REDEEMED (A SERIES) – EPISODE 14
(WRITTEN BY JOY A. ADEWUMI)
I wore a small smile as Doctor Femi sauntered towards me the next morning just as I was getting ready to leave after my discharge. I had a small bag that had my clothes which I had worn when I was rushed in and a few toiletries BJ had dropped off for me yesterday after I came to. He had also brought my phone along. Bless his soul.
‘Hey! Congrats on your discharge, man!’Dr Femi smiled as he got to my bedside.
‘Good morning Doctor Femi.’ I greeted with a wider smile.
‘Good morning to you too and you can you just call me Doctor Damz! That’s what everyone calls me. I’m glad to see you all healed up.’
‘Thanks for your prayers Doc.’
‘Hey, I have a few minutes; do you want to grab something to eat real quickly before you leave?’ Doc asked and I knew this had everything to do with our discussion from yesterday. My heart tightened at the thought of discussing it with him, but I knew the least I could do was honour his offer. He’d after all been really good to me.
As we settled some minutes later to eat, I cleared my throat and said, ‘Uhmm… Doc? I must be honest with you; I’ve not really had much people on my side in over a decade. I’ve led a rather lonely life despite the fact that I was always in the company of others. Apart from BJ, honestly, I don’t know anyone else who truly looks out for me, but then BJ’s my friend and has been for some years and that’s why your kindness and care came as a shock. I feel like I’m getting used to it though.’ I chuckled and he did too.
READ ALSO: THE BED UNDEFILED (A Short Story)
‘Nonetheless, I really want to express my thanks. Thanks a lot.’
‘Like I said yesterday, the pleasure is mine.’ He replied wearing his signature soothing smile.
‘You see Doc, after you spoke to me yesterday; I had a lot on my mind. And as though you opened a floodgate, memories of my childhood featuring Sunday school lessons and my mum’s words came back to me. I didn’t even remember I had all of those in my subconscious.’
‘Wow! That’s amazing. How did it feel?’ He wore a big smile and I smiled too despite myself.
‘It felt scary! As scary as shit!’ Doc’s lips tipped in a smile and my eyes widened instantly. Oh, shit!
‘Oh, no! I’m sorry, I’m truly sorry about my language. I’ll try to work on that.’
‘It’s okay man. I understand.’ Another smile and I wondered whether or not it was fair to reject his offer.
‘So, why did those memories scare you?’ He hit the nail on the head so quickly tha I had no choice but to decide immediately.
‘They reminded me of what I knew I couldn’t pull off, ever!’
‘And that’s what?’
‘This Jesus thing.’ His brows furrowed and I knew he didn’t see that one coming. He nodded for a while, released a sigh and asked as he leaned back on his chair. His plate of rice was abandoned now, and I felt bad for being the reason.
‘Do you mind explaining?’ I shook my head and he gestured at me to carry on.
‘You see Doc, I really want what you offered, I mean, you literally offered a way out of my misery, but I know this is about give and take. Accepting Jesus would mean giving up alcohol and even more impossibly forgiving my father and I truly do not think that’s possible.’ He nodded with the most thoughtful look but didn’t say a word, so I continued.
‘For the former, though I might not admit this to any other breathing soul, but I do know I’m addicted and it’s the only way I know out of my misery even if it’s only a temporary solution. The latter however is the deal breaker. I can’t, no, I’ll be more honest, I won’t ever forgive Otunba.’ I said with a note of finality that I meant with every fibre of my being.
‘Otunba being the prominent figure we discussed? The same is your dad?’ Doc asked.
‘I thought you must have figured it out, that’s why I didn’t see the need to clarify that that Otunba is the prominent figure and the same fathered me.’
‘Yea, I did figure it out, but I needed to confirm. So Roland, because you figured forgiving your dad-‘
‘He’s not my dad. He might be my father, but he’s certainly not my dad and in fact, I’d rather you referred to him as Otunba.’ I cut in and Doc nodded promptly without even batting a lash at the vehemence in my voice and continued.
‘So because you believe forgiving Otunba is a must if you accept Jesus, you’d rather not accept Him?’ I swallowed at his words and as much as I felt like a prick for being this way, I nodded firmly.
‘Roland, you do know that Jesus is not a taskmaster, right? He won’t ask anything of you if He hasn’t placed in you commensurate grace to carry out the task. So, if He expects you to forgive Otunba, He’ll enable you to do just that.’
READ ALSO: EVEN IN MURKY WATERS (A Short Story)
I chuckled dryly and poked at the table with my index finger as I clarified, ‘You don’t get it Doc. It’s not just that I can’t forgive the old slime, I don’t want to! So, I’d rather not accept Jesus if it’ll become an expectation and I’d rather not have that grace or anything else that makes that forgiveness easier. Do you get it?’
Doc nodded as his lips pursed thoughtfully. While he stayed that way, I added, ‘See Doc, I know you have been really helpful and I truly hate to be like this and to throw your offer back-‘
‘Hmn-hmn… Note of correction Roland, it’s not my offer. I’m just standing in the gap for Jesus. It’s His offer. I’m only a messenger. But you do need to weigh something though before you make settle with that decision.
‘What’s that?’ I asked warily. I didn’t like Doc’s calmness in the light of my decision. He seemed too calm, like he knew a way to get me exactly where he wanted me. It made me want to bolt from the table ASAP. I was afraid he would weigh down my defenses if not.
‘Which would you rather have? A sure emancipation from the claws of the traits that make you more like Otunba everyday, or your exclusive right to hate him?’ My mind whirled disturbingly at that question and I wanted so bad to punch something. I knew I should have bolted when I had the chance. Wild tears burnt at the back of my eyes as I looked everywhere but at Doc. What was it with this man and the way he knew the right thing to say each time?
‘Besides, what do you think your stubborn desire to hang on to your hate so much that you’d rather give up on a better life implies?’ He asked further.
‘How do you mean?’ I asked willing my voice to be steady.
‘I mean-‘ Doc said leaning closer, ‘-in this situation, think about it, what would Otunba do? What choice would Otunba make? Think about it properly Roland, does this decision make you less like Otunba or more like him? Aren’t you losing the battle yet again, simply because you want to hurt him? Is Otunba not winning in the true sense of things?’ As Doc asked each question, my heart burned with rage and my hands fisted with a itch to punch a hole in the table. The hot tears that burnt in my eyes barely stayed back and I shot out of my chair calling attention to our table.
Doc yet again looked too calm for comfort as he leaned back on his chair and gazed up at my long lanky frame and added, ‘Roland, apart from the implication I exposed just now, I want you to know, that no matter how strong your hate for Otunba grows, it doesn’t take a hair strand off the lot on his head. You’re the one who’ll keep suffering. Hate is toxic. It’s like perishable food, when it stays too long in storage, it becomes rotten and somewhere along the line toxic. Otunba right now is somewhere having the time of his life, but you’re the one drinking yourself to a poisoning. You’re the one doing things that bounce back at you in a frustrated, drunken rage. Not only are you doing what Otunba would have done, you’re the one losing and dying slowly on the inside. You’re the one who’ll end-‘
Shit! Stop it Doc!’ I whispered harshly as I hit the table and peered into his eyes. Once again, he didn’t flinch and never batted an eye. He held my gaze and I could see love and a silent plea shine through his eyes. Then in a softer, defeated voice, as an errant tear escaped my right eye and I bent over with my fists on the table, I pleaded,
‘Just stop it, please.’ Doc’s palm covered one of my fists on the table as he whispered for me to sit, and said as I sat.
‘Roland, you’re a blessed man, but the devil just won’t let you see that fact. You could have died two days ago. Just imagine if your friend never came for you? Imagine if no one found you in time. I’m telling you by my knowledge of medical science that you could have died. But you know what? You didn’t die! Because Mercy ran to you! You came this close-‘ Doc raised his right hand and brought his index finger and thumb together forming a little ‘o’, ‘-but Christ would not have the devil waste your life so uselessly, so He came through for you, in love. And now the devil will be more desperate than ever to waste you, because you’re now at the verge of receiving Christ. Before now, he had you where he wanted you and no one else appeared to have a claim to your life, but now Christ has made Himself obvious in the picture and if you let him, the devil will waste no time in finishing you off, because like I said, he is now more desperate than ever. Three words Roland. Don’t let him!’
READ ALSO: “JUST IN CASE…” (A Short Story)
As Doc finished speaking, my phone vibrated in my pocket. That had to be BJ. Glad for the interruption, I fished the phone out hurriedly and opened the SMS he’d sent.
“I’m here dude. Where you?”
‘I have to go Doc.’ I said as I jumped up and dabbed at my eyes with my knuckles. ‘My ride is here. Thanks for your help.’ Doc stood up and replied as he tucked his hands in his coat pocket.
‘Roland, whatever you do, however frustrated you get, no matter what happens, don’t drink! I mean it. The devil is more desperate than ever about wasting you, because he can’t afford to lose you to Jesus. So, don’t give in to your Achilles heel, because if you do, it just might be your last bottle.’
My heart banged inside my chest as he spoke and I shoved my hands into my pocket as they trembled.
He stretched out his hand inviting me to shake it as he said, ‘I know the last thing you want right now is my number, but I’ll give it to you anyway.’ Then he pulled out a sticky note after we shook hands and handed it to me. Almost immediately, a beep began ringing in his pocket and he took madly to his heels after glancing at his phone. He didn’t even remember to say bye. It was probably an emergency.
I stared for a while at the sticky note in my hand and contemplated throwing it away, just to make sure I didn’t go back on my decision.
Just then, my phone vibrated again and this time it was a call. I snickered at BJ’s characteristic impatience and shoved the sticky note in my pocket. As I picked my bag from the floor where it sat beside my chair, I thumbed across the screen of my phone and the call.
‘Baba, relax na. I dey come. I go fly?’ I was glad for the momentary distraction though temporary. I knew however that I couldn’t escape ruminating on Doc’s words even though I didn’t want to. Somehow they just had that effect.
Roland, Roland, Roland! Why doest thou this?! Hate is a strong emotion though and before we cast a stone we ought to test our feet in his shoes. Let me know what you think about this episode in the comment box. Your comments mean a lot to me.
Thanks for your precious time here on the blog. I hope you have downloaded your free copy of my new eBook- Dare to Hope. If not subscribe below in the subscription prompt to get yours. God bless you abundantly. See you tomorrow!
The Girl with the Winning Smile,