I tried to forget her, I swear I tried, I took my work to a different level, worked so hard I got a raise in my ranks. I completed my law courses and attended graduation. I was being seconded for a good position at the prosecution office, I was proud of my achievements of course but my heart still longed for her. I could hear her voice calling for me every time I shut my eyes, but I kept my distance. I owed it to my friend and colleague James and for her as well. I was not going to jeopardize things for their family, they made their decision and I had no right to force Alisha to admit to loving me.
“So you finally let go, that was good growing up Joe, I would give you that. If things don’t work out for you, you move on and find another purpose in your life, Am sure God had not prepared this woman for you, he had other plans for you” Father Tom sighed with certainty in his eyes.
“Hmm you are man of God, a priest, you serve God and am sure you will do anything to defend him, but no offense, I feel like I have been all alone my entire life. Either he hates me or he has completely forgotten about me like I did him. so yeah, that talk about purpose doesn’t really get to me” I responded without hesitation and the man eyes popped open in shock, am sure he was wondering if a person like me who had no regard for God really existed.
“I found you praying earlier. What was that? You suddenly remembered God?” he challenged me.
“Well, I .. Sort of..” I shrugged caught in my own web.
“Yeah, admit it son, you know God is better than you, you might have thrown him out of your heart for whatever reason but this issue you have at hand, has brought that buried truth to light, he is God and you need him” He stated seriously this time and I could almost get where the conversation was going. I started feeling the shame and guilty again and I didn’t like the feeling. So I stood up angry
“Am leaving” I stated and started walking out without warning. Father Tom trailed me from the adoration room trying so hard to keep with my pace. I could not stop even as I heard him call my name. Well they say truth hurts and I felt it. I was the bad one, I neglected God and here I was in a place were he was worshiped and adored and I was just.. Me.. Useless and a murderer.
“What is wrong with you?” Father Tom caught up with me just as I was about to open the door to my room
“We are just talking and you just snap? What did I do now? What? Huh? “ he asked getting pissed by my silence obviously, I felt for him. It was not his fault I was a lost cause, he was a good man that I could tell and I felt I was being so rude to him but I kept quiet. I watched him standing and asking me what I was thinking and why I was silent. Like someone had just pressed the mute button on me
“Joe, this is my house, if you think am not father enough for you. If you feel you have grown so much that you can speak to me like this, then get out!” My father`s memory came to mind as Father Tom went on talking to me.
“Dad, I was only there, I swear I didn’t drink any beers, am innocent” I stood up from my seat and my father pulled out his belt and started whipping me so hard across my body. I tried to hold the belt back cause I could not stand the pain and the yelling and I pushed my father back, he staggered and hit his head on the wall falling down with a thud.
I walked out of the room and ran off without looking back. I was angry. My father had just accused me of drinking some beer with a group of kids from my school. I had gone to a friend`s party and I had no idea they planned on drinking. I kept my distance and just played other games. I have no idea how my father found out I was at that party. He came to the place with his fellow officers and had us all arrested. I for one was made to stay in the cells for 3 days. He said I had to be set as an example for others. My mother cried and pleaded for me to get released. All my friends were out in a day but I spend 3 days there. The horrible experience of staying in the Police cells, toping up I was a child to a police officer who probably had some of the guys in there locked up. Well, let’s just say I had the worst 3 days of my life.
And here I was trying to defend myself to my father, tell him I never took any beer but he started whipping me instead. I wondered for some time that day, as I ran if he was truly my father. Why he hated me so much, why he never made me feel like his son. I had nowhere else to go so I kept walking about like a lost dog. I was hungry and tired from the prison cells so I had to go back home.
“Are you alright?’ My mother who had me hidden in the pantry room asked me as I ate the food she sneaked in for me to eat.
“No, mom where is my father?” I asked my mom and she looked at me with shock on her face
“What does that mean? “She asked coldness in her voice, she was not happy
“Mom, am 15 and my father hates me, he whips me, he does not listen to me, well, my whole life he has been too harsh on me.. so yeah, I am doubting if he is my father and I want to know where my father is” I said placing down the empty plate
“You are so mistaken if you think I had you with another man, how insulting Joseph, I am your mother for crying out loud, you cannot disrespect me like that” she raised her voice at me forgetting we were trying to hide from my father.
“Am sorry, I didn’t mean that, I just don’t understand him. I swear I never drunk any beers.. Not even a bit.. but..” I cried failing to finish my words and my mother hugged me close.
“My son, I love you, so does your father, well, in his own way, but never say that nonsense again, he is your father and no matter what, you will respect him” she warned me and gave me some clean clothes before walking out and locking the door. Just in case my father tried to open the door.
She told me I had to wait till my father`s temper was down and she will let me out. Well, I had no idea then that it would take a week. According to my mother, dad didn’t want anything to do with me, I disgraced him and fought him, I hurt his head and I was an unruly child. So I stayed indoors hidden for the entire week. I could sneak out to bath and get some fresh air when he was at work and crawl back in the spare room where mom kept her bags of maize and other farm produce she had harvested. To say I hated my father was mostly an understated, I resented him even more when he found me and had me whipped again by some police officer before I was allowed back to stay at the house.
“Are you even listening to me?” Father Tom waved his hand at my face and I started looking at him
“No, honestly no, Father Tom, am a lost cause if you can call me, I have this anger bottled in me, I get angry, I get irritated so easily and yeah, you are right, I always feel bad being surrounded by all of you” I looked at his face.
“but you know who made all that get away? Who made me feel great, special and belonging?” I stood up looking at father Tom as he held his hands in his pockets.
“Alisha, oh yes, she was my girl, she loved me, she trusted me and she never not even once raised her voice at me, not even when she lied she hated me. She is the calmest person I know next to my mother, she knew what to tell me every time and I knew I did right by her. I stopped feeling the anger and rage I had towards my father. I started walking head high cause I knew someone out there cared for me. She made me a better man for over a year and for me that was long enough to last my entire life” I wiped tears from my face, taking a deep sigh and shaking my head walking about in front of father Tom
“But they took that away from me too, they just got it all away and I lost it. I tried to be a better man outside and all but I was back to being so raged, so infuriated I could scream at a little irritation at work. I killed in the end and you wanna know what happened huh? “ I chuckled wiping my face and sitting down angrily and shaking.
Well, I thought I moved on until I received a call from Alisha a year later. She was crying, I could feel her anguish. My Alisha was in pain and that for me was unacceptable, I could never make her feel that way. Well, at least not intentionally. She was my world and even if it hurt me, I wanted her to be happy.
“Babe what happened? You have not called me in one year. Tell me what is going on?” I asked walking out of my office when I recognized her voice.
“Joe am sorry, um..” she stopped and started sobbing
“Alisha? Alisha? What is it, am here.. You know am here for you right? Did that scumbag hurt you?” I asked irritated at the thought he hurt her.
‘I can’t do this anymore Joe, am sorry to bother you but I had no one else to call, James and everyone else can’t understand me. I cannot do this Joe I just can’t” she cried and then I heard background sounds and before she could say more, her line went shut.
I panicked, I wanted to know what was going on with her. So I rushed to my car and drove off in a rush. I was not thinking of anything at the moment but to be with her and comfort her. I forgot about my work, my boss James who was waiting for me for an important assignment I just rushed and drove at a great speed.
As I drove to her address which I had known for the year she was married to him since I tracked her down and watched her the first few week’s just to make sure she was okay and happy. I was glad she looked okay and I moved on. Well, now I had to visit the place again.
“Impulsive” Father Tom giggled and I smiled at that..
“Yeah, very impulsive Father, that’s me. I act and then think sometimes” I nodded my head sadly
“And where did that get you?” he smiled at me too
“In a monastery with a bunch of praying and singing Monks” I let a laugh and he did too.
“What did you find?” he asked me snapping me from my break.
Alisha`s house was so silent when I got there. I walked to the front door and without thinking twice knocked on it. I tried the third time before the door swung open.
A shocked Alisha stood by the door way looking at me.
‘What are you doing here?” she asked her voice cracking I could tell she was crying.
“Who is at the door?” Chanda`s voice comes loud as he walked to the door I had to step back a little bit.
“Oh my… look who is here? Have we committed any crimes officer?” Chanda teased me I could see panic on Alisha`s face.
“Hi Chanda, how have you been?” I tried to be as casual as possible.
“Hmm, what do you want?” he asked and I had lost my words, I had no idea what I was doing standing at the house of my ex-girlfriend who was married to him. I felt stuck for the first time in my life. I had to say something or the idiot could take the moment into one to humiliate me.
“I was looking for James” I said the first line of defense that came to my mind.
“James?” Chanda asked but I could see that Alisha knew I was lying.
“Yeah, am sorry, we came with him the other day. You didn’t see me of course cause I had to stay in the car. “I shrugged trying to buy myself time.
“James said he is coming here and I had to come look for him, there is an emergency at work” I lied feeling like a fool.
“Well, officer, he is not here as you can see, in fact you have just disturbed a very romantic moment I had with my wife.. Please hop on” Chanda was wearing a very sarcastic smile on his face. I looked at Alisha one more time and I noticed her black eye. She tried to move her hand to hold it and I saw scratches on her elbow.
“Are you okay?’ I asked her ignoring the husband who kept giving me a threatening stare.
“Yeah she is okay.. Get going man! You have no business here and please never come back, we don’t like past connections if you know what I mean” Chanda stood in my way slightly covering Alisha from my direct sight.
“Am fine Joe, thank you for asking, say hi to your mother for me” she responded quickly I knew it was not a good time.
“Yea, my mother will be thrilled you still remember her. Have a good day people” I faked a smile and walked out. My heart was not at peace. I kept thinking about her and what she could possibly be going through.
“I will get to the bottom of this I swear” I vowed to myself as I drove back to work.
“Where are you?” James was on the phone.
“Heading back to the station boss, I had to run out a bit” I responded increasing pressure on the gas
“does that running out include going to my sister`s house?” James asked and I was caught. I could not lie anymore and I knew it was Chanda who called, I prayed James covered up for me. Not that I was afraid of him but of what he would do to Alisha, I could not stop thinking he had something to do with the mark on her eye and the bruise on her hand.
“What the hell man?” James was standing in my office the moment I got back
“Am sorry, I said it on phone am sorry man, I just…” I paused
“You just what? Missed her after a year? Come on Joe, I thought we are past this, now you are stalking my sister?” James accused
“No I mean, its not like that, are you sure Alisha is okay? I mean, have you asked her how she is in this her marriage?” I changed the subject and James shook his head
“Are you serious right now? Am just from covering for you from my brother in law and you ask me that?”
“Yeah, am serious man, please tell me what is going on, is Alisha okay, is that fool treating her well?” I persisted
“What do you mean treating her well, she is good man, we had dinner at my parent`s yesterday and she was fine. Happy. “James raised his face
‘Hmm then how do you explain the bruises on her hand and a dark eye?” I asked this time going to sit on my desk
“What? Is that…” James started and stopped amid his sentence.
“Yeah man, she called me, she was crying and she said it was too much, she said she cannot do this anymore and the line got cut before she could tell me anything, I had to rush to see her and I saw her, she was… um… “ I paused feeling angry I bit my lip.
“She was sad man, she had this face calling for help, your sister is not well James, either that bastard has been beating her up or something else serious is going on, so if you love her, find out what the shit is going on there!” I shook my head and moved to my chair leaving James staring at me without words.
“No wonder she…” James muttered silently.
“No wonder she did what? Tell me what you know James” I stood to him
“I have to go.” James turned to leave but I was not letting him, I followed him to the car
“James, tell me what is going on, what did Alisha do? What did she say?” I asked
“Nothing, that is it, my sister tells me things but of late she does not say anything, she just went mute on me, she never calls, not even mom, Mom had to force her to come for dinner at the house. She is just… I don’t know … distant.” James spoke as his hands opened the door to the car, I held it out before he could get it
“You have to find out what that bastard is doing to Alisha James, or swear to God I will find out and when I do… you know it won’t end well” I warned James and walked out.
I could hear the engine starting and he drove out. Getting to my office I grabbed a bottle of water and drunk in an instant sighing angrily and throwing the bottle in the trash can in the corner.
“Better be nice Chanda, better be nice to my girl.. or else…” I muttered to myself
“Let me guess? You never let go?” Father Tom spoke in a whisper
“Not even one bit.. I bet you are knowing me now Father” I smiled at him and walked to the window. The sun was overheard meaning we had been talking for over 5 hours.
“Am hungry Father Tom..” I looked at him and he let a laugh
“So am I.. lets go and grab some food then, it must be ready” he stood up too
“Are you sure, I can go with you to your dining room?” I asked shocked he was letting me out.
“Yeah, you already showed yourself to everyone Joseph remember?” he laughed and I we both walked out heading to the dinning…
“So? We continue?” he sighed after we grabbed our lunch and took out sits at the end of the hall away from everyone.
“Yeah, are you sure they will not hear us? “ I asked looking around
“The food is too nice for them to notice” He giggled and I shook my head smiling
“You are enjoying this aren’t you?
“what? The food?” he laughing knowingly
“ my story?” I asked him chewing on my piece of beef
“Hmm mostly likely” he shrugged
“It’s not every day I get to hear stories of people. Especially love stories” he smiled and I laughed along with him…….