AS SOON AS Dupe got to the door of her room, she met Vivian waiting for her and so were buckets of water. She said a silent prayer for the wonderful school daughters and faithful juniors God had blessed her with who kept her buckets full.
“Hello sweetie, I hope you have not been waiting for long?” Dupe said while she was opening her door.
“Nope, I just got here” Vivian said smiling
“Thank you Jesus” Dupe said as she entered her room.
“You have a lovely room; I hope one day I will have a room like this”
“Thanks dear, then you will have to be the Girl’s Senior Prefect” Dupe replied
“In my wildest dream” Vivian muttered under her breath
Dupe heard but decided not to say anything. She went to her laundry basket and poured out her cloths, and then she pulled off the uniform she used for the inspection and added it to the cloths.
“Hope you don’t mind talking with me as I do my laundry?” she asked Vivian.
“Nope, I don’t even mind washing for you”
“Far from that my dear. The only thing I allow people do for me is to fetch water, and I have faithful juniors that do that for me”
Dupe carried her cloths to the drainage system beside her room and then carried her reading chair and a small stool; Vivian sat on the reading chair. When Dupe finally settled down and started washing, she looked at Vivian.
“So dear, tell me about yourself”
“That is a rather broad question” Vivian said smiling
“Alright then, I will break it down for you. How old are you?”
“I3 years old”
“How many are you in your family and what is your position?”
“We are three and I am the last child”
“Hmm. I’m not surprised, you look like the last born” Dupe said smiling. “So which of them are you closer to? You look like a mummy’s girl.”
That was a touchy subject for Vivain, she bowed her head and did not respond for a while. Dupe looked up from her washing and saw what was happening.
“Is it something I said sweetheart?”
Vivian looked up. “I used to be very close to my mum, but when I got admission into secondary school, I could not have good grades and things went bad” Vivian said with tears in her eyes.
Dupe could see the pain in Vivian’s eyes, she knew she had touched a very sensitive part of the girls’ heart.
“Do you know what attracted me to you? On Friday afternoon, during lunch, I was looking at you from my table; you were picking your food and looking very gloomy. I decided to speak with you that afternoon, but could not” Dupe said.
“We had a Mathematics test and I knew I didn’t write anything. I hate that subject! I just never seem to understand it. I was promoted on probation and I was thinking of how I will scale through”. She paused. “My siblings are doing very well in school and my mum keeps talking down at me each time I go home with my result. She always compares me with my sister who was in this school and usually had wonderful grades and bagged a lot of awards.”
“Don’t tell me you are sister to Ifeoma Nwadu?”
“She was a genius” Dupe said, wide eyed
Vivian flinched on her chair as Dupe said all that. Dupe was immediately sorry for what she just said, she dropped the cloth she was washing and looked sorry.
“I’m so sorry dear, I wasn’t thinking and I shouldn’t have said that.” Dupe said
“It’s okay. I hear that very often. Even teachers never allow me rest. If I fail to answer a question in class or fail in a test, they would say ‘why can’t you be like your sister?’”. Tears flowed down Vivian’s face
Dupe dried her hands, stood up and led Vivian into her room. Dupe pulled her into her arms and Vivian started sobbing heavily and Dupe just kept patting her on the back. After a while, Vivian stopped crying. Dupe led her to her bed to seat down.
“I have tried so hard to make my grades better, just to match up to my sister, but it seems like it just gets worse! I know I can never match up to her and my mum will never love me again. I hate going home with my result and hear my mum compare me with my sister and talk down at me”. Vivian wiped the tears on her cheeks. “Now, I just hate my sister so much. Each time I see her, I just want to make her disappear. Maybe then, my mum would love me again. She has stolen everything from me; she’s prettier, more intelligent, and more special. Even when decisions are to be made at home, nobody asks for my opinion, because of her, I’m totally left out and forgotten like trash”. She covered her face with her hands and started crying again.
“What about your dad?” Dupe asked.
“It’s obvious that he prefers my sister, he does not talk down at me like my mum but it shows in his actions that Ify is his beloved daughter.”
Vivian continued crying and it got Dupe worried. She gently laid the girl on her bed and placed her hand on Vivian’s shoulder.
“Do you know that sometimes Ifeoma talks down at me too? I used to admire her and want to be like her before, but now, I hate her so much. I hate everyone at home, even my mum. They all hurt me so much with their words. I don’t know what to do anymore. Senior Dupe, I don’t know.” Vivian started crying again.
It was obvious that Vivian had bottled up all these emotions in her heart for a very long time. Dupe allowed her to say everything without interrupting her, she knew what Vivian really needed was someone that would listen and Dupe wanted to be that person. Dupe kept patting her until she was silent. She looked at Vivian and discovered that she was asleep. Dupe was glad, at least it would help her cool off. She quietly left the room and returned to her laundry.
As she continued washing, Dupe thought about all that Vivian had told her. She felt really sorry for her. She tried to imagine having to fight for the attention and love of her parents; she thanked God that she didn’t have to, she could just imagine what Vivian was going through.
“Lord! What am I supposed to tell this hurting child?” Dupe said to herself “Why bring her to me lord? I am not the perfect person to give her advice, why not Temi or Pastor Tunde?”
Dupe still had it somewhere in her mind that she struggled with masturbation and this made her feel incompetent in many ways. The dream Pastor Tunde told her came to her mind again and she wondered if this was what would bring her shame and disgrace. The mere thought of it made Dupe have goose bumps all over her body. Dupe kept praying in her heart as she was washing. She was certain that God could not have drawn her attention to Vivian for nothing, there had to be a purpose for it. A thought struck her suddenly; was Vivian Born again?
As Dupe was spreading her cloths on the line, the Holy Spirit whispered a scripture to her, she hurriedly spread the remaining cloths, cleaned up the area she washed, packed the buckets together and quietly entered her room to avoid waking Vivian. She picked up her bible and opened to 2Cor 11:30. It read “But if I must brag, I would rather brag about the things that show how weak I am”. Dupe was surprised that the scripture was directed at her. She opened to 2Cor 12: 6-10 also and was amazed that it was also directed to her. She felt warmed all over her body. She was praying for Vivian but God decided to deal with her first. Dupe was flushed.
She went on her knees and thanked God for his mercies and grace on her life, and like Paul, she thanked him for the weakness and affliction in her life and asked God for the grace to use it to bring glory to His name. She thanked God for humbling her and asked Him to be her greatest strength in her weakness and to work through her weakness. Dupe knew God needed her to understand this before she could freely allow Him use her to be a blessing to Vivian which she knew she would not be able to do if she kept feeling incompetent.
When Dupe finished praying, she looked at her wrist watch, it would be time for lunch in thirty minuites. She looked at Vivian’s peaceful face as she slept, no one would ever know she was troubled. Dupe regretted having to wake her up, back into the real world, but she woke her up anyway.
“How long have I been sleeping?” Vivian asked stretching herself on the bed.
“Not too long. You need to go and prepare for lunch. We will continue our talk after lunch, okay?”
“Okay. Thank you Senior Dupe” Vivian left the room, yawning.
As soon as Vivian left, Dupe hurried to the bathroom to take a shower and then hurriedly dressed up for lunch.
THE STUDENTS WERE served Lafun with egusi soup for lunch, not everyone was happy about the meal, but hunger made them eat it all the same. To Dupe’s dismay, she sat directly in front of Timi during lunch, he did not greet her or tease her as he usually did and Dupe felt really bad and hoped she had not been too harsh on him that afternoon. He may be a pest, but she knew she still had to apologize to him because they still had to work together to run the school and she knew Jesus would have done the same if He were to be in her shoes.
Immediately after the prayer, she went to meet him.
“Hi Timi” She said smiling
Timi looked at her without saying anything, as if he was thinking of a good reason why he should talk to her after her remark to him earlier that afternoon.
“Hi” he finally said and immediately started walking away. Dupe held him and he stopped in his tracks.
“Timi, I’m really sorry for what I said to you earlier today”. Dupe said carefully. I shouldn’t have said that, who am I to be the judge of other people’s character? Timi, please forgive me”, she said with pleading eyes.
Timi looked at her and could not resist her pleading eyes. Besides, he really liked Dupe and kept wondering why she kept rejecting him. When she said he lacked character, Timi had felt really hurt and angry but was glad no one had heard her. She had hurt his male ego badly and he had nurtured the thought of paying her back but all that melted as he looked at her pleading eyes. He decided to let the statement go but not his resolve to date her by all means. After all, he always got whatever his heart desired.
“It’s alright Dupe, I forgive you. How can I resist a beauty like you, I just wonder why you don’t want to give me a chance.”
Dupe just smiled and extended her right hand to him. “Friends?” She asked smiling
“Friends” Timi said taking her hand. “I am not letting you go Dupe, you will be mine my darling” He added, her hand still in his.
Dupe pulled her hand away; she smiled at him and walked away. She felt good having apologized to Timi. She remembered Vivian and hurried to her room. Vivian was already waiting for her at the door.
“Hi girl! How are you feeling now?” Dupe asked, smiling.
“Better, I guess” Vivian replied.
“That’s a good start” Dupe said as she opened her door. They both entered the room and Vivian sat on her bed. Dupe pulled her reading chair to the front of Vivian and sat down.
“I need to ascertain something before we move on dear, are you born again? Do you know Jesus and does He know you? Dupe asked.
“Yes, I am born again” Vivian replied
“Ok, tell me what you know about God”
Vivian looked at the roof and thought for a while. “ He is the creator of heaven and earth and He sent His only begotten son to die for the sins of the world so that one day, He can return and take all those who believe to live with Him in heaven for all eternity” She finished, smiling.
“Is that all you know about God?” Dupe asked a little surprised
“Well, that is basically the picture I have of Him” Vivian replied
“Let me ask you something, if you knew the president loves you and will do anything for you, how would that make you feel and what will you do with this knowledge?” Dupe asked
“Well, that would just be awesome. I would brag about it to everyone who cares to listen and it would give me an assurance that I can have anything I want, anytime I want it, and not just anything, but the best things in life” Vivian said, smiling.
“That’s good. Have you ever thought of the fact that God loves you?” Dupe asked rhetorically. “God is much greater than the president. The bible says the cattle upon a thousand hills belong to Him. He speaks and the whole earth trembles. All power belongs to Him; He knows all things from the beginning to the end. He is the Alpha and Omega. Yet, He looks at mere humans like us and declares that ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’. That love cost Him His only begotten son. He did not spare His son, He sent him to die for the sins of mankind and He has given us power, authority and dominion over the whole earth. That is God, and this same God loves you, Vivian.
“Vivian bowed her head. Imagine if a man you have never met before steps in front of you just before a bullet hits you and takes the bullet for you without even the slightest warning and then you run to him and ask him why he did it, and he tells you because he loves you, what would you do? That is what Jesus did for you dear; He died in your place. He had never met you before, He did not care whether you were rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, tall or short, He didn’t care whether you made good grades or not, He did not care. He just loved you and that love made him die in your place. And He still loves you.”
Dupe paused to see Vivian’s reaction and to allow all that she had said to sink into her heart. Vivian’s head was bowed and Dupe prayed silently in her heart that the Holy Spirit would work in Vivian’s heart and make her understand the depth of God’s love for her.
“Vivian, this is a perfect love God is offering you today. You don’t need to hang on or seek a love that depends on how successful you are in your education or in life, all that does not matter to Jesus; He loves you just the way you are and He wants you to come to Him just the way you are, no matter how broken you are. He loves you just the same. Many Christians have not accepted this love because they do not fully understand what it means for God to say that He loves us and many of them do not see themselves as being loveable. You must see yourself as being loveable, Vivian.”
Dupe took Vivian’s hands. “Vivian, look at me” Vivian raised her head, her eyes were crystal with tears. “Yes Vivian, Jesus loves you, even you” Dupe said.
Vivian could not hold her tears anymore; she was so overwhelmed. The Holy Spirit had started working in her, convicting her. Vivian kept saying ‘Jesus loves me. God loves me’ to herself. She found it hard to believe that a God so big and wonderful would love her so much.
“Yes Vivian, God loves you so much, even you. Let it sink into your heart my dear, let His love wash over you, let it envelop you, let Him hug you.”
Vivian was crying uncontrollably, shaking all over. The shaking and tears drove her to her knees; Dupe joined her and hugged her. She kept crying as Dupe hugged her and rocked her. When she stopped crying, Dupe held her hands and prayed for her, asking God to strengthen her and take her deep into the rivers of His love.
Chioma came in and saw what was happening; she quietly left the room immediately. Dupe concluded her prayer and hugged Vivian before they got up from their knees.
“Thank you very much Senior Dupe, I will never forget the kindness and love you have showed me today. God bless you.” Vivian said.
“Thank God dear. Please don’t hesitate to come to me every time you need someone to talk to. Okay?” Dupe said, smiling
Vivian nodded and smiled. She hugged Dupe again and left the room. As soon as she left, Chioma came in. “What was that all about?” She asked Dupe
“Someone just discovered just how much God loves her” Dupe replied smiling.
“And when did you become a counselor, Dupe?” Chioma asked
“All glory to God dear, I only made myself available for God.”
“Whatever! It’s almost time for choir rehearsal. We are going to be late.” Chioma said changing the topic.
Dupe looked at her watch and jumped from her bed. She ran to the ladies to ease herself and then back to the room to prepare for choir rehearsal.
As Dupe was preparing, Chioma sat on her bed and kept staring at her. She felt anger and hot jealousy almost twisting her heart. No one had ever come to her for advice before and she doubted if anyone even looked up to her. She shut her eyes as tears threatened to drop.