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TALITHA CUMI! 2
WRITTEN BY: OYEKUNLE LIZZY OYEBOLA
I dug my sharp, long nails into my cap as I saw Joe smiling at me from the choir stand where he sat.
I couldn’t smile back!
My heart was heavy, my eyes ached and I felt ashamed as if I had just been removed from a soak-away all submerged in shit!
I couldn’t believe it was me actually sitting down with a casual wear on a Sunday morning looking unkempt- I had not had a change of cloth since the Friday dad came to pick me up in school
My phone beeped and I checked the message
‘Is that my Tally? Don’t tell me it’s you’
It was from Joe!
Joe was the second child of the general overseer of Maranatha Revival Church where I attended.
Why would he be sending me messages in the church while the service was on?
He had just returned from Ukraine where he had gone for his first degree and before he left, he told me he liked me and if I could keep myself for a while till he is ready and I am, he would want to marry me.
He said it jokingly at that time but while he was away, he really kept in touch, chatting, skyping and all and I had always thought it was going to be him until I met Uncle Jeff!
I looked towards the choir stand and nodded, smiling faintly, my heart feeling dead.
Woris stronging you?
He sent again and I smiled for the first time since Friday night.
That was the way we both normally communicated while we were still very close. I looked towards him and shook my head again!
I was just too exhausted to type!
If I had had my way in the morning, I wouldn’t be in the church because of the things that happened at home!
Could I call the Fakunle’s place home again?
No! It was just a cover!
I never would be able to stay in that house- never!
When I got to the store room that very night, I felt so horrible!
No, my dad wasn’t rich, but we still stayed neat and fine!
As much as the store was cleaned, my head was baptized with cobwebs as I moved in and with the papers still stuffed in my mouth, I fell to the mattress which was placed on the floor and cried well!
It was when I could hear so loudly in my ears the thumping of the stubborn veins in my forehead that I stopped crying and started removing the cobwebs from my forehead.
Even as I sniffed wetly, all my facial veins stood up strong as if declaring war against me!
I spat out the papers in my mouth which had become wet and carressed my stressed cheeks for a while.
I paused to look around me.
There was a lightly lit lantern at a corner and I could perceive the smell of rotten onions and egusi
Sleeping in the store room, Talitha?…wow!
I wasn’t having enough credit on my phone, neither was I having subscription to chat and truth be told, Uncle Jeff and I had not seen each other since three weeks ago when we met for the Valentine’s day celebration. He still called me sometimes anyways but I missed him so much!
Who was I supposed to call?
Who was I supposed to run to?
I knew from when my dad had sent me out of our house that things would never be the same anymore for me and really, it was that way!
I heard some crawling movement not far away and pulled my legs to my chest in fear. I was so close to tears again
Just then, my phone rang
I picked it up and my heart jolted in me
“Tally, I miss you What’s up? I have been trying to reach you since Friday” She said, anxiety in her voice
“Thanks” I said, I was too excited that I could not speak further
I was excited that there was at least someone out there who could at least hear me out!
Someone who could be scared for me!
Someone who could miss me still!
“What’s wrong? How are you? Where are you? How is daddy too?” she asked, so scared.
I was touched so much that tears rushed to my eyes again and I sniffed
“Are you crying Tally?” She asked, her voice sounding as if she stood up with shock from a chair
“Let me talk to her. What’s making her cry?” I heard that voice and my heart stopped working!
“Hello Tally Mine, what’s up? How are you doing?”
“Fine” I whispered, quietly because I didn’t know if Mummy Sofia would shout from inside that I should keep quiet!
“Why are you whispering?” He asked and magically it worked!
What I was not able to tell Happie, I told him.
“Dad sent me packing from our house. I am in a neighbor’s house now but I was made to stay in a store-room” I said and started crying
“What the heck! Why would daddy do that? What happened?” he asked, obviously angry
“Its a long….” I had not ended that statement when I heard a loud bang at the door
“Madam, you are disturbing the whole house ma and we need to sleep because tomorrow is Sunday. Suspend all calls please” Mummy Sofia said
“Okay ma. Sorry ma”
“Be sorry for yourself” She replied and my mouth remained suspended in shock
“I’ve got to go now Jay.” I whispered and he sighed
“Oh my! Do you want me to come pick you up tomorrow? Are you in Abuja?” He asked and I nodded as if he could see me over the phone
“Stay strong baby. Be strong please. I love you” He said and though it calmed me a bit, I knew something must be wrong!
As I dropped the call, I clung to my phone for life and wept bitterly!
Why am I being treated so callously?
What happened to this woman?
Sorry for myself?…ah ah!
I couldn’t think straight anymore.
Just then, I heard some crawling and then dragging and then pulling movement and my heart started racing again!
I switched on the torch from my phone and flashed it at where the sound was coming from.
All I could see were catering materials, large stoves and cookers including huge dusty shelves, different sacks and some planks
I heard the sound again and pointed the torch towards the place.
Just then, I saw that black thing under a shelf not far away.
My heart jumped into my mouth!
Is that a snake?
I stood up suddenly and looked around for an object that I could throw at that area. I found a small stick which I threw and suddenly, there was a movement!
It could be a snake ooo…
As my heart quaked, I got myself a long pipe which I would use to smash the head of any approaching reptile or rodent!
I couldn’t believe it was me having a tough time really but it was me- Talitha!
Just as I was about to sit again, my leg hit something wet and I jumped up
“Snake!” I yelled
Then, I looked at my leg side and found the papers that had been stuck to my mouth
“You these papers, what exactly is it with you? What?” I asked sadly as I picked them up.
I fell to the bed and pursed my lips as my head ached seriously
My eyes were madly heavy!
I looked at the reason I was kicked out of the house, the reason why I was being stigmatized- The paper!
I started unfolding again and laid the papers on the bed
As I unfolded the second paper, I realized I had not opened it at all before
It was somehow colourful unlike the one I had opened
“What’s in this one again o?” I asked myself and fully unfolded it.
As I looked into the paper and my eyes caught what was inside, I knew it immediately!
The reason for the strange behaviour of these people
My stomach dropped!
My eyes started spinning!
I dropped the pipe I was holding and relaxed against the wall dejectedly, holding my head in my hands
I couldn’t cry!
I was in that position till morning, just blinking and staring into space, sometimes, tears would flow, dry up, flow, dry up of its own volition!
I couldn’t feel again for those hours!
I was psychologically unstable at that moment!
Then, I heard the bell for devotion ring from inside but I couldn’t stand up to answer!
All my strength was gone!
“Go and wake that girl up, Sofia” I heard Mummy Sofia say
“Okay mum” Sofia responded and then I heard a knock at the door.
The door opened and then Sofia, still in her nightie, looking worried ran towards me and hugged me
“Just wake her up and come back here ni o Sofia!” Mummy Sofia said again, stressing her daughter’s name.
“Yes mummy” She said, pecked my forehead and then squeezed something into my head as she went out.
She stayed at the door again and knocked
“Tally, it’s time for devotion” she said and I smiled a bit
“That girl can sleep on water. Better knock well. Maybe she doesn’t know we do devotion in our own house.” Mummy Sofia said on and on and I tried standing up
In fact, anyone could throw stones at me at the moment
I didn’t care anymore but to die!
“We don’t have any other orisa in our house that we worship o! Tally come out!” She kept on saying and I knew that if I didn’t move out very fast, the sorrowful tale would continue
The whole devotion was about me!
The whole family had to lay their hands on me to deliver me because I had eaten the forbidden fruit!
How did she know about it?
Exactly how did she know something so deep about me?
Did my dad tell her anything?
What does my dad even know?
Who could have gone to tell my dad something like that?
Who knew me so well to have known something so deep about me?
I pulled at my skirt and bit my lower lip as if to cut it off- I was shivering!
“Leave my skirt please. Hey, leave me omode yi” I heard that from afar and then, felt a tug at my hand and then, I became startled and opened my eyes
I had started dozing, lost in the world of what had happened the night before
I looked at the woman beside me and realized that while I bit at my lower lip, I was pulling at her skirt with all my might in my anxiety
“I am so sorry ma” I said and she straightened her rumpled skirt while she hissed and muttered some words beneath her breath as she did
I gasped in exhaustion
“So, this should serve as a lesson to all parents here. Bring up your children in the way of the Lord for the BIble says when he is old, he will not depart from it. Continue to pray for your children. Also. pray for Pastor Bode-Davies, that God should strengthen him. It is not easily to be relieved of one’s position in the church. Please pray for him”
I heard that and jumped to my feet!
Which Mr. Bode-Davies was the general overseer talking about?
It couldn’t be my father!
I looked towards the podium and saw my father on his knees before the whole church, his head bowed.
There was another man kneeling beside him- Mr. Abraham
The pastor lifted my dad’s head and removed the tag he wore on his neck and he wore it on Mr. Abraham’s neck
The whole church was silent!
But in my inside, there was a great noise!
Being humiliated right before my eyes?
Was he the one that erred?
Was it not me?
Why should he be punished for me?
I knew that meant his salary would be stopped!
I knew he would probably die of grief!
Something strange happened in my heart- something so pure, so touching that I realized if I didn’t do something at that instant, my dad would never ever forgive me!
“My dad can’t be suspended! He didn’t err! I did!” I shouted loud and clear and there arose a very loud murmuring in the church.
The woman seated beside me pulled me to my seat
“What are you doing?” She asked sharply, looking fierce
“Yes, look at me with what eyes! I don’t care! I just can’t watch my dad being thrown away from where he had served for a whole thirty years. Why? For his daughter’s sins…no! Its not reasonable
“You should have thought of that when you were busy flirting around” The woman said and I became quiet suddenly
The whole church already knew?
“Miss Talitha Bode-Davies, could you please rise” Pastor Adameji, Joe’s father and the general overseer said and I stood up
“Was it a crime that your father sent you to school?” he asked and all eyes was on me
“No!” I replied silently
“What wrong has the poor man done to you?” He asked on but there was no more reply in my mouth to give
“Exactly why are you repaying him this way?”
“A reliable source brought the news to my ears last week but I said no! I had to do my understudy, many of your pictures were sent to me to show how wildly you now dress. I had to call your dad on Friday to run some tests on you! I couldn’t believe my little Tally had become a wild girl but see it before my face- you were wild!” Pastor Adameji said and I gasped
Well, tears would have started strolling down my face but no!
My heart could no long shed tears
My inside could bake a cake to a good cook with the hotness going inside anyways!
“Was it for the love of your dad that you were screaming that way Talitha? Why didn’t you think about this humiliation before defiling yourself? Why?” The pastor was almost crying and my dad was there lying on his face!
I had never seen him that way before- so broken!
“Anyways, I didn’t discipline your dad. Your dad asked to be suspended for a while till he settle things with God. May God have mercy on your soul Talitha!” The pastor said, heaving loudly in the mic
“Amen!” The church echoed and I looked around at the whole congregation as I sank in my seat again.
My eyes caught Joe where he was seated and his head was bent. He shook his head in intervals.
I remained mute till the service ended.
It felt as if even my heart stopped beating
When I became sane again, I looked around me in the church to see empty pews
So people actually left me here without even saying hi?
On a norm, many children would have jumped to my side, many youth choristers would have come to say hello but no youth, no child, no adult even cared to say hello?…really!
As I tried to rub my hands together because I had started sweating in there, I realized that I was holding something in my palm- what Sofia had squeezed in my palm when she came to wake me up.
It was a paper- and as I unfolded it, two thousand naira notes fell off.
I picked them and checked out the paper
“I know how you feel Tally and though I am shocked myself, I feel sorry for you. You can’t be fine as long as you stay in our house. Just take that money and leave the house.Run away. Go back to school! We will chat later”
That was the content and I smiled!
Sofia had been my childhood friend and I was older than her by six months but she knew all about me!
I told her the in and out of everything about me but never did I mention my recent love escapades with Uncle Jeff.
I couldn’t tell her even though she told me all about hers.
I remembered the first time Sofia was intimate with a guy- it was with Peter, one of our elder’s son and she was telling me, very excitedly
“It isn’t as painful as mummy said it would be.” she had told me and I had frowned at it very seriously.
Now, it was my turn!
My turn to be advised and counselled but there was no one!
No one could wait behind to counsel me- to tell me that I had made a mistake but that shouldn’t be the end and that God still loved me?
Or could it be that God now hates me?
I stood up and started going to the door, dejectedly.
I didn’t know exactly what to do again.
It would be best to go back to school which would definitely be a safe haven for me but would that be the end of my relationship with my dad?
As I descended from the stairs, I looked afar and saw my dad on his bike, two women talking to him, his head bent.
What were they telling him?
My heart started racing and I felt like I could be swallowed up from earth, so I would be fine and free from the black guilt that hung upon me so greatly.
I walked slowly towards him and when I got beside him, I knelt beside his bike and tried to touch his sandalled foot.
As he turned to look at me, I saw beyond the helmet on his head that covered his face- the dark circles underneath his eyes and the blood-red eyes themselves
My heart cracked into pain the more!
My dad had been sore!
He pushed my hand off him and I fell backwards.
He pedalled his bike and as I tried to gather myself together and sit up, I saw him waving at the two women discussing with him earlier
“Thanks to you Mrs Tade and Mrs. Abraham. I will see you later” He said and I buried my face in my hands again as I wept eventually!
My dad was not the normal happy, gentle man again!
As I raised my head thinking the two women were still around trying to counsel me, I found the duo entering their different cars and driving away.
I was shocked!
Was this the definition of the church?
Just being trampled under feet and left there to rottenness?
I looked up to the sky and shook my head as the meaning of everything going on really dawned on me!
I picked myself from the ground and dusted my skirt
“I can’t die now! I was blind in lust, oh yes! For a while, my young and fertile mind went astray especially when my lacks were met and I yielded to the flesh…yes! But what else should I do? What? I should go and die?” I asked myself as I walked out of the church premises.
I was pained in my heart that I had been ridiculed and had failed many people’s trust but I knew right inside me that I couldn’t die!
I’d got to survive anyway.
As I tried to wave a taxi down, a car stopped before me and on a closer look, it was Mrs. Tade.
“Come in dearie” She said, smiling brightly
I was shocked!
Was it that not this woman that had driven off few minutes ago after discussing with my dad?
I entered the car and sat in the front seat with her.
“How are you dear?”
“Fine” I responded. I was interested in listening to anything she had to discuss with me if she had anything new, anyways
“Ah, the service was hot today!” She exclaimed and I wondered if it was me she was actually talking to
What made it hot?
My matter or what?
“You aren’t saying anything?” She asked and I chuckled
Wasn’t she being childish?
“Actually, anyone who had seen you close to Mr. Jeff Dantata would know this is what it will result into” she said and I shifted in my seat
I wanted more gist
I loved diarrheic mouths like hers- mouths that continually gives even when their listeners aren’t giving any!
“Actually, I am in Anatomy department and most times, I see you move in and out with him and I wondered if you were just close on the teacher-student level but from what happened today, I could see I had been wrong” She said and paused
I was uncomfortable at the silence in the car and I wanted her to tell me more but she was silent.
I saw as her snaked out and laid upon my tummy and winced
“How do you feel? Any nausea? Any pain? Any weakness?” She asked and that was when I remembered
Pregnancy Test- Positive- Three weeks old
That was what the other wet paper contained when I checked the night before
But how could I have believed such news?
How could the first sexual encounter result to pregnancy?
Also, I watched in movies that when one takes in, it would come with vomiting and weakness and lack of appetite but I didn’t vomit, neither was I weak and my appetite for food and junks had skyrocketed
So, I disregarded the news!
I had heard that lab attendants make mistakes sometimes- mine must have been a mistake too.
It must have been!
“How are you feeling?” She asked again and I smiled
I could feel the flow of Mrs. Tade’s discussion and I was ready to disappoint her
She was the kind of women that would want you to say something- something that would make the headline at their next Gossiping Women Association!
“Also, at this stage, you would have to change your brasserie dear. Your breasts are becoming massive and ….” she was saying about to touch them with her hand.
I threw her hands away, very angry
“What is that ma?” I still tried to be polite
“What is that? You these children ehn! If it is your mum that wants to touch you, you would be aggressive about it but if it were to be a man, you would be laughing sheepishly, right?” She said and I was irritated
What did this woman take me for?
“Ma, yes, if guys touch me, why won’t I laugh? Its interesting when they do. Tell me a reason why I should be aggressive with the guy” I said, my heart racing in anger
I was mad!
She clapped her hands together and quickly returned her hand to steer the wheel
“I knew it! That was exactly what I told Mrs. Fakunle! I knew it was not a mistake at all! She had just become a flirt! I said it!…Ah ah!” She said again, excitedly, a huge smile on her face
A look that told me she was happy that she had something to take back to her circle of gossips!
But I had my point to hold on to as well!
She saw me with Uncle Jeff on many occasions, she told Mrs. Fakunle about it. Then, the latter said it couldn’t be true! She had to get many proves and probably got me monitored.
“I told her to monitor the girl and see how robust she had become. I was right! I was so right! The jezebel spirit has entered our children. What is your church becoming Lord? Oh when men slept. Oh when men slept!” She lamented on and I couldn’t but watch on
I was so dazed!
How could a woman switch between smiling very brightly that she was right and weeping her eyes out now about the church of God?
I was very amazed
“So, have you told the guy? Has his parents been informed?” She asked, her eyes filled with tears.
And my dear heart, I was furious!
“Could you stop the car ma?” I asked as politely as I could ask, my whole frame shaking with anger
“What? You can’t run away from you shadow no matter how you…” she was saying when I took my hand to pull the door lever
Her eyes shone
“Are you going to open the door even while I am driving? Are you that…” She was still saying and with my hands covering my ears, I screamed!
“Stop this car now!” I screamed in a deafening way that after she had brought the car to a stop, she slapped my shoulder, shocked
“You need Jesus you this girl!” She exclaimed, obviously still shocked
“Yes ma. I need Jesus. You need Him more!” I shouted into her face and she paused to look into my face, embarrassed
I calmed down a bit
“My dad didn’t teach me to disrespect elders ma. But if you want to be a gossip, be one! If you want to be a christian ma, please be one!” I exclaimed again and with her mouth suspended, she raised her index finger to touch her chest
“I am a gossip?” She asked, her lips shaking
“You ma’am!” I exclaimed and bowed my head. I raised it up immediately to finish delivering my hot lecture
“The moment you sense something wrong with a youth, you wouldn’t even call the person to caution him or her. Instead, you would start perching around, looking for some ills here, some faults there. Once you find it, you jump up and say, you said it!” I said again, my heart boiling really hot
“What!” She said, real tears rushing into her eyes
But I was not not done yet
“You are not different from Nigerians. Celebrities get married and Nigerians hear about it and they would start tweeting that the marriage would fail and for real, few months after, there would be cracks and they would gladly and excitedly jump around saying, I said it! Tell your fellow gossips ma, that unna try wella! You guessed right and the angelic, almost faultless Talitha is reportedly pregnant! Tell them more!” I said and opened the door, hissing very loudly, my hands cold and shaking
“This was not how your dad brought you up Talitha” Mrs. Tade shivered on as she wasn’t expecting the kind of effrontery with which I had challenged her.
I bent to look back into her face through the car window
“This was not how Jesus brought you up Mrs. Tade. Grow up!” I said calmly too, giving her a smile that I knew scattered the molecules stored up in her brain
I hissed and joined the queue waiting for the commuter buses.
I looked back to see the car still parked on the spot
I had been brutally disrespectful I know but kai, I was hurt!
Why wasn’t anyone thinking of the repercussion of their actions on my poor heart?
As tears rushed to my eyes again, I remembered that Uncle Jeff had promised to come pick me up.
Why hadn’t he called then?
A bus came and as people struggled to get in, I knew I couldn’t!
I waited back and then my phone rang
“Hello Happie!” I said as I sniffed slightly
“Who told you?” She asked, sniffing too. I was confused
“Told me what?” I asked and she started crying
“I am on my way to Abuja. Just go and stay in Aunty Tessie’s place in Maitama. I will send her address to you now”
“What is the problem?” I asked again, my heart racing
“Tally!” She exclaimed again and started crying again and the beeper went off.
I was shocked!
I was confused!
I was mad!
Was there problem in school?
Was our hostel on fire?
Had she heard that I was pregnant and then she wanted it aborted?
What could be wrong oh Lord?
As I awaited the arrival of her message, I waved down a taxi and hopped in with all my problems, pain and sorrow
As we drove past the road, I saw still on the same spot- Mrs. Tade’s car!
Was she that shaken?
WATCH OUT FOR EPISODE 3
Written By: Oyekunle Lizzy Oyebola
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