“I didn’t expect you to be back in less than the hour you promised.”
“I didn’t expect to be back this early either.”
Derrick slammed unto the floor and smiled. Relief lining his brows. Judith looked at him, an eyebrow raised. His face seemed to be alive now.
“I got laid off.”
“From being a pastor?”
“Much like I was sacked by the board. I saw it coming anyway. I guess I was prepared for it.”
Judith sat dumb for a full minute and then hastened out her words.
“The guy following us got them pictures just as you suspected then. An evidence of a sort to pin you down as having an affair with me.”
“A good summary of everything that happened. So yes.”
“Typical of me to bring hard luck to friends.”
Derrick shook his head and chuckled.
“The board didn’t need you and our friendship to get me out of the way. Since the first day Akoto looked me in the eye, I knew he didn’t like me. Today would have come anyway. I’m just glad it came soon.”
“You don’t need to shield me from feeling guilty. I know I am the cause. I have always been a bad totem for close relations – my parent’s marriage, Janet and Lewis and now you.”
Derrick chuckled again.
“This issue is also a case of self-guilt too.” He stared Judith in the eye. “You can’t forgive either yourself or your dad.”
“And I lack the ability to because I’m not saved. We were on that before you left.”
“I don’t know if I’m ready.”
Judith left Derrick’s side and leaned on the door, her hands at her back. Derrick kept eye contact.
“Who will I be after it – getting saved, letting my dad off the hook.”
Derrick smiled faint enough to tell Judith he was listening. She looked away.
“What will I be besides a tramp?”
She let out a sad laugh and looked up. Her eyes wondered like she was taking an inventory of her years after her University education. On campus the thrill of living a little more dangerously took a different turn. From party to party, she found more freedom to do with her body what she wanted, how she wanted. Her dad found out too late. After her degree programme was over, she brought a guy into their home. It was supposed to be her first actual sexual encounter. A lone tear escaped her eye.
Derrick reached towards her. She backed away.
“I’m going to be who I’ve always wanted to be – own my body and use it the way I want to. I don’t want to be tied down Derrick. That’s what my dad did with all of us. Scream instructions, bully as to church.”
Heavy tears sounded down her throat.
“I’ve just wanted to be a little free.”
Derrick wrestled her into a hug and allowed her head rest on his chest. It was against everything he’s learnt about how to do counseling as a pastor – being with Judith alone like this, having her on his chest. But he couldn’t help it. She was like a little ball of confusion and guilt and pain. And he wanted to help her. He lifted her head and looked into her eyes. Compassion for her growing. Is this what Hosea felt for Gomer? How God loved Israel? Christ the Church? Derrick with his hands held a firm grip on her arms.
“Judith. This freedom is not what you want and you know it. Freedom should never lead into any other bondage. You can’t live blaming yourself and your dad for all the problems you have and all those that people who love you have, even if it’s on your account. Someone is willing to love you totally like Hosea did Gomer… You believe that?”
“I want you to say it Judith. Do you believe that?”
“I believe someone does.”
“You know who?”
Derrick laughed then sobered up.
“No one has ever loved you like he has. Like he could.”
“I’m going to leave you to talk with him and accept him. Flip over to the tenth verse of the tenth chapter of Romans when you are ready to.”
Judith nodded. Derrick smiled and left the room. Walking down to join Boakye and Janet, he was overcome with joy. He remembered how he stood in an old community church down his street one night in the cold, shivering and walking to the front to receive rest from a long held life of shame; born to a prostitute Ghanaian mother in the US. Maybe that’s why he was drawn so much to Judith. Why he felt he could give anything up to see her say yes to God.
Janet and Boakye turned at Derrick’s footsteps.
Janet looked worried.
“We heard her scream and laugh in a way. Didn’t sound pleasant.”
“She isn’t going to forgive me now, will she?”
Derrick sat in an empty one armrest chair sitting away from the settee.
“I believe she has.”
“Then where is she?”
Janet’s voice rang with fear.
“She’s having an alone time with God.”
Janet said the phrase before realising how patronizing it sounded.
Her eyes begged Derrick and Boakye.
“I do and to answer you, yes, I believe she is getting saved.”
Janet moved and knelt, leaning her upper body into the settee. Boakye closed his eyes. Relief and gratefulness taking over his demeanor. They stayed that way for minutes, leaving themselves to be embraced by the joy they have denied themselves, each because of their own personal guilt. Janet stood up and laughed.
“We can eat now.”
“Am I invited?”
Judith grinned. She run down into Janet’s ready arms and nestled and then walked over to her dad.
“Daddy, I am…”
“Don’t say…Don’t say.”
Boakye Biney embraced Judith and cried silent glad tears. His daughter was back in his arms and will stay. He held on to her wishing the moment won’t end, grateful the power was back on in his life. Janet and Derrick left to set up the table. Janet came to call father and daughter to the dining area.
“We really have to eat.”
They all laughed.
“Who wants to say grace?”
Janet looked at the faces that were sitting around her dining table, ready to eat a meal and celebrate a new life. Lewis wasn’t here to witness the miracle but she’ll never forget it. She has seen the joy of seeing a life turned over and of family given a second chance. She was ready to make some new changes in her home too, to be an open door for friendship and joy like the one she’s been privileged to witness.
Christy smiled, her plump self looking cuter in her jumpsuit, her hair in a high bun.
“No, thank you.”
Chris kissed her lightly on the lips, his arm holding on loosely to Junior.
“He’s going to love you.”
“I don’t doubt that.”
“And our new home too.”
Chris glanced at the huge apartment before them. The Aboagyes were at the entrance of their new home. A storey, four bedroom house with a very large compound, a groomed lawn and a large pool at the back.
“Junior, will you please go to mummy?”
He guided her to Christy’s side and worked around unlocking the gate. It wasn’t automated, something he’ll have to look at when they were well settled in. Junior had been whisked into Christy’s arm and he seemed to be dozing off. In the few days that followed his conversation with Christy, he decided to go and claim Junior. Asaabea had informed him weeks back, Dufie’s friend, Junior’s mother, was back in the men game and Junior was with a different nanny every day. He feared what Christy would think should he ask they go for him. But it had all come off well. That’s after he had reassured her she didn’t need to feel like she was in a competition being married to him. He admits most of their married life, he was a jerk but now, he was ready to be a man, the husband and father the family needed.
“We’ll need a good bed.”
“I can see that.”
Chris gave a short laugh and hurried to their front door. He could pretend he got all this working himself but he knew the truth, God did. When he decided to start honouring him, to start seeking him and be bold to be Christy’s husband no matter what, when he called to him the morning he thought Christy might leave in the silence of his heart, he heard him and got all this working for them.
© M’afua Awo Twumwaah 2016.