SISTER MARTHA: A SHORT STORY

S

29th January 2015, I lied to my mum that I wanted to spend the night with my best friend, Yewande. I told her we had to study overnight to prepare for our JAMB examination.

It was easy to convince her to release me that evening. I had written the exam the year I graduated from secondary school and failed. I scored far below the general cut-off mark for admission into any government owned university.

The truth: I slept over at Biodun’s house.

How old was I? 17.

I had met Biodun at a party organized secretly by some of my classmates. Long before our SSCE exams commenced, we had contributed money and set up an organizing committee. Our plan was to hang out at a club somewhere in town a week after our valedictory service at school.

That evening at the party, bottles of beer and bowls of pepper soup were in abundance. My classmates danced till sweat poured down their faces. Some of the guys in my class disappeared with my class girls to the rooms upstairs.

When it was about 7p.m, I knew it was time to leave. Raised by a single mum, I was practically her husband. Mum could call me ten times in thirty minutes. She practically lived her life around my existence. It was annoying sometimes.

Anyway, I informed my best friend that I was leaving. As I got close to the entrance, Biodun walked into the club with his brother. I was immediately attracted to his fine figure and muscular body. It was obvious he was attracted to me. He walked over to me and introduced himself as a corps member serving in a government institution.

Two weeks after we met, I lost my virginity to him. The more we had sex, the more I craved to be with him.

So on the morning of January 30, I was wrapped up in bed with Biodun when my phone rang. Since the phone was closer to him, he reached for it and stared at the caller ID.

‘Who’s that?’ I raised my head from his hairy chest.

‘Aunty Ope.’ He responded.

My eyes widened. ‘Don’t pick the call. In fact, give me the phone.’

I took the phone from him and turned off the ring volume. The last thing I wanted to hear was my SU aunt’s threats about hellfire and how the devil would throw me into the hottest part of the lake of fire.

I wish I didn’t have to leave. But I knew I had to go before mum became worried. I rolled away from Biodun and climbed down from the bed.

‘I have to go home now.’

Biodun reached for my arm. ‘Baby, please don’t go yet. Com’n, spend the day with me. I’ll be lonely without you.’

I loved to hear him say words like that. Biodun needed me. He would go crazy if he didn’t hear from me in a week. Many times, I imagined Biodun and I cruising Europe in his private jet. I imagined cuddling next to him in a beautiful cottage beside a beach. Couldn’t we just go somewhere faraway and be together for a month?

I touched his chin and gazed into his eyes. Even after seven months, his nearness still made my body tremble with excitement

‘I’m sure you don’t want me grounded. If you want my mum to keep believing my lies, you have to let me go. I’ll see you next weekend.’

Biodun counted ten crispy one thousand naira notes and gave them to me. The light on my phone came on again.

He glanced at the phone on the bed. ‘I hope you are not in some kind of trouble. Calls have been coming into your phone since daybreak.’

This time the call was from Yewande. My heart started pounding fast. Had my mother showed up in Yewande’s house and discovered I was not there?

‘Hi Yewande.’

‘Martha, where are you?’ Yewande sounded hysterical.

‘I’m still at Biodun’s place. What’s going on?’

‘You have to leave now, please. I’m at Aunt Ope’s house. Come now.’ She ended the call.

I stared at the phone screen. Biodun was by my side assuring me that everything was fine but my mind was far away from that room, torn in different directions. I grabbed my handbag and ran out of the house.

I was too scared to go to my aunt’s place.  I’d rather face the wrath of my mother than Aunt Ope’s. I went home instead.

I stepped into the compound and saw my neigbours gathered in front of our flat. Two women from our church were sitting on the floor of our veranda, weeping.

Panic filled me. I rushed into the house and looked around the living room. Nothing had changed. Everything was in place as I had left it. I entered my mother’s room and found it empty. I stepped out of the house and faced my neigbours.

‘Where is my mother?’

Nobody answered me. They just stared at me with pitiful glances. My phone rang again. Aunt Ope. I answered it.

‘You are a useless child. Where did you spend the night? Don’t tell me that lie about sleeping in Yewande’s house. Omo oniranu.’

Whatever insults rained on me didn’t bother me. I wanted my mother. ‘Aunty, please where is my mum?’

‘Find your way to my house right now! Nonsense!’

I got to my aunt’s house and met a crowded living room. My cousins hugged me so tightly I could hardly breathe. Yewande sat at a corner, eyes swollen.  I stood at the entrance, unable to move my feet. What for goodness sake was going on?

Yewande finally stood up and came to meet me at the entrance. She held my hand. ‘Martha, Everything will be fine.’

‘Where is my mother?’ I asked. Yewande kept silent.

‘Have you all gone deaf? Where is she?’’

‘Come and sit for a while. Aunty Ope will be here soon.’ Yewande said, pulling me to an empty sofa. I jerked my hands away.

‘Where is Aunt Ope?’

‘She is not back from the mortuary.’

My heart fainted. Mortuary?

‘Who died?’

Yewande cupped my chin in her hands. ‘I’ll always be here for you.’

Irritated, I pushed her away. ‘I want to see my mother!’

‘She is dead.’ One of Aunty Ope’s sons blurted out. Yewande and my cousins looked at him with a scowl on their faces.

‘What’s the point hiding it from her?’ he defended himself. ‘She’s going to find out eventually.’

My legs couldn’t hold me anymore. I leaned on the wall for support.

‘What happened?’ I directed my attention to my cousin. The one who had broken the tragic news to me.

‘Your neigbours said they heard her scream at the early hours of the morning and by the time they got to her, she was gone.’

The room swirled around me fast.

I had killed my mum.

If I had been with her, she might have lived.

While she was crying in pain, I was in the arms of a man.

I killed her.

Faces became blurry. Voices sounded like echoes from a distance.

‘Martha!’ Someone shouted my name.

I tried to figure out who it was but I couldn’t. I was slipping away into darkness. I felt strong arms carry me and afterwards, I didn’t remember anything again.

************** *****************

Mum was buried some weeks later. I stood in front of the grave and tears ran down my face.

‘Mum, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I’m going to turn a new leaf. I will change. I’ll become the kind of girl you’ve always prayed for me to be.’

You can trust Aunt Ope to ensure that I kept to my promise.

‘Martha,’ Aunt Ope called me one morning as I prepared for my JAMB tutorial class. ‘Pack all those your trousers and short skirts. We are going to burn them. Every part of your body must be sanctified. No more earrings and chains and that jezebel painting must go.’

She looked around the room and her eyes stopped at my weavon wig hanging on a nail above my bed. ‘Including this mammy water hair. We are throwing out everything that will hinder you from getting to heaven. When your mother looks down from heaven, make her smile. We will go to the market tomorrow and I’ll buy a new set of clothes that people on their way to heaven wear.’

I looked at my aunt and smiled. ‘I’m ready Aunty. I will serve God till I die.’

My aunt clapped her hands. ‘Halleluyah! Heaven is already rejoicing over you right now.

Then she killed a chicken to celebrate my repentance from the way of the world.

I didn’t just participate in church activities, I was consumed in it. Every Sunday morning, I swept the church and cleaned the chairs. I attended all the services and prayer vigils.

There was no day I missed out on any fasting and prayer meetings. I was involved in all the evangelistic outreaches organized by the church. I attended choir rehearsals punctually.

Within a few months that I joined my Aunt’s church, there was hardly anyone who didn’t know ‘Sis Martha.’ I was the teenager with an unquenchable fire for the Lord.

Several times, the Pastor had called me to his office.  ‘Sis Martha, you are an encouragement to the teenagers in this church. I’m so proud of you.’

When Aanu, Aunt Ope’s eldest daughter returned home for her six months Industrial training, my aunt called for a meeting in the dinning room.

‘Aanu, I don’t understand your Christianity.’ My aunt started. ‘All you know is to be doing  jajajaja all over the house and you say you are speaking in tongues. Look at the length of your skirt. I don’t even know the shine shine thing you put on your lips. You better go back to the cross. See Martha, she is a typical example of a lady prepared for heaven. You should-‘

My aunt’s husband dropped the newspaper he was reading and faced his wife. ‘Iya Aanu, leave my daughter alone. I like her the way she is. She will not wear that Mary Amaka skirts you are pushing her to wear. She is very moderate and decent. Leave her jare. Haven’t you notice the way she behaves around here? Don’t you like this Aanu better than the stubborn child you had two years back.’

My aunt’s husband was right. I had noticed the changes in Aanu too. The strong-willed cousin I grew up with was different. Aanu never messed round with boys but there was such subtle cruelty that drove people away from her. She got on campus two years ago and returned a different person. Since I moved to my aunt’s house, I notice she was always awake at night praying or reading her bible.

Many times, I wished I had the peace that oozed out of her life. There were days I would cry myself to sleep because I didn’t feel enough. When I failed to get into the university again, I concluded God was punishing me for neglecting my mother. I tried to stay away from sin by doing more for God but somehow I fell short.

Just when I added a red star to my badge for staying away from sexual sin, Biodun showed up at my tutorial class.

‘Martha.’

‘Biodun.’ I said quietly. He was leaning on his mother’s car, staring at me.

‘I got your message. I’m sorry about your mum’s death but was that enough for you to block my number?’

I folded my hands and turned my face away.

‘Get into the car please.’

I hesitated. ‘Biodun, I-‘

‘Martha, I just want us to talk. I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do.’

I got in. Just a kiss and It was as if a prisoner had been let loose. I pleaded with Biodun to take me to his house. We had sex that day.

The following evening, I was back on his bed. I couldn’t get enough of him. I always returned. But every night I got back to my room, I wept. I imagined my mother weeping in heaven too. I saw the look of disappointment on her face. I saw God writing in a very large book, my sins and the punishments attached to it.

One Sunday morning, I stood among the choristers and I was depressed. I remember walking out of the church that day. I was done with God and all his demands. Since he was going to punish me and send me to hell, what’s the point trying to meet up with his standards.

I hurried towards the road wishing a drunk driver would come my path and crush me to death.

‘Martha.’ Someone call my name behind me.

I turned, surprised to see my cousin, Aanu. I didn’t even know I’d been crying until she touched my wet face. She pointed to a small restaurant by the road.

‘Let’s go in there.’

After Aanu ordered the drinks, she looked at me. ‘Martha, talk to me.’

That was when I exploded. ‘What’s the point trying to please God. It’s enough that I have lived with the guilt of my mother’s death but I’m trying for goodness sake. Obviously it’s not working. I joined the choir. I come early to clean the church. I dress the way God loves. I’m trying so hard to get his approval.’ I stopped and looked at her. ‘I’ve been having sex with my ex. I’m tired.’

Aanu sat back, listening. There was something about her that made it easy for me to talk to her.  She reached for my hands.

‘Martha, a man can be zealous about the things of God and possess perfectly good moral standards and yet end up in hell.’

I stared at her, shocked. ‘What are you saying?’

‘Our righteousness is like filthy rags before God. Nothing you do can make you approved of God. Working on your behavior is a pure waste of time. The only thing God requires of you is that you accept the righteousness that comes solely by faith in Christ Jesus. Nothing more. Nothing else. When you believe with your heart that Jesus was raised from the dead and confess him as your Savior, you will be saved.’

I looked at her with disbelief. Could it be so simple like that? I could be saved by just having faith in what Christ has done?

Aanu moved her chair closer to me and showed me scriptures from the bible app on her phone.

I saw how I automatically carried the sin nature because of a man Adam. I saw that Christ came to deal with that sin nature so I can receive his own nature that grants me direct access to God

I couldn’t believe that I had been wasting my time trying to be a good Christian and all my efforts had been useless. I would still have ended up eternally damned even if I abstained from sex.

‘Are you ready to accept Jesus Christ into your heart?’

Tears welled up my eyes. I nodded. My cousin led me to Christ that day.

Aanu smiled. ‘Martha, you have a new nature now. All things are new.’

‘Are you saying I won’t fall into any sinful habit anymore.’

Aanu paused before answering. ‘There is a lot you’ll have to learn on this journey. Your spirit is one with Christ. The nature you received is Christ and it is perfect and incorruptible. 1 Peter 1:23 clearly states that. However, you are still in a corruptible world and the body you have hasn’t changed yet. There will be temptations and your mind must be renewed with God’s word consistently. This is what we call growth. If you allow the word transform you, those sinful habits will have no hold over your life.’

I sighed. ‘I want to grow.’

Aanu smiled. ‘I’m here to help you achieve that. At least, I have few months before my industrial training comes to an end. We’ll have a great time together.’

Aanu leaned forward. ‘Martha, you are born-again now. You belong to the family of God. You are joint heirs with Christ. Do not let anybody convince you otherwise not even when your body reacts to sinful desires. I have told you growth is how we step into the realities of the new life we have received. What you believe is the foundation of whether or not you’ll continue to struggle with sin.’

‘I really have a lot to learn.’ I said, trying to take in all that my cousin had said.

‘We’ll start this evening. Aanu stood up. ‘Let’s get back to church.’

It’s been a year since I started my journey with the Lord. The best part was the day I stood in front of Biodun and told him boldly that I was done with him. Of course he laughed. He thought It was my usual tantrum and guilt trip. When I didn’t show up after some weeks, he came to my tutorial class to plead with me. He stopped troubling me when I preached Christ to him.

Do I have it all together? No. But I trust the Holy Spirit who abides in me to continually work out the life of Christ through me. I am just one teen girl learning to live by the faith of the Son of God at work in me. I am learning what my true nature entails. I’m learning the love walk too.

I finally got admission to study Accounting. This morning, as Aunt Ope drove me to the school hostel. I smiled and reminded myself I had not come alone to the campus. The Holy Spirit was right there with me.

I carry in me the fullness of the God and yes…sis Martha is ready to blow up this campus.

THE END

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Are you born-again? Have you accepted the gift of salvation or you have just merely become morally sound and a ‘better’ person. You are no different from a man who lives a reckless life. It doesn’t matter how much time you give to the service of God. There is only one way to escape eternal damnation.

For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

Accept the gift of salvation today. For further instructions, Click here

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For us who have accepted the life of the Son, we understand that many claim to believe in Jesus but it has not been done with the heart. We will not be moved by men’s devotion to prayers or their activeness in the service of God as proof of a new nature. While we understand that we are saved unto good works, we know that works is unacceptable for a man outside Christ.

In another vein, have you in recent times rejoiced over the freedom from sin that has been granted to you? Have you basked in the provision of the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness you possess? Do you know that you are a son in the family? Do you also know this;

…When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we appear with him in glory. Colossians 3: 4

Oh yes, we rejoice!

Read: But the Playboy is now born-again

My body cries for your touch

Developing intimacy with Jesus

About the author

Ife Grace
Ife Grace

I am a faith blogger with a passion to contribute my quota to the body of Christ. I am also the author of two books: The Reunion and Spring.

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