She was in the corner of a street, wearing a loose black dress that allowed her red underwear peek from behind it. Her lips were fuller, curved in an inviting way and covered with rouge lipstick. She balanced on her stilettos, striking a very provocative pose. Of course she wasn’t alone, she was in the company of a bevy like her all vying for attention. She leaned back, one hand languidly on her hip and with the other she tousled her hair. Everything blurred out and then she was seen in a club seething with all the energy of a club. Again, she was in a corner but this time, there were three men on her like pia matter on brain. The men were definitely having the moment of their lives, groping, necking, getting down and dirty and she was there, the object they were consuming with their passion, laughing cheerfully.
She moved her body to the rhythm of the heavy music much to the delight of the men. How could she give all of them equal attention? How could six hands find a place to work on one body? Suddenly, the lights went out, so did the music and what rose in its stead was a general ‘Oh!’ of protest from the crowd.
The men abandoned her one after the other when they were done. Leaving her with clothes ripped up, skin bruised and eyes teary. She picked the shreds of her black dress, covered herself in shame and walked into the ladies. She emerged on the other side of the door in a different scene, looking like a completely different person. Her hair was now up in a bun, not cascading down to her waist, she had gloss on her lips not the red hot stain, she wore a three-quarter sleeved chiffon blouse and skirt that reached down to her ankles. Her shoes were flat and most shocking of all was the fat Bible under her armpit. She walked towards him with a saintly smile on her face.
“Hey there, I am sister Abigail and you are?”
He whipped his head around his shoulder, distracted by the loud laughter he heard. In a distance behind him, he could see Kunle, Idris and Anthony laughing off their heads, staggering, doubling over and holding one another for support. He was the joke so funny.
He turned back to her. She still had her smile intact. She opened up her Bible and from Psalm 1 picked out a wedding ring. She held it out.
“Take it, for you are my God given husband”
He blinked. She burst into a cackle that grated and lingered in his ears a few seconds after he jolted out of his dream.
He jumped and looked around the blackness that enveloped him. Was he in another dream? Where was he? He quickly felt his pocket for his phone. The light from his phone revealed his sparsely furnished living room. It was then his heart rate reduced and his memory quickened. He had fallen asleep on the couch.
He remembered Abigail and felt faint. His dream definitely came from multitude of business. He had been trying to picture Abigail the way she was before and those pictures came back in his dream, this time a lot more cheesy and dramatic.
He felt nauseous thinking about his dream. He hurried to the toilet and threw up all the popcorn and soda he had engorged himself with in the cinema into the toilet bowl.
He sloshed his mouth and rinsed his face at the sink and with the light from his rechargeable lamp he studied himself at the mirror. Look at yourself, Deme. Aren’t you a fool?
He remembered his roommates during his NYSC days, Idris, Kunle and Anthony. How many times had they scoffed at him concerning his faith and celibacy? Night after night, they would return to the room each man eager to recount his escapade and Demetrius would walk in on them, returning from NCCF family house or the rural clinic. They would ask him why he was putting himself under unnecessary punishment, he usually left there questions unanswered, he would pick his earphones and shut them out.
They had the same story to tell. A man had nothing to worry about. Even if premarital sex is sin, God understands, he’s forgiving, and then Idris always said at the end of the day the bad boys would get the true good girls, the virgins and all that would be left for zealots like Demetrius would be ladies who would come to the church pretending after they had whored round the universe.
The man was right. He’d been a fool. But even now, Demetrius found it hard to think of the Abigail he knew as the whore by the street he saw in his dream. Was she then the charlatan with a bun and flowing skirt? He still couldn’t bring himself to think of Abigail that way either. She was not a chameleon, she didn’t come to church desperate with the one aim of latching onto the next available brother. What if she did? What if he didn’t think of her that way because she didn’t want him to? What if she’d played her cards well? What if she had this figured out from the start?
But if she was a pretender, would she confess to him? She could have done that to take him in. The more Demetrius thought about it, the more confused he became. But then, he remembered that God spoke to him. Was that also a lie? Was his mind whipping up games? No, he was sure he heard God. He could still remember the Isaiah scripture God gave him. While he was bathing that evening and reminiscing about his proposal to Abigail, the first part of the scripture even dropped in his spirit again. So, what was happening?
Demetrius clenched his teeth till his jaws started aching. He walked into his room, angry.
God is this what I deserve?
James 1: 17
Demetrius picked his phone and opened the scripture impressed on his spirit.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
Good? Perfect? Gift? He laughed. God you sure have a sense of humour. She has been passed from one hand to the other, she said so herself and that’s perfect?
The absolutely perfect one became imperfection that Abigail might be the perfection of God in Christ.
Demetrius paced the room, angry. As he did, the Biblical account of Peter refuting the sheet of unclean animals that God sent to him played in his mind.
Self righteousness would rob you of my blessing. You can’t be more righteous than the Lord, the righteous one, the one who declares righteous and is the righteousness of the righteous. Whoever I pronounce just through faith in Jesus is just. Do not call unclean what I have called clean.
Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old, Deme. If you keep considering the former things, you won’t see the new thing I am set to do and you will not witness its springing forth.
Demetrius turned his mind’s focus from all that God was saying to his previous thoughts. His dream came back and its memory was a fetid stench in his nostrils. He ran back into the toilet, this time he vomited bile. He sat on the floor, staring into the dark.
Memories trickled into his mind. Memories of the times he had to turn from temptations, times he was mocked. In his 300L, there was Rume, his course mate who had asked him to assist her with Immunochemistry few days before the exam. Apparently, there was more to the chemistry and there’s only so much a man’s ‘immune system’ can take. He had to literally run from the corner he found himself in with a swiftly stripping Rume. By the next day, his gist had filled the class like antiseptic fills the clinic. The ladies sneered at him, the guys made crude jokes. He suffered all of that to end up with a woman who put her back down for every Tom, Harry and Dick? He let out a self-depreciating laugh at the innuendo of it. Tom, Harry and Dick. He laughed again.
“Hey there, I am sister Abigail and you are?” He remembered her words from his dream and he continued laughing, he could hear her cackle from the dream mingle with the sound of his own laughter. He stopped, scared. Deme, are you losing your mind?
He rose up from the tiled floor of the bathroom and walked to his bed. It was a struggle before he found a fitful sleep dotted with nightmares and terror.
This time he was walking down the aisle with Abigail as his bride. She was totally beautiful, he was excited and so was everyone in the upscale hall. Then he saw the trio, Kunle, Idris and Anthony in black suits styled unconventionally and swanky shoes, walking towards them with smirks. When they stood before him and his bride, they totally ignored Abigail, they wouldn’t even look her in the face.
“So, brother Deme, tell us about your bride” Idris said, giving Abigail a malicious once over.
Before Demetrius could say a word, Anthony intervened. “What more does he have to say? Just look at her”
They all turned to Abigail, and Demetrius was shocked to see his bride transformed. She was no longer in her wedding dress but the black gown she wore in his previous dream. Kunle chuckled “Abby, Abby, so it’s you”
“You know her?” Anthony quizzed.
“Very well,” Kunle said, his tone heavy with suggestion. “I’m sure I even know her more than virgin uncle Deme here”
He woke up to a beeping alarm and a splitting headache.
Abigail closed her laptop without shutting it down, she knew it was a bad habit but she couldn’t care less. All she wanted to do now was get home, shower, have dinner and land face first on her bed. But that was impossible, she would have to do some chores, assist in the kitchen and also help Aanu and John with their home work. Plus, she had a design to finish up against a presentation due the next morning.
She knew now that being a mother and career woman was no joke.
She shoved her laptop into her bag and cleared her desk. She stepped into the ladies to touch up her makeup before she went down the stairs to the reception where she signed out.
As she walked out of the company building she remembered that she had to meet with Demetrius today, she immediately felt relieved. She couldn’t wait to tell him all about her long day at work and her short potbellied boss who won’t stop hitting on her. Then she remembered the previous day and the balloon of her excitement was punctured.
Would Demetrius be in the best position to see her now? Did he still need time to process things? Wouldn’t it be better if they skipped meeting this week? Wouldn’t that be pushing realities under the carpet or deferring the evil day when they’d have to face it?
She decided to call him.
When the phone call was over, she sighed. Half relieved that they won’t be seeing tonight and half worried. Was Demetrius so eager to cancel plans because he wanted to please her or because he was also hoping to not see her before she called?
In the backseat of the jouncing cab where Demetrius sat sandwiched between a lanky Hausa man and a Yoruba woman that passed a remark on everything she saw, he was torn between many thoughts. He really wished he could find a way to escape meeting with Abigail. He usually looked forward to every moment with her but well, the unusual had happened. Should he call her to cancel plans? What would he say? He could say he had a stomach upset. That wasn’t entirely untrue since his gut writhed from starvation. As his thoughts circled, his phone rang.
“Hello Abigail” It took effort to sound normal, effort that didn’t avail much.
“How has been your day?”
“It’s been there jare.. I wanted to ask, are we still meeting today?”
“Don’t you want us to meet?” God please let her say yes.
“Well,” She let her voice peter out.
“It’s fine if you don’t want us to meet. I perfectly understand. No pressure”
“Thank you for understanding”
Demetrius dropped the phone and exhaled. That went well. He shifted forward uncomfortably, the growing moisture in the Hausa man’s armpit was reaching him and that was just gross. His phone started ringing again.
It was Dare.
“Ah, Dare good evening o. This one wey you remember me today like this” Demetrius enthused.
Dare laughed. “I no forget you before na. Guy, buy Iya Alade akara o, with bread too. You’d be having a guest tonight”
Demetrius blinked. “I don’t get”
“Just do what I’ve said, you will get later”
“You know it’s invasion of privacy the way you barge on me every time, yeah?”
“Yen yen yen… Tell me you’re not happy I’m coming and I won’t come again”
“Eh… Let’s just help your life so you don’t feel bad, I will be expecting you”
Demetrius smiled when he dropped the call. Perfect distraction. At least tonight he won’t be a rolling pin on the bed torn between consciousness and tormenting dreams.
When he got to his street he met Iya Alade fiercely whooping Alade’s bum for stealing some money from her pouch. The moment was reminiscent of the days when Demetrius’ father had beaten him to a pulp with his fluid streak of evil popularly called koboko, the young boy’s cry and hurried promises to never do it again almost made him laugh. Who taught almost all children to say these same words? He intercepted a furious Iya Alade and pleaded for the boy who had Demetrius trousers bunched up in his fist from where he crouched behind him.
“Ola oga Deme lo je o, bi b’eko ma fe na ti e ta… Oponu iya (if not for oga Deme, I would have beaten you blue-black. Dumb fool)”
She turned to Demetrius and attended to him. When he got home, he met Dare squatting near the door, a duffel bag by his side. He burst into laughter.
“For how long have you been here?”
“Long enough to know how many cracks are on this pavement”
Demetrius hugged his friend. “Man, I’m glad to see you o”
“You finally admit. Well, I’m not here to see your face. I’m here to know this AHDU that has my guy’s heart”
“So you came from Apata?” Demetrius changed the subject as he turned the key in the keyhole and pushed the door open.
“Na men, I came from the lab”
“Oh, so you’re going there from here tomorrow?”
“Yep. I came prepared,” he tapped his bag. “And there’s a blanket in there. I’m not going to freeze like the last time.”
“Smh. Real men don’t use blanket. Hard guy, hard guy, small cold you dey shiver”
“Hard guy not snow man abeg” Dare reached for the nylon of Akara and Demetrius withdrew it.
“Stop abeg. I’m starving”
“When are you ever not starving tele?” Demetrius let go of the nylon and Dare tore off a piece of bread, sandwiched Akara in it and started munching.
“So how far your honey dripping usher now?”
“She has a name now,” Demetrius said glowering at him “Her name is Abigail.”
“Oh I see, so how is it going?”
“Yeah, she’s beautiful, she’s nice, I love her”
“You don’t even sound like it. Is everything okay?”
“How far your end na? Bros, you know you’re not getting younger”
Dare hissed. “I have my mum to tell me that. It will happen when the time is right by God’s clock. What is wrong with you and Abigail?”
“Nothing actually. We are fine.”
“Yeah sure and I’m getting married next month”
Demetrius jumped. “You are?”
“Of course not, ah. This guy sef”
They bantered some more before Demetrius decided to confide in Dare. He told him briefly about Abigail’s past and how it was affecting his current view of her.
Dare dropped his bread. “I’d go straight to the point, you know as well as I do that God doesn’t even have a memory of all the things you’re allowing to becloud your mind. I know, it hurts, talk to God about it, also talk with her. But most of all, you must trust God to see Abigail through his eyes, only then would you be able to launch into the depths of treasures in her”
Depths of treasures? This guy hasn’t even met her. “How convenient is it for me to wipe my memory of her past?”
“Have you chosen to forgive Abigail for the wrong choices she made?”
“It wasn’t against me she sinned” He looked away, his tummy twisting.
“If you were not concerned, you won’t be so troubled. You can’t continue denying what is on in your mind’s recesses. You must choose to forgive her and let go of the hurt. And every time you remember her past, remember also that she’s a new person, also choose your choice to let go of the hurt over again.”
“It keeps coming to my mind”
“Pick your thoughts. Put thoughts of all God is saying about her over thoughts of who he saved her from. When the Devil whispers lies to your mind about her, scream back the Biblical truths about her. She’s the righteousness of God in Christ. She’s a brand new man. You know these truths, keep on keeping them before you”
“It’s not fair that I kept myself and I get this, do you think it’s fair?”
Dare studied his friend for a while before he spoke. “I have a few questions and I want you to give the most sincere answers”
“Good, why did you maintain sexual purity?”
“To honour God and glorify him with my body which is his temple”
“You’re sure that’s the only reason?”
Demetrius shrugged. “Yeah”
“You didn’t keep yourself to deserve someone who’s kept?”
Demetrius fell silent, realizing his point.
“Next question. How were you able to stay chaste in spite of temptations?”
“By God’s grace.”
“You’re sure it’s not by your strength?”
“By strength I could not prevail.”
“Is your chastity the reason you’re accepted in the beloved?”
“No, my sonship is solely because of Jesus, his sacrifice and his life in me”
“Now, Abigail is on the same platform of righteousness in Christ as you, if you truly believe the answers that came from your lips. I think I’m done here.” Dare stood up. Demetrius felt angry again. How dare him take sides with Abigail? He didn’t even know her yet and all he cared about was her, what about him? What about how her past made him feel? How would he feel when later in the future they run into one of her many exes, one she’d gone all the way with?
Dare held Demetrius hands. “Let’s pray”
Demetrius started praying wanly and his whirring, wandering thoughts kept distract him till it detoured him. He remembered Kunle’s smugness in his dream. He knew her better than he would ever do. Choose your thoughts Deme. He didn’t, he just let his thoughts roll with the tide.
Demetrius hands slipped limply out of Dare’s grip. Dare tapped him. “Dude, you’re sleeping.”
“I’ve had a long day, I need rest”
“We need to pray”
Demetrius nodded. Soon after he was knocking his head back in sleep.