Gbum! Gbum! Gbum!
Tobechi could hear the beats of her heart in her ears like the thud of heavy feet on the ground. Loud frantic beats, set agog by the fiery presence of fear in her were rid of every tune of harmony.
For a long time, more than she could account for, her life had been like this – a repertoire of fears and sadness; coupled with the uncertainty of everything and conviction of nothing; groping in the darkness of doubt, despair and despondency that had blackened her life.
And so, she runs away from them all, as that is all she is left with to do.
Having done a lot of it, she stops, panting and gasping for breath. Too tired to keep running from shadows, she turns round for a spot on the brown sandy road where she could rest from the heat of the searing sun that lights up every visible darkness on the earth, except the one in her heart. Her hair was a mess, she knew. Her entire look pleaded for a makeover, transition, and turnaround, whatever the word may be. But she knew nothing like that was ever going to happen.
Physically and mentally exhausted, she drops herself on the brown sandy road, oblivious of the words – ‘dirty’ and ‘stained’ that will be an added adjective to her look. She was tired of everything. Holding her head in her hands in a slouched position, she felt the warm moisture stream down her cheeks in a straight line, an addition to the dried streaks left by its predecessors.
Knowing that there was no problem without a solution, especially the one she was battling with, she had sought knowledge hungrily; hoping it would be the key to an enduring happiness. Yet she discovered that in the much she knew, she had become even more miserable, questioning everything – faith, love, life, God, good and evil. Thinking she could be able to get a grasp of everything if she knew just so much, she had plunged into the deep oceans of pages and had come out drenched, wasted and still empty.
Something had to make sense, she thought. There had to be something with which she could draw happiness from: men. So she made herself open up into relationships. Having seen the excitement of the other girls at the ring of their phones, at the talk of their “him”, she hoped hers too would be that way. She needed a ‘he’ to be happy, after all we are all species with a dire need for each other, she thought.
However, what she didn’t realize was that to draw happiness in, there had to be a space for it, where it could repose itself inside the being and then begin to grow. She didn’t know that in relationships, to be happy, to be able to draw from the other measures of happiness; she had to have some within her to help the other with. If there was none, she should at least make the effort to be happy. Unfortunately, the effort could not be made. Even when it was, it was superficial. So none of her partners stayed long with her, some got tired of always giving her pep talks and others afraid they may end up the miserable soul she was.
Painfully, she could not turn to the place where miracles were harvested daily despite being in need of a miracle. Her father had convinced her that it was a waste of time being a church girl despite being a church man himself. Afflicted with her personal demons, she didn’t need to add that of a hypocrite. Being who he was – a church man, her father was adjudged a saint by his fellow churchgoers just because he was always present at every service, making sure everything went on smoothly. Walking around in his bogus trouser wherein a slacked shirt is tucked and a Bible held under the armpit, he salutes and responds to everyone with a solemn ‘‘God bless you brother”; “ God bless you sister”, “It is well with you and your family”, “The Lord is in control”.
They didn’t know that he was a liar, full of wickedness, lacking all virtue. God never blessed his home nor was all well with his family, nor did the Lord stay in control of his life and that of his family. No! He was the devil’s apprentice, wreaking havoc in the life of every unfortunate member of his family, pushing them out so that they never knew what happiness was. He had named her ‘Tobechi’ (an Igbo name meaning ‘Praise God’),but she never saw the need.
So yes, the church could not be an option for her. If others found peace there, all she saw when she thought or looked at one was her father.
Not even money Tobechi had made working different jobs helped her. It made her able to buy the best things for her body, but her soul was starved, stark naked and helpless. Money’s power was limited to the things that were not long-lasting, the things that fade.
Seeing that there was no respite anywhere having tried everything she could and knowing that all of those things lacked depth she had begun running from everything and everyone, worse of all herself. The thought of herself made her cringe. How could she be so unlucky as to be afflicted with just sorrow and unending pain? she wondered. She needed help very fast. She didn’t know from where it would come.
Still sitting on the brown sandy road, she looked around, hoping someone would help her. Still, none of the passersby even noticed her. Everyone moved with a preoccupied look and so could spare her no glance. It was like she was not there, like they were not there either. Nothing seemed to be real. Yes she sure had been running and her heart was still in a turmoil, she was a mess and needed help badly; all of those were real.
Not knowing where the idea came from or to whom or what she was going to address the words, she did what she felt. She knelt down, buried her head deep in the sand, unafraid of the dust, and let out the words stuck in her throat in between sobs.
“Lord… (sniffs) help me”.
There was a silence that came with the soft wind that danced around, carrying in its arms Peace that was safely deposited inside her. In that peace she plunged herself, desirous of being set free from the chains that had her bound her,desirous of the light she felt seeping into her, too afraid of the chaos she had always known returning to her. Soon, Tobechi would find cause to praise as that is what peace brings.
P.S:There is no storm that cannot be calmed, no mountain that cannot be moved, no pain that cannot go away. All that is needed is a sincere heartfelt petition to a good God who always listens and wants to fill up the vacuum in you. There is a God who loves and cares for you. So get punged in the ocean of His Love and Peace.
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