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.