In her mind’s eye, Joy could see the middle-aged business man: His hair thinning and greying at the temples, his beer-belly telling of his lifestyle excesses, the gait with which he walked the streets as if he owned them. The big man was a respected figure. He was looked up to; literally. He was that figure that importantly walked the church aisle on Sunday, yet the dark figure that preyed the streets looking for young flesh. On a dark night, one year ago, he had routinely left his office and hounded the streets. The thought of young, soft skin writhing in ecstasy beneath him excited him. He squirmed in his seat as he uncomfortably tried to quiet a growing monster. His eyes roamed the streets. His mind debated his options in more or less the same manner. Then, he spotted her in a dark corner. Instantly his heart was smitten and he kept his gaze riveted on her. She fit the description of a poor little lost girl. This fact sent his senses haywire. The monster that he had been calming awakened with renewed vigor. He took a few deep breaths and jumped out of his vehicle. The predator closed in on its prey.
Drawing closer, he realized that he had underestimated her beauty. Her body was ripe and curvaceous way beyond her years. Her face was young and beautiful, and her smile breathtaking. Her best asset was her eyes. They held a glow and yet a quality of sadness he couldn’t fathom. They seemed to draw him in their depth and intensity. Those eyes, they reflected abundant intelligence.
She jerked to attention at his heavy footsteps approaching her. She tried to maintain a nonchalant stance. Nervous hands clutched at her scant clothing that almost burst at the seams. With a clutch purse tucked under her left arm, her chest was further pushed out. The man zoomed in on this, his gaze hungry and lustful. Her eyes widened in terror when he stopped directly before her. The adrenaline pumping fast in her blood rang loudly in her ears, “fight” or “flee”. She did neither, just stood looking up at him with a cornered look in her eyes. Her mind took a fast trek to the circumstances that had led her to the streets.
Joy had slept in the open and known hunger after she left home. She had been sad, lonely and scared half to death. Sometimes, she even considered going back. At least, she had had a roof over her head and food, and the presence of a man she loathed more than what he had done to her. She had stumbled upon the Mathenges’ Household in sheer depravity. With pity in her eyes, the Madam had taken her in and given her a source of livelihood as the help. It was all based on beliefs she strongly shared with Joy: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. Joy gladly thought that at last life was smiling on her. She went about her duties lightheartedly and the Madam actually taught her much, most of it strange…… What did she understand anyway about a good God looking down upon His children from above? How could a good God allow such evil upon the face of a perfect earth that He supposedly created? Or was her mother and she herself not part of His lot of children? Such things were beyond her comprehension, so she chose not to dwell on them. She learnt to take it all in with a bemused smile lest she disappoint Madam. She could not help but think what a strange God He must be to offer His son as a sacrifice on a cross! A cross, really? Joy loved sitting with Madam and listening as she read aloud from the good old book. The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. She couldn’t imagine such words being for one such as her. Her father had soiled her. And what was love? The only love she had ever known was that of her mother, and she held this dear to her heart.
Joy could not help but be uncomfortable at how Bwana Mathenge looked at her. She thought it was that look you gave some creamy cake before sinking your teeth into it. It really irked her. Her irritation grew to such high proportions in the Mathenges’ Household, that each day became gruelling. Her only consolation was the calm presence of Madam. She left the night he walked into her room, jumped into bed with her and tried to force himself on her. She had kicked his crotch and fled in the wake of his howls of pain. She resigned herself to such being the nature of all men.
Joy had then hit the streets of the big city. She realized that everything cost money, yet she had no idea how to earn it in a place where nobody gave her a second glance. Well, apart from the men who stared at her with that look she had seen in her father’s eyes, in his friend and in Bwana Mathenge’s. The men who made demeaning cat calls at her. When her small lump of meager savings dwindled, she sold the only possession she could: That young and lithe body that men seemed in awe of. This became her source of livelihood. How she hated her life! How she hated waking up every day to the same reality! How she hated the men who sought out her services! She hated that all they saw was an item of purchase and not a lost girl in need of love and protection. Those she hated most were the self-righteous women who walked the streets and looked disgusted at the sight of her. That’s when she produced that cynical smile that never reached her eyes! When she tried to enthuse happiness in that hell of a life. A life that destiny had conspired to have her in!
So here she was. She looked at the big man and smiled up at him seductively, pumping out her chest and rotating her hips. It now came without second thought. She never allowed herself to experience any emotions. She just went through the motions. Joy coyly gave him her hand as he led her into his vehicle. She made a mental note to ask for twice her usual amount. She raised her leg and further hitched up her short dress. At his swift intake of breath, she licked her lips, satisfied. Such a sweet sense of victory and power never eluded her. That she could bring down a man with a single move? It always gave her a heady sensation!
In posh surroundings of a classic hotel room, Joy gave herself to pleasure the man. His weight atop her almost suffocated her. His thick and sweaty body irritated her. Her mind detached from her body and wandered, back to the little innocent girl she had once been. How she had loved dancing in the rain and playing in the open! She had loved singing along the river banks, lying on the green grass; it was her escape! She had believed in love, happiness, life… and God. Then the bitterness rose in her like gall. And she screamed in her head at a God she no longer believed in. Laughing cynically, she thought about the fact that He saw everything, sadly, even what she was up to at that very moment. Good, let Him take that in, she hadn’t asked for it. She only remembered to smile as the man tucked himself back into his clothes, ranting about what a mind-blowing experience he had had. He threw her a wad of notes that she trembled as she picked; and counted. Another phase of her life began. She became a kept woman!
He bought her a house in an estate, and a small car. It was more than she could have asked for sometime back. She settled into a kind of normalcy. She was glad that she now had only one man to please, and he only came to her whenever the urge struck him. She could claim victory, yet, she would only be the fool. She was still a commodity the man owned. He certainly never sought her out for companionship or for her culinary skills! He actually was like ‘something borrowed’. Theirs never was a passionate relationship. They were just a means of convenience to each other in this society of ‘scratch my back and I scratch yours’. Joy was shunned by the pompous women in her neighborhood. The condemning look they gave her withered her insides, yet she smiled derisively at them. They taunted her at every opportunity. Their children would never smile back at her. They actually ran from her whenever she came across them. It hurt! She was lonely. She would sit in front of the fireplace and cry herself to slumber. If only her mama had not died? If only her father had loved her and not abused her? If only Bwana Mathenge had let her be? If only someone could hand her a lifeline to save her from this bitterness? And she certainly had many ‘if onlys’ directed at men in general. In a sad voice, she would sing about the unfairness of life, crying for some sunshine.
Joy was bubbling within after the news that she would be a mother. A mother? She would have her own bundle of joy. A baby who would love her. A friend she could talk to. The solution to her loneliness. She was elated. The big man was livid at her first signs of showing. He vented his anger and frustrations on her. He was angry that she would no longer love him solely and that she would be a fat pig, just like his wife. Joy did not even bother to block his blows. She welcomed the pounding of his fists and legs into her body. She simply had reached the end of her tether. With no more tears to shed. No fight left in her. She clinged to oblivion and longed for escape from her awful life. Perhaps this man would help her out. Smiling mockingly up at him, she sensed him unleashing his pent-up emotions. She reached out her hand…come to me, you who is weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. She embraced this hope in the throes of unconsciousness.
She opened her eyes and groaned in pain, then shut them to try and grab the unfeeling darkness that had enveloped her. Soft hands and a soothing voice were there to comfort her and alleviate her pain. The kindness of her doctor, her nurse and Sam, her Good Samaritan, made her believe that humanity was not a lost cause. Joy learnt to smile and find meaning in life. She found healing in sharing her wounds with Sam. She told him the story of her life. She cried as she recounted to him the painful memories. The nightmares. The abuse. The shame. The guilt. The self-loath. He taught her about the Good Lord. About His unconditional love and unwavering mercy. She came to love God’s unfailing forgiveness. His word was balm to her soul. Her heart opened to Him. That she could be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hands? A royal diadem in His hand? It was amazing, and she reveled in it. Sam was always there, lending her his strength when hers flagged. Her mind flashed back to that first time she saw him, leaning over her hospital bed and singing AMAZING GRACE, smiling at her. She had beheld that dark and handsome face, her gaze fixated on him. How her heart had leapt within her! How her soul had danced in excitement! Her breath had caught in the beauty of that magical moment. Her surroundings had reflected the emotion in that instant. The cool breeze through the open window, blowing her hair in wisps that Sam tucked behind her ears. The warm sun rays spreading warmth through her. The fragrance drifting to her from the red roses placed in a vase just next to her bed. They had smiled at each other, and then looked away. Perhaps because they could not handle the emotions so elicited.
She had been broken, tainted, humiliated and exhausted. Her toughest moment was when she had to let go of the bitterness she held towards her father and all men who had used her for their own decadent pleasures. Some had demanded degrading things of her, and expected her to do it with a salacious smile on her face. She had held onto this hatred. It had been one hell of a fight that had left her bleeding and disillusioned. The pain of letting go ripped her heart out! Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. How could she do that? She was only human, after all. Yet the healing love of God taught her to let go. She actually went back home to visit her father. He wept on seeing her, going down on his knees to beg her for mercy.
God loves to decorate. Let God live long enough in a heart and that heart will begin to change. Portraits of hurt will be replaced by landscapes of Grace. Walls of anger will be demolished and shaky foundations restored! As stated by Max Lucado in his book Just Like Jesus, it happened to Joy.
She now had a taste of devout friends and a man who accepted her past and taught her that it didn’t define her. A man who looked at her and saw the rest of his life! A man whose sole desire was to pursue the heart of God. She purposed that her soul was no longer for sale to the devil but given up to the Lord in surrender to His Lordship. Her firm belief in God, and His amazing Grace that had brought her through the wilderness and led her home, was based on firm foundations. She lovingly rubbed her stomach determined to give her unborn baby everything she had missed out on as a child; More so the truth of The Loving Father who would be there through it all!
I firmly believe that in every situation,
no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before. Quote By Andy Griffith