Through the Eye of Faith (25)
This is the 25th and last episode of this series and for me, it has been an amazing journey. With every episode, I see the Holy Spirit breathe on every word and bring up angles that I never would have imagined. It could only have been Him. To all readers, I want to say a BIG ‘thank you’ for following through every post, and I hope you were inspired by every word and character you have met in this story. This is just the beginning. Please watch out for an incredible story of love in the howling storms of terror. This piece is titled ‘In sunshine, In Rain’, and I pray it brings out the little lights in us in these dangerous times. ‘Nuff said! Enjoy this looooong episode and don’t forget to ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow on Twitter (@REDigion1). Cheers!!!
Patience looked up at the banner she had just placed up with Faith’s assistance. This was it, she thought excitedly. The day she had been working for immediately she had been discharged from the hospital two weeks ago. The feeling of fulfillment that consumed her was overwhelming and she stilled herself from screaming with excitement. Finally, she could live her dream and overcome her past by helping those who were touring the same journey of hopelessness. She wiped some imaginary dirt off the banner on which was written ‘The PAT Foundation’ and again felt a deep sense of gratitude towards Mama, who had worked on coining the perfect name for the Organisation.
“PAT for Pregnant And Tender.” Mama had explained calmly. “It fits just what you have in mind. A home for the pregnant and motherless.”
“That’s just perfect.” Patience teased. “I would have thought that was the short form for my name.”
Mama laughed. “Well, it could be that also. I never thought of that.”
As she climbed down the ladder, Patience glanced at the corner where a man was trying to cover up some stain on the wall with some paint. He was immaculate in his suit and trying as much as possible not to get himself stained. “Careful, Dapo. We do not want you soiled before the event.”
Dapo looked up from the wall and smiled at his new friend. “I’m almost done and so far, I think I have done a good job.”
“Yes, more than good.” Patience grinned sweetly before walking into the building
Dapo watched her leave and thought of how beautiful she was. Since her discharge from the hospital, there was a light around her he could not fathom. He knew it could only be one thing… it was the glory of God around her. He felt inspired by her zeal and more importantly, by her desire to take their relationship one step at a time; so they decided they would be friends for now. That worked well for him because now he had an excuse to see her every day. Someday, she would be ready for more and he would be right on time.
As she cleaned the chairs for the launch outside the house, Mama watched how Dapo stared at Patience and she smiled inwardly. When Patience had told her she wanted some time to pray before replying to Dapo’s proposal, Mama had been supportive. Prayer was everything, she said, especially when making a long-time commitment. Her own marriage said everything.
“Mama.” Faith whispered beside her mother.
“I thought I saw you there just now.” Mama pointed at where Patience just left. “Now, you are here. Did you fly?”
“No, I walked.” Faith answered seriously and wondered how her mother thought she could fly. She didn’t have wings! She drew closer. “Did you see how Mr. Dapo watches Miss Patience? I think he loves her.”
Mama studied her daughter. This was not the kind of conversation to have with an eight-year old. She muttered. “Okay.”
“Don’t you think so?” Faith looked at her mother with eyes widened with curiosity and showed how determined she was to get a definite answer.
“I think he loves her just as God loves everyone of His children.”
Faith appeared to be satisfied with the answer and Mama relaxed a bit, until her daughter asked another.
“Did Papa ever love us that way?” Now, she sounded sad. “I’m sure he didn’t.”
Mama pulled her daughter close. “Your dad loved us, but he didn’t know how to show it. We should show him more love by praying for him. He is not happy where he is and wishes to come home soon.” Mama knew that when that happened, they would not be where he left them. She had begun making plans to move to another place. She would not take his threats lightly.
“I miss him.”
Mama embraced her daughter tightly. “I miss him too.”
When she was sure the little girl felt better, she handed over the napkin. “Now, you can continue where I stopped and be quick about it. Guests will start arriving any minute now. I need to do a final check of the inside.’
As Mama walked into house, her heart ached for her daughter and for her husband. How would she be able to bring the two together? One thing she knew, until her husband changed from his bad ways, she was not returning to him. She would rather keep hiding than put her life and her daughter’s in jeopardy. His threats rang loudly in her ears. No, there was no turning back.
Faith watched Mama walk quietly to the door. She knew she had said something that pained her mother, but she only spoke what was on her mind. This was the first time they would discuss Papa since the time he was arrested. Mama had refused to discuss Papa with her every time she asked about him. While a part of her was happy they were free from his cruelty, the other longed to see him again, to tell him they had forgiven him and that they could be a happy family again. The first guest came in through the gate and she quickly rushed through the remaining seats.
Thirty minutes later, all the seats were occupied and the programme started. Many of the guests were church members and when Patience made her speech, she got a standing ovation. Pastor Mark did the cutting of the ribbon and the door was opened up for people to have a feel of the new Foundation.
“I am so proud of you.” Pastor Mark commended as he sipped his drink beside Patience who had a glazed look in her eyes. “God would be honoured in this place, I can feel it.”
“Yes, he will.” Patience sighed happily. “He owns this place.”
“Your father couldn’t make it, I see.”
“He had an urgent need to travel to Singapore. You know dad and his busy schedule. He called to apologise and of course, sent in a fat cheque.”
“Hmmm… at least that showed his support.”
“More than enough. I need all the money I can get to run this place.”
“The Church will also render their support. We may not be able to assist financially every time, you know we are a small church, but we shall always provide the necessary human support. I understand it’s just you and Faith’s mother now.”
“We also have a little assistant.” She grinned and nodded at Faith who was helping a woman spoonfeed her baby. “She is a wonderful assistant.”
Pastor Mark chuckled. “I can imagine. And Dapo?”
“He has been very supportive. You know he has his own business to run. But he has pledged to be here every time we need him.”
“I must confess I was first shocked when I heard about your response to him, but it only made me respect you more. He will wait if he is worthy of you.”
“I had thought when he came the second time, I would have jumped at the proposal, but something inside me gave me a jerk and I needed to think and pray. I still love him, no doubt, but it was too sudden to make such a decision since we barely knew each other anyway. He was very gentlemanly when I told him we should be friends at first. He seemed to understand and that made me love him more.”
“Plus he needs to finish his discipleship class first. I’m not about to hand over my best worker to just any church member.” Pastor Mark finished the drink in one gulp. “You deserve the best, my dear, just as God would have it for you.”
“You won’t believe what just happened.” Mama joined them, looking so elated. She flagged a paper in front of them. “We just got a N2million cheque! Isn’t God wonderful?”
“What!” Both Patience and Pastor Mark spoke in unison.
“Who could that be from?” Patience was curious. “I need to show my gratitude personally.”
“That woman standing by the door.” Mama pointed at an elderly woman who stood looking around with a smile on her face.
Patience froze. She could not believe her eyes. That face belonged to only one person and the least she would have expected to grace the occasion.
“Call Dapo. Tell him he has a visitor he needs to see.” When Dapo had told her what happened during the week at her father’s house, she had laughed her heart out. On one hand, she was glad he had found his mother. On the other, she was sad they could not have the relationship they should have had from the beginning. Plus, if she married Dapo finally, she would have no one to call her mother-in-law. But there she was looking every bit a mother who was working hard at re-uniting with her son. She turned to see Dapo, who was immobilized for several seconds when he saw his mother just few steps away from him.
When their eyes met, both mother and son stood still for a moment, before they took slow steps towards each other. When they were close enough, they stopped.
Mrs Okunuji swallowed deeply and she tried to control her emotions. “I came to make my donation. This is a good cause.”
“How did you know I was here?” Dapo asked in a voice that sounded like a whisper. “What are you doing here, really?”
“I… I just came to see you again. Chief Okonkwo told me I might find you here.” Mrs. Okunuji stammered. “Is… is it wrong timing?”
“This isn’t about the timing. I just want to know why you came looking for me.”
“Can we please sit before I fall on the ground?” Mrs. Okunuji looked around for some empty seats. She was visibly shaking.
Dapo quickly picked the ones closest to him. “You can sit here.”
As she sat, the elderly woman brought out an handkerchief and wiped the corners of her eyes. Then she placed a palm before him. “Place your right palm on mine.”
Dapo hesitated a bit but when he saw Patience’s stare all across the room, he quickly responded.
“Ha! Just as I had always suspected.” Mrs. Okunuji nearly cried out. She looked at him with teary eyes. “I cannot believe it. Is this how God works?”
Dapo wondered at what she just saw. “What did you see?”
“Look at your middle finger. It is the same height with the ring finger.”
Dapo had always thought that was the weirdest thing about him, but he had never given it a deeper thought. “How does that bother you?”
“Throughout my life, I have only seen that in one other person and that was many years ago. You are my son, Dapo. My son! I felt it from the very moment I laid eyes on you.”
“I know.” Dapo admitted. “I disguised myself at the house. The meeting, dinner, everything was a plan to let me see you again; even if it was for the last time.”
“The day after, I called Chief and he told me everything. To think I had given up on ever finding you and you were right under my nose.”
“I didn’t want to shock you. I should have confronted you then, but I would have destroyed everything.”
“How did you find me?”
“I was lucky to stumble upon a piece in the newspaper some years ago and immediately, I recognized you. You didn’t change a bit.” Dapo ached to ask the most important question he had been holding on to his entire life.
“Will you ever forgive me?” Shame filled her face. “I have been the most callous mother.”
“You want me to forgive you and let go of the pains, just like that? Why don’t you tell me why you left in the first place?” There it was, what had plagued him over the years.
A lone tear slid down her face. “That dreadful night, there was word on the street that a rich man needed some girls for the night. He was to pay us N2,000 each and that was big money for us. I needed to feed us as there was nothing to eat. In fact, you had not eaten throughout that day. I didn’t know how to tell you that I was going to do a prostitute’s job, so I excused myself that I needed to pee, so I could just go and return with the money to take care of you. It was the greatest mistake of my life. It was a kidnapper’s trap and when I knew that, there was no way of escape. They kept us prisoners for many days without food. But one lucky day, I was set free. The juju man said I was not ripe enough for their ritual. One hefty man carried me and left me on the street in the night. I found my way back after one good Samaritan woman helped me. But when I came back, I could not find you. I searched everywhere, but you had disappeared.”
Dapo interrupted her. “There was a raid that night. The police came to arrest many street urchins and I was captured among them. They said they got info that some of us assisted the robbers who had robbed the day before. When they found out I was innocent and was all alone by myself, one of them was kind enough to take me to an orphanage home far away from the station. That was where I spent the next years of my life.”
Mrs. Okunuji looked like she was about to faint.
“So, where did you meet your husband?”
“At an hotel.” When Dapo showed some surprise, she added. “Don’t look at me like that. That was many years ago. It was my first day there and when he noticed I was naïve, he stopped to ask who I was and I told him my story. He said he didn’t know what a good girl would be doing in a place like that and asked if I would like to do some work for him. From there, our relationship developed and everything else is history.”
“It will take a while to come to terms with everything.” Dapo struggled to absorb the revelation.
“I know and I am not in a hurry either to scatter everything you have built over the years. I am ready to wait until you are certain you want to be part of my life again. But I really want to have my son back. I really do.” She sounded like she wanted to cry. “Please forgive me.”
“I forgive you, mother. Who else can I call mum? You are the one in whose womb I was formed for nine months. It was calamities that drove us apart, not you.”
“Come to me. Can I at least have a feel of my son?” She stretched out her hands into which Dapo went into. He could feel the sobs racking through her and controlling his was starting to prove difficult. He closed his eyes and in his mind, he released all the pent-up anger that had built up over the years. Now, he had love and that was all that mattered. When he opened his eyes, he found two pairs of eyes staring at them and he could not control the smile that coloured his face.
Faith returned the smile that came from the man hugging an old woman and she dreamed of the day when she would be able to hug her father like that. The day would come, she believed with her whole heart and when she saw Mama looking at the duo, she knew her mother had the same thought.
In her mind’s eye, she pictured a big wedding ceremony, where Miss Patience and her beloved Dapo would be getting married. Mama and Papa would be the parents of the day and she, of course, would be the little bride. No one would take that place from her. She sighed happily. So far, things had gone as she had expected and she was thankful for that. She believed there was more. All she needed was more faith. She lifted her eyes upward. Thank you, Lord, for everything.
(© 2014 by Anu Arowolo-Francis)
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