She looked at the caller ID, it was not Gbenga, it was her mother. The last thing Gbemi wanted was for anyone to start asking her when she will bring a man home and finally settle down. She had had enough of that and so refused to pick the call. Her mum called a second time and then a third. At that point, Gbemi knew there was more to it than the regular phone call she gets from her mum.
‘Hello mummy, good evening’, she greeted and hoped her voice didn’t betray her.
‘Gbemi bawoni? (how are you). Is everything alright? You sound unhappy.’ Just like every mother, Gbemi’s mum could detect there was something wrong.
‘Mummy I’ll be fine, I just need to rest.’
‘Pele (sorry) my dear. I actually called because…’ she pauses as she gets distracted by the house maid ‘my friend sweep that corner very well’, she instructs her.
Gbemi was hoping her mum wasn’t about to remind her that she was growing older, ‘because what mummy?’
‘Ehen sorry jare, it’s that new girl from Togo, she does not know how to do anything’, she complained.
Gbemi rolled her eyes, ‘can this woman just go straight to the point?’, she thought to herself.
‘You remember Daddy Biodun, your father’s brother?’
‘Ehn what happened to him?’ Gbemi was already getting irritated by the sound of that word ‘father’.
‘He called me last night to inform me that your father has been in the hospital for the past three weeks. I went to see him this morning and it appears he is terminally ill, Gbemi’.
‘Mummy why are you telling me this?’ Gbemi immediately had series of conflicting thoughts running through her mind. She could not explain how she felt about the news. She hated her father quite alright but she was not sure if she wanted him to die even though to her, he was as good as dead.
‘Gbemi, I know he wasn’t there for you and your siblings when you were growing up but he is still your father notwithstanding’, her mother said in a calm tone. ‘We were all hurt, he has been out of our lives for over twenty years but if we don’t show up for him the same way he wasn’t there for us, how different are we from him?’ she explained.
Gbemi knew her mum didn’t know the full story of what exactly happened. ‘So what does he want from us?’
‘He desperately wants to see his children before he dies. He specifically said, if he does not get to see anyone, he must see you.’
Gbemi was speechless, hot tears rolled down her cheek as she began to sob uncontrollably. She removed the phone from her ear so her mum won’t hear her sobbing. She had buried her past far away and knew meeting her father will mean her digging it up. She wasn’t ready for that.
‘Gbemi are you there?’, her mum asked when she didn’t get a response from her.
‘Yes, I am’, she wiped her tears.
‘Please my dear, I know it’s hard, I understand what you feel’, her mother sympathized.
‘Mummy you don’t understand anything’, she snapped. ‘You have no idea what I’ve been through.’ The tears began to flow again.
‘But Gbemi, take it easy. We were all in it together’, she tried to explain ignorantly.
‘I have to go’, Gbemi couldn’t take it anymore.
Her mother sighed, ‘It is well with you, dear.’
‘Bye’, she hung up and flung the phone on her bed. She brushed her fingers through her hair as she squeezed it and cried so hard and loud. ‘Lord, why is my life so messed up? What have I done to deserve all this?’
She cried, cried and cried some more. She felt like the pieces of her life were falling apart. She had no idea where to go from there, her life felt stuck. It felt like God himself pressed the ‘pause’ button and put everything on hold. She was literally at the lowest point in her life. The only person she knew she could call was Favour. She picked her phone and dialled her number.
‘Hey babe what’s up’, Favour said cheerfully.
Gbemi sobbed, she couldn’t even speak.
‘What wrong?’ Favour asked with concern.
‘Favour, I’m tired of life. I can’t do this anymore.’
‘What are you talking about?’ Favour was beginning to get scared.
Gbemi muscled the strength to tell her about Gbenga and also the call from her mum, but omitted the part about her past.
‘Oh goodness, I’m so sorry about your dad.’
‘I’m not!’ Gbemi said unapologetically.
‘What?! Why not?’ Favour couldn’t believe her ears. She knew Gbemi never liked talking about her dad but she didn’t know things were that bad. ‘Gbemi is there something you are not telling me?’ Favour was certain there had to be more.
‘Well….’ Gbemi was hesitant.
‘Well what Gbemi? You need to help me understand what exactly is going on.’
Gbemi was back to that point again; the point of revisiting her past. It was the hardest thing ever. She was still hurting terribly.
‘Awwww, I’m sincerely sorry about what happened to you dear. I really am and that Gbenga guy is a big fat fish. How will he do that to you?’
Gbemi was silent.
‘Sweetheart, despite all this, you know that God still loves you right?’
Gbemi was still silent.
‘Gbemi, you know that. Don’t you?’ Favour had to be sure.
‘Well… I guess’, she wasn’t convinced anymore.
‘No now, don’t talk like that Gbemi. God’s love for you is not in any way dependent on what you are going through. He loves you, your past notwithstanding and He wants to heal your pains. I’ll be lying to you if I say I understand what you are going through. I don’t. But you remember it wasn’t easy for me too when Bayo cheated on me? I felt like I was going to die but God picked me up. He is here for you too.’
Somehow, the words of encouragement from Favour brought this strange peace to Gbemi. She could feel joy welling up within her. The fact that God loved her and was there with her gave her hope.
‘I guess all I’m trying to say is allow God to take over, dear. Trust Him to bring you out of this mess and trust me, He will surprise you.
‘Thanks dear’, Gbemi felt a lot better. ‘I really appreciate this’
‘Haba, what are sisters for? I’ll call you tomorrow morning, you hear?’
‘Alright, thank you. My regards to Emmanuel.’
‘Will do. Bye dear.’
‘Bye’, she hung up. ‘Why is it so hard to let go?’ she asked herself. She had held on so tightly to her past.
‘You know it is actually easier to forgive than to remain hurt?’ she knew that was not her thought.
‘But Lord, it’s so hard to forgive him, not after what he did to me’, she argued.
‘If I have forgiven him, why can’t you? Don’t you know he hurt me too?’
Gbemi sighed. She knew God had made His point.
‘I need Your help, Lord’, she prayed, ‘I can’t do this on my own.’
After some minutes, she picked her phone and dialled her mum. She knew she didn’t end the call on a good note.
Her mum picked after the first ring, ‘hello my dear.’
‘Mummy I’m so sorry for how I spoke the other time.’
‘It’s ok my dear, it’s not been easy for me too. God just has to help us.’
‘Yeah He does.’
‘And He will.’
‘What hospital is he?’
Her mum gave her the details.
Gbemi wrote it down. ‘Alright ma, I’ll try to see him tomorrow’, Gbemi wasn’t sure how that was going to happen. ‘Bye mum, talk to you later’.
‘Bye dear’, she hung up.
Gbemi looked at the phone and remembered John sent her a message. She read it again and this time around, for reason she could not explain, she felt the urge to call him. She dialed his number and he picked after the third ring.
‘Hi Gbemi, how are you?’
‘I’m alright. I saw your text and missed calls. Thank you so much I really appreciate it.’
‘It’s nothing really, you were just on my mind and so I decided to place a call through.’
‘You sound dull though, are you sure you are alright?’
Gbemi realized John seemed to be really concerned, but then what made him any different from Gbenga? She had always seen him as just a regular church member and that was all as far as she was concerned but at this point, she knew she could do with some friendly support. ‘I was just told by my mum that my father is in the hospital.’
‘Oh goodness. That’s serious. Is there anything I can do? Anything at all?’ John was willing to help.
‘Em will you be able to follow me to see him tomorrow?’ Gbemi had no idea why she just did that. She wasn’t close enough to him to ask for such a favour. She regretted asking and quickly added ‘it’s totally fine, if you won’t be…’
He cut in ‘oh no it’s not a problem at all. What time and where will you want us to meet?’
They agreed on where to meet.
‘I really appreciate it John’, she said gratefully.
‘It’s my pleasure. Take care. See you tomorrow.’
‘Bye’ she hung up. She had not noticed how pleasant he was. She really never waited long after church service, she was always quick to leave. She was grateful for the help he was willing to offer.
As she dropped her phone, she remembered the whole Gbenga drama and her heart became heavy again. She bowed her head and prayed for God to heal her hurt and give her the grace to face her father the next day.
She tried to put everything behind her and at that point realized she had not eaten since morning. She stood up and went to the kitchen to fix herself something. She still wasn’t in the mood to cook so she decided to indulge herself a little. She made a call to her favourite restaurant and placed an order. In another 30 minutes, her food arrived. She ate, had her bath and sat down to watch TV. She had barely watched it for 15 minutes when she realized she was feeling sleepy and decided there was no point fighting sleep. She stood up, turned off the TV and went to bed.
The next day, at 10:30am, she called John to confirm if the 11am appointment was still on.
‘Yeah sure,’ he said.
She didn’t want to delay him so she left the house almost immediately. She got to the bus stop they had agreed to meet and had to wait for a few minutes because she was 10 mins early. While waiting, she prayed and asked God for grace to face her father.
Just as she finished praying, she saw John approaching. He smiled as soon as he sighted her car. He wore a grey shirt tucked out on a pair of jean trousers. He had a well built frame and was some inches taller than Gbemi. He had a dimple on his left cheek when he smiled, he was indeed good looking. Gbemi wondered why she hadn’t noticed all these unique features about him all along until now.
She smiled back at him as he approached.
‘I hope I didn’t keep you waiting for long’, he asked as he sat in the front passenger’s sit.
‘Oh not at all’, she shook her head with a smile.
‘Pardon my manners, Good morning.’
Gbemi chuckled, ‘Who cares jare, don’t stress yourself’. She started the car and began to drive.
‘You’ve got a nice ride’, he smiled.
‘Oh! So it was the car you were smiling at, not me?’ she joked.
‘Me ke? God forbid o. when it’s not that they are chasing me.’
They both laughed.
John admired her sincerity and openness. She wasn’t the type of lady that had to ‘form’ in order to be accepted. ‘You look good as always, I must confess’, he smiled.
‘As always?’ Gbemi asked with a little furrowing of her eyebrow revealing her confusion.
‘Oh yeah. You always look good. I remember telling you that some months ago. I walked up to you after church and told you I liked your dress. You wore a purple cord lace’, he remembered every detail. ‘That dress looked so good on you. Can you remember it?’
Gbemi remembered it perfectly well; as a matter of fact she sewed it herself but that was not what caught her attention. She was amazed both at the fact that he had admired her all along and he was so accurate with the details he gave. ‘Do I have a secret admirer’, she teased?
‘Nah, there is nothing secret about it. I have always desired to be close to you but you didn’t seem to give anyone that chance. I want you to know I’m always available when you need a friend.’
‘Awwww thank you. I really appreciate it.’
‘You are welcome. So are we almost there?’
‘Yeah close. I really appreciate you doing this. It means so much to me. I need all the support I can get.’
‘It is well with your father in Jesus name. May his recovery be speedy and permanent in the mighty name of Jesus’, he prayed.
‘Not that kind of support, John’, she said as she looked at him briefly, shook her head and continued focusing on the road.
‘Is there something I’m missing out’, John was confused.
‘Oh okay then. It is well.’
‘Yeah it is. And we areeeee here’, she said as she turned and entered the fenced compound of the big private hospital. ‘I’m told that he is in room 18, wing C or something like that but I’m sure the nurses at the reception will have all the details’, she said as she picked her bag and opened the door.
‘Yeah they will’, John came out of the car.
They walked towards the hospital, entered and were greeted by the nurses who told them the room number.
As Gbemi approached the room, she could feel her heart beat faster. She stood at the door, took a deep breath and opened the door slowly.
John watched all that was happening and followed her behind but stayed at the entrance while Gbemi went in, leaving the door open.
As she entered the room, she saw her father on the bed. He was sleeping. He looked emaciated, was receiving oxygen through nasal prongs and his vitals were displayed on a monitor. He looked chronically ill.
She worked closer to his bed, he woke up and saw her. He tried raising his head but was too weak to sustain it. He mustered strength to speak.
‘I know I don’t ever deserve to see you. I prayed every day of my life that I will get to see you one more time to let you know how sorry I am for all the pain I caused you’.
Gbemi could not hold back the tears. She had been greatly hurt by that man.
‘What I did was heartless and inhumane. But I did not know any better then. Years later, I met Jesus and He turned my life around.’
Gbemi wished he had met Jesus way earlier, he won’t have molested her. She, however, was happy to hear that he was now born again.
‘I’m dying and I know it but before I go, I beg you’, he slowly attempted clapping his hand together, please find it in your heart to forgive me.
Gbemi moved closer and held his hand. They were cold and shaky. Tears rolled down his eyes. She felt so sorry for him. She knew the past could not be rewritten and that she had finally gotten to that point where she had to let go. She tried to speak but no words came out. Hot tears rolled down her cheeks uncontrollably.
John watched from afar. He wondered if there was anything he could do but instead decided to pray for God’s strength and grace for Gbemi.
‘l forgive you daddy.’
That was it! She felt new, she was totally liberated. All the chains that had hitherto held her bound were loosened and her burden lifted. Little wonder the Bible says in Matt 11:28, “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
‘Thank you, thank you so much. God indeed answers prayers. This has always been my prayer’.
‘Yeah He does’, she smiled and then turned to John signaling to him to come closer. ‘Come and say hi to my dad’, the word ‘dad’ came out with so much ease this time around.
He was amazed at what he had just witnessed. He didn’t know how the tension in the air which he could almost palpate dissipated in minutes, he was certain it could only have been God. He walked towards Gbemi.
‘Daddy, meet my friend, John.’
‘Good morning sir, it’s a privilege to meet you’, he said politely.
‘Such a good looking young man. Your mum taught you well’, he teased her.
‘No dad, we are just….’ Gbemi tried explaining.
John cut in, ‘thank you sir. You have a very pretty daughter too’, he smiled as he took his gaze from the elderly man to Gbemi.
‘Am I missing something here?’ she said a little confused.
‘It’s complicated’, he winked.
‘Nice one’, she smiled. Turning to her dad, ‘we need to get going. I’ll ensure bro Femi and Bola come and see you and I’ll definitely still take out time to come.’
‘I’ll appreciate that.’
In that car, Gbemi asked inquisitively, ‘so what was all that in there?’
‘What was what?’ he smiled and acted as if he didn’t know what she was talking about.
‘Water wax, be doing like you don’t know what I am saying’, she naughtily said.
‘Is it the part of me being good looking or you being pretty that you don’t understand?’, he tried to play smart.
‘Don’t worry o, I will not say anything’, she started the car.
John changed the topic of discussion ‘I must confess, I’m so glad about what happened in there with your dad. God is amazing.’
‘Yes He is. I’m glad too.’ Gbemi drove John to the car park she picked him from. ‘I’m so grateful for all you did today. You were amazing’
‘Nah, it was nothing, really. I was honoured to be there. Do have a nice day. See you tomorrow.’
‘You too dear. Take care’. It was Gbemi this time around saying the ‘D’ word.
To be continued…
What do you think happens next? Drop a comment and let’s know. What do you think about the story so far, any lessons?
Thanks for reading
Watch Out For Gbemi Part 7 next week Sunday. Don’t miss it.