My Life Story; Episode 1
My name is Ruth Adekunle Jonathan. I am from a deeply religious family, my parents have been very strict in raising I and my siblings. Growing up in the house of Mr and Mrs Adekunle Jonathan was hard enough. My dad is a typical native man, strong, commanding and intelligent. He hardly tolerates any nuisance. He handled us with an iron fist. We had strict rules & guidelines, and whoever disobeyed was severely punished.
My parents are also very religious people. We are devoted Catholics, no one in my house was permitted to miss a mass, even if you were sick, it had better be Ebola virus, else you must be in church.
I was quite active too, I was an alter girl, I also joined the legion of Mary.
My life revolved around 3 places; school, home and church. I dare not step out of the house for a minute without a vivid reason. I attended a girls-only school, so boys were off limits. Mum and dad took every little opportunity to remind me that as the last born and only girl, I was so precious to them. They wanted me to grow into a decent woman, who would make them proud. I was everyone’s pet. My elder brothers David and Daniel were always there for me. Though 4 and 2 years older than me respectively, we were best of friends.
At 16, I was a shy, easy going princess. I had developed quite well for my age. I had a slim figure, I had a fairly good height for a lady with gently curved hips. My gentle dark eyeballs reflected my light African skin. I was a beauty to behold, and mum always reminded me of that. She had warned me repeatedly never to go near boys, whom according to her were “Wolves who are ready to devour” waiting to plunder and destroy my future.(That was their simple and single illustration about boys).
Dad kept a tight leash on me. Every Friday he would drive me to church practice, and pick me up when I’m done. Other kids made fun of me for being a “daddy’s girl”. I protested and declared that I was old enough to find my way to the church. Hence dad agreed that David should take me instead. He gave us a stern warning “you must never divert on your way to church!”
I was glad at last that I had gained a part of my freedom, Little did daddy know that Friday’s practice in church would be the beginning of the greatest mistake of my life.
Sit back, Relax & Grab a can of coke and chips cos the story has just started.
Friday came as usual, I got dressed for church practice. David and I strolled along to the church. This was the first time I’d be going to church practice without my father looking over my shoulder, I felt like I have been in a cage all my life and was just set free. Although David attends practice always, he has never gone with my dad before. He always came up with one excuse to leave earlier or later than us, or to drag behind long after dad picks me up. At 20 dad trusted him a little more than me. He was a student in UNILAG, so there was little dad could do to monitor him. We got to church about 20 minutes before practice time, and we parted ways. David went with his fellow-man servants, while I left with my friends Sarah and Hannah.
Sarah and Hannah were the only close friends I have, we attend the same secondary school, and attend practice together. They were about my age too. Mum knows them very well, and had banned me from associating with them. Both of them were very popular in church and school, for a particular reason I can’t fathom. Sarah in particular always filled my ear with stories of various guys he has been engaged with and how they took care of her, most of whom had either just returned from US or Dubai. She had a lot of expensive stuff to showcase every week. She spends her weekends in highbrow hotels in the remote part of Lagos. Sarah knows how to have fun, she had an exciting life going for her.
My reason for choosing this two fun-loving class of friend is a question I can’t answer. I just love it when they gist me about how great and smooth their life has been cause of the freedom they enjoy (So I thought). I’m often left to bemoan my own lonely little life, in the cell my parents had created. Hannah did not have the same freedom as Sarah, her parents were just like mine. But unlike me, Sarah knows how to get around her parents. I knew she had a boyfriend, so I guess I was the one always left out. I kept thinking about how boring my life was all through the practice.
The day’s practice went by pretty fast, we were done and ready to leave. It was about 4:30 pm, so I was heading towards the gate hoping to meet my brother David somewhere along the way. I was quite confused when I discovered that only a handful of us were heading home. Others, including my friends were hanging around. Even David was nowhere in sight. So I turned around, and went back to the church compound to search for him. I know dad would be furious if I returned late. On my way back, I sighted Sarah from afar, deeply involved in a conversation with a guy who is a member of the church also. His name is Matthew, he is a little older than us. He was a tall, dark-skinned handsome guy. I have seen him around a lot of times, he was a popular face. I stood far from them for a while, hoping that the conversation will end soon, and Matthew will leave. I don’t like being around guys for whatsoever reason, maybe because of the environment I grew up in or maybe it’s because of the strict warning mum and dad gave me about guys, “Guys are Wolves” so they said!..
There’s a strange way I feel towards Matthew which is widely different from the irritation I feel towards other guys around, I get nervous whenever he came around or when we sit closer to each other during practice. He had this humble, soft, gentle and sweet nature, whenever I spoke to him. I must admit that most times, after practice I spend my entire night thinking about him.
I was so deep in my thoughts that I did not notice Matthew walking towards me. “Hey” his cool baritone voice jerked me back to reality. “Wow! You are still around, how come? I immediately looked down, trying to gather words to reply. I knew what to say in my head, but the problem is that my head had been disconnected from my mouth. I only stuttered a few words, only God knew if he understood me. I had barely finished a sentence when I heard my name from nowhere. David and Sarah ran towards me, exchanged greetings with Matthew and informed me that we would be leaving much later. He said he had other things to attend to. I was almost furious, cos I knew dad would be so mad at me.
Sarah noticed my indignation, and quickly intercepted, “Can’t you see everyone is still around? Come on let’s have fun”. Before Sarah finished her sentence, David was already on his way out of sight. I resigned to wait. Sarah, Matthew and I walked towards the church hall. Matthew tried to grab hold of my hand, I quickly moved my hand away. All my thought was on how dad will get mad at me if I arrive home late on my very first day of gaining freedom from him.
The three of us (Sarah Matthew & I) eventually walked to a secluded part of the church. It was a building under construction. It would serve as the pastorium for the parish priest after its completion. I have never been inside the building before, I only see it from a distance. It was quite neat inside, not as littered with nails and plank as I would have thought. The planks were neatly arranged on pieces of blocks to form a kind of bench, it was as if it was a regular meeting point. I sat down comfortably, on one of the make shift benches, Matthew sat beside me. And Sarah sat on a different bench, at the other end of the room. She immediately brought out her phone and started playing her favorite game, Temple Run.
Matthew focused all his attention on me, he communicated in a way that made me feel more comfortable with him. That was the day I got to know that he too was a student at UNILAG. He told me a lot about himself, and not before long, he spoke on the part that he was genuinely interested in me which I gave no response to. He asked about my family thereafter, and why he has never seen me around after practice. I managed to find words to explain my parents attitude to him, and how much I missed going out. He understood how boring my life was.
After much talking and encouraging me, Matthew told me I wasn’t the only one with strict parents. He assured me that his parents were once like that, but he found a way to cope and brake loose from such bondage after he was of age. He told me he could help me handle my parents.
There was a long pause in our conversation, all the while I was looking at the floor (I was shy a bit I guess). Matthew moved a little closer, held my hand with one hand, and began to speak in a gentle and captivating voice. “Ruth, you are the most beautiful girl I have ever known, I think about you everyday, but I have never had the chance to tell you how I really feel about you” (Seriously? I asked myself that question) he pulled my chin, looked straight into my eyes, and whispered softly ” Ruth, I love you” I felt as if my heart was going to burst, it was beating so fast. No one has ever told me that before.
The whole world stopped before my very eyes. (That was just the expression I felt). I couldn’t say anything, I didn’t even know what to say. I just know that I spent my night thinking about him too, he didn’t seem like the “wolf” my mum described guys to be. I was so lost in my own thoughts, I barely noticed when he brought his phone out, typed in something, and put it back in his pocket. I was still lost in my thoughts and fantasies when Sarah’s phone buzzed from the other end of the building. I noticed she read something from her phone and that prompted her up from her seat, she came closer towards us and told me she was going to ease herself.