Her Dream

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She picked the cotton, the sweat pouring down her dark, leathery face.  She worked from sunrise to sunset, same as the men.  The overseer saw to that.  Slaves failing to do their tasks were flogged.  Her back was badly mangled from a whipping.  As she worked, she dreamed of the Elysian home she would soon enter.

56 Works

This post was inspired by the slaves–who worked from sunrise to sunset in the cotton fields and eighteen hours during Harvest time.  Men and women worked the same hours.  A pregnant woman was expected to continue working until her child was born and she was only given a month’s rest for recovery from child-bearing.  Mothers had to carry their children on their backs while they worked in the fields. Around the age of five, slave children were expected to work on the plantation.  They were looked after an overseer who carried a whip made of the toughest cowhide which they used on the slave.  It wasn’t uncommon to see slaves with their backs mangled.

Yet, in spite of these horrendous and cruel conditions, slaves continued to cling to their faith.

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Image is from http://e993.com/forex/Cartoon-Slaves-Picking-Cotton/

Source:  Spartacus Educational

Rashida

arms and hands spread against dirty grunge wall

She ran to the stone.  It was her escape from her world.  She always made sure she was alone before she clung to its sides, said the words and was transported to another world—a world where slavery didn’t exist.  One of these days, she would remain there and never return to her life as a slave.

The coast was clear.  She held on to the sides, recited the words and poof…she was gone.

When she reached the other side, it was in a wide, open field with wild flowers, their sweet scent filling her senses.  She laughed and ran among them, stopping to pick some until she had a bouquet.  She twirled around like a ballerina, her long skirt bustling about her ankles, the sunshine warming her face.  Giddy, she dropped to the ground.  She lay on her back in the emerald green grass, staring up at the sky.  Yes, one of these days, she was going to leave her other life for good.

Suddenly a figure materialized in front of her.  She sat up, shocked and afraid.  “What-what are you doing here?” she asked.  How on earth did he get here and how come she didn’t see him.  She was positive that she was alone.

“I followed you,” he informed her, his blue eyes narrowing as they traveled over her.  He reached down to help her up but she pushed his hands away.

She scrambled to her feet, her heart pounding.  This was all wrong, she thought in desperation.  He wasn’t supposed to be here.  “You don’t belong here,” she told him.  “In this world there’s no hate or whippings or slave or master…”

“That kind of world doesn’t exist,” was his harsh reply.  “It only exists in your pretty little head.  And no world can keep me from finding you.  Face it, Rashida, there’s no escape from me.  You belong to me.  The sooner you accept that, the better it will be for you.”

“No!” she cried.  “I belong to no one, especially not to you.  I hate you.  You are a wicked and cruel man.  I would rather die than be with you.”

His face hardened and reaching out, he caught hold of her wrist, his grip tightening as she struggled.  “You belong to me.  I bought you.”

“I don’t belong to you.  I belong to God.  He bought me at a price that you could never afford.”

His face suffused with color.  “I don’t want to hear any preaching from you, girl.  You’re coming back to the plantation with me now.”

“No!”  She managed to free herself from him and gathering up her skirt, she ran as fast as she could across the field.  She didn’t stop running until she was sure that he wasn’t following her.  Exhausted from running, she leaned against a tree to catch her breath.

She couldn’t go back to her old world but she couldn’t stay in this one either.  He knew where to find her.  There seemed to be no escape from him.  She meant it.  She would rather die than be with him.  She couldn’t bear the thought of him touching and kissing her.  It filled her with disgust.  Disgust at herself for wanting the man she despised.  Even as she hated when he went in onto her in the nights when everyone was asleep, she didn’t lie there like a log, wishing for it to be over.  She clung to him and gave herself to him.  In the mornings, she was filled with self-recrimination.

There was only one way out of this dreadful situation but she was a Christian.  If she took her life, she would end up in Hell. The thought of burning forever terrified her.  Dejected, she knew what she had to do.  Moving away from the tree, she returned to where she’d left him.  He was still there.  “I knew you’d come back,” he said smugly.  “You can’t run away from me, Rashida.  You belong at the plantation with me.  I’ve been good to you, haven’t I?  It was I who taught you how to read and write.”

She didn’t answer.  She let him put his arm around her shoulders and take her back to the other world where the plantation was.  Her dream of leaving it was in vain now.  She resigned herself to life as his slave and concubine.

The stone remained there, timeless and neglected.  She never went near it again.  It was pointless.

Blinded But Not Defeated

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In June 2011, Rumana Monzur’s visit to Bangladesh turned into a nightmare when her husband, the father of her child viciously attacked her.  He robbed her of her sight and disfigured her face because she wanted to pursue a higher education in Canada.   “He has made my world dark.  I can’t see my daughter,” she told Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star.  She couldn’t see her daughter’s face.  He was arrested days after the attack. Doctors were able to reconstruct her face but they couldn’t restore her eyesight.

Her world was plunged in perpetual darkness.  She underwent psychological counseling. Her story captured headlines and the world watched as she courageously recovered from her ordeal.  A month after the attack she moved back to Vancouver with her daughter.   Two years later she finished her Master’s degree and decided to pursue law.

On Wednesday, May 24, 2017, Rumana received her law degree.  As she stood there, trying not to cry as she said goodbye to the University of British Columbia which had been her home and a source of solace and strength to her for seven years, she admitted to crying a lot during the first 18 months.   It was a challenge not being able to read any more and having to be helped around the campus.  But she soon realized that she just had to keep going and what encouraged her was how nice the people on campus were toward her.

As a little girl, Rumana had dreams of becoming a pilot which for her would have been very liberating and free.  However, she chose, instead rising sea levels and environmentalism as her field of study because Bangladesh, more than most places, is at risk from climate change.   Then, her world changed in 2011 when she returned to Dhaka to tell her husband, Syeed Hasan Sumon that she wanted a divorce.  He reacted by trying to rip her eyes out with his hands, biting off the end of her nose and ripping flesh off of her cheeks and one arm.  He told her, “I wanted to kill you with acid, but good for you I couldn’t find any.” He died in custody of an apparent heart attack six months after the vicious assault while awaiting trial for attempted murder.

Why didn’t Rumana leave this abusive marriage earlier?  She explained why in an interview.  “It is hard to have the courage to stand up to social norms, social stigma,” she said. “That mindset that if we talked about it it’s shameful for yourself, it’s not at all like that. I thought like that too, that if I share it with anyone it’s a shame for myself.  I wanted to look like I was happy in my marriage, that made me socially acceptable, that’s what I thought.”  It is truly sad when the abused feels shame when it should be the abuser who should.

Rumana wants the women in abusive relationships to know that they have options. “The power has to come from within. I didn’t have the courage to stand up for myself for a long, long time, and look how I ended up, right? I paid a huge price. I want them to know their lives are precious and they should not accept something which deteriorates their capacity and potential. Life is full of opportunities, they need to know there is always a way out of those abusive and brutal relationships, it’s not their fate.  Not only women — men, children and elderly people, violence is not something worth tolerating, you need to get out of it as soon as possible.”

It is my hope and prayer that women in abusive relationships will leave the first opportunity they get to do so.  No marriage or relationship is worth risking your life for.  As the Bible says, women are created in God’s image and are of great value to Him.  A woman was meant to be a man’s companion, helper, supporter, etc. to be loved and appreciated.  She is not to be trampled on, abused, mistreated, neglected, discarded or devalued.  And success is not supposed to be gender bias.  Success comes from the Lord and it is for everyone.  It takes a special kind of man who wouldn’t feel threatened by his wife’s success and aspirations but will offer her his complete support.

What kept Rumana going after she was blinded and brutalized? “What I told myself is, ‘You have three options now,’ ” she said with a smile. “I told myself, ‘You just fell in the garbage, what can you do now?’ Either I can stay there, or I can try to stand up slowly, or I can stand up as quickly as possible and start to move forward.  As you can see, the last option was the most acceptable and so I chose that. I didn’t want to stay in that garbage. I didn’t want to lose hope.”

Kudos to Rumana for her courage and her determination not to remain down but to stand up quickly and move forward.  She wrote the exam for law when everyone thought she was crazy for doing that and today, she’s a lawyer with the federal Justice Department.  You have to admire the tenacity of this phenomenal woman.

Sources:  The Daily Star; Vancouver Sun;

Blind Justice

It’s every man’s business to see justice done – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

amina-lawal-75988c2c-18a9-40e6-8760-03de9da929c-resize-750There are organizations like Equality Now, Women For Women International and V-Day, which are dedicated to protecting the rights of women all over the world.   But long before these much needed organizations existed, there was already a human rights activist who walked the streets of Jerusalem, Galilee, Samaria, healing the broken-hearted, setting at liberty those who are bruised and delivering them from terrible circumstances.   He stood for equality of women and for people from all walks of life.  His name was Jesus Christ.

Over two thousand years ago, early in the morning as Jesus taught at the temple, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had committed adultery to Him.  One can picture a crowd gathered around Him and then this poor woman was thrust in the middle so that all eyes were on her.  Shame and humiliation came over her and she held her head down unable to look her accusers in the face.  She probably wished the ground would open up and swallow her.

The men said to Jesus, self-righteousness oozing off of them.  “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”  Alone and with no one to defend, the woman must have resigned herself to the fate she felt sure awaited her.   So for a while as she stood there terrified, the scribes and Pharisees kept badgering Jesus because He did not answer them right away.

Finally, He stepped in as the woman’s defense attorney and in a brilliant line of attack, He said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  That stumped the men.  They hadn’t expected Him to come to the woman’s defense.  They had expected Him to agree that the Law of Moses should be adhered to.  This was the same man who had said that He came not to change one point of the Law and yet here He was defending a woman who had broken one of God’s commandments.  Yet, they could not say anything in their own defence. Their conscience testified against them and they had no choice but to drop the matter.

History repeats itself.  On March 22, 2002, Amina Lawal, a thirty-year-old Muslim woman was sentenced to death by stoning after confessing to having a child while divorced.  Pregnancy outside of marriage was sufficient evidence for a woman to be convicted of adultery according to the Shariah penal code for Muslims.  The man whom she named as the baby girl’s father denied having relations with her and his confession was enough to clear him of any charges.  So, although it takes two to commit adultery, only the woman was found guilty.

Amina’s accusers had to drop the charges against her because the conviction was invalid.  She had already been pregnant by the time the harsh Islamic Shariah law was implemented in her home province.  Her lawyer was quoted as saying, “The law of justice has prevailed over the law of man.”  Amina was free to go and live her life.

After her accusers had left, Jesus asked the woman, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:7-11).

That day the law of God’s justice prevailed over the law of man.  God’s justice is different from man’s justice.  In both cases the men were not charged.  They were not brought to court to face charges like Amina and the woman.  Both women had to face their accusers alone.  They were both stripped of their rights and their dignity.

In both cases the men were misapplying the law to suit themselves.  Stoning to death has been used to define the Shariah law but according to Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc., “the punishment prescribed by the Shariah of the Quran is ONE HUNDRED LASHES each to the adulterer and the adulteress, in public.”  The Law of Moses specifically stated, “the man that committeth adultery with [another] man’s wife, [even he] that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

In both cases, the law, which was implemented for everyone, was only applied to the two women.  Under the two laws, the man and the woman were supposed to receive the same punishment.  Justice is supposed to be fair not blind.

In both cases justice prevailed and both women were given back their freedom.  In both cases God pointed out the corruption of the system.  The guilty was perverting the law to destroy their victims.  The words of King David ring true. “Justice and judgment [are] the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face” (Psalm 89:14.  God had passed judgment on the accusers and had shown mercy toward the women.

The reaction of the scribes and Pharisees to Jesus’ words about casting the first stone proves that “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12, 13).  The love, mercy and forgiveness Jesus showed to the woman brought to light how hateful, unmerciful, condemning and dishonest they were.  The stones, which they had picked up to throw at the woman, were thrown back at them in the words of Jesus because He had pointed out to them that they were sinners too.  In dropping the stones they were dropping their self-righteous act and uncovering themselves, proving that nothing can be hidden from God.

After the woman and her accusers were gone, Jesus said of Himself, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Jesus gave light to the woman who had been living a life that brought her nothing but heartache and shame.  Now Jesus had lifted the darkness of self-recrimination from her and let her see that she could turn her life around.  He showed her that he loved her and that He wanted the best for her.  He showed her that she was not beyond redemption.  He showed her that she was not worse off than the self-righteous men who were hurling accusations at her.  He was showing her that in His eyes we are all equal.  And He was showing the people what true justice is.  One person cannot be tried while the other gets off scot-free.  And everyone is entitled to a fair trial.  This woman was not.  So, Jesus the Light of the world brought to the forefront the duplicity and injustice of society.

He was the Light that shone in the darkness of men’s souls.  The scribes and Pharisees, try, as they did, could not shield their desperately wicked hearts from the true Light.  In what He did, Jesus was setting an example to others. No one was above reproach and instead of publicly humiliating someone, take him or her aside and talk.  When He was alone with the woman, He told her to stop sinning.  In effect, He was saying to her, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).  He was telling her that though she was living a sinful life she could do something to change that.  She was in charge of her own destiny not, the men who wanted to stone her to death.

Salvation is of the Lord.  That day, Jesus saved the woman’s life.  He prevented her from being stoned to death.  He had spared her life like He spared Amina’s.  With a death sentence hanging over her head, Amina had placed her faith in God, believing that He would protect her.  “Nothing happens without God’s knowledge or God’s permission,” Lawal told reporters in her lawyer’s Abuja garden (World News – November 2003 issue of The News International.

It was not a coincidence that the woman was brought to Jesus.  Jesus knew that this would happen.  He knows what we need before we need it.  He knows what we will do before we do it.  He knows what we think and how we feel.  He knew that those men would bring the woman to Him.  And they could not have stoned the woman without His permission.  Jesus was always one step ahead of them.  He perceived their thoughts even before they voiced them.   Nothing happens without God’s knowledge.  And like Amina and the adulteress, we can all declare, “and marvelous [are] thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true [are] thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).  Praise the Lord, for justice and mercy come from Him.

Source:  Birthday Wishes;

Farida’s Story

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles – Psalm 34:6, NKJV

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I was 13 when my parents married me off to a 36 year old rich Arab man.  He was the second man who wanted me to be his wife.  The other man was a neighbor and he knew me since I was a baby.  He was in his 60s.  He offered 40 cows but the Arab offered money.  My parents accepted the money.

I had no choice.  I left my village and went with him.  Before we got married, I had to spend 15 days with his family.  I hated it there.  They didn’t like me because I was African and dark-skinned.  It didn’t matter that I was a Muslim like them and that I spoke Arabic.  They would have preferred if he had married an Arab woman.  I think they had a problem with my age.  I overheard his mother ask him why did he agreed to marry someone so young?  His response was that I was very pretty and he wanted me.  I think it was because he was controlling and believed that a younger wife would be more obedient.

My life before marriage was a nightmare.  At night he would ravage me and the following morning at 7am, his mother woke me up to pray and do housework.  I felt like a slave.  I felt so alone and helpless.  Things continued and got progressively worse after we got married.  We moved into his home.  I continued to do the housework, cook and pamper him.  I was forced to have sex every night even when he knew that I was very upset or tired, he didn’t care.  He went ahead and had his pleasure and fell asleep afterwards while I lay there beside him in the bed, in the dark, crying.

My marriage wasn’t anything like my parents’.  I never saw my father mistreat my mother and she seemed to enjoy taking care of him.  It wasn’t like that for me.  I didn’t want to be married.  I wanted to be in school, getting an education.  I was hoping to be a doctor but that dream was squashed by a marriage forced on me by my parents.  My mother even said to me, “This marriage proposal is a gift from Allah, his way of keeping you out of trouble. If you say no, you will be showing your lack of faith in him, and you will be punished.  This man’s rich and he will provide well for you.  All you have to do is be a good wife to him.”

How could she expect a teenage girl to be a wife?  She didn’t even get married until she had finished school.  And she married for love.  Why couldn’t I marry for love too and when I was ready?  It seemed so unfair.  I came to the conclusion that my parents didn’t love me.  If they did, they wouldn’t have married me off to a man almost three times my age.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I imagined that my husband being so much older than me would take care of me.  He would be like a father to me.

arab-arab-culture-arab-man-arabart-757307I soon learned that a husband is never a father.  He expected me to be a wife, despite my age.  I was more like a slave.  He took great pleasure in telling me that he used to have hired help but dismissed them after he married me.  He expected me to keep a house which was very big with a lot of rooms.  I was exhausted by the time I finished cleaning it.  Then, I had to do the cooking, laundry and ironing.  I was exhausted by the end of the day but I still had to satisfy him in the bedroom.

I hated my marriage, I hated him and I hated my life.  I wished that I could run away but I knew that it would be pointless.  He told me once that if I did, he would find me because he had people watching the house when he wasn’t there.  And that life would be a thousand times worse for me.  I believed him.

Night after night, I prayed to God to help me.   I knew that what my husband was doing to me was against our religion. Islam prohibits all forms of oppression and injustice yet he felt that it was his right to beat me if I were disobedient to him such as refusing to have sex with him when he wanted it.  The Qur’an clearly teaches the sexual relationship between a husband and wife should be mutually satisfying but it was never like that for us.  As his wife, he demanded sex from me and whenever I refused him I was beaten and then raped.  He told me that God got angry with disobedient wives but I remember a friend once told me that when obeying a husband involves behavior that is hurtful or destructive to oneself or others, a Muslim wife must remember that her primary obedience is to God.

I wanted God to help me.  I wanted out of this nightmare.  I couldn’t continue living like this.  I felt like I was caught in a trap and nothing or no one could get me out of it except God.  For 25 years I was trapped in an abusive marriage and then my husband died.  He left nothing in my name and his family denied me everything, including the dowry I was entitled to.  He and I didn’t have any children together and that was why they were able to rob me of my inheritance.  I had wasted 25 years of my life.

I’m 38 now and a part of the ActionAid supported women’s group working to advocate against FGM and child marriage.  I don’t want anyone to go through what I did.  A girl should have the right to decide when and whom she wants to marry.  Education should come first.  Marriage should be a healthy, happy and safe choice for us.  Islam teaches that each person has been given freedom of choice and is accountable for his/her own life.  Today, I am pushing for girls to be independent and to choose their own future.

I don’t know if I would ever get married again.  I had such a horrible experience.  I’m just thankful to God that I’m no longer living in an abusive marriage and that I can focus on empowering girls to understand and live out their rights, including saying no to child marriage.

This story is fiction but child marriage is a disturbing reality.  I was inspired to write this story after reading Aleyna’s* story in an email sent to me by Equality Now.  She was 13 year old Lebanese girl and forced to marry a 36 year old man who abused her for 40 years before he died, leaving her nothing.  Equality Now’s partner in Lebanon, LECORVAW (The Lebanese Council to Resist Violence Against Women) is working with women like Aleyna who need legal support to access the justice they deserve.  Aleya says that, “I have a lawyer who works for LECORVAW, she is defending me in court and that is very important. LECORVAW is giving me psychological and legal support. I feel so much better thanks to them as before I was struggling to cope.”

Child marriage is an evil practice which has to be eradicated from society.  Girls should be allowed to finish their education and to decide when they want to get married.  Marriage is for adult men and women NOT adult men and children/girls.  We need laws to protect girls from child marriage.  Let’s raise awareness and support the organizations which are working to end child marriage.

 

Sources:  Religion Unplugged; Faith Trust Institution; ActionAid

 

Toshiro Returns to Tokyo

Z8VeQHoI_oToshiro was back in Tokyo.  He returned two weeks ago.  It was hard being away from Kampala.  All he could think about was Ife and how much he missed being with her.  All along he knew that what he had been doing was wrong but he couldn’t help himself.  He wanted Ife so much.  She filled him with a desire that was so potent and raw that it scared him.

He could tell from the way she responded when they made love that she wanted him too.  And that realization was what he used to rationalize his actions.  But his conscience continued to trouble him.

And he felt badly about Asuka.  They had been going steady for some time now and still he hadn’t broached the subject of marriage with her.  His family expected him to pop the question soon and he imagined that her family might expect the same thing.  He knew that Asuka was in love with him but he realized that he didn’t feel the same way and that was before he met Ife.

Speaking of Asuka, he was supposed to meet her for a coffee at the cafe where they usually went.  It was within walking distance from his apartment.  No doubt she was already there waiting for him.  She was always very punctual.

They hadn’t seen each other for months and when he was in Tokyo, he made sure that they spent time together.  This year, however, it was different for him.  He didn’t look forward to coming home anymore.  For him, Kampala was home.  It was where Ife was.  He closed his eyes briefly.  Oh, Ife, I wish I could be with you right now.  Was she thinking about him?  Did she miss him?  She’s probably glad to be rid of you for a while because of what you’re doing to her, an accusing voice retorted and he flinched.

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As soon as he walked into the cafe, he spotted Asuka.  He went over to her and she stood up, her expression one of delight.  She was obviously very happy to see him.  She put her arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips.  Then, she sat down.  “I ordered you Hot Tea.”  She put it in front of him.

“You’re welcome,” she said.  “You must be happy to be able to speak Japanese again.  How are things in Kampala?”He attempted a smile.  “Thank you.”

“The usual,” he said.  “Well, while I was there, journalists were protesting alleged abuse by the police.  They saw what was happening as an attack on press freedom in Uganda.   Then, there’s growing concern among some Ugandans about Chinese funding because of the debts they see other countries struggling with.  And then there’s the charcoal trade which is decimating forests.”

“Last week Tuesday was World Toilet Day so I was reading up about it online and came across an article which said that there’s a toilet crisis in Kampala.  It said that there aren’t public toilets for about 1,200 people, I think and that mud tinged with feces washes into homes during heavy rains.  How disgusting!”  She made a face and shuddered.  “How could people live like that and why isn’t the government doing something about it?”

“Yes, the sanitation crisis is growing worse.  It’s not only happening in Kampala but in South Africa, India and other places.”

“We’re so lucky, Toshiro.  We have access to clean toilets at home and in public.  I think that sometimes we take these things for granted.  I wanted to help so I sent a donation to one of the charities which is helping to provide clean toilets for the people in Africa.  Using public toilets isn’t safe for the women.  They could catch diseases or even get raped.  Can you imagine that?  And children aren’t safe either.  I read about four children who drown in pit toilets.  I still get choked up just thinking about them, especially, the three year old. ”

“Let’s not talk about this anymore because it’s upsetting you.”  He couldn’t bear to hear it anymore.  It made him think of Ife and how she could have lost her job if it had been discovered that she had used the toilet in his suite that day when he caught her.  He wondered if she was one of those people who didn’t have toilets in their homes.

“You’re right.  Let’s talk about something else.  The hotel where you stay, is it nice?”

“Yes, it is.  It’s a 5 star hotel.”

“What do you do when you’re not on business?”

“I go sightseeing or I stay in my room and catch up on the News.”  That wasn’t true.  He hardly went sightseeing and in the evenings, he was in his suite with Ife.

“Maybe one of these days, I will visit you there.   I read that it’s a relatively safe place for tourists.  Besides, I won’t be alone.  You will be there to protect me.”  She reached over and squeezed his hand.  “It’s so good to see you.  I always miss you so much every time you go away and I count the days when you’ll be back.  When do you go again?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe next month.”

“But not during Christmas and New Year’s I hope.”

“I don’t know.”

“Why do you go there so often?”

“Business.”  That wasn’t true anymore.  Ife was his reason for going to Kampala now.

“Well, I hope you plan to spend Christmas here.”

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he sipped his tea.  I wonder what Christmas is like in Kampala. 

“My parents are wondering what your intentions are.”

He stared at her blankly.  “What do you mean?”

“Well…we’ve been dating for five years now and they are wondering if we are going to settle down anytime soon.  We’re both in our thirties now.”

Toshiro sighed.  “Asuka, I have something to tell you.”

She looked wary now.  And she set the cup of coffee down on the table.  “What is it?” she asked.

“I haven’t been completely honest with you.  You asked why I go to Kampala so often and I told that it had to do with business.  Well, it doesn’t–not entirely.  This year I have been involved with a woman I met there.”

Asuka stared at him.  “What do you mean by involved?”

Toshiro could feel his face getting warm.  “I’m in a relationship with her.”

“But you’re in a relationship with me.”

“I know–”

“Does she know about me?”

“No.”

“Are you sleeping with her?”

“Yes.”

Asuka’s face was pale now.  Hurt and pain etched her features.  “Are you in love with her?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t believe this.  I have kept myself pure for you because I believed that we were going to get married.”

“You told me that you couldn’t sleep with me because you’re a Christian.”

“Is that why you’re sleeping with her?”

No.”

“Well, I guess this is it for us.”  She got up and pulled on her coat and scarf.   Grabbing her handbag, she muttered, “Goodbye, Toshiro” before she turned and walked away.

He sat there for a long time, feeling terrible.  The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt Asuka.  If he hadn’t met and fallen in love with Ife, he would have married her.  In time, he would have grown to love her the way she loved him.

He finished his tea which had gotten lukewarm and then got up and left the cafe.  He didn’t go straight home.  Instead, he walked for a while, thinking.  He had to sort out what he was going to do about Ife.  He hadn’t banked on falling in love with her.  Initially, it had been an extremely strong sexual attraction which he thought that he would get over after a while.

He knew what he ought to do but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.  This whole thing had turned into a great mess.  He needed to talk to someone.  Miko.  He called her immediately on his cell.  Her voice mail came on.  He left a message asking her to call him.

She returned his call a couple of hours later.  He asked her if he could stop by her place the following day because he really needed to talk to her.

Next up is Toshiro’s Exploitation.

Source:  AP News

Toshiro Consoles Ife

Polo-Ralph-Lauren-Pre-Fall-2019-Campaign03“What’s the matter, Ife?” Toshiro asked.  He could tell that something was wrong.

“I found out yesterday that Damba, my ex-husband was killed in a road accident.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Ife.  Is there anything I can do for you?”

She shook her head.  “No, there isn’t.”

“When is the funeral?”

“It’s on Friday.  My manager gave me the entire day off.”

“That was very thoughtful.”

“Yes.  I’m very grateful to him.”

“How is Miremba doing?”

“She’s devastated.  He was her Dad and she loved him.”

“What about you?  How are you holding up?”

“It’s hard.  We knew each other from childhood and were married for ten years.  I can’t believe that he’s gone.”

“How old was he?”

“Thirty-five.”

“The same age as me.  Did you love him?”

Ife shook her head.  “No, I didn’t love him but I cared about him.  We got married because I was pregnant.”

“You know I would understand if you want to go home and be with Miremba now.”

She got up from the chair and walked over to the window.  “No, I don’t have to leave right now.  Miremba is with her uncle and his family.  It helps her to be with her cousins right now.”  hC64MrmM_o

Toshiro went up behind her and pulled her against him.  “I know this is hard for you, Ife.  Although you didn’t love him, he was still a big part of your life.”

Ife relaxed in his arms as she stared out the window.  “Yes, he was.”

He turned her around to face him, his eyes searching hers.  “We don’t have to do anything, you know.  We could just talk if you like.”

Ife shook her head.  “No, I don’t want to talk right now.  Maybe later.”  She moved away from him and walked towards the bedroom.

He followed her and after closing the door behind him, he went over to where she stood beside the bed.  His heated gaze met hers before he took her in his arms.

“You can stay here for as long as you like,” he told her some time later as she lay on her side with her head resting on his chest.  He had his arm around her, holding her close.

“Thank you,” she mumbled.  She wished they could remain like this forever.

“I wish I could come to funeral just to give you my support but, unfortunately, I have a very important meeting.”

“I understand,” Ife replied.  She was really touched that he wanted to go to the funeral for her sake.  It sparked hope inside her that he was developing feelings for her.

“Although I will be absent from you in body, I will be present with you in spirit.”

“I know.”

“Where’s the funeral going to be held?”

“At my church.”

“What time is the service?”

“It’s at 11 after the viewing which is at the funeral home and it ends around noon.    After the graveside service and burial, there is a repast at the church.”

“I’ll understand if you would rather be with your family instead of coming here.”

“No, I’m still going to come–at the usual time.”

“When you come, we can just talk if you like.”

“All right.”

“I would like to send flowers to the funeral home.  Before you leave, could you give me the address?”

“Yes, I will.  That’s very kind of you to want to send flowers.”

Toshiro closed his eyes in despair.  He wanted to tell her that it had nothing to do with kindness but would she believe him?

Next up is The Conflict.

Source:  Bible Hub