Anna finally sleeps off without calling Innocent. It is a long deep sleep. The next day she wakes up feeling a bit refreshed but sore.
Annie: “waoh! What a n….i….ght”she yawns, stretches on the bed.
With reluctance her eyes dashes to her King James Version Bible, it has an Ankara cover. She had made it. Years ago, when the Ankara business started Anna enrolls in a class where she learns bead making and how to design books and biros using Ankara. She starts the business but along the line finance becomes a problem. “Pick it and open Romans 8” a voice echoes in her mind, picks it, flips, flips and flips. It is obvious that she hasn’t been in good terms with the holy book for a while now. Anna sits up,still yawning, finally opens the scripture and she read in whispers,
Anna: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Two, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Three, For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,” he mind keeps meditating on verse one even after she stops reading, “After, lord would you ever forgive me? For going against your will and that of your son, Christ!” she starts sobbing, “Come unto the throne that yea might obtain mercy in the time of need, Hebrews four-16,” she says still crying.
It is her favourite scripture. During her eight year old birthday her Sunday school teacher had made her recite that as a birthday scripture and since then it has become a part of her, following her into her adult life. After an hour of fervent prayers, she comes out,
Mama who is washing outside looks at her,
Mama: “I see say you tire that is why I no disturb you!”
Anna: “Good morning,mama!” she picks up a broom, “yes I was but I feel better now!”
Mama looks at her eyes,
Mama: “Shey you drink tear gas?” Anna giggles,
Anna: “Tear gas?”
Mama: “Ehen na, see as your eye red na!”
Anna: “Oh,mama , you no go kill person sha! It’s because I overslept!” she leaves immediately to avoid further questioning from her detective of a mother. She hears her mother still talking as she goes in to sweep but pretends not to hear.
Anna decides to start a week prayers and dry fasting, no food and water. On the first day she starts by waking up at about eleven thirty and decides to read the Bible first before the time for her prayers.
Her mouth quivers as she reads Psalm 51,
Annie: “one, Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Two, Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Three, for I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Four, Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight—That You may be found just when you speak, and blameless when you judge. Five, behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Six, behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom,” she pauses in verse six, she looks like one in deep thought, sighs then continue whispers, “seven, purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Eight, Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice. 9Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Ten, create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Eleven, do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me,” she bursts into tears after reading eleven, she cries for five minutes and keeps saying, “Don’t take your spirit away from me merciful father!”
Half past twelve she goes into a fierce spiritual warzone, crying and praying on top of her voice. Footsteps then follow are voices. It is her mother and father,
Mama: “Anna! Anna! Wetin dey happen na! Why you dey cry?”
Papa: “My daughter open the door,abeg! Maik we talk!”
Mama starts crying as Anna ignores them,
Mama: “Eh, so na so my pikin wan use cry ki’ e sef oooo!Chai! God!God!! wetin I do you na?”
She throws herself to the ground; her husband ignores her theatrics and continues knocking and pleading. After two hours they decide to retire to bed. The next day, Anna doesn’t come out, she is locked inside reading the Bible and prayer, Psalm 51 becomes her prayer points,
Anna: “Lord your mercy, I plead for your mercy!!”
Her parents come to get her come out but all to no avail. It has become a routine for three days but Mama isn’t at rest, she worried to death,
Mama: “Hope say Anna no one use hunger kill e sef! God don hear the prayer na! Ah, na wa oo!”
Anna refuses to eat the food that Mama keeps bringing for her,
Anna: “Mama don’t worry yourself about food. I won’t be eating for some days!” Anna tells her from the locked the door and Mama begins to cry bitterly. On the fourth day, Mama cannot bear it anymore; she goes to call Mama Junior, Mama has being their neighbour for more than forty years Anna respects her lot for a good heart. Everyone loves her in the neighbourhood. Mama Junior calls out,
Mama Junoir: “Annie, it’s me Mama Jay!” Anna and siblings calls her that way, Anna opens up,” Why have you decided to punish yourself and parents,Annie,” she sits.
Anna who looks feeble smiles,
Anna: “ No, Mama Jay. It isn’t punishment. I am on a week spiritual journey. I’ve told mama but you know her now, “Mama Junior smiles and nods.
Mama Junior: “But she said you haven’t been eating for four days and the truth is, you look pale.”
Anna: “I’m going without food and water!”
Mama Junior: “ Okay. God help you my dear!”
Mama Junior tells her of when her husband was ill for fourteen years. It is a story everyone knows. She says that she was always fasting until her finally got his healing, “trusting in God help. Keep it up. I’ll talk to your mother!”
On the seventh day, she reads Psalm 31 with a sigh of relief, she goes into a wild dance. Praising God after a voice tells her, “God is showing mercy to her, my dear!” Mama comes to her door and stands there. She refuses to make any complaints for Mama Junior had explained to her and she promised to give Anna her space. Tears gather in her eyes, as she hears Anna sings and praises God in aloud tone,
Anna: “Thank you lord, thank for causing your face to shine upon me!”
She sleeps at about three in the morning, suddenly, she sees Innocent in a room tied and surrounded by scary looking men, one of them cries, “Let’s just finish him, please!”
Annie: “Blood of Jesus! No, leave him. Innocent you shall not die!” she wakes from the dream, praying.
She wakes up, ““I will marry him; I love him too much to leave him at a time like this when he needs me most. Even if he is going to die immediately after our wedding, I will marry him”,
His phone rings but no one is picking.
His phone keeps ringing and nobody picks up. She waits another twenty minutes, expecting him to call back and when he doesn’t, she picks up her phone and calls him back. His younger sister picks up the call.
Innocent’s sister: “Innocent is in crises. He is in coma right now. We are at the hospital”.
Anna: “Oh my God, what is wrong with him? Which hospital are you?”
Innocent’s sister: “Topnotch hospital in the state capital”
Anna: “Okay, I will be there shortly”. Let nothing happen to him o, she cries aloud.
Anna picks her purse, ties her hair and runs to out to take a cab that will take her to the state capital where the hospital is located. All through the drive, she keeps shouting on the driver to hurry.
Taxi driver: “Madam, na over speed I dey so. I no fit run pass like this except you want make we jam other cars wey dey road and na accident be that”.
Anna: “Just stop talking and drive faster!”
Taxi driver: “Drive faster? You no see say traffic light say make we stop?”
Anna: “I don’t care, you can fly over other cars or push them out of the way for all I care”.
They get to the hospital and Anna flings some naira notes on him. “Madam, the money never complete”, the taxi driver says. Anna throws a thousand naira note on him and the driver shouts after her “Your change!” You can keep it, just leave me alone!” Anna fires at him back in confusion.
Two weeks after Ken was beaten up by Chief’s boys, he returns to his village to stay with his parents. He remembers that day as it was one of the worst days of his life. After chief had drove off with him tied up in the bush, his driver had taken them to an isolated area in Nasarawa state which is one of the states that share boundaries with Abuja and there he had ordered his boys to beat Ken up and when he became unconscious, they left him for dead and threw his body on the road. Ken was in that state of agony until a Reverend father drove by early the next morning and seeing him in that state had compassion on him like the good Samaritan described by Jesus in the holy Bible. The priest had taken him to the missionary hospital where he paid for his medical bills, fed and gave him clothes and when Ken became strong, he gave him transportation fare back home. “My son, e don do. No dey think again. To live for Abuja no be by force”, his mother’s voice forces him out of his thoughts.
Ken: “Mama, what hurts me most is that the Tiana girl didn’t even say anything when chief ordered is boys to beat me up. And to think that I was never there for Anna the girl who loved me with all her heart also hurts me. I wish I can see her to apologize to her and ask for her forgiveness”.
Mama Ken: “It’s okay, my son. Just concentrate on the trade you are learning now so that no woman go treat you anyhow because you dey jobless”.
Ken: “I will o, mama. I have learnt my lessons the hard way. From today henceforth, I will hustle legitimately like other men do, I don’t have to fold my hands and wait for government to give me a white collar job. Nothing good comes easy”.
Anna waits at the hospital’s reception for hours for Innocent to come out of coma. She is taken in to the intensive care unit where Innocent is lying down, conscious but very weak. She sits behind him and takes his hands in hers. He tries to smile and sit up but pain forces him to lie in the same position.
Anna: “I am sorry, baby. I am not calling off the wedding anymore. Just get well and lefts get married, we have only few days to go”.
Anna: “It’s okay, you don’t have to say anything. Just get well for me and let’s get out of here. These past days without you have been terrible and I have realized how much I love you”, she says as the tears from her eyes causes her voice to choke”.
A tear drops from the corner of Innocent’s left eye and Anna kisses his hands.
Innocent: “I am..I am sorry. I llll..I will all…always love you”.
Anna: “I will always love you too, just get well”.
She raises up her head to stare into his eyes and she discovered that Innocent has stopped breathing. “Doctor! Doctor! Nurse!”
The doctor and nurses rush in and after examining him, the doctor shakes his head. “I am sorry, we lost him. We did all we could to save his life, he was such a nice young man”.
Anna: “What! Noooooo! He just spoke to me. Doctor check well, maybe he is in coma again. He can’t die”. Somewhere in the room, Innocent’s mother has fainted after the doctor pronounced her son dead.
… SEE Final Episode, 21 (You don’t want to miss this!)
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