THE FREEDOM IN FORGIVENESS

Author’s Note: Although some parts of this story are inspired by true events, the rest are completely fictional. Any resemblance to anybody, entity or incident is completely coincidental.

***

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I woke up abruptly. My heartbeat was racing wildly. The nightmare, again.
When is it ever going to stop? I asked myself. It had become so familiar that it seemed I had been born with it. Like I had been having the same nightmare ever since I got out of the womb that bore me for nine months. And every time it happened, it rekindles that fire in me. The fire that makes my blood boil and rage like a volcano. It brings my anger to the fore. The anger that consumes me and everything I see, do or say at that moment and for so long.

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Of course, I make serious mistakes; I destroy things – properties, people, relationships and me! I destroy myself every time the anger comes on. And yet again, I find myself vowing to not rest until I have my revenge.

***

He stood in front of me; his hands clasped behind him. One look at him in that position told me just one thing – I was hurting him.
He loves me. I know he does: with the whole of his heart. And I love him too – if what I feel for him could be called love. Yet, I just could not stop having this feeling of sympathy for him. I knew, or rather; felt that our love was not possible.
He had told me he had been unlucky with his love life. He had always loved the wrong people, who in turn had always broken his heart. But somehow, this remarkable young man had always found ways of mending his broken heart and found the courage to love, yet and yet again. That, I think, is a super-power, if not anything else.
His past probably explained the intensity with which he managed his love for me. The passion in his eyes when he stares at me tells me so much. They draw me out of myself, despite myself, and seem to want to drown me in that rivulet of emotions. He tried not to look desperate. But I knew deep down inside of him, his soul yearns for me; for my love, like a baby’s for the warmth of its mother.
“What do you want, Victoria?” He asked pleadingly.
I sighed and looked away sadly.
“What will it cost to tame you…to love you?” A tear rolled down his left cheek.
I could literally feel my heart shattering to pieces. It hurt me to think that I am causing him so much pain.
“Everything…” I whispered.
“…that I’m willing to give, Vicky!” He exclaimed, “Everything that I’m willing to give.” He repeated, “I’m willing to give it all. I don’t want it, if I can’t have your love!”
This time, I could not control myself. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. Before they could drop, I stood up and moved towards the door.
“Look, Pelumi, it is not you”, I said, my back turned at him and my hand on the door knob, “I…I am the one with the problem.”
“But…but…”
“No buts.” I said, sighing, and cutting him short.
Silence.
“I…I…can’t love you.”
“Why?” His voice was trembling.
I intended to retain my cool composure, so I knew I had to get out of the room. Already, tears were dropping freely down my cheeks. I made no effort to stop them.

Forgiveness means letting go of the past

“There is a battle I have to fight and win first. Alone. Until it is won, it would be impossible for me to love. I won’t be able to love you until then. I just won’t.” I confessed. At least, I owed him that – the truth.
“But I want to help!” His voice rose, eager, “I want to help you win this battle.”
I said nothing.
“Let me help you, Vicky, please…for…for our sake…” He pleaded.
Get a rein on yourself, girl! I whispered to myself.
“You can’t”, I told him, “Believe me, you can’t.”
I opened the door and walked away. My tears were flowing like flooded streams.

***

I stared at the computer. But I could not see any of the things the screen was displaying. My mind was somewhere else; struggling with time…and someone. I forced myself to focus on the computer screen. The best I could achieve was having the figures on the screen dance all around it.
I sighed and hissed.
“Victoria, what is it?” I heard faintly. My mind started to zoom back to reality.
“Vic?” The voice was loud and clear this time. My boss!
I turned sharply towards her direction. She stood towards the door, looking at me intently, her arms folded.
“Yes? Nothing Ma.” I replied hurriedly, adjusting my sitting position and managing to smile. But I knew I did not fool her at all.
Ife was three years older than I was. The fact that she bore the same name with me “Victoria”, albeit as a middle name, had brought us close instantly. She had been my immediate boss for four years, ever since I was employed. However, through her sincerity and matronly love and nature, I had come to regard her, not only as a friend, but as a sister. There was nothing I could not discuss with her. She had this way of making feel and know that my secrets, the secrets of my raging battles, could not be safer with anyone else.
“What is wrong?” She asked again, stepping closer to the front of my office table.
My smile broadened.
“Nothing. I was just thinking about some things.”
The look she gave me told me that she clearly did not believe me.
In an intimate manner, she walked round the table, towards my end, and sat on the edge of the table, facing me. She laid her hands on my shoulder and looked deeply into my eyes.
“I’ve known you for four years, Victoria. And I can certainly tell when you are happy or not. You can’t fool me.”
I felt my smile fade instantly. Before I could do anything to stop them, the dams in my eyes broke and tears came flooding down my face. I started to sob.
Ife stood and sat down on the right arm of my office executive chair. Then, she gathered me into her arms and started to pet and rock me.
“It’s okay, baby. It is okay…ssshhhh…don’t cry…don’t make me cry too…I’m here for you.” She said repeatedly.
We were in that position for almost ten minutes before I regained control of myself and broke away from her hug. She took my bag from where it was sitting on the farthest left corner of the table. She opened it and brought out my handkerchief. She wiped my face clean with it and then replaced it in the bag.
“Now, tell me, what is it?” She asked calmly.

***

“Adebimpe!” He called my name. A name only he and Grandma called me, before she died. I was fond of the name, not only because it was his pet name for me, but also because Grandma, when she was alive, had told me that the meaning of the name denotes “Royal Perfection”.
“My father was a king. You are my blood; my daughter. You are a real princess and you are the Crown’s Perfection!”
She told me, any time I was with her and she got the chance to. When she died, when I was ten, I knew I had lost a confidant, my die-hard cheerleader.
“Yes Daddy!” I answered. I shot out of my bed and practically raced to my parent’s bedroom.
I knocked thrice.
“Come in.” He said from within.
I entered. He wore nothing save for his tight briefs. I stared at his wide, hairy chest, fascinated. He sat on his bed, gazing at me. He gazed for so long that I started to feel uncomfortable. There was something in his eyes; something about his gaze that was not right. He had gazed at me in the past and all I felt was affection and security. But that moment, I felt vulnerable. Open. Insecure.
He smiled at me.
“My baby is now so grown.” He said.
I smiled back at him.
“Come and sit here.” He said, patting the space on the bed, by his right side. I walked over, slightly trembling subconsciously and I sat. He put his right arm on my shoulders. I shivered uncontrollably.
“What is it?” He asked.
“Nothing.” I shook my head.
He sighed.
“How are you?”
“Fine”
“Are you sure?” He asked again.
“Dad, I’m fine. I already told you that, when you arrived from the office. Except for my Maths scores, which I’m trying to improve on, I’m totally fine.” I replied.
“Okay”
Silence.
“Bimpe?” He called after about ten seconds.
“Yes Daddy”
“You know I love you, right?” He asked.
“Of course, Daddy! And I love you too.” I answered.
“You know I want the best for you?”
“Yes Daddy”
His arm on my shoulders moved gently to the small of my back.
“And you know I would do anything for you?”
“Yes Daddy”, I replied and wondered where he was going with his questions.
“You know I everything I do, I do it so that you could have a good life, right?”
“Yes Daddy”
His hand moved to my hips.
“And you know I would never do anything to really hurt you?”
The hand started to caress my hips.
“Yes…yes…Daddy” My heart started to beat fast.
“That’s good, my girl, that’s good.” He said as his left hand started to fondle my left thigh.
“What’s going on?” I wondered aloud.
“Daddy loves you real much and he won’t let any harm come to you.” His right hand on my hips slipped into the waistband of my pajamas shorts and I watched, petrified, while his left hand travelled up my body to my chest area.
“Daddy?” I called and turned to look at him, trembling, “What…what…is it…this?”
“Nothing, my dear. Daddy is just showing you his love for you.” He replied, smiling smugly.
His left hand landed on my developing right breast and began to squeeze it.
“Daddy…daddy?” I called, looking at him questioningly. My hand moved to stop his hand on my breast.
“Ssshhhh…” He removed his right hand from my waistband and placed the forefinger over his lips. “It is okay, my girl, it is okay.” He placed his right hand on my left shoulder and started to push me gently to the bed with it.
“But…but…but you’re tou-ching my br-br-bre…”
“I know, my dear, but it’s okay. I’ve told you it’s okay.” My back touched the bed. He rose up and knelt on the bed. His two knees were planted on either sides of my body. He began to draw my shorts down.
“What are you doing, Daddy? What is this?”
He said nothing. The cold breeze from the AC in the room fell on my naked thighs. That jolted me to full reality.
“No!” I said, “No, Daddy, No!” My voice started to rise. I tried to sit up, but he pushed me back on the bed, and his right hand held me down.
“Daddy, this is wrong. No!” He tried to remove my top with his left hand, but I held it on with my right hand. I could not move my legs since his knees, on both sides of them, was holding them tightly onto place. I tried to push him off with my left hand, but he did not bulge. I started to pummel his chest.
Like lightening, he violently tore off my top and stuffed it into my screaming mouth. I looked at him. The picture that met my gaze did not seem like my father at all. There was this raw, hungry lust in his eyes. His teeth were gritted. His hairy chest was heaving rapidly. He grabbed my two hands and held them strongly to the bed, above my head, with his left hand.
“Please…” I tried to plead with my muffled voice, but I knew it was useless.
I tried to wriggle out of his grip. He held me more tightly to the bed.
His right hand drew down his briefs.
He plunged in.
He grunted with animal-like satisfaction.
I stopped struggling.
A single tear rolled down my right cheek.

I was eleven years old.

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To be continued…

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