As people got down from the bus they shook hands with Lovette said a word of encouragement and apologized to Dupe, some others ignored both of them. As they walked into the market, Dupe stopped Lovette.
“I know you love to be a hero, the capeless superwoman who always save the day but please, whenever you feel the need to present one of your grand speeches, have the decency to not spread the gory details of my life with it”
Lovette’s jaw fell, “But, Dupe you know that’s not how it is”
“How is it? Did I ask you to tell the whole world I almost committed suicide? Did I? Do you think I even like to remember it? But all you care about is how you look and the feeling heroism gives you. You can be a hero for all I care, but keep your shit out of my life!”
Lovette swallowed. “Dupe I’m sorry”
“You will be sorry the next time you butt into my business” She hissed, balanced Goke on her hips and stalked off. Lovette’s fingers trembled.
“Guess who made your favourite dish?” Andrew said as he welcomed his wife, a chequered apron draped around his neck and cinched around his narrow waist. She didn’t hug back, He withdrew and observed her countenance.
“What’s wrong?” He took Precious from her.
She walked past him to the couch where she plunked, leaned her head on the backrest and stared up at the ceiling. Andrew stood transfixed, unsure if going close was the best option at that point.
“Come on, tell me”
“Do you know that all I’ve been doing for Dupe has not been seen as a labour of love, but a selfish favour to my ego?”
Andrew walked to the couch, sat on the arm rest, hunkered to pick both of Lovette’s plump legs and he placed them on his laps. He took of her shoes and gently massaged each foot. She let out her breath slowly as she relished the relief. Wherever her husband learned to give such good massages, did her a great favour.
“Now tell me exactly what happened”
“Okay, so, we’re done from work and Dupe tells me she needs to get nkan inu (entrails) from the market, I figure I could also use some grocery so we decide to jump buses to the market since my car has decided to be what it is,”
“Are you sure you don’t want to give me the full gist over dinner of my delicious garri and afang?” He winked.
She shook her head, struggling to hide her smile. “What disaster have you made this time?”
“One, it’s not burnt, two, I followed the tutorial video judiciously and three, when I tasted it, it was muah” He blew a kiss.
“Yeah, right? Let’s give you the benefit of doubt”
They walked to the kitchen, served their food and settled at the table.
“So like I was saying, on our way, Goke is being his normal boisterous self, playing with the window and stuff, then he asks for Yogurt”
“Now lie that you’re not enjoying the food” Andrew peered at her from above the rim of his glass.
“Well, I can only say the YouTuber whose video you watched must be good”
“Ehn ehn?” Andrew drawled goggling at her, “Don’t worry, next time, it’s on YouTube you will eat your food”
Lovette laughed. “Guy let me focus on the story I’m narrating na! Dupe asked the driver to stop and next thing everybody is picking on Goke and passing all sorts of derogatory remarks, I could see that it was getting to her and I remembered Mrs. Adetola telling me sometimes back that once when she posted Moyin’s picture on Instagram, the comment section blew up with vitriol and caustic comments so much that it made her cry. So, I just couldn’t sit by and watch the society go on damaging parents who have done nothing more than love their own children. I spoke my mind and I referred to Dupe’s attempt of suicide”
“Oh, no you shouldn’t have”
“Yeah, I realized later. When I was done, everyone was impressed except Dupe, we get off the bus and Dupe goes off on me, saying all I care about is how being hero makes me feel… yada yada yada. She basically called me a selfish, insensitive, self-glory seeking thing. I saw that I shouldn’t have said anything about her attempt of suicide so I apologized and then she went ‘you will be sorry the next time you butt into my business before she hissed and walked off.”
“Wow” He grimaced “That’s some drama right there”
“I tell you, and I was the spectacle of it right at the centre of the market”
“I’m sure she just spoke in the heat of the moment, we know Dupe loves us and she knows we love her and her husband alike. Love, you have to let it go. You need to understand that Dupe was only using you as an outlet to vent her frustration and anger, when you think of it that way, you’d be giving her an excuse and giving yourself a reason to forgive”
Lovette stared down for a long time battling with the Holy Spirit. She wanted to cling to her hurt.
“I always say that we must not be ignorant of the Devil’s devices. For months now, you and Dupe have been praying and planning towards the Bible club and now that it’s to kick off this week, the enemy is sowing a seed of discord. Babe, we wrestle not against flesh and blood.”
Lovette remembered her words to Dupe few months back. Jarret is not your foe. Only the Devil is. And immediately Dupe’s words lanced across her heart with the same piercing force they did the first time.
Whenever you feel the need to present one of your grand speeches, have the decency to not spread the gory details of my life with it
Lovette sniffled. “She hurt me with those words.”
“We hurt Christ more. You can’t afford to cling to unforgiveness, it’s the only biblical thing that I know can stand in the path of receiving God’s forgiveness. Receive the grace, Love, his grace is sufficient.”
She muttered a prayer and continued eating. They ate their meal in silence.
Before Lovette went to bed that night, she called Modupe. By now, Dupe was calm and willing to apologize and also receive Lovette’s apology. She reckoned that Lovette had shown maturity in how she handled the tantrum she threw in the market and also confessed that it was her insecurity that made her suspicious of Lovette and Andrew’s support. She had never had any do her good without wanting something in return, so when she could think of nothing else, she assumed that Lovette just loved being a hero.
“As Christians, brotherly kindness is a fruit that comes naturally from the spirit within us. Our love is pure because it comes from above and so we do good not in order to receive it in return, but by extension of the free love, grace and mercy we have received of God through Jesus” Lovette told Modupe over the phone that was wedged to her left ear with a raised shoulder while she did the dishes. “I hope you’re getting ready for Friday”
“I am eager.” Lovette could literally see Modupe’s lit up face.
“Lilian, come and watch TV” Adebimpe shouted from the living room.
“I’m in the toilet!” Lilian lied from her room. She quickly plunged her hands under her pillow and pulled out a leather cover book, Daddy’s gift from the Phillipines. On the book ‘Lily’s book of personal things’ was scrawled in her barely legible handwriting. She picked her pen from her bedside table. She entered the toilet and plunked on the beige seat. She flipped the first page.
No one else hears me
But Lily’s book cares for me.
She flipped through more pages and started writing.
Pris and I went to aunty lovets house again today for bible club. Errrrm…. it’s not so bad. I don’t hate that place as much as I hate choch. For 1 thing aunty lovet reads us stories she says are written by her husband and d stories are swit I watch them like a video in my head and for a short time, I can pretend to have a hapy life like all the other kids. Speakin of hapy I rily nid to know wat is always excitin aunty dupes son. Its just so wierd. Like doesnt he realiz just how stupid he looks. Pris says hes an idiot, I dont blame her. I try to escape evrytim he trys to play wit me.
Pris told me Rebeka likes to chew her shu. ewww. dety child. Pris has a big crush on Emma its so obvio yet she keeps lying. stupid girl who does she think she is fooling. I cannot really blame her sha, Emma is a fine boy and maybe I too will like him if I didnot already have uncle Jide. Emma is a fin boy but hes oda brother, salvation is fina. What kind of stupid name is dat. salvation.
I hate uncle Jide I rily rily hate him. I think is the devil in the story aunty lovet told us. but again I like him and thinking about his going makes me sad. I hate my life! My life is a mess. I hate my dad he only cares about stupid shine-shine gifts and biznes journeys. I hate my mum she only cares about her job and her stupid closet! I hate Pris she only cares about herself and Emma. I hate aunty lovet and aunty dupe they keep talking about jesus but jesus never saved me.
Jesus prove me wrong and save me from stupid uncle Jide before he leaves. I know this will be hard for you because I know he will be leaving in about 2 wiks but they say deres nothing u cannot do abi. Prove yourself…..
Andrew drove to work that morning sighing endlessly. Work hadn’t started for the day yet he was already tired of it. How did years find their way into the hiatus between the moment he clocked into his office and closing hour? He hoped he’d be able to clear his desk early enough to make it to Read to Your Fill book hub and café, his new favourite place after of course, his home. He had made new friends bonding over novels and authors, he found people who were ready to objectively point out the flaws and excesses in his works. Lovette did what she could and contributed her quota, but he really needed people who were themselves writers to help in sculpting his stories into better shape. Lovette testified of the good the club did for his works, she said they were getting better.
The desire to publish his anthology of short stories was now heavy on his heart. He had the stories already, seven of them, but he wasn’t sure he was ready to go. He was still editing and buffing the stories alongside Shola, his very direct editor. He was uncertain about what to expect. Soon, his manuscript will be with the publishers, how would his book fare in the market? He’d heard from his friends at Read to Your Fill that Christian books were not exactly marketable especially in Nigeria. Would the book join the band wagon of books forgotten on shelves and left to gather a plethora of dust? Would he or his book be accepted?
This thoughts and more kept him up and worried at night when he wasn’t polishing the stories and beating himself up on how amateur the lines were. Lovette had walked into the study one night to see him deep in thoughts, his face etched with worry lines.
“Cast your worry on Jesus, unku.” She leaned against the wall and crossed her arm. “Is this book your book or God’s?”
“God’s na” He answered off his head.
“Are you sure about that? Because if that’s true you would leave the worrying to God”
Andrew sighed again. Lord, I surrender all. The book, my fears, my aspirations, all of it. But I don’t even have a suitable title. ‘Pieces and Pacts’ seems very tacky and that’s the best I’ve been able to come up with. Oh, Lord
Lovette was usually the pedantic one and he was usually the one trying to calm her down but now the roles were reversed. Andrew decided to think of his favourite story in the collection, ‘Yellow, Black and White’ it was the story of Nedu, a boy with Down’s who found a way to save the people of all forms, races and tribes, held hostage in Avinka under the ruthless Kinkuy. This he did by religiously following his brother, Chris and the guideline he left him. It was an allegory and an adventure tale, where Nedu represented all believers, his condition, our flawed flesh. With Chris, representing Christ and the souls in Avinka symbolized all souls still under Satan’s captivity, in this case Kinkuy. The story was dear to his heart for obvious reasons. Nedu was to him, Precious and he wrote the story in honour of his son. It was beyond another story to him, it was a bold declaration of his faith in his son and everyone else living with Down’s or any other condition. They could be all they want and most importantly, all God designed them to be.
It was then it hit Andrew.
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world,
They are yellow, black and white
They are precious in sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Now he had two options for the title of his novel. It was either ‘Precious in his Sight’ or ‘Yellow, Black and White.’ He knew which one Lovette will pick. He smiled and called his wife.
“I obviously will prefer the first but I feel like it announces itself at the door. ‘Yellow, Black and White’ seems to me like a better title.”
“I actually think so too. But I’m dedicating the book to Precious”
Lovette was quiet.
“Don’t tell me you’re jealous?”
“Lovette na. Oya who do you want me to dedicate the book to?”
“Do whatever you like abeg. I have to take a class now, bye”
Andrew sighed as he pulled in the garage. It was bad enough that his job was a painful chore, now his wife was mad at him.
“You make me drive all the way to your far home, you go pay o” Lovette said stepping on gas.
Modupe snorted “Yeah, right? As if you don’t enjoy the company”
“I can’t lie oh, I do” Lovette laughed. “What has been coming to my mind for the weekend is sex education o. I don’t know why but it’s been coming repeatedly to mind”
Dupe laughed “Se- what? Nice one, your sense of humour is getting better”
“I’m not even joking. You think it’s to early to broach the topic with the children?”
“Are you trying to spoil their minds? Those kids are within the age bracket of five and ten. What do they need the knowledge of sex for?”
“No, Dupe not like that. In this age, children of almost every age have a hint about what sex is. It’s best for us to introduce the whole concept of what the Bible says about their bodies and sex. The church is leaving a loop hole in that area and the Devil is capitalizing on that. Most believers get introduced to the whole idea of sex from the world. I understand your fears but trust me, we don’t necessarily have to delve into details, all we need to do is make them know that their bodies are the temple of God. God’s will for them as regards sexual immorality. Sex is made to be enjoyed only in marriage. The focus will be on making them aware of their sensitive parts, the fact that they should not be touched anyhow and they should speak up if they sense anything awry”
“Hmmm.. I know that harassment and all are on the high side this days-”
“But, I don’t know sha, parents might not be comfortable with this”
“We’d be using very tempered language. Just pray about it I will continue praying. I’d also send a text to the parents requesting their consent. Anyone who is uncomfortable with this might just keep their children at home”
“It’s okay. Have a goodnight.” Dupe alighted from the car.
First it was the story, and now the explanation of it and the scripture read.
Who told aunty lovet all about me?
Lilian became very aware and self-conscious. She felt naked, as though every child in the room knew that all Lovette was saying about abuse was her story. She stopped talking about abuse and started talking about honoring God with one’s life and body. It was then the load of guilt landed on Lilian. God must be angry with her for letting Uncle Jide do to her body -God’s temple- what he did and worse yet, she enjoyed it.
God hates you, he will kill you and send you to hell like he did for the devil. You will burn. God loved you and sent his son to die for you but what did you do? You went to mess yourself with Uncle Jide. You sinner! God is angry with you, he hates you.
When Lilian could not hold the pain growing in her chest, she excused herself from the meeting, walked to the toilet and on the tiled floor cried bitterly.
“God forgive me”
Dip your head in the toilet bowl.That is the only way you can show God you’re truly sorry.
“I will die” She whispered, afraid.
But God will allow you enter heaven. If you don’t do that, God will strike you down with a thunder and you’d go straight to hell!
She spoke with an unction that took her by surprise and also made her sensitive. There was surely a reason for the unction God was releasing.
For some unknown reasons, she noticed when Lilian left the living room and her pulse picked. She could not concentrate any longer, she started stuttering.
Dupe came over and spoke to her ears. “Are you fine? Your seem discomfited”
Lovette asked Dupe to take over. She was about to settle where Dupe sat but she felt prompted to check on Lilain.
She went to the toilet and stopped at the door, wondering what she was meant to do. Then she heard a muffled sound. She pressed her ear to the door. Then she heard sniffles and a terrified whisper.
“I will die”
Alarmed, Lovette burst the door open. In the moment the door banged open before Lilian could see who was at the door, she thought she was about to have a dark epiphany with the wicked god the devil had created in her mind and so she jumped to her feet, ready to slam dunk her head in the toilet bowl. Then Lovette came in.
“Lilian what’s going on? Are you okay?”
Lilian crashed into Lovette’s arms, melting into a seething puddle of tears.
“Help me tell him I’m sorry. I don’t want to go to hell. I didn’t want it in the beginning. I told uncle Jide to stop. Believe me I did” Lilian rushed.
Lovette was totally lost. “What are you taking about Lilian?”
Lilian withdrew, shocked. “Didn’t God already tell you everything?”
“What are you talking about? I don’t understand”
Lilian wiped her tears and crossed her arm. “Nothing”
“Who is uncle Jide?”
“Look Lilian, I don’t know whatever it is the devil has been saying to you, but you need to believe me when I say Jesus loves you greatly. And his love is never going to finish.”
“Stupid talk. Jesus hates me!”
Lovette sighed. “Lily, can we go to the guest room to talk?”
It took a lot of persuasive talk, and scripture reading and prayers to get the lies that were deep-seated in Lilian’s mind cleared enough to let her trust Lovette with her story.
Lovette wept as she reassured Lilian of God’s love for her, he wants to save her from the captivity of the Devil, he put the words in her mouth in order to draw Lilian to himself. She spoke about the Devil’s trickery.
Lilian accepted Christ and just when she was done saying the prayer, Modupe knocked on the door. Mrs. Animashuan was here for Priscilla and Lilian. Lilian’s face immediately fell.
“I don’t want to go back there!” She whined, clasping pleading hands before Lovette.
Lovette calmed her and told her to stay in thy guest room while she went to speak with Mrs. Animashuan.
She asked Mrs. Animashaun for Lilian’s parent’s phone number. When Mrs. Animashaun was skeptical, Lovette simply told her there was an immediate need for Lilian’s parents attention. Mrs. Animashaun became worried. What was wrong? Priscilla too panicked. Lovette insisted that she wasn’t going to volunteer any information until she saw Lilian’s parents.
Immediately, Mrs. Animashuan called Bimpe.
When Bimpe came, Lovette brought Lilian, who was already sleeping out to calm everyone down. Mrs. Animashuan left with Priscilla.
Lovette sat with Adebimpe to discuss with her. Before she revealed what Lilian told her, she probed Bimpe with questions just to find out how much she knew of her daughter, and it turned out Bimpe knew only a little above, “Lily is an adorable four year old”
Bimpe was cold and shaking by the time Lovette was done.
“Ma’am, are you a believer?” Lovette asked, her tone stolid.
Bimpe sat up. “Yeah”
“Whuuuhu! Love love, I’m home!” Andrew sing-songed as he strutted into the living room.
“Mrs. Adejuyigbe meet my husband. Honey-” The words dried off Lovette’s mouth when she saw that the people staring at each other with slacked jaws didn’t seem to need any introduction.
Bimpe snatched up her bag, picked a limp Lilian from the couch and ran out of the house.
Adebimpe laid her daughter on her matrimonial bed and watched her sleep. Tears poured down her face as strong emotions roiled in her.
What had she been doing, where had she been looking when her own daughter was been perpetually molested under her roof?
Her loathe for Philemon rose to her throat till she could taste the bile of it on her tongue. He was off in Abuja for another business trip and here was his daughter suffering terribly.
She couldn’t help but think of Lovette as her replacement. She was hosting a in-house bible club, living with Andrew as husband and wife. Living the life she rejected.
And she definitely was filled with black blood towards Jide. She will pour out all her anger and bitterness and pain on that boy.
“That bastard will never remain the same!”
Jide tiptoed into Lilian’s room. He’d waited all day for this moment. He didn’t need light, he knew his way around the room. He reached her bed and the flood of light that zeroed down on him stopped and scared him. He turned around, slowly, carefully.
Near the door, Bimpe was turning the key in the lock, shoving them into her jeans and smiling dangerously at him.
“Good evening ma”
“Oloriburuku!” She pounced with Philemon’s belt, her claws, punches, kicks, teeth, elbow, everything.
His cries didn’t stop her, his tears didn’t, his blood did not and even his lurching could not quell the fire in Bimpe. The dense cloud of her wrath only cleared when he lay on the floor beside a streaking streamlet of his blood, unconscious.