“Yes ma. She’s here.” Chidi said to the woman at the other end of the line, keeping his eyes on Anjola. He watched for a sign, anything on her stoic face but got none. He sighed inwardly. This was going to be hard.
“Just give me twenty minutes and I will join you. I have to run some errands,” Mrs. Adegbite was saying, sounding a bit distracted. She was probably driving.
“Alright. We’ll be waiting.”
He dropped his phone on the wooden desk that stood in the youth office of their church. The office was on the first floor of the three-storey youth building. The structure housed the office, a library, a media room, a conference room, a cafeteria, a common room, restrooms and a ‘hall of faith’. It was the hub for the youths of the church.
“She’ll be here any moment now. Probably in the next twenty minutes,” he said to Anjola. She just nodded and continued to observe her nails. He and Victoria exchanged a furtive glance. She was sitted on the couch behind Anjola looking nervous.
When Victoria had told him about what happened to Anjola, he had been grieved to the core. Though he had not met her, he could remember her being the girl Victoria had spoken to at the bar that Saturday they went on the outreach to Aje. He had been overjoyed when he found that she had surrendered her life to Christ. But he hadn’t expected this. None of them had.
He had a lot of things to say to her and yet he felt he had nothing to say. Victoria had briefed him about her problem and how she was blaming God for what happened to her. And in a way, he didn’t blame her. He just wished he could make her understand that God was still God and He was still good.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to get you anything?” he asked her again after a few minutes of silence.
She shook her head without looking up.
“I hear you are quite the book worm.”
“Wow. So what do you read?”
“Anything,” was the reply.
“Oh. Okay. So, who is your favorite author?”
She looked up then, opened her mouth as if she wanted to say something, paused and said, “I have to be back home by 5.”
Chidi got the hint and kept quiet. She wasn’t going to make it easy. He had known she would be fairly uneasy around him based on what had happened to her and so wasn’t surprised by her attitude. That was one of the reasons why he had decided to hand her over to Mrs. Adegbite. Other reasons being that it was only appropriate and he knew his pastor’s wife was someone who could get her to open up.
“Don’t worry. She’ll be here any minute from now.”
They sat in silence for a while – with Victoria’s head buried in her phone, Anjola staring down at nothing in particular and Chidi responding to mails on his phone – before they heard a gentle knock on the door. He sighed in relief as he motioned for Victoria to open the door.
“Good afternoon ma,” Victoria greeted as she let the older woman in. Mrs. Adegbite was a slender woman with a round face that made her look several years younger than her 51 years. She had a warmth about her that just made people feel at ease with her. She smiled at Victoria revealing a nice gap in front of her teeth.
“Good afternoon, dear. How are you?”
“I’m fine ma.”
Chidi was standing to greet her with a smile of his own. “Our Mummy. You’re welcome ma.”
“Thank you, Chidi. I’m sorry I kept you all waiting,” she turned to the young lady who still hadn’t raised her head. “And you must be our friend, Anjola. Right?”
She nodded her head.
“How are you?”
“I’m fine ma,” she answered politely, looking up, apparently giving up on her staring game.
Mrs. Adegbite sat beside Anjola and turned to Chidi who promptly said, “So, I and Vick will leave you two alone. We will join the others to continue with the plan for the outreach.”
“Oh. And how is that coming?”
“Honestly, slow. We haven’t gotten response from most of the people we gave the letters for support. But we’re trusting God for the best.”
She nodded. “The Lord will provide for His work.”
Before Chidi closed the door behind them, he caught a look in Anjola’s eyes. A look of someone who was trapped. And all of a sudden he felt really sorry for her. It couldn’t be easy to have to open up to total strangers about a matter so private. Especially for someone who struck him as a private person. He did not take for granted the hand of God in it because he knew that most people stayed silent when they were raped. God is still good, he thought.
They entered the seminar room where six other members of the youth group were gathered. They had papers and plates of biscuits laid out before them.
“I’m suggesting we cut back on the fliers. One thousand copies? That’s too much,” Samuel was saying as Chidi took a seat at the back of the room.
“But we already explained why it has to be that way. The more copies you print, the less it will cost,” said Ubong, who was the assistant secretary of the meeting.
“Look, you guys should leave fliers and let’s talk about something else. We’ve been on this issue for over thirty minutes now. Some of us have somewhere to go abeg,” Jade grumbled and that earned her a few chuckles. Whether in agreement or humour, Chidi couldn’t be sure. She was the daughter of Pastor Soleye who had the mouth of an elephant and the patience of a mouse.
As he watched them talking and throwing banter around, Chidi thanked God again that he had not eventually quit being the youth’s president. He realized more and more that this was it. This was where he found peace and fulfilment – working with the youths. And he would not allow anything – or anyone – discourage him.
His phone buzzed and he checked to see it was Grace – his fiancé – calling him. He smiled but allowed it to ring. He made a mental note to return the call once the meeting was over or he would have his ears pulled off. He smiled again at the thought. Well, at least he had a good excuse this time.
He had a bad habit for not picking his calls sometimes, for various reasons, ranging from the logical (I was at a meeting) to the downright absurd (I just didn’t feel like talking) and Grace was determined to school him on it.
“What if someone was dying? You work with youths and you know that is as good as being a doctor. There is always an emergency,” she would say in that slightly croaky voice he loved so much.
And suddenly, he wondered if he should tell her about Anjola but he immediately dismissed the idea. Three was already a crowd.
* * * *
Err… Full gist on Forgiving God is coming on Fiction Friday (Ha! Looks like that’s a thing now. Oh well). This is just dessert.
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