Deborah likes to help people find the brighter side of life during their inner challenges, and likes to express that with her short writings
Holding Nothing Back
I stood by my bedroom window and thought about where I would go with my friend during the holidays and I thought of Binta's Garden. I felt my head spinning, my stomach throbbing and my legs were shaking; anger brew inside of me. I hated the place, it held bad memories. Memories of what I had tried so hard to forget for two months now. I shook my head trying to get my thoughts to something else, but Binta's Garden won't go away.
I had lost my cat in Binta's Garden and succumbed to grief of her absence. She was more than a pet; she was a friend. Right there, I realized that not only humans can make you feel your worth but animals also. I was the kind of person who stayed away from people, even my classmates. I had this feeling that they dispersed me. I was taller than all the girls my age in grade 4 and that gave me a sense of detachment, preferring to stay alone.
It was my 12th birthday and my mother had surprised me with, Rosy, my cat. I didn’t know why she got me a cat, perhaps she saw me love for them when we watched NatGeo on TV and thought that it would make me happy; it did. I had chosen to love her dearly and I was thankful for that. In as much as I couldn’t hear my cat talk to me, I could hear her feelings and understand much. And I knew she loved me. She would purr and rub her body against my legs, going round. And sometimes, she would turn on her back and grab the hem of my ankle-length gown and let go, running very fast. She was playful but felt very safe. And most times she would climb on my thigh and sleep off. I really did not like feeling the rising and falling of her breath but with time I got used to it and I was actually comfortable with it.
She loved me and I thought to myself, I did not choose Rosy, Rosy chose me.
The morning was particularly cool and it suit the occasion of that day: valentine’s day. The only odd to me was that it fell on a Saturday; not that I wished to go to anywhere. James my friend and classmate had decided to drag me out of my cave and I obliged. He was 14 and as tall as me. We’ve been friends since Grade 2. I moved to my drawer to sort for what to wear. I choose a pair of jean and a shirt, pulling out a pair of white sneakers to match. Must it really have a touch of red or white? Who cares?
The time hadn’t quite gotten to 11:00am when James arrived earlier than the set time of 12 o’clock. He smiled at me and said he wanted us to go early and catch some fun before the place got crowded. I surrendered to his wish and we walked out the door.
The bus dropped us off at a Garden after a ten minutes’ drive and I froze. The one place I was running away from, the one place that kept coming to me. I turned to James and screamed at his face blaming him for bringing me to this place. I could understand the confusion on his face because I really didn’t tell him how I lost my cat but that moment, I didn’t want to understand if he was hurting. I didn’t care! It was all his fault I was hurting that moment. I stormed out on him and I felt James just watching after me, speechless.
Sunday morning seemed like ages to come but I was finally in church and I had wished this day to come wanting to forget what had happened yesterday with James and all that. I sat beside my mother who had all her attention in what the pastor was preaching. I understood some things and I did not understand most, but I knew I felt better. After the pastor had raised a song, ‘You are Alpha, Omega,’ which everyone sang alone, he began saying that we must let go of the past and forgive one another as Jesus has forgiven us our sins. I pretended not to listen but he went on saying, ‘all those hurt we are holding inside we must let go so as to find peace and rest in Jesus.’ The sermon seemed to be for me and I thought briefly about my life. I was really holding a lot back. Hurt, fear, pain, unforgiveness, sorrow and guilt; and I remembered James. I had offended him.
I looked at my mother whose eyes were closed in prayer. The pastor wasn’t praying but that’s my mom; so spiritual. And the moment came when the pastor said if you want to give your life to Christ…..’
I had seen many people go out and I didn’t really know what it meant or how it felt but something urged me to go out, so I stepped forward. Many came out after me and after the excitement had died down, the Pastor lead us in prayer in which we all said Amen and there after we were ushered outside and further prayed for.
That evening I felt a longing to go and see James and apologize for what I did to him. I was scared though that he might turn me away but I decided to go non-the less. His wasn’t outside as I usually see him on good days and the compound was more quiet than I could remember. I walked to their door and gave a slight knock which was as good as not knocking, but someone opened the door. And I beheld my enemy. The one who had used a spatula and smacked my cat, rendering it dead. I longed to shout ‘murderer’ but was overcome by the tightening in my heart. That burning hurt creeping over me again. It was then I was struggling with my born-again life. I fought the power of unforgiveness and it was difficult. Hatred still lingered in my heart.
Then I saw James and the smile on his face and I felt somewhat relieved. I had missed him unknowingly to me. I apologized and he didn’t seem to be angry and I blessed God. But here the bigger challenge came. James had forgiving me easily but I couldn’t forgive the boy who had killed my cat standing before me. I tried to justify the two offence and conclude that mine wasn’t grievous but that’s not what the pastor preached or what Jesus teaches. I looked at Gideon, whom I could read solemn expression in his face and right there, inhaling deeply, I said, ‘I forgive you.’
Saying those words, I felt peace like no other and I was free within me of all anger. I realized that it was the hurt and anger I had caged up inside of me that made me miserable. Even then and there, I felt like a better person.
I looked at James and gave him a hug only releasing him when he said, ‘I am glad you are fine, Rebecca.’
I blushed. I was already Twelve. I wasn’t too small to hug a guy right? I think I love him though.
‘Thank you, James.’ I said, ‘for everything.’
© 2022 Deborah Osadjere