Can I say till I met him? Sure I can. For though I had met him before, the person that I encountered again was a new man……..different from the one I knew earlier. It was two years after my graduation from the university. I was still a lovely rose in the wild. I was working in a petrochemical company; a job I practically walked into through my parent’s influence. I was ready to enjoy life to the optimum. And I did enjoy it, frolicking with many of the men I met and hosting even wilder parties every other weekend.
I was driving along Awolowo road in Lagos when I heard the sound. I jumped out of my car, furious. Someone had just hit my expensive car which I bought less than a month ago and I came out to settle scores.
‘What’s the meaning of this? Can’t you look where you are going?’
‘Madam, I am so sorry I…………………The driver, a young man dressed in a well tailored suit began and stopped in mid sentence as he looked closely at me……………. ‘Sharon………Is this really you?’ He said in an excited voice.
‘Yes my name is Sharon. And who are you?’
‘Tony. It’s me Tony Badmus.’
‘Oh my God! Tony. I can’t believe this.’
We hugged each other fiercely, right in the middle of Awolowo road until the sound of horns by angry road users made us pull apart. I signalled to Tony that we drive ahead and park. We rushed out of our vehicles as soon as we did, hugging each other again as we tried to catch up on old times, the damage to my car forgotten.
Tony and I arranged to meet and discuss. I chose the Flamingo Restaurant in Victoria Island and I was well turned out for the occasion. My supple body was encased in a clinging attire that was licensed to seduce. My hair attachment fell in soft curls down my shoulders and I employed the services of a makeup artist to give me an out-of-this-world look. I used a perfume called seduction which had a come-and-meet-me-scent and my dainty feet slipped easily into a silver sandals that showed off my well manicured toes. I completed the look with a silver purse and my nails were sharpened to thrill. I couldn’t wait to run them down his willing back.
Tony’s face lit up like a thousand stars when he saw me. I could see raw desire in them and I was sure he licked his lips in anticipation.
‘Sharon.’ He rolled my name on his lips ‘You look every inch as beautiful as I remember.’
Good! I thought to myself as he pulled out a chair for me to sit. Here was another prey ready to be slain tonight. I thought gleefully.
But Tony’s next words threw me off balance.
‘Sharon, I am a new creature now.’ Tony said, the moment we were seated in the restaurant.
‘New creature? I hope it is not what I am thinking. You are now…………….’
‘Yes. I am born again.’ Tony finished for me. ‘And it is the best decision I have ever made in my life. Knowing Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I invite you to do the same.’
‘Me? Sharon? Born again? Please say something else.’
‘You can have a new life Sharon. I have prayed almost every day that God should bring me in contact with you. And I am so glad he did. God loves you and can give you his peace and joy if you let him.’
‘Tony, you of all people knows how messed up my life has been. How can you possibly expect that I would find this born again crap attractive?’
‘It is people like you that Jesus died for. He came to save the lost, broken and battered. He is able to make a message out of the mess you think your life is.’
‘Eh! That’s enough Tony. I have heard enough preaching from school, television and everywhere else. In fact, people practically intimidate you with it: ‘Are you born again?’ With a big bible in their hands as if they are criminals holding guns and asking, ‘My Jesus or your life?’
‘I can see you have not changed much. Your sense of humour is still intact,’ Tony laughed heartily at my analogy. ‘Okay, I will not talk about being born again today. Let’s just have a nice evening together.’
Tony and I talked nineteen to the dozen that evening, reliving the glory days of our university education. At the end of the dinner, he dropped me off at home. I tried to convince him to come inside but he refused. Obviously I had my own interpretation to the ‘nice evening’ which did not align with his.
From that day, I did all I could to lure Tony to my bed but I hit hard rock every time. He was rock solid in his faith as he told me again and again:
‘That part of my life is over, Sharon. Buried in the sea of forgetfulness.’
I thought he was just like the rest of them. I imagined I could break him like I did Mr Alausa but I was unsuccessful. I was baffled beyond words. It was obvious that Tony had strong feelings for me. I could see it in his eyes each time we talked. We met regularly after that, but he made sure he was never alone with me. We always stayed in open places.
‘The easiest way to avoid temptation.’ He explained ‘The Bible tells us to flee from every appearance of evil. There is no point creating a cosy atmosphere and asking God to deliver us from temptation.’
Tony was so near, yet so far away. I could not reach him the way I wanted and for the first time, I felt helpless. I wanted Tony with every fibre of my being but I could not get him because of his filthy religious beliefs as I called them.
‘I have asked God to touch you, give you a new heart and make you serve him forever and I know he would.’ Tony told me again and again. I scorned his faith but he remained unshaken, believing in me, loving me despite my sordid lifestyle.
I tried to get over Tony. I would ring up any of my male friends to come to my house and release the force of my passion on them each time I thought of Tony. But I always felt unsatisfied, cheap and my heart panted to be one with him.
‘I never believed a man could ever resist me in this world.’ I confided in Shola, my friend from university days. She alone of the gang of four ‘bad’ girls still maintained contact with me.
‘Wow! Don’t tell me your lethal feminine charms did not work on this one?’ Shola said, laughter in her voice.
‘Are you jealous?’ I asked, feeling wounded. ‘You know I have always won every bet we had.’
‘Sure but to every rule there is an exception. Looks like our Brother Tony or is it Pastor Tony is one.’
I knew she was slightly jealous of the way I had with men and gloated over my inability to break down Tony. But Shola’s jealousy was the least of my problems as I thought of ways to trap Tony.
In the end, I was the one who got trapped. Slowly, I began to find my life very repulsive. My male friends dwindled from a dozen to three and a time came when I could no longer bear the touch of a man’s hands on my body. Shola was shocked.
‘What is happening to you, Sharon?’
‘I can’t explain it but I am getting disgusted with my life and I want a change.’
‘Wow! I can’t believe this. Tony is really getting to you.’
Tony was indeed getting to me. I began to follow him to his fellowship meetings and each time I returned, I felt weighed down with the burden of sin in my life. Tony never judged me in all that time. He showed me the kind of love that could almost rival that of the saviour who died for humanity.
I melted in the onslaught of Tony’s love and one day it happened. At a fellowship meeting organised in his church. The voice of the preacher still rings in my head.
‘Picture Jesus standing at the door of your heart. He wants to lift that burden from you. You have carried it for too long. Surrender to him. He is not here to condemn you but to love you that’s why he died for you. Jesus died for you. Why can’t you live for him?’
I stood up like a force lifted me and dashed to the podium. I felt a burden roll off my shoulders like Christian of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress felt when he encountered the cross. I was free. Sin had no more power to enslave me.
Tony was glad to lead me by the hand and take me through the new journey. We became closer than ever before. My new birth brought with it a compensation package. When Tony proposed to me, I responded with so much excitement, like a child that had been given a coveted toy.
‘Yes! Yes! Yes! I will marry you.’
Who else could I be with but him? Who else had been so patient with me but him? Who else had treated me with so much respect the way he did? While men saw me as a cesspit to pour their lust into, Tony saw me as a vessel of honour. And he treated me like one, never once disrespecting me or referring to my putrid past.
How can I forget our union that night of our wedding? I was sure the heavens smiled on us as our passion-filled bodies came together in sheer, divine ecstasy. I had never experienced anything like it. It made nonsense of all the experiences I had in the arms of men of various shapes and sizes.
Did I think marriage to Tony would be a walk in the park? There I was mistaken. The problem was not with him for Tony was a fulfilment of all that I had only dreamt about, never even daring to wish it could happen to me. The problem was me. It was me. Me all over again.
I was paranoid with fear at the thought of losing Tony. I had heard so many stories from women who were sitting in boiling cauldrons in their marriage. I was having an eternal honeymoon and did not want my spoon to be snatched while I was enjoying the best part of my marriage meal.
I who was the hunter became the haunted.
I was scared of young girls who were like me in the past, digging their lethal talons into my saintly husband. Tony had assured me of his undying love but in my head I heard strange sounds……sounds of me moaning in the beds of married men while their dutiful wives wept at home.
That was my tale of yesterday. This is the reality of today:
I see myself in every member of the female species that comes around my Tony. I once led men in a dance of shame. Now I am the one doing this macabre dance of shame and I am not dancing to joyful beats but frenzied beats of fear.
I started this tale mocking men in their multitudes. I end this tale tormented by the trauma of losing Tony.
When would this crazy dance end? Is the question that plagues me and I cannot find a ready answer.