HE SAID NO
Written by Sodamade Olamide Tolulope
It was weekend and Grace had been moody since she got back from her [email protected]£ with Mike. Amifel alre-ady got tired of asking her what was wrong. She refused to say a word.
At first, she thought Grace was sick but she later discovered that she wasn’t because even though her portion had decrea-sed a little, she was still eating as frequently as she used to. She even went to work the next day, which happened to be Friday, only to resume her silent treatment the moment she got back. Amifel had not sle-pt well since Thursday, she kept waking up at intervals all throu-gh the night to feel her b©dy temperature. It was normal.
It was weekend again and Grace had just been slee-ping like someone who took an overdose of slee-ping pills. Amifel had cleaned up and had even finished preparing her Moi-Moi but her friend was still curled up in be-d.
As Amifel went out to get them a loaf of bre-ad, she ruminated on what could possibly be wrong with her friend. This was not Grace, she was the most lively and jovial person she knew. She decided she was going to talk to her and she was not going to leave her till she gives a satisfactory response.
“Grace! We nee-d to talk.” She said with her hands Akimbo, her posture made her look like someone who was set to fight.
“I am not in the mood plea-se, maybe later,” Grace answered un-der the duvet.
Amifel had had enough. She uncovered her swiftly and seized the duvet, leaving her half-n-ked.
“Not until you give me an explanation for why you have been acting cold.” Amifel continued.
There was no response from Grace’s end.
“Did I do anything wrong?” Amifel asked after a few seconds and Grace shook her head.
“Then what is the matter?”
Another brief moment of silence followed.
“I and Mike are no longer getting married.” She announced quietly.
Amifel wi-de-ned her eyes and almost jumped out of her skin. She was shocked.
“What do you mean by you are no longer getting married?” Amifel yelled. “When did this happen? How?”
“2 days ago.”
“Ahh! Why didn’t you tell me? What did you do?”
“What makes you think I did something wrong?”
“Well, I’m sorry.” Amifel continued as she sat beside her. “But what happened? Or are you joking?”
“I am not.”
“Mike has been lying to me.”
“ Oh no! Don’t tell me he has been cheating on you.”
“It’s something worse, Ami.” She continued as she looked away. “He is an ex-convict.”
“Ex what?” Amifel yelled not believing her ears. “He told you that?”
“No, he told his friend.”
“So how did you know, if he told his friend.”
She narrated how she got to know and by the time she was done, Amifel could not help but re-lease a sigh.
“Did you ask him what happened?”
“I didn’t, I s£nt him a break-up that same night.”
“Grace!” Amifel yelled. “It hasn’t gotten to that now, you should have at least allowed him to explain himself. I’m sure that it’s not what you think it is.”
“If he wanted to explain, he should have done so before now. What if I didn’t see that chat with his friend? I would have married an ex-convict without knowing. Only God knows how many more he is hiding.” Grace reeled out as her mouth tilted into a frown.
“Sister, be calming down now!” Amifel tea-sed.
“This is not a joke, Ami. Mike hurt me!”
“I know Grace, I know. But it is not good to jump to conclusions. I am not saying you don’t have the right to call It quits, I am only saying that you deserve an explanation.”
“He admitted that he was an ex-convict, that is the only explanation I nee-d. I am done, Ami.” She said as she broke into a sob.
“Indeed, I can see that you are done.”
“This is not fair, that was why I didn’t want to tell you, you are supporting him over me.”
“I am not, in fact, I am not supporting any of you, “ she shrugged, then looking at Grace’s disappointed face, she changed her mind. “ You know I have your back, anytime any day but I would really love you to give him a chance to explain and thereafter, whatever you decide to do, I promise that I will support you, 100%!”
“What if I don’t?”
“Nothing will happen but just know that I won’t be a [email protected] to it.”
“I have alre-ady made my decision, even if he explains anything, it still won’t change my mind.”
“Then I have a boss when it comes to stubbornness. “Amifel chuckled. “But what if his explanation is un-derstandable.”
“It won’t change the fact that he hid it from me.”
“Hmmmm… Okay, let me ask you a question, and plea-se answer me sincerely.” Amifel looked at her face intently as she continued. “If he had told you, would you have agreed to marry him?”
Grace kept mute, she seemed to be lost in thought.
“Answer me now, okay. Let me guess… You would have rejected his proposal. So, you see?”
“What’s your point?” she asked, amidst sobs.
“My point is, he knew that you might have rejected his proposal if he had told you.”
“Well, I might not.” She shrugged. “He should have left that decision to me. If I had said no, then it would still be my choice.
“It is true, you are right there,” Amifel admitted as she pla-yed with the ti-p of the green and black duvet, she was lost for words.
“I can’t believe that Mike is a criminal.”
“Uhn uhn… Was, Grace… Was.” Amifel corrected her.
“Doesn’t matter, once a criminal is always a criminal!”
“Ahn Ahn! Mummy G.O! I can’t believe this!” Amifel [email protected] “What happened to 2 Corinthians 5 vs 17, the verse you so much love to quote? If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are pas-sed away. Behold, all things have become new.”
Grace looked on, her face was as cold as ever with no remorse of any sort.
“Grace, I know that you are angry right now but no matter what you say, it still doesn’t change the fact that Mike is now a child of God. Everyone has a past but the moment we come into Christ, we have a new life altogether. I know you know all of this but I should remind you.” She paused to clear her throat.
“I remember last weekend when we went out on outreach, you were telling that pr©st!tût£that God had forgiven her and wants to give her a [email protected] beginning. The moment she confessed the lordsh!pof Jesus after you, you announced to her that she was a [email protected] man and that her past has been completely wiped out.
The truth is that no matter how bitter you feel; this guy is a [email protected] man and God does not reckon with his sins anymore.
I also admit that he was wrong for keeping such a thing away from you but God has also commanded us to forgive men just as he has forgiven us. After all, we have done worse and God forgave us. How much less, a horrible past.
Everyb©dy can testify that Mike is a blessing, you said it yourself and I have personally been blessed by him over and over. More so, he is a child of God who loves God.
Plus, you told me you have prayed about this and you have God’s cons£nt.” Amifel sm-irked and Grace looked away.
“I don’t know much about marriage but I heard marriage is all about forgiveness, you guys will get on each other’s nerves and offend yourselves a lot of time and you just have to forgive each other.”
“You are right, Amifel. I feel so caned right now.”
“Yeah, you deserve to be flogged.” Amifel nodded.
“I will unblock him and listen to what he has to say.” She said quietly.
“Wait… you even blocked him and join. Oh, God! This girl has gone far!” Amifel hit her pla-yfully.
“Yeah, I guess I did too much.”
“But if you heed even small out of this your advice and forgive your parents, then it would nice.”
“Shut up jare, who told you that I haven’t forgiven them.” Amifel sulked as she threw the duvet over her face.
“Then talk to them!” Grace sm-irked, adjusting the duvet. She rolled it around her n£¢k plus her countenance had lightened up.
“Okay, I will call my mum and you will talk to Mike. Deal?”
“Deal!” they said in unison as they held each other pas-sionately.
“I love you,” Grace mumbled.
“You should be loving Mike,” Amifel whispered as Grace hit her pla-yfully. “ I love you too babe!”
The hvg lingered for a longer time than usual, Grace really nee-ded this hvg more than ever.
” But wait, what were you planning to tell your parents? Mummy that has even shared AsoEbi and invited all the Edo people!” Amifel laughed as she loos£ned her grip on her.
“You are talking about mummy? What of all my friends and office people that I have invited? They will so laugh at me!” They cackled loudly.
“The wedding that has alre-ady happened… Abeg, I cannot laugh.” Amifel continued while trying to catch her breath. “I prepared Moi-Moi and as-sorted everything, oya go and freshen up and have some.”
“I know, It’s delicious aroma woke me up.”
“So, your anger did not block your nose,” Amifel remarked and more laughter followed. ” Foodie! Go and bathe my friend!” She continued, [email protected] her bu-ttocks [email protected]
“I have to pray first. I have not prayed well in a while.”
“You even vexed with God, join” Amifel laughed and Grace joined in as she re-moved the bre-ad from the nylon it [email protected]£ with.
“I didn’t want to pray because I knew God would tell me to forgive him.” She laughed on.
They laughed at each other as Grace covered herself with the blanket while Amifel focused on her meal.
He was a young man of 21, boisterous… full of life. Like every other young man in his age group, he had dreams and aspirations. He had a bosom friend around his age, only that she was a year younger, she was a fair damsel and a beauty to behold.
Everyone in Akoka knew them together, they attended the same secondary school and they were working towards attending the same university to study Engineering.
His name was Michael Ogidan and he was staying with his grandma at Akoka village, his teenage mother died at his birth and she left him at the mercy of his aged grandma, mama Ologi.
Labake’s death [email protected]£ as a shock to him as much as it did to everyone else. He had been slee-ping like someone who had given up on life since he heard, the news practically paralyzed him.
As if the grief the news cost him was not enough, he was shocked to see Labake’s cousin at his place that morning, with two soldiers.
He was still slee-ping In their one-roomed [email protected] and mama ologi was in their backyard warming the food remains from the previous night when he heard her raising her voice at some unidentified persons and curiosity made him go outside to check out what was happening.
“That’s him.” Labake’s cousin pointed at him as soon as he showed up at their entrance.
“Brother Gbenga!” Michael called, looking stunned.
“Don’t you ever call me your brother, you murderer!”
Before he could say jack, they bundled him away like a piece of furniture amidst his grandma’s numerous plea-s and wailings. He was first beaten to stupor before he was locked behind bars.
Labake was [email protected], she tried to ab0rt it and she bled to [email protected] They met her in a pool of bl00d and a medical aut©psy revealed that she was operated on by a quack doctor and the act ruptured her w0mb and made her bleed overnight. They must have thought he was responsible for her [email protected] and nothing he said could vindicate him.
Unfortunately for him, Labake’s father was a retired military man and he made sure that he sle-pt behind bars with no option of bail, to further complicate the issue, he was well past 18.
He remembered so well how Labake had recounted to him on numerous occasions that her father was a ‘Lion’ and he could not forget the unquenchable fire that emanated from Colonel Adepoju’s bloodsh0t eyes when he [email protected]£ face to face with him at the wretched cell. Labake did not describe him well enough.
“You have the guts to impregnate my daughter, you now went ahead to kill her! You will not live to tell the story, I promise you!”
At that point, Michael knew that he was finished. He was transferred to a police station at a neighboring village and he was there in jail, waiting patiently for his death.
Labake never told him that he was pregnant. They were very close and there was ba-rely anything that he didn’t know about her. But he never knew that she was seeing anyone talk more of her pregnant status.
He loved Labake and was even secretly crushing on her but Mama Ologi had warned him severely.
“There is time for everything. “she would say. He looked forward to when they were older so he could profess his love to her and it gladdened his heart.
He had once visited her place and his cousin, bro Gbenga chased him off after warning him never to come to look for her. He left that day and vowed never to go there again. However, Labake still visited him often at his Grandma’s place.
Labake and her grandma were long-time allies and Mama Ologi didn’t hide her love for her.
Now, he was in a mess that only God could save him from.
His grandma called his uncle from the city and he did all he could to save him but nothing changed.
He was there for almost 6 months before he was charged to court. Although there was no evidence, they managed to get him a life-long s£ntence. He wished it was a death s£ntence instead, it would have been much better.
Mr. Ken just opened the cell that he shared with some criminals that morning and ushered him to the old rusty room which served as the reception. His grandma and his Uncle were seated waiting for him. As soon as he showed up, his grandma ran towards him while clinging to his n£¢k, not as if she wanted to choke him but out of gratitude. He felt her h0t tears on his dusty face emotionless face.
It was a miracle that she was still alive.
He heard the whole news after he got settled in, brother Gbenga impregnated Labake and made her abort it. How her parents got to know was a miracle, Grandma must have been praying ceaselessly coupled with the heartfelt prayers he made every other night.
That was how he found himself in jail and subsequently out of it after almost a year, ma-king it a year and a half behind bars.
His uncle brou-ght him to the city later on and the rest they say is history.
Jude had lashed him severely over the phone, ma-king sure to remind him of how he had warned him.
“Guy, this is your fault. You should have told her.” Jude rebuked him.
Talk is cheap, it was easy for Jude to say, who knows what he would have done if the narrative was fli-pped.
It was a title that he didn’t want to reckon with, an ex-convict. It didn’t really matter whether it was for the wrong reasons, the fact remained that he once cruised in jail.
Although he had planned to tell her, he was not re-ady, maybe much later or even never… She would never know but he was wrong.
The moment he got back from his trip on Saturday morning, he visited his pastor who was also Grace’s pastor. He also said about the same thing.
“Brother Michael, any relationsh!pbuilt on lies cannot stand the test of time. Some significant past issues can pose a threat to your pres£nt. It is your duty to identify such and inform your [email protected] before things get serious.
Doing otherwise is setting yourself up for a time bomb. Yes, we are new creatures in Christ Jesus and she knows that but it is still honorable for you to let her know. If she leaves you because of it, then you can be sure that God will s£nd another great woman your way.”
He was as quiet as a lamb, re-ady to take in all of the rebukes that [email protected]£ with his action and Pastor Tom was re-ady for that and more.
“I am certain that what made her so disappointed was the fact that you didn’t tell her.” He paused to take a glas-s of water before he continued. “Thankfully, you know her father. Why not talk to him?”
“Her father is late sir,” Mike answered.
“No, he is not. Her father is your father, talk to him. Let him help you out.”
“Oh…” For the first time since he received that breakup message from Grace, he smiled wi-dely.
“Luckily for you, she listens to him. Why not talk to him.”
He promised to talk to God about them and he was also prayed for by his pastor. He felt much better.
Grace’s number had not been going throu-gh, else he would have gone to visit her but he decided to give her some space while he spent some time praying.
Although she had told him that it was over between them, he was not re-ady to give up on her.
He traveled to Akoka that same evening, it was an impromptu visit but he nee-ded to see his grandma and it seemed like good timing, he had missed Mama Ologi so much.
Mama Ologi who just got to meet Grace would be so devastated to hear that their relationsh!phad hit the rock. So, he decided that he was going to keep it away from her till much later. Hopefully. God would have settled it and if not… it is well!
To be continued
He said no Episode 41 & 42