02 Mar ATONEMENT (Conclusion)
He had done things. Things he had been too scared to admit even to himself and definitely not to anyone else. The thought alone caused him great pain. It all happened one night quite a while ago when he had gone out with some friends to celebrate the submission of their final year theses.
It was the last thing holding them to the school, or the last thing they believed they owed the school, whichever way you want to see it. That night, he drank more alcohol than he should have had. He remained behind at the club after his friends had left the club.
There was this girl he had seen through the alcohol infused haze surrounding him. A sudden urge and boldness had come over him. He had approached her to speak to her. It turned out she was not the relationship material type. She was a prostitute looking for customers, but that did not percolate into his brain at the time. The alcohol did not let it.
It was after he had satisfied his urge which all of a sudden didn’t feel satisfying, but very distasteful, he realized she was a prostitute. Not the cheap kind, but the expensive sort. She had asked for her fee and he didn’t have any money.
She got aggressive and he had gotten aggressive too. One thing led to another and before he knew it his hands had wrapped around her neck in a vice-like grip. He had no idea for how long he kept hold of her neck, but his senses came back to him when she stopped struggling and went limp in his hands.
The alcohol induced high disappeared when he realized what he had done. He became sober. It still seems like magic to him whenever he remembers how fast the haze of the alcohol had lifted off from his eyes. Fear and panic gripped him and he had rushed out of the dark alley. He didn’t return to the club. He took a detour avoiding the front of the club as he hurried away from the area.
He kept looking behind his shoulder in fear wondering if anyone was following him or watching him. In his mind he felt like everyone on the road that night knew what he had done and they were all coming to get him. He kept looking at every person on the way home while avoiding eye contact. At home, he stayed indoors for more than a week. He only went out at night to get food when he could not find someone to send.
For a long time, he lived in absolute fear. Every second of everyday, he was scared the police would knock on his door and drag him away for murder. Every time a car stopped in front of the house, or anyone knocked on the door, he was afraid the police had come for him.
For weeks after the incident, he didn’t hear anything about a murder or incident near the club. He was careful not to ask anyone in order not to drag any form of attention to himself. He travelled out of the state to return home all the while still afraid the police were going to knock on his door someday.
That happened two years ago and he still does not have peace. He had since made peace with God and signed up to a ministry to become a missionary to atone for his sins. He had dedicated his life to the service of God.
When he had been asked by many people including his mother – his most vocal critic – why he had become a missionary. He hadn’t been able to answer. He owed her an explanation, if not to any other person because she had spent everything she could make, and borrowed some more to keep him through school. Yet he couldn’t tell her.
As far as she was concerned, he was condemning not only himself, but her and his siblings to a life of penury because everyone knew missionaries are not paid much. She still owed money she borrowed to pay for one thing, or the other when he was still in school. She still had his younger siblings to feed, clothe and send to school.
Sitting on this train heading for a far off mission house, located in a far off village which in the past had been attacked by bloodthirsty bandits and kidnappers, he reiterated to himself he was doing the right thing, even though he was also atoning for his sins.
He had decided to make Jesus the centre of everything. It was a commitment he had made and was determined to see through no matter what the naysaying thought in his head says, or the anger and disappointment of his mother, or the fear of a life of penury he is afraid he is condemning his siblings to.
By Oluwaseyi K. Olusanya