THE DEVIL ON THE ALTAR 11
Written by: Grace Olayemi
Celestina came back in the morning to meet Patricia asleep on the floor and lines of tears on her face. She was so surprised and wondered what the problem was but because she saw her sleeping soundly she decided to let her be but she seriously hoped that all was well.
Patricia woke up around 10am with a severe headache and body pain, her entire joints were aching and she could not move for some minutes. When she summoned the courage to stand up, she felt an excruciating pain all over her body. She laid on the bed and the incidents of the previous night played in her head. She wanted to get it out of her mind so she screamed but immediately she was calm, the thoughts came back. She couldn’t help shedding tears again when the reality of her losing her chastity outside marriage in that kind of condition hit her. She could not attend lectures that morning and she was just crying and praying, she stayed in the room all day and spent most of the time in the bathroom trying to scrub out the feeling of his touch from her body and was also trying to wash away the filth she felt.
Paul had been calling her since she left his place and was so worried about her, he wanted to go over to her place to see her but he didn’t know what to expect because she might have told her roommate and so Paul could not visit her yet, he kept calling.
Celestina came back from school and met Patricia lying down and she greeted her but she didn’t even respond. She was so lost in thought and didn’t even know until Celestina touched her then she jolted.
“What is wrong with you babe?” Celestina said.
“Nothing oh! I’m just thinking about a lot of things.”
“What is that ‘a lot of things’ you are thinking about?”
“It’s nothing important.”
“Nothing important and you were so engrossed with it that you didn’t know when I returned. You have started with this attitude of keeping things to yourself right? You know it is not good to keep things to oneself? A problem shared is half solved,” Celestina said, hoping to get words out of Patricia’s mouth but she was not bulging.
“It’s nothing, girl.” Patricia turned to the other part of the bed.
“You have not taken your bath since morning, you didn’t go for lectures, neither did you cook and yet you keep on saying it is nothing.” Celestina was getting disgusted at Patricia’s attitude of secrecy.
Patricia did not even answer her. She didn’t know how to even start explaining that she stayed over because it was late and he was feverish then he forced her and raped her. ‘How does it even sound? Who will believe her? Who will defend her honour and say she was not guilty?’ Patricia thought to herself and started crying again. Celestina was fed up with this whole issue and didn’t know what to do. She had tried to ask her to know what was happening and she didn’t get a reply, yet, Patricia was crying nonstop.
“Maybe I should call Bro Paul, probably you will be able to talk to him,” Celestina finally said and was searching through her phone for Paul’s number.
Patricia heard her but she was too tired to protest. She could not raise her voice to tell her friend that it was that same Paul that caused her misery.
When Paul saw his phone ringing and the caller i.d, his heart skipped a bit and he started shivering, he didn’t know what to expect. Not knowing whether Patricia already told her friend what happened between them.
Celestina called back for about three times before she finally gave up thinking that he was busy and would call back once he saw her missed call.
“He is not picking, I guess he is busy.” Celestina spoke partly to herself and loud enough for Patricia to hear.
“So now you are finally talking! Who did what and to whom?”
“I was not talking to you,” Patricia managed to say to her nosy friend.
“So, who were you talking to?” Celestina looked around to see if there was any other person in the room.
“I’m talking to myself,” Patricia replied sarcastically and they both laughed.
“Now my friend is back!” She walked into the kitchen to make food for them to eat.
THE DEVIL ON THE ALTAR 12
Written by: Grace Olayemi
Paul called relentlessly and sent various texts to convey how sorry he was and how it was not his intention to hurt her and many other things but Patricia was not in the mood to talk to him. She tried to get over what happened and gradually she was finding rest and peace of mind and she felt God had forgiven her. So, she didn’t want to have anything to do with him again and had even made up her mind not to attend that fellowship again. She didn’t know how to explain to her roommate in a reasonable way, why she would want to leave the fellowship.
“Babe, it’s time for the workers preparatory meeting,” Celestina said, when she noticed that Patricia who used to hasten her up for church services was seated idly even though they were almost late for the meeting.
“I’m not going for the program.”
“I’m not feeling too well.”
“You are not feeling too well and have been jumping up and down since morning.”
“I’m not fine emotionally and psychologically so I need rest and I need to clear my head.”
“I have told you times without number that you should not desert God in your trying times. This is the time to seek God and get closer to Him so He can see you through the storm and trouble.”
Celestina could not believe what she just heard. She kept on staring at Patricia to see if she was joking or serious. When she discovered that she was serious, she tried to convince her but her mind was made up. Celestina was really worried for her friend. She was convinced that something was wrong with her. But, how would she help her when she had decided to always keep things to herself. Celestina resolved to inform Paul about the case, with high hopes that he would help them proffer solutions to what was happening and get Patricia to open up.
Celestina waited to see Paul after the meeting. When Paul was informed that Celestina wanted to see him and also after he discovered that Patricia was not at the meeting, he began to sense danger and was highly agitated. Celestina waited until she was summoned and then she went in to see Paul. He studied her facial expression as she stepped in, hoping to get a clue of why she wanted to see him and all he saw in her eyes were sadness and pity.
“I’m here to see you because of my friend.”
“Ok, I’m listening, what is the matter with her?”
Celestina narrated everything to him and he was somehow surprised and also thankful that Patricia didn’t confide in her friend.
“I want you to come and talk to her,” Celestina finally said.
Paul was shocked at that request. He didn’t want anyone to know what transpired between him and Patricia and due to the fact that Patricia had not picked his calls nor replied to any of his text, which meant she was still angry and might explode at the sight of him. He tried to look for an excuse to dodge the request but Celestina was always ahead of him and because she was persistent he had no choice but to oblige to her request.
All through the journey from the fellowship center to the hostel, Paul’s mind was highly distracted and even though Celestina was trying to start up a conversation she discovered that he was absent minded and was mostly not listening to her. Paul was thinking of what would happen when Patricia sets her eyes on him because they have not seen each other since that ugly incidence.
Shortly after that, there was a knock on the door and even though she heard it, Patricia had no strength to rise up and open the door, she just laid there and was staring at the door. The knock came again and this time a little louder and Patricia knew that whoever was at the door would not leave until she opened up so she braced herself up and went to open the door.
“Why did you take so long before opening the door?” Celestina asked just as she stepped in. Patricia had no strength to answer her and she just went back to the bed.
“Come in, sir,” Celestina said to Paul who was still standing outside while ignoring her friend’s rude attitude. It was at that point Patricia knew that Celestina came with someone and even though she wanted to know who the person was she didn’t turn her neck to avoid unnecessary attention because of her present state and swollen eyes.
“Peace be unto this house,” Paul said, as he stepped in and Patricia could not believe her ears.
“So after all he did to her he still had the effrontery to come into her room and pretend like a saint,” Patricia thought to herself.
She wanted to scream at him, curse him and chase him out of her room but she cautioned herself. She remembered the story of David and Saul in the bible where David had the opportunity to kill Saul who was after his life but did not kill him because he was the Lord’s anointed. She also decided not to insult or curse Paul or make an open shame of him for all the wrong he did to her because he was the Lord’s anointed, so she just kept her cool and didn’t even turn to look at him.
“I have brought our great president all the way from the fellowship to this room so that you can explain to him all that is going on with you and tell him why you have decided to abandon the fellowship of God’s people,” Celestina said, looking at Patricia but Patricia did not even bulge and she just pretended like she didn’t hear what Celestina was saying and kept on pressing her phone.
“You are the one I’m talking to.” Celestina snatched the phone from her friend. Patricia knew at that moment that her friend was hell-bent on frustrating her and she didn’t need that.
Paul mustered all the courage left in him to remain seated as he watched Celestina batter words with Patricia. He was praying in his mind that Patricia would remain calm so that she wouldn’t spill the beans. Patricia sat up and looked at Paul eyeball to eyeball, she was trying to read the expression on his face to see if he would fain innocence in case she accused him. Paul was getting uncomfortable with the look and he asked Celestina to excuse them so Patricia could open up to him. Celestina was reluctant to leave. She wanted her friend to be alright and was ready to do anything to see her friend whole again, so she just took her phone and earpiece and went out for a walk.
After Celestina left the room, Paul drew his chair closer to where Patricia was seated and went on his knees begging her.
“I’m very sorry, Patricia. Please, find a place in your heart to forgive me. I never intended for things to happen this way between us. I love you and would want to spend the rest of my life with you and all I was looking for was an avenue to convey my love to you and not for all this to happen,” he said, almost in tears.
Patricia kept looking at him. She could not register all he was saying to her.
“How would you convince me that what happened that night wasn’t planned? How did my key fall from my bag? How did you know it was my key? Why did you call me and not Celestina? Why did you force me to enter your room at that late hour? Why? Why? Why?” Patricia said, and broke down in tears. She just did not want to believe that everything that happened to her that night was a coincidence. She could feel it deep down in herself that it was planned out.
“I did all I did that night from a pure heart. Just that the devil took over at some point and it wasn’t my intention and I deeply regret it and I’m so sorry. Please, forgive me and accept me,” Paul said, still on his knees.
This went on and on for a while before Patricia finally forgave him and she said she needed time to be sure he was God’s will for her before she would accept him as a lover. He was also extremely happy and was grinning from ear to ear as Celestina stepped in. She was surprised to see her friend radiant again and thanked Paul, teasing him that he should give her whatever he used on her friend all the time to get her out of her foul mood and they all laughed about it and after some time Paul took his leave.
To be continued…