Please note that this series contains some sexually explicit content, violence and offensive language. It is not appropriate for children nor an immature and sensitive audience.
THE CHURCH GIRL
Copyright © Ufuomaee
"Na lie!" Chuka exclaimed. He couldn't believe what Ifeanyi had just told him. "Omo, she played you oh! Pele."
Ifeanyi sat with his head in his hands. He still couldn't believe what had happened yesterday. He thought he knew her. He had really believed she loved him. Was this payback? Some kind of karma?
"Payback's a bitch, sha," Chuka said, as if in response to Ifeanyi's thoughts.
Ifeanyi let the tears roll freely from his eyes. The sobs came after. How did he miss it? He knew her every move. Whenever she wasn't with him or at work, she was in Church. Was it someone from Church?
"These Church girls, sef. They are such great pretenders!" Chuka continued, thinking that his philosophy would console his friend. "Don't ever trust a woman, o. That's my motto. You know it could even be someone in Church."
Ifeanyi lifted his head for a minute. "Do you really think so? That she had a Church boyfriend?"
"I won't put it past her o. All those fine clothes that she wears... you never wondered who was buying her those things? My sister doesn't pay her that much!" Chuka speculated.
"Chai!" Ifeanyi exclaimed. "I am a fool!"
"God is good sha. At least, you didn't marry her, before she got pregnant for another man!" Chuka sighed. "Then she will tell you that it is your baby."
"Chineke!" Ifeanyi called on God's name in the Igbo language of Nigeria. "What if I had slept with her...? I would never have known."
"You dodged a bullet, my friend!" Chuka said, feeling happier. "Just forget about her, and move on. Come out with me tonight. Let's celebrate your freedom."
Moving on was much easily said than done. Despite himself, he still loved her and ached for her. He wished he would wake up and it would all have been a bad dream. Mary called him everyday, several times a day, but he always diverted her calls. He also deleted all her messages without reading them. He didn't want her explanations. He didn't want to understand why she betrayed him in such an awful way. And most of all, he didn't want her to talk her way back into his heart. He wasn't going to be that fool.
Mary rehearsed the break-up over and over again in her mind, tormenting herself with the memory. She remembered the look in Ifeanyi's eyes when she had confessed that she had been with another man. He would not let her continue. His words "how could you?" kept ringing in her ears. "I changed for you. I trusted you. I loved you. And you do this to me?" he had shouted accusingly.
The drive to her home was tense and excruciatingly painful. She tried repeatedly to explain, but he would cut her off with "don't lie to me!" At one point, he pulled up and said coldly, "If you say another word, I swear to God I will throw you out of this car!"
As she thought about her horrible predicament, Mary drew herself ever closer to the edge of life. She had not been to the Church since she found out about her pregnancy, and Bolaji had been calling and sending her messages. She didn't know how to face him. She felt powerless to do anything to change her situation. She had no one to turn to, no one to talk to. Because of her secret, she had kept her distance from friends. Even Dami had tried to get close to her, but she had pushed her away. Now, all that kept her from killing herself was the thought of her brothers, alone without anyone to look after them.
She could not continue like this. She had to talk to somebody. But who, she did not know. Who would understand her plight? Who would help someone like her? "God help me!" she cried aloud. "I want to die. I want to die. O God, help me please." Every night, she would curl up in a ball and cry herself to sleep.
Mrs Kelechi Nwachukwu had noticed a sudden change in Mary, who had been a bright and cheerful staff over the past three months. However, of recent, her work had been poor and her presentation at the office was getting others down. She wondered what could be the matter with her. She decided to call her into her office.
"Are you okay, Mary?" Kelechi asked with genuine concern.
Mary was nervous and shaking. She didn't know how to respond to the question. Usually, she would say she was fine. But she wasn't, and she couldn't hide it anymore. She broke down in sobs.
Kelechi waited for her to calm down, and stood up to offer her tissues. "Sit down and talk to me."
When Mary opened her mouth to talk, she wailed instead.
"Is this about a man?" Kelechi prompted.
Mary gently nodded.
"Did he cheat on you?"
Mary shook her head, pulling herself together. "It was me!" she cried.
"Oh dear," Kelechi sympathized. "Why did you do that? You know the truth will always come out."
"It's not what you think. If I told you, you wouldn't believe me," Mary said, giving Kelechi a side glance.
"Try me," Kelechi said, looking at her with sincerity in her eyes.
Hesitantly, Mary started to recount her story. She didn't know how she was able to open up so much to her boss, but she felt she had nothing left to lose. She told her everything, right up to the day she had fainted in her boyfriend's house. As she concluded her account, and told about her suicidal thoughts, she looked to Kelechi to see if she believed her.
A tear rolled from Kelechi's right eye, and she wiped it off. "You've been so unfortunate," she said, shaking her head. "You should have told him the truth. You should have told somebody before it got this far!"
"I know. I wanted to break it off with him before, but...I wanted someone to love me," she admitted to herself.
"Look, let's get practical here," said Kelechi, as the lawyer in her came out. "Your pregnancy is actually a good thing."
"What???" Mary didn't understand. "But I hate the baby already."
"Don't say that. The baby needs you to love him or her," Kelechi rebuked. "A paternity test, when one can be done, will prove that Pastor Bolaji is the father of your child. We can make a case against him, and also see how much you can get for compensation and child support."
"But they will say I seduced him. No one will believe me," Mary despaired.
"You will be surprised," Kelechi responded. "If he was doing this to you, he is probably doing it to other girls too. If you are bold enough to speak out, you might encourage them to speak also. And with his character questioned by the paternity of your child, he will not be able to deny the charges. He might want to settle out of court. Will you accept that?"
Mary thought for a moment. If she agreed to that, then he might continue to abuse other young girls and women, and think he can buy his way out of his crimes. She didn't want that. She also wanted people to see him for the evil monster that he really was. "No, I can't accept that," she responded.
"Then you better brace up for a fight," Kelechi said. "In the meantime, you need to keep yourself, your baby and your brothers safe. You will also need some financing. I can only do so much."
"I don't have anybody," Mary said downcast.
"What about your boyfriend?"
"He won't even talk to me. He won't help me," she despaired.
"You can't give up. You need his help if you are going to get through this. He loves you, right?" Kelechi asked.
"I think so."
"Then go to him, and tell him everything, like you told me. Who knows, maybe that is the reason God brought you two together."
"Ok, I will go to him," Mary said. "Thank you so much! I am so grateful."
"It's okay, dear. God is in control of this. Just keep praying," Kelechi said, giving Mary a hug. "Here, take this card, and call her. She's a Christian counselor. She will help you deal with your grief and trauma. Her service is free too."
Mary took the card and put it in her bag. As she walked out of her boss' office, Mary felt like a load had been lifted off her shoulders. She had hope again. After work today, she would go to Ifeanyi's house and beg his forgiveness.
Ifeanyi was in one of those moods again. He laid in his bed going through the pictures on his phone of him and Mary. Pictures that he refused to delete, because they were all he had left of what was his first love. They had been so happy. Why did she do it? Why? It didn't make sense.
He had tried to move on with his life, but things had changed for him. He wasn't that guy anymore. Every girl he saw at the club was not good enough, because they were not Mary. And the thought of having a one night stand, as was his habit before, was now filled with an awful dread of pregnancy! He had left the club early the night he had gone out with Chuka.
He continued to go to Church. For some reason, he felt like being there made him close to Mary. He was mourning her as if she was dead, while refusing to talk to her. He also hoped to get answers and started to pray to a God that he thought was punishing him.
As he laid there, lost in his thoughts, there came a knock on the door.
"Who is it?" Ifeanyi asked.
The steward opened the door. "Oga, there's one woman here for you," he said.
"Eh, what's her name?" Ifeanyi asked.
"She didn't tell me o," the steward replied.
"She didn't tell you or you didn't ask?" Ifeanyi replied, annoyed. "Tell her to wait for me, I'm coming."
Ifeanyi got out of bed and slid on his slippers. He glanced at the clock and saw that it was 7:30pm. Who would be visiting him at this time?
He strolled down the hall, and began down the stairs. He almost stumbled when he saw who it was.
"Hey, boo! Sur-prisssse!!!" Keisha said, as she stood up to receive him in an embrace.
"Uh, what are you doing here, Keisha?" he asked, refusing to hug her.
"I told you I was coming for the Summer... Why you got to be like that?" Keisha replied, hurt by his reaction.
"Well, usually people call to confirm visits. I wasn't expecting you," Ifeanyi answered roughly.
"It's ok. I'm here now," Keisha shrugged and sauntered up the stairs, heading in the direction of his bedroom.
Ifeanyi watched her, stunned by her boldness, as she strolled up to his room without invitation. He rubbed his hand on his forehead, not knowing how to handle the situation.
There was another knock on the door. The steward promptly answered it.
Mary walked in to see Ifeanyi standing there looking dazed. Before he could say anything, she begun, "Please, hear me out, baby. I'm so sorry I hurt you. If you loved me at all, you would let me explain."
Ifeanyi opened his mouth to speak, but his words were interrupted by the re-appearance of his ex-girlfriend in sexy lingerie. "Who is she? Is this the tramp you told me about?" Keisha spat out with venom.
Mary couldn't believe what she had just walked into. "Oh my God!" she exclaimed. He has moved on already! In a panic, she turned around and ran out of the house.
To be continued...
Photo credit: www.stanfellerman.com