THE CHAT ROOM SEASON 2 : PART 1 – THE END
By Temi Akintade
I didn’t go to Hadassah’s school that day but the following month, I went because Hadassah was severely punished by the frustrated teacher and she was admitted in the hospital as a result.
The day I drove into the large school compound decorated with colourful alphabets, the school was quiet at first but the intermediate interruption of cheers and jabbing from the classes behind broke the defeating silence.
The admin section was located by the right hand close to the school fence. I could only catch a glance at some classes but I didn’t care about the classes. I had just one mission in the school that morning.
As I approached the admin section, I met a balded security man in blue coloured uniform grinning and welcoming me. “Welcome, madam!” He waved.
I asked him about the principal’s office and he pointed his shaky finger towards another office right in the admin block, decorated with greenish-yellow flowers.
The flowers reminded me of the type in mama Judith’s compound the last time we went visiting.
I knocked on the door and a bland voice beckoned on me to come in.
A man who looked like he was in his sixties welcomed me. By the time I explained my problem and Hadassah’s condition to him, he began to apologize.
“I understand how difficult it can be for you to forgive us. Two other parents borough his report yesterday and we didn’t hesitate to send him out of our school because his report has been piling on my table.”
“Let me advise you, sir. It is better if you plant CCTV cameras in your classes so that you can monitor your teachers well. Otherwise, -” a constant knocking on the door altered my last statement as we both turned our attention to a dark black man who was clad in a shirt tagged; ‘cleaner’.
Even as he spoke to the school principal, his voice sounded familiar. By the time he turned to greet me, we both froze!
“Tayo?” I scoffed.
“Do you both know each other?” The principal asked.
Tayo went down on his knees. “I have been in search of you and our daughter for years! Thank God I’ve found you.” His eyes pooled with tears.
I shook my head. What nonsense was he saying? I couldn’t take my eyes off his emaciated form.
His once dark skin had turn dirty black probably as a result of the scorching weather and sufferings. “Why have you been looking for me and my daughter Tayo? You don’t deserve us so why are you looking for us?”
“For blessings! My life is a mess!” He swallowed. More tears rolled down his cheeks this time. “I know that I am paying the price for my sins. I am paying the price for being irresponsible during my teenage years.
I was never serious with life, I was a chronic fornicator, and I have always had this notion that it is the women who are at the receiving end of f©rnication.
I never knew that I was also sharing a part of myself, a part of my glory with the ladies I sleep with.” He wiped the tears on his face.
I sighed. “You have multiple problems Tayo, not just the negative impact. You were a chronic drug addict. You almost ran mad I hope you know.” I reminded him.
“How is my daughter?” He said after some time.
“Hadassah is fine. She is in this school but she is not in school today.” I explained what I came to do and he gasped in shock.
“You mean I have been speaking to my daughter? Hadassah in the senior class? Please can I see her?” His voice trembled.
“No!” I halted him. “Not yet! You cannot just warm your way into our lives just like that!”
“Please Paulina. I have given my life to Christ. I am born again and I promise not to hurt you or our child.” He rose to his feet.
I rose too and picked my bag. “Our child? She is mine! Look, I will arrange a meeting between you and her so you can talk.
But this thing you are trying to do will not work do you get!” I didn’t realize I was yelling until I heard the principal tell me to calm down.
Tayo nodded and rushed after me to collect my phone number. I punched my digit into his small Nokia phone and rushed towards the car park where I parked my car. I turned on the ignition and pulled out of the school compound hastily.
I released a deep sigh by the time I got to the hospital where Hadassah was admitted. I sat in my car, with the ignition turned off, and began to weep uncontrollably.
I wasn’t crying because I came face to face with my past. But I was weeping because of my dear mother who I lost as a result of my involvement with Tayo.
We will meet in heaven dear mother. I mumbled.
The hospital was quite busy that evening. Men and women, children and patients, trooping in and out of the wards.
While I was heading to the female ward to check on Hadassah when I saw a man dressed in an orange-red shirt praying for some patients close to the female ward.
I wondered how the hospital management was able to accept someone of such caliber.
Hadassah was speaking to one of the nurses by the time I entered the private ward.
“Good evening ma!” The nurse greeted.
“Mum! I missed you!”
“My darling!” I waved at the nurse who grinned back and left me with Hadassah. “I went to your school today,” I explained what transpired between me and the principal.
“Thank God he has been sacked. The man is a tyrant, mum.”
“I agree with you.” Just then, my phone rang. It was my pastor’s wife. She said they will have to suspend me as a church worker because she heard I started my prayer meeting.
“Ma, it’s just for mothers who have teenagers! And it was an instruction from God ma.”
“An instruction? How can God bypass me to speak to you, Paulina? And since when did you begin to hear from God? Look, you have been suspended from the workforce good day!!!” She ended the call.
I glared at the blank phone.
I knew just what to do.
THE CHAT ROOM SEASON 2 : PART 1 – THE END
On one bright Sunday, after Hadassah has been discharged from the hospital, the Holy Spirit instructed me to take a drive to Asokoro for a church service with Hadassah. He gave me no description and I obeyed. I ordered an Uber car who drove us out.
By the time we got to Asokoro, I got confused. The driver began to ask me of the precise location I was headed towards.
But I didn’t know. “Holy Spirit where are you sending me to worship today?”
I heard nothing. I was almost getting frustrated when I felt Hadassah’s hand on my shoulder. “Mum. Since God directed us here, I believe he will lead us into any church of his choice to fellowship.”
I shook my head. “You don’t get it. He told me to come here and now I’m here but he hasn’t even given me any location yet.” I panicked.
“Okay, why don’t we stop here mum?” She asked.
“Okay.” I resigned and ordered the driver to stop.
I paid the driver after he dropped us by the roadside. I was still looking around for a sign or at least, any indication that will show me the next step. Suddenly, Hadassah tugged my hand. “Mum! Look ahead. Look at that signboard!”
It was the signboard of a church. It had only the name of the church, the title of the message, and guest music ministers on it.
I shrugged and told Hadassah to come with me. Together, we walked into the huge church building, with men and women flanked on every side of the building.
The ushers were beautifully dressed in white and blue skirts and trousers. One of the ushers ushered Hadassah and me to the front seat.
At first, I wasn’t comfortable with the knee-length, green Ankara gown I was clad in because it felt as though I was underdressed compared to the people beautifully dressed in the church.
The choristers had sung beautifully, in soprano and treble voices. They sang, ‘Then sings my soul.’ Hadassah had said it was as if she was in heaven with the air conditioner of the church blasting through our clothes and leaving an aftermath of cool sensation.
The middle-aged woman heavily decked in gold jewelry raised her hands intermittently to heaven and sang the song with the choir. Her mouth stretching wide as if to emphasize every detail of that song.
Soon, the choristers finished, and the pastor mounted the pulpit to preach.
It wasn’t until I heard his voice and saw his face that memories of my past, and his good deeds, came flashing across my mind. Quickly, I leaned towards the middle-aged woman seated beside me to ask.
“Excuse me please, what’s the pastor’s name?” I whispered.
“Oh, pastor Nathaniel. He is the founder of this church. You should know him, don’t you? The owner of the multi-million naira fruit juice factory in Lagos.” She concluded.
“Oh, okay,” I said dismissively as though uninterested when my mind was bubbling with excitement.
I wasn’t expecting such a download of information but, I was grateful to the Holy Spirit for leading me here.
I couldn’t even concentrate on the sermon he was preaching about. All I was kept looking out for was how much he has changed during these many years of being apart. He seemed to have grown even more handsome and taller.
My eyes darted to the left, and then to the right, in search of single sisters who were probably hoping that he would at least look at them. I was still carrying out my search when he rounded up the sermon.
Soon, they called the first-timers, Hadassah and I along with some others, walked to the front of the church.
The pastor along with other ministers came to shake our hands. Pastor Nat also shook me, looked me in the eyes, and moved to the next person.
It was then it occurred to me that, he must have forgotten about me, or deliberately, ignored me.
Disappointed, I walked back to my seat.
THE CHAT ROOM SEASON 2 : PART 1 – THE END
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