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 Temi had withdrawn and spoken very little to him ever since the argument they had over Dupe and Tunde was worried.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”
“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.