my turn, I went in and thought I would be able to beg the doctor not to do it. He however told me it was okay. He told me he was a Christian and stuff. Listening to him made me simmer down on my resolve and he went through with it.”
Tara held her head and gritted her teeth. It was all she could do to keep from screaming. “When I woke up and the reality of what I had just done hit me, I became emotionally numb. Tears flowed out of my eyes especially when I looked in the direction of what had been evacuated. But it was like my emotions had been shutdown. As I walked out of that room, I looked at the doctor and my look was a combination of many feelings. Anger, Regret, Despair and Sorrow.
“I hate Douglas for what he did to me. I hate my mother for what she made me do, and I hate the doctor for taking my baby from me.” She said, the sobs now intensifying.
George wanted to reach out to her but because of the way she was bent over on the chair, he couldn’t reach her hands. Could only reach her back or her knees and he knew both were not too appropriate for the moment, so he chose to speak the words that came out of his mouth.
“I’m so sorry Tara. Things will get better.” He took some time assuring her that it would be alright. He asked her if she had asked God’s forgiveness; she nodded without raising her head.
“Do you believe He has forgiven you?” George asked. She shook her head. “If you’ve truly repented of your sins, and asked God to forgive you, He has. You don’t need to live under that load of guilt again.”
With that, she raised her hands, and tried fruitlessly to wipe at the tears and mucus that marred her face. “Are you sure”
“Yes I am. As far as you’ve accepted Him as Lord and Saviour, whenever you sin, all you need do is sincerely repent of your sins; not intending to ever do them again and then ask God’s forgiveness. That settles everything, and He makes you new again.” She nodded, her face showing some relief even with the tears.
“The next thing is to forgive yourself. I’m sure you’ve been angry at yourself for allowing these things happen to you.” Tara nodded. “Forgive yourself and move on with your life.”
“I’ll try to work on that!” she said.
“One more thing?” George said.
“What is that?” she asked. Her expression showed she was very open. She wanted to do all she needed to do to become whole again.
“You need to forgive those who offended you.”
Tara’s expression changed so drastically. She laughed through her tears. “Now, you’ve gone way off George. That is not possible!”
“Don’t go there”, she interrupted. She wasn’t going to listen. She had been living in bitterness against her mum. And though she saw her everyday, the bitterness was getting stronger. Same with Douglas whom she saw at school. The only person she hadn’t seen in five months and she wondered what she would do when she saw him was the doctor that killed her unborn child. Forgive them? That was impossible.
Tunbosun found Uche outside the hall and they were both talking when they saw George and Tara walk out of the hall. Jealousy wanted to have the better of Tunbosun again but she reminded herslf of her resolve and just as fast, she discarded it. George introduced Tara to them and vice versa. As they stood there, Uche noticed a Black Lexus jeep approach the hall. The other three were also attracted to the car. They assumed it was one of the guest lecturers that was arriving.
But to their surprise, coming down from the passenger’s side, which was facing them was a short hausa girl with a broad smile on her face as she got down. Two guys were already on their heels. It was a breath taking embrace. Fatima was back! George and Uche were indeed thrilled.
Tunbosun and Tara who had been momentarily abandonned, walked towards them. Tunbosun, who hadn’t met Fatima but had heard about her had a better understanding of what was happening than Tara who was totally lost. As the girls reached the three excited friends, the driver of the jeep turned round the car to join them.
“This is Doctor Festus” Fatima said, introducing him to her friends and started introducing the others one after the other. By the time she got to Tara who was standing closer to her than Tunbosun, she was about looking at George to tell the name but quickly looked back. The girl seemed like she had seen a ghost. She was staring at Doctor Festus and Fatima couldn’t decipher what the stare was all about. Fatima looked at Doctor Festus and saw the same look. She looked back at the girl, and saw her eyes were filling. Looking back at Doctor Festus, he had bowed his head.
Fatima then knew that the girl must be the girl Doctor Festus had told her about. The atmosphere was emotion-laden. ‘Would he be able to make right all his wrongs at last?’ Fatima asked herself, hoping the doctor would be strong and humble enough to do so.
George could feel Tara’s struggle. He didn’t need to be told what was happening. Fatima had introduced the guy as a doctor. Tara was about to cry, unable to control her emotions. There was no guessing. He was the guy that performed the abortion. George moved quietly away from Fatima and stood beside Tara. He took one hand of hers in his. That was the best he could do; stand by her and give her the support she needed at this crucial moment. George then prayerfully waited to see how the drama would unfold.
Uche looked round and could see he and Tunbosun were the only ones left out, not understanding what was happening. It felt kind of awkward and he wondered what he should do. His eyes momentarily found Fatima who was beside him.. She was intent on the moment so she didn’t notice he was looking at her.
He had missed her in the few hours she had been away. He couldn’t wait to tell her about the decision he had just taken a few minutes back by his bed side. He longed to have some time alone with her and tell her about all the struggles he had had and how God had used her and George to set him free.
He looked at George’s hand knitted with Tara’s and he felt that was exactly what he wanted to do. He wanted to hold Fatima’s hand. He longed just to have a connection with her. Before thinking himself out of it, he slipped one hand towards Fatima’s hand. To his delight, she accepted the gesture and squeezed his hand, still not taking her eyes off the moment.
That meant the world to Uche. Still looking at her, he knew what he needed to do. He needed to pray; that was what Fatima was doing at the moment. ‘Lord, please have your way in all these; whatever it is that is happening. And thank you for making me meet Fatima.’ He said, and then felt silly about the next thing he wanted to say to God. ‘Would you be angry God if I ask Fatima to be my girlfriend today?’ He desperately hoped God wouldn’t mind; Uche looked forward to popping the ‘almighty’ question at his sweet friend.
Tunbosun had been able to stomach everything else. But this was too much to bear. George had come around to stand between her and Tara, and had then reached out to hold the girl. She soon noticed Uche and Fatima’s hands were together. She felt neglected. She was contemplating on what to do when she noticed a soft palm touch hers. George was offering to hold her hand. She couldn’t believe what was happening. Her heart soared with joy.
She wasn’t asking for more than friendship from this great guy she had just met but she was glad he felt she was still somewhat important. There was something about his grip; it wasn’t the type of a guy that wanted to arouse a girl, neither the type of a guy showing possession, it was a grip that spoke a language; a language Tunbosun had longed to understand. The language of True Love; pure and undefiled.
As she basked in that, she noticed Uche reached out his other hand and took Tara’s free hand. They hand succeeded in forming an arc of five with Tara in the middle. Tunbosun was awed. She had never seen such a cord of love before. She looked at Tara and saw she could feel the same. Tears were flowing down her cheeks unabated.
Tunbosun felt rather privileged to be in this company. She noticed movement and turned towards it. She couldn’t believe what was unfolding before her eyes. The rich, aging doctor moved a step closer and went on his knees in front of the Tara girl George had just introduced to her. He too was crying.
Tunbosun couldn’t resist the power at work. She was sure beyond measure that it was Jesus doing this work. She was awed by it all. A tear found its way down her own cheek. She longed for this too. ‘Jesus, I need your love’, was her prayer as she heard Tara’s sobs intensify. She wondered how it would all turn out.
Stanley waited for breakfast to be served in the dinning hall. Okpara and Utibe had gone to the gents and would be back soon. As he was looking round, he saw Shade seated alone on a table. He started imagining what his friend would have done with her the night before. Just then, Stanley got an inspiration.
‘This girl is ready to do it, abi? Utibe plans on having her tonight. I must look for a way to make sure I have her before him.’ It had been a while he had had a virgin. He wanted to have this one. ‘Utibe I’m so sorry but I’ll have to double-cross you tonight’, he said to himself, with a smile. A devilish smile.