“Mum, Mum! Chantelle was frantic with excitement as she shook me to rouse me out of sleep. “Can we go and meet Jesus with NanaG please?” I should have expected this to happen sometime soon, I think. I could smell the delicious air of baking coming from the kitchen and it got stronger as the door opened wider to reveal another excited Jordan who was neatly dressed in a slightly-oversized white shirt and wine coloured big and seam adjusted corduroy trousers. They were also folded at the ankles at that did not seem to matter to these children. Thank you was not enough to say to Gracie who was walking towards me with a plate in hand. She handed me the most mouth-watering pancakes I had had in a long time. “Ah” you didn’t have to, I said politely.
“My pleasure,” she replied. I thought you might need something to eat after the long night on the couch seat. “Did you get some sleep? I know it was for a short while?”
“I was thinking back to a lot of the events in my life. Did I talk in my sleep?”
“We did not hear anything. We were busy with the meal.” Now it was Jordan’s turn to join the conversation flow.
“Mum, NanaG says that Jesus would be waiting at the church to meet us. I do not think it a good idea to keep him waiting. Do you agree, mummy?” It was so difficult to refuse in the circumstances as Chantelle was dressed up also in an old but princess type of frilled dress with laces. The kids looked so happy. “I hope you don’t mind me dressing them up.
We were running out of time and you looked so peaceful while you slept so I found them some old clothes to wear so you could get you much-needed rest.
I smiled in agreement and hugged the twins, bade them goodbye and said, “Remember Chantelle, Jordan, you do as you are told?”
“Yes mummy,” they chorused in reply. “Thank you, Gracie; I don’t know what I would have done without you!” I said with a grateful smile and hugged her too before they left. “Maybe, Jesus and I will meet soon too.” The power of those words left me feeling quite overwhelmed. I do not know where they came from.
If I had known that Grace did not have long with us, maybe I would have decided to join them that day. An unexplainable presence stayed with me after they left. As I went back to my comfy chair, I continued to daydream again, effortlessly. My mind went back to Uncle Bob, my stepdad.
I do not remember much more about that night in the restaurant to be honest. The next strange thing was Uncle Bob’s change in attitude towards me.
He threatened that if I mentioned any of what transpired that night, he would deny it then beat me severely. I never saw again saw his friend from that night and do not know for sure if he touched me too.
I had bled for a few days after the birthday rape and Bode had taken me to some “quack doctor” who checked me out. I still could not tell my mum anything, but Bode I felt would do in the meantime, so I turned to him for help. I was handed some antibiotics to take at certain intervals along with pain killers but the doctor was persistent in his questions about how I got the injuries. When I refused to talk, he asked me to wait outside the consulting room while he and Bode talked. There were raised voices. Bode came out and joined me, he was so angry.
“Did I not warn you to be careful?” he almost shouted. “Who did this to you?” He demanded.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” he mocked. “How many were they?” he jeered.
“I said, I don’t’ know.” I knew he could not tell my mum because he would have to explain how he got involved and it would all come out.
I was waking up late to go to school, but she would not have known as she left early for work that week because someone on her team had taken ill and she had to step up.
I was so exhausted about seeking her attention that her busyness seemed like an opportunity for me to get some peace. Bode left me alone for a while and Uncle Bob avoided me too. What I had thought was Bob’s love for me had turned to a cool, distant, indifference. He also started to make excuses to mum about not having the time to pick me up from school. I think that led to a few rows as I heard them one night in the living room talking about me. It felt like I was some kind of inconvenient item being passed from one person to the other with no one taking responsibility for me.
“Cici is looking pale,” Mum said. “Did her teacher say anything?”
“How do you mean?” Uncle Bob asked.
“Were there any letters from school? She hardly talks to me when I ask.”
“But she’s your daughter, is she not?” he answered defensively.
“What do you mean?” her voice was raised this time
“You are too busy to pay attention to your own daughter!” He shouted. I had heard enough.
I quietly went back upstairs to my room and buried my head in the pillow to drown their voices.
Things were strained between them after that and he turned to me again.
Bode had held some sort of restraint and was making fewer demands for my time when mum was out. I think the birthday rape after-experience served as a deterrent to his touching me.
Uncle Bob, seeing things were strained between mum and me, and he began to make advances toward me.
This time he professed his love for me, over that for my mum. Now I was caught in between, Bode’s dwindling attention and mum’s business, I was drawn to this man. He knew exactly what to say and how to get me talking. I was taken in by his words, promises and the smell of his aftershave.
One day, mum had called to say she would be working late or something to that effect and I heard him say, “OK. Don’t work too hard. See you later.” I had just gone to the kitchen to make a drink when I heard footsteps coming towards me. The smell of his aftershave was so strong, and his hands were stroking the back of my neck and hair and …
The doorknob was turning, and we had not heard mum come home earlier than expected.
We were so engrossed with each other on their master bed with music playing in the background when she walked in on us! That was how the twins were conceived and the last day I saw my mum. I tried to find Uncle Bob to tell him I was pregnant all to no avail. The next few months were hard. I had to move in with Bode.
He helped me through the pregnancy and birth but was soon telling me I had to find work after the twins were born. The responsibilities for all three of us were too much for him to carry; he soon introduced me to Dick. And that was how I became a lady of the night.
After leaving school without any qualifications, Dick’s offer of sex work seemed like a natural fit for my previous experiences. Dick was a tough pimp and he would go around the rooms at the brothel to check we were working to the allotted time. His knock on the door to confirm my session was up coincided with the knock on the door and kids excited voices.
“Mum, we are back!” said Chantelle who gave me a twirl in her dress after she tapped me on the shoulder to wake me up. Jordan was quieter but had a big grin on his face.
“Did you get to meet Jesus?” I asked half-hoping they would say no. I did not ever recall meeting Jesus in person when I was younger, I mused. They talked over my question, both, saying “mum you should have come with us. It was so much fun” As Gracie had been outrun by the kids she came in shortly after. The kids were so happy and happier after that day. There was a peace about them, and they wanted to talk about Jesus. Chantelle spoke to her, incredible!
They were asking me to read the bible storybooks from NanaG every night and I was beginning to think more of this Jesus. The next weekend at the children’s insistence, I called NanaG’s house phone and was told by some strange man who answered that she had passed in her sleep the night before. He wanted to know who I was and explained that he was her long lost son and wanted to meet me as Gracie always talked about me.
“Aha,” he responded “You are the missing puzzle. I am glad to hear from you. Sorry, we have both lost her”
“Oh no,” I cried over the phone.
He waited for me to stop then said “She left you a note, folded amongst her belongings. I can text it to you if you like” he continued warmly. He sounded so peaceful in spite of the circumstances.
I gave him my mobile number and shortly received a scanned old brown paper with scrawled up writing that read like this. And love started across the digital bytes.
If you want to know what happened next Winne, you’ll have to ask me later!
My darling Cici
I believe Jesus led you to me
And I pray you give him a ring
For all the pain and shame you’ve endured
He is the only one you can trust
I have prayed for you every day
And I ask you, let Him lead the way
Give your life to Him today.
All my love, Gracie
I went down on my knees and let Grace – Jesus in!
This was an excerpt from the book: Love at First Byte