The deem lights eliminating from a florescent tube up in the ceiling came direct into my eyes as I lay down the small bed trying to put small pieces of information in order so I can get meaning of what was going on. It all happened so fast I had no time to process everything. Mostly my mind was clouded with fear and need to survive, I had not really allowed myself to go through everything that had happened in the last year to the point of the murder.
The sounds of soothing Music coming down from the next building really touched my heart I had no idea I was crying until I felt the water get into my ears. Slowly I placed my thumb and removed the water. I sat down sighing deeply. The priests were having their morning devotion and the sound of their voices just got me into my deepest thoughts.
“Am sorry God” I found myself saying amid my tears. I moved from my bed and covered my face kneeling down the floor. I could not pray as such, but I just said the words Sorry God over and over again, for long as the Monks sung. I knelt down and felt my tears run down my face. I could not realize they were done as the echo of their voices kept ringing in my head. I sat down feeling my knees weak and wiped my face. In so many years, I had not cried so much.
The soft knock from the door made me come out of the mood I was in and I started heading to the door to get it. I was so sure it was Father Tom at the door, but to my surprise a different priest was standing there wearing a gentle smile
“Hello good morning” he greeted me looking about. I noticed he was younger than me, way younger, I could sense he was slightly above 20 years old. That was 11 years younger than I was.
“Good morning father” I greeted him back
“Am just a deacon, not yet ordained priest” he corrected me.
“Oh, I thought you all are.”
“No, we are still training, you can call it that, there are only a few of us here but yeah, still new, less than 3 years here” he smiled anxiously rubbing his hands.
“Oh I see, well, great to meet you.. Um…” I paused realizing I had no idea what his name was
“Call me Geoffrey” he smiled
“Thank you Geoffrey, can I help you with anything?’ I asked after a bit of silence from him
“Yeah, I was sent to come call you by Father Tom, he said he will meet you in the adoration room.” he announced.
“Oh, I will be there” I smiled at him
“Yeah, you know where the adoration room is?” he asked politely, I was sure he knew I had no idea where that was. It was my 4th day in the monastery and the second day after I embarrassed myself in front of them all and I had not moved out of my room. Father Tom told me to take my time and think through things. He told me I had to take all the time I needed before confessing so that when I did, I can finally find peace. He was right, staying in silence for days really got me searching through my life and tried to see through everything with a different perspective. I tried to reason with myself and see where I got it all wrong, where all the anger and the impulsive acts came from, and to a great extent it all pointed back to my Family and later to my relationship with Alisha, it was all around that.
“Can I take you now?” Geoffrey asked seeing I was lost in my own thoughts.
“Oh yeah, sure please” I nodded and walked with him to where the adoration room was. I was ushered into a very serene room, it was very deem and all the walls were covered in some maroon carpet from floor to the ceiling. There was a statue of Jesus with a bright light in the front and a bible placed on a small table. Looked about and every other space was empty. I didn’t know what to do, I just stood there and did nothing. There was this strong feeling someone was there with me, I looked about thinking it was Father Tom, but I guessed he could not be hiding from me. I slowly turned around and took every detail of the room. Something just told me to kneel down and pray.
“I don’t know why am here, if you are there, I don’t even know what am saying right now, are you God in here with me? Or is it Jesus, please if it is you, get me out of this mess, I killed someone, I have done wrong things but I just feel like you have left me alone. In fact I feel like I don’t know who you are… yeah” I stopped chuckling.
“I guess that is why you took away the only woman I loved, you punished me as I grew up using my father. Well, I had to find a way to defend myself and here I am, stuck with some Monk, some priests who sing to you and make me feel so pathetic and unworthy. So yeah, I don’t know if am praying or just ranting, but you know what, I think this is not worthy cause I know you hate me probably for a lot of wrong things I did.. “
I Stopped and looked about again, wiping my tears. The deep silence continued and I sat down doing nothing more. My heart was feeling better I could feel a bit of peace but my head kept reminding me of my past and what I was.
“You can talk to him more, he is listening” The voice from the door called out and I noticed Father Tom has just joined me
“No he can’t possibly be listening, I don’t know what is wrong with me Father this place just makes me think things and i…” I stopped
“Go on” he encouraged me
“I don’t know, I feel am not right to be here Father. I need to go out there, I don’t belong here” I told him standing up
“God does not want you out Joseph, he brought you here for a reason and you cannot leave unless he wants you to” he smiled as though he had my life planned out
“Am not comfortable here, can’t you see. This room, it feels like someone is watching me and all this guilty and shame I feel.. I .. just cant stay” I cried
“Look, tell me what really happened out there, when we are done, you can leave.” He responded calmly.
I took a deep breath.. “Where do I start from?” I shrugged
“The beginning” he shrugged sitting down next to me
‘I thought you said I have to say it in confession” I looked at him
“We are in confession” he smiled
“I attended church as a boy, my parents are catholic, I don’t think this is how confession starts” I smiled back at him
“Well, let’s see, do you remember how?” he chuckled
“No” I shook my head
“I have not stepped my foot in church since I was in grade 8 and I cannot remember being in confession since the one I did before we were baptized in grade 7” I explained as a matter of fact
“Well, no procedures, God is listening.. So am I” he nodded his head.
I looked at him and the statue of Jesus in front of us. I looked around once again, like to make sure it was only him and Jesus listening before I started.
I met a girl, very beautiful woman. Well, I was sent by my boss to take some things to his house. A young lady walked out the door wearing this smile that just took me off my feet. She spoke her first word to me
“Hi” and I felt a lump in my throat I had to swallow hard to get rid of it
“Hi’ I had responded.
Well, father, that was the starting point of our love story, I visited my boss and friend James often after that first day. All I wanted was to see her and be around her, until I gained courage to ask her out, with the approval of her elder brother. He cautioned me to be careful with her and not do anything stupid. Well, I was and still is in love with her.
Months passed and all was well until one day she told me she was moving out of her brother`s house, she wanted to stay with me but I couldn’t allow her”
“And why not?”
“Well, I don’t know, I guess mostly it was because I was scared of her brother. You see, that was the mistake I made, now that I think of it, I could have pushed her to tell me what was going on with her family and probably stayed with her”
“Cohabiting is not Christian like” The priest pointed out. He wanted me to see the wrong in that but I told him there was no such thing as thinking of sins in my world, I was not even considering the fact that I was sleeping with a woman I was not married to as sin.
“Really,? You think cohabiting is a bigger sin that making love to a woman am not married to?” I asked him straight up. He shook his head.
“Well, I should have allowed her to stay with me Father because I discovered a month later that her parents had plans to marry her off to a fellow rich guy, some manager at some huge organization who happened to be a family friend. My Alisha was told to ditch me and marry him instead. According to them, a junior officer like myself amounted to nothing. They wanted the best for her.” I paused recalling the events around the period.
I was driving to her friends apartment where she was staying when I met this guy. Just one look at his car and manner of dress, I could tell I was up for some great competition. He stood outside the apartment the time I was driving in and Alisha was heading towards him. I parked my car a few meters away trying to see what was going on. I knew Alisha had seen me but I wanted to see her reaction when that man was there. It was weeks after we talked about everything and she assured me, she will never bow to her parents wishes.
“Hey babe!” she waved her hands up high I knew she was calling me. I felt proud in that moment as I took long steps towards her and like always she threw her arms around me.
“Wow” I staggered back trying to keep my balance. A wide smile on my face, I knew I had her, no matter what, I had faith she had chosen me. Well, I was wrong.
“She changed her mind?’ Tom asked.
“Not only did she change her mind about me Father, she spit in my face that she never loved me that all this while I disgusted her and she was not in love with me.” I paused as I took in the memory of Alisha shouting and telling me how she hated me, how I was a failure and many other words that I could not dare remember. It was too painful for me.
“So you killed someone because your woman chose another man?” the priest asked.
‘No, that is not the reason father. There is more to it. You see, I could not understand why Alisha had a sudden change of mind. She loved me that I was sure of. So I followed her around. She had completed her studies and was still looking for a job, so she made little movements making it easier for me to track her. I did that for 3 months and most of the times I could find that other guy`s car parked at the new flat she was staying at.
One day I was there watching and waiting for them to come out and I saw them after an hour. She was dressed in a white dress that fall above her knees and moved about as she walked cause of the little winds blowing the air. Her face was sad and she continuously looked down. I sensed something was wrong. I waited till the guy had left before I got to her flat.
She had left her door open so I pushed it and entered without knocking. She was curled on the couch her face buried in her palms. I could hear small sobs from where I stood, she had not seen me yet.
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“hey” I whispered and she quickly turned to look at me
“What is wrong babe, are you okay?” I asked without hesitation, she was still precious to me and seeing her cry made me want to avenge her pain.
“What are you doing here Joe?” she asked wiping her tears
“You have not answered my question Alisha? What is wrong?” I asked
“Please leave me alone Joe. You have no right to be here, it’s been 3 months and am sure you must have forgotten about me. Please leave before Chanda comes back” she looked away.
“Chanda? Is that his name?”
“Joe please” she shook her head
“Just tell me why you hate me all of a sudden. We were …” I could not finish my words and she shook her head turning to look at me
“We were what Joes? You never told me you loved me in words Joe.. so.. “
“Is that your excuse? I never said the words regularly? You know I love you, I don’t need to sing it on top of the mountain Alisha, I have always loved you and you are doing this to punish me ? is that it? The hateful words and all just to make me pay for not saying the words?” I felt my eyes clouded with tears.
“Joe please..” she looked away avoiding my eyes
“No don’t do that, don’t look away and tell me the truth now, here you are looking like you have funeral, you look sad so am I. so tell me a good reason why you are doing this to us.. Tell me Alisha and I will leave you alone. Please. Don’t give me that bullshit you hate me just to get rid of me, you know that is not true, tell me the truth now” I begged kneeling down and holding her hands she could not avoid my eyes anymore. She looked at me and burst out crying. She sobbed for a moment and I had no option but to hold her close. I felt it, she needed me as much I as I needed her, all she had to do was tell me the truth. So I sat down besides her holding her close.
She lifted her face to look at me and I smiled, I touched her lips and I saw her tremble, I knew it, she was in love with me, her eyes could not lie. I moved her closer and kissed her lips tenderly. Moved my head to look at her and there was no sign of resistance, so I went on kissing her with all my passion.
“I missed you so much babe, I missed you” I kept whispering to her teary face. She held on to me like she didn’t want me to let her go. I held her closer squeezing her small body in my embrace and allowing her to fell my strong heartbeat.
“You feel that?” I spoke in her neck
“My strong heartbeat for you Alisha, am not letting you go, I love you.. I love you so much and I swear I will say it every day if I have to prove it to you. I have never loved someone so much in my life. Please don’t let me go, please” I could feel myself getting so emotional my eyes were filling up
“I can`t” she moved away sharply like she was scared holding on to me would be hard to let go
“Why? Alisha why are you doing this?” I asked trying to hold her hands but she moved them away
“My mother is dying Joe, she is dying and her wish is that I marry Chanda, his family has been there for us, we are where we are cause of them and the only way they can appreciate Chanda`s family is to give me to him as a wife, he loves me Joe and …” she paused
“I will learn to love him” she finished her sentence leaving me staring at her in shock
“You are choosing a man you don’t love because your family feel they have a debt to Chanda`s family? Are you serious? You have nothing to do with whatever they did to help your family Alisha, you are an independent person and can make your own decision, sorry to say this but your mother is being very selfish, she is dying and her only wish is to leave you suffering?” I scoffed my temper rising.
“I think you have to go now Joe, I have made up my mind and I will not do otherwise, it’s my life after all, I can live it the way I want to” she stepped away from me
“Yeah that’s right, like throwing away the love you have for me and choosing to live with that rich clown”
“Joe, please you have to go. Right now”
“Oh yeah, cause you know if I stay longer you might end up choosing me Alisha, the truth here is you love me and you are being a coward to fight for us” I shook my head feeling disappointed.
“You can now leave Joe, you heard the lady she does not want you here” an irritating voice with a slang accent spoke from my back I turned to look at him
“Get going Joe, Mr Police officer” he teased me looking at me from head to toe and sizing me up. I was in my uniform.
“I am not yet done with her” I responded calmly
‘Oh yeah? She is mine now and I say you are done. So Sir, match out” he raised his hand showing me the door. I felt my temper rise, I knew I was not going to leave without a fight. I walked slowly towards him my eyes set on him, he was an inch shorter than me.
“You don’t tell me shit! I will leave when am done talking to her. You better back off!” I snored angrily
“No, you son of a b—h! I say the words and you bark, and right now the words are back off! Leave us alone and never come back here or else…”
“Or else what? “ I pushed him to the wall and he was ready to stand up against me. He folded his fists and I was watching him closely ready to take him down.
“Joe! Stop!” Alisha came to me pulling me away.
“Please” she cried holding my hand firmly as Chanda kept standing ready to pounce on me. I felt bad I had to fight him another day, cause I surely could not do it with Alisha`s begging eyes.
“Its alright babe, I will leave” I held her hand and kissed her forehead making Chanda pissed he pushed me back.
“Get out!” he screamed and I let go of one punch in his face I could see blood coming out of his nose.
“Joe please!” Alisha screamed running to Chanda and I shook my head staring at him.
“Don’t ever touch me!” I gnarled and walked out my anger building up every minute I walked away from her.
“Well, I guess you cannot solve things with fists huh” Father Tom who had been listening chirped in. I shook my head.
‘No you can’t, because from that day, for some reason, Alisha could not see eye to eye with me. She was moved from the flat. My guess is the Chanda guy moved her.”
“Well, so what happened after that? Did you ever confront her brother James? Or her parents?” the priest asked. I stretched my legs on the warm carpet and moved my hand in my hair, took one more look at the statue of Jesus and at Father Tom, before I could continue…