You are lying on the bed, curled up snugly under the fluffy duvet, facing your side of the room and Josh facing his.
It’s your wedding night, but you lack the joy of a newlywed. You’d tried all day to keep the past behind you and celebrate the joy of the day, to push the constantly encroaching regret and aching aside, you succeeded partially. Now, you’re left with no choice but to face all the hurt, you can’t help the images and memories that flood your mind, you can’t help the tears that roll down your cheeks or the sobs you have to pour into the pillow so Josh doesn’t wake.
After discussing with Josh that day at your apartment, you two went to the Pastor’s house.
Oh, your heart was sore when you saw consternation deeply etched in your Pastors eyes after confessing.
That wasn’t what you’d expected, you’d expected fierce condemnation for the deplorable act. You expected disgust to simmer on his face, you expected his wife to scream and yell at you, but instead she wept.
Knowing that you had spiritual parents who loved you sincerely and even saw your erring as a cause to mourn, tore you into pieces. You weren’t torn apart by despair but by the sudden realization of how much you were loved.
If mere men could love you so, you were sure God loved you more.
When the pastor said you both should refrain from all church activities, you were sure it wasn’t some sort of retribution, you knew it was necessary for your own recuperation.
Your mind moved from that, you remembered all the snide remarks and glances you got from brethren, when your pregnancy was becoming obvious. Those who didn’t have enough guts to confront you, talked about it behind you, you knew it. You knew by how they quickly averted their eyes whenever you caught the gossip groups staring. You knew by the way they greeted you, the way they intoned and inflected, how they curved their mouths and twisted their noses when they did, you knew by the way they glared at your abdomen.
One of such experiences you wouldn’t forget in a hurry was when you overheard a conversation.
Due to your pregnancy, you were always visiting the conveniences to puke and so you were in the church’s restroom during the service that fateful Sunday.
You heard the gushing sound of a running tap before the conversation ensued between the duo.
“Er… I heard that Sister Queen is pregnant, do you know if it’s true?” The first gossip prompted. You later found out the first gossip was Deaconess Kolawole. You discovered when after the service she came to greet you and asked why your skin was unusually glowing, with an irritating perceptiveness in her eyes. It didn’t take long before your head marched her voice with the one you heard earlier that day in the ladies.
“Ugh! Are you just knowing?”
“Jesus!” Deaconess Kolawole exclaimed, her shock was clearly hypocritical as she already knew.
“So who is responsible?” You heard her footsteps as she moved closer to her ‘partner’ who hit the back of her left palm in the hollow of her right palm saying “I don’t know oo.”
Deaconess Kolawole sighed.
“It should be Bro Joshua now, isn’t he her fiancé?” The second gossip asked.
Deaconess Kolawole snorted. “Abeg oo. Bro. Joshua isn’t that kind of person.”
“But Bro. Joshua was suspended from church activities too.”
“I’m sure she lured him, and who knows maybe it’s her ploy to place the responsibility of someone else’s pregnancy on him. Haven’t you watched one careless night? Ladies of nowadays cannot be trusted oh. If you ask me, I’d say that Josh should pull out of that relationship as quickly as he can, but then it’s none of my business.” the Deaconess concluded.
At this point you were so furious that all you wanted to do was go out and give them a piece of your mind. You had the right words to hack her down to size, you knew exactly why she held smug feelings about your fall. She had been setting her daughter, Cherise in Josh’s path strategically, it was obvious she was trying to make them an item. When all their schemes -Deaconess Kolawole and Cherise- fell through and you and Josh happened, they were obviously bitter. You were seething but you couldn’t just bring yourself to confront the gossips, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let you, you were too weak to even bat a brow, so you just slouched against the wall and wept.
You turn carefully, your face mashed in the pillow, you don’t want Josh to wake, he wouldn’t be happy to see you sad and you’d just spoil his night.
Practically everything in your life is going against all your anticipation.
If there was anything you looked forward to all your secondary and university days, it was your wedding day. You always pictured yourself in the church in a beautiful white wedding down and of course as a virgin. Well, today you stood in the registry, wearing a beautiful cream ball gown over a distended midriff. Another thing you never imagined was spending the night of your wedding day, weeping, like you’re doing. You always quipped that your wedding night would be a full moon dripping with honey but the reality is far from that.
What you thought you’d be doing on your wedding night, you already did before and you can only mourn your foolishness now.
You crumple the pillow, unleashing all your tears and sobs into it.
You feel a hand on your shoulders.
Are you hallucinating?
“Queen you’re crying.” The gentle baritone rings in the dark. You stiffen. His strong hands turns you around.
“Queen.” He drawls. “Why are you doing this?”
Wasn’t he sleeping?
He sits up against the headboard, you continue weeping.
“You should be thankful, Queen.”
“Of course you think there’s nothing to be thankful for, but I’d open your eyes.”
You sit up too, fluffing your pillow for a backrest.
“We are married, Queen. Despite all we went through we made it. We just had a big and glam wedding ceremony, and we both know that was beyond the capacity of our pockets, and that it was God who miraculously supplied all our needs. Though we fell into sin, we rose up. God forgave us. You should be thankful you didn’t abort this pregnancy, cause I know as factually as I know my name that, if we had done that, we would have had a heap of degenerating guilt to live with.” He paused for effect.
You hadn’t thought of things that way and as he spoke your eyes was really opening to how much of an ingrate you are. You hadn’t even said so much as a sentence to thank God for the success of the wedding ceremony, so far.
“Queen, how could you have forgotten so quickly what the pastor and his wife told us this evening?”
You had totally forgotten.
After the revel at the reception, you and Josh went round to greet people. When you got to your pastor and his wife, they hugged you both.
“Sister Queen and Bro Joshua, thank you for not only preaching with your lips but much more with your lives, even when it was really difficult. You might not know, but the right steps you took lit the way and gave others the courage to do what’s right too. May your lives keep being epistles of Christ to the world and may the Lord bless your union. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy cos this is the day that the Lord has made, just rejoice and be glad in it.” He had said.
“Yes, you didn’t marry as a virgin but your husband disvirgined you. Even if you’ve lost half the content of your life -which is most clearly not true- you should learn to stop seeing your life as half empty but as half full. Why would you let the devil cheat you? Why let him drain your joy with tears?”
He is absolutely right. You had let the Devil do to you what he does best to you -lie, he had magnified what was only a molehill into Mount Everest before your eyes. You sat mourning a teaspoon of spilled milk when you had the whole jar of it intact.
The tears now flowing from your eyes are not those of pain and regret but of deep joy and gratitude.
You let your head fall on your husbands broad and firm chest. He wraps his hands around you. The feeling is familiar it brings a sense of déjà vu, you remember eight months earlier that frigid evening in Josh’s one apartment room and you let out a weak smile, you are shocked to feel no hurt.
You had never felt so safe. You absorb the mild scent of his perfume that’s tinged with the smell of perspiration from his pyjamas. He places his chin on your head. You feel a warm wetness on your scalp and you immediately look up. He’s crying.
“We should praise God.” You whisper.
He nods and springs up. He trims on the bedside lamp and picks up his phone. You wonder what he’s up to. He plays Nathaniel Bassey’s Wonderful Wonder and an ambience of pure joy comes with the song. Everything becomes so beautiful, the dimly-lit hotel room, the flowery bedspread, the sight of your dancing hubby.
Is Josh seriously dancing?
Your mouth is ajar. You had never seen him dance talk more of with such fervor. You cuddle up your pillow as you watch him. Goosebumps enshroud you and you can’t hide your delight, you gurgle and snicker.
“Now, lemme praise God with Tiv dance.”
He slithers funnily and you can’t help but laugh. He served in Benue state and he always said the main allure of the Tiv land apart from the fact that it’s the food basket of the nation is their lithe dance.
“You better stop laughing and come and join me here. Don’t be like Micah oo.”
You continue laughing. He approaches you and before you know it, he scoops you in his arms. Though you’re telling him to drop you, deep down you wish this moment could last forever.
He drops you gently. “Let’s dance salsa.”
“Salsa?” You furrow your brows.“We both know you don’t know the first thing about salsa.”
He grabs your waist with such alacrity that causes your heart to leap for fear and joy at the same time.
Your eyes lock, your face is so close to his that you can feel his breath. You are falling in love with him all over again.
“I love you.” You mutter.
“I love you too.” He says almost inaudibly as he nudges closer.
You two are going to make sizzling love tonight, raindrops pelting the roof rhythmically, in celebration of love and a fresh start. A true full moon dripping with honey.
“She’s adorbs. She’s our daughter. Oh, honey we are favored of God.” He rasps, handing over the swaddled babe to you. You sit up, eyes dewy as you receive the child. Your child.
You’re in the hospital, you’ve just birthed her and the joy in you knows no bounds.
Your water broke while you were taking a nap.
“Queen did you pee on yourself?” He rushed the statement in one breath as he tapped you out of your sleep. You stretched languorously, grunting, he reiterated. You sprang into full consciousness at the realization of what his statement could mean.
“It’s not urine Josh, my water just broke.” You said touching the drenched sheets. “Start packing right away, we are leaving for the hospital immediately.” He gasped and goggled at you.
Your contractions started as soon as you got into the car, sharp streaks of spasmodic movements fluttering from your lower abdomen to your pelvis. They came with such sudden pangs that made you let out shrieks. Josh was totally unnerved.
You realize how true John 16:21 is, A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
As you study her closely gratitude froths over from your heart.
Her hair is a forest of wet, jet-black curls, she has a birthmark right under her hairline. Her brows are full and eye lashes are tufts. Hairy just like her father. Her eyes are tightly shut, her skin flawless and fair.
She’s simply adorbs like Josh said. You love her already, your heart is already blessing her.
How could you have thought of killing such a perfect child?
You smile and tears sluice down your face.
“I always wanted a girl to be my first child. Lord, I couldn’t have asked for more.” Josh says, his voice chocked. You glance at him.
“We could’ve killed her.” You both chorus in tears. “Thank God we didn’t.” You add softly.
A nurse comes in and whispers something into your husband’s ears. He stands up. You are bothered.
“Honey, hope no problem”
“No. I’d be right back.” He replies on his way to the door.
You look at your daughter. She’s enjoying colostrum, you are too. There’s a funny delight you’re having in her suckling at your jugs. She smiles. A cute toothless grin.
You smother her with pecks. From her chubby cheeks to forehead to little chin even her tummy. She gurgles ecstatically.
You remember Isabella. God used her for you. If not for her, who knows you might have aborted… You grimace. You can’t stand imagining your daughter dead. A young life smashed into clumps of blood.
You shut your eyes firmly, in a bid to shut out the thought.
You remember Mary.
“I forgive her.” You sigh deeply.
The words had barely fallen off your lips when the ward door creak. You instinctively glance up.
Oh the shock that sends fire rippling up your spine.
You stare incredulously. You can’t believe your eyes.