The rehearsals started and Nkem got very involved and that was a major distraction from all her bitterness. Nkem had always liked to plan events and this was one event that afforded her an opportunity to show case her skills. Nkem, weldone. Bro Seyi said as he came near where she was sitting after the rehearsals of the songs they had that evening. I can see that you have been very active and much involved in the preparation of this program and you look very tired.
Yes, I am. I came here straight from work. My day has really been hectic but I find joy coming here. So can I take you home? Yes! She said with a heave. I will be most grateful for the favour. Together they walked to his car, giggling.
Nkem got home, thankful for the ride and all she could ask for was the comfort of her bed. She put on the light in her sitting room and started walking towards the refrigerator standing in the dinning section when she heard Mercy call out to her.
Mercy! She called astound. What are you doing here alone and in the dark? You didn’t tell me you were coming. Hope all is well?
All would have been well if I didn’t get the news I got today. I heard that Simon lost his job yesterday. The hospital said they couldn’t habour a rapist and something tells me you orchestrated it. So, do you have a hand in this?
Well, she said in a sheepish voice, I had to do what I had to do. I was protecting other likely victims who would make friends with him and end up being raped. You should be grateful to me anyway, and not barge in on me at this time of the night after a tiresome day. At least he has started paying for his wickedness and this is not the end.
Now, I’m beginning to wonder if you are fighting for me or something else I know nothing about. How would you do such thing without informing me. You know the trouble of getting a job after you have been sacked and you also opened a bad record in his file.
Oh! Please. Nkem scoffed with her hands waved to discard Mercy’s words. He should have thought about that before forcing himself on a woman. You are beginning to irritate me with all this advocacy you are making for him, or you actually invited him to sleep with you but because you didn’t want to look cheap you made it look like a rape, she said looking at Mercy pointedly.
What a heartless thing to say to me after you know what I have been through. God has helped my heart and when I thought I couldn’t forgive, God helped my heart. After I read in the bible that with God all things are possible, the words came alive for the first time in a long time and I started asking the Holy Spirit to help me forgive. What spurred my heart the more was when the Lord took me to where he wrote, “if you don’t forgive men their sins, your heavenly father will not forgive you your sins” and you know the prayer of a sinner is an abomination to God. As long as my sins were always before my father, I am a sinner and my prayers were going nowhere. And so I started praying and crying to God and he heard me. I have forgiven him and I am praying that he comes to know the love of Jesus, he is used to the hate of the world and what you are doing is no different from what is obtainable in the world.
Thank God for you Mercy. Can I go to bed now? Tomorrow is a long day. Have a sweet sleep. Good night sister. Good night, Nkem. Pray to God to help your heart.
The day for the hearing in the court came and Nkem was excited as she looked into the face of Simon in the court room. She looked around and her Mercy was nowhere to be found. If this girl embarrasses me, I don’t know what I will do to her, she thought out loud. The debate started and when the time came for the victim to testify, she was nowhere to be found. Mercy was absent from the court room. Why would Mercy do this to me, to me? Was all Nkem could ask herself. The court was adjourned to exactly a month from that day.
She went to church for the day’s rehearsals and was bent on not thinking about what Mercy did. Whether she likes it or not, that Simon will pay for his crime. Mercy can forgive all she wants but I will bring him down to hell where he is supposed to be. But for now I will enjoy the rehearsals and the preparations for the programme.
Simon sat in his sofa looking into his television but watching nothing. He had travelled to the land of thoughts. His friends had heard of what happened and were highly disappointed. As much as they were Casanovas they were not up for violating a woman against her will. They all stayed away except Tade. But today Tade was busy at work and he was alone. With his head leaned back on his sofa, he wondered how his life had crashed to this point, how did he allow himself to get to this. When you are about to do what’s wrong, you know it could come with consequences but then you go ahead and damn the consequences just to enjoy the pleasure of the moment, Simon was thinking to himself. Then he though out loud, “After the pleasures of the moment what next? When that day is gone and tomorrow comes would you be able to look outside your window to see the havoc you have wrecked?” I threw it all away for a pleasure that was only one sided. Her sweet company, her friendship, her smiles, my job, all for nothing but the wind. Now my licence is on the line and I don’t think I will win against the tides. I’m going to sink and sink deep. Then silent tears streamed down his face but it was carrying the pain in his heart.
His phone ranged and brought back from his thoughts. Oh! Mercy! Why is she calling, why should she call me? And the phone rang out. And he bursted into tears. There were times she called to check on him but his lust, the beastly nature in every man turned his life into this and then his phone was ringing again. He picked, greatly anticipating her reasons for calling.
Hello, he said into his phone.
Hello. Good afternoon. How are you today?
I’m good. And you?
I’m fine. I would like to meet you, is it possible?
Yes. Where do you want to meet with me? Simon asked
Tomorrow in my church by 2pm.
Ok. That is a date. Simon said stammering.
Why does she want or rather would she want to see me? And Simon couldn’t wait for 2pm to come. He wants to find out or maybe she wants to tell me she has agreed to out of court settlement. Nah, he shocked his head with tongue tucked behind his teeth, not the way things have been going.
And they both met in the main auditorium of Mercy’s church. Thank you for coming, Mercy started to say when Nkem who was not expected walked in to meet them in a meeting. Nkem went ballistic like she was going to destroy the furniture in the church. What are you doing with this evil soul damned for hell. She turned to Simon and slapped him hard in the face. If only I had a gun you would have been dead right now. Did you come to meet her so you could rape her here again?
Sister you are shouting on the top of your voice, must everyone know I was raped, don’t make it any harder.
Off course not, Nkem said. Not everyone must know you were raped but everyone must know he is a rapist.
So how will they know he was a rapist without knowing I was the victim with the way you are shouting?
Did you say was, Mercy? I said is, I say he is a rapist.
She faced Simon, I don’t ever want to see you 0ne meter from Mercy or you would have preferred to be a dead man. Nkem, Mercy started to say, I was the one who called for a meeting with him, he didn’t come to meet me here, I called him out and please don’t look at me like that. The Lord wants me to tell him something and that’s why we are here. Nkem looked at her sister with a face of, “I can’t believe this”. You can sit not too far from us but please let me do this. Nkem knew she wasn’t going to succeed forcing her sister out so she decided to sit three pews back, at least she would hear their discussion.
I’m sorry for that, Mercy said as she took her sit beside Simon. I want to tell you I have forgiven you. I don’t know if that is going to make you feel better but I need to tell you that. I also what to tell you that God loves you but hates your sins. Turn away from them and turn to Jesus, let him wash your sins and take your heavy burdens. He asked me to tell you He loves, the plans for you are of good and not of evil, to give you a hope and a future. Don’t think it was easy to forgive you but God helped me and so He can help you to forgive yourself and accept His love. Simon broke down in tears, you mean you have forgiven me? And then he went on his knees and said he was sorry amid His tears. I will take any punishment for my wrongs but I just needed you to forgive me. I didn’t have the guts to come to you and I asked God to help you forgive me but I didn’t think He will answer me, afterall I don’t have a cordial relationship with him. I’m ready to turn to Him for love and leave my sins behind, just tell me how. Mercy read to him from John 3:16 and told him that the moment a sinner repents of his sins sincerely, the Lord forgets them immediately. She told him that God said he will take our sins far away from us as far as the north is to the west. God said I should pray for you. He agreed and Mercy prayed for him. Nkem came around, clapped for them and scoffed. This will not mean that you will not suffer for all your wickedness and evil, she can forgive all she wants but you will pay. Now, Mercy, it’s time to get you home where you can think properly. She took Mercy out from Simon’s presence but Mercy felt so much peace and joy after leaving him. She had prayed for his salvation for a long time and just few days to the end of her internship, God answers her prayers. God is faithful she smiled to herself as she sat in her sisters car who looked at her like some sick fellow but was not ready to hear some of her foolish talk.
Maybe the trauma or maybe the thought that it was her fault that got her raped is what has turned her into this, Nkem thought in her heart.
I think I should invite him to the programme in your church happening the last Saturday in august, Mercy said to Nkem but Nkem ignored her like some lunatic who was speaking gibberish. Mercy took her phone and sent Simon a message about the Christian Community worship holding the last Saturday in August and the direction to the church in Akute.
That day came, and all people were looking colourful and Nkem was not left out. Simon was around and he sat in the middle pew. The programme started with so much power that Nkem couldn’t believe it was getting bigger than she envisaged. The song ministration was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit so much that Nkem couldn’t stand on her feet. She fell to her knees and started weeping like a baby but didn’t know why she was weeping but couldn’t stop herself. While Nkem was weeping, Simon was filled with such joy that it felt it was flowing from a source he couldn’t tell about. Simon sprung to his feet and started jumping. Tosin and Mercy sat still enjoying all the scenes before for she had been praying for God to break Nkem and cause Simon to really experience Him. The Song leader paused singing leaving the instrumentalists to play at the background. This year is a year of forgiveness. The Lord says this year is a year of forgiveness. God is here healing hearts and saving souls. Let him touch you, let him help you, accept his forgiveness, accept his love, show his forgiveness and walk. The songs began with such force that people were on their feet while Nkem remained on her knees weeping profusely. God, why would you do this to me, I don’t know how Mercy did it but it’s hard for me. I had an inclination to go and spend that day with her but instead I invited her over. She told me she was on duty and don’t think she would be able to make it down to my place. I wasn’t ready to spend the cross over night elsewhere nor was I ready to let go of all the preparations I had made for the new year. I decided that we would meet next year and wish each happy new year. But that moment I wouldn’t give away, I ended up giving the whole year up for. And I believe it was my fault that she was raped, that Simon took advantage of the fact that I didn’t follow the inward voice to be with my sister. He makes me feel like such a bad sister, a sister incapable of taking care of my younger sister. I couldn’t save my sister, I couldn’t be there just because I was more concerned for trivialities. Still, that doesn’t give him the licence. Nkem was struggling real hard inside but the Lord’s hand was mighty upon her and all the dream of dancing all the way was gone. By the end of the service Nkem had let go and decided to let God. She was experiencing the healing of God and learning to forgive her self and Simon. Meanwhile Simon sneaked away immediately after the service but he was glad he was in attendance. He felt God’s love flood his heart and knew what it meant to know that God loves you. He could understand why Mercy was walking all smiles and Nkem would rather shoot him dead. He understood it all now and he was ready to walk in this new light. One day, whether he was in prison for his crime or walking a free man, he was sure his life had a meaning, a greater sense of direction, he had seen the light and wasn’t afraid anymore. Tade must hear this. He must find this joy I have found. I must go to Tade’s house straight away, he said to himself.
Nkem called her lawyer, “Barrister, I have decided to drop the case and opt for out of court settlement. Is it still possible at this point?” Sure, Nkem, sure. We would take care of that. Please also call Simon and brief him about the recent development. Right away! He answered.
Ok Barrister, see you later in the day.
What happened? Barrister asked as he was wondering. Well thank God she can be healed of the bitterness that had eaten into her like a cancer.
Simon couldn’t believe his ears. God! all these for me? They have dropped the case. What good news on the last Saturday in August. I have a fresh start at life and you used the lady I hurt most. I pray I’m able to get a job soon. If not for Tade the last two months would have been hell. Lord, I must say your steadfast love never ceases and you mercies are new each morning.
Mercy, that was the chief medical director speaking into her phone. I want to see you in my office today. I know its getting quite late but something came up and I need to discuss it with you. Alright sir, I will soon be with you.
Mercy, you are ending your internship with us after this last Saturday in August and you will be going for your youth service. I have enjoyed working with you and I have seen your hard work even though you don’t know I know. Even after what happened to you earlier in the year, you didn’t crash nor did you become bitter; instead you carry a lively spirit that is infectious. So I have decided to ask the NYSC to post you to Lagos and you will be serving with the hospital and we hope you would love to work with us afterwards. I hope you are ok with the arrangement? I hope I didn’t disrupt any plan of yours.
Not at all sir. I’m so happy with your plans. It will be my pleasure to serve with you.
Ok then. That was all I wanted to discuss with you. Have a great night.
Oh thank you sir. I feel like screaming but I will hold it till I get home. Good night sir.
Mercy went straight to Nkem’s house. I have a job even before my service. She said immediately she entered Nkem’s house. She screamed with such excited that Nkem too joined in. Congrats girl. I’m proud of you.
Thank you. God always heals the broken hearted. He is the balm of Gilead. My life is beautiful and right now I have no regrets and more sure that all things would always work together for my good because I love the Lord and because I am called according to his purpose.