Photo Credit: Jonathan Borba
Bolanle walked to the veranda of the last floor of Block K in her hostel. It was the only floor that had absolutely no occupant in the entire bustling edifice, which housed more than a thousand students. She watched as the trees danced freely in tune with the fresh morning breeze. She took a seat on the raggedly looking chair in the corner and calmly took a breath of the fresh breeze.
“I need you to talk to Elizabeth.” A still, gentle voice tuned into her mind
“I don’t know how to do it, Holy Spirit. What do I want to say? Let me just pray for her.”
A silence ensued between the two of them.
The spot had become her favorite after she discovered it two months into the session. Barely a month into the tedious semester, all her disciplines and plans for spiritual activities had gone down the drain. Life became all about 8 a.m. classes and reading afterwards.
“I’ll give you utterance.” The voice spoke calmly, disrupting her thought process.
“I don’t know. Why not just tell her yourself? She’s your child too.” Another silence followed.
Elizabeth was one of those girls that you don’t know where to place. She was a very cool girl and very nice too, always relating well with people. Sometimes she went “gaga” with her dressing, but her heart was so beautiful. Bolanle met her on the day she moved to the hostel. She looked helpless as she dragged her box up the stairs to her floor. No parent or sibling was allowed to enter the hall with her, so she had to battle it alone. A fair, almost white, and beautiful lady turned up beside her and offered to help her. She gladly accepted, and they both dragged the box up the stairs.
“I wonder what I put inside the box.”
“You packed as if you’re not going to go back home.” They had both laughed at the matter. It turned out they were floor mates, and from then on they became friends. She smiled as the incident flashed through her memory like it had happened the day before.
“Holy Spirit, are you still there?” The silence lingered.
Elizabeth took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry. I’ll talk to her.
She lifted her face to look into the sky as the sun slowly peeked through the clouds to take its position in the sky.
“Holy Spirit?” she mumbled softly again.
She’d done it again.
“You know I saved you unto myself. It’s all about me.” The still voice continued.
“I know, but I really don’t know how to present it to her. She does not look like someone who does not know you.”
“I know who knows me and who does not know me.” The conversation continued.
A smile creeped into the corner of her lips.
Holy spirit and dropping punchlines.
“Okay.” She agreed.
She’d been discussing the matter with the Holy Spirit for about a week, intentionally pushing the conversation away whenever he brought it up. The previous three days had been filled with unrest within her. Something was gone, and she had to find it.
“I’m sorry for being disobedient to you. I release myself as an instrument for your glory. Speak through me to her. Draw her heart to you that all glory may go back to you.” She muttered under her breath.
Finally, thank you, Holy Spirit. A soothing feeling of relief floods her heart. The wind blew gently, swaying the branches of the mango tree, which danced gently in tune in front of her.
“Thank you, Holy Spirit.” She muttered again under her breath and stood briskly as the sun was already brightening the sky.
Bolanle carried her stove, trying hard to navigate her way to the kitchen slab through the puddles of water that had formed on the floor of the general kitchen.
“Good evening.” Her cheerful demeanor broke through the clattering noises of utensils, and responses followed simultaneously.
“Good evening.” A familiar voice spoke beside her as she placed her stove on the kitchen slab. Bolanle raised her head to look at the face of the voice. It was Elizabeth.
“uhnn Elizabeth. How are you doing? I didn’t know it was you.”
“I’m fine, oo… I just want to finish the semester and go to my father’s house. What about you?”
The conversation continued as their hands delicately concocted the dinner for the night.
As the conversation slowly faded, the still, calm voice whispered gently into Bolanle’s ears.
“You should talk to her now.”
“Okay sir.” She’d finally decided to let go of the struggle.
“Elizabeth, do you have some minutes later? I actually have something I want to discuss with you.”
“Ohh.. Okay. Thank you. I’ll come to your room.” She packed all her utensils and condiments into the container she had used to transport them into the kitchen and turned off the flame of the stove.
“I’m done…make sure it is sweet, oo.” She said it with a smile as she made her exit.
“Ah, ah, Elizabeth, is it your food that is giving off such a good aroma like this?” Bolanle started as she opened the door to Eliabeth’s room.
“All these whiners, which food?” They both chuckled at her response.
“Your roommates are not around?”
“Yes ooo. Fikun said she had a group discussion for a test. Tolu had to urgently go home.”
“I hope there is no issue.”
“I don’t think so. She said she had to go and pick something up at home for school.” Elizabeth casually responded as she gestured to a chair beside her bed for Bolanle to sit on.
Bolanle got the sign and proceeded to take her seat.
“So, what’s up?” Elizabeth questioned with a casual smile on her lips as she sat up from where she had lain to sit and face her friend. She dangled her legs beside the bed.
A silence ensured between them for a split seconds before Bolanle quickly caught on.
“Elizabeth…” she started and took a deep breath.
“The Holy Spirit sent me to you.” Less than a second in, the cheerful face was replaced with a bland structure. Bolanle stared a bit, trying to read the emotions on her friend’s face before she continued.
“I know we are friends…” She continued.
She knew she had to continue. There’s no going back from here.
“…and I’m not saying any of this to upset you, but the Holy Spirit has been laying it on my mind to talk to you for about two weeks now. Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I’m fine,” followed a sharp response to the question. The countenance Bolanle was used to was so different from the Elizabeth that sat before her at that moment.
“If you don’t mind me asking, have you given your life to Christ?”
“Yes, I have. You know I go to church every Sunday.”
Bingo! A quick smile ran through Bolanle’s lips. No wonder the Holy Spirit was so keen on her having a discussion with Elizabeth. Leaping within her were horses filled with joy. She had yielded.
“ohh… yes, I know. On Sunday mornings, shey. I usually see you. You know I attend afternoon services.”
“Yeah,” Elizabeth responded, giving an almost eye roll with her lips turned up and extending beyond their normal width.
“If you don’t mind me asking another question, do you have a relationship with God?”
The fair, tall beauty before Bolanle folded her elbow in front of her chest. Her eyes rolled from one side of her guest to another.
“Y…e…s. Yes, yes, I do, actually.” She finally found her words, slowly dragging out the letters of her response.
Wow… Bolanle switched between talking to Elizabeth and trying to comprehend the situation before her eyes.
“Okk.. I agree with you, but does God know you?”
At this time, no words were spilled from either side.
“You believe in God’s word, right?”
“Yes.” She affirmed
“Can you bring your Bible?”
Elizabeth stretched her hand beside her pillow to pick up a yellow KJV Bible.
“Wow, this bible is beautiful,” Bolanle thought as Elizabeth placed the bible on her laps.
The cover looked neat, unlike the small green NKJV Bolanle had in her room, whose leathers were starting to give way to reveal the sharp brown contrast underneath.
“Can you open to John 10:27-28?” Elizabeth nodded softly as she flipped through the pages of the Bible. She read as Bolanle muttered under her breath.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
As she looked up, her face had lost the fierceness it had at the beginning of the conversation. Her blinking was in rapid succession as she fought a battle with the nerves stimulating her tear glands.
“Do you think you are among the sheep Jesus was talking about here?” Bolanle continued, ignorant of the battle going on in front of her. Within her spurred words, she could not explain their source. But she continued to let them flow.
“No, I’m not.” Elizabeth gave a rapid response.
“Do you want to be?”
“Yes.” Elizabeth muttered faintly. At this point, she’d lost the battle as the drops kept coming one after the other. Her mind flashed through pictures and thoughts of the past. With every response of affirmation she gave, her strength to push them away increased. Her heart was flowing with peace that could not be explained.
Bolanle put her friend’s hands in hers and rubbed the back gently.
“Can you say after me? Lord Jesus, I receive you as my personal lord and savior. I accept that you are the son of God, whom He sent down to die for my sin and reconcile me with Him. I renounce all my evil ways and acts and turn to you wholeheartedly. I submit my will to you. Lead me in your path of righteousness, and I will follow you till the end. Thank you for accepting me.”
Elizabeth repeated slowly after Bolanle taking the words one after the other as the tears rolled uncontrollably down her cheek.
“Can I pray with you?”
“Yes.” Elizabeth agreed.
As she continued, she felt something had change about the space they were in. It was as though another person had joined them in the room. She felt the hair on her skin stand upright; she felt high and a bit light-headed, but she managed to continue the prayer.
“Okay, what’s going on?” she questioned within herself.
As if on cue to answer her bothering question, the gentle voice spoke with a soothing, sonorous balm into her ear, “I’m here.”
Her lips curled up as a smile lit up her face.
“Thank you, Holy Spirit.”
“There is something that is bothering her; tell her to open up.”
“Yes sir.” She mentally made a response.
“In Jesus’ name, we’ve prayed.”
“Amen.” A shaky voice responded almost in a whisper. Spots of sweat had clustered on her forehead, along with patches of dried tears that lined her cheeks.
“Is there something you need to talk to me about?”
“Yes, I do.” Elizabeth responded as she dabbed her eyes with the back of her hand.
“I’ve been drowning. Thank you, Bolanle. You don’t know what you did for me. My heart is filled with so much peace right now. I can’t even explain it.” Her voice quivered as she continued.
“My parents are separated. I lived with my mom and my stepdad. He molested me as I was growing, and life was hell for me. But I could not tell my mom. She already blamed me for her separation from my dad.” Her eyes clouded with tears as her mouth stood ajar unable to continue.
“It’s okay.” Bolanle consoled her. Her eyes were also misty with tears as she rubbed her fiend’s shoulders. She’d only heard such things in movies but having such a close case struck her heart.
“Thank you.” She rubbed her friend’s hand back, smiling.
“I tried to tell her many times, but she didn’t believe me. Bolanle, she didn’t believe me. My dad made sure I went to school. He sent my school fees and money for school but never came to check on me, not even once.
She paused to take in a short breath. Her face curled into a smile, a smile that masked a deep layer of pain.
“I struggled through school, but I’m grateful I finally got admission on my second try.” I went through hell in the hands of that man, but I was free finally. Coming to school, I felt I was going to be free from the clutches of that evil man, but I still felt bound to him. Then I started to go to church. I really needed answers. Going to church didn’t fill the void I had in me. But I started to understand a bit about God. Even though I didn’t really know him, in a corner of my mind, I knew He spoke to me a lot during several sermons. I had heard He’d accept me the way I am and make me clean, but it felt unreal to me.
These past few days, I’ve been seeing my stepdad in my dreams. I felt I was going mad. I was already planning to end everything.” She broke into another round of tears and then suddenly stopped.
“I see you go outside every morning by 4:30am.” Bolanle’s eyes popped out in surprise.
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah.” They both smile.
“I don’t know where you go, but whenever you come back, you always looked joyful. The way you speak about God, the way you trust Him. I knew what you had was real, and I really wanted to experience it too. I had always wanted to ask you but I was not sure. All this..” Elizabeth paused, waving her hand in front of her face.
“…is just a mask. I hoped that if I wore it for a long time, it would actually become my reality. It didn’t work. I was drowning very fast. Bolanle, thank you.”
“No, thank you. Elizabeth, you don’t know how much what happened means to me.” She held onto her fair friend’s hand.
“I love you, Elizabeth. We are going to go on this journey of knowing God together. Okay?” Elizabeth nodded.
“Now, you’ll have to set aside a time when you’ll pray to God and study His word. You will need to continue to read His word so you can know more about Him and so He can teach you how to live like Him. I’ll get you a notebook tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Elizabeth nodded in rapid succession.
“So…would you like to go to where I go by 4:30am with me tomorrow?” Bolanle said, smiling.
“I will. Thank you so much, Bolanle. You really just saved a life.” Elizabeth stood up to hug her friend tightly.
The door flung open in an instant, startling the friends. Fikun entered with a small bag crossed over her shoulder…
“Oh, sorry.” Fikun quickly apologized, realizing she had startled them.
“No problem. I was about to leave sef. Welcome. How was your outing?” Bolanle stated as she stood and walked toward the door.
“It was okay
, thank you.” Fikun answered as she took her seat on her bed.
“Bye guys. I’d see you tomorrow, Elizabeth.”
“Yes.” Elizabeth responded with her cheeks popping up.
“Holy Spirit, is this playing? Are you serious?” She asked, trying hard to keep the tone of her excited voice down as she walked down the corridor to her room.
“Thank you. Thank you so much.” She entered her room and saw her roommate sleeping. She carefully picked her bible and went to the small backyard her room has.
“Thank you, God. It could only be you. That could not have been me. Thank you for helping me yield. Thank you for saving her soul. I know you’ll help us in the journey of discipleship.” Her eyes filled up with tears as she continued. Just then, He came and spoke gently into her ears.
“I’m proud of you.”
What do you think?