My Life Story; Episode 5
We got to church quite early, as it is our usual tradition. The parish compound was already bubbling with life. Different brands of cars packed around, reflecting the social status of the parishioners. The entire environment before entering the church compound was saturated with human activities, hawkers and petty traders displayed their wares anywhere it would be visible. People walking to and fro the walk-ways, dressed in different attires. Some were simple and elegant like me, others were extravagant and flashy. Some modest and decent, others wild and provocative.
This was a typical Sunday service, the good, the bad and the ugly all meet here, some to worship the lord, some for entirely different reasons.
Which group do I belong to sef? I wasn’t so sure anymore. I used to be a good girl, but the thoughts that have preoccupied my mind for the past 48 Hours, makes me doubt my own self.
Normally, everyone will go his separate way as soon as we arrived in church. My mum and dad would find a seat, while I, David & Daniel will go our own separate ways.
As I alighted from the car, I made towards the entrance to the church hall.
“Did you not hear what I said this morning”? My dad said loudly.
“You are sitting next to me hence forth” he sternly said.
I did not want to cause a scene, so I stopped and waited for them still with my little decency that was still left in me. My parents had a knack for picking seats at the front. This means I had to walk almost the entire length of the auditorium. The different eyes staring at me made me shy. I notice men, old and young staring at me from head to toe, only God knows what they were actually looking at…maybe my b**t😂
I scanned through the audience hoping to catch sight of Matthew. Mid way through the auditorium, I spotted Sarah among the congregation. I fixed my eyes firmly on her, hoping she would turn towards my direction.
She sighted me from her position. I’m very sure she would have come towards me, if my parents weren’t in front of me. My mum hated Sarah and Hannah. They weren’t the most decent of girls anyways. She made a sign with her hand, to notify me that she will get in touch. I marched along with my parents, with my head up high, trying not to notice the eyes staring at me.
We got a seat at the front row and settled in, waiting for service to commence. Friends and well wishers stopped by to greet my parents. I was really uncomfortable sitting beside them. My eyes kept roving about the auditorium, hoping to see Matthew. He was nowhere to be found. I turned round, to look directly behind me, I scanned face after face discreetly. A little tap on my shoulder brought me back to my senses. I turned round to see who it was.
It was Junior, my little friend. I call him little friend because of his statue, he was little too smart for his age. His mother is a friend of our family. He greeted my mum and dad, and sat quietly beside me. Junior has always been fond of me. We had developed quite a bond. His sitting close to me did not raise any suspicions by my parents.
I could feel him pushing me with his arm several times, my thought was that the space between us was too tight for him. I tried to move away a little. Just then, I noticed his palm outstretched, between our tights. There was a neatly folded sheet of paper on it. This has to be a message, I was sure of it. I looked side ways towards my parents, they were deeply involved in a discussion with the catechist. I snatched the note from Junior’s palm, and hurriedly tucked it inside my bible. Junior got up, and hopped away. His mission had been completed.
I opened my bible slowly, looking for the page were I had hidden the note. I spotted the white paper, and pretended to be reading my bible. The message was short, but It’s very content excited me. Can you guess what the content of the message was?
“Lets meet at the back beside of the children church, please wait till service starts”
I became impatient after reading those words. I couldn’t wait for the service to start. I kept adjusting myself on my seat. Although there was no name on the note, it was Sarah’s handwriting. The “Children Church” refers to a small building at one corner of the church compound. The sight of the reverend father walking up to the altar made my heart beat faster. The time to leave is gradually coming.
The reverend welcomed everyone to the day’s service. People scrambled to find their seats around. The entire auditorium was rowdy for a while. Slowly, normalcy was starting to return. Everyone sat down, and the day’s service was opened with a hymn.
My heart and soul were completely detached from the church. All I could focus on was how to leave the hall without arousing my parent’s suspicion. I got up from my seat, and moved closer to my mum. I bent down and whispered into her ear.
“I want to buy sanitary pad, my period has suddenly started”
“Didn’t you know it would start today? Are you a small child, she answered in a rather irritated tone.
“It happens unexpectedly sometimes”, which was a lie.
My mum put her hands in her purse, and brought out a #500naira note.
“Hurry before you stain yourself”
I get to accomplish my mission, and also get paid for it..such a smart lady I am. I thought to myself as I made my way out of the hall…😂😂😂
A feeling of eagerness, and excitement coupled with a little guilt dominated my heart. I wondered if Matthew was waiting for me there. The church compound was much quiet now. The walk way was nearly devoid of people, save for a few people who were probably on same mission too😃. I headed straight to the description on the note. I could see a car parked almost behind the house, a black, Toyota corolla, it had tinted Windows making it impossible to see who was inside.
Sarah was standing right next to the car as I approached. She opened the door to the back seat, and waved at me to go in. My heartbeat raced as I saw Matthew inside the car. A smile enveloped my face. I could barely hide my excitement. He smiled back at me, and hugged me really tight.
He held my chin, and drew me closer to himself for a kiss. I closed my eyes, anticipating when a hard knock on the car window sharply interrupted our kiss. It was Sarah, she was trying to warn us of something. I looked around, and saw my mother walking towards our location, with fury and haste, clutching on to my bible.
It suddenly hit me, I left the note in my bible. My mum must have found it. God, I’m in trouble again I said to myself.
Matthew saw the troubled look on my face. He smiled, and told me to calm down. Sarah will take care of this. I doubted him, my mum was quite a detective…this woman eh!
How do I get out of this without lashes from my dad again? I thought.
My heart almost came to a stop as my mum approached the car. I was quite uneasy. Matthew placed his hand across my lips, to ensure I stay calm and quiet. My mum walked up to our location, and began to look around. She went inside the children church and came out. She came around the back, towards the car. She headed straight for Sarah, who was leaning on the car. I bent down quickly, to avoid her eagle eyes because I might spiritually see me through the tinted glass. Matthew assured me again that my mum couldn’t see us from outside.
“Where is Ruth”, she asked, looking around suspiciously.
“I don’t know ma, I haven’t seen her today” Sarah replied.
“Young lady, don’t tell me lies, are you not the one she is planning to meet here?”
“Me? No ma , I don’t know where she is oh”
“Who wrote her this note?” My mum asked as she handed the note over to Sarah.
“Oh, ma its me, but I gave it to her last week. We were suppose to have a rehearsal here during service. You know she is one of us,”
“So what are you doing here now”? My mum probed further.
“We just finished another rehearsal here just now, i’m about to leave now.”
“So were are the others then?”
“They have all gone, I was just checking myself in the mirror, that’s why you met me ma” she said, pointing at the car’s side mirror.
My mum looked at Sarah, with an expression of disgust on her face. Frisking her from head to toe with her eyes. Sarah was heavily made up, she owned every single makeup accessory a woman can have, and she had no restraint about using them. Her mum always buys them for her unlike my mum who hated makeup on herself or on her children.
“Oya, get inside the church, mass has started” my mum ordered her.
My mum stood, as Sarah began to walk away slowly. Sarah was a talented liar. She can lie without fear or guilt. Her lies were premeditated, or spontaneous, it was hard to tell the difference. I wish God gave me such talent too😂.
When Sarah was out of sight, my mum took a walk around the car, perhaps admiring It’s beauty. I could see her through the tinted windows. My heart sank when she bent down, and adjusted her head tie, using the side mirror. Perhaps she would have seen me if she turned.
As my mum walked towards the church hall, I knew it was time for me to leave. I have been gone for nearly 30 minutes. The longer I stay here, the closer I am to getting caught.
As soon as my mum was out of sight, I told Matthew I had to go.
“But common, she is gone now, we can spend a little time together, I really miss you Ruth.” Matthew said, in his usual gentle and pleasing voice.
As tempting as those words sounded, I knew I really had to go. If I take long, I don’t know which excuse to give my mum. I have never been good at lying.
“Matthew, I’m sorry, I have to go, my mum will come looking for me again.”
“But when can I see you again? I’ll like to hang out with you” He asked, with a sad look on his face.
I don’t know, I’m only allowed to go to church and school, I can’t leave the house”.
There was a look of disappointment on Matthew’s face, he seemed a little frustrated. Deep down in my own heart, I’d love to hang out with him. But there was nothing I could do about it. My parents were everywhere like police investigating a homicide case.
“What if I pick you up from school?”
I greeted the question with a look of confusion on my face,
“How? ” I asked. Still very confused.
“I will come and pick you with a friend’s car during break, I’ll bring you back quickly. No one will notice you were gone. Sarah will tell you how to leave the school.
My mind went blank for sometime. I knew Sarah and Hannah usually sneaks out of the school during breaks, but I had never followed them. I had no reason to. I still wondered how they were able to leave and return unnoticed and what actually was their mission out there. I have always participated in the goodies they bring back from where ever they go. I was really scared, but I had to accept. It was worth the risk, so I thought.
I unlocked the door, and attempted to leave, Matthew held me back, and pulled me closer to himself. My head wanted to go, but my heart had a different plan, I was still consumed in my thoughts when he kissed me.
“We‘ll continue from here, Promise?”
“Okay” he said, licking his lips in a seductive manner. I never knew what that meant. I had no idea what I had just promised.
As I walked back to the auditorium, my eye-ball kept dancing from side to side, incase someone had spotted me coming out of the car. As I approached my parents seat, my heart began to beat faster. I felt like a thief, I just hoped the guilt I felt in my heart hasn’t registered on my face. I stole a quick glance at my mum’s face. She was still holding on to the note.
“When did Sarah give you this?” She asked as soon as I sat.
Last week.” I replied her.
My mum gave me a long suspicious look, and turned her attention to the altar. I was really nervous, but all I could think about was meeting Matthew on Monday. I had made him a promise, even if I barely understood the nature of the promise.