Monday, December 12, 2011

Online PDF copy of the Dec/Jan 2012 Edition

Hi! You can download the latest mag at
The file is large (about 28MB) so you would need a fast connection to make your download possible.
God bless you!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cover Page Feb-May 2011 Edition

Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 6)

AFTER NIGHT PREP, Tunde was on his way to the hostel when a junior student ran to him and gave him a letter from Temi. Tunde was so anxious to get to his room to read it, he wondered what Temi would have written to him after the discussion they had after the executive meeting and the words she had uttered; “I care so much about you”. Tunde wondered if she thought he had not heard her. When he entered his room, he greeted his roommates that were already in the room, went to his bed and opened the letter.

Dear Tunde,
How are you doing? How was night prep? I believe you are doing fine. I just really want to apologize for what happened this evening during our discussion. I believe I over reacted to the issue and I am really sorry about that, I did not mean to insinuate that anything was going on between yourself and Dupe. You had every right to accuse me of being jealous; I guess I just got carried away. I am really sorry and I hope that you will forgive me.
Do have a pleasant night and do not forget to pray for the service tomorrow, I believe God has something special for everyone. Good night.

Tunde put the letter down and wondered at the kind of person Temi was, ever since they had become executives she had proved to be a very strong and reliable Christian but she often did over react over some issues, still she was a wonderful person. He set the letter aside and went to take a shower.

TEMI HAD JUST settled in bed after taking a cool shower, she hoped that Tunde had gotten her letter. After their discussion, she had felt very bad and wondered what Tunde would be thinking of her behaviour. She knew that if she was to win Tunde’s heart, she would have to stop over reacting over issues and be a little more matured. During prep, she had thought about her behaviour and replayed it in her mind over and over again and decided to apologize to Tunde. She hoped her letter will help to heal the damage she may have done to her image in Tunde’s heart. She could only wait for tomorrow to get her reply. She prayed to God for wisdom on the issue of her feelings for Tunde and dozed off.

AFTER BREAKFAST ON Sunday morning, people started moving to the hall for the Sunday service. There was a lot of buzz and excitement as people whispered the name of the pastor that was coming to preach during the service. People simply knew him as Pastor Chris. He was a youth pastor and he seemed to know a lot about the various vices that teenagers got themselves into. Everyone liked him because he was very practical and funny.
After the presentation of the choir, Tunde stepped up to the podium and introduced the Pastor. When he mentioned his name, the whole congregation stood up and started screaming, whistling and clapping. There was so much excitement in the air. Dupe was also excited and she could see the excitement on Chioma’s face too.
Pastor Chris took the stage and he signaled to everyone to settle down. He began a worship song he always sang every time he comes to minister; Elshaddai. “I know that by now, you will know that I love that song so much. I love it because it tells a profound truth about the God we serve, my father and my love; God can never change, He remains the same, yesterday, today and forever” He raised the song one more time and prayed, committing the service into God’s hands.
When everyone was settled, Pastor Chris looked at everyone and smiled. “It feels so good to be among you guys again, I am always happy to be here. I don’t know if you guys know how much I love you and how excited I get when I am coming here. I wonder what actually makes me happy, I think it’s the fact that there are many pretty young girls in this place and since am single… you know what I mean”
Everyone started laughing and a lot of girls were giggling. Pastor Chris was really handsome and a dream guy for many ladies. “Guys, don’t be jealous ok! I will leave them for you. I was just kidding” Pastor Chris added.
Pastor Chris spoke about the mind and how powerful it is. He said “As teenagers, your mind is very sharp and picks up things very easily, if you do not learn to control your mind at this stage, it will ruin your entire life”. He paused to let it sink. Open your bible with me to the book of Rom 12:2. When he was sure everyone had opened to the scripture he read; “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” Open your bibles to Prov 23:7. It reads; As a man thinks in his heart so is he. Prov. 4: 23 also says; keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.
“The mind is very powerful; it is more powerful than the tongue. If you remember the last time I was with you, I told you about the tongue. Whatever you confess with your tongue is what comes to you, but you must have first thought about it before you confess it right? That is where the mind comes in. Whatever you think about yourself is what you are. Your thoughts become your words and your actions.”
He also explained the process of thoughts becoming actions using practical examples like masturbation. He explained that masturbation is as a result of consistent exposure to pornographic materials. “Renewal of the mind cannot happen in a day, it is a process” He said. In conclusion, he read from Phil 4:8; Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
“Don’t allow evil thoughts into your mind and then eat eba and egusi soup with it, cast it away immediately it comes; 2Cor 10:5. Finally and finally my children, be rest assured that no temptation will come your way that God will not provide a way of escape.
Then he made an altar call for those who wanted to commit to the process of renewing their mind and those that want to give their lives to Christ. A lot of people came out and he prayed for them.

AS CHIOMA STROLLED back to the hostel after church service, she was glad Dupe was not with her. The sermon had hit her hard and she really needed to think things out. She had allowed herself to get sucked in by anger and jealousy and had actually wanted to hurt her best friend. The mind indeed was a powerful thing. She had thought about how much better Dupe was and how she wanted to be like Dupe and her thoughts had transformed into hatred, anger jealousy and bitterness and she had actually thought of hurting her friend. Now that she thought about it, she knew she had gone too far and she was grateful that God had caught her before she hurt her friend. When she got to her room, she went on her knees and committed herself into the hands of God to lead her through the process of renewing her mind.
Chioma was not the only one the message made a lot of sense to, Vivian was in it too. Pastor Chris had spoken directly to her heart. She had meditated so much on the fact that everyone seemed to compare her with her sister which had eventually turned into bitterness and hatred for her sister and a need to always please people and make them like her. Vivian was glad she had spoken with Dupe the previous night, what Dupe had told her coupled with the message of today was enough to set her on the track into the process of renewing her thought. When she reached the hostel, she picked up her bible and began to read the passage Pastor Chris had asked them to read at home.
After the executives had lunch with Pastor Chris, they escorted him to his car, thanked him for coming and bade him goodbye. The executives had a brief meeting before they all returned to their hostel. Temi watched as Dupe and Tunde greeted each other, she remembered what Pastor Chris had said and tried not to hate Dupe. Tunde went to meet Temi and acknowledged her letter. He explained to her that he held no grudge against her and was grateful for her concern. They both walked to the hostel discussing what the Pastor had preached and what they had learnt.

MONDAY MORNING CAME with the brilliance of sunshine; all the students of Balm Of Gilead were in the assembly hall waiting for the Principal’s address. Every Monday morning, the Principal always addressed the students, telling them what to expect during the week or general news for the term. The Principal never left the students without a word of advice to keep them going for the week.
“Good morning students!”
“Good morning Ma!” the students chorused.
“I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.” She did not wait for a reply. “I hope you all remember that in two weeks time, you will be writing your Mid Term Exams?” The students started murmuring among themselves. The prefects around silenced the juniors whom they had control over. The Principal continued. “I believe you all have started preparing for the exams because you all know that it will go a long way to determine how you will perform at the end of the term.” The time table for the examination will be out later today, I expect all of you to write it and paste it somewhere you will see it everyday.” My word for you this week is this “God is bigger than all your schedule, projects or exams come and go, but He stays the same. Therefore my children, do not neglect God during this period, remain in his arms, stay close to him, he just might whisper a secret to you.”
She went into her office and Timi led the students in the school anthem and prayer after which everyone dispersed to their classrooms. There was a lot of buzz about what the principal had announced, some students were excited while some were in doubt.
“Chioma do you know I had forgotten about the mid term exams? I can’t believe I could have forgotten such a thing as exams. Last weekend was just so weird”
“Dupe, I also forgot sha and I agree with you, last weekend was weird. I believe we will start jacking real hard now, all night abi?”
“Yes o! Chioma, serious jacking begins tonight o!”

ALL THROUGH THE week, the students got really serious with their reading and preparation for the Midterm Examination. At Balm of Gilead, the midterm examination was a way to test how well the students had done half way before the final end of term examination. At the end of the examination, they usually had their visiting day and the result of the examination was the primary thing parents received. This enabled parents to know how well their wards were doing in school and also the students get to know where they would need to put in more efforts to make good grades at the end of the term.
Vivian became very jittery at the thought of examination, she looked at her time table and found the day she would be writing mathematics which was the following week. She went to meet Dupe for help. Dupe coached her in mathematics for an hour every day, teaching her the basics and praying with her until the night before she was to write the exam.
“I am so scared Snr. Dupe”
“Don’t be dear! Hold on to your faith. Remember that ‘as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is’ If you keep meditating on failing this subject, you will not excel in it, rather, picture yourself winning, reaching the finishing line and meditate on that picture coupled with the word of God. All will be well my dear!” Dupe said putting her hand on Vivian’s shoulder.
“I will keep my heart on God and hopefully, he will whisper secrets to me tonight and even during the exam tomorrow.” Vivian replied quoting the Principal.
“That’s the spirit gal.” Dupe hugged her and prayed for her.
“I wish everyone was like you, this world would be a wonderful place to be. Sometimes I doubt if you are human.” Vivian said smiling. “Are you sure you are not an angel just pretending to be human? Common, it’s just two of us in here, show me your halo and wings please. I promise I will not breathe a word about it to anyone”
Dupe was in peals of laughter, she could not believe what Vivian had just said, the thought of her actually hiding halo and wings tickled her all over.
“My dear, I am not an angel ok! I have just allowed the God’s love flow through me, even in that, I am not perfect, I do have struggles like you too” Dupe said after laughing
“You! That’s a lie, you are just perfect”
“I am still working towards perfection dear and so are you. Now run along, it’s getting late. You need to be well rested for your exam tomorrow” Dupe said
“Ok! Thank you so much, you do not know just how much what you have done for me means to me. God bless you” Vivian said.
“You are welcome dear!”
Vivian left the room. Dupe picked up her mathematics note to start preparing for her own exam the following day. Teaching Vivian had helped her revise some things from her note because it was the same thing with her note, just a more complicated version. She relaxed on her bed for a while recalling what Vivian had said about her. The girl had no idea what she was saying, Dupe thought to herself. She stood up from her bed and went to her reading table to avoid dozing off. She was expecting Chioma to come so that they could revise their sums together. Chioma was not so good in mathematics too and Dupe was always more than ready to help her. Just then, her door opened and Chioma walked in. They started working on their sums together; Chioma asked Dupe questions and she solved them for her.

After the examination the next day, Vivian came to thank Dupe for helping her and explained that the exam was the best mathematics exam she had written so far in the school. Chioma was equally happy about the exam and she told Dupe about it, she was also happy that she had overcome her hatred and jealousy for Dupe. Things seemed to be working out fine and amazingly, her walk with God had improved somehow.
The rest of the examination went in a breeze and the day for visiting day drew near, it was usually the weekend after the examination. Everyone was looking forward to seeing their parents and loved ones again and knowing their performance in the examination. The result would be given to each parent as they arrive in the classroom of their wards, so there was no way a student could know their performance, this made them anxious and at the same time happy about the visiting day.
Visiting day finally came and all the students dressed up in their Sunday attires which was white and blue and went to their classrooms to wait for their parents. Vivian was in her class feeling so nervous as she prayed silently that her result would be good. Her other classmates were all so excited and were whispering to themselves. Just then her mum stepped into the class with her elder sister, Ifeoma. Everyone stood up to greet her. Her mum greeted her teacher; Mr. Okoh Sam. Her class teacher was a man who talked too much and as she suspected, he told her mum about her performance before she even opened the result.
“Your daughter is a very good girl, but I believe she can do better with her grades, just like her sister here” He told her mother. Ifeoma smiled at him and Vivian flinched at the sound of that but did not let it bother her.
When her mum was finally alone with herself and her sister, she opened her result. Her mum was silent as she went through her result. Other parents started arriving and Vivian was glad because it took away the attention of the class from her. Vivian peeped into her result as her mum went through it and saw that she had a C4 in mathematics. A smile immediately played on her face, but when she looked at her mum, she did not look so pleased.
“This is a very good attempt Vivian, but I believe you can do better ok! Try to have all A’s like your sister. I must commend you on your improvement in mathematics, it’s a good one and if you keep up like this, I am sure you will be just like Ifeoma” Her mum said. Ifeoma did not say much about her result, she just encouraged her.
Vivian made up her mind not to let her mother’s comment affect her in any way or dampen her mood. She felt personally fulfilled that she could have a C4 in mathematics. She smiled at her mum and brought out her books for her to go through. Vivian concluded in her mind that no matter what she did, if she could not meet up with her sister, her mother will never be pleased with her. The thought made her sad, but she knew with all her heart that one day, she would dazzle her mum.
At the end of the day, excitement was written all over the faces of the students as they carried their goodies to the hostel. Visiting day was a time to replenish provisions for the students. As Dupe strolled to the hostel with her goodies, she spotted Tunde and he was not carrying any bag. She hurried towards him. Dupe found out that nobody had come to see him, he did not look so disturbed about it though, but she felt for him. When they parted ways, she quickly went to her room and shared her provisions into two. Then she hurried outside again and sent one half to Tunde through an SS 3 student she saw. When she got back to her room, Vivian was waiting for her. As soon as Vivian saw her, she ran and gave Dupe a big teddy bear tight hug. Dupe gasped for breath and started laughing.
“I can see the excitement all over you gal, how was your result and how was your day?”
“It was great”, Vivian replied. “I had a C4 in mathematics” She screamed and hugged Dupe again.
“That is so wonderful. So what did your mum say?”
Vivian looked suddenly sad at the mention of her mum. “She just said I could do better and compared me again to my sister, but am not bothered. God loves me just as I am and I am content”
Dupe was so happy to hear that Vivian was getting over her past and moving on. They discussed other things and then Vivian gave her some goodies her mother had asked her to give the senior that had helped her in mathematics before she left for her room.
When no one came to see him, Tunde was not surprised, it only hurt him to know that his father still did not appreciate him as a son and forgiven his mother for what she had done to him. He looked at the gifts Dupe sent him and he wanted to cry. He could not remember when last any female specie had been nice to him. Dupe was different and his heart warmed towards her, she made it easy for him to pull away from his horrible childhood days and actually believe that women were not all the same. He put the goodies in his wardrobe and prepared for bed. He prayed for Dupe in a special way that day, she had been the angel God had sent to answer his prayers for provision as his own had been exhausted.

Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 7)

VIVIAN WAS CONTENT with her mid term results and that really boosted her confidence in herself; she felt more intelligent and knew in her hearts of heart that she was not a dullard after all. She continued to work hard towards the end of term examination and visited Dupe often for advice and tutorials. Her life was finally beginning to look good and she felt good about it, this changed her attitude to a lot of things and she started to smile a lot and play with her classmates and friends more. Some even commented on her change and asked what had happened to her, all she said in response was “God loves me”. Little did she know that a certain heart had started beating and lusting after her.
Seun sat on his table and watched Vivian as she laughed and threw her head backwards, he had never really heard or seen her laugh before and that picture struck a chord in his heart. He could not take his eyes off her, he did not care if he was staring. He watched as her lips curved into the sweetest smile he had ever seen and in that moment, he told himself that he was going to kiss those innocent lips and he was going to get Vivian to be his girlfriend. Just then, Vivian looked towards his direction and caught him staring at her, but he did not move his eyes, she looked away immediately, but Seun never took his eyes off her and he caught her stealing frequent glances at him every now and then, he was happy, it was a good start now that she had noticed him. He kept watching her.
After school hours on Thursday, Vivian could not wait to leave the classroom and run to her hostel, she wanted to escape the eyes of Seun, who kept staring at her through out the day. Her heart was beating fast as she packed her books and locked her locker. As she turned to leave, Seun was standing right in front of her.
“Hi, why are you in so much hurry?” he asked
At first, Vivian did not respond, she did not know what to say. Seun was the most eligible bachelor in her class, (that was how they described guys in her school who were handsome and not dating anyone). She caught herself immediately and hoped he had not noticed the effect he had on her.
“I’m not in a hurry, I just want to catch up with someone. How may I help you?” She finally said
“Just wanted to ask if your literature note is complete and if I can borrow it”
“I’m sorry, I just gave it to someone else. I really have to run now” She smiled at him and walked away.
Seun was content, he had seen her reaction towards him, even though she had tried to hide it, and he smiled as he waited anxiously for another Friday night.
Vivian felt tension build inside her heart as she thought of what had happened that afternoon after school. In Balm of Gilead, girls always get excited whenever a guy who has never spoken to them asks for their note, a biro or something really absurd. They had just started reading Robinson Crusoe in literature class and there was no new note to copy. Vivian sighed as she thought about it, it could mean only one thing; Seun liked her. She thought of going to Dupe to ask for advice, but she decided that she would wait and see what happens that Friday. She did not want to get her hopes high and get it dashed. She remembered what Pastor Chris had said about meditating on the wrong things so she closed her eyes and thought about how wonderful it felt like to know that somebody in heaven loved her.
Seun knew Vivian would be expecting him to make a move on Friday night, so he did not. He only greeted her casually on that night and went about his business. He wanted to take his time and not seem too forward. He decided he was going to be first a good friend and then hit the nail when she is not expecting it at all.

ON SUNDAY MORNING, as Chioma and Dupe strolled to the hall for church service, Chioma was giddy with excitement. She was smiling and chattering unusually. Dupe had to ask her what she dreamt about the previous night, but Chioma said nothing. When the service started, Chioma excused herself and went out of the hall. After the praise and worship and testimonies, the moderator called on the Ambassadors, a dance group everyone had come to love and admire in school as far as gospel dancing was concerned. When they climbed up stage, Dupe gasped as she saw Chioma on stage too.
The music started and they started dancing. Dupe’s eyes were fixed on Chioma as she flexed and moved her body to the music. She was surprised, she never had any idea that Chioma could dance so well. The audience cheered loud as Chioma came forward to do her solo.
Behind the hall, Timi watched with equal amazement as Chioma danced. He joined the audience to cheer as she did her solo and then they concluded the dance. Timi joined everyone as they stood up to cheer the group. A thought crossed his mind, he smiled as he watched Chioma walk down the stage.
Dupe could hardly wait for the service to be over; she was so excited to talk to Chioma about her new found talent. As soon as they shared the grace, a lot of people gathered around Chioma to shower her with praises. Dupe could scarcely get to her, so she decided to let everyone have their time with her now since she could have her all to herself in the hostel.
Chioma was so excited, she was smiling from chin to chin as people came to shower her with praises.
“Hey girl! where on earth have you been hiding that talent?” Timi said
Chioma smiled at Timi as he shook her hand and appreciated her. He returned her smile and winked at her before he left her hand and walked away. Chioma’s heart did a double flip. Her heart was soaring as she made her way to the hostel.
As soon as the executives finished their usual meeting, Dupe dashed to Chioma’s room. When she got there, she met the X girls talking to Chioma. These were a group of girls that were very popular in school; they were pretty and the desire of many guys. They were also good dancers but not gospel dancers. They danced during the social nights. When they spotted Dupe, they excused themselves telling Chioma to think about their offer.
“Chic, which offer are they making you?”
“They want me to come and join their dance group”
“I hope you are not considering them o! What does light have to do with darkness?”
“Dupe don’t worry, I am not even giving it a thought” Chioma lied.
“Where on earth did you learn all those moves Chioma? I never knew you could dance so well.” Dupe said. “How did it happen?”
Chioma narrated how she was dancing in the hostel on Saturday afternoon and one of the girls in Ambassadors dance group spotted her and invited her for rehearsal that afternoon before choir rehearsal.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I wanted to surprise you jare” Chioma replied smiling.
“You are now the talk of the whole school. I’m so glad you are my friend. Imagine, my friend is the latest celebrity in school.” Dupe said so excited.
Chioma just kept laughing, she did not tell Dupe about the wink she got from Timi. To her, that was the best greeting she received that afternoon. They gisted for a while before Dupe went to her room to rest before lunch. Throughout that day, Chioma basked in her new found popularity; she did not need Dupe to be popular after all. Before night prep, many other people came to talk to her, even guys who had never looked her way before. She was so happy.
The week went well, and another Friday night came. Chioma had enjoyed the week so much. The X girls were still presenting their offer to her and the whole school knew about it that even increased her popularity. Timi had been unusually nice to her during the week too, so she was not surprised when he asked to walk her to the hostel that night. Dupe had been beside her when he had asked her, but Chioma did not even seek her opinion, her answer was prompt like she had been expecting it.
Dupe felt uncomfortable with the arrangement but decided to keep her opinion to herself until she heard from Chioma what Timi had told her later in the night.
Around that same time, Seun had put his plan in place and had decided to ask Vivian out that night. He had played a good friend for about 2weeks and had gotten a reasonable percentage of her trust. As he saw her approaching the class he walked up to her.
“Hi gal, how are you doing tonight?”
“I’m cool and you?” Vivian responded coolly.
“Fine, thanks. Just wanted to know if I could walk you to the hostel tonight”
Vivian gasped for breath and just stared at him. When she recovered she asked him why.
“I just wanna talk to you?”
“Ok, no problem then.” Vivian said and hurried into class. Her friends made some funny sounds as she went to her seat, she just ignored them.
When the bell rang, Vivian’s heart started beating fast. Seun waited for her at the door, and then they started walking towards the hostel.
“Hope the fatigue was not too stressful?” He asked
“What I want to tell you is very important Vivian and I mean every word I am going to tell you tonight.” Seun said
“For some time now, you have been constantly on my mind. In think about you every time of the day. I should have spoken earlier but I wanted to be sure of myself”. He paused. When Vivian did not say anything, he continued. “You are very beautiful Vivian and I don’t know how I could not have noticed till now. I love you Vivian. I would like to have you as my girlfriend. I promise to treat you like a queen that you are and love no other person but you”. Seun concluded and waited for her to respond.
As they came to a halt in front of the girl’s hostel, Vivian looked at Seun and asked for time to think about it.
“I love you very much Vivian and I mean it.” He said before saying goodnight. As he walked away, Vivian stared at him for a while before turning into her hostel. Her heart had melted when he said he loved her. No one had told her that before and it sounded good in her ears. She smiled as she entered her room and lay on her bed. All she could think of was the look on Seun’s face when he said he loved her.
At that same time, Chioma had the same smile on her face as she walked into her room. She could not believe Timi, the head boy and most eligible bachelor in SS 3 had asked her out. She felt giddy as she remembered the words he had spoken to her. He had also said he loved her and promised to love and cherish her like a queen. Chioma was so glad. The week had turned out so well and she knew better things were coming. The only problem she had was how to tell Dupe. She knew Timi had wanted to date Dupe but she had turned him down several times. As the thought ran through her head, Dupe came into the room.
“Chic, oya, come and gist me. What did Timi say to you?”
“What else, he asked me out of course”
“What was your reply Chioma?”
“I said yes now! Or were you expecting me to say no to him?”
“Chi, are you sure you know what you are doing? I feel something is not right about this. Don’t you think he just wants to get to me through you as my best friend?”
Chioma felt a surge of anger in her heart. “What is that supposed to mean Dupe? Do you think you are the only beautiful girl that a guy can love? You think no guy can actually love me for who I am?”
“Chioma that is not what I meant. I am only concerned about you”
“Thank you very much; I do not need your concern. Do you know what I think? I think you are just jealous because he left you for me.”
Dupe opened her mouth but no words came out.
“You know what, I am done being under your shadow. You are just jealous of my new found identity and popularity. Face it girl, there are other pretty gals on the block and your time is up” Chioma said. She was surprised at herself and what she had just said to Dupe. But she could not take it back. Everyone in the room turned their attention to them. Dupe quietly stood up and left the room. Chioma just stared after her.
Dupe ran to her room, shut the door behind her and jumped on her bed crying. She could not believe Chioma had spoken those words to her. How could she be jealous when she didn’t even like Timi. Dupe cried herself to sleep that night.
Chioma woke up the next morning feeling bad about what she had said to Dupe the previous night. She remembered how she had committed herself to the process of renewing her mind and letting go of all her bitterness. But she had let it out again and hurt Dupe again too. She felt really bad. She stood up from her bed and went to Dupe’s room. Dupe’s room was open but there was no one in. Chioma entered the room and decided to wait for her. She walked over to Dupe’s reading table and saw a book with ‘My Journal’ written on it. Curiosity got the best of her and she picked it up and opened a few pages. As she read through, she found the page where Dupe had written about the day she had been in the garden and Chioma had come over to call her for fellowship. A particular phrase caught her attention, it read;

“Lord, I can’t believe I masturbated today again! Why does this keep happening to me lord. Please, will it ever stop?”

Chioma could not believe what she was seeing. Could it be true? She flipped through the pages and saw similar entries. Chioma dropped the journal in disgust. She refused to believe that the same Dupe she was hurting herself over and wanting to be like was actually a hypocrite, a masturbator. Chioma was so disappointed; someone everyone thought was the perfect take home to mama type, someone she had longed so much to be like. She did not want Dupe to meet her in the room now that she had known her secret.
A sudden surge of anger and sadness engulfed her. She could not face Dupe and say anything to her. Chioma hurriedly left Dupe’s room and ran to her hostel. She had just learnt a hard thing about her best friend and it was hard to swallow. She knew something inside her had changed with the recent discovery and another thing she knew from the depth of her heart was the fact that, their friendship would never remain the same again.
Dupe walked into her room with tears in her eyes. Early in the morning, she had felt strong sexual urges and she had known that if she waited another minute, she would masturbate. So she had hurriedly put on something decent and ran to the school garden. There she had gone on her knees and cried out to God to save her and help Chioma. The events of the previous night played in her head and she cried her heart out to God. The fear she had some weeks back engulfed her again and drove her to her knees weeping and pleading to God. In the midst of all that, God had whispered in her ears “Be strong child, I am with you always” She sat on her bed and looked around her room.
Her journal was on the floor, opened to the page where she had written about masturbating and then praying in the garden, which she had done today again, only this time, she had run from the temptation. She picked it up and closed it. She was happy that she was able to overcome the temptation that day. She only hoped no one had come to her room while she was away because she did not wait to lock her room before she left in the morning.. She thought of Chioma and decided to go and apologize to her. This time, Dupe patiently locked her door as she left the room to Chioma’s hostel.

Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 8)

CHIOMA SAT ON her bed and thought of all she had seen. She guessed Dupe was on her usual rounds and was afraid she would meet her in the room. A thought played in her mind; she could not continue to trust Dupe’s advice since she was a hypocrite and certainly, she was sure Dupe was jealous of her and Timi. She also thought about the choir and the fact that Dupe was their leader. In her heart, she had left the choir; the only thing left was the physical manifestation.
Chioma looked out of the window beside her bed and saw Dupe coming towards her room; she quickly told her roommates not to tell Dupe where she was and ran out of the room. She was not ready to face her yet; the shock was still very raw.
Dupe returned to her room disappointed, she really needed to apologize to Chioma and she was nowhere to be found. Dupe had a feeling things were not well and she did not like that feeling. Things were actually beginning to go bad like she had felt weeks back and she was in the middle of the whole thing. She also remembered the dream Tunde had told her and even became more scared. She went on her knees and started praying hard, pleading with God to change the situation of things around her.

TUNDE WAS ON his bed reading a book “The Final Quest” by Rick Joyner on Saturday morning as the junior students were preparing for inspection. Other SS 3 students were going about their business. Amos started making an announcement in the hostel.
“If you see a corrupt follower, look at his leader because a follower will always follow the footsteps of his leader”. Other guys in the hostel turned their attention to Amos, waiting expectantly to know how the story will end.
“A few weeks back, it was the Pastor and the Chior leader, yesterday, it was a choir member, what are we going to see next? They are all hypocrites, no one is good.” Amos continued. “After all, God is a merciful God, He will forgive. Won’t He?” He said as he turned towards Tunde.
Tunde ignored him totally; he kept his attention on the book he was reading. This angered Amos so much, he hated the way Tunde kept ignoring him. He walked over to Tunde’s bedside, collected the book he was reading and threw it on the floor.
“Answer me man!” He shouted at Tunde. “Are you sure God is merciful? Are you sure He loves you enough to forgive you your sins? After all, He strikes people that offend Him dead, right?”
Tunde did not respond, he bent down and picked his book. When Amos continued staring at him, Tunde asked him “Tell me something Amos, Why are you so angry with God? What is eating you? Talk to …
“Shut up men! What do you know? You have never suffered anything. Your life has been so perfect.” Amos said.
“You are so wrong Amos, my life is not perfect. I don’t have any idea of what has happened to you, but you cannot keep being angry with God, He is the only one that can help you.”
Amos hissed and walked back to his bedside. The other guys in the room watched in amusement has the whole drama played out. They all gained a new level of respect for Tunde because of the way he had handled the situation. Amos stormed out of the room boiling in anger. “He knows nothing of what I have been through” He said to himself as he left the hostel premises.

THINGS HAD GOTTEN worse as the days tore on. Chioma avoided Dupe at all cost and had been seen often with the X girls, she had even left the choir. Dupe was devastated and it showed in everything she did; it affected her performance in class and her countenance really fell. She felt she was at fault for all that was happening and she felt really guilty. Often times, she had confronted Chioma, but she would just stare at her coldly. Dupe did not know what to do anymore, her pillow was wet with tears and her heart was very heavy. Prayer had been the only words she had spoken frequently.
Tunde noticed everything that was happening and decided to talk to Dupe. He felt obligated to do so first as her friend and then her Pastor.
“What happened between yourself and Chioma?”
“Timi asked her out and I only told her he might want to use her to get to me. She accused me of being jealous of her”
“Have you apologized to her?”
“Yes I have, but she has refused to even talk to me. On one occasion, she called me an hypocrite. Tunde, I don’t know what to do again, I’ve prayed, cried and even begged”
Dupe started crying, she was glad there was no one in the garden with herself and Tunde.
“Please stop crying Dupe, everything will be fine. Still try talking to her ok!”
Dupe nodded still crying. He took her two hands and prayed for herself and Chioma.

TEMI HAD SEEN it all and was very angry. She had come into the school garden to relax and was surprised to see Dupe and Tunde there. She walked away angrily as Tunde took Dupe’s hands. ‘That is the last straw’ She thought to herself, jealousy had engulfed her and all the words from Pastor Chris’s message disappeared like the wind.
Chioma felt so good and so free, she had taken up the offer of the X girls and joined their clique. They had danced together in a number of social nights and her popularity thermometer was on the verge of bursting. Her new found love, Timi also added to her popularity status. It was a big thing to date the head boy of the school and the most handsome guy in SS 3. Chioma could not believe how her life had turned around with just one stage performance. The X girls were not the born again type and Chioma did not need to try to fit in, she blended very well, this made her feel she was never born again, but was just hiding under the shadow of Dupe and the choir.
The X girls introduced her to a lot of things like parties outside the school and she had joined them to attend those parties. Sneaking out of school at night during weekends had become a specialty for her and it was much fun than the holier than thou life she had been living. It was time for sport and she was giddy to see Timi. They spent the whole one hour of sport together every day, it was their special time. She wondered how foolish Dupe had been to let such a guy go, but she was glad Dupe had let him go anyway. She smiled as she spotted Timi waiting for her at the end of the block, she walked towards him.
As Chioma walked towards him, Timi saw Dupe behind Chioma calling her, but Chioma ignored her and kept walking towards him.
“Sweetie, how was prep?” he asked her
“It was good dear! How was yours?”
Timi hugged Chioma and saw Dupe staring at them. He smiled at her. Dupe turned away from them and returned to the class.

DURING SPORT, SEUN took Vivian to the back of the SS1 block, a place that students don’t usually go to. He lured her there with a lie that he wanted to tell her something very important. Since they started dating, he had won her trust to a great extent and had noticed how na├»ve and vulnerable she was. This made him so sure that she would do anything he asked of her. When they got to the back of the block he said to her
“You know I love you very much Vivian, I just want to ask for a little favour”
Vivian nodded, smiling. No one had made her feel as special as Seun did. He was the first guy to appreciate her beauty and tell her how wonderful she was. At this point, she would do anything for him. Surely God certainly sent Seun to her because he had helped her improve in her self esteem.
“Please, I have always longed to kiss those beautiful lips of yours” Seun said with a seductive voice.
Vivian could not say anything, she was too mesmerized. All her senses screamed ‘no’ but she could not resist him, she nodded in acceptance. There was excitement written all over Seun’s face as his lips met hers. They were there kissing and smooching until the bell rang to return to the hostel and prepare for dinner. They walked to the hostel together hand in hand.
When Vivian got to her room, she felt very guilty and violated. She thought of going to see Dupe, but she knew Dupe had her issues. The whole school knew about the fight between herself and Chioma and how Chioma had become one of the X girls. Vivian did not want to add to her burden and she did not trust her friends. She was in love with Seun and convinced herself that kissing and smooching was not wrong as long as it did not lead to sex. With that settled in her mind, she prepared for dinner.

THE PRINCIPAL CALLED for an urgent meeting with the prefects of the school which was very rare. On Saturday afternoon, all the prefects gathered in her office for the meeting. The Principal’s office was a big and cozy place, it was like a mini sitting room with a fridge, Television set and a big table in the back for her office work. When all the prefects were seated, Eld. Mrs. Giftie Ayobami stood up and walked to the front of her table. She turned the seat and sat down facing the prefects. From the look on her face, Dupe knew it was a serious and grave matter that burdened her.
“Good afternoon prefects”
“Good afternoon ma!”
“I know I do not usually do this, but I have been pushed to the wall now. I do not know why you have been elected as school prefects if you cannot report matters happening in school to me.” She paused.
“You were elected prefects to be the eye of the school authority in the midst of the students not to boost your popularity status or make you feel good, there are responsibilities attached to your position”
The prefects all looked sober as she spoke, they did not like when the Principal was angry with them.
“Timi and Dupe, I am more disappointed in the both of you. Do you think being the Senior Prefect Boy and Girl is child’s play? What have you been doing?” She asked looking at both of them.
‘Hating ourselves’ Dupe wanted to say, but kept it to herself.
“Now I want all of you to be very vigilant. I hear some students sneak out of the hostel during the weekend to parties in neighboring towns. I want to hear reports on this news by next week. I do not want to know how you do it, I just want results okay!”
“Yes ma!” they chorused.
“My source tells me the major suspects are some girls who call themselves X girls. I do not want to do anything until I have confirmed this, so Dupe, and other female prefects, I want results”
Dupe weakened at the mention of the X girls. If it was true, then she did not want to be on that case because Chioma was involved and even though Chioma had hurt her, she still loved the girl. She looked at Timi and gave him a knowing look because she knew he was aware of Chioma’s involvement with the X girls.
The Principal dismissed the meeting with a stern reminder of her results. Dupe walked up to Timi.
“Please I need you to talk to Chioma for me?”
“Because I know she will listen to you”
“Now you need my help, hmmm, let me think about it….” He made like he was thinking. “No”
“Why are you behaving like this?”
Timi just laughed and walked away. He did not want to admit it in front of Dupe, but he was worried. He did not want to get into trouble and hanging out with Chioma as an X girl could spell trouble if what the Principal said was true. H e walked away thinking of what to do next.
Dupe went to her room and started crying. She did not like what was happening to her at all. She had a bad feeling that the dream Tunde had was coming true already.
“God you promised to be with me, please what should I do now?” She cried.
There was no still small voice, Dupe cried into her pillow even more. She had no idea that more things were still coming her way.

ONE WEEK HAD passed without any report for the principal and it was already Saturday night. Dupe knew the principal was serious and asked God for a breakthrough. At around 4am in the morning, Dupe woke up and went to the toilet to ease herself. As she was returning to her room, she heard some movements; she went around the corner and saw some girls jumping into the hostel in party outfits.
“Stop” She shouted.
As they turned to start running, Dupe spotted Chioma. She wanted to faint at the sight of Chioma.
“So it is true Chioma? Why Chioma?”
Chioma did not say anything; she just looked at Dupe and ran to her room with the other girls.
Dupe went to her room and started crying all over again, she had asked God for a breakthrough, but she did not expect what she had just seen. She cried until day break. She locked herself in her room the next day. She did not even attend church service that day. She cried all day in her room pleading to God to let the cup pass over her. She still loved Chioma so much and did not want to be the one to plot her downfall.
Tunde became very worried about Dupe when he did not see her in church, he had sent people to her but they came back saying they had knocked on her door and no one responded. He even asked Temi to check on her but she returned with the same response. Tunde went to his room disappointed. He remembered the dream he had and the role he had played in it, he was the only one that pulled Dupe up when everyone had made fun of her. So he did the one thing he knew how to do best. He went on his knees.

Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 9)

THE DAY WAS bright, but Dupe felt heavily burdened. She sent the juniors out for the Monday morning assembly.
The students prayed, sang the national and school anthem and then waited for the Principal’s address.
“Good morning students. I have a very important thing to do today. I got a report during the weekend from a student about some students that sneaked out of school for a party. If you hear your name, come out here.”
The Principal called the names of all the X girls and a few other guys who were their boyfriends except Timi.
Before Chioma walked to the front of the assembly ground, she gave Dupe a very cold stare. Dupe felt tears in her eyes; she could not take it anymore. She was so sure she wasn’t the person that reported them. She started sobbing heavily on the assembly ground. Her classmates held on to her as she cried.
The students in front were flogged publicly and given some other hard labour to do around the school for two weeks. As soon as assembly was over, Dupe went to the school clinic and reported sick. The Doctor placed her on bed rest for the rest of the day. Dupe pleaded with him that she did not want any visitor so he instructed the nurses not to let anyone see her.
When Tunde learnt that Dupe was in the clinic, he hurried there after breakfast but was denied access to her. He became even more worried about her.

AFTER THE DAY’S hard labour, the X girls gathered together under the tree to rest.
“I bet it was Dupe that reported us” One girl said
“I think so too” Chioma said looking very sober. “I don’t blame her anyway. But she has stepped on the lion’s tail and she must pay.”
“How?” The leader of the group asked Chioma.
Chioma told them about the dirt she had on Dupe. “She must be shamed too, we cannot bear it alone. Right girls?”
They all started laughing and cheering Chioma calling her a hero.
Dupe returned to her room at night and locked the door. She had spent all her time in the school clinic crying and praying. The Doctor had been concerned and asked her what happened. She told him and he sympathized and prayed with her. She was so certain Chioma would think she was the one that reported them to the Principal since she was the only one that had seen them when they returned from their party. How was she to explain herself? She prayed and cried herself to sleep.
The next morning, there was no assembly that day so all the students went straight to their classes. Since she was sending students out of the hostel, Dupe was the last person to leave the hostel. As she was walking towards the classroom, she saw people laughing. She wondered what was so funny. When she got to the SS3 block, people were laughing too. As she walked down the passage to her class which was the last on SS3 block, people started pointing at her, some looked at her in disgust and some others were laughing. She was scared and surprised; someone screamed “You are so disgusting”
Dupe stepped in to her class and everyone stopped talking immediately. She did not make it to her seat before she saw the diagram on the blackboard. Someone had drawn a diagram of a girl masturbating with her finger with the inscription ‘Dupe, go get a guy if you really want to do the thing, HYPOCRITE’. Dupe fainted immediately. Everybody in the class started screaming. All the students on SS3 block ran to Dupe’s class. The boys quickly carried her to the front of the Principal’s office. The Principal drove Dupe to the clinic immediately.
Chioma had followed the crowd as the boys carried Dupe to the Principal’s car. She had not bargained for all of this and she felt very bad and scared for Dupe. Suddenly, she remembered the commitment she had made in church a few weeks back and wondered how she had forgotten about the repentance she made.
When everyone returned to their classes, the diagram was removed and classes continued. By the time it was time for breakfast two hours later, the whole school had heard about it, even the teachers in the school. Tunde was so worried; he knew for sure his dream had just played out itself. Tunde knew his role in all of this, so he went to the school garden and went on his knees.

VIVIAN COULD NOT believe it when she heard what had happened. Who could have done such a thing to such a nice person? She did not condemn Dupe because she knew she had her own dirty secret. She and Seun had consistently gone to the back of SS 1 block to do dirty things to themselves. The last time they had gone there, she had felt so bad, she had decided to end the whole thing. In the wake of the recent events, her determination to end it deepened. She put her head on her locker and prayed;
“Lord, I know I am not the best person to pray right now, but I ask you to have mercy on me and hear me out for this prayer is not for me, but for a dear friend who is in trouble. Lord, please give Senior Dupe all the strength she will need to pull through all of this in Jesus name I pray, Amen” When she put her head up, tears fell down her cheeks.

AFTER SCHOOL HOURS, Temi went to Tunde’s class to look for him and they strolled to the dining hall together.
“So what do you think we should do now, this is going to affect the image of the fellowship so much” Temi said confidently
“What are you saying Temi?”
“I think we should remove Dupe from the executive body or suspend her or something. We should not leave her unpunished, people will talk.”
“Temi, I am so disappointed in you. Is that what you are supposed to be thinking about now? Instead of you to be praying for a fellow saint that is in trouble, all you can think about is yanking her out of the executive body? What kind of a human being are you? You are so heartless Temi, how could you?”
Tunde walked away from her immediately. Temi stared at him as he walked away. She was so convinced that it was the right thing to do.
“Tunde, is it because you are in love with her you don’t have the heart to do it, or you think I don’t know?”
Tunde stopped walking when she said that. He looked back and said “At least I have a heart that can love” Then continued walking.
After lunch, Tunde went to the clinic to check on Dupe. There were other people there waiting to see her. The nurse denied all of them access but allowed Tunde in because Dupe had been requesting to see him. Before he walked in, Vivian slipped a note into his hand for Dupe.
“Hi girl”
Dupe opened her eyes, when she saw Tunde sitting beside her, she sat up and hugged him immediately. She started crying in his arms.
“Tunde, I am so glad you are here. This is what you dreamt about right?”
“Yes Dupe, Yes. I am so sorry. Let me ask you a question Dupe. Is it true, or someone just doesn’t like you and wants to dent your image?”
Dupe broke the embrace and bowed her head.
“It’s true” She said crying. “I am so ashamed of myself Tunde, I wonder how I will face everybody again”
“Did you tell anybody?”
“No, that is the most amazing part of it. You don’t tell people such things, it was a secret between me and God and I know God will never betray me”
“How did you come about the habit Dupe?
Dupe adjusted her pillow and leaned against it, then she rested the hand they used to pass drip through her hand by her side and narrated to Tunde how it had started.
She had an elder brother who loved to watch pornographic scenes and he had a lot of them. He hid them so well from everybody. One day as she was cleaning his room, she stumbled on one of the CDs he had kept in his room. Everything within her screamed that she should break the CD and not watch it, but curiosity got the best of her.
“I remember clearly what happened to me the first day I watched that CD. I was so glued to the Television; I could not take my eyes off it. I thought it was so disgusting and after a few scenes, I switched it off, but I could not shut the images my mind had stored up away from my mind. Before I knew what was happening, I went to my room and picked up my pillow. I don’t know where that idea came from and I literarily had sex with my pillow. I remember the sensations that went through my body that day. Ever since that day, about two years ago, I have been tormented by this sin. I started craving for pornographic materials and I have prayed endlessly, but it just won’t go away. I feel so ashamed of myself, how could I tell someone such a thing.”
Tunde took the hand that without drip and held in between his two hands.
“Stop crying Dupe. Let me tell you a secret; I have struggled with masturbation too. It took me a while but I was able to overcome it. When you are passing through such a thing, you should not keep it to yourself Dupe, tell someone. When you are responsible to someone, it restrains you to some extent. I am not blaming you Dupe, I also had difficulty telling anybody, but I desperately needed help, I had given my life to Christ and it was a major setback for me. Don’t worry, I will stand with you through this entire ordeal okay and I know God is supporting you right now with His arms.”
“Thanks so much Tunde, I appreciate it. How did you come about the habit? I hope I am not prying too much?”
“No. When I was about ten years old, I was raped by my own mother. She came home drunk and I opened the door for her. Before I could do anything, she pounced on me and covered my mouth. I begged her, but she said she wasn’t going to hurt me. Those times were tough times for us at home, so my mum took to drinking and she became an alcoholic. The next morning, she came to beg me, my dad did not listen, and he sent her packing immediately. We later found out that she had been cheating on my dad. Ever since then, my dad did not like to look at me; he called me an abomination and forbade my siblings from interacting with me. That’s why he never comes to see me on visiting days and I don’t stay with him either. I stay with my grandmother. After that rape, I started having sexual urges and started masturbating. When I gave my life to Christ, I quickly spoke to the Pastor of my church and he helped me. I never wanted to have anything to do with women until I met you. You were so nice and happy. You may think you are nothing because of this sin you have been struggling with Dupe, but you have been a blessing to a whole lot of people. You did not let this sin stop God from blessing people through you, you did not let yourself wallow in self pity, instead you prayed and you allowed God. Do you know how many people are waiting to see you outside? Don’t even look down on yourself. Like Paul, glory in your weaknesses, for it’s in that weakness that God shows Himself strong. You have been a blessing and you still are Dupe, nothing will change that. This event is just to make you strong. When you leave the clinic, walk around with your head up high ok!”
Dupe had started crying again, she was so grateful for a friend like Tunde in her present state. She sat up and hugged him, crying on his shoulder. They spoke for another few minutes and the nurse came and told Tunde he had to allow her rest. Tunde held Dupe’s hand once again and prayed with her before he left for his hostel. Then he remembered the note and gave it to her. Dupe opened it as Tunde left and smiled as she read it, the words warmed her heart.

“I believe in you” signed Vivian

When he got out of the Clinic, he saw other executive members waiting to see Dupe and some other people he recognized as choir members and some other people. He assured them that Dupe was fine and was resting. Everyone left the clinic premises to their hostel.
During sport that day, Chioma looked for Timi, he had not waited for her at their favorite spot and she desperately needed someone to talk to. She found him among some other guys, signaled to him and he walked up to her.
“Hi, I waited for you at our favourite spot, what happened?”
“Nothing, I wanted to hang out with my friends”
“But you know this time is our special time together. Please I really need to talk to you”
“Look, Chioma, I am not interested in this relationship anymore”
“What! Why! Did I do anything wrong? Timi please just tell me you are kidding”
“No. I’m not joking. I just wanted to make Dupe jealous. Apparently, it did not work and worst still from what I just discovered about her, I don’t even want any of you. How am I so sure you are not in it too since you guys were very good friends before? You might just be lesbians and I cannot associate with people like you.
Chioma was dumbfounded. She stared at Timi and wanted to strangle him and watch him squeal in pain, the same pain she was feeling, even worse. When Chioma did not say anything, Timi turned and returned to his friends. He said something to them and they all started laughing. Chioma ran away immediately, not able to bear the humiliation. She could not understand how her life had suddenly started going down and she had pulled her best friend or former best friend along in it. The X girls were the least people she wanted to be with at the moment, so she ran to a place where they would never think of looking for her, a place where it had all started; the school Garden and fell on her knees.

Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 10)

AMOS WAS SO happy and giddy with excitement, he could hardly wait for Tunde to come into the room. As soon as Tunde entered the room Amos started laughing.
“Now the world has seen the ugliness of the so called children of God. Let us see if the Lord will not strike them with a disease or even death, a painful and slow death, let’s see if truly He is a merciful God. See how His people make a mockery of Him”.
Tunde was getting really tired of Amos’s behavior, when he dropped his bag on his bed, he walked up to Amos and sat beside him. The other boys in the room were once again thrilled to have another drama that night.
“What exactly is eating you Amos? What has made you so angry with God? Why do you keep tormenting me?”
“Leave my side man! Just leave me alone, there is no God, if there is, He is heartless and unjust. Left to me, hypocrites like you and Dupe should be dead by now.”
Tunde tried to suppress his anger and not raise his voice at Amos but he was not successful. He stood up and faced Amos.
“You want to know injustice? I was raped by my own mother at the age of ten, my father disowned me termed me an abomination and forbade my siblings from associating with me, my mother left and I have never set my eyes on her till date. I live with my grandmother who barely has enough to take care of herself talk less of me. Tell me, won’t it be better to be dead than carry on with this shame and abomination? Tell me Amos, talk to me? You think you are the only one that has suffered? But you know what, I don’t care what people may think of me, as long as Jesus loves me just as I am, it’s okay with me”.
Tunde stood up and walked back to his bed. Amos became quiet immediately; he was too shocked to speak. The other guys in the room just stared at Tunde and gained yet another level of respect for him.

DUPE THANKED GOD for the peace she felt even in the midst of the storm raging around her, she thanked God for keeping his promise to be with her. Before she was discharged that night, the Principal came to see her in the clinic.
“Good evening ma!”
“Good evening my dear, how are you feeling now?”
“I’m much better”
“Good. Tell me; that diagram, is it true?”
Dupe nodded and bowed her head.
“Look at me Dupe, have you told anybody before now about this?”
“No ma!, never had the courage to tell anyone”
“So how did anyone find out?”
“I don’t know ma!”
“Did you have a quarrel with anybody?
“Yes, well, am not sure. But Chioma is my best friend but recently, things went bad”
The principal asked her for what happened and Dupe narrated everything to her, Timi, the quarrel, the X girls, how she caught them, the morning they were called on the assembly ground.
“I don’t think Chioma would do such a thing to me, besides I never told her my secret”
“Don’t worry dear, all will be revealed in good time. All I want you to do now is to relax and do not be ashamed of what has just happened to you. Walk with your head held high, everyone has dirty secrets; you were just unlucky that yours was revealed. Always remember that God loves you just the way you are, okay? I would have asked you to go home or stay out of sight for some time, but my dear, you will still come back to face them, so why not just face it now and be done with it!”
“Thank you ma! I know and I am sure God is with me. But, there is something I would like to know. Please how did you get to know about the girls that sneaked out of school?”
“Don’t worry about that dear; what you should worry about now is how to get the person that did this to you and getting off this sick bed.” Dupe nodded and the Principal left.
Dupe was discharged shortly after that ad escorted to her room by the matron to avoid disturbance from anyone. She was glad that she had a room to herself.
At around 1am in the morning, Tunde felt someone tap him on his leg. He opened his eyes and saw Amos standing at the foot of his bed. Amos put his finger on his lips and signaled for Tunde to follow him outside. The look on Amos’s face made Tunde stand up from his bed. It looked like he had been crying. When they got outside, they sat on the edge of the corridor.
“I just want to apologize for all the bad things I have said and done to you. I did not mean to do all that. I do believe in God, but has been very mean to me. What happened to me in the past made me hate God so much including those that called themselves Christians. I fought them at any opportunity I had because I needed answers, most of those I have met turned out just to be shallow Christians. But you, you are different. You never argue with me no matter how much I shout and accuse you and you are so gentle. I have come to church sometimes just to hear you speak. What finally broke me was the story you told me about you today. It made think that if you had gone through so much and still hold on to God, then there must be something you know that I do not know.” He paused.
Tunde just sat down and listened, he did not want to interrupt Amos so that he can let out his mind.
Amos continued, "My mum and dad were very active in church. They were both elders in the church. I loved them so much, they were the best. One day, they had an accident and died on the spot. Since then, I termed God wicked and unjust. I have seen hypocrites that claim to be Christians still alive and basking in their sin. It annoys me and I feel God is so unjust, how can d righteous die and d evil ones still be alive. Many people die every day, innocent people, like September 11 and the January 17 bomb blast. How can a caring God allow such things happen? He could have saved my parents from that accident and many other people, but he just sat down and did nothing.”
“Amos, you must understand that as long as we are on this side of the world, bad things will happen to us, death is inevitable, but as Christians, our hope is in the new home God is preparing for us. But when those bad things happen, the worst thing to do is to run away from God, He is the only one that can help you through the trying times because He loves you. Tell me, what have you gained by hating Christians and fighting them? You only keep hurting yourself. Fine, truly, there are hypocrites who make a mockery of God’s name, but leave them to God and build your faith around God and not them.
“But my parents were so good; they did not deserve to die” Amos said crying.
Tunde put his hand around Amos and comforted him. “The same way I miss my dad and my siblings. I know it hurts, but it’s better to hurt in the arms of God than to run away from him”
After a while, Tunde prayed for Amos and they returned into the hostel to sleep.

EVER SINCE VIVIAN had told Seun she was not interested in the relationship anymore, he kept pestering her; sending her notes of how much he loves her, misses her, how beautiful she is and how empty his life is without her. Vivian had gotten really tired of all the notes. She remembered the first day he had told her she was beautiful and how much she meant to him, it had felt so good to hear those words from his mouth. She felt finally appreciated. Now she had realized her mistake, she had not gotten such love from home and had jumped at the slightest opportunity of having one and she had fallen into the wrong hands.
She was so grateful to God that in all that she had done with Seun, she had not given in to his advances to go all the way. She could remember that evening clearly, they had gone to their usual spot and he started touching and kissing her, whispering some sweet nonsense into her ears. His hands went to the zip of her skirt and she jerked away immediately. He had looked surprised.
“Don’t you love me?” He asked
“I do but I don’t think its right to go all that way”
“It’s nothing, its just a few minutes and we’ll be done, and I will be very gentle on you. Come on; allow me show you just how crazy I am about you”
“Please give me time to think this through ok! Tomorrow is another day” she had said pushing his hands away.
He reluctantly agreed and they kissed a little more before they left. The following day was when she heard about what happened to Dupe and realized that she had been on the wrong path. That same evening, she called it off with Seun.
Now as she stood in front of Dupe’s door, contemplating whether she should go in or not, she felt the weight of all that had happened to her. It had been a week since she faced that huge disgrace and Vivian had not had the courage to come and talk with her; not because of what she had discovered about Dupe but because of the weight of what she had done. After Dupe had told her so much of how God loved her so much, she had thrown all that to the wind and carelessly fallen into the wrong hands, a hand that had taken advantage of her. She had been standing in front of Dupe’s door for more than five minutes, but she still needed some time to summon up courage.

DUPE WAS ON her bed relaxing after night prep on Sunday night. She thought about the week that had passed. The Principal had advised her not to carry out any of her duties, even in the chapel for a while so as to take herself off public scrutiny for a while. So throughout the week, she became just another student, even during the church service that day. The week had been very tough, it was hard for people to forget bad things that happen, people still looked at her with eyes of contempt and some even passed comments in her presence.
Timi had told her that he could not believe he was actually tripping for a hypocrite. Even though the Principal had warned everyone not to mock her, she knew people would still mock her, but through it all, God had been with her and Tunde had stood beside her. She had wondered if Tunde was doing all he did because he loved her or just as a Pastor, she hoped it was for love because he made sure he walked her to the hostel every time and told her how he was able to overcome masturbation to help her too, their closeness had made her feelings for him grow. He had been a very good friend through it all.
Chioma on the other hand had kept her distance and that hurt Dupe so much. She thought Chioma would have sympathized with her in her trying moment; the only thing that made her happy was that Timi had broken up with her and she had stopped associating with the X girls. When she had gone to talk to her, Chioma had shouted at her and called her an hypocrite and betrayer. Dupe kept her distance from then on but kept praying for her friend.
The only person Dupe was really bothered about was Vivian, she had not seen or spoken to her in a long while except for the note she had written to her at the clinic. Just then, she heard a knock on her door. She stood up and opened the door. As soon as she did, Vivian flew into her arms shaking all over with tears. Dupe shut her door and led Vivian to her bed. When Vivian stopped crying, she told Dupe all that had happened to her.
“Snr Dupe, I am so sorry I did not come to you immediately, I just felt so good that someone loved me. Please pray for me Snr. Dupe, tell God I am sorry” Vivian said kneeling down in front of Dupe shaking with tears.
Dupe had also started crying “I too should have come looking for you when I didn’t hear from you, but I was too caught up in my problems, I should apologize to you”
Dupe joined Vivian on her knees “It is good as you did not run away from God Vivian, He is more than willing to forgive you, and He doesn’t love you any less” They hugged each other on their knees and wept for all the pain they had been through during the past weeks.

AFTER HER PUNISHMENT was over, Chioma had avoided the Xgirls like a plague; her quest for fame had led her straight to the lion’s den. She thought of Dupe and a deep sense of regret and loss engulfed her. Between all of that, she could not forgive Dupe for reporting her to the Principal. Dupe did not know she was the one that had exposed her secret, if she had known, Chioma was sure she wouldn’t have come looking for her. She remembered how she had shouted at her that day and called her a hypocrite and betrayer. The look on Dupe’s face had been pained and she kept her distance ever since then.
Chioma sighed as she remembered. The Principal’s secretary signaled that she could go in and see the Principal. Chioma was a little nervous; she didn’t know why the Principal had sent for her, she had been a good girl since after the punishment.
“Good afternoon ma!” Chioma said as she entered
“Yes Chioma, please seat down. I sent for you because of the ongoing investigation on Dupe’s case. We know you are her best friend and both of you had a serious quarrel just before the incident. Do you by any chance know anything about it?”
Chioma was tired of living a lie, she was tired of hiding and guilt had tortured her so much, so she told the Principal the truth. “I did not expect Dupe to betray me even if we were no longer friends”
“What have you gained from what you did Chioma? Has it increased your happy thermometer in any way?”
“No ma, I feel worse and I have been constantly tortured by guilt” Chioma said crying.
“Good. Dupe was not the one that reported you people to me and I will not tell you the person either because she told me in confidence, so you can release Dupe from that allegation. You must go and apologize to her and let me know when you have done that. I will not punish you because I can see that you are already being punished by guilt”.
“Thank you ma” Chioma said as she left the Principal’s office.
Chioma felt numb as she walked back to class, her heart squeezed with so much pain as she realized that she had killed an innocent person unknowingly. The Principal was right, the pain she felt was enough punishment for her; she thought she would die from it.
Chioma could not concentrate in class for the rest of the day and even during lunch; she lost her appetite even though the meal was one of her best. After lunch, she went to Dupe’s room contemplating how she would explain, she stood at the door for about 2minuites before she summoned the courage to knock. She heard a faint whisper from within and she opened the door and stepped in. Dupe was so shocked to see Chioma at her door. They stared at each other for another two minutes.
“Come in and sit down beside me” Dupe finally said
Chioma did not make it to the bed before she broke down in tears. Dupe went to her and literarily carried her to the bed and joined her in crying.
“Dupe, I am so sorry for all the pain I have caused you. I was just so jealous of you and I hated the way things were perfect for you. I know that after what I am about to tell you, you would never want to be my friend again. I am so sorry and I just want you to know that you were a wonderful friend and I couldn’t have wished for any better person”
“Stop talking like that Chioma, you will always be my friend and I have missed you so much”
“Just listen to me Dupe. I read your journal and I was the one that planned with the X girls to put up those diagrams about you. I thought you were the one that reported us to the principal and I wanted you to pay for it. Dupe I don’t know how I deteriorated so much into what I became, but I am so sorry for what I did to you”
Dupe had started crying, all the pain and shame she had been through came rushing back and her heart squeezed in pain.
“Chioma, you mean you did all that to me? You! My best friend! How could you be so cruel and heartless Chioma? While I was trying not to dent your image, you were planning my own downfall. Chioma, do you have any idea what I have been through? Do you? I hate you, please leave my room, I don’t want to see you anywhere around me again.” Dupe said standing up and pointing at the door.
“Please Dupe, I am so sorry. You have to forgive me pls.” When Dupe kept pointing at the door with her face turned away, Chioma walked out of her room shaking all over with tears. Immediately Dupe heard the door close, she collapsed on the floor. It was like someone had just yanked her heart from her chest. Dupe remained on the floor crying.

CHIOMA THOUGHT SHE would die from the pain she felt in her heart as she walked back to her room. Throughout the rest of the week, she was not herself. Dupe avoided her and did not even grace her with a simple one second glance not to mention a smile. Truly, she knew this punishment was worse than a few days of labour around the school

BY THE END of the week, Dupe had thought about all that had happened, she had even spoken to Tunde about it. Both of them had become really good friends and she knew he would offer her solid advice and he did not disappoint her. He asked her only one question which had changed her line of thought. “Has it killed you or made you a better person?” Thinking about all that had happened to her from that perspective made it easier for her to forgive Chioma. She went to find Chioma and apologized for walking her out of her room in the afternoon. Chioma followed Dupe back to her room where both of them laughed and cried together as they recounted all that had happened to them during the past weeks.

Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 11)

AFTER THE EXECUTIVE meeting on Saturday evening, Tunde called Temi aside. He noticed that she had not been herself since the day he had spoken words that implied that she did no have a heart. Temi had withdrawn and spoken very little to him ever since the argument they had over Dupe and Tunde was worried.
“Temi, I just want to apologize for what I said to you that day before I went to see Dupe at the clinic. I know its one of the things that has made you keep a distance from me. I am very sorry. We need to work together in harmony, we cannot keep fighting’
“I am not fighting with you Tunde, I am only carrying within me a secret that has burned within me for so long. I have watched you grow so close to Dupe over these past weeks and my heart has died within me” Tears tickled down her face and she paused to sniff and wipe the tears.
“Tunde, I have loved you so much, but you have thrown my love back in my face. I know I went about it in a wrong way and I have hurt many because of this. I really wanted to hurt Dupe for stealing your love away from me, so I attacked her friendship which was already going down the drain. I saw Chioma and her friends the day they sneaked into the hostel at night and I saw Dupe confronting them. I knew she would not have the courage to report them so I reported them. I knew Chioma would think it was Dupe and would hate her.
I succeeded in finally destroying their friendship, but my plan did not work for long. You loved Dupe even when you knew the worst of her, but you never even looked my way. I feel terrible and I feel I have lost everything. I mean, Dupe and Chioma are so happy, you are so close to her and I am still as miserable as ever and I thought you hated me for the statement I made about Dupe that day.”
Tunde did not know what say at first, he did not know how to react to what Temi had said. He took her hands and willed her to look at him.
“I don’t hate you and I never will Temi and I appreciate your boldness in telling me all of this. I want you to know that no matter how bad things look right now, your actions have made some people stronger and better so don’t kill yourself. As for the feelings you have for me, we both know that we are too young to think of such things. We still have a lot of years ahead of us, let us be good friends and see what the years ahead will hold and I do not respect you less for all of this Temi. You must go and apologize to Chioma and Dupe if your joy and peace will be complete”.
They strolled to the hostel together and Tunde made sure that he made Temi laugh all the way to the hostel to lighten the mood.
When Tunde left Temi, she felt light hearted and at ease, it felt like a stone had been lifted from her shoulder. She dropped her backpack and looked at her wristwatch. She still had thirty minutes before dinner and decided to use it wisely. She went to Dupe’s room and found herself and Chioma laughing together. Temi told them all that she had told Tunde excluding nothing even the advice Tunde had given her. She apologized to them and asked to be forgiven.
Chioma wanted to react as she thought of all that Temi had made her do to her best friend, but Dupe restrained her and she also remembered that she had received forgiveness from Dupe. Dupe hugged Temi and Chioma followed reluctantly. Dupe later explained to Temi that they were stronger and not crushed.
Since things had turned out so well, Dupe decided to give a testimony at church the next day. The Principal had told her that she could resume all her duties again. Though a lot of people still looked at her with eyes of contempt, Dupe was content. When the moderator called her, she picked up the microphone and stared at the students for a while.
“What happened to me is not news to everyone here and I am sure many of you still see me as the worst sinner that lives on the surface of the earth. I really do not care what you think of me right now, as long as Jesus loves me just as I am, it’s alright with me. I am so grateful to him because through it all, he has been a friend. He has kept me through the pain, sorrow and dark nights where all I could see and taste were my tears. He gave me a friend that stood by me and pulled me back to my feet. Most of all, He has made me stronger than I was before even though people meant it for evil. I have a song I would like to sing to this God, for He has been so good to me. This song was written by Christopher Delvan,

Out of the ashes of my dying today
I see the breaking of a brand new day
In which the name of the Lord alone is glorified
I see the breaking of a brand new day

As Dupe sang, tears flowed down her cheeks as all the memories of all she had been through flashed through her head. The song said it all, she may have died from the shame and all the pain but in all, God brought out something beautiful, the dawning of a brand new day.
When she finished singing, Tunde took over.
“I remember when my grandmother led me to the feet of Jesus just after my father disowned me. She told me about what she called ‘Personal Demons’. She said they are called so because we bring them upon ourselves. She added that since I had been disowned by my father, there was a tendency for me to bring upon myself a personal demon that will torment me and eventually steal away my joy. She said no matter what I do, I should not hate my father or my mother, but I should allow the love of God flow through me to them. Hatred she said would be a demon I would bring upon myself and it would grow and grow until it destroys me.
“Personal demons could come in different forms; a bitter past experience, a single sight of pornography, a lie, jealousy, a quest for fame and many other things. Sometimes we feed these demons and they grow and make us do things we never could have thought of. We brought them on ourselves and we can take them away by starving them or giving them the wrong diet; the love and word of God. It was hard for me when my grandmother told me, but with the grace of God, I was able to overcome. I want to extend that grace to you today.
“Many of us are struggling with so many things we brought upon ourselves by allowing and feeding those personal demons. Let go of all that you may have been through in the past and lay hold on the grace of God. Do not feed those demons anymore by continuing in hatred or pornography as the case may be”
Tunde signaled to Dupe to come and sing the song she presented. As she sang, Tunde made an altar call for all those who wanted to surrender their past and kill their personal demons.
“It’s a dying process, but you will awaken into a brand new day, a new life, a new page and a new chapter in your life” Tunde added.
Dupe sang on and watched as people walked forward. She smiled as Temi, Chioma and Vivian walked forward. Tunde was happy to see Amos walk forward. Amos had become serious with God after the night he had spoken to Tunde, but it was another step to finally surrender his painful memory to God.
Tunde prayed for everyone that came out and asked God to fill them with his grace and love and help them live and swim in his love.

THE END OF term examination came and it went smoothly. Dupe was so glad all of her burdens had been lifted before the examination period. She remained the top of her class, and she was so happy. It was time to go on break for the term. The night before the vacation, Dupe decided to appreciate Tunde for being a very good friend.
“Tunde thank you so much for everything you have done for me during this term. I appreciate you so much. I pray that God will bless you”
“I should be thanking you Dupe. You helped me finally overcome my personal demon. I did not hate my parents but my experience had made me alienate myself from every female. But you were like a fresh breath on me Dupe. I admired your ways so much. When you sent those provisions to me on visiting day, it was that single act of kindness that finally broke the chord”.
They were both in the school garden and Tunde was glad for the privacy they had. He took Dupe’s hands and held them in his.
“If I was older and more matured and up to marriageable age, I would have proposed to you right now. You are a jewel of inestimable value Dupe. I am content to just have you as my friend for now and will be glad to have a friend like you by my side even in these last months we have in secondary school”.
Dupe could not believe what she had just heard. She was dumbfounded; all she did was to smile.
“Thanks so much Tunde, I wish for the same too, but we are still too young to think of marriage. I would appreciate your friendship too in these last days in secondary school.” Dupe said smiling.
They hugged each other there and promised to keep in touch during the holiday.
“I am going to miss you Tunde. How about your dad and your siblings, any word from them?”
“No Dupe. I keep praying that God will touch the heart of my dad to take me back and I know God has a perfect plan, in his time, all things will be made beautiful.” On the bright side, I am happy with my grandmother, God has used her to bless me so much, even though we don’t have much, we have each other”.
“I admire your courage so much Tunde and I will keep praying for you. I will stand by you all through this ordeal now that I know”
“Thanks Dupe”
“Where do you stay Tunde?”
“I stay in Gbagada, Lagos. Why?”
“You can join me home tomorrow. My mum will be coming to pick me up and I am guessing no one is coming to pick you. At least, not your grandmother and we stay in Mile 2. Gbagada is on our way” Dupe said
Tunde just stared at her at first, thinking of what to say.
“Thanks so much Dupe, I would not mind. I was thinking of how I would convey myself home.”
“Do I see tears in your eyes?” Dupe asked teasing him
“Nope, Big boys don’t cry” Tunde said giggling
Dupe pushed him and started laughing, Tunde joined her.
“I hope we have passed the stage of being a scandal in the school” Dupe said laughing
“Hmm, I hope so. I don’t think I can take any more scandals, besides, I think we rank highest on the popularity scale for now; we should be content”
They both started laughing again as they walked back to their hostels finish up their packing and preparation for the journey home.

THE NEXT MORNING, class teachers distributed the first term results to the students. As soon as Vivian got hers, she opened it slowly with shaking hands. When she finally got it open, she ran to Dupe’s class. Dupe was stepping out of her class when she saw Vivian running towards her with a paper in her hand. She jumped on Dupe and the both of them almost tripped.
“I made it Snr Dupe, my probation has been cancelled and I had a ‘B’ in mathematics. Take a look at it” she said handing over her result to Dupe.
Dupe was so excited; she gave Vivian another big hug as they celebrated her success. Chioma came to join them in the celebration when she saw what was happening.
Dupe was really happy with the way the term had turned out. The only person she still worried about was Timi. He had barely spoken to her after the whole incident. He only spoke to her on official matters which he could not avoid since they were both Senior Prefects of the school. She only hoped that the holiday they were going for will make him forget what had happened and then they can relate better next term. She hoped the same for other students too.
Chioma and Vivian said goodbye to Dupe and Tunde as her mum drove out of the car park. When they were out of the school gate, her mum asked them what they had been up to during the term.
“Mum, I have a lot of gist for you, you wouldn’t believe what I went through this term. If not for Tunde here, and God!”
Dupe filled her mother in on the story as they drove home. Tunde remained silent as he watched mother and daughter discuss. He smiled from time to time as Dupe told a part of the gist that involved him.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

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Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 1)

IT WAS A hot afternoon and Dupe was the only one in the hostel. As the Senior Prefect Girl, she had a room to herself. She had just returned from school and was terribly exhausted. As she lay down on her bed to rest, images started flashing through her head, she closed her eyes, but she could see them clearly. Her hands went to her pillow, but she held herself and the struggle began. She tried hard to win this battle in her mind. She stood up and paced around her room, but her eyes kept going to her pillow. Suddenly, her body started to feel the sensations, she started to give in to the sensations and even though her heart was crying out to God for help, her hand finally found her pillow and that was it, she had lost the battle.

“HELLO!” CAME THE sweet voice behind Dupe. She looked back to see Chioma. Chioma was her classmate; they were both in SS3 in their school; Balm of Gilead Secondary School. It was a boarding house located in the heart of Oyo State. She had spent five years in the school and was in her sixth year and she had never had regrets. She and Chioma were best friends and they did most things together.
“Hi” Dupe responded
“What are you doing here all alone?” Chioma asked
“Dupe, you can’t tell me that! You are alone in the school garden, staring into thin air” Chioma said
“Chic, I am fine, really!” Dupe replied smiling.
Truthfully, Dupe was not fine. She was thinking about what had happened to her earlier that afternoon. She was wondering why she did not think of leaving the room when the images started flashing in her head. She had masturbated again and was feeling so guilty. She had to come into the garden to cry and ask God to have mercy on her, a practice that had become regular for the past two years.
“Come on Dupe! Cheer up! Whatever it is that is bugging you. It’s almost time for fellowship” Chioma said pleadingly.
Now, that was her greatest fear, she was the choir leader for the fellowship and she knew she would have to lead the praise and worship session that afternoon. How was she supposed to do that when she had just finished doing something that completely turns God off?
“Go on without me Chioma, please. I promise to be with you soon.” Dupe replied.
“Alright dear, if you insist, but please, do not be long, you know we are to lead praise and worship”
Chioma had just echoed Dupe’s thoughts and that only increased her heart beat. Chioma left her in the garden unsatisfied. As soon as Chioma was out of sight, Dupe went on her knees and begged God to have mercy on her and not take His presence away from her. As she prayed, tears rolled down her chicks. She did not attempt to clean them, she needed God to see them.

CHIOMA LOOKED BACK and saw Dupe on her knees. She could not help being jealous. She longed to have the kind of relationship Dupe had with God. She had become Dupe’s friend because she was popular and a lot of people seemed to like her a lot. Dupe was the Senior Prefect ‘Girl, Choir Leader in the fellowship, the best student in her class, a very good Christian and a very beautiful girl. A lot of guys flocked around her, teachers loved her, and everything about her just seemed so perfect. On the other hand, Chioma struggled in her relationship with God, she struggled in her studies, she was not an executive and so many things looked wrong in her life compared to Dupe’s. She thought that once she became Dupe’s friend, things would get better in her life, but as it were, things were not. The pangs of jealousy gripped her as she made her way to the fellowship hall.

MERCIFULLY, THE PRAISE and Worship went well that day, but the guilt had not left Dupe. As the speaker for that night picked up the microphone, the first thing he did was to praise her.
“We thank God for the life of our choir leader, Sis Dupe. God has been using her mightily in our fellowship. Each time she sings, the glory of the Lord is sure to come down”, the speaker said.
To make matters worse, those words came from Tunde, the President of the fellowship, a guy she greatly admired. Dupe felt like sinking into the ground, but she just smiled on her seat and her conscience whispered to her. If only he knew who you are and what you did this afternoon. Dupe could not wait to leave the fellowship and be back in her room where she could be alone to grieve, but something in the message caught her attention. Pastor Tunde was speaking on Temptations and how to overcome them. It was not the topic that hit her; it was the scripture he quoted. “There is no temptation that will come to you that you cannot overcome. For God will make a way of escape”. That passage brought peace to her soul. After the fellowship, she greeted all those that came around her and eventually found Chioma.
“Dupsy! I believe you are feeling much better ‘cause I can see that you are smiling chin to chin” Chioma said.
“Thank God, my friend. Sorry about the cold way I treated you this afternoon; and you backed me up so well during the praise and worship, thanks”. Dupe replied.
“No problem, what are we friends for”
Chioma felt a pang of jealousy again; she would always remain a backup and would never measure up to Dupe in anything. She chided herself for that thought and smiled at Dupe. Just then, Pastor Tunde came by. He was tall, chocolate in colour and every young girl’s dream including Chioma’s. She looked at him longingly as he approached them.
“Hello girls” he greeted.
“Good evening Pastor Tunde” They both echoed.
His smile was so dashing, Chioma could scarcely take her eyes off him, but he took his eyes off her and made them rest on Dupe.
“Dupe, that was a lovely ministration today and I meant every word I said on the pulpit”
“Pastor Tunde, lets give all the glory to God. After all, what do we have that we have not been given?” Dupe asked rhetorically.
Pastor Tunde smiled again and soon he and Dupe were engrossed in a conversation about a Worship Concert he had in mind for the fellowship. Chioma was soon forgotten and that hurt her deeply.
“Dupe, please meet me in the hostel” she said.
“Please wait for me now! I will soon be through with Pastor Tunde” Dupe replied.
Chioma had no choice than to wait. Soon they were through and they were on their way to the hostel.
“Na wa o! Dupe, I envy you o!”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Didn’t you notice how Pastor Tunde was looking at you today?”
“How?” Dupe asked, curious.
“With those luvy duvy eyes of course” Chioma said pushing her slightly
“Chioma, that is not true, Pastor Tunde was just being himself, of course, you and I know that he looks into people’s eyes whenever he is talking to them”.
“No Dupe, the look he gave you was different”.
“Ah! Chioma, abeg, you know Pastor Tunde likes Temi more”. Temi was the Vice President of the fellowship, she and Pastor Tunde were usually seen together most of the time. She was a tall, slim and pretty girl, equally in SS3 but she did not match half the qualities of Dupe. Dupe was prettier and more intelligent.
“Abeg Dupe, stop pretending as if you do not like him” Chioma argued. “Besides… anyway, forget sha!”
“Chi, I like him, but, you know… never mind, please let’s change the topic”.
When the girls got to the hostel, it was time for lunch. They hurriedly refreshed their makeup and Dupe went about her duty sending students out of the hostel. As she did this, she kept meditating on the scriptures Pastor Tunde had spoken about and surprisingly, what Chioma said came to her mind again and she actually started pondering on it.
What if Pastor Tunde actually likes me? She banished the thought as quickly as it came.

THE STUDENTS SAT down after the general prayer to feast on the Eba and Egusi Soup they were served. This was one of the best parts of Balm of Gilead Secondary School, the food was always delicious.
Prefects had a separate table to eat, most of the time. Dupe hardly sat on the table to eat because she coordinated the students, ensuring orderliness in the dining hall, but today, she felt like seating down on the table to eat. Besides, she was not the prefect on duty. As she was eating, she noticed a girl across her table; the girl was picking at her food and was barely eating anything. She had seen the girl around; she was an SS1 student and was in Peace house. Dupe made a mental note to talk with her after lunch.

CHIOMA WAS ON her table eating; the jealousy she had felt had suddenly grown into deep hatred and bitterness towards Dupe. This greatly surprised her and scared her too. As a Christian, she knew she was not supposed to let such feelings overpower her. For a few seconds, she felt remorse but the jealousy had eaten deep into her heart and she started nurturing evil thoughts in her mind towards Dupe. She started thinking of ways to hurt her best friend. A wicked smile played on her lips as Dupe stood up to give the announcement.
“As you all know, today is Friday; there will be fatigue immediately after lunch”
Students started to murmur as they did not enjoy fatigue; it entailed a lot of cutting of grass, cleaning and plenty of stress. Dupe continued unperturbed.
“There will also be inspection tomorrow; all the prefects are to remember that they are to coordinate the fatigue in their various hostels” Dupe concluded.
With that, she told everyone to clear their tables and return all pots and plates to the kitchen. After a few minutes, she asked everyone to stand up for prayers.
After lunch, Dupe went round all the hostels to ensure that they were all doing fatigue before she retired to her room. Her room was like a small cubicle with a bed, a bedside table, where she arranged her books, and a chair. Against the wall was a wardrobe for her cloths, cosmetics and provisions. The room was not so big, but it was comfy enough.
She pealed off her school uniform and changed into something comfortable, then she picked up her bible and opened to 1Corinthians 10:13; the scripture Pastor Tunde had preached on. The words brought her a lot of comfort. She went on her knees and thanked God for the timely message. She went on to beg God to prepare her for the next battle because she knew it would come.

PASTOR TUNDE HAD just returned from lunch and was quite tired. He had enjoyed his meal and thought of taking a nap. He was not a prefect and so shared a room with other guys. He did not mind as it allowed him have a close relationship with the boys around him which was good for him as the president of the school fellowship. As an SS3 student, he was immune to the fatigue Dupe had announced earlier at the dining hall, but he knew the head boy would go round to ensure that fatigue was going on and would also expect to see SS3 students helping the prefects in their various hostels. So, Tunde said a quick prayer, thanking God for his meal and the fellowship, and then he stood up and sent all the juniors in the hostel out for fatigue. Just then, Tope, the house Prefect came in.
“Pastor, thanks a lot o!” Tope said
“No problem jare, I just felt you would need help” Tunde responded
“Thanks again” Tope said and turned away.
Then he took over and gave all the juniors portions to cut. Somehow, Tunde felt good that he was not a prefect. He went back to his bed and lay down to have some rest and ponder on all that had happened that afternoon. Thoughts of Dupe sipped into his mind literarily and he allowed the thoughts to linger for a while. He admired her; how she managed to handle being the choir leader, senior prefect, and still top her class, amazed him. He remembered what happened to him a few years back, an event that changed his life and the decision he made about girls and women generally that day. Surprisingly, thoughts of Dupe still lingered…and then, he drifted into a deep sleep.

PASTOR TUNDE WAS on his way to class to read when he saw people laughing and jeering at somebody. He moved closer and chased all the students away and as the crowd decreased, he saw a girl on her knees with her head bowed and her hands covering her face, crying. He moved closer.
“Hello, why are you crying?”
The girl lifted her head and it was Dupe. He immediately took her hand and raised her up. Dupe clung to him crying. Tunde led her to a place to seat and when they were both seated, he asked her for what happened. Just then, as Dupe was about to open her mouth to speak, another mob of students gathered round and started jeering at both of them, specifically at Dupe. Before Tunde could say anything, Dupe stood up and ran away, covering her face and crying. He called out to her but she just kept running.