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.
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.