In a world that I seldom understand,
There are winds of destiny that blow when we least expect them;
Sometimes they gust with the fury of a hurricane,
Sometimes they barely fan one’s cheeks.
But the winds can’t be denied,
Bringing as they often do,
A future that is impossible to ignore.
Poetry By Jonathan Sparks in his book, Message in a bottle
She stood, deceptively calm, by the open window overlooking the flower garden. The rain came down in heavy torrents. The wind howled all around. The storm raged on, matching the one brewing in her insides. She was indeed in a wretched state!
The far-away expression etched in her face told it all. She had tried. Tried to be strong. She had worn a smile on her face and mocked the world with it, pretending to be okay. Today, she had reached her breaking point. Allowing the heavy emotions to overwhelm her, the releasing tears fell at last. They were tiny sparkling goblets, as beautiful as she herself was. These steadily grew into a torrent she could no longer wipe with the back of her hands. Finally, she snapped! Clutching her stomach as one in intense pain, she doubled over. She let out a scream; high-pitched and disturbing in its intensity. The wind snatched it from her lips, seemingly conspiring to bottle the pain within. Sobs wracked her small frame and her ample bosom was soon soaked in tears, heaving in effort.
She lifted her tear-stained face heavenwards. To the God above whom she was desperately holding on to; her only sanity in the face of her worthless life. Why? She struggled with unbelief as she wondered where He was through it all. Her heart cried out to Him even as she calmed down enough to drag herself to her favorite chair and sit. A cynical smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. She had one and only one conviction: That the sole purpose of life is to hand you blow after devastating blow. To punch you until your very breath was knocked out of you. To harden you until your heart seems frozen over; then, it seems to let the ice thaw, leaving you raw and bleeding. Life then sits back in glee, watching expectantly how much of all it has handed you that you can take, and how much you can’t stomach.
Moving to close the window, she leant and breathed in the fragrance from the flowers beneath. The word grace fleeted through her mind. Grace? This time her smile was radiant as her heart sang. Yes, His grace was sufficient for her. Hadn’t He promised that His grace was sufficient for her and His power made perfect in her weakness? Hadn’t her mourning been turned into gladness? Hadn’t He comforted her and given her joy in place of sorrow? She chose to believe this with all the tenacity of her mind. That He loved her with an everlasting love and He it was who had drawn her with loving kindness.
The night she left the cocoon of her mother’s womb in a screaming fit, the rain was beating incessantly against the roof. Only her mother was there to welcome the little baby, who looked more like a monkey than a human being, into the world. She laughed and gave five traditional ululations in lieu of the girl child. She looked lovingly at the baby and called her Joy. Had they both known that her life would be the exact opposite of her name…..
Joy! She was seen in nothing less than a compelling smile at every turn. When her father came home drank and barely noticed her, she smiled. When he pounced on her mother and abused her in front of her very eyes, she smiled. This because the man threatened her with similar punishment if she didn’t applaud his ‘machismo’.
Her one saving grace was her mother’s abounding love that saw her flourish. Thus she grew into a young teenage girl, exceeding her mother’s beauty at the same age over a decade ago. With time, she noticed that the disgust on her father’s face whenever he looked at her was replaced by appreciative surprise. Every time she came into his view, he raked his gaze over her young pubescent body and his reacted, roaring with lust. He came home early one day at a time her mama was away. “Joy!” he bellowed. She mellowed at his voice because he had never called her by her name. She smiled disarmingly as she ran to him. He urged her to sit on his lap because daddy loved his little girl. She took in his words like dry sponge absorbing water. And who could blame her? The young girl was starved of a father’s affection. Therefore she grabbed the mere shreds he now handed her; and she was glad.
That day! That day a painful memory was lodged in Joy’s mind. He robbed her off the innocence of childhood. He threatened and cajoled her into silence, consoling her that it was a secret between a father and his daughter. The ‘arrangement’ continued whenever her mama was away on errands. And she had no say whatsoever in the matter! Slowly by slowly, the joy was strangled out of her life.
At the ripe age of sixteen, a life-changing experience tore her life apart. Her parents had been arguing, again, over a trifle issue. The noise compelled her to clamp the pillow over her ears. There had been a loud crash, a terrifying scream from her mother, then silence. Clutching her chest in fear, she had stolen into her parents’ bedroom and reeled from what she saw. Her mother was lying in a pool of her own blood. There was an open gush on her forehead and a broken beer bottle beside her still body. She looked accusingly at her father, and with a glare of his eyes, he gave her a silent command she knew she would heed.
They buried her mother at the public cemetery. He didn’t allow her to be laid to rest in his land. He didn’t even allow Joy to mourn the loss of her loving mother and only friend. That night, he came to her. As her father roughed her up, she fantasized in her head about paying him back. She could hear her mother’s screams in her head over and over again. She imagined plunging a knife into him and ending her misery. Yet, she couldn’t do it. The man was her father. She faintly wondered whether other girls her age went through the same pain, and concluded probably not. When he was done with her, he threw her out of his room with degrading comments. Such was the order of her life. And she screamed silently at a world that assumed normalcy as if everything was all right. The sun rose and set. Nature blossomed. Children still played mischievouslywith a mother’s nagging at every turn.
Her father sank deeper into his drinking. It pained her that he loved his beer more than he had ever loved her. Each night became worse than the previous one as his abuse became too much and too rough for Joy to bear. She gritted her teeth every time she lay beneath him, warming his body. She left, much without a backward glance, the night after he brought his friend home and let him have his way with her, at a fee!