Through the Eye of FAITH (9)
Enjoy! Previous episode here.
When he entered his compound, he knew something was amiss. The air suddenly felt tight and the heat surrounded him like a cloud about to engulf him. His throat became tight and he found it hard to breathe. How could he feel so uncomfortable in his own house? Only one reason could explain this.
“Is Patience around?” He asked his gateman.
“Yes, sir.” Jack answered his boss and Patience’s stepfather. “She came in to see her mother.” And to get her revenge. Jack bit his tongue.
“I see.” Finally, she was reasonable enough to take the right decision after all his persistent calls. Not that he wanted her home. In fact, he was not keen at all to see her after these long years, but her mother had placed him on an oath, which he was obliged to obey. His eyes flew to the window of his late wife’s bedroom and he wondered what awaited him when he would finally see his stepdaughter after sixteen years.
Shame filled him. He had no right to call her ‘daughter’… not after what he did to her. How many times he had tried to find a way to apologise, but his ego had gotten the better part of him. He had lived with the guilt for many years and when he had thought it was over, her mother had come up with the biggest task of his life… finding a daughter he had hurt. He owed his wife not only because he had committed the abominable, he had also kept mother and daughter separated for many years… yes, he knew Patience’s whereabouts all along. He had kept a close tab on her without the knowledge of her mother and each time he was asked about his search attempts, he would reply “Not yet.” And his wife would reply. “Keep trying.”
A movement in the window caught his eye. He saw Patience pick up a paper to read and then he heard a loud sob. Apprehension gripped him. He could either choose to walk in and face the ghost that had haunted him for years or just walk away like he had always done. He chose the former. It was high time he got his atonement.
With each step he took closer to the room, he could hear a voice in his head, shouting at him to go back. This is a mistake! You cannot do this…She will even hate you the more! You think she will just forgive you like that? Molester! And few steps to the door, he almost turned, but the sound from the room stopped him.
She was weeping profusely and that broke his heart. He rested on the rail and fought to hold back the tears. He could not remember the last time he cried. Even when his wife had asked him severally if he committed the deed, he never shed a tear of remorse, but now, he had hit a brick wall and he had no control over the crumbling stones. He dried the corner of his right eye with his finger.
The voice startled him. She was bigger than what he saw in the pictures and though he was burly, he found himself recoiling in fear. “Welcome home.” He didn’t know what else to say. He shifted to his full posture.
“Home? This isn’t home for me anymore. You took that away from me, remember?” Patience stepped back. He had always been big and that had always terrified her. It did now, but she was no longer the scared teenager. “But don’t worry. I have made myself another, and you cannot take that away from me.”
“I know and I’m proud of you.”
“Really?” Patience mocked. “You were not sixteen years ago.”
“Can we talk?” He pointed towards the living room. Then he added. “Please.”
Patience was not about to be cowed. All she had waited for these years was a simply admittance and she never got it; and now he wanted to ‘talk’. “You had sixteen years to talk, but you never did.” Her voice trembled. “My mother had to die before your mouth could loosen up. So, no sir. We cannot talk. I am done here.”
She brushed past him down the stairs. Not even a simple apology for his crime. Her lips shook vehemently. She wanted to pick the closest object and hurt him. He didn’t deserve to live. He should have died in place of her mother. She let off big puffs of air to release the pent-up anger building in her body. Sixteen years of wait and this was all she could get? Her eyes flew towards the kitchen as she hurried towards the exit. Lord, keep me from doing something bad.
That only hastened her more. Wait to talk? No way!
As she placed her hand on the knob, she knew this was it.
That stopped her. She turned. “Sorry, I didn’t hear right. What did you just say?”
Her stepfather walked slowly down the stairs, trying not to scare her. “I’m sorry for what I did.”
“What did you do?” If he thought she would make it easy for him, he was mistaken.
“I’m sorry for hurting you, for being an irresponsible father. I am ashamed of what I did.” He could not look at her as he poured out his heart. “I did the abominable and do not deserve your forgiveness or your mother’s. I tried all I could to make sure you were okay and I thought that was enough, but now I see it wasn’t. I should have reached you before now. I am sorry, please forgive me.” The tears flowed like a stream.
Patience was moved beyond words. There it was… what she had waited for had finally come and she felt like a big load was lifted off her. She sobbed quietly. She wanted to touch him and tell him she had forgiven him from the moment she read her mother’s letter, but this was too much to take in at once. “I am sorry, too.”
“Sorry for what? I am the one who hurt you. You never did me any wrong.”
“I killed… I killed the baby. I could not bear to carry the consequence of your action. So, I aborted the baby.”
“What! You were pregnant?” How did he miss that?
“No one knew. It was only four weeks old.”
“My God!” He slumped into the closest chair. What had he done? He had damaged the lives of two persons… his own children. Now, he knew why he never had children with his late wife. He was suffering for his ‘sin’. He would die without an offspring. He deserved it.
“Well, I barely survived too in the process. I paid for my foolishness. I lost my womb.” She sat on the closest sofa. Now, they could talk. She continued. “These years, I have come to realize it is only in Christ that I can have comfort. He has been my father, my mother, my everything. If not for him, who knows? I might have died. Earlier you mentioned that you did all you could to take care of me. Are you the one responsible for the monthly inflow of cash into my account?”
“Yes. I had you followed up. That is another thing you should forgive me about. I just could not bear you suffering after what I did to you. You never asked how I got in contact with you.”
“Well, it is obvious you have your ways. The money was handy. With it, I went to school and was able to take care of myself. I had always convinced myself it was from my mother.”
“Your mother never knew about it.”
“You hid me from her for many years.”
“Well, she eventually had her way, didn’t she?” Patience stood up and walked towards the door. “I was so angry for many years. I didn’t want to have anything to do with you. I even changed my surname. I was desperate to clean my past but now, I have faced it again, I am glad. I am happy that now I can finally let go of the ache and be free to face the future. I know I may not be able to have children, but that is not the end of the world. I can now smile.” She burst into laughter. “Look at me.” She said between ripples. “I can now laugh!”
Father stared at his daughter with astonishment. He was amazed at the transformation. “So you forgive me?”
“Oh! With all my heart.”
“Good.” He felt greatly relieved. Perhaps God would forgive him now.
Patience opened the door. “You know it would also be great if you can know Jesus like mother did. He will turn your life around. Good bye, father.”
Chief Orji watched his stepdaughter leave and his eyes went to the portion of the wall where his wife had put a picture she had treasured. Is that true, Jesus. Can you turn my life around?