Written By: Lizzy Oyebola Oyekunle
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God, vindicate my bro!
I felt a surge of electricity run through my mind as I thought about how things had suddenly gone sour in our family.
We were just a normal happy middle class family about fifteen years ago until dad got an international contract that changed his life and ours forever.
When we had to move to Miami, I never knew it was the beginning of a totally new life for us all.
We met Bro Earl there for the very first time as he had been in Florida all his life. He was a born again child of God that he sometimes put me off when he started his sermons.
Dad instructed all of us never to go close to him or listen to all he had to offer. We were Christians of course but we saw pastors as money sucking machines hence we only went to church during harvest, thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year eve- four times in a whole year!
“You’ve been in Miami for a while and you have had to wear a lot of designers. By the time you get back to Nigeria, you will see the fake versions of all these designers. Leggo Jeans for example never fades. When you get to Nigeria and you see faded Leggo Jeans, how would you feel?” Bro Earl had asked me one time.
“Not too bad. I expect that we have Nigerian brothers who manufacture what looks like Leggo Jeans. It faded because it was never Leggo Jeans from the start.” I had laughed and he smiled gleefully.
“I love your smartness smallie. That’s the correct answer! It was never a Leggo Jeans from the start! Some so called pastors like the fake Leggo Jeans are misrepresenting Christ, milking all the money of their members, preaching prosperity over righteousness and exalting the building over the pew! Why? They were never pastors from the start. Or maybe they were from the start and they
eventually gave in to seductive spirits. We shouldn’t allow these people’s problem chase us from fellowshipping with believers as the Bible admonishes” He had told me.
“Once one gets a Bible believing church, it will all be easy. One would keep growing spiritually and in all other ramifications. Once one worships in a dead church, one would as well be dead” He told me and I nodded.
“I will follow you to church on Sunday then” I said and just like when thunder strikes, I felt a thunderous slap across my ear down to my face.
“Yeh!” I cried out in pain as I lost focus. I blinked severally as I saw stars before falling to the ground, my jaws locked. I knew it must be my dad. He was the one that had such large and firm palm.
“Earl, if you want to preach to my children about your miserable religion, you will have to leave this house. Oh yes, you were doing well without us, so go do well on your own and live my children out of it!” Dad thundered.
“And you…” He started as he picked me up from the floor with a hand like I was a piece of paper.
“You will have to choose between Earl and your family. You have to choose between religion and liberality” He screamed at me. His eyes were very red so much so that I became so scared of him.
Immediately he let go of me, I ran quickly to Bro Earl and hid behind him. I peeped to look at my dad’s angry face thereafter.
“Ava, are you mad?” Dad screamed, breaking one of mum’s precious vase.
“Ava!” Mum called out too. I didn’t know if it was the anger of her broken vase or because she felt sorry for me.
Dad stormed out of the sitting room just then and I was relieved for a while. Bro Earl turned to look at me. He bent before me and pecked my forehead.
“You are a treasure! You are just six years old and you have chosen Jesus? That’s the best choice darling” He was saying to me when suddenly his eyes turned red, his teeth was clenched and I looked up!
Dad was pressing a very hot pressing iron into his back!
“Dad!” I screamed aloud. I was very shocked at the inhumane attitude of my dad. Why did he so hate spirituality? As far as I was concerned, Bro Earl was the best brother in the world for me.
“Leave my house now!” He eventually lifted the iron which sizzled with burnt cotton. I bent quickly to sees Bro Earl’s back and it was an eyesore!
He smiled sadly at me as tears rolled down his face.
“Bring his bags out. He leaves today!” Dad screamed again. He stormed inside as mum followed sheepishly.
“You need to call the police bro. This is demonic” I was already crying. With a shivering hand and a shaking jaw, Bro Earl picked my frail hand and smiled.
“Having a burnt back is much smaller compared to having nails in your hands and feet, having a thorny crown on your head, being whipped with canes that have blades with blood gushing out. It is much smaller compared to the Lamb of God that was ridiculed on the cross meant for criminals. Jesus loves you smallie.” He hurriedly said and started moving to the door.
“I love you bro” I screamed as he left, his bags being thrown after him.
“Get into your room, now!” My dad screamed at me and I hurriedly ran into my room, weeping profusely.
I made up my mind then that what Bro Earl was telling me about Jesus is definitely the Truth! I made up my mind to follow Jesus all the way! If the hatred for that Jesus could bring out the demon in my father, I would definitely follow Him to the latter!
My dad changed drastically towards me from that day. He stopped getting me ice cream and chocolate bars. He would sometimes take Bella and Cole to Disneyland and leave me at home.
The more he mistreated me, the more I was fascinated to know more about the God Bro Earl was talking about.
Eventually when I had the chance to visit his college to see him, I was told he had finished his programme and had returned to Nigeria.
I was very broken at that point!
Some days to coming back to Nigeria, after we had finished dinner, my mum called the three of us and sat us round the low table at the backyard.
“I have something to tell you all” She said and we all listened.
“Its about Earl” She said and my ears stood straight.
“Your dad studied in the Bahamas some years before he married me and he dated one of the ladies there. They were in love with each other and eventually decided to go a step further in their relationship. To cut the long story short, she was the one who gave birth to Earl!” She broke out and my eyes widened as my heart sunk.
“What!” Cole exclaimed.
“No wonder he is just so different!” Bella said and started laughing out loud. I knew she was making jest at that point but I had to let out the pains in my chest.
I coughed out as tears welled up in my eyes.
“No wonder!” I started and paused to see their reactions.
“No wonder a woman could stand at a corner as her husband burnt the back of his mistress’ son! I was just wondering why mummy would be in the sitting room while dad was almost killing Bro Earl. I must understand now that you might have even wished him dead. Right?” I asked as I shook with rage.
I never knew I had been living with beasts or had them as parents!
“Shut up!” She screamed as she slapped me across the face also. I burst out crying not because of the pain but because I could imagine the pain Bro Earl was probably going through.
“As long as you remain like this you witch, your dad will continue to hate you and you will continue to lack a lot of things” She screamed as me as she stood up.
“Jesus will take care of me” I said and she started kicking me hard till I fell over, weeping uncontrollably.
“Why are you so adamant? You have so believed the bastard’s words, huh?” Cole asked and I picked up some pebbles and threw at his face.
“How dare you call him a bastard? You must be crazy!” I screamed at him as he ran after his mum.
“As far as I am concerned, he is the son of dad’s first love. Oh yes! That’s why mum feels intimidated! Damn!” I intentionally threw the words at my mum and it hit her hard as she stopped in her steps, looked back at me and resumed walking again.
“How dare you speak against my mum that way?” Bella asked childishly. She hissed and started running after them too while I remained on the floor considering all that had happened.
It was the beginning of problems between myself and all other members of the family.
All through my secondary school education at VanVille Academy, I only got to see my dad’s smile whenever I brought back the ‘best student’ prize.
And after my final exams, when the leg problems started, the only person who stood by me was Bro. Earl. He was the one who cared for me and loved me more.
Even if my family would hate me, must it be to the extent that I die?
That was what I kept on thinking about till Bro. Earl introduced me to Jesus proper. He said I had to let go of hate and bitterness and forgive all of those who had hurt me. It was very difficult but I had to do it.
Mum suddenly developed stroke and I had to stand by her then. I introduced her to Jesus and she accepted with tears, although not making her acceptance known to everyone yet.
I believed that surely, my prayers over Cole, Bella and Dad would be answered one day also.
I sighed again, closed the memory book in my head and came back to reality. I looked at the wall clock and it said 5.40. I hurriedly tied my scarf and picked my bag.
“Good morning ladies” I greeted Bella and Beverly. They were well dressed that I wondered where they were going too.
“Morning” They answered almost together.
“The fellowship has organized a prayer programme for our patron, Dr. Earl. We want God to vindicate him and reveal the truth of the whole matter. Would you love to go?” I asked for asking sake.
I knew that no matter how sweetly I explained it, they would never bulge but I just wanted to tell them.
“Why else would we be dressed up so early in the morning?” Bella started and I frowned a bit. I didn’t understand.
“We’ve been waiting for you too so let’s go” Beverly said too and I broke out into a very large smile.
“Like seriously!?” I exclaimed happily.
“Don’t be too excited o” Bella said, raising her nose at me.
“All I want is the vindication of Dr. Earl. Even if it is to enter the river, I am ready” Beverly said and I nodded.
“You’ve made the right choice. The church is the right choice” I almost sang excitedly as I picked up my crutches.
I felt like the most successful person in the whole wide world as the SMC Taxi drove off to our fellowship center- with two awesomely incredible ladies!
I glossed over some of the prayer points I had jotted down from the prayer programme I went for three days back.
It was already two weeks since Dr. Earl had been in the police custody and I was becoming impatient.
How do I get the evidence to prove he didn’t do it?
I turned the next page and found a prayer point I had written down as the prayer leader called it that day.
Vindicate Dr. Earl in your righteousness, Lord my God; do not let them gloat over him. Psalm 35:24
I didn’t quite believe that my prayers were getting answered or something like that but I just wanted to try it and see.
This man was someone who solely believed in his God! His words rung severally in my ears:
“Are you friends with Jesus?” He had asked me the day we were to attend the medical seminar and I had frowned slightly.
“Jesus is real! He is so real! He loves you. Give Him your life.”
I smiled at the way he had looked so confident when he told me about Jesus that day. I sighed deeply then and looked up at the beautiful ceiling.
“I hope that Jesus now rises up for you, really! I hope so!” I repeated severally.
The two weeks in which I hadn’t seen Dr. Earl were like hell to me. I had always gone to class with the hope of seeing in him there but each time, it was that evil Shirley I would see, looking all confidently guilty!
“I have given Christ numerous reasons not to love me but none of them has changed His mind! He is sweet like that!” I remembered he said that to me too and smiled.
“Oh God, if eventually Dr. Earl is released without any harm, very well vindicated from this problem, I will proclaim You Lord!” I muttered to myself and sighed again.
The rich people have wahala ooo!
How could a father decide to throw his own son in jail for false story, huh?
As I was thinking about the whole issue, my phone beeped and I picked it up.
It was Cole- again!
I chuckled as I opened the message he just sent. I was tired of receiving messages from him for over a week now but his persistence beats me hands down!- I had grown to even look forward to his messages!
The funny thing was, despite the many lovely messages he sent to me, he wouldn’t talk to me much in class except to greet and probably comment on my fine handwriting.
Seeing him change from the unserious, insultive Cole to a responsible classmate seemed so lovely.
The power of being Beverly should never be underestimated. It melts my heart and touches my soul.
I burst out laughing at that.
He must be a playboy!
“Very unserious boy!” I said aloud, laughing crazily.
“Bev, who’s the boy?” Bella asked me and I came back to my senses. I smiled and waved it off. After a while I looked up at Bella.
“What kind of a guy is Cole?” I asked and she smiled.
“Oh so he is the one making you laugh. I was thinking another guy has taken my brother’s spot” Bella said and I frowned a bit.
“Which brother’s spot?” I asked with a frown but surprisingly my inside was as soft as cotton wool- he had melted me like butter.
“Cole loves you so much. Some days, he would call me and get me lots of expensive things just to help tell you how much he loves you, sincerely. I just couldn’t bring myself to telling you first until he has told you” She said and I sighed shortly.
What was happening?
My normal self would have hidden her feelings no matter what.
“That guy is a player! I mean it when I call him a player. Let me read some of the messages he sent to me just today o…” I said and started scrolling down.
I felt foolish as I scrolled down but I couldn’t stop it. I was trying all things possible to make sure I hide my feelings but it was impossible.
“Time and time again I have to pinch myself when I see you next to me. You are my dream come true.” I read to Bella and she held her chest in admiration.
“Awwwnn…so lovely” She exclaimed and I raised my nose at her.
“If love is a serious mental disease, I`m completely out of my mind.” I read again and couldn’t stop laughing.
“He is completely out of his mind. He is very crazy” I said and Bella pouted.
“Oh true love!” She exclaimed and I eyed her.
“Which love?” I asked and hissed quietly. I was obviously enjoying the whole thing.
“Just open your eyes, and you’ll be able to see that my love is everywhere: in the sun, clouds, air and… in you!” I read and couldn’t even stop laughing here.
“See the biggest lie that ever liveth!” I laughed on and on.
“But seriously, you’ve had a great influence on Cole. He now listens in class. His marks have jumped up and he might eventually make it to the medical school if he continues this way.”
“He told you all that”
“Isn’t it obvious? You are obviously the best. And see, Cole doesn’t want you for a girlfriend o, he wants to marry you!” She said and I stopped smiling.
“Marry me?” I asked as the words sunk.
“He wants to marry you as soon as during summer sef before someone elses catches you” She added and I started laughing.
“You guys are funny! You decide which girl, which way to pass your feelings across and even the date of the wedding! Hahaha…you must all be kidding” I started laughing as I jumped off from my bed.
She stood up too and walked to me.
“Cole hates to go to the church. The last time he went to the church was when we were in Florida. He hates Dr. Earl too and calls him a bastard often times.” she said and paused.
Many questions ran through my mind then.
Why hate Dr. Earl?
Why call him a bastard?
“If you send him a text that he should come to the church especially to pray for Dr. Earl and he comes, he definitely loves you and you will do me a favor afterwards”
“What favor?” I asked.
“That’s like placing the cart before the horse” She said and walked back to her bed.
“Funny ones!” I said and walked back to my bed too, many things running through my mind.
Does he really love me?
All these messages, do they really convey his feelings?
Could he really marry me despite coming from a very poor background?
If you send him a text that he should come to the church especially to pray for Dr. Earl and he comes, he definitely loves you
I picked up my phone and started typing…
Of course I would do all they want me to do then as long as it will poise a better life to my family and I.
Who knows? I might love him eventually.
I closed my eyes and opened again. It was him!
I couldn’t believe it!
I danced on in worship as the praise team led the songs but my eyes kept travelling to the front seat when Cole was. He was clapping and moving his leg too, looking backwards as if he was looking for something.
I wondered why I was not so excited to see him as I was excited to have Beverly and Bella follow me few days back.
I felt so uneasy that sweat started forming under my nose.
Holy Spirit, what’s going on?
Holy Spirit, take control!
Immediately after the prayer, I looked over at his side and realized he wasn’t there. I stood up almost immediately and started scanning the whole auditorium.
I saw him putting his arms round Beverly and my blood started rushing like an angry stream. I picked up my crutches and scurried towards them.
“Hello bro” I greeted him with a smile.
“Hi Rev Dr. Pastor Miss Ava Bello, presiding bishop of the…” He was teasing but I wasn’t in for that.
“What are you doing in here?” I asked and he started laughing.
“You don’t even look excited to see your bro in church?” He started laughing again.
“I invited him. Any rule says he can’t come?” Beverly asked and I smiled at her.
“Its okay, he is most welcome” I had to say.
“Don’t worry. I only came so I could honour the request of my honourable queen. If not for her, oops…” He raised his nose at the church and I just couldn’t help but ask God to have mercy on him.
“Your queen? Who?” I asked to be doubly sure.
“If all things work well, I will be getting married to Bev…” He was saying when Beverly kicked his calf. He screamed.
“Guy, I don’t know what you are talking about!…Ava, we’d see in the room. We have to go now” Beverly said and started dragging Cole away. Bella, who had reamined silent looked into my face and smiled.
“Don’t they look good together sis” She asked and blood rushed into my face.
She smiled at my confusion and ran after the duo.
I looked back to see if there was a chair near by. I pulled one close with one of my crutches and fell into it.
There was just something about Beverly, something she probably didn’t know existed in her!
Merging that light with the grim darkness from Cole, my brother was something I would never love to see happen!
I alighted from the taxi and started mounting the many beautifully tiled steps that led to the SMC Oriental Cafeteria.
I had received a message from Cole asking if we could meet there. It was the first time I would have problems selecting what to wear – my clothes all looked so ‘righteous’!
I eventually chose a long flowery evening gown and a small gold jacket. I carried a small designer purse Bella gave me during the World’s friendship day, styled my hair beautifully and wore a very nice stilletoes Glory gave me recently.
By the time I looked at myself in the mirror, I fell in love with myself all over again!
The door opened wide as I approached it and my heart jumped into my mouth- I wasn’t expecting it to open suddenly. I smiled at myself.
“Local girl!” I muttered
I entered into the cafeteria and was stunned by what greeted my eyes.
No wonder the cafeteria was for the first class members of the school!
The cool atmosphere and nice scent all around, the lightened see through cooler with assorted meals inside, the beautifully combined cream and peach uniform of the waiters and waiteresses, the well carved ceiling, the chairs and tables were out of this world!
I swallowed with amazement as I saw everything my eyes had never seen before!
I wondered where the funds for the school came from! SMC is definitely the best school in Nigeria, definitely!
“Miss Beverly?” A waitress called beautifully, tapping my shoulders till I resurrected to reality.
“Oh…thank you” I said, not knowing exactly what to say.
“Please follow me. Master Cole awaits you” She said and I smiled as I followed her.
Should I ask her how much she was being paid? I was so sure it was not less than 50 thousand naira. Wow! If I could be getting that every month, ah…
“Here comes the beauty!” Cole’s voice brought me back to life and I smiled as I entered the small suite that looked like a whole house to me.
I decided not to embarrass myself too much by looking around to the extent that I would be caught this time around. I sat down and picked up a furry handfan from the table.
“Is it hot?” He asked, frowning a bit. I shook my head and smiled.
“It just feels great holding a fan, you know” I said and he smiled too as he sat down opposite me.
Two waitresses entered with two trays of assorted foods each. They placed the trays on the table before me and I was wowed.
There were well peppered shrimps, rice balls, big chunks of fried beef and grilled chicken, red beans, pumpkin kpomo fries, meat balls, tofu, bowls of fruit salad and some foods I didn’t even know the names.
About four bottles of wine and four packs of juice were laid before us also with four bottles of chilled water. Just as the waitresses left, I wondered if two other people were joining us because everything before me looked like paradise!
“So princess, eat to your satisfaction” He told me and I chuckled. His brows arched in question and I faced him.
“Princess?…I laugh in Swahili” I said and started laughing.
I was actually bent on finding out if he was truly in love with me or not because in Korean movies, I had seen that rich guys could propose to a poor girl that has guts just to deal with her.
If Cole was getting close to me in order to deal with me, I wanted to know. He would be dead if that’s the intention!
“’What an evil beauty’ You remember saying that to me?” I asked and I saw his face turn red as he bent his head. When he raised his head, his eyes were red.
“You don’t forgive easily, do you?” He asked calmly that I felt like I was victimizing him.
“Well, not exactly. I was just wondering how the name would change that quickly. Its just been few months.” I said and he stood up. He sat beside me and held my hand.
My heart started racing.
Beverly, are you alright?
Why are you sitting down here and not pushing this guy away, huh?
“I am not allowed to hold hands yet right?” He asked and dropped my hand. I smiled uneasily and he stood up again, moving to a cushion adjacent to mine.
I couldn’t even swallow.
“Bev, let’s eat quickly. I have somethings to discuss before we leave” He said and picked up his fork and knife, quite unbothered.
The silence sounded awkward but for the clanging of the spoons and fork against the ceramic bowls and plates.
How could the almighty Beverly be unable to resist him?
What am I even doing here? Did he use jazz on me?
I chewed with caution, ensuring that no grain fell on my cloth- I had never given a damn about who watched me or not while I ate!
What’s happening to me?
We were soon done with what we could eat. The waiteresses entered immediately a bell was pressed and packed the trays away.
I mopped my mouth with a serviette and cleaned my hands with some well scented wipes as I waited for whatever he wanted to talk about next.
“Thanks for yielding to my call, dear inspiration” He started and I smirked.
“You are a playboy, no doubt!” I said and he smiled slightly.
“I have never fallen in love before. I had never dated a girl before.” He said and I blinked hard.
Why was he telling me that?
“What I feel for you darling is more than any man can imagine. It goes down into the heart and up into the brain, clogging it!” He said again and I started laughing.
“I will only take you serious if you stop all these poems you’ve memorized from a book or something” I said and he sighed.
“You obviously won’t believe me hon, well, I have a request. That’s the first thing I would love to talk about” He said and my heart started racing.
Was he going to talk about marriage?
I became uneasy. It would be the first time someone would meaningfully sit me down to talk love with me, talk less of marriage!
“Its about the College of Medicine.” He said and I heaved. I was relieved on a part of me and disappointed also on another part.
“What about the college?”
“My dad wanted all of us in the medical line as we have prospects for making it later in life you know he has a big hospital and teaching college.”
“Hmm” I muttered.
“I had always wanted to study fine arts but nay, he said no! So, relunctantly, I decided to obey him hoping to fail woefully. But over the months, I have come to fall in love with medicine and I am surprisingly doing well, all thanks to you!” He said and I gasped.
“Me? How is that about me?”
“You won’t understand how your presence in that class has inspired me. No, you won’t. I even feel like crying now” He said, raising his hand to his eyes.
It looked so sincere that I didn’t know what to do.
“Yeah, real men cry, yeah!” I teased and he smiled at me lovingly.
“My request is this. I have issues with some courses now. I for example do not yet understand some topics in anatomy and physiology. I would love you to be my private lesson teacher. Of course I will pay whatever price you name” He said and my eyes widened.
I would be paid for doing something I loved doing! My mouth watered.
“Okay, that’s no problem. 50K per month is good then. 25K each for Anatomy and Physiology” I said and afterwards felt I was too fast. It seemed like I had been waiting for the offer.
He looked perturbed.
“Are you sure 50k per month is good?” He asked and I smiled.
“That’s fine. I can’t bite more than I can chew. Just let’s leave it that way for now” I said and he smiled.
“Alright then. I will see what I can do to raise that though. Thanks so much. Also…I don’t know if I can ask you some questions…” He paused and fumbled with his small goatie.
“How old are you?”
“I will be twenty and one next month”
“Oh great! What date next month?”
“Wooow! Beautiful!” He said and I flustered.
“What is your blood group?”
“Great!” He threw his right hand in the air.
“Any problem?” I asked, feigning ignorance. Who doesn’t know what a guy means when he asks such questions?
Suddenly, he burst out laughing hysterically. I was even shocked.
“What’s that?” I asked, cluelessly. He tried to recover from the laughter fit and panted in a somewhat excitement as he faced me.
“You are proud mehn!” He said and I raised my nose at him. He started laughing again.
“That’s not funny. I can do something crazy right now” I said and he nodded with a large smile, making it very obvious that a large percent of laughter was in his throat.
“I know you can o.” He laughed again. When he stopped, he raised a very beautiful, flowery towel to his face.
“Why am I proud?”
“I remember the first day you came to class. ‘Since you all look younger that I am, I think I would be right to say I am well older than you all are and I ask that I earn my respect from you. I am twenty years and you all look like teenagers’” He said and started laughing again.
I smiled at that.
He remembered the words so well- no missing word!
“Bev, I was 22 years old four months back. Do I really look like a teenager? Well, you don’t look like a mum to me like you presented yourself. You look so tender that I can squeeze you in my arms.” He said and I shone my teeth at him, widening my eyes.
It wasn’t funny!
“Since I have confirmed all I need to confirm, I would ask Beverly that we be friends…” He paused. I had started sweating inside.
“Sorry, I mean, I would love you to be my girlfriend…oh no…I mean…”
“The thing is, I would love to marry you. I would love you to be my wife” He said and I buried my face in my palms for a while.
He had done his worst eventually!
My heart raced to and fro repeatedly.
It didn’t feel as good as I had expected though. I thought my body, spirit and soul would respond to the weird proposal sweetly but only my head reacted- with some calculations.
“Of course, you should take your time to think about it, Bev. Just know that if you say ‘yes’ to me, you will live your life in wealth and your body in good conditions” He said and I smiled inside of me.
The sound of wealth felt so good but it didn’t sound best.
A part of me told me that my life and my family’s would change forever, yet another part wouldn’t stop screaming ‘You deserve better!’
I removed my hands from my face and looked into his face. He looked so scared and troubled. I smiled at him.
My dad had taught me the better way to calm a man down after his proposal. That would determine to a great extent how his day would go.
“Ladies need the wisdom of God when they are to respond to the proposal of a man. Some would destroy the self esteem of the man completely because they don’t like him and some would leave the man better than they met him even if the answer is a ‘No’. Be wise!” He had told me.
I coughed out and sighed.
“Thank you so much for the proposal. I appreciate it. I heard from Bella but I didn’t know you actually mean it.” I said and paused. My heart jumping anxiously. He nodded and smiled somewhat uneasily.
“I appreciate you for choosing me out of the hundred or thousands of ladies you have on your contact list, in your life generally. It really means a lot to me” I said and saw as he rubbed his hands together, his face was misty, even in the air conditioned room. It touched me.
He could be very sincere though.
“But I would love to ask why exactly you want me. You definitely must have done your background check and know I am from a poor background. Why me?” I asked and he sighed, smiling sheepishly.
“Bev, if I open my mouth to tell you that this and this is what I love about you, I would be lying!” He said and my heart skipped a beat.
“I don’t even know when this just started. I just woke up one day and realized that I needed to see you before I am okay. Sometimes, I just go to my phone to see one or two pictures of you to assure myself. You are just an embodiment of my dream woman. Beautiful, intelligent, firm, strict, lovely, comely and inspiring.” He said and the drums in my heart beat on nonstop.
I felt I was going to go insane with the excitement in my heart!
“I have all of your pictures on my phone, except the ones that aren’t on the social media” He said and I gulped down my feeling.
“I would be lying to say that your words didn’t make an impact on me. I am really touched by all you’ve said. Thank you for seeing the best in me.” I said and paused. He looked up at me, blinking hard.
“I will actually go back to my hostel and think well about it. Very soon, I should be able to give you the reply” I said and he sighed.
“Chai! The wait would be very hard o”
“Hahahaha, real men wait!” I said and he lifted up his two hands as if to say he had surrendered.
“But I have a request” He said and I listened.
“We’d take a selfie now with your phone. When you are done thinking, send the picture to me if its a ‘yes’. If its a ‘no’, send a matric picture of yours. Deal?” He asked and I smiled.
“Deal” I replied, feeling so foolish. He came close to me and wrapped his arms round me as he took the picture.
He felt so manly and smelt so nice that I my legs became weak at once, my heart throbbing fast.
Immediately the shutter sounded, I collected my phone, saved the picture, put in my purse and smiled at him as I stood up.
“Let me be on my way now please” I said and he smiled.
“Let me see you off” He said, standing up. I shook my head hurriedly and told him I needed to go on a walk to clear my head.
“No problem dear. Be good” He said and blew me a kiss from afar. I chuckled, bowed slightly, opened the door and jumped out.
As I inhaled the fresh air from outside, I felt so elated.
If I get married to Cole, I would be the daughter in law to the owner of this huge school.
But, why did I feel so weak before Cole?
Why wouldn’t my legs carry me then?
Had I fallen in love?
I followed the policeman out of the cell after my hands had been loosened.
He had come to announce that I had some visitors.
I entered the waiting room and was delighted to see Ava and Beverly. I was so excited that I couldn’t hide my tears.
I went close to them both and drew them into a deep embrace. We were in that position for a while before we disengaged and sat down.
Beverly’s eyes were misty.
“Crying?” I asked and she blinked hard.
“I miss you so much sir. I miss you so much that I looked forward to seeing you in class. I miss you so much that I went to the chuch” She said and I smiled.
“Thanks dear. But I want you to go to church because you want to have the best from God, not because of mortal me, okay?” I asked and she pouted.
“Big Bro” Ava called out, looking so stressed.
“Smallie, have you been eating? You look really weak” I almost screamed.
“She’s been fasting for six days now. Tomorrow would be seventh day” Beverly said and my jaws gave way as heat rose up in my eyes, causing tears to rush in.
“Ava, please stop it. I will be fine. You should know that this is a test that will pass. I wouldn’t want you to give in to discouragement and lies of the devil. I will be released soon”
“But why would dad…? Why would he…? Oh my God!” Ava broke out into tears and my tears also rolled down. I smiled as Beverly pulled her into her arms and they both wept.
“I am even confused too. Why would a father do that to his son, ehn?” Beverly asked and I smiled.
“Sir, I will find an evidence very soon. I will swing into action now and find an evidence. If there is an evidence, would you still be locked in here? Over my dead body!” Beverly said, confidently and I smiled.
“If its God’s Will that I stay here for a month, no matter what you try, I would still be here. So, why bother?” He asked and Ava broke free from her embrace.
“Its not God’s Will bro! It’s not! I will join Beverly. I will help her so we can get a concrete evidence in the shortest time possible. I want you out of here! I want dad to be put to shame again! I want him to know that our God can’t be locked up! That our God is the All Powerful!” Ava cried out and I nodded.
“For this God, is our God, forever, and ever, He will be, our God…” I started singing
“From now, from now, even unto the end” Ava joined in tearfully while Beverly watched on cluelessly.
“Jesus is real Bev!” I said and she gave a ‘Maybe’ look, shrugging her shoulders.
“I really do hope so. If I can find a way and the way becomes really successful and I see you get out of this cell unscatched, I would believe then that Jesus is real!” She said and I smiled.
“Even if I remain here, Jesus is real! Even if I die, Jesus is real! In my life, Jesus is real! In my death, He is more than real! No man can diminish or wipe out the reality of this God! Not me, not you, not anyone!” I said from within me.
Even in the cell, the Lord had been with me. I had met with so many student who had been caught doing drugs and all. Because of me, they had come to the saving knowledge of Christ.
If Jesus would still stay with me in cell, He is real! Even if His Presence seems far, He is still real!
“Such confidence!” Shaken Beverly exclaimed and I smiled.
“In His time, the Lord will give you an evidence that no man can come against” I said and she nodded, obviously confused.
I knew that immediately I leave the cell, the next target of mine for salvation would be Beverly!
I just see something so great about her, something unprecedented!
“Ava, get a copy of ‘The New Life’ from the fellowship library for Beverly and help her study it” I said and Beverly stood up suddenly, her phone in her hand.
“I have a call now sir. Its my dad and I have to pick it. Ava, I’d be waiting for you outside. I have to go now. Be good sir” She said hurriedly as she raised her phone to her ear.
“Hello dad” She said.
I looked on at her till she disappeared. Ava tapped the table just then.
“Bro” She called out.
“I have something to tell you” She said, looking so shaken.
“I am all ears” I replied and bent my ears towards her.
“Cole is planning to get married to Beverly this summer.” She said and the words blocked my ears after they had entered into my bloodstream, setting it on fire.
I became so hot and my hearing seemed to cease.
“Cole? Marry? Beverly? Summer?” I just couldn’t reconcile the four.
“I think dad has found out that you have a preference for Beverly bro. That’s why they want it that fast. Probably that’s why they locked you up so they can penetrate into her in your absence.” She said.
“Dad is into the Beverly thing too?” I asked and she nodded. My heart couldn’t stop running.
“What do we do now bro? Beverly seems to like Cole now too. They talk almost every night, laughing happily” She added and I blushed.
I thought I only got bothered about Beverly because she saved me once, and because she seemed like a sister to me until I got to the police cell again and I couldn’t get her out of my head.
I had called on the Lord several times concerning her but the Lord had been silent. And of a truth, she wasn’t born again, making the matter really serious.
Lord, just save her and preserve that shining glory I can see. Not for me should You save her, but for You!
That is the prayer the Holy Spirit dropped into my heart when I became so bothered and I had been taking it so serious.
Cole and dad, getting involved with Beverly?
What’s the matter?
This seemed more than Dad trying to take away what I like, oh no! I didn’t want to see it that way.
Lord, what’s this darkness I see, what’s this looming sorrow I can feel?
“Dad, I still don’t want to believe that you are fine the way you sound” I repeated.
I had spoken to my sisters and they had insisted that he was doing fine but I just couldn’t believe.
“Daughter, let’s leave me alone and talk about you” He said faintly.
“Okay. What about me?” I asked
“Are you with Jesus? Do you attend fellowships?” He asked and I smiled.
Thank God I had gone for two times now. One major thing I hated doing to my dad was lying to him.
“Yes dad. The Lord has been faithful. I attend the school fellowship too” I said happily.
“Are you on the Lord’s side?” He asked again, realizing that I had avoided the ‘Are you with Jesus’ question.
I remained silent.
“Beverly, I am very blind! Its something everyone knows. I may be completely blind but the eyes of my heart are sharp and clear daughter. I am better off than those who only have physical eyes, those who can only see what’s before their nose!” He said and I smiled sadly.
Why would he talk that way?
Is he dying?
Are these his final words?
Fear gripped my heart firmly as my tongue went bitter at once. If my dad should die before I become an ophtamologist, I would also kill my sisters and myself. I definitely would!
I could only go that far because I had them!
“Anyone that doesn’t have Jesus is a blind man. He doesn’t even know there’s a ditch before him and he falls into it badly! He doesn’t know a snake when his enemy gives it to him and he thinks its a cake! A real blind man is he without Jesus!” He said and sighed thereafter.
“Dad, why are you saying all these? You are scaring me” I finally found my voice.
“You scare me most my daughter. You weaken me most! I had a very terrible dream about you dearest and it shocked me. I even gathered up all my savings and got you a Bible. I trained you up in the way of the Lord so how did I miss it? How? How could God reveal such a terrible revelation to me about you, ehn? Did I release you to go to SMC to enter into a trap? Ehn?” He asked and my heart jumped into my mouth.
“What was the revelation?” I asked sharply.
“You walked into a gathering while myself and your sibling watched on. The gathering was for the rich and we were dressed like the poor. Someone gave you a queen’s apparel, so you were able to go while we remained” He paused.
“You would throw us food from there and we would feed. Suddenly, to get us a mansion to leave in, they asked you to eat a piece of cake. We all looked as the person who would feed you extended his hand to you and saw a big snake! A snake big enough that it would swallow your head!” He said and paused again.
I rubbed my forehead and swallowed. It was obviously as a result of his bad thoughts.
“We screamed at you. In fact, for the first time, Somto called out to you. ‘Mummy, don’t!’ But you insisted saying ‘This is a big cake I can’t let go!’. We all saw a snake and only you saw a cake!”
“So what happened after?”
“I woke up”
“Did I eat the snake?”
“So, why are you scared dad?”
“This isn’t any dream daughter. This is a revelation from God.”
“What does it mean then?”
“Whatever you are doing or planning to do to earn money for the sake of your family, stop it! Don’t! I released you to school to learn, not to make money!” He said with a finality.
“Okay dad. I will be careful” I said so he would let me off the hook.
“Take your God personally and He will take you personally. He has promised to contend with whoever contends with you, only if you are on His Side, baby girl!” He said and I smiled.
“Okay sir. I have noted all” I said and the phone beeped. The long call had eventually ended.
I heaved a sigh of relief and hissed silently.
“Fear fear daddy” I said and stood up from where I was sitting. I spotted Ava coming out of the school’s police station and waved at her.
“Alright everyone. Thank you for today. Have a wonderful class” Dr. Abu announced.
“Class, greet!” Beverly announced.
“Thank you for the teaching sir!” Everyone echoed. I could only mutter the words.
I hated Beverly so much that I even wished her dead!
Dr. Earl who would always look cold in class, who I had always tried to get his attention and failed, suddenly smiled when Beverly entered our class.
What a bad omen for me!
And then, because of her, my much loved lecturer had been locked up for almost a month! Oh my!
I couldn’t even bring myself to going close to the police station to see him when I was the cause of him being locked up.
I removed the headphone I had used to receive the lecture, placed in my bag, zipped it and stood up.
Everyone in the class hated me since the whole thing started and Beverly would always call me ‘Bitch’ or hiss whenevr she saw me. I who was once the heroine of the class became the villain all because of a new, very poor student!
I descended the small stairs close to the lawn. It had become my daily routine to go to the gym after my lectures each day. It was my way of getting a bit sane after the emotional stress.
I was about stepping on the treadmill when someone entered the gym and closed the door.
The blackness blinded my eyes and I fell down flat.
The gym was only for first class citizens of the school and almost none of them loved the gym. Who had come inside?
“Shirley” The voice called out and I tried to place it.
“Who are you?” I asked curtly.
“I don’t want both of us to waste each other’s time. Just answer me when I ask you a question” The voice said and I gasped.
Who could it be?
The voice sounded so familiar.
“Everyone used to think that you are a quiet, calm-headed person but you’ve proven to be the opposite, right?” She asked and I swallowed.
“Who are you? Put on the light and let’s talk” I said and she laughed.
“You are so used to decieving people, aren’t you? I am okay in this darkness. I want you to also feel the pain Dr. Earl is probably feeling now” She said and a pain tugged at my chest repeatedly.
“I don’t know what you are talking about” I said curtly. My heart was racing.
What if the lady hurt me?
“There was a CCTV in the laboratory where you had forced Dr. Earl to acknowledge you as his girl. The CCTV covered it all” She said and I became stiff.
Prof. Bello told me that that had been taken care of!
“What are you saying?” I feigned ignorance still, my heart blowing hot and cold.
“We know that the school management is working with you. We all know that. And that is what we will reveal to the whole wide world if you do not surrender yourself to the police as a liar!”
“Liar? What lie did I tell?” I asked, so scared my heart would fall out.
“You seduced a man and threatened him with a broken bottle in your hand. You hit him probably mistakenly as he tried to get the broken object out your hand. You cut yourself also and eventually passed out. After waking up, you lied to the whole world that he tried raping you and even attempted murder. Even if…” She was saying when I sat up, my eyes still shut in the darkness, tears rolling down my face.
“He is not someone I can do such a thing to. I didn’t intend for all that happened to happen.”
“Really? What a big, fat lie! His father hates him so much and planted you as a seducer. Your plan didn’t work and you had to kill him right? He survived again and you had to lie so he would be kept in the cell? What kind of…” She was saying when I broke out crying.
“My feelings for Dr. Earl is very true. I love him so much that I wouldn’t even allow an ant walk on him…” I started when the lady burst out laughing.
“You love him so much you can sit in your class and sleep in your room while he sleeps in the cell because of your lies, huh?”
“I didn’t send him to that cell. I told his father the truth when I came around after surgery. He was the one that told me to say all those. I can listen to you say the wrong things about me but I won’t permit you to belittle my feelings, you witch!” I burst out angrily.
“Feelings indeed! The father told you to say all those and you really did. C’mon, would you say you didn’t know about the hatred he had towards his son even from when you were in VVA?” She asked and I swallowed.
The person and I attended VVA?
I was suspecting Beverly but talking about VVA now, who could this be?
“I knew the father hates him. I only cooperated with him so I could get my revenge on Dr. Earl fro not liking me. I thought I would be better after the revenge that the father would release him soon thereafter but I was just so wrong! I feel miserable already, don’t add to it!” I shouted angrily. My heart had become as cold and frozen as an ice.
“That’s pure wickedness Shirley. Just go to the police and say all these there. Go there for the sake of your love for him!” She said.
“I can’t! Prof. Bello said the case would be brought against me! Defamation and attempted murder. I can’t allow my parents ridicule me again.”
“Your parents? I know they hate you. Oh, were you seeking love from Dr. Earl so you could just have someone at least who loved you on earth?” She asked and the accuracy of her words sent me wailing!
She was damn right!
Was that Ava?
No, she wouldn’t come in without her crutches. Or Bella? Why would she fight for the brother she hated so much?
Whoever the person was obviously knew me so well!
“If you know so well, why trouble me?” I asked so weakly
“Just go and confess to the police. Who knows if he might love you after you save him?” She asked and I gasped in scorn.
“He didn’t love me when I was calm and clean but he would love me now? Impossible!” I exclaimed loudly.
“See, whoever you are, I cannot go to the police station to confess anything. I will soon try another suicide when I become bold to do so. I will be going to the grave with this secret!” I said, firmly.
“You choose death over this confession?” The person sounded shocked. I chuckled.
“This war isn’t with me alone! It is a war again powers, against Prof. Bello, against SMC, against Nigeria!” I said and started laughing.
“Don’t commit suicide. You are a coward when you do that. Stay alive and fight! The best revenge is to be successful! Your parents and even Dr. Earl would envy you then” The lady said, opened the door and walked away.
I was so weak to even start up to check who it was.
“Don’t commit suicide. You are a coward when you do that. Stay alive and fight! The best revenge is to be successful! Your parents and even Dr. Earl would envy you then”
“I wish this is so true. I wish, oh I wish. Suicide is the way, death is the way!” I cried on vehemently, slapping my thigh in anguish.
“Let’s play it one more time” Ava said, trying to press the red button. I pulled her shoulder.
“This is okay. Let’s just get the laptop you talked about and send it.” I said. Ava hugged me tightly.
“You are the bomb! Thank you. Thank you!” She exclaimed and I smiled.
“She almost caught me o. Thank goodness I had heard about VVA and a little info about her life and family from Bella. That saved our asses” I said and she started dancing.
“Thank you Lord Jesus!” She exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air. I was so much happy too.
“We need to replicate this copy. Anything can happen.” I said and she brought out two laptops.
“Here is the new one we will use to send the message. We will destroy it and burn after so the IP address can’t be traced. I don’t trust SMC at all” She said and I nodded.
It made a lot of sense.
I was on my bed just two days back after we had met Dr. Earl and the idea that I should question Shirley came up. I decided to do that and discussed with Ava who supported it gladly. We asked to meet in a quarters close to the fellowship center after I got her voice.
She had contacted one of the biggest news bloggers in Nigeria anonymously and we planned to send the records to him anonymously so it could be in the news the following day.
There was absolutely no way everyone would know the truth and still keep quiet.
“Let’s send to this laptop and also these hard drives” She said and I smiled at how ready she was.
“You should have studied criminology” I said and she laughed.
“Well, you are a better CID than I am” she said and I smiled.
“Why does your dad hate you and Dr. Earl?” I asked out of the blue and she smiled.
“I will surely explain to you one day.”
“At the appointed time” She said and I let out a sigh. I hated suspense so much! I really did!
As I was about to open the door of my room, I heard soft music coming out of Cole’s room and I went close. I pressed the bell.
“In” He announced over the telecomms and I pressed the lock. The door opened and I saw him lying on his bed, his lapptop in front of him.
He looked so shocked.
“Excuse me dearest” I heard him say to the laptop. It was obviously a video call.
“Are you for real?” He asked, inspecting me like I was a goods for sale.
“You thought I was gone forever? You didn’t even miss me” I asked and he smiled.
“Of…” He was saying when a voice came from the laptop.
“Is that Dr. Earl? Is Dr. Earl back? For real?” I heard and as I went close to the laptop to confirm that it was Beverly, Cole closed the laptop sharply.
I smiled sadly and pulled out a chair.
“Are you in love?” I asked calmly and he smiled widely.
“You won’t believe who it is. I hated this girl badly when I first met her but oh the cupid’s arrow!…” He held his chest and rolled his eyes like he would faint. He fell into the cushion behind him.
“Who is it?” I played along. He walked excitedly to one of the drawers just above his wardrobe and removed a recorder.
“I am sure you will recognize her voice too. In fact, see, she loves me too. I was even thinking she would not return my love, chai! Let me play it” He said and pressed the button.
“I will fast forward to the highlight of the whole thing…haha” he broke out laughing as he pressed some buttons.
“Alright. Listen o. You will get the voice.
“We’d take a selfie now with your phone. When you are done thinking, send the picture to me if its a ‘yes’. If its a ‘no’, send your matric picture. Deal?”
He replayed for like two more time. I was calm through the whole process.
“Who is it?” I asked again and he raised his nose at me.
“That’s Beverly! Beverly Jones! My wife to be!” He exclaimed and I sighed.
“Has she said ‘yes’?” I asked calmly.
“She will say ‘yes’. She will. The day we met, she looked so in love with me. I knew she was reluctant to give me the answer because her best teacher was locked up. Now that she knows you’ve been released, she will say ‘yes’ and our marriage plans will start. I know it like I am a prophet!” He said like he was a child.
A part of me said he loved her while the other part I could trust so well told me I was seeing deception in my very front.
His phone beeped at that and he ran to the socket when it was plugged. I stood up.
“I will like to be in my room” I said as I walked to the door.
“What!” Cole screamed and fell into his bed. I felt he had fainted when I ran to his side. I saw his widened eyes and shaking jaws.
“What’s the matter?” I asked, so confused that I was facing all these on my first day of being a free man after so long a time.
I was even still wondering why my dad released me like that all of a sudden but I believed it was the Lord’s doing anyways.
“Check my phone! Check it!” Cole screamed. I picked the phone from beside him and I almost fell into space too.
“We’d take a selfie now with your phone. When you are done thinking, send the picture to me if its a ‘yes’. If its a ‘no’, send your matric picture. Deal?” He asked and I smiled.
It was the selfie!
“She said ‘yes’! She said ‘yes’” He jumped up again and started dancing some different steps I hadn’t seen before.
I sunk in a chair and examined the picture again.
The two of them looked so good together, his left arm was round her, she looked like she was really in love too as her smile looked so real. She looked exceptionally beautiful too- she must have taken time to style the hair!
Just below the picture was ‘YES’ in capital letters.
I checked the contact that sent the message- My Heartbeat.
I chuckled sadly.
I tried to see the number too and it ended with ‘8056’ like Beverly’s number.
“What a sound welcoming gift!” I exclaimed as I stood up again. Cole stood up and collected his phone.
“Welcome bro. I will start loving you from today.Your coming back brought me goodnews” He said and hugged me. I patted him sadly and smiled as far as my heart could carry me.
“Congrats bro” I said and he smiled as he saw me off to the door.
Once the door was shut, I inhaled deeply and exhaled thereafter, my heart rising in quick succession.
Just as I blinked hard to avoid it, I shed a tear for the first time after a long time!
I felt a sharp pain across my heart. I rushed to the door of my room before anyone could see me.
WATCH OUT FOR EPISODE 5
PS: The story is 30% Non-fiction and 70% fiction.
I hope you have learnt a lesson or two. Stay tuned for more lessons by the Special Grace of God!
I love y’all!
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