The soft wind blew in his face and affected his eyes as they were open, his face facing the direction of the window. He didn’t bother to wipe the water away. He let it fall on his cheek and down his chin. Joe, could almost hear Father`s voice in his head.
“You are stronger than you think, you survived your father`s harsh treatment when growing up. He got you filed with hate and anger but that should not define who you are Joseph, you can chose to become a better person. What you are now will be what you chose to be. Forgive yourself for all you have done and stand upright to face what is to come. You might go to Jail for murder but I can assure you, you will have peace. That is better living than spending your life on the run with guilty and shame of your mistakes”
‘Well father, here we are, at least I will not be jailed for murder” He wiped his face and started walking towards James’s house. At first knock, the door opened wide and James stood there looking at him with an expressionless face. It was like he was not expecting Joe to show up or he knew he would eventually show up, but Joe could not tell which the feeling from James` face was.
“Hey” Joe started giving him his best smile
“You must have a death wish coming to my house after what you did” James spoke his cold voice so deep and threatening
“Yeah sort of” Joe shrugged casually.
“Am sorry I ran, I acted on impulse, I was scared and had lots of emotions going on, it was an accident I swear, I was about to hand the gun to Chanda and he tried to grab it, I had no intention of firing the gun. Am sorry man. I really am. I was wrong to run but here I am, I came here first because I want to show you how sorry I am, before am taken to jail” Joe went on and James kept looking at him without a word.
“Are you going to say anything? “ Joe asked seeing James was not going to respond to him
“I only have one question for you… where the hell where you hiding? I looked everywhere for you” Joe smiled at this, he was not expecting it.
“In a monastery, with the monks” He chuckled
“Yeah, you are good, I couldn’t have guessed that” James smiled for the first time.
“yeah, imagine with men who are mostly praying and singing to God and I was among them for over a week” Joe`s face soften with easy seeing James was not as mad as he was expecting him to be.
“Come in” James gave way to Joe and he hesitated looking at his face just to be sure he heard him right.
“Are you sure?” Joe asked
“Yeah, or what? I must lock you up before hearing your stories from the Monks” Jams giggled. Joe walked behind him heading to the living room.
“Well, I came to know Chanda was a jerk, he treated my sister like a slave for the months he was married to her. That fool thought the money he gave my family was a ticket to mistreat my sister. The day you came to her house, he was taking her back to my parent`s house that they should take her back for traditional teachings of marriage. According to him, my sister was not well taught and she was being unfaithful. He accused her of having an affair with you”
“What? “ Joe cut in surprised.
‘Yeah” James continued
“I get he felt inferior because my sister according to him did not love him as much as she should have. He resented you cause he believed you were the one that was loved instead on him. So yeah, I know you were wrong man but am not locking you up. My sister is safe now, finalizing divorce process and my parents have come to a decision to support her. It’s wrong that you shot my father but even he knows it was an accident. He is still alive that is what matters” When James was done saying those words, Joe`s face was still shocked. He could not believe it.
“All things work for good, to those who love God” Fathers Toms quote from the bible echoed in his head again.
“God has plans for us, the plans are not to harm us but to give us a future and hope. Be at easy my son, go and face your fears and God will take care of the rest.” Joes smiled at the memory of the words from Father Tom.
“He really loves me” he smiled as he thought loudly
“Who?” The confused James looked at him
“God’ Joe chuckled
“Yeah I guess so.” James Shrugged
‘He really does man and I didn’t expect him to show it to me just yet, well am so grateful for this man. I know I don’t deserve it for being a jerk and hot tempered guy who ruined your sister`s marriage but I appreciate am being given a second chance”
“Yeah, about your job, let’s see what we can do, what about working on that transfer to the prosecution house”
“Wow, and the charges on me? All dropped out? What about your family? Your father?” Joe asked one question after the other.
“I will take care of my family, I bet you have to take care of yours too. Your mother has been coming to ask about you. Go home Joe, go and make your mother happy by showing your face again. I have nothing against you. I don`t think my sister has too. ”
As Joe walked out of James`s house, he could not express the pleasure he felt in his heart. It was like God was just unfolding everything in his favor. Here he was walking as a free man, he felt tears in his eyes but this time, they were cause of the joy he was feeling in his heart.
Getting on a bus, he looked outside the widow as it moved and had a reflection of his past. He could tell that whatever had happened with his father growing up, had a great impact on his life. As Father Tom advised, he knew it was time to make amends with his father, forget the past and forge ahead.
Joe`s mother was hanging clothes on the line humming to a Christian song as she did. She went on doing her washing without looking at her back where Joe was standing watching her in silence.
Joe smiled to himself, he knew that song, a song he heard his mother sing a hundredth times. A song of hope in God, trusting in his greatness no matter what. Joe mimicked the words in his heart as he watched his mother.
“Come on Joe, you have grown, why you are not getting married already. Give me grand kids like your sister” He recalled his mother`s words.
“No mom, I don’t think I will ever have children. I have found a woman I love but I don’t know about having children with her” He responded shaking his head.
“What? You are a black man, a Zambian who knows that marriage is not for just staying with your wife but growing your family, what are you talking about ?’ His mother argued
“I am afraid I will turn out like father, hate my children and let them grow like I did. What if I fail them mother, they just become useless like my brother Paul? I cannot risk that, so yeah, am not having children” Joe shrugged and went on ironing his uniform as his mother sat down on his bed.
“Don’t say such things Joe. Your father made a lot of mistakes and even if he does not agree to your face. One day he will regret his ill treatments on you. So yeah, you have learnt your lesson from your father and you will raise your children better” Joe`s mother spoke with passion. She knew she had to do a lot of damage control on her son.
“I don`t know mother, I don’t think it will be anytime soon for me to decide to have kids.”
“Have you told her?” she asked him
‘No, Alisha loves kids and I can’t tell her that yet. But I will trust me” he responded.
At a time Joe was sure he was never going to have kids of his own. Even for loving Alisha, it came as a surprise to him. He had dated several women before her and he never intended to settle down with them, he was shocked at the passionate love and need to be with her for a long time. No wonder he could not contain his anger towards Chanda. He could not let go of that fact that Chanda had what he wanted so much and yet treated her so badly.
In a moment such thoughts run into Joes mind, he stood in one position and didn’t realize his father was watching him from the house few meters away from the yard where the mother was. Joes father wondered why he showed up at the house knowing the police were after him
“Finally! You show up here?” his father`s voice pulled him off his memories.
“Joe! “The Mother whose attention was attracted shouted and dropped the clothes she was washing running to embrace her son.
“You are alive? You are okay? “She asked checking Joe from head to toe.
“Am fine mom, I missed you too” he smiled at her
“Are you sure? Have the Police followed you here? “She asked worried and looking about
“If they haven’t they will soon, he is a criminal, a murderer” his father`s voice so cold spoke and Joe took a deep breath taking heart. He knew his father always found a way to irritate him but this time he decided to take the positive side and ignore the negative
“Hey father” he let go of his mother hand and walked towards him
“I missed you too.” He smiled extending his hand to greet him. The shocked old man looked at his face and then his hand. It had been years since Joe responded so well to him and later on extend his hand to greet him. They had not seen eye to eye for years.
“How are you?” he greeted him seeing his father was not responding.
“Am sorry father, I know I have done things that you are not proud of in the past but I swear I want to become a better man. In any way, since I was born that I let you down and made you feel hate towards me, I came to apologies. Give me a chance to be a son that you always wanted me to be father. I have grown up hating myself, I hurt people around me with my anger and hatred. I act impulsively, someone told me it`s because my life was always about defending myself to get your approval. I need to start over father and I cannot because I was holding on to the past. I had not forgiven you in years and I blamed you for everything bad in my life. Here I am today father, to ask for your blessings that I may walk in the good paths on this earth. Please forgive me.” Joe cried before his father.
His mother was sobbing silently where she was standing her face wet with tears. She could feel the pain in her son`s voice. She could feel his desire to forgive his father and she cried to God in her heart to open the heart of her husband and let him forgive his son.
“Forgive your son my husband, please” she joined in
“NO” the man responded.
“He is not my son” He spoke making Joe look at his face with shock
“What are you saying father?” Joe asked in wonder
“Ask your mother, you are not my son and you will never be, the fact that I raised you and used my money on you must be enough, anything else forget it” The man spoke and walked away hurriedly
“Mom? What is he talking about? What does he mean he is not my father” Joe stood up looking at his mother
“Am sorry Joe, I never meant for things to turn out this way. Am really sorry you had to be the one to bear the pain for me. Your father.. is.. your father is.. “The woman trembled as she cried failing to say the words.
“Your late Uncle, the elder brother to your father … he is your father “she cried out loudly as she spoke
“What? How?” Joe was now completely lost. His mother who was now shaking and crying sat down on the veranda Joe still standing waiting to hear what she had to say.
“He raped me Joe.. your Uncle raped me and I got pregnant. He came home drunk one day and entered my bedroom when your father was working on duty in the night. I didn’t have the strength to fight him off and he took advantage of me. I cried, I called God to forgive me for everything. I begged that he cleansed me so that your father could forgive me. That morning when your father came home and I told him what happened, he beat up his elder brother to the point of death. People had to rescue him and hide him away. For months your father never talked to me. He hated the fact that I was weak and could not fight off his brother. For him it was all my fault. Unfortunately enough I discovered I was pregnant and your father hated me the more. He wanted me to get rid of the baby, I just couldn’t, I loved you despite how I conceived you and your father was not pleased with me. He threw me out of the house for months till I gave birth to you at my fathers house. Later on he came to beg I returned home and asked that we forget what happened and I believe him. Well, you know the rest, He took out all the anger on you my son and am so sorry, I could not defend you. I loved you and I never wanted this to come out. I wanted your father to see you as his own but all my efforts failed” Joes mother was sobbing making Joe cry too.
For years, he suffered the harsh treatments of his father, he had no idea what he was paying for. Now it was clear. He understood it so well he could not stop shaking his head
“Well, I.. I don’t know what to say mom. I cannot believe dad made me pay for that man, my biological father`s mistakes” Joe sobbed
“Am sorry, it was my fault” His mother held his hands.
“No mom, It’s not your fault, it never was, you were a victim and my father for all these years has punished you for the sins of his brother.” Joe shook his head sadly
“If it was then I could have walked away and never returned to speak to that man, but mom, I now understand that God has plans for me no matter what. I know it’s hard for me now but I hope one day, I will truly forgive my father. I don’t know about that biological father of mine but… I hope he found his peace before dying” Joe spoke sitting down as he felt so weak in his legs.
For hours he spoke with his mother and told her what was going on with the case. Joe tried to reach out to the man he knew was his father but the man shut him off. He felt he had to give up and let God himself help the old man see that no matter how he came to the world was raised by him and was his son. As he walked away, his heart felt at peace, feeling some heavy load was lifted from his life.
2 years later….
Joe was walking fast towards the court room. It was a bright morning and he had a case in the court. As he approached the entrance, a familiar face caught his attention. He turned his eyes to see the person standing there waving at him with a wide smile.
“Hey!” Alisha waved at him
“Alisha?” Joe responded caught by surprise.
“Joe” Alisha walked towards him and they hugged each other in greeting
“Wow, you look smart” She smiled stepping away from him
“Yeah, guess it’s the lawyer thing wearing suits and neckties” Joe let a laugh
“Yeah, weird, but nice” Alisha teased
“James told me I could find you here” She started
“Um, yeah, but can we talk later, I have 10 minutes to be in the court room” he stopped her
“Oh yeah, sure. I can wait if you don’t mind” she shrugged
“Please do wait. It’s been a while… wow! I cannot believe am seeing you right now” He smiled widely
“Go and you will find me when you are done” she gave him a push and he walked away looking back at her and smiling
When he was done, Joe folded his papers and rushed out to meet her. She was standing outside in her black dress that went down her feet and hair extension nicely tied in a ponytail she was wearing her usual smile.
“Wow!” he sighed reaching her
“What? “ she smiled back
“I cannot believe you still take away my breath, you look so beautiful and happy” he added standing in front of her.
“I missed you” She started when they finally found a place to sit.
“Oh really? That’s good to hear. James told me about Chanda, am really sorry.” Joe shook his head sadly
“You really have changed Joe, you are sure you feel bad that Chanda died in a road accident? You hated him” Alisha made a face
“Not any more, I was taught to love my enemies. Trust me, I have nothing against that man and even when I told you I was walking away 2 years ago, I meant every word of it. Am glad to hear you completed your studies and are working. A good turn for you” He smiled
“Yeah, sort of.” Alisha shrugged
“Sort of?” he asked
‘Yeah, I miss you. I know I have no right after what happened between us Joe but I cannot just forget you. I have tried to move on but no one is as crazy as you were. I miss us” she spoke her face on the table.
“Am sorry, I shouldn’t have dumped this on you I know it’s not fair.. I mean, you probably have someone in your life and am here trying to tell you about how I feel. I feel stupid” She shook her head seeing Joe was looking at her without any response.
“Well there is someone isn’t it? “ She asked him. Joe smiled holding her hands.
“Yes Alisha, there is someone. There has always been that woman that I cannot stop loving, she is just here no matter what I do” Joe pointed at his heart hitting his chest slightly
“I can’t let her go Alisha, she is a part of me forever” he paused looking at her and Alisha`s eyes were filled with tears. She thought at the moment she had lost him.
“Well, am sorry. I shouldn’t have come here, I just thought maybe… I don’t know, am sorry Joe. And I hope she makes you happy” she paused sniffing in her tears
“The woman is right here with me Alisha, you.” Joe cut in
“What?” she asked sitting up in shock
“Yeah why are you surprised? You have enslaved my heart Alisha, father Tom always tells me I should never love a woman this much. But I cannot help it. You have always been the one for me and I have never looked at another women since what happened between us. I love you and I will always “he shook his head with smile.
She stood up and hugged him closely, tears falling freely in her face
“Joe, why didn’t you come back? I waited for 2 years to hear this” she sobbed in his chest
“I knew if you were mine God will bring you back somehow. I had a feeling God will make things work for my good.” He smiled
“I love you and please don’t ever make me wait again” she looked at his face and he was holding hers in his palms smiling
“No, but this time am going to do it right. We are getting married at the beginning of next month, you are going to be my wife Alisha and we will have lots of babies’ together” he smiled making her laugh
“Are you asking to marry me Joseph?” she asked with a laugh
“Is that a yes?” he asked rubbing her chin passionately
“Yes’ she wiped her tears with joy
“Well, next month is in 3 weeks, let’s get started” Joe laughed and planted a slight kiss on her lips. I love you. “he whispered pulling her close and squeezing her small body into his.
“I love you too” Alisha whispered back holding on to him and promising herself she will never let him go. Her family will have no option but to accept the man her heart had chosen, she thought as she looked at his happy face. “Thank you Jesus for showing me the way” Joe looked up the heavens and closed his eyes in prayer as he held on to the woman he loved.
“You cornered me into believing and I do believe. Thank you” He smiled squeezing his hands around the woman he loved and smiling in her face as she did the same. He knew his life was not going to always be easy but he had a high power guiding his steps and he trusted things would always be better from that time onwards….