Victoria’s words kept echoing in Anjola’s heart for several days. Their conversation had given her the catalyst she needed so bad, the push to go for what she wanted and be more. It made her wake up from a slumber she had been unaware of and set her in motion.
It wasn’t like she had forgotten entirely about her dreams, but whenever she thought about it, she remembered how she wasn’t just ‘Anjola’ anymore and needed to consider Iyanu through it all. She remembered how passionate and confident she had been about her dreams before her life was turned upside down, how she had been so sure of her life.
She realized now how proud she had been; she always thought she was better than the other girls, always felt assured in herself. And so when she was raped, a small part of her anger was really that someone had the nerve to steal what she prized so much from her, that she would no longer be better than those girls.
Her ‘goodness’ had really been about herself and not about God. And even now she wondered how much more of who she was and what she wanted was not still about herself. She wondered if her dreams were not still steeped in her own selfish desires and ambitions. Yet, what could she do? Was it wrong to have a dream?
She growled in frustration. “What do you want from me? What?”
Iyanu stopped tugging at her doll’s head to stare at her curiously and then gave her an almost toothless smile. Anjola smiled back absently. What did God want from her? Her life had been turned upside down already, was he going to upend her dreams too?
I know the plans that I have for you.
The words whispered through her heart, a deep knowing that spoke to her and she smiled. It was just like God to reassure her in her moment of confusion and doubt. Yes, God had good and perfect plans for her. Her life may not exactly look like the picture of perfection now, but God knew what He was doing.
She sighed. “Lord, I know you have great plans for me even though it may not look like it. Thank you.”
I know the plans that I have for you.
She stopped. She had come to know that when God made repetitions, He was trying to say something, trying to draw her attention to something it seemed she wasn’t getting. Could there be more?
“Lord, what are you saying?” she whispered.
She sighed. Whatever God was trying to say, it seemed quite clear that it was not what she was thinking. She thought about those words for a while, playing them over in her mind as she balanced the records. Madam Lola had made her the manager and funny enough, it did not hold any excitement for her anymore. It only made her feel caged.
The door creaked and she looked up to see Hillary walk in. Her heart sank. Her partner had gone on an errand so she was the only one in the store. His presence made her suddenly edgy and scared.
“Hey, Jola. What’s up?” he leaned against the counter, giving her a lopsided grin she suspected was practiced. He was good looking and he knew it. His body was well built but instead of admiring any of that, Anjola could only quake inwardly. She felt vulnerable. Guys made her feel that way now.
“How’s our little princess today?” he picked up Iyanu and threw her up. Her baby giggled excitedly and Anjola wondered at her childlike ignorance. She did not know how to fear or suspect anyone.
There was an awkward silence for a while before he cleared his throat.
“Jola, I was wondering if we could see a movie this weekend?”
She was already shaking her head. “I’ll be busy.”
“Will you be busy through out? Come on.”
“My weekend is booked up.”
“Okay, give me a date you’ll be free. I can tell Mumsie to release you even if it’s a weekday.”
She shook her head again. “I can’t.”
He leaned in closer. “Why are you so…closed up, Jola?”
“What do you mean?”
He sighed. “I know this may sound rude but how old are you?”
“Seventeen.” she answered without blinking.
His chocolate eyes widened. “You’re lying.”
“Why should I lie?”
“But…” he looked at Iyanu, floundering.
“…I have a baby.”
“Yeah, plus you look way older.”
She shrugged. “I guess.” She wasn’t inclined to explain anything to him. At least he would leave her alone now.
He opened his mouth as though to say something but his phone ringed. She discreetly heaved a sigh of relief.
He picked the call. “Guy, how far?…Okay… Today? That’s fine…I’m at Mumsie’s boutique. Where? Okay, I’ll wait then…Okay now. Later.” He dropped the phone and turned to her.
“I had no idea you were so young.” He gave a sheepish smile, “Can we at least be friends?”
Iyanu nodded wishing he’d just leave her alone. And why was he leaning so close to her? She eyed the hammer on a shelf.
“You look scared of something,” he said, looking into her eyes. Was he psychic?
“How do you mean?”
“Never mind,” he stood straight and walked to his mother’s office. “I’m expecting someone. Please call me when he gets here,” he said and went in.
Anjola sighed in relief. She chided herself for being so fearful and suspicious but she couldn’t seem to help it and often had to remind herself that God had not given her the spirit of fear. But it always sounded better and more motivating when she was in the safe confines of her house.
One day she would brave her fears. One day she would be so full of God that all her fears would fizzle away. One day she would face a man, walk in the dark and fear would not consume her. But not today.
“I know the plans that I have for you,” she muttered as she wondered again what God was trying to tell her. “I know…”
Anjola sat up as the realization hit her. God was the one with the plan! He was the one who had the thoughts and the purpose and He knew it was good. This was what He had been trying to get across to her. He was the one who had the good plans – not her.
It wasn’t her plan.
So if she wanted to have a hope and a future, she needed to submit to God’s plan for her. Now, if only she could find what that plan was.
* * * *
Time passed at the boutique with several customers walking in and out. Hillary did not come out of the office and she was grateful for that. Maybe now that he knew her age, he realized how ridiculous asking her out really was.
She kept thinking about what God had told her and she just knew that her life was about to be shaken again. She didn’t know exactly what it was but she knew her plans were going to be changed.
“…how much is this gown?” a short lady asked, holding up a royal blue dress. Anjola told her the price.
“What size are you?” she asked.
She checked the label, “This should be your size then. You can try it out,” she led her to the changing room. The dress looked good on her and Anjola told her as much.
The woman smiled shyly, “It’s for our anniversary.”
Anjola smiled as she packed her purchase and she wondered for no reason at all if the woman’s husband would even remember the date. She hoped he did. It would be a shame to waste such a lovely dress and especially with that happy look on her face.
The door creaked and a tall man walked into the boutique, stepping aside for the woman to pass. Anjola immediately fixed a welcoming smile on her face as she walked up to him with Iyanu on her hip.
“Welcome sir. How can we help you?”
He moved from the door into clearer view and her smile froze. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Her heart started beating wildly and her knees felt weak.
The man standing before her was indeed Henry. He looked weary and a bit less confident than the last time she saw him; his shoulders stooped. His mouth hung open as he stared at her in shock. He was the last person she wanted or expected to see.
“Anjola!” he peered into her face. “Anjola, wh..at are you doing here? I’ve been looking all over for you!” And he seemed to have lost his funny accent too. He looked at Iyanu and then at her with a questioning look but she ignored him.
He looked confused. “Why what?”
“Why were you looking all over for me?”
He gave her a pained look. His eyes were avoiding hers and she wondered if there wasn’t more to what he was telling her.
“What are you doing here?” he asked instead.
“I work here.”
She frowned. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m looking for someone. He told me he’ll be here. I should even call him,” he picked up his phone.
Then she remembered. “Oh, you are the one Hillary is expecting?”
He nodded vigorously and she led him to the office. Hillary welcomed him familiarly and waved her off. “Thank you.”
It was past 4pm but Anjola knew she had to leave. She didn’t want to have anything to do with Henry. It wasn’t like he was a bad person or had acted in any way that was less than appropriate to her but instinctively she knew she couldn’t have anything to do with him.
Thankfully, Lara got back just then. Anjola gave her a vague explanation, packed her things and left. And since she knew now that she would be going back to school, maybe she would not even return to work again; it was after all the beginning of the month and she had been paid the previous month.
God had a plan for her; to give her a hope and a future. And she desired a future so much. She had lived in the past for too long.
So, she was leaving her past and all the memories it held behind her.
You can find previous episodes here.