Finding Grace

“How do I begin my story? Where do I start from? I‟m not sure many will believe it ever happened. This is no fable….
My name is Adedapo Obe and I am forty three years old. I was born into affluence and my father was also a crown prince. It meant we got to enjoy royal treatment when occasion demands. Life was good as I had a lot of things at my beck and call.
My mother, Madam Titilayo Obe is an epitome of beauty. She exuded grace and charm, everyone loved to be around her. Unfortunately, they had just me hence mother pampered me to a fault. Dad often scolded her for the excesses and would normally say
“You will spoil this boy and he will eventually rot if you do not be a little firm with him”. Mother always had something to say in defense. She loved me too much. I knew it and used it to my advantage all the time.
I once drove my father‟s car against his knowledge, a car he had actually warned me to stay clear of. Thankfully, I got back home before he did and mother took the blame. She told him she had gotten a little distracted and didn‟t know when the car veered off the road into an electrical pole. I was only fifteen and under the Nigerian law, not old enough to drive a car.
I miraculously passed my A’level examination and my parents were over the moon with joy. I did all other required examinations and luckily got admitted into a renowned university in Canada. I was admitted to study Chemical engineering.
I told my parents I didn‟t want to stay in campus, against the school rules but my dad would have none of it, but my mother pulled it off. She travelled with me so I
could settle into school before she left for Nigeria. I lived a lavish lifestyle on campus.
By the end of the second semester, I had gotten introduced to hard drugs. I skipped classes and my grades got affected. I was mugged by some certain group of guys on my way from a friend‟s party. I was beaten to a pulp but a certain guy came along and helped me home. His name was Mike and it was he who introduced me to DEUCE, the club for the elites.
I was fascinated at the kinds of people who were part of Deuce. There were professors and lecturers amongst us. I even saw some of my faculty members there and it was later I found out it was set up to take out the enemies of club members. I was asked if I had enemies I would like them to take care and I told them I wanted them to find those who mugged me and bring them to book.
Two weeks later, Mike told me my muggers had been found and would be punished at the next club meeting. When we got there, four guys were tied to chairs and their faces covered. I was asked to remove the paper bags used in covering their faces and after I did, I realized that I hadn‟t seen their faces before, because the guys who mugged me didn‟t cover their faces.
I told the house to let them go as they were the wrong people but they would have none of it. They argued that someone just had to pay for what happened to me. I tried to persuade them and right before my eyes, our leader shot the four guys in the chest with a silenced pistol. As the floors fell to the floor with the chairs, I realized that my life also wasn‟t safe with them. So, I got deeper in the atrocities they committed else they turn back against me.
By the fall of the following year, my grades had gotten so bad I was asked to withdraw from school. I couldn‟t go home and I stayed back, pretending to my parents I was still a student at the university.
Then one day, Mike who was into shop lifting as a hobby had asked me to tag along. I refused initially but succumbed. We were caught and sentenced but I bagged only four months because I was a first time offender. After I served my sentence, I had to come back to Nigeria. There was nothing else for me to do in Canada.
Back In Nigeria.
I got back to Nigeria and couldn‟t go straight home. I hung around a bar in our neighborhood till it was dark, then I went home. I didn‟t want prying eyes. My mother was shocked to see me home without a prior notice. I ought to have informed them I was coming home and the driver would have come to pick me up from the airport, she lamented. Father didn‟t even raise his head from the newspaper he was reading before my entry.
The fact was father had been informed by my school and the Canadian authority when I was arrested. It was then he got to know I had even been sent away from the university but refused to share the information with my mother so that she wouldn‟t hurt herself from much worry.
Mother broke down in tears and was inconsolable. “Dapo why, why” she asked. “After all we have done for you, is this how you repay us?”
“But mum, I really didn‟t want to travel, you imposed it on me. I was cool with my Nigerian friends.
Dad got up and in a swift, landed a deafening slap across my cheek, cutting short my blab. I staggered from the impact and before I could regain my composure, another one on the other cheek. Dad rubbed his palms together to calm the sting. He walked away into his room and retired for the night.
I knew I deserved it, my parents didn‟t need to be paid back for all their love with my waywardness. Mother got up from the soft rug she sat on and went into the kitchen to rustle up some food for me. As she walked away, it seemed as if she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. It broke my heart to see her that way.
I ate my dinner quietly and went to bed. For the first time, the realization of my actions hit me in the face. How do I make it up to them, especially my mother?
Staying at home was boring, I also had to hide anytime visitors came to the house as my parents would be ashamed to let them know I had been rusticated. I usually go out once in a while to the neighbouring game house to play. And on a certain day I saw the most beautiful work of creation.
She passed by me on her way from church that evening. I could tell because she had a bible in her hand. She was tall, slim and beautiful. Her skin looked like caramel and I swore it would also feel silky to touch. She had natural long hair that reached her shoulders when let loose. I stopped her to say hello and the sound of her voice when she responded was like a nightingale. She immediately handed
over a tract publication she had tucked into her bible. She smiled and walked on. I really would like to see her again. I didn‟t bother to read the tract, I knew what would be in it but I kept it in my pockets all the same.
I had the privilege of seeing her two weeks after our first meeting. I found out her name was Folake Coker and a part time student at the university. She worked as a receptionist and schooled during the weekend.
I really admired her and wanted a relationship which she refused. I made sure I was outside whenever she walked home from the bus stop. Sometimes she would wave and head home and at other times she would stop by for a chat.
One fateful day, she was on her way home and I was outside as usual when she tripped and fell, she wore very high heels that day. I quickly rushed but got to her late as she was already on the ground. It had rained that day and typically our untarred roads were slippery. I helped her up and told her she would need to wash up the mud from her body and clothes before continuing home except she wants to be the symbol of laughter. Her home was still about ten minutes‟ walk and she gave in to common sense and followed me in.
I helped her clean and offered her a drink which she refused, she doesn‟t trust me. When she felt clean enough, she made to leave, while thanking me for my kindness. She invited me to church as a way to start a conversation and I promised to come. She stood up and smiled at me, thanking me once more and that instant, her smile looked like an invitation. I wanted to hold her forever. I made to hold her and kiss her lips and she pushed me away.
She looked frightened and begged to leave but I would have none of it. I tried to hold her again forcefully and this time she pushed me so hard I fell. I got up
quickly and held her and a struggle ensued. I had gotten more beautiful girls when I was in Canada and it was no struggle, why would she put up resistance?
She kept screaming and clawing at my face. She fought so hard, I must give her credit for that. I was able to pin her down and got a kiss from her and hoped she ceased to struggle as I wasn‟t finding it funny anymore. Then she bit my lip and I pushed her away from the impact of the pain, cursing her as she fell backwards.
“Folake, Folake” I called out her name. She lay limp on the floor and I noticed that blood was trickling down slowly besides her face. I had pushed her after she bit me but I didn‟t know she would hit her head on the side stool as she fell. Her eyes were closed and I thought she had fainted. I rushed to the kitchen to get a bowl of water and poured on her, knelt beside her and begged her to please open her eyes.
“I won‟t kiss you again, I won‟t even disturb you again Folake, just open your eyes” I cried. The gravity of what I had just done dawned on me and I feared for my life. I looked at the time from our big sitting room clock and I knew my parents would be home anytime. I know what I had done would shock my parents and probably raise their blood pressure to infinity.
Then I did the only thing under the circumstance, I ran. I went into my room, packed a small night bag and threw some few clothes inside. Went into my parents‟ room and took all the money I could lay my hands on. I looked at the body one more time on the floor and bolted out of the door. I ran and never looked back. I ran to Ibadan in Oyo State. I later read in the newspaper about the incident and that I was a wanted man.
The money I took from my parent‟s room lasted me for two weeks and I became penniless. I took up odd jobs to survive and lived each day as it came. I worked so hard during the day to make enough money to settle lodge bill and buy food, then at night, sleep eludes me. The face of Folake haunts me, every night. I was shocked my face had still not been splashed all over the media for the murder I committed.
Two months after Folake‟s death, I packed my clothes to launder because I had not washed my clothes since I left Lagos. In one of the pockets, I found the tract Folake had given me the first day we met. It reminded me of her and though I knew what would possibly be written in it, I read it all the same.
Surprisingly, the writer came in from a different angle and before I knew it, I could not hold back the tears. I had conviction for my sins and wanted to make amends. I knelt down and wept profusely. I wept because I had committed murder, I wept because she didn‟t deserve to die like that, I wept because I had brought shame upon my family, I wept because I realized that with all I have done, I still had a chance to make it right with God, but Folake didn‟t. I snuffed life out of her. How can God love me after all I had done? I didn‟t deserve it.
I made up my mind right there and then to surrender my life to Jesus and go back and face the consequences of my actions. I packed the unwashed clothes back into my bag and walked out of the lodge..I was going back to my parents!
I got back home and our guard was shocked to see me. He ran inside shouting “Madam, Madam!” My mother came out feigning annoyance at his outburst but froze when she saw me. She rushed at me and held me tight, crying and checking me out at the same time. She couldn‟t stop the flow of tears and I joined her. She held onto me for a long time and when she finally let go, she led me inside the house.
“Mum, who moved Folake‟s body or better still who found it?” I asked as I needed answers. Mum told me how the guard had called them after I ran after the house and he didn‟t see the lady I came in with leaving with me. Mum got home to find the body in a pool of blood. My father was called and when he arrived, they had to report to the police and meet the deceased‟s parents. The police began an earnest search for me and are still searching.
My mum also told me that after the police left, on the day of the incident, my father had disowned me and vowed to have nothing to do with me again. She told me to go back into hiding until the whole incident was forgotten and was about writing a Cheque in my favour when my father arrived. He was shocked to see me and even more to see that mum had made me comfortable.
He didn‟t allow me utter any apology before ordering me out of his house. He clearly forbade me from returning back. Mother cried, holding him by the leg to forgive me but he stormed into his room and slammed the door shut. It was clear his mind was made up.
I left our house and went straight to Folake‟s house. I needed closure and I know once they see me, the end of my freedom had come. I was prepared for the worst. I knocked on the door and was ushered in by her mother. They didn‟t know what I looked like as we had never met. She saw that I hesitated at the door, what guts I must have to have showed up at the home of someone I killed. Folake‟s father was reading a newspaper and he put it down as I walked in.
I prostrated on the ground and explained who I was. I expected to be pounced on as I started talking but I wasn’t. Folake’s father asked me to tell them exactly what happened on that fateful day. I narrated the story exactly as it happened. Whilst still on the floor, he picked hid phone and called in the police, telling them the culprit was right in his living room. He then told me to stand up and sit on the chair.
I refused and lay still on the floor. He explained to me how I had taken their only source of happiness. How I had turned their joy into sorrow, how their hope for a better tomorrow was cut short by my actions. Before long, the police arrived and took me away. I knew the end had come. If the judge was kind, I might get a life sentence.
Exactly six days in police cell, while waiting for my case in court, I was called out. I guessed it must be my mother, who had come to see me. I was shocked to find Folake‟s parents there, I later got to know they had come to withdraw their case against me and have forgiven me. I was shocked, I couldn‟t believe my ears. I know I didn‟t deserve to be forgiven but God made it possible somehow. They left after bearing the news to me and I was taken back into my cell. I didn‟t know what it would mean to my case.
On the day of the hearing, I pleaded guilty to the charge. It was ruled that it was an involuntary manslaughter and the date for judgement was adjourned till the following day. I prayed to my new found confidant, God and told Him to help my case. I was sentenced to ten years imprisonment because I pleaded guilty but with no option for bail. My mother broke down in tears in the court room as I was led away to serve my term in jail.

My sentence was reduced to six years because I showed exemplary and I was released two years ago. I have worked since then as a volunteer in an NGO I joined whilst in prison. It is for the rehabilitation of young people who have led terrible lives and how to help them live better lives.
I visit Folake‟s parents once in a while and they have come to forgive me fully and their home became my second home.
I still remember Folake and wish I could turn back the hands of time. God had been gracious to me and has saved me from eternal destruction; I can‟t help but wonder if God “planned it all along” to get me to His side. I am glad for a second chance. His grace found me in my sinful state and made me a brand new being.
I am still waiting for my father to forgive me. I have sent elders to meet him to no avail. He is over seventy years old now and still does not want to set eyes on me. I need to make peace with him and I need him to find peace for himself as well…I won‟t stop praying.”

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