Declare me innocent, O lord
For I have acted with integrity;
I have trusted in the lord without wavering.
“Where is this place?, it is so dark and cold… Wait! Am I dead?… no! Am not dead, … I can’t die yet… This place seems empty and I can’t even move myself … Am I in hell?… Ha Jesus!… No oh!! I cant go to hell… Wait it seems like I can feel something”, Joseph’s head was doing the talking to him as he lay in the hospital bed unconsciously. He had been unconscious for close to two days…
“Doctor!, nurse!…he is moving his hands…he is awake!!”, Jadesola screamed on top of her voice, she was the only one in the hospital room allocated specially for Joseph, John had paid specially for the room, and Jadesola in turn had volunteered to stay with him all through the night. She slept on the plastic chairs in the room and had put herself through the rigour of watching him all night, in case he woke up.
She had woken up and gone to ease herself, she was tired and needed the comfort of her bed but the man on the hospital bed meant more to her than her sleep.. She was not even sure she would be able to sleep if she went home…
“Where am I?, how did I get here?”, Joseph asked the nurse who came to attend to him, just then his eyes fell on Jadesola. She was wearing a sad look, he made his hand to signal to her to come closer. Just then, he felt a sharp pain cross through his body. He looked at his hand and saw a heavy bandage, his brain started processing the events that had happened in the past few days.
“You were involved in an accident. You were lucky the impact was not much”, Jadesola said smiling. She had prayed heaven and earth for him to come out of his coma and here he was though still confused.
Jadesola moved towards him and sat beside him on the bed as soon as the nurse left saying…”The doctor will soon be here”.
She smiled at him and said, “You will be fine, it just a dislocated joint and the doctor said a few therapy will heal you”. Joseph stared at her but still couldn’t picture her face everything still seemed blurry to him. Just then, the doctor came in.
“You!!, I know you from somewhere”, Joseph said to the doctor , his brain quickly processed the whole information and he could remember everything vividly.
“Can you please take me away from here!!, they both want to kill me ohh, I can’t stay here with this two betrayers”, Joseph screamed as much as his voice could allow him. Jadesola, was so frightened that she ran out of his room, while doctor Paul quickly signaled to the nurse who came in with him and he administered a drug to him. Joseph gradually fell asleep, while doctor Paul shook his head, turned to leave the room only to meet the staring eyes of John and they both went away to his office.
“Why can’t you forgive me of whatever sin I committed against you, I know I was stubborn when I was a little girl, I rebelled and fought my parents a lot and am sorry”, Jadesola said, she was tired and her eyes were red and swollen from long hours of crying.
The last time she cried like this was the night she visited Joseph in Mowe after the incident with doctor Paul…
“Am sorry Jadesola, I cant do this anymore…dating you was a mistake I regret for the rest of my life. I can’t continue lying to myself…am sorry!”, Joseph said to him, facing his window. He didn’t even give her an opportunity to explain the situation to her, and as she made for the door hoping to try again later, he dropped the bomb that shattered her entire life.
“Don’t bother coming here anymore, cos I will be traveling out of the country in two weeks time, at least our path will never cross again forever”, he said as he sat on his bed, not even casting a glance at her.
“Mum, what is my sin?”, Jadesola wept on her mother’s shoulder, she couldn’t bear it anymore, she traveled back to Ibadan immediately to meet her mother. That was the only person other than Eunice who really understood her.
“My daughter, truth be told, I think its time you see, woli Joshua.. Each time I spoke to him about you, he kept telling me that I should bring you over for spiritual cleansing”, her mother said.
After many persuasions, she went with her mother, the so called woli who told her that she was suffering from attacks from her spiritual husband. “You see my sister, all you need is a spiritual cleansing with the holy water made of blood and water”. Jadesola, despite her spiritual understanding accepted to do it, after all she was tired of her situation, her father had lost his job the very day she came home with her admission letter in the name of compulsory retirement, as if that is not enough, her dad reminded her everyday that she was the cause of his problems, he had narrated how he lost his parents who were her grandparents to a ghastly motor accidents just seconds after she was given birth to. They were rushing down to the hospital to meet their son when the brake failed. So far, every important moment of her life must have a challenge. She had thought her ‘jinxed’ life had come to an end when she met Joseph, but she was far from being free from her tormentor as the spiritualist has said.
“9pm tomorrow night, come with a white wrapper, and erhm mum jade, let her come alone, because we need to face a serious battle of her life”, the spiritualist said when they asked for the time for the cleansing.
“Are you a baby, don’t you understand these things? You see, the only way you can be free is if you allow me to release the holy water I carry inside of me to your body”, the so called woli Joshua said to her on the night of the cleansing. Jadesola was alone in his consulting room, clad in only a white wrapper, and the spiritualist had come in with his white shorts. She was surprised and she asked his why he was not yet ready for the prayer session as she thought but then the actions that followed made her realise what he meant by “holy water made of blood and water”. He meant the need to sleep with her.
Angry at the turnout of event she gave the skinny man the beating of his life. She was more than angry at her mother, a non practising lawyer and writer for Christ’s sake, she wondered how her mother met the man despite her education and exposure. Well she was to be blamed. Despite her knowledge of the scriptures and her spiritual position as an executive in her fellowship back then on campus she still couldn’t take her stand.
Her life had spiraled down till she met Busayo, well things got worse when she discovered she couldn’t love him.
She finally had a breakthrough when Eunice and John invited her to their church and she attended Sunday.. Oh that was a life changing encounter she had.
“Your challenges are not meant to push you far away from God. They are meant to make you depend on God the more. You are supposed to throw your weights on him and let him carry you through the fire”, she said as she taught on the topic “rest”.
“Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. That was when he was still on earth, the moment he said, “it is finished” we entered into his rest. It is a promise made fulfilled, you do not have to carry your burdens all alone. Moreover dear, cursed is anyone that is hanged on a tree. Jesus took the curse of the law along with him, you are free from every entanglement around you, only if you believe”, Mrs Anthony said to her in her office after the service she was the assistant pastor of the church. Jadesola had gone to meet her to mentor her after the service…
Now she looked at the two situations before her, and she felt like she was back to square one. She needed to see her mentor, she needed some revitalising words…
“Sister Jade, here you are, my brother wants to see you”, Tola said to her. He had met doctor Paul on the way and he had described Jade’s location to him.
“I will be there in a minute”, she said as she took a deep sigh, stood up from under the tree, dusted her skirt and went with Tola. They were on their way when she saw doctor Paul and about three other doctors running towards Joseph’s room. She saw the nurses with panic written over their face. She was scared. “I pray he is fine”, she said as she continued on her journey to Busayo’s room with the mind that she couldn’t do anything to help him either if she was there. Just as she got to Busayo’s room, her phone rang and she saw the caller…”Hello, John!.. No!!!”, she screamed!!
O lord how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart everyday?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?.
“What exactly is my sin, Lord?” Joseph asked as tears rolled down from his eyes.
“Those were my words close to eighteen years ago.” Funmilayo said as she walked in with James. The duo had been outside waiting for him to wake up. James had called her when John called him that things had turned out differently for Joseph…
“I just don’t understand why he refused to grant me death while I suffered pain staying alive…my heart is bleeding Funmi, I barely survived the last attack.” Joseph replied her looking away to avoid eye contact with James. Funmi understood his words too well. He had just battled death, while the doctors and surgeons were running helter skelter to save his life, he kept screaming “I want to die.” Doctor Paul injected him with a sleeping drug which ought to last for three hours. By the time the nurse would come back to check if he was awake, she met him pulsating and shivering in shocking, she had to call the doctor who immediately put him on life support oxygen machine. They fought hard to know why the shock came up only to discover he had internal bleeding. They operated on him, but towards the end of the operation they lost him. His heart stopped beating.
“Am sorry he didn’t make it.” doctor Paul said, amidst tears. Even though the operation was successful, Joseph didn’t have a will to live, so he didn’t fight for his life…
“No! He cannot die, he is not dead!!” the devastated John screamed, he immediately called Jadesola and James. He needed their help.
“Has he woken up?” Jadesola said panting. She still didn’t want to believe Joseph was dead yet. She saw him some few hours ago. “He can’t be dead. I am finished. I will crash totally.” she said, as she sat on the floor in a gradual motion.
“If this is the only thing you would grant me for the rest of my life, its worth trading my other requests for… Please bring him back for me. I promise you I will leave his life for good. I will forget him and you know maybe try and love someone else.” Jadesola desperately prayed as if God was waiting for her prayers, almost immediately, a nurse ran out to call doctor Paul who was still comforting John.
“He is awake doctor. He is breathing again.” the nurse said, as the whole place was filled with uproars of people screaming “thank you Jesus”, “halleluyah”….
Jadesola walked away knowing she had to fulfil her part of the bargain. She was never going to set her eyes on him again…….Just then James and Funmilayo walked to meet John screaming and shouting for joy, before he left after receiving an urgent phone call…
“The fact that he is silent does not mean he can’t hear you. Why don’t you stop complaining and see him in all these. The scriptures says all things work together for…” Funmi said to joseph. She wanted to try her little best to convince him that God loved him despite the situation, but the former bible study secretary thought otherwise as he finished her statement.
“…good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose… See I am not Job who claims he is righteous. But don’t tell me he was there all through when I was facing the worst challenge of my life. Where was he when my father planted the seed of failure in me? Where was he when Patrick died because of my mistakes? Where was he went I had an accident?…” Joseph couldn’t take it anymore someone had to understand him.
“The same place he was when his only son was sacrificed to make you righteous, and don’t tell me you still see yourself as a sinner, Because I know you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus…” Funmi said to him convincingly.
“When you pass through fire I will be there with you. He might seem too far, but he is an ever present help in times of trouble. He is mighty to save…” James whose eye was swollen said in an outburst. He couldn’t bear to see his best friend talking like a pagan who doesn’t know God…
Funmi looked at james, she remembered what he said in the car on his way to hospital, “I don’t want to loose him too, I lost my dad. Now am going to loose my best friend…? No lord please save him…I was only envious of his almost perfect life…I didn’t mean to hurt him. Please save him.”
“Can I be alone for a while?” Joseph finally said breaking the silence in the room. James and Funmi stood up to leave the room.. He needed to meditate on those words he needed to find himself. He was too lost.
“Try looking on the inside than on the outside… Remember who you are in Christ…You are a son!! And know that every one has their darkest times…You need the light in your darkest times…There is always light at the end of every tunnel. Look up unto Jesus the author and the finisher of your faith. He loves you Jossy!…” Funmi said, with that face that showed experience…
“Who is that…?” Funmi asked, as she walked hazily to the door, it was eleven in the night, and she was the only one at home, her mum had gone for a vigil, and her dad, only God knows where that man had gone to.
“Lizzy, if you don’t open this door, I will break it and ..ermhmm.. I will erhmm…” Funmi recognised that voice. Her good for nothing father was back, drunk as usual. Only God knows why her mother married the irresponsible man, he had no job, no ambition, no asset of any kind. The only thing he was good for was drinking..
“Mum, are you sure, daddy is my father?” Funmi had asked her mother one evening after her father had recklessly beaten her mother to near death. She also partook in the beating when she came to rescue her mother.
“He is your father, and he will always be your father. My dear he was not like this before, I just don’t understand what came over him, ehn!! It must be his witch of a mother.” Funmi’s mother said, trying to clean her tears. Well no one would blame her for marrying him, he was a sweet young accountant who had met her when she was having her teaching practice. Their love relationship started and somehow along the way he pressurized her into having sexual relations with him, since he promised marriage, she gave in. Soon she became pregnant. And after series of attempt to abort it. Her parents got wind of it, and she was forced to marry him after her father threatened to disown her because she destroyed the family’s reputation by getting pregnant outside marriage. A year into their marriage, he came home telling his wife that he had resigned from his job.
“Kayode, why will you just wake up in the morning and resign your job as an accountant without consulting me?” she said almost shouting in shock.
“Well my mother said I should go and start a business. She said business is my destined path in life.” Kayode answered his wife non-challantly.
Things had never been the same for them ever since then. Thanks to her elder brother who lived abroad and sends money to her, coupled with her new job as the assistant headmistress, she and her daughter would have starved to death because his so called business that got ruined at the first shipment he ordered for. Kayode invested all his life savings and the entire container sank on its way to Nigeria. He became a drunk after that, coupled with womanising…
“Elizabeth, you do not want to open the do…or for me abi…? I will send you parking right now.” Funmi’s father said to his daughter, after the girl reluctantly opened the door for him. He was staggering and smelling of alcohol…
“You look sooo beautiful tonight Elizabeth…” The drunk father said touching his daughter’s face thinking she was his wife…
“Daddy abeg leave me alone, it is Funmi, not mummy” she said slapping her father’s hand, and walked briskly towards her room. Unknown to her, her father was following her, as soon as she opened her door, he pushed her in, rough handled her, and he ended up raping her of her innocence…
“Elizabeth, you still this sweet.” He said still ignorant of his actions, as he wore his trousers and left the room while Funmi was crying heavily. Her own father has just deflowered and defiled her without shame and remorse, she felt like the ground should open up on her.
“Haaa! Mogbe…My only child.. .Haaa kayode has ended up in destroying my life.. Kayode!!!” Funmi’s mother screamed on top of her voice as she ran to the sitting room where the drunk Kayode laid still snoring and oblivious of his environment…
“Kayode you have killed me!!!…You have slept with your own daughter, your flesh and blood,…” she said dragging and beating him…While Kayode woke up not understanding her tantrum, until he heard the words as she repeated them…He became sober immediately, he had thought it was his wife as usual.. He picked his cloth from the floor and went out…
“Park everything…Enough is enough, I am leaving this house today.” Elizabeth instructed her daughter after she kept having nightmares about the incident.
Her brother told her to come over to the states and since Funmi was just about to start her senior secondary, she obeyed, he sent the money for the papers and passport, that was how Funmi became an Americana.
“Funmi, I am not going to forgive him, not after everything he did to you and I. Am not even expecting you to forgive him easily.” Lizzy said to her daughter, its been years they had been abroad, Eunice had called two weeks ago that her father was dead. He was poisoned by his new wife, who ran away with his millions of naira..
“I forgave him years ago mum. He was an ignorant sinner who knew nothing about freedom through grace…am a son now and forgiveness is my birthright, though it was hard for me at first,but come to think of it…Despite how bad I was, he washed me, regenerated me, justified me, purified me, then he added, *your sins will I remember no more*…” Funmi lectured her mother…”Joyce Meyer, that you love so much had a similar experience like mine…” she added,while her mum whose head was bent raised it with tears in her eyes…
Due to her mum’s health she journeyed to Nigeria alone for her father’s burial. She was on her way back to the states after the burial. Eunice had dropped her at the airport when she heard her name…”Omoboriola Funmilayo,” she turned around to see a young, heavily built,handsome guy. That was her wish, but she saw quite the opposite in the young man walking down to meet her, and for the first time in ten years, her heart skipped a beat…
To be continued