She just had her nails done, the sun was shining bright, she was in high spirits and there was nothing anyone could do that would dampen her joy. She walked to the parking lot right in front of the nail salon where her car was parked.
However, she was so focused on her phone that she didn’t notice the person walking on the path in front of her, and they collided. The lady’s bag dropped to the floor and the coffee she was holding poured all over the floor.
“Oh no, I waited so long on the queue to get that cup of coffee and now there goes 30minutes down the drain”
“I’m so sorry that was my bad, if you’re not in a hurry, I could take you to one of the best cafés in town to get whichever coffee you want to replace this and it’s on me.”
She quickly bent down to pick up the lady’s bag and a few other things that had fallen to the ground. She seemed to be a sophisticated lady. She was wearing one of the limited edition shoes from Bata-Olori, the top shoe brand in the country. She was wearing a knee-length ruffled dress, her nails perfect, her accessories, well fitting and every strand of hair was in place. The bag was also from a top Nigerian brand.
“Please, let me make it up to you.” She said while handing her the bag and she finally looked at her face. She could not believe her eyes. The palpitations she had to deal with for many years, the wounds she thought were healed long ago, and the feelings were all coming back. It was Juba.
“Rike, please come to my room after dinner”, She smiled.
“Okay Senior Juba, I’ll be quick.”
She hurriedly finished her food because she was used to the goodies she always got from her school mother every week after she helped her with some chores. She wondered what it would be this time.
“Yes, who is that?”
“It’s me, Rike.”
Rike opened the door to find half of the senior girls’ set in Juba’s room. She wasn’t used to seeing lots of seniors at the same time, so she was a bit nervous and she said a quiet good evening and walked to Juba’s corner. She was huddled in her corner where some friends were apologizing to her and whispering things to her.
“Good Evening Senior Juba, you said you wanted to see me?”
Juba looked at her from her feet to her hair and back down to her feet in disgust.
“Do you think you are beautiful? That you don’t respect anyone. Do you think your beauty can save you from anything in life?” Then she slapped her.
Rike would never have expected that from Juba. She had never hit her in all her time in the school. In fact Juba was her protector.
“I’m sorry senior, but what did I do?”
“What did you do?”
She slammed her head on the metal locker.
At this, the other seniors started holding Juba back, but she wasn’t ready to stop. She punched and kicked and pulled until Rike found a way to crawl out from the room.
She was hurt and in so much pain, but she couldn’t tell anyone because she was already known as the snitch, and she didn’t want to get in more trouble with the seniors.
The next day, Juba came to meet her in her class during break time. She reached out to touch Rike’s head, but she flinched on contact, so she removed her hand.
“I'm sorry about yesterday, I wasn't myself and I apologize. You know I'll be done with final exams next week. We can't have anything causing a delay. You understand what I mean right?”
“I’ll make it up to you, come to my room tonight.”
When she saw the look of horror on Rike’s face, she added,
“Don’t worry, my friends will be there not just both of us.”
That night, the same thing repeated itself, and she apologized the next morning and the cycle continued until Juba finished her exams and went home.
The lady didn't seem to recognize her, but she could never forget that face.
“Hmm, I think I can spare some time”
“Um, I, okay, the coffee shop is not far from here. I can drive there. And we can come back here afterwards to pick your car. Is that okay?”
“Sure, by the way, what’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Juba.”
Juba didn’t seem to recognize her name or her face. She couldn’t believe it. Maybe this was God’s way of testing if she had really healed. But this was not the kind of test she was expecting.
At the coffee shop, they ordered and sat at a table to wait. Juba was chatting on her phone and tapping her nails on the table and the sound was making her nervous. The palpitations were starting again, so She decided to start a conversation.
“By the way, you have an excellent taste in shoes”
“Oh, thank you, I got it as a gift from the lead designer at Bata-Olori”
“Really? You know Him?”
And so, the conversation began, and they talked from topic to topic like best friends for over one hour until Juba said,
“I’m sorry, Rike.”
“Oh you have to go? I’m sorry I was the one who took most of your time”
“No, Rike I’m sorry for what happened in secondary school”.
She remembered? How could she be so calm? Why did she act ignorant?
Rike it's time to fully heal. Open your heart.
When Rike didn't say anything, She continued.
“I was extremely hurt that day. I had just gotten news that my dad had beaten my mom until she died, and I didn't know how to express the pain. You were just in the right place at the wrong time and I took advantage of your trust. Every night, I was overcome by those feelings of pain, and so I couldn't stop hurting you. I was very wrong, and I know that I caused you many problems even after I left and that haunted me for years.”
“Earlier, when we made eye contact, I tried my hardest to keep an ignorant face, but you still stuck to being the kind person you are after recognizing me. I can’t hide anymore, I must ask, how do you protect your peace? Because I still haven’t forgiven my father, and it’s eating at me.”
“There were many times I punched you and did all sorts of evil things to you in my dreams. But some years ago, I joined a bible study group where they help people affected by trauma. They kept telling me to love and showed me practical ways to do so. During that period, there were times I still had those feelings of hate. but every day, it got better and there was a lot of improvement. Today, I realized how much I have healed, and I am thankful.”
“I know you may not want this and my mind is discouraging me completely, but my heart is at peace with it. If it’s okay with you, we could meet up every Saturday like this to talk about how you feel, and we can work together with the Holy Spirit on this journey of total healing and peace. Would you like to try it out?”
With tears in her eyes, Juba knodded.
“Yes, I want to try.”
“Congrats, you’ve taken the first step towards finding peace. ”
~ a short story by Esther Ohifumere Adeoye
Inspired by the Holy Spirit.