THE NIGHT I TURNED 18
@ Olutope Olonade
With thunderstorms and terrifying lightnings, beaming with a crystal torrent of brightness, there He stood like a rock of flood light. In a twinkling of an eye, the whole place was transformed into an unspeakable radiant scene of glory.
My father and the angel of Mercy bowed down; they removed their crowns and placed them at His feet and worshipped. He stood there in majesty, clothed with a dazzling garment down to foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow and His eyes were flames of fire. His feet were like fine brass that were burned in a furnace. When He opened His mouth, His voice was as the sound of many waters. He had in His right hand seven stars and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword; and His face shined like the sun in His strength.
I became nervous at the sight of this great being. So in great fear and tremblings, I also fell and bowed myself. I heard the voice of the angel of Mercy pleading for my course. I raised my face to see the angel standing before His magnificent awesomeness. My father’s face glittered with tears as he brought out a placard and on it I saw “Have Mercy Lord” I quickly brought my face down because the torrent of the sharpness of the light coming from His direction was too strong. I felt I would loose my sight for my mortal eyes could not behold His righteousness.
I felt some liquid touched me and in a second I became drenched with the reddish liquid. This prompted me to look up and I saw a new transformation of Him… instead of the crown of great glory that I saw before, His head was graced with a crown of thorns. Instead of seeing the eyes with flames of fire, I saw eyes with uncontrollable tears and a face that bled sweat of blood. The two edged sword had suddenly disappered from His mouth. The stars were no where to be found, what I saw were only the marks of nails on His two palms and His heart came out of His body, pumping out the purest of blood that I had never seen ever before. It was then a suden reality struck me “JESUS!” I shouted and I began to sob.
Almost immediately I heard a great shout from the angel of mercy saying;
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to redeemed mankind by His blood”
I began to cry out in great agony, Jesus! I have erred, please Lord forgive me….I know I am not worthy to be in your presence but let your mercy speaks for me….” I kept pleading. I was surprised to had eventually found my voice.
I watched as the placard my father was holding became soaked with the blood that was pumping still from Christ’s heart. The tears on my father’s face dried up immediately and my father stood up and showed me the placard but to my surprise the words on it had changed to “MERCY AGAIN”.
The words were boldly written in capital letters and almost immediately, I heard people calling my name repeatedly from afar. At once, my whole self flew back into the dark funnel which led me to the rolling ball like object. I didn’t stay a second before I dived into the object and found myself gliding through the tunnel which took me back to the path along the vegetation. It was from the vegetation I met myself at the base of the rock where I saw three people pouring water and shaking my lifeless body in a bid to resuscitate me. I reluctantly entered into my case .
I began to sneezed severally and this actions made the people around me to shout in excitement. With the help from them, I struggled into a sitting position. I looked around as my eye balls rolled inside their sockets. I began to recognized them one by one. I saw Charles first, then Amaka and then….. David! I stood up bewildered….. I ran into the vegetation as fast as my legs could carry me. The two men caught me but I struggled to be set free from them when I noticed that the two men were Charles and the
security man then I saw Amaka as she approached us, I heaved a sigh of relief. They took me back to the rock where I relaxed for a while and later drove me to Charles place at my insistence.
THE NIGHT I TURNED 18
@ Olutope Olonade
You might wondered how my friends got to know that I was at the rock.
Amaka got back from the campus to her hostel room and Tolu informed her that I was there in the morning asking for her. She called David on the phone but his phone was switched off so she decided to go to his house immediately, She was not going to take chances with me anymore.
As she was driving to David’s house in the town, to ask him if he had seen or heard from me that day, she decided to drop by to check on Charles. It was Charles who told her that I had mentioned going to the relaxation center to look for her.
Amaka explained to Charles that she was at the rock throughout the afternoon up till evening before leaving and didn’t see me anywhere round the place.
Charles and Amaka later went to David’s house to look for me but met his door locked firmly. They then proceeded to the male hostel. While Charles went into building, Amaka waited outside hoping to here some good news about me but Charles did not meet David in his room. His two other roommates said they had not seen him since morning.
That was when Charles’s instinct told him all was not well with me. He expressed his fears to Amaka who too had started suspecting a fowl play.
” Maybe David and his mother have abducted the girl again…. ” She insinuated. It had gotten to a stage where she no longer trusted the family. But she did not reveal what was going on in her mind to Charles because she knew Charles could be too inquisitive sometimes. So they both thought of checking on me firstly, at the rock before reporting the case to the police.
Thirty minutes of unchecked dangerous high speed took them to the gate of the relaxation center. It was 9pm already, so the security man was not willing to open the gate for them. After much persuasion and a monetary tips from Amaka he let them in. Amaka showed him my picture on her phone to see if he had seen me that day. The security man confirmed that he saw me when I was talking with the ticket man that morning. He had wondered what brought me to a relaxation center as early as the time I came in. He noticed that I didn’t look quite good so he had followed me up to where I chose to sit down. He spied on me without me knowing for some minutes and seeing that I just sat down at the base of the rock, throwing stones and watching the beautiful vegetation and the flit of birds he accepted that I wasn’t up to any funny actions so he went back to the gate. Although he never noticed my exit because there were many people coming in and going out of the center.
The security man shut the gate and followed them to the rear end of the rock. He switched on his big touch light while the other two kept the flash lights on their phones on. They made sure they paid attention to every corner as they went on with the search. They would have given up after about forty minutes of serious search but Charles had an impression on his spirit that I was around the place.
So they continued to search for me for another twenty minutes and there they saw my lifeless body in a sitting position inside the small cave. They did all they could to resuscitate me and were about to take me to the hospital when I sneezed.
I sat down in the car looking at nothing in particular. My mind was just running through my experience when I was unconscious.
“Mercy Again….hnnnmmmmm”. I reflected.
This meant something to me. If I had not received the Lord’s mercy, I would have gone with the multitude into hell fire. I remembered my father’s sermon in the family morning devotion. Truely it used to be very boring to me then, but I could recalled that he used to talk about the wide road which leads to destruction and life eternity in hell fire provided for the unrepentant sinners and the careless Christians while the narrow road leads to everlasting bliss in heaven made prepared for only Christians who are genuinely born again.
“So if not for the mercy of the Lord I would have followed the multitude into everlasting condemnation.” I reasoned sadly.
I could still see the excitement that was on my father’s face when he showed me the placard which bored the change inscription ” Mercy Again”
“I can’t figure out the reason why the Lord sent me back into this wicked world as a sign of
his mercy…..I don’t quite know if I should be grateful or would it have been better if he shows me his mercy by allowing me to follow my father into His glorious eternal rest?”
I caught Amaka staring at me but she quickly took her gaze away trying very hard to avoid our eyes to meet hers. I saw the feelings of guilt written over her entire being. I knew She recognized the spot my lifeless body was seen and she knew there was no doubt that I heard her conversation with David. That probably would have been the reason behind my passing out.
We got to Charles’ house. I went into the room first followed by Amaka who had become a nervous wreck. Charles entered closing the door behind him. It was Charles that drove us so he did not notice the drama that Amaka had been performing in the car. He began noticed her when they were all alighting from the car. So he stood by the door wondering over Amaka’s sudden timidity.
Amaka went on her knees in front of me pleading with tears running down her face. I sank into the only sofa in the room and kept staring into the space trying hard not to listen to the jargons coming out of my so called angel. Charles became more confused as he looked from me to Amaka and from Amaka back to me. When she realized I wasn’t ready to say anything she opened up to Charles. She explained the whole saga. The guy opened his mouth wide enough to swallow a pig.
“Amaka, you mean, you and David were actually dating and I never knew all this while. I thought you guys are platonic friends….David told me so, when I caught him having a relationship with Abike. Though I have always known that David has not being a sincer person but I didn’t know he is this worst …..and Amaka….” He pointed a finger at her.”……don’t you ever try to shift blames…the two of you are in this together. You are both liars and wicked as well. Look at the damage you have cost somebody that called you a friend. To think that she even came here looking for you thinking that you her good friend not knowing that you are a devil in cassock.” He said in great annoyance.
I didn’t know a genuine born again brother could be so cross with people like these. We heard a knock at the door. The door opened before any of us could ask who was at the door and guess what? Talked of the devil…..David appeared. He stood at the door way but not far enough to escape a straight and heavy jab from Charles. David staggered and looked at Charles in great amazement. I was sure he never expected that from his gently born again brother friend.
I switched off my sight faculty, pretending not to see what was going on before me.
” Why did the Lord spared my life? I believed am better off with him than with these kind of people around me. What am supposed to do with the mercy he gave me again?”
I switched off my thinking faculty too as I flopped into the bed and gradually released my mind and my eyes into the hands of a deep sleep.
THE NIGHT I TURNED 18
@ Olutope Olonade
She saw me first and started running towards me beaming with great joy. She hugged me and I responded with same excitement because obviously she was a good acquaintance. Though I couldn’t place her face but her spoken English revealed that she was from the North. I was beginning to think she was one of my numerous friends in the North, a course mate or someone from the department, when she introduced herself.
“Abike, it’s me, Rekia! Mallam Nuhu’s wife” she explained delightfully. I knew my face had revealed my confused state of mind to the young lady.
I stood dumbfounded by the revelation. No! The Rekia that I used to know would never come out this way. The Rekia I knew was an Hajia and would always be on a burka or hijabs. I was still looking at her in disbelief. She smiled and showed me the tattoo on her arm to clear my doubts. The tattoo showed her name and truthfully it looked very familiar.
“Hajia Rekia!” I shouted in amazement. Not really knowing what to call her again. I checked her out from head down. She wore a short cheap pink gown with a common simple design. She applied an heavy make up with a small ring pinned on her nose like she normally did before. She had a pair of danggling silver earrings which complement her long braided hair. What a transformation!
I didn’t expect to see Rekia in that part of the Central. The area was known to be the dens of prostitutes, robbers, rogues and hardened criminals. It was reported that many atrocities were grossed in the area. I and my team were there to show them the way to salvation; we brought the good news to them.
Initially after visiting a sick fellowship member whose parents lived in that ghetto, I had a burning passion to show them especially, the youth the true way of good living. I did not know it was going to become a mandate for me. God gave me a vision afterwards that showed me clearly that he was actually sending me there to share his love and extend his abundant mercy to them. I decided to start my mission immediately, it’s the King’s business and it required haste. I believed it was the time to do my father’s work before the evening time when there would not be much work to done or little or no power left….our God is a God time and seasons…a time concious God. I blessed God that we just started our first semester break.
My unrelenting and sincere zeal to spread the gospel coupled with the spiritual gifts that was evident in my life gave my fellowship president and other excos no doubt that it was the will of God for me to be in that coven of unrighteousness to set things right by his grace. So I was granted the permission to go with my team. I happened to be the leader of the fellowship prayer warriors. I was an addicted prayer person and God had been faithful to honour his words in my mouth. Amidst much worship and prayers with unrelenting support morally, financially and physically and promises to keep interceding for us, we were sent forth.
Rekia grabbed my hands and dragged me into a corner. There we exchanged more pleasantries before I finally asked after her husband and her daughters. The question I asked brought a sudden change in her countenance. She looked into my eye and with a sad tone informed me that my then confident and courageous confidant had passed on.
“Jeeezus”! I screamed.
” How did it happen”? I asked
I gathered from her narration that it was not up to an hour that I and Nuhu left the Camp on that fateful day that the bandits surrounded the camp. Unfortunately, two of Rekia’s daughters were playing outside while she was inside the tent administering drugs to their first daughter… Aisha, who took ill at the early hours of the morning. I followed Nuhu to the farm to assist him since Rekia and the kids were unable to go. We had also planned to cut some leaves and herbs on our way coming for the sick child.
Rekia ran out of the tent in response to her children’s screams but unfortunately, she met the two of them lying dead on the ground with poisoned arrows stucked into their tender bodies. She was still crying and shouting for help when the Invaders began to troup in from different angles into the camp. Her kinsmen who were working in the neighbouring farms came out to counter the attack and rescued both herself and her sick daughter. They were taken to a safe place.
It was after the fight that she was told that Nuhu came into the camp when the fight was becoming fierce and as a man he joined the fight but since he was their main target, they made sure he died for his betrayal in saving a “kalferi”. It was after his death that the bandit retreated.
After the demise of her husband, Rekia and Aishat her only surviving daughter went back to the village to live with her father and her step mothers. Not too long, a distance aunt came and brought her into this ghetto.
Rekia and I were age mates. She was betrothed to Nuhu who was then, a large scale wealthy farmer when she was 5 years old and married off to him at age 12. After six months of their union, things began to fall apart. Nuhu’s large cash crops farm, the largest in the whole village got burnt down by some unknown miscreants who were hunting for bush meats.
As their major means of livelihood gone, other problems followed which eventually led them into an abject poverty. Life became very tough and unbearable and this explained the reason why they opted for alms begging in the neighbouring towns and villages. She gave hirth to her three daughters at the space of five years. So at 17, Rekia had already become a teenage mother of three.
Looking at Rekia’s appearance, I thought all was not well with her. So I decided to ask what she was doing for a living and the revelation was shocking.
THE NIGHT I TURNED 18
@ Olutope Olonade
“What are you doing now. Rekia?” I asked with a concerned tone.
“I’ve gone back to school” she answered smoothly with a wide grin.
“Wao!” I exclaimed in great delight at her response.
It had been Rekia’s vision to become well educated. She had noticed that all her female teachers when she was in the elementary school and the nurses who used to come to vaccinate them in the village were all living a better life. She used to admired them very much when they speak English language fluently as much as they speak their native languages.
Many people were not literate in her village not to talk of being well educated. The least they went especially, female children, was the elementary education. She had determined to break the gene of illiteracy in her family and the village at large, being a woman not with standing.
Her dreams was cut short as Rekia was whicked to Nuhu’s house at the completion of her elementary education. Nuhu was three times Rekia’s age, infact he and his wife’s father were age mates. He knew the only way to make Rekia happy was to send her back to school and which he did before the unfortunate disaster befell him. But when my parents had decided to take up the responsibility of funding their three daughters’ education, the couple had since then being nursing the ambition of Rekia going back to complete her secondary education. They saved enough money to buy the plots of land for a big scale farming, so that the proceeds from the farm and the husband’s salary from my dad would be enough to take care of the family needs and the wife’s education even if she decided to stop her food business. This was their beautiful plan before death played a prank on them.
“I know my going back to school will gladden my husband’s heart wherever he is right now….” She said. I nodded and smiled at her ignorance because the dead had gone forever, he could not see or know what was happening to anyone here on earth again. But strangely, I did not believe Rekia’s school story, no matter how real she sounded.
“Now Rekia, back to your looks.” She smiled at my comment and she checked herself up again.
She explained to me that she used to be in Burka because she was married to a religious fanatics. But since he was no more. She was free to dress anyhow after all she was still very much young.
“But I thought it’s your religion culture for women to dress that way.”
“Anyways, as you can see around here, …” I looked around us. “….not many people are in hijabs not to talk of burka”. She pointed out and I smiled wryly.
My major concern over Rekia was not only in her physically appearance alone but more on her dispositions. Deep down in my heart I felt something was wrong somewhere with her life and I needed to find out. Rekia was no longer the usual religious and cultured girl that I used to know then.
Her refreshing naivety and teenage shyness had disappeared. She looked and sounded weird. I was disturbed in the spirit.
“What is happening to you Rekia?” I asked softly and I started cuddling her hands gently.
“My dear, you are no longer the young woman I used to know”……. I said flatly.
I began to watch her intently as she bowed her head, she got pretty tensed up. I needed to ease the tension, so I assured her she could tell me anything and
be sure I would be there for her. I told her I was still the Abike who used to be her confidant.
Rekia raised her head and was gazing at nothing. I saw her struggling with her emotions and fears.
“You know you can tell me anything, Rekia”…. I said again, I clutched her hands still, in mine. I encouraged her with my look while I also braced myself up for any shocking revelation that might come from Rekia, because I was dead sure she had one.
She brought her gaze back to me. Her eyes had got misty with tears as she struggled to open up to me.
” I never knew that aunty Sasha is a professional sex hawker because she doesn’t look it at all. Anytime she appears in the village she always dressed in a sensible way. She earned so much respect and envies from people, especially the women folk. Most people from my village are confined within the village and the neighbouring villages, so her filthy secret is concealed in this slum. She had be taken by surprise to see how l have grown up to a beautiful young woman so she took the advantage of my predicament to talk to my father into releasing me and my child in care. She had promised to take good care of me and Aisha, our education inclusive. Judging by her healthy, wealthy and responsible appearance, my father consented and that’s how we met ourselves in this godforsaken town. Ever since then , She subjected me into sexual slavery as I was made me sleep with several men who returned her favour in cash and kind. But to my surprise, she was shamelessly spending the proceeds made over me to take care of herself only leaving me and my daughter to suffer…..” She paused and used the back of her palm to wipe away tears on her face as she continued sniffing through her speech. “….I thought if going back home but couldn’t, when I remembered my step mothers. They made life a hell for me when I was with my father after the death of my husband. They never stopped reminding me that it was my bad luck that turned Nuhu into a pauper after he married me and he died as a result of my evil spirit. There is no one to fight for me because I have no mother. My mother died a long time ago, when she was giving birth to me. They’ve tagged me an evil child from childhood. Aunty Sasha runs a bar from where I met a lady who asked me to come and stay with her… Abike I left my aunt’s house to this compound to become a full-time prostitute…..I sell my body for the survival of myself and my daughter. I have since enrolled Aisha, my girl in public school and I am also saving money to also start my secondary school education….you told me so much about your course….it’s a good and noble profession. Yes! I want to become a lawyer…..I want to be able to fight for the….girl child…..I want to fight against teen’s force marriage….and all other unmerited wickedness against any girl child. Abike, but since I don’t have anyone to help me achieve my dream, I begin to use what I have to get what I need…” She cleared her face and looked straight into my eye, hoping to see an irritating or judgemental reactions from me but instead, I nodded and held her whole-self tight to my bosom in an emotional hugs.
“Oh! So this is it Lord….this is why you sent me here…” I cried in my heart while blessing God for bringing me here…..
THE NIGHT I TURNE 18
@ Olutope Olonade
“Do you like what you are doing, Rekia?…are you satisfied with this way of living?” I asked quitely.
“Definitely not, Abike…..it’s only that I do not have a choice….I am only a victim of fate….I needed to survive….and fate has left me with no choice but this….” She responded.
” Yes, you do” I stated in disagreement.”
“What I can’t understand is why you allow fate to rule over your destiny for so long. The words ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’ may appear to have same meaning but practically they are not. Fate is what life throws at you against what God plans for you which is destiny. Accepting fate to rule over you wheels you away from locating your destiny. Talking about choice….fate doesn’t provide choices because it is a choice itself. Take for instance no woman will bring forth a new baby without the placenta. But what mother will choose a placenta over a child?”….I asked without actually expecting an answer.
“A child represents destiny. Every child born of a woman has a destiny to fulfill….to grow, to talk, to walk, to make exploits ….. The placenta is a force nobody could stop from coming along side the child but can be rejected and buried away from the child forever. Placenta is an ugly thing, the reminant or blood waste that refused to form another baby but if retained in the womb can cause rottenness that can lead to the death of the mother. But the awesomeness of our God is that the placenta rushes out at the cry of the baby. Therefore fate comes at the beckoning of destiny. Nobody becomes fulfilled in life without seeing the ugly face of fate but just as God rejected the fate of the earth to be in darkness without form by calling out the light and there was light, and there was great transformation. We also should strife hard to overcome and embrace our destiny. Fate are the huddles life throws on our way to fulfill destiny. God didnot stay in darkness and continued to hover over emptiness in self pity. He took a bold step with utmost determination and he made the world the best place. No one can be fulfilled by fate but people, who have seeing life above fate and determined, with faith to run and restore their destinies. Keeping your hope alive is another tool of getting to God’s plans, it is your choice to see light inspite of being surrounded by darkness. Hope will see you through fate but determination by grace and solid faith takes you to destiny. Just as a placenta cannot stand a day without rotten, life facing difficulties and challenges can’t stand against you for a long time. It will come to bow to you at last. Jesus Christ saw the agony of the cross as a burden and wanted to settle for less by asking God to take the cup away from him but he later submitted to the tune of destiny and stood against all odds to take his possession in his father’s kingdom.
Subjecting your body which is the temple of God to filthiness is a proposal which fate throws your but because you do not know the God in heaven to whom nothing is impossible for, you fell for it’s trap.
I was once in the ocean of fate before. I was tossed here and there in filthiness, tortures, pains, regrets and unrighteous until the Lord shown me his mercy which is coming to you today, my dear…..”
Rekia was listening to me in a rapt attention and eager to know more from me. So I used the opportunity to narrate what I have passed through maybe this would help her make up her mind…..
“Holy Spirit, take control” I prayed silently.
It was three years now since I gave my life to Christ thanks to Charles who had yielded to the tune of the Holy Spirit to changed my life for good. Through out the months I spent in his house he had never for once taken an advantage of me instead he kept feeding me with the word of God. We were living like blood siblings. He never for a day condemned me for what happened but kept encouraging me to let go of my past and turn a new leaf. In one of the so many nights that I had been pouring out my heart to him. I told him of my experience when I was unconscious at the rock. He confirmed that what happened in that vision was a rare grace that comes once in a life time. He said the Lord loved me and he had given me a second chance to set things right. He commented that seeing my father with the crown of glory with stars showed that my father was a strong Evangelist when he was alive. There were different crowns with certain amount of stars for genuine soul winners depending on how many souls they are able to bring to the kingdom. He said souls winners are crowns owners in heaven and they will continue to enjoy the favour of the Lord for eternity. Such as the case of my father. Charles told me that I needed to share the light I saw in that transition with other people, the reason why I had received mercy again.
“….but Abike, how would you show other people the light that you didn’t accept. You can only give to people what you have. You are lucky my sister to be given a second chance. You are among few people that the Lord has been merciful to by deliberately given them the grace to live right so as to make it to the kingdom. He gave Peter, Paul, Cornelius and a host of others. They all made good use of their second chances and now in eternal blissful relationship with him in the kingdom. Abike my beloved sister, when are you going to start living the kind of life that the Lord wanted you to live when he showed you mercy again …..” He paused and gently took my hands in his and looked right into my misted eyes.
I began to recall the scene in that transition. When the Lord appeared to me, he appeared in majesty. He came to judge me with the two edged sword in his mouth and eyes shone in flames of fire just like the book of revelation has described, but because of me, he went back to the cross of Calvary. Christ went back to pains and agony at Golgotha before he was able to show me mercy that prevailed over the prepared judgement that I truely deserved. His heart was bleeding again because I had trusted my arrow of sins into it….I had been revolting against him with my iniquities, I had not trusted him enough…. because of my ingratitude….because of my unforgiven spirit he had to be reminded of his woes again…..” I am sorry Lord…..” I cried in my heart and my spirit got torn apart inside me….and the vision came to a close. And I heard that soft voice…..
“Abike….” Charles whispered
“…..will you give your life to Christ?”