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Saturday, 16 April 2016

Touch of fate (3)

"Are you ok? You look sick!" Don said, going to sit besides her on the couch. But she moved as far away from him as possible, looking at him as one would gaze at something that was particularly repulsive.
"Baby, what's the matter? Did something happen while I was away?" he asked, getting up to stand in front of her.
But she rebuffed him and shouted:
"Don't come near me. Stay away from me!"
Then seeing the confused look in his eyes, she said:
"Why Don? How could you be so mean, so wicked?"
"What are you talking about?" he asked in a perplexed tone.
She did not answer but simply pointed at the computer screen. When he saw what was there, he slumped on a chair, his head buried in his hands.
There was silence for a while then she began to speak.
"You knew I was the accident victim all this while after I had told you the story of what happened to my leg. Yet you kept quiet. Why didn't you say something? Why?" 
"I'm truly sorry, Helen. I know now that I should have spoken up but I was afraid," he said.
"Of what?" she queried.
"I was afraid I would lose you. At that time, I had begun to develop feelings for you and my thinking was that, if you knew the truth, you would not want to see me anymore. And I couldn't bear that to happen," he explained.
"That has always been your problem. You only think of yourself! What about me? Do you have any idea of what I went through? If it were not for the two students who found me by the roadside after you had knocked me down and run away, and who took me to the clinic, maybe I would be dead by now. Your wicked and cowardly act almost cost me my life and all you can say is sorry! Look at my leg. I walk with a limp today because of you!" she stated angrily.
"Please Helen, forgive me and my friends. We were very young then and you know young people do all kinds of stupid and crazy things," he pleaded.
Then continuing, he added:
"That incident has haunted me for years. Initially I thought the person I knocked down was dead. But the following day, when there was no news of the death of a student, staff or someone else by accident on campus, I felt relieved. Shortly after, we left school for the last time and we all dispersed to various places. I never knew in my wildest dream that you were the one. So, you can imagine my shock when I found out. I decided not to get involved with you as my conscience kept bugging me. But I couldn't stay away from you. Please, honey, forgive me. Don't let this come between us now at this critical stage in our relationship. Please," he begged, going to her and taking her hand in his. But she flung his hand away and jumping up from the chair stated:
"It's too late now. The thought of marrying someone like you, who could do what you did to me, makes me sick. This wedding is off. Don't bother calling me or looking for me to beg me to change my mind because I won't. Loser!" 
And picking up her handbag, she marched out of the house closely followed by Don who kept pleading with her.
"Please, Helen! Don't go! Let's talk this over. We can sort it out. You know I love you! My life will be empty without you..."


A mother's counsel
"Look my daughter, I know what he did was wrong. Even your father and I were shocked when you told us he was the one that hit you all those years ago back in school. But the young man has said he is sorry. That it was a mistake he regrets till today. Since he has apologized and seems repentant, why don't you forgive him and continue with your wedding plans?" said Helen's mother about a week later. They were in the living room of their home having a mother-daughter chat.
"Mama! Is that all you can think about now- the wedding?" Helen said.
"Yes o, my child. Your marriage is important to me. I want you to settle down and start giving me grandchildren. So, you have to forgive him and continue with your plans," she insisted.
"That can't happen now. It's over between us," Helen maintained.
"Why are you so stubborn and hard-hearted? I didn't bring you up like this! Even the Bible says we should forgive those who have trespassed against us. So, put the past behind you and move on with your life," she stated.
Helen shook her head.
"I can't Mama. What he did is too terrible for me to forgive. Or forget," she insisted.
"So, are you going to just throw away such a beautiful relationship because of your unforgiving spirit? Think carefully, my daughter and don't do something you will regret for the rest of your days. I know how much you love the young man. Just look at you. You are a mess. Since your break-up, you've not been eating or sleeping well, either. You have stopped going to the office, claiming you are sick. My child, pull yourself together and use your head. Let go of your anger so you an embrace the future," she advised.
Back in her room that night, Helen lay on her bed, tossing and turning, unable to sleep. Her mother's words kept ringing in her ears- 'He says he's sorry. Forgive and take him back. He's your one true love. Don't let him slip away because of your stubborn heart!'
"But what he did was too bad. How could I forgive him so easily? Let him feel some of the pain I felt when he nearly killed me all those years ago. Idiot!" she said to herself, her heart hardening against him once more. 
The following day, when Don came to the house as he had been doing since the split, she refused to see him as usual or pick his calls.
"Why don't you at least see him, hear what he has to say?" her mother pleaded with her. Helen had gone to her room and had refused to come out as soon as she heard Don had arrived.
"Tell him to go away. I don't have anything to do with him anymore," she stated. 
"You tell him yourself. Stubborn child!" her mother said angrily as she stormed out of the room.
A short while later, Linda, her younger sister came into the room quietly.
She sat staring warily at her big sister for a while then said:
"Sister, you can tell me to go to hell and mind my business. But I've to speak my mind. Have you not punished Brother Don enough? You need to see him. He looks so sad, so lost. I feel so sorry for him."
"Why is everyone taking his side. What about me?" she asked angrily.
"Forgiving him is for your own sake too. By punishing him like this, you are also hurting yourself. I see how much pain you are going through and it breaks my heart," Linda said. To her surprise and shock, Helen broke down and began to cry. Great, wracking sobs shook her body and she wept bitter tears of anguish and regret.
Linda held her close and comforted her as best she could...
Two days later, Helen returned to work. She tried to put on a bright face but everyone noticed she was not her usual cheerful self. During their lunch break, Tina cornered her and began to bombard her with questions.
"Is it true that you and Don have broken up? What happened?" 
"Who told you? Busybody," Helen stated teasingly.
"But is it true?" she persisted.
Helen sighed before saying:
"Yes. We've split. The wedding has been cancelled."
"Ah! It's a pity. You two were so much in love. That guy loves you so much. He had eyes for nobody else but you," she said.
Then she added excitedly:
"Now that you two have broken up and he's now free, that means I can have him for myself. Waoh! I can't wait to see him again!"
"Hey, hey! Hold it there. See who?" Helen asked frowning a little.
"Don, of course. He's free so he can date someone else now, abi," she said.
"Date who? Don't you dare! If I see you near him, I will kill you!" Helen stated vehemently.
"Ha! Na which kin thing be this?" she stated in pidgin English. "You say you no longer want him, yet when I show interest in him, you get mad. You better make up your mind about what you want before it's too late. You don't appreciate what you have. That guy is one in a million. You better go and sort out whatever issues you have with him before I or some other girl snatch him from you for good. Yeye (silly) girl. So confused, she doesn't value what she has. Besides, what am I supposed to do with the bridesmaid's dress that has already been made?" she queried, before leaving the table.
Helen smirked at her, making faces at her retreating back.

* * * * 
One week later, on a Saturday evening, Don stood at the small balcony at the back of his flat, which overlooked the backyard. There was a small guava tree that was just starting to bear fruit, a couple of banana, plantain, pawpaw trees and other plants. But he did not notice the luxuriantly growing vegetation. He stared far away into the horizon, his thoughts deep, gloomy. His dark mood was in sharp contrast to the radiant scene high above him where the slowly setting sun was painting the sky in vibrant shades of red, pink and orange. 
Uppermost in his mind, was the thought that he had lost Helen for good. Thinking about it was driving him crazy and he felt so helpless as if there was nothing he could do to salvage the situation. He couldn't even see her or talk to her as she had kept avoiding him. With his shoulders slumped as if in defeat, he kept staring moodily ahead, at nothing in particular.
Then a voice that he had been longing to hear for days intruded into his gloomy thoughts.
"Our wedding is just a few weeks away and instead of distributing the wedding IVs, you are standing here, wasting time, just staring into space. Or don't you want guests on our big day?"
Don turned round slowly, not speaking, just taking in the lovely sight before him, a look of surprise, joy and relief on his face.
Then he said:
"Helen!" and quickly walked towards her.
She spread her arms wide.
"Welcome home, baby," he stated softly as he held her in a tight embrace. Just then, the sun dipped behind the horizon and disappeared. The old day was gone. And a new dawn would soon begin...


The End

Epilogue:


Well, all is well that ends well. Helen and Don's story had a happy ending after all despite all the odds against their relationship. But not everyone is happy with the ending. A colleague who saw the story before publication was quite pissed with Helen, stating she was stupid to have forgiven Don. "What if she had died that night of the accident, would she be talking about forgiveness now?" she said angrily.
So, what do you think? Was Helen right in forgiving Don? Or should she have stuck with her earlier stance of never having anything more to do with Don? We would like readers views on this.
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