Christmas in Tampa

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Sami finished his conference call and when it was finished, he stood up and stretched.  Sometimes, those calls could be so tedious.  He was hungry.  Perhaps he should have Thai food delivered.  He picked up his phone and called his secretary.  “Hannah, could you call Mengrai Thai, order my usual and have it delivered at reception here instead of at security?  And please tell Shanika that I need to see her.  Thanks.”

He stood at the window looking out when minutes later, there was a knock on the door.  “Come in.”

The door opened and Shanika walked in.  He turned to face her, hands in pockets, leaning against the wall as he watched her close the door before she joined him at the window.  “Have you had lunch as yet?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “No.”

“Have lunch with me.”

“Okay.”

“I hope you like Thai.”

“I do.”

“So, do you have any plans for the weekend?”

“Well, aside from going to church tomorrow as usual, I don’t have any other plans.”

“Are you a Seventh-day Adventist?”

“Yes.  I’m a Seventh-day Adventist.  What gave me away?  Is it because I said I was going to church tomorrow which is a Saturday?”

“That plus the fact that you’re not wearing any makeup or jewelry.”

She smiled.  “So, you are a bit familiar with our ways.”

“I have friends who are Adventists.  Very nice people.  Are you a Vegetarian too?”
She shook her head.  “No.  Not all of us are.”
“One of my aunts is a Vegetarian but she isn’t an Adventist.”
“Do you go to church?”

“Only at Easter and Christmas, I’m afraid.  When I was a child, I went to church every Sunday because my parents insisted.”

“Which church did you go to?”

“I went to Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Manhattan.”

“You lived in New York?”

“Yes.  In Soho.  Before that I lived in Washington, DC with my parents after we left Algiers.  I went to St. Anselm’s Abbey School an all-boys preparatory school for grades six through twelve.  After I graduated from there, I left Washington and headed for Massachusetts to study at MIT.  After I graduated, I moved to New York where I lived for ten years.”

“And now you’re here in Tampa.”

“Yes.  I didn’t want to go through any more New York winters.”

“Have you been back to Algeria since you left?”

“No.  I don’t plan on ever going back.”

“Why did you leave?”

“Religious persecution.”

“I read just last month that your country’s blasphemy laws are making it difficult for Christians to share their faith because they are afraid that their conversation may be considered blasphemous and used against them.”

“Yes.  While we were there, they closed our church.  My relatives who are still there have to meet in homes to worship.”

“It’s really sad what they are going through.  Maybe we should say a special prayer for them on Saturday.  You are still coming to my church on Saturday right?”

“Yes.  And to the Christmas concert afterwards.”

“Good.”

Just then Hannah called his extension to let him know that his take-out order had arrived.  He excused himself and went to get it.  When he returned, he removed the containers from the bag and put everything out on the table beside the windows.  Shanika said a prayer before they tucked into the mouthwatering food.

“It’s good to know that you celebrate Christmas,” Sami commented.

“Yes, we celebrate it even though we know that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th.”

“Since you will be celebrating Christmas with your family, I was wondering if you would celebrate New Year’s with me?  I was thinking that we could have dinner first and then go to Busch Gardens and watch the fireworks.”

“I would like that very much.”

“Great.  This will be the first time I have gone anywhere on New Year’s Eve.  Usually I would stay home and watch the ball drop at Times Square and ring in the New Year alone.”

“Usually, I would be at my parents’ house.  What about Christmas?  Are you spending it with your family?”

“Not this year.  I wanted to have a warm Christmas.”

“So, this is your first Christmas in Tampa?”

“Yes.”

“Why don’t you spend it with my family and me?  My parents would love to have you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.  They are dying to meet you.”

His eyebrows arched.  “They are?” he exclaimed.  “How come?”

“I’ve told them so much about you that they feel like they know you.”

He laughed.  “Wow.  Well, I hope they wouldn’t be disappointed when they actually meet me.”

“Not if you work that charm of yours.”

“My charm?”

“Yes.  Your charm and your smile and not to mention your eyes…”

“You’re making me blush.”

Shanika laughed.  “You are blushing.”

“Would your parents have a problem with you dating your boss?”

“No.”

“What about the fact that I’m a Catholic?”

“They may have some reservations about it although they acknowledge that there are sincere Christians in other denominations, including Roman Catholicism.”

“I know that my parents wouldn’t approve of my dating a non Catholic but it doesn’t matter.”

“Let’s talk about something else,” Shanika suggested.  “What languages do they speak in Algeria?”

Arabic and Berber are the native languages.  Algerians can read and write in French and English is taught in schools.” 

“You speak English with a French accent.”

“French is my first language and English my second.”

“Do you speak Arabic?”

“A little.  And I don’t speak Berber at all.”

Interesting.  I learned French in high-school and university and I really liked it.  I would like to be fluent in it.”

“I can teach you.”

“That would be nice.  So, what do you in your spare time?”

“Working out, reading, cycling, hiking and photography.”

“Wow.  I enjoy long walks, reading, cooking and baking, blogging and playing tennis.”

“I play tennis sometimes.  Maybe we can have a friendly match one of these days.”

She smiled.  “You’re on,” she said.  She rose to her feet.  “Thanks for lunch.  It was really tasty.”

He stood up.  “You’re welcome.

They cleared the table and then stood facing each other.  “I’d better be getting back to work.”

“You have a little sauce at the corner of your mouth here.”  He reached up and rubbed his thumb against the corner of her mouth.

“Oh,” she said, feeling a bit self-conscious.

He smiled.  “It’s gone.”  Then, his expression became serious.  His eyes darkened as they studied her upturned face.  “Tu es si belle,” he murmured.

She blinked.  Her heart was racing.  “Pardon?” she asked, sounding a bit breathless.

“I said that you are lovely.”

“Th–thank you.”  Her breath caught in her throat when he lowered his head and kissed her.  She put her arms around his neck and kissed him back.  They kissed for several minutes and then his phone rang.

Reluctantly, he broke off the kiss and released her.  He went and answered it.  Putting his hand over the mouthpiece, he said, “I’m sorry but I need to take this call.  Stick around after work.  I’ll give you a ride home.”

“All right,” she said.  “I’ll see you later.”  She turned and walked on rather wobbly legs out of his office.  Yes, Christmas in Tampa this year was going to be a very special one.  She smiled at the thought as she closed the door behind her.

 

Sources:  Gatestone InstituteSeventh-day Adventist Church; Success; Live Bold & Bloom; Times Higher Education; Investopedia; Wikipedia;

 

 

Taahira’s Story

Scarification is used as a form of initiation into adulthood, beauty and a sign of a village, tribe, and clan.

People stare at me because of the tribal marks on my face.  I wish I never had them.  I wish I knew what I looked like without them.  Before I left Nigeria, I asked my mother about them.  She said that she and my father were merely upholding traditional practices. I wished that I was born in 2012 when a law against such markings was introduced.  I told my parents that I hated the marks.  They are ugly not beautiful.

My mother got angry and said to me, “Those marks you hate so much helped some tribes avoid becoming slaves, because the slave-traders viewed faces without scars as a sign of good health, and so did not seize tribesmen with facial scars.  People without facial scars are descendants of slaves, immigrants or refugees.  Those marks help people to know which region you come from.  You should be proud not ashamed of them.  They are part of your heritage–of who you are.”

Nothing she nor my father said could convince me to accept their warped area of beauty.  After I graduated from school, I was happy to leave Abuja for London to study at Queen Mary University there.  I had a room in a Queen Mary hall of residence and I had no trouble making friends but I got tired of people asking me about the marks.  I explained to them that they weren’t accidental scars and that I wasn’t proud of them.  My parents marked me when I was a baby.  I couldn’t believe that they did that to me.  For a very long time, I was bitter about it and resented them.

Then, my life and how I felt about my marks and my parents changed.  It was when at the last minute, I decided to enroll in the English and History course and I’m happy I did.  Professor Ashworth was not only very handsome and the youngest I have seen so far but he was really nice.  I enjoyed his class and looked forward to going every week.  After class, I stayed and chatted with him for a while before I rushed off to my next class.

We never talked about my marks and he never stared at them like other people did which made me feel good.  He was seeing me not my marks.  One day, he asked me if I would meet him after school at Queen Victoria Park in front of the Queen’s Gate at five-thirty.  I said yes, of course and was so excited.  I couldn’t wait and at five-fifteen, I was waiting for him.  He came at exactly five-thirty.  We went for a walk.  I had never been to that park before although it wasn’t far from the university.  As we walked and talked, I didn’t worry about running into a student or faculty member.  And even if we did, we had nothing to feel guilty about.  We were just two people strolling in the park on a beautiful afternoon.

We stopped for a while and I leaned against the tree, facing the lake.  I could feel him watching me and I turned my head.  My heart skipped a beat when our eyes met. “Do you have a boyfriend, Taahira?” he asked.

I shook my head at once.  “No.  What guy would want to date me anyway?” I asked. “He’d take one look at my face and run.” I was speaking from experience.  Most of the guys on campus avoided me.

37f6b6a8-ffa9-478a-b7d2-3a80bf67446a“In front of me I see a lovely young woman with whom I would really like to be in a relationship,” he said, quietly.  And as if unable to resist, he reached out and touched my face.  “Will you have dinner with me tomorrow evening?”

I seemed to have trouble breathing and my heart was beating really fast.  “Yes,” I managed to say.

He smiled and his hand dropped to his side.  “I’ll pick you up where we met today.  Dinner will be at my country home.  Oxfordshire is beautiful at this time of the year.  Before dinner, I could show you around the grounds and then we could go for a walk to Winderton Village.”

“You live in Oxfordshire?”

“Yes.  It’s just less than a 90 minute drive to London.”

“Do you live there by yourself?”

“No, I have a live-in couple–a husband and wife.  He’s the head gardener and she’s the housekeeper.  Very nice people.  They have been with me for over ten years.  They are like family.”

My head was spinning.  I was going to have dinner with my English History professor.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was looking forward to visiting Oxfordshire because it was where Downton Abbey was filmed and George Clooney bought a house for his wife there.  “What time should I meet you at the gate?” I asked.

“At four.  Bring a pair of comfortable shoes with you for walking.  Do you have to go back to the university now or could we go somewhere and have something to eat?”

“No, I don’t have to go back to the university now.”

He straightened away from the tree.  “All right, I know this Italian place where they serve the best pasta.”  He reached for my hand and I let him hold it as I fell into step with him.  I was thrilled to be holding hands with him.  People looked at us but he didn’t seem to care and that made me feel good.

We went to the Italian place and enjoyed great food.  He took me back to the university campus.  I hardly slept a wink that night.  Saturday came and I was anxious for it to go quickly so that I could see him.  This time when I got to the park entrance he was waiting for me.  He smiled when he saw me.  “Good evening,” he said before he leaned over and kissed me on my right cheek where the big, ugly mark was.  When he drew back, our eyes met and what I saw in his, made my heart skip a beat. We held hands as we walked to his car.  Soon, we were on our way to Oxfordshire.  It was beautiful and very English.

My mouth dropped open when I saw the sprawling mansion and the immaculate grounds.  He obviously came from a wealthy family.  The front hall was enormous.  Everything was enormous.  The housekeeper, Mrs. Jenkins was a bit wary of me at first but she soon warmed up.  After he showed me around the mansion where a person could easily get lost, he took me around the grounds.  Thank goodness I was wearing a pair of runners.  There was so much to see.

As we headed over the rolling countryside towards Winderton Village, he told me more about his parents and his childhood here.  Like me, he was an only child.  His parents moved from London to here and when they died, the mansion, the land became his.  His father always expected him to follow in his footsteps become an MP but he opted to become an English and History professor at Queen Mary University instead.  I’m happy that he chose teaching over politics or we never would have met.  His mother used to be private secretary to a Duchess but left her position after she got married.  She was twenty years his father’s junior.

“Do you have a problem dating a man twice your age?” he asked me.

I shook my head.  “No.  Age isn’t important to me.”

He smiled and gently squeezed my hand which he had been holding since we left the grounds.  “I’m happy to hear that.”

Winderton was very picturesque.  It looked like a picture you would see on a postcard.  We passed by old farm buildings and visited the All Saints church which is at the center of the town.  It’s an Anglican Church although Roman Catholic services were also held there on Saturdays.  He must have arranged to have them open the doors for us because we were able to go inside.  The Nave and aisles faced north east.  It was a very modest looking church, not at all like the Catholic churches I have seen in photos or visited.  “Are you Anglican or Catholic?” I asked as we left and headed back to the mansion.  The sun was setting.  Winderton looked beautiful at sunset.

“I’m Anglican.  What about you?”

“I’m neither.  I’m still trying to find a church I could belong to, I guess.”

“They are having Carols ‘at the George’ in the Church at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, December 17th.  Would you be interested in coming?”

“Yes, I would be.”

“I’ll pick you up around 5 and we will have dinner at the mansion before coming over here.  Do you have any plans for Christmas?  Will you be spending it with your parents?”

I shook my head.  “No, I wouldn’t be spending Christmas with them.”

“Would you spend it and New Year’s with me?  I will take you home on New Year’s Day in the early evening.”

“Yes, Professor I would love to spend Christmas and New Year’s with you.”

“Taahira, now that we’re off the campus, I would like you to call me by my first name.  Do you know what it is?”

“Yes, I do.”

He stopped and turned to face me.  We were on the hill leading up to his estate.  “I’d like to hear you say it.”

“Piers.”

“Say it again…”

“Piers…”

His eyes darkened and he pulled me in his arms.  He kissed me and I felt a spark.  I put my arms around his neck and kissed him back.  I have never been kissed before and it was out of this world.  We stood there for several minutes exchanging passionate kisses and then, he raised his head, breathing heavily.  “We’d better stop,” he said breathlessly.

I was disappointed but I nodded in assent.  And lacing his fingers through mine, we headed for the mansion.

Dinner was amazing and afterwards, we went into the drawing-room where we spent the rest of the evening until it was time for him to take me home.  We officially started dating after that evening and by the end of January 2020, we were engaged.  I joined the Anglican Church.  In June, we had a small, intimate wedding.  Mrs. Jenkins was the matron of honor and Mr. Jenkins the best man.  We spent our honeymoon in romantic Tuscany.

My tribal marks don’t bother me anymore.  I have come to accept that they are and always will be a part of me.  I have forgiven my parents and am in touch with them.  I have informed them that their grandchildren will not be marked.  There comes a time in one’s life when they must break with some traditions.  I think that this tradition should be outlawed and I’m advocating for that through an organization other victims of tribal marks and I have found called, Scarred for Life.  The support has been tremendous and we are pushing for the Nigerian government to ban marking children in the name of culture.

This story is fiction but tribal markings are a reality in Nigeria.  There these tribal markings are given to young children  using hot knives laced with ash by a local tribal mark giver.  This is done for cultural reasons but Senator Dino Melaye feels this practice causes low self-esteem in the marked children and increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS because the sharp instruments used by the locales to inscribe the tribal marks were not sterilized.  He is pushing for Senate to criminalize the practice.  “These tribal marks have become emblems of disfiguration and have hindered many situations of life. Some have developed low self-esteem, they are most times treated with scorn and ridicule.”  Melaye was himself a victim of these markings.  His grandmother took him to get them while his father, who never wanted his children to have them, was away.

Although the tradition of tribal markings or scarification is dying, it should be outlawed.  The Nigerian government needs to put the rights of the children above this barbaric practice of preserving family identity.

Sources:  How Africa; NGO Insider; Face2Face Africa; Queen Mary University of London; Sher She GoesAll Saints Church Winderton; Queen Mary University of London; US News; Daily Post; France24

Ife’s Loss

Herieth_Paul_Women20194_R“He was only twenty-nine!”  Ife couldn’t believe it.  Her ex-husband, Damba was dead.  “What happened?” she asked  her brother, Irumba.  It was a Sunday afternoon and she was at home.  Miremba was out with her friends.  Irumba had stopped by to give her the news.

“He was killed in  road accident.  It was caused by over-speeding which resulted in failure to brake.  He died instantly.  His sister said she was trying to reach you but couldn’t.  The funeral is next week Friday.”

Ife sighed.  “I always warned him about driving too fast.  He never listened.  That was his problem.  I warned him about so many things but he never listened.  And now, he’s dead.  Poor Miremba.  She’s going to take this really hard.  She loved her Dad.”

“What about you?  Did you love him?”

“I thought I did but now I don’t think so.  I cared about him but I didn’t love him.  Soon after we got married I realized that I had made a mistake but I wanted to give our marriage a chance because of Miremba.  I learned that staying in a marriage for the sake of a child isn’t the best thing for that child.  He and I quarreled a lot and it was beginning to affect Miremba and that’s why I decided that a divorce was the best thing.”

“Couldn’t you have tried to work things out?  What about marriage counseling?”

“We couldn’t afford that.”

“You could have come to me and I would have helped you.”

“No.  Damba wouldn’t have wanted your help.  And he wouldn’t have wanted to go for counseling.  I know that divorce isn’t a good thing but in my case, it was the only option.”

“How are you doing, otherwise?”

“I’m getting by.”

“Why don’t you move out of this place and neighborhood and find somewhere better and safer for Miremba and you?”

“It’s not that bad.  It’s close to Miremba’s school and I don’t have to travel far to get to work.”

“Are you still working at that hotel?”

“Yes.”

“Ife, you’re a smart woman.  Why are you wasting your time cleaning a big, fancy hotel?”

“I got pregnant and got married soon after I finished high-school.  I didn’t go to university.  I became a housewife and a mother.  And now I’m a widow.”

“It’s not too late for you to do something with your life.”

Ife shrugged.  “I’m so used to working at the hotel.   I don’t want to make any changes right now.”  She knew the real reason for not wanting to leave her job at the hotel was because of Mr. Kobayashi.  In her mind she called him, Toshiro but whenever she addressed him, she called him, Mr. Kobayashi.  In spite of everything, she had fallen hopelessly in love with him.

“Did you call the company I told you about a couple of weeks ago?”

“What company?”

“Paper Craft Africa.  They are the company whose products are sold in local married African manhotels and gift shops.  Many of the people they employ are young, single mothers like yourself.  It’s right here in Kampala, Ife.  Why don’t you check them out during your lunch break?”

“I can’t.  I only have a half-hour lunch break.”

“Then go after work.  Don’t you work until 4:30?  The company is open until 5, I believe.  Call them and find out.”

“All right, I will call,” Ife promised.  “How are Nasiche and the girls?”

“They are doing well.  They were sorry to hear about Damba.  Nasiche said that if you need her for anything, call.  If you like Miremba could stay with us for a while.”

“I’ll ask Miremba.  I’m really sorry that Damba’s dead.  He was a good father to Miremba and a good husband to me in the beginning.  I think things changed between us when he realized that I didn’t love him.  I guess I was hoping that one of these days, he would find a woman who would love him the way he wanted me to love him.  I guess that isn’t likely to happen now.”

Irumba hugged her.  “Don’t beat yourself up about it.  Sometimes people end up marrying the wrong person through no fault of their own.  Besides, something beautiful came from your marriage.”

Ife smiled.  “Yes, Miremba.  She was a gift straight from God.”

Irumba drew back to look down at her.  “Speaking of God, you haven’t been to church in a while.  Miremba comes by herself.  What’s going on?”

“I’m too tired.”

“Ife, you should never be too tired to come to church on the Sabbath.”

“I still pray and read my Bible even though I don’t attend church.”

“I’m happy that you’re doing those things and but it’s very important for God’s people to attend church regularly.  It’s the time when we come together worship, are encouraged and learn from God’s Word for our spiritual growth.  The apostle Paul advises us not neglect our weekly gathering, as some people do, but to encourage one another, especially now that the day of the Lord’s return is drawing near.”

“I know that going to church is important.  Mama and Papa always told us that God expected us to be in His house every Saturday.”

“You know that if they were alive now, they would be telling you the very same thing.  Why don’t you come with Miremba this Saturday?  Afterwards, both of you will come home with us and have a delicious lunch which Nasiche will prepare on Friday before sunset, for us to enjoy and then we spend the rest of the afternoon together.”

Ife hesitated.  She wanted to go to church.  She missed going to church but how could she show her face there knowing what she was doing behind closed doors?  It would be uncomfortable sitting there among the church members, knowing what she was doing behind their backs.  The thought petrified her.

Irumba squeezed her shoulder.  “Think about it,” he said quietly.

She nodded.  “I will,” she promised.  “Thanks for coming over.”

“On Friday, the family and I will take Miremba and you to the church for the funeral service.”

“All right.  We’ll see you then.  Please give my love to Nasiche and the girls.”

“I will.  Give Miremba a hug for me and let her know how sorry we are to hear about her Dad.”

They hugged again and then he left.  After he was gone, Ife sat down on the sofa and cried.

Next Up, Toshiro Consoles Ife

Sources:  XinhuanetBible Gateway; Bible Study ToolsTechnoServe

Naomi’s Story

246f1a5e7c97bb2aac484e131cb6103cMy name is Naomi.  Like my namesake, I have been tempted to change my name to Mara which means “bitterness”.  I have a lot to be bitter about.  All of my life I have been bullied and mistreated due to the color of my skin.  I have black skin.  I’m the darkest in my family.  Even they have a big problem with my complexion.  I was the black sheep of the family.  I never felt loved or accepted by them.

I once overheard one of my aunts, ask my mother, “Are you sure she’s yours?  She’s so black.  We don’t have anyone in our entire family that is black like that.”

And my mother’s response still hurts me to this day.  “If I had known that she would be so black I wouldn’t have named her Naomi, which means ‘my delight’ and if I weren’t a Christian I would have aborted her.  I couldn’t give her up for adoption.  Who would want her?”

None of them believed that any man would want to marry me.  All of my sisters, including the youngest one got married.  I was in my thirties and still single.  I didn’t have any boyfriends.  The boys at school shunned me.  None of the girls didn’t want to be friends with me.  The girl I thought was my friend only acknowledged me when we were outside of school.  After a while I stopped being friends with her.  I would rather be friendless than to have a fake friend like her.  It hurt, though.  And being friendless meant that I was lonely.

I was very smart, though and did exceptionally well in school.  Some of my teachers were kind to me and encouraged me but there were some who weren’t.  And I got bullied a lot at school by the other kids.  They called me “tar baby” and told me that I looked dirty.  Some of them rubbed my arms to see if the “dirt” would come off.  Many times, I ran off to a quiet place where I broke down and cried.  I got no comfort at home.  I hated my life and I began to wish that I had never been born.

I was about to commit suicide when I was 16 but was stopped by a voice which told me, “Lay down the knife; don’t hurt yourself in any way.”  The voice frightened me but I obeyed it.  I never tried to kill myself again after that.  Instead, I continued to work hard in school and went to university.  Life on campus hadn’t changed.  I was still treated like an anomaly.  I tried to ignore the stares and the remarks.  I remember one guy asking his friend, “How could you tell under that blackness that she’s pretty?”

Graduation was fast approaching and I wondered what I was going to do after I left university.  I didn’t want to go back home and I was sure they didn’t want me to either.  One afternoon, when I was in my dorm flipping through a magazine to see if they had any jobs posted and I came across photos of various models.  One of them was as black as me.  I couldn’t believe it.  She was a model!  Someone had hired her.  I began to consider modeling.  I was tall and slender.

I looked for the contact information and I called them.  I was told go in which I did.  I wore my best dress and a little makeup.  The receptionist told me to have a seat.  About twenty minutes later, a man walked in and asked me to stand.  I did.  He told me to walk about for a bit which I did.  Then, he turned to the receptionist and instructed her to book me for a test and photo shoot.  He nodded in my direction and then quickly walked away.  The receptionist gave me a form to fill out which I did.  She told me when and where to go for the shoot.  I was very excited when I left the agency.

After I graduated, I became a model.  I got lots of jobs and I soon realized that in the modeling world, it doesn’t matter how pale or how dark you are and that you don’t even have to be beautiful or pretty as long as you photograph and model well.  My unconventional look got me noticed.  Pretty soon, I was getting a lot of jobs.  I loved modelling and working with different clients.  I met terrific people and traveled to so many places.  I especially enjoyed going to Paris.  It was there I met Dathan, the photographer I was going to work with.  His mother was German and his father was Nigerian.  We did a photo session together and it was a blast.  Afterwards, we went for lunch and right after that, we began dating.

male-model-lacy-testimonial-1I don’t exactly know when it happened but I fell in love with him and I thought he felt the same way.  Once while we were making love, he whispered, “I love you,” in my ear and I clung to him and whispered it back to him.  I always imagined that one of these days, we would end up getting married and raising a family.

Well, I got pregnant and when I told him, I didn’t get the reaction I had hoped for.  He became very reserved and when I mentioned marriage, he told me flatly that he couldn’t marry me.  I was stunned and hurt.  I was willing to give up modeling to be his wife and raise our child.  It didn’t matter where we ended up living.  I would have followed him to the ends of the earth if he asked me to.  “I thought you loved me,” I cried.

“I do, Naomi.  I love you so much…”

“Then, why won’t you marry me?” I demanded, frustrated and very close to tears.  “Is it your family?  Are you afraid that they wouldn’t accept me because of my dark skin?”

He closed his eyes and sighed heavily.  “I can’t marry you because I’m already married.”

I stared at him.  I couldn’t believe what he just said.  He was married?  All this time I have been involved with a married man?  I had to sit down or I could have collapsed.  I began to cry uncontrollably.

He rushed over and pulled me into his arms.  “I’m so sorry, Naomi.  I know that I should have told you that I was married but I was afraid to.  I wanted to be with you so badly.”

I let him hold me until the sobs subsided and then I pushed him away.  “Please leave me alone,” I said.

“Naomi…”

“Leave me alone!”

He stood up and quietly left the room.  After he was gone, I got up from the chair and went into the bedroom.  I lay down on the bed and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon.  The next day, I flew to New York where my next assignment was.  I somehow managed to get through that photo shoot and the others which followed.  I told the agency that I was pregnant but I didn’t tell them who the father was.  They weren’t upset or anything.  They let me continuing modeling until I began to show and then they had me do jobs which didn’t require any physical exertion.  I modeled until I couldn’t anymore.

I stopped modeling after I had Alia.  She was beautiful.  She had Dathan’s complexion.  I had enough money from my modeling to last us for a long time.  I doted on her.  She was a happy baby and filled me heart with so much joy.  Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about Dathan.  I was still very much in love with him.  I wanted to call him or send him photos of our daughter but I couldn’t.  I have to keep reminding myself that we have two separate lives.

I don’t feel any bitterness toward Dathan or my family or my classmates from school and university.  It has no place in my life now that I have started reading my Bible again.  I know now that it was God’s voice I heard that day when I tried to commit suicide.  He saved my life and I’m very thankful.  If He hadn’t, I wouldn’t have met Dathan or had Alia.  My only regret is that Alia isn’t going to be raised by both of her parents.  When she is older, I will tell her about her father and it’s up to her if she wants to get in touch with him or not.  Right now, I am raising her the best I can with God’s help.

I was inspired to write this fictional story because of Nyakim Gatwech, the South Sudanese descent African American model who is teaching people not to be afraid of the dark.   She has been dubbed the “Queen of darkness” and had an Uber driver suggest that she bleached her skin.  She’s proud of her black skin. “Black is bold, black is beautiful, black is gold… Don’t let American standards damage your African soul.” 11 year old Kheris Rogers started a clothing line, “Flexin’ In My Complexion” with her sister after she was bullied at school.  She recalled when the students had to draw themselves for an assignment, the teacher handed her a black crayon instead of a brown one.  All of her classmates were African American but she was the darkest.

Kudos to Nyakim for breaking down the barriers of conventional beauty and encouraging others to do the same.  And way to go, Kheris, for creating a fashion line in the hopes of instilling confidence in other young girls who face bullying because of their dark skin.  There are many shades of beauty and black is one of them.

Source:  Modeling Wisdom

Toshiro Learns About Miremba

Toshiro

When she showed up in the suite on Saturday afternoon and saw him wearing a red tee shirt and a pair of jeans, she was shocked.   She wasn’t used to seeing him in casual clothes.  It made him even more attractive and irresistible.

He smiled when he saw the way she was looking at him.  It was obvious that she really liked what she saw.  He should dress more casual whenever he was with her.  Perhaps it made her more comfortable and less class conscious.  “I’m so happy you came, Ife,” he said, holding out his hand and when she put hers in it, he pulled her against him.  “I hope it wasn’t too much trouble for you to come today.”  Yesterday when they saw each other, he arranged to see her regularly on the weekends as well.

She shook her head.  “No, Mr. Kobayashi.  It wasn’t much trouble.”  Fortunately,  Miremba was spending the weekend at her cousins’ house.

“I wish you would call me Toshiro,” he murmured huskily before he lowered his head and kissed her.  They kissed for several minutes before he took her by the hand and led her over to the sofa where they sat down.  He was still holding her hand.  His eyes met hers as he laced his fingers through hers.  “Why did your husband and you divorce?”

“We grew apart.”

“How long were you married?”

“Ten years.”

“Do you have any children?”

His question startled her and she looked at him warily.  “We have a daughter.”

“How old is she?”

“Thirteen.”

“What’s her name?”

“Miremba.”

“Why didn’t you mention her to me when I asked you if you were married?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

He excused himself, got up from the sofa and walked over to the desk.  He returned holding two tickets which he gave to her after he sat down.  “These are for you and her.”

Ife glanced at them and saw that they were tickets for the ballet.  She looked at him.  “You didn’t have to,” she said.

“I wanted to,” he replied.  “Please take them.”

She got up and put them in her handbag.  “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  You look so beautiful.  That color suits your lovely complexion.”  He reached for her hand again.

“Thank you.  This is the first time I have seen you dressed so casual.”

He smiled.  “I know.  I saw the way you reacted when you walked in.  You were shocked.”

She smiled.  “I was.”  950969-500w

He reached for her hand, the same time he lowered his head and kissed her on the shoulder, making her catch her breath.  He raised his head.  “Let’s go to bed,” he said, his eyes restless on her face.  He stood up and pulled her to her feet.  Still holding hands, they went into the bedroom.

“How old were you when you had Miremba?” he asked some time later as they lay next to each other.

“Seventeen.”

“That’s pretty young to be a mother.”

“A mother and a housewife.”

“If you hadn’t gotten pregnant, would you have gone to university?”

“Yes.”

“How did your family feel about the situation?”

“If my parents were still alive, they would have been really upset.  They were strict Christians.  Irumba was very disappointed.  He’s been encouraging me to do something worthwhile with my life.”

Toshiro rolled on to his side, his expression tense as he looked at her.  “Who is Irumba?” he demanded jealously.

“He’s my older brother.  He’s married and has two daughters.”

Toshiro relaxed.  “What does he want you to do with your life?”

“He thinks I should quit my job here at the hotel and find a better one.  He told me about a company called Paper Craft Africa.  Their products are sold in local hotels and gift shops.  They employ young, single mothers like me and the company’s right here in Kampala.  I promised him that I would check it out.”

Toshiro became tense again.  He got out of the bed and walked over to where his robe was.  He put it on.  “Why haven’t you already checked it out?”

“I don’t have the time,” Ife said, watching him.  “I only have half-hour for lunch and I can’t go after I finish work.  And by the time I leave here, the company is probably closed.”

He turned to face her.  “Have you called them to find out what their hours are?”

She shook her head.  “I don’t have the number.”

“Didn’t your brother give it to you?”

“No.”

“Would you like me to look it up on the Internet?”

She shook her head.  “No.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t want to quit my job at the hotel.”

“Why not, Ife?  It would be the opportunity for you to get out of our arrangement.”

Agitated, she threw off the covers and climbed out of the bed.  She hurriedly got dressed.  “I have to go,” she muttered before she quickly left the room.

He followed her into the living-room.  “Do you really have to leave now?” he asked.  “I was going to order dinner for us.”

She avoided looking at him.  “Yes, I have to go.  I’ll–I’ll see you tomorrow.”  And she was gone before he could say anything else.

 

Next up, Ife Gets Jealous

Dawn’s Story

Serious mature Woman looking away through a window, note the reflections

I recently found out that my husband of 20 years has been having an affair with one of his students.  I found out when he told me on day that he had been fired from his teaching position at the university where he had taught for 23 years.   The girl, an African exchange student, was expelled and to make matters worse, she was pregnant with his child.

I was so devastated that I almost passed out.  I had to sit down and gather my wits about me.  Shock, rage, jealousy ripped through me.  I wanted to throw things at him, lash out at him and throw him out.  I loved and hated him at the same time.

I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me.  I was a Christian woman married to a man I believed to be Christian only to discover that he has been cheating on me with a girl young enough to be his daughter.  We didn’t have any children.  We tried but nothing worked so it was painful to me that he was going to be a father to someone else’s child.  It was like a punch in the gut.  I felt like Sarah in the Bible when she was despised in Hagar’s eyes because she was able to get pregnant with no problems at all.  I wanted to meet this girl whom my husband had betrayed me with.

My husband said he never meant for the affair to happen but one day when they were alone in his office, one thing led to another and…He said that after that one time, he tried not to let anything happen between them again but the feelings were too strong.  He was too weak to resist the temptation and so he took her to a flat he rented.  They managed to keep their relationship a secret until one day, someone from the university spotted them in the underground garage in a passionate embrace before they hurried to the elevator.

I felt sick.  I kept wishing that this was a nightmare and that I would wake up soon.  It was some time later when I somehow managed to ask the question which had been burning in my mind, “So, what are we going to do now?”

He was pacing about the room, hair tousled from constantly dragging his fingers through it and his features pale and drawn.  He stopped abruptly and faced me.  “Dawn, I don’t quite know how to tell you this.”

“Just go ahead and tell me.”  My voice sounded very shrill.

“I want a divorce.”

I gawked at him.  “You want a divorce?”

“Yes.”

I should be the one asking for a divorce.  You’re the unfaithful one in this marriage.”

“I have been faithful to you all of these years.  Never once did I look at another woman or cheat on you.”

“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” I retorted.  The tears were falling afresh.  My fingers tightened into tight fists.  “Are you anxious for a divorce so that you could be with her?  What’s the matter, John?  Did you get tired of being with me, a woman who is pushing 50 and hasn’t been able to give you children?”

“Dawn, please believe me when I say that the last thing I wanted to do was to hurt you…”

That did it.  I jumped to my feet, my face red with fury and I slapped him hard across the face.  “Hurt me?” I yelled.  “Is that what you call what you’re doing to me right now?”

He looked contrite and tried to reach out to me but I shrank back.  I didn’t want him to touch me.  “I think it would be better if I were to move out.  I’ll go and pack a bag.”  He turned and walked out of the room.  The silence was deafening.

I collapsed on to the sofa again and dissolved into tears.  I heard him come down the stairs and the front door open and close.  Minutes later, I heard his car drive away.  He was gone.   Where would he go?  Probably to the flat where he indulged in his sordid affair.  I don’t know how long I sat there.  The living-room was dark.  The clock told me that it was six o’ clock.  I tried to make sense of what was happening but I couldn’t.  My marriage was over.  My husband wanted a divorce.  He was going to have a baby with someone else.  I wanted to be the mother of his children.  When we found out that I couldn’t have children, we were devastated but years later, we had talked about adopting.  Now, that was out of the question.  He wanted to be with someone else.  I was left out in the cold.

Divorce was something I never once contemplated.  For me, marriage was for keeps.  Besides, I loved John and I wanted to grow old with him.  And I know that he loved me too.  Then, a year and a half ago, I noticed little things.  He wasn’t as attentive or amorous as he used to be.  He went out a lot.  We hardly went anywhere together and most evenings, I had dinner alone.  His excuse when he came in was that he was tired.  He had had a long day.  He taught at the university and he also did ESL evening classes at a community college.  I didn’t know that he had stopped teaching those classes and spent his evenings at the flat with his student.  I had no clue.  All I knew was that my husband’s behavior toward me had changed somewhat but I never once suspected that he was having an affair.

Like God, I hated divorce but I decided that I was going to give John what he wanted.  It was no use holding on to a marriage that was over and to a man who didn’t want to be married to me anymore.  Weeks passed before I spoke to him again and it was over the phone.  I couldn’t bear to see him.  The hurt was still too fresh, too raw.

“I’m sorry I hit you,” I said.

“Don’t be sorry, Dawn.  I had it coming.”

After I told him that I would give him the divorce, I asked him, “Do you love this girl?”

“Yes.  I do.  That’s why I’m leaving you, Dawn.”

I felt as if someone had kicked me in the stomach.  “Does she love you?”

“Yes.  Dawn, once the divorce is finalized, I’m going to ask her to marry me.”

It took a few minutes for me to reply.  Tears welled in my eyes and I gripped the receiver tightly.  “You know that the Bible says that a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery?”

“Yes, I’m aware that in God’s eyes and the church’s I’m an adulterer but sometimes, it’s hard to live according to the Bible when one’s heart is involved.  I love this girl and I can’t give her up.”

“Even if it costs you your salvation?  You know the Bible says that people who commit adultery will not have any share in God’s kingdom.”

There was a long pause and then he said, “Don’t worry about me, Dawn.  Just know that I’m sorry for how things turned out for us.  If I hadn’t met and fallen in love with this girl, you and I would still be happily married.  Thank you for the wonderful years we’ve had together.  I hope that one day you will find it in your heart to forgive me for what I have done to you.  Take care of yourself.”

After I hung up, I burst into tears.  My heart was breaking for the loss of my marriage and for the loss of his salvation.   I kept hearing Jesus’ words, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”  John had been following Jesus all of his life but unfortunately, he had allowed his love for the girl to draw him away.  If John had continued to listen to Jesus’ voice, obeyed His teachings of Jesus and resisted temptation, no matter how strong it was, nothing or no one could have removed him from God’s care and protection.

Weeks passed and I still hadn’t been served the divorce papers.  I wondered what the delay was.   I thought of calling John to find out but I didn’t bother.  I figured that I would receive the papers soon enough.  I later found out that he was going to serve me the papers on the day after I got the terrible news that he and his girlfriend were killed in a fatal collision while on they were their way to the hospital.  Their baby daughter was delivered alive at the scene.   The driver of the livery cab which was taking them to the hospital also survived and was in stable condition.

Shocked, I raced down to the hospital and met John’s sister, Abby and her husband, Tim there.  Abby’s eyes were swollen.  We hugged for a long time, crying.  Then, she told me what happened and that the baby was in a serious condition and that everyone was praying for her.   I went into the chapel and prayed too.  We spent all night and until the next morning at the hospital, anxious but hopeful.  Then, at around 5 in the morning, the doctor informed us that the baby was out of danger.  We all breathed a collective sigh of relief and hugged each other.

I went home to shower and change and then I returned to the hospital.   I stayed there for most of the day, talking to the nurses who answered my questions because I told them that I was family.  Technically, I was because I was still married to John.  The divorce hadn’t gone through.  I never got the papers.  I visited the hospital every day and when I got to see the baby who was now in stable condition, my heart melted when I looked down into that tiny face.  The nurse asked me if I wanted to give her the bottle.  I hesitated at first but then something urged me to do it.  I nodded and sat down in the chair.

The nurse placed her in my arms and I held her like she was porcelain and I was afraid to break her.  “She’s tougher than she looks,” the nurse assured me.  She gave me the bottle and then she left us alone.

I stared down into a pair of beautiful eyes as I fed her the formula.  I kept thinking that it seemed strange that I was the one here with her instead of her mother.  Tears came to my eyes when it hit me that John was dead and that he wasn’t going to be a part of his daughter’s life.  He wasn’t going to see her grow and become a young woman.  What would become of this little angel?  Who would take care of her?

That evening I spoke to Abby about it and she told me that she couldn’t take care of her.  She had her hands full with her own kids who needed her.  There wasn’t room for one more.  She was John’s only sibling.  And she had no clue about the baby’s mother or her family.  “I would hate to see my niece end up in an orphanage or a foster home.  I wish I knew a family who could adopt her.”

I could adopt her.”  The words simply flew out of my mouth, startling me.  “Did I just say that?”

“Yes, you did.”  Abby looked pleased.   “And I think it’s a great idea.”

“You don’t think it’s strange that I would want to adopt a child my husband had with another woman?”

“To some people it might be but not to me.  Besides, the baby isn’t responsible for the actions of her parents.  I still think that what John did to you was unforgivable.”

“I have forgiven him, Abby.   I was hurt and angry for a long time but I have moved on.  I had accepted that my marriage was over and that there wasn’t anything I could do about that.  But, now I feel that God has something great in store for me.  I had always wanted to be a mother and now I have a chance to be.”

“Well, what do you say about us going and buy a cradle, pull-ups and diapers so that when you bring her home, you’re all set?”

I smiled.  “I say, that’s a great idea.  Let’s go.”

We bought everything we needed.  Weeks later, I completed the step-parent adoption papers and now I’m officially a mother.  Abby went with me to bring the baby home from the hospital.  I was nervous and excited.  I wanted to do my best to make her happy.   Fast forward to seven years later and Mala (I named her after her mother) is a lovely, bubbly little girl.  She has John’s eyes and his personality.  I told her about him and her mother.  I explained to her that something bad happened to them and that’s why I’m her Mommy now.  I told her that they loved her very much.  I have shown her photos of them together which I took from John’s flat before it was let to someone else.

Mala told me that she was sad that her Daddy left me for her Mommy but she promised that she would never leave me.  That brought tears to my eyes and I hugged her.  I told her that she was the best thing that ever happened to me.  She is a precious child and truly a gift from God.

I’m raising Mala to be an obedient child of God and a god-fearing woman who will never let anything or anyone cost her her salvation.

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Sources:  Babygaga; Mirror; Reliable Adoption; Legal Zoom

Matt’s Story

large-1531167473-1c546e4b85f6c127d98bd3212423c485A couple of years ago, my world as I knew it was turned upside down.  I was 17 and at my cousin, Rose’s wedding.  At the reception, a relative who had way too much to drink, put his arm around me and said, “I don’t know about the rest of the family but I’m sure glad that your Mama didn’t abort you ’cause you turned out to be a fine lad.  Yes, a fine lad.  You’re not at all like your Daddy.”

I stared at him, shocked and shaken.  What was he talking about?  Why would my mother have considered aborting me and what about my father?  Did he know who my father was?  Was he for real or was it the liquor.

I politely removed his arm from around my shoulders and excused myself.  I went out on the terrace to get a breath of fresh air.  My mind was spinning and my heart was pounding.  A feeling of dread came over me.  My mother died a year ago from pneumonia.  She never told me who my father was and whenever I asked about him, she would say, “the only father you have is God Almighty.  He takes care of you better than any earthly father can.”  After a while, I stopped asking her.   On my birth certificate it said “unknown” where my father’s name should have been.  I hoped that one day I would find out who and where he was.

My mother never married.  She was a single, hardworking mother who raised me as best as she could.  I know she loved me and that she wanted me to have a good life.  At night after she read to me, she got down on her knees and prayed.  She was always praying for me.  I loved my mother very much and I was devastated when she died.  After she died, I moved in with my grandmother.

After what the relative told me I couldn’t enjoy the wedding.  I kept playing his words over and over in my mind.  I couldn’t wait for the morning to come when I would talk to my grandmother about it.  I know that if anyone could give me answers, it would be her.  So, when we were sitting around the table having breakfast, I asked her, “Grandma, did Mama want to abort me?”  I knew I should have broached this in a more delicate way but I was desperate for answers.

Her face went pale and she dropped her fork.  “Where did you hear that?” she asked.

“Some distant relative, I don’t remember his name, said that he was glad that Mama didn’t abort me.”

“Eat your breakfast.”

“Is it true, Grandma?  Was Mama going to abort me?”

“No!  Your Mama was a godly woman.  She would never have agreed to an abortion even though her father and other people were trying to talk her into it.”

“Grandpa wanted her to have an abortion?”  I couldn’t believe it.  I adored my grandfather.  He was like a father to me.  His death five years ago really hit me hard.

“Yes.  He thought it would have been thing for her.”

“But why?”

“Matt, what does it matter?  You’re here, aren’t you?  Why don’t we forget about the past and move on?”

“Grandma, I need to know.  Please!”

My grandmother buried her face in her hands which were trembling slightly.  “Oh, Matt, I wish you didn’t have to know the truth.”

I was getting scared now.  Part of me was afraid to hear the truth and the other part had to.  “Please tell me, Grandma.  Was it to do with my father?”

She dropped her hands and I saw the anger and rage on her face.  “Your father was a monster!” she cried.

“Who was he?  Is he still alive?”

“Yes, he’s still alive and still rotting in prison.”

“Prison!  Why is he in prison?”

“Matt…”

“Grandma, I need to know.”

“He’s serving 30 years in prison for…rape and incest.”

“I–I don’t understand

“Matt, your mother got pregnant when she was raped by her brother.”

The color drained from my face.  I felt sick.  I got up from the table and dashed into the washroom where I threw up.  When I was done, I flushed the toilet, rinsed my mouth and washed my face with cold water.  My hands were shaking.  My grandmother was standing behind me.  I turned to face her and she put her arms around me and hugged me tightly.  We were both crying.

“This is why I didn’t want to tell you,” she said after a while.  “It’s a shameful thing that this family has had to deal with and that is why some of us, excluding me, wanted your mother to have an abortion.  They were thinking about her well-being but once your mother insisted that she was going to have you, we all tried to protect you from the truth.  It was your grandfather’s idea that she put “unknown” for the father’s name.”

“Why did she keep me? Wasn’t I a painful reminder of what happened to her?”

“She kept you because she loved you and she didn’t see a painful reminder of what your father did to her.  She saw a beautiful and precious gift from God.”

The rest of that day was a blur.  I was so overcome with pain and guilt that I became withdrawn and depressed.  My grandmother was very concerned about me and she tried to get me counseling.  It helped–somewhat.  And after I graduated from high-school, she sent me away to South Africa to study and live at the university there.  She would take care of my tuition and anything else I needed.  “It would do you good to get far away from here,” she said.  “You’ll be in a new country and meet new people.  Forget about the ugly past.  Live your life the best you know how for your mother’s sake.  Write me.  Don’t come back here.  When I can, I will come and visit you.”

So, at her insistence, I left Virginia and moved to South Africa.  I asked my grandmother why she choice South Africa of all countries to send me and she told me it was where she met my grandfather.   When I arrived in Cape Town, I knew that I was going to love living there.  Life on campus was a great experience for me.  I met diverse students and forged several life-long friendships.  I enjoyed my studies and had a relatively active social life.  There were lots of pretty girls but I wasn’t interested in dating at that time.  I wanted to focus on my studies.

Then, in my third year at the university, I met Joycelin, a girl from Namibia and a 765full-sydney-nelsonfreshman.   I remember the first time she smiled at me, I felt as if my heart had stopped.  A mutual friend introduced us when a group of us went on a Saturday morning to visit the Penguins at Boulders Beach.  Joycelin and I immediately hit it off and we spent most of the time together, getting to know each other.  By the time we were on our way back to campus, I knew that I wanted to date this girl.  And I did.  Our friends, especially the one who introduced us, were thrilled.

I wrote my grandmother about Joycelin and sent her photos of us.  She was happy for me.  I was relieved that she didn’t have a problem with me dating an African girl.  I know that other members of my family would, however, including the relative who made that careless remark about my mother at my cousin’s wedding.

Things were going well for me and after I graduated from university, I moved into a waterfront apartment which wasn’t far from where I worked.  Joycelin was still living on campus but we phoned each other during the week and saw each other on the weekends.  I was getting pretty serious about her but always at the back of my mind I asked myself how she would feel about me if she were to find out about my father.  I found out one day.

Joycelin and I were in De Waal Park on a Saturday afternoon when the subject of abortion came up.  “How do you feel about abortion?” she asked me.

Her question startled me.  “I don’t know.”

“I’m against it,” she said.

“Even–even in cases of rape and incest?” I asked, my heart pounding.

She nodded.  “Yes.  The life of a child born of rape or incest is just as valuable as a child born under normal circumstances.  Ending the life of the child of a person who has committed rape or incest isn’t the solution. The law should punish the criminal, not kill his child.”

“You really believe that, don’t you?”

“Of course, I do.  And the Bible says that ‘a child won’t bear a parent’s guilt, and a parent won’t bear a child’s guilt.'”  She looked at me closely, frowning and there was concerned expression on her sweet face.  “Matt, are you okay?  You look pale.”

“Joycelin, I have something to tell you.”

She slipped her hand in mind.  “What is it?” she asked.  “You can tell me anything.”

I closed my eyes and told her the awful truth about my birth.  I didn’t realize that I was crying until I felt her fingers brush against my cheeks.  I opened my eyes and found myself staring into her tearful face.  “That’s why I said I didn’t know how I feel about abortion.  There were times when I felt it might have been better if my mother had aborted me because I was a reminder of what happened to her.”

“Matt, you’re not to blame for what happened.  Your mother chose to keep you because she loved you.  She saw you as a beautiful and precious gift not a horrible and painful reminder of what happened to her.  She chose to give you life and the best way to honor that choice, is to live your life to the fullest.”

I held her face between my hands and whispered brokenly, “I love you.”

She smiled.  “I love you too.”

“I wish my mother could have met you,”

“I wish I could have met her.  She sounds like a remarkable woman.  I believe you are the way you are because of her.  She was a godly woman.  God heard her prayers for you and He answered them.  She would be extremely proud of how you’ve turned out.”

“That’s what my grandmother said.  Her, you will get to meet when she visits me in December.  She’s coming for Christmas.”

“That’s great.  Speaking of Christmas, my family are flying over too.  I can’t wait for them to meet you.”

“Good.  It will give me a chance to ask your father permission to marry you.”

She stared at me, her eyes and mouth wide open.  “Are you serious?”

I nodded and replied,  “Yes, I’m very serious”  before I lowered my head and kissed her.

Ten years have passed since I learned the truth about my the circumstances of my birth.  The guilt and shame I felt all these years are gone now.  I have accepted that I have done nothing deserving of death and I will live the life I have been given to its fullest.    Joycelin and I are engaged.  The wedding is next year Spring.  She’s teaching me about God and like my mother, she prays for me regularly.   I’m thankful that God blessed me with three phenomenal women–my mother, Joycelin and my grandmother.  The life He has given me I will live worthily for Him and for them.

A child conceived in violence is himself innocent and created in the image of God. He has done nothing to deserve the death sentence, any more than a child conceived in a loving marriage – Human Life International

The solution to incest is not abortion, but prosecution of the criminal so he does not commit more crimes, and loving care for his victims so that they experience true physical and emotional healing – Human Life International

Matt is a fictional character, but there are real men and women out there who were conceived in rape.  Read their stories.

It takes courage for a woman who chooses to go through with an unplanned pregnancy but it takes far greater courage for the one whose child was conceived by rape or incest.

Sources:   University of Cape TownWikipediaStudent World Online;