The pimple was Henry’s sign of good luck. Every time the bulge appeared, right at the centre of his forehead, he knew a good thing was imminent. Otherwise, his face was a smooth ebony shine, with sharp features.
He had shy looking eyes and intricate lips that endeared him to the female folk as a gentle guy. Even the toughest could not resist the smooth ebony shine, those eyes! Usually, when the bulge appeared, everyone teased him: ‘Fine boy with seasonal pimple.’
Ladies seized the opportunity to touch his face, saying “Oh dear! hope it’s not painful”.
He came to love the pimple, despite the brief disfiguration it brought. He took solace in the extra attention from the ladies and more in the trend he had discovered, that something good would happen. One time when the pimple appeared, Baba bought the trending Range Rover Sport. Another time, Baba’s major business competitor suffered a heart attack and died. Another time, Baba bought him an iPad.
But now, he was curious and slightly hopeful when he noticed the swelling on his head. No good thing should happen, not with all the bad things left unresolved. There were pending consequences he deserved.
What good could happen now? He thought, as he plucked feathers from a slain chicken at the backyard. A ram was bleating nearby. Jombo, the gate keeper, was stuffing a large drum with soft drinks and ice, and trying to make conversation. But Henry was not at all interested. His pimple was enough bother. What good could happen? Would Baba stop calling him Bastard? Would Baba return to saying: ‘That’s my son’ with the proud beam on his face? Would Anita and her family forgive him? No. None of those could happen.
You put your girlfriend in the family way; get her to have an abortion, her womb slips away in the process, and you expect all that to disappear at the instance of a pimple?
Anita would not speak to him. He scarcely blamed her. She was barren at twenty-one. At first, he loathed the way she made it seem like the entire episode was his fault. It had been consensual, not a rape. More so, it was more of her idea than his. But as the weeks went by, the weight of guilt eroded every anger and self-defense. He took full responsibility. He felt guilty for everything, for being alive, for attending the same University as Anita. Guilt took food from his mouth. He did not deserve to eat. Anita would never be able to bear children of her own and she knew it for a fact at the age of twenty-one; her whole life ahead of her.
Baba hated the stain the episode brought on the family. In those early days after the abortion, he had said ‘You should have let her keep the baby. You have ruined her life.’ Henry’s mother no longer hugged him every morning after the family devotion. She dubbed him ‘Green snake in green grass’ and ‘Silent killer.’
Still, Baba organized extra security for the house and insisted Henry be chauffeured to and from the University with armed guards in the car. He feared Anita’s parents would take drastic actions.
Maggie, Henry’s sister, rationed her affection towards him. The times when she would bore him with the details of her day were gone. She only smiled too artificially and spoke in short sentences. Before she poured hot water on the chicken he now plucked, she stood with the pot of steaming water and said, “seriously Henry, I wonder who you have become.”
“A guilty bastard” he replied in his thoughts.
What good could happen to a guilty bastard?
***** **** **** **** **** **** ***** ****
The back door opened and Maggie emerged but she held the door for someone else.
He dropped the chicken and jumped to his feet.
‘Hi, Henry’ her smile was weak but sustained.
‘Hi’, he said limply.
Maggie disappeared. Jumbo walked away briskly towards the front of the house.
‘I know it’s a surprise to see me. Happy Easter’ she said. Her smile was stronger now and her eyes grew misty.
Tears rolled down Henry’s cheeks already.
‘Anita, I am sorry’ he went down on his knees.
‘I see you have your good luck pimple’ she replied.
He was irritated at her making light of the moment.
‘Get up Henry, there is no need for this. I have thought about it, and it’s not fair blaming you for everything. I had a choice.’
He was shaking his head in disapproval, still on his knees, nearly wailing with guilt. His words came out with the hiccups of a crying child. ‘It … wa…was… my fau..lt. I am sor…ry.’
‘Fine Henry, I have forgiven you. Get up, and I hope you forgive me’
He was not convinced. He thought of the fact that she would never bear a child. Perhaps, she was back to tell him that they had to get married. He would perfectly understand.
‘Get up’ she walked up to him and tried to pull him up. He yielded and wiped his eyes with the back of his hands. She pulled a nearby stool and sat across from him.
‘Your good luck pimple is here again’
‘Yeah, I wonder what good I deserve. Perhaps your visit, but it is underserved.’
‘Henry. I came to tell you that I have been forgiven.’ She paused and searched his face before adding ‘Jesus Christ has forgiven me. He paid for our sins. Really, a good thing has happened. Underserved, yes, but God insists we take it from Him.’
‘You now preach?’ he asked in dismay. What had he turned her into, a preacher? That must be the only sensible way she found to mask her hopelessness.
She went on and on. She talked about the death of Jesus Christ. She said He died in the place of mankind, a kind of exchange. He has declared everyone who believes, ‘Not guilty.’
‘No, Henry, you are not a guilty bastard. You don’t have to be if you accept the work Jesus has done’
He was not relived when she left. Her words occupied his thoughts for the rest of the day. He thought about them the next day. It was Easter Sunday and Anita’s words filled his mind as he helped serve Jollof rice, fried chicken and mutton to guests who had come for the family’s annual Easter party. Jombo served cold drinks.
When Henry woke up on Monday morning, Easter Monday, and felt a relief on his forehead, he touched the pimple and felt his finger smeared with a slimy substance. It had burst. Music drifted in from somewhere in the house. The song said ‘He risen, He is risen and He lives forevermore.’
He sank to his knees beside the bed and prayed to Jesus. He cried effortlessly. ‘Forgive me, forgive me. I accept the gift. Forgive me’
With a strange warmth filling his heart, he jumped to his feet and began dancing to the music, mouthing the words of the song ‘Celebrate, Jesus, celebrate.’
A good thing has happened, and He lives forevermore.
Happy Easter Dear Readers and don’t forget the Easter package:
“But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” – Isaiah 53:5 (The Amplified Bible)
Go on and share this beautiful story with someone today. Indeed, a good thing has happened.
Live by Design.
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