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.