Chinwe loved people and was equally loved. Her dark skin, delicate features, bright eyes and keen intelligence made her a composite of beauty. Her modest fifteen-year old world was picture perfect until that night when the news came that her father had been killed by a hit-and-run driver. It was barely two weeks to her sixteenth birthday.
Her mother was inconsolable. Struck with stroke within six months of her husband’s death, she wilted and died. Overnight, Chinwe grew past her teenage years. She fled the pain that the little village of Ekwe now represented and headed for the big city to get lost in its bigness.
She did get lost. Her meager resources fetched a miserable abode in a dirty, rundown neighbourhood. She worked two odd jobs as a cleaner and a serving hand in an eatery frequented by a rabble of lay workers. Yet her dual income was a pittance. Chinwe sank into a pit of depression. There, sleazy girls courted her. They clucked empathy at her situation, shook their heads at her being so put out, showed tainted generosity in little monetary helps and then offered her a better job mixed with independence and fun.
It wasn’t long before Chinwe was walking the streets and contributing to the daily drop-off of the prostitution ring that got its takings from their makings. Her sparkle and natural gaiety died to dark and vacant moods, and distant brooding.
It had been ten years of struggle for Charles, Christian youth leader and evangelist. The inner battle pulled at him, cloying his peace. Six years ago when he turned his life to God in that simple fellowship gathering, crying out to Jesus to save him, desperate and broken, life took on a new turn. Yet there was that unattended matter which the still, small voice continually reminded him of and which he had proven slow in obeying. How was he to return to Ekwe village, the source of his life’s misery? Yet he knew it was time to stop running.
Finally, he yielded and in that instant, he’d experienced the reward of his decision in a downing of peace. Thus, his presence in this dingy motel room was transitory. At the crack of dawn he would board a vehicle headed to Ekwe and, hopefully, get a chance to fix what he’d broken. Even though had not even the slightest clue of how he was to accomplish such a feat.
The evening was warm. He sighed and on impulse, decided to stroll out.
It was an aimless walk. The curious forms of women leaning on walls, flaunting their wares identified them for what they were. He hasted past the house and at the same moment she emerged. He sighted her and involuntarily did a double take. She saw him, noticed his reaction and interpreted it to mean interest. Shrugging, she made her way to him.
They sat apart, face to face. It had taken some persuasion for her to understand that he just wanted to talk. He had stuffed her hand with most of the fare for his intended trip, to placate her and compensate for what she termed ‘this waste of time’. God had brought to him Chinwe, the purpose of his trip to Ekwe – and he wasn’t about to let cowardice force him to run away…again.
It was a difficult confession: nineteen and drunk, he ran into the man and panicked, fled the scene but never could flee his sin.
She sat stiffly, listening, eyes glistening. It was too much to take in. Seated before her, her parents’ murderer, her own life stealer? How did he expect her to deal with this? Suddenly, in a violent spate of anger she grabbed a stout plank by the foot of the bed and leapt up, ramming him with it, again and again. He managed to seize her by the wrist, thereby stopping further onslaught.
‘I deserve to be killed, i’m fully aware Chinwe.’ The pain that she’d bottled up for way too long sprinkled on his face as she struggled to free herself. ‘But you don’t want to take my former place and be tormented – you don’t!’ he pleaded.
Eventually, she crumbled into the seat; recoiled in pain as she sobbed out her grief.
They stepped out of the brothel together. Chinwe handed over to the collector her day’s contribution, knowing in her heart it would be the last time she did that. The other girls winked and teased her on the ‘big fish’ she had caught. They did not know she had been caught––by the Fisher.
Both had fled Ekwe and its pain.
She had refused to acknowledge the bitterness lodged within; he had tried to deny the peace he lived without
Both had now found peace in God.