In 2009, we met at a firm that handles stationery. We worked as a team, serving in the same department, sitting on the same table and doing almost everything together.

Before we became close, we fought. We fought for a chair, she wanted to use the comfiest chair and I wanted the same thing too. We fought with words, we dragged the chair but I overpowered her. She felt terrible and ashamed and I was touched by the expressions on her face. I gave her the chair, she refused to accept it. We never talked to each other even at the close of office. Being very emotional, I wasn’t myself…. Not because she meant anything to me but because the expression on her face showed she was very sad and I was that kind of person who likes to put myself in the shoes of others. I couldn’t sleep at night, I didn’t have her phone number as I would have called to say that I was very sorry.

The next day, I came very early to the office; swept everywhere, took the best chair to her corner and prepared her part of the table. It was around 7:55 am that she walked in, she didn’t greet me but I spelt out her name in a manner I had never done before

“Mercy” I called out, she stood for some seconds and turned back to look at me. She didn’t say anything; she just went on looking into my eyes with ambivalence. It was easy to notice she was just forcing herself to be hard on me, inside of her she was smiling. I continued “I am sorry about yesterday. I never really meant to make you feel bad. I just didn’t want to be the coward. Other colleagues were watching us.”

“Well,” she smiled “don’t mind me… It did not get at me that much. I was only faking it” She said coming closer and taking hold of my right hand. I felt something and I liked the feeling.

That was the beginning of our friendship. We became very close that we started talking about private things. She told me lots of stories about her past relationships; she told me how her heart was broken and how she was able to find healing. Before I knew it, I was dialling her at nights and early in the morning just before we would meet at the office. I was becoming obsessed with her and I started sending innocent but very lovey-dovey messages.

Our closeness was no longer a code, the boss became aware, the entire staff including her crush became aware too and I started having issues with practically everyone. One fine Sunday evening, the director called me on the phone. He told me how much interest he had in Mercy, he said he tried to get her sleep with him but he surmised I am the reason she is rejecting him. He asked me to stop talking to her until he is done with her but I never considered that, I even warned him over the phone not minding my job would be terminated. As days passed by he tried so many tactics to insulate her from me but it never worked and most times I would quarrel with him in the public. People wondered why I suddenly loosed respect for a fifty-something-year-old man especially with the fact that I was always quiet, but they never knew what has been going because we all kept it hush-hush.

My male colleagues also started having problems with me! They said I monopolized Mercy and made her unavailable to them. Truth was that I did nothing to Mercy, I never asked her to stop talking to people and we never even talked about it. I remember she told me a story about how one of the staff set her up with the director’s driver and wanted to sexually abuse her but she escaped.

Mercy was a very pious Roman Catholic while I was a faithful Anglican then. She belonged to so many societies in her church and she even made me visit the Roman Catholic Church for the first time in my life. I have always known the RC from books and videos but this time, I saw myself in their midst. By being engaged to a local assembly, one would expect a high level of morality from her. At that time, I was still naive and would scream if I was told a serious Church member did something immoral.

One exceptional Saturday afternoon, I was sealing some cases when she called for my attention

“George, can we discuss something very serious?”

“Of course” I smiled still concentrating on my work

“Hope you don’t get angry with what I am about to say,” she said, I had to turn and look into her face so that I can be sure if she meant what she said but she did

“Only God knows what you want to say but I don’t see reasons why I should be angry,” I told her

“Have you ever dated before?” she asked me

“I haven’t… I have always wanted to but never dared to approach anyone” I disclosed

“I see… I am a lady and there is something about us I want you to know” she paused and continued “we don’t believe someone truly loves us if he doesn’t prove it.”

“Really?” I asked amidst laughter “How do you mean?”

“I mean… Not that we are sex-hungry but when you claim you love a girl, she expects you to make some sexual advances. Even if she declines it, she smiles in her heart knowing she is the one you want. I am not asking you for sex, we aren’t dating anyway but am just trying to show you how you can prove that you love someone in case you enter a serious relationship later.”

I couldn’t believe my ears but I tried controlling the shock. It was my first time having such a conversation. My body stood still, I was stimulated and my mind started digressing from one fantasy to another. I was one of those persons who were virgins not simply because they are strong against every form of temptation but because I didn’t mingle with some friends, there was no opportunity and sometimes because we were scared to make that move. I had a feeling that this was an opportunity but how can my mouth even say to a woman “let’s have sex?” I don’t even know how to put that nor do I have the right words to use till date.

She was waiting for my reply but I was short of words. I managed to act as though I was normal

“Ermm, Mercy… I’ve heard you… I will think about what you have said. Perhaps, I am reserving myself for that person because as it stands, nobody is there yet. I don’t see why I can engage in a sexual act with someone I am not sure of holding on to the future” I said.

“Sex is not a terrible thing. You need someone that satisfies every part of you. Even God understands that… As a woman, I understand it too… You just need one person and not two!”

I felt she knew what was going on with my body, maybe she knew my body was strange to me at that point and perhaps that was what she wanted. Our co-workers were in the other room folding stationery materials and had no slightest idea of what was going on. She cat-walked closer to me with a fixed look into my eyes.

“It’s time… I will be going home” she said. I didn’t know what to say, or what to do but I only smiled at her to show that everything was alright and she added “tomorrow is Sunday, my parents and siblings travelled and they are not coming back anytime soon… It is going to be a long and lonely day for me”

“Eeeyaa” I struggled to say “it is well”

She picked her bag, waved at me and started leaving the office. I must admit, I felt this was an opportunity to explore a part of me that has been a mystery to me. At that time, I had never hugged, kissed or even held a woman’s hand by myself before. What about now? You want me to tell you?

That night, I didn’t call her on the phone as usual. I didn’t know what to tell her but I was feeling terrible. To help myself, I decided to get a book and start writing down whatever I was feeling! So many voices were in my head, one was saying “this is an invitation for the so much desired sex! You’ve helped her in several ways and perhaps she wants to pay back”, another voice was saying “this is just an opportunity knocking on your door… Don’t be a fool” but my heart was saying “No, this is not good. You are not ready for this, this isn’t the right time.”

It was Sunday morning and I never joked with attending Church services at Amazing Grace Anglican Church then. Ordinarily, I would go to Church with my phone but this time I didn’t. I deliberately switched it off and left for Church, I knew what I was avoiding. I stayed for the English service, the boring Igbo service and still stayed back for YAC fellowship that usually starts by 2 pm. I was hungry because I stayed in Church from 6 am to that point but I didn’t want to go home, I didn’t want to get anywhere near my phone because I wasn’t sure what would happen if I switch it on. Just a flash would be enough to convince me!

The fellowship ended by 5 pm and I decided to also stay behind for evensong. I went back home in the night to receive slaps from my dad for spending the entire day in Church… Finally, the day was over. I had won!

The next morning, Mercy entered the office looking mean. I wasn’t sure what was wrong but with her cold response to me throughout the day, I suspected I might have done something wrong to her. The bond we had started loosening up and it wasn’t long, she decided to quit the job.

She was a satanic agent, right?

She was sent from the pit of hell to destroy my destiny right?

I would have been possessed by seven demons if I had slept with her?

She wasn’t satanic, she was just being human.

I missed her presence in the office; the office became less fun to me especially since I was not in talking terms with the entire staff and even the boss. She stopped picking my calls and never replied to any of my messages. The day she did, she said “George, you have to stop calling me now… Things aren’t the same anymore. I like you, I will not forget you my entire life and you are just one kind of person any woman will want to be with but right now. But, I think it’s best to leave you alone. Please, stop calling me. I won’t be able to explain but just know that I love you and never meant to hurt you.”

That was the end, I felt bad but I just believed it was all happening for good.

Four years later, I was appointed as a President of a youth ministry in my church and I was part of a camp meeting planning committee. I was appointed to lead a delegation to a certain Church where I’d be speaking to the congregation and encourage them to be part of the Camp meeting that would be coming up shortly. When I came to the stage to speak, I had only talked for a few minutes when I saw a young woman at the gallery; she was carrying a baby and was heavy with another pregnancy.

It was Mercy!

She was just staring at me, she just couldn’t believe it, it was written all over her face. I tried my best to avoid her stares and the past came flashing back. It seemed like I heard those things she told me reechoing in my head but this time I was grateful to God that I never gave in at that time. Being the kind of person I am, I would have felt uneasy right there on the stage. There was no room for the devil to make me feel guilty and at that time I had not known so much of what I know now concerning God’s grace and being free from a guilty conscience. I would have stammered all through and would probably get booed out of the stage.

Right there on the stage, I also discovered how meaningless it is to share some intimacy with random people. What if we had sex? She would still leave me to get married since there isn’t any probability of her waiting for me to become a “husband material.” 10 years after, I am not yet married! With the very limited knowledge I had then, I just wouldn’t have communicated effectively to the young people there. Her stare would mean judgement to me!

I was very comfortable to say to her hearing “invite your young ones to come for our camp meeting, they are safe with us.” Do you think she would have trusted me with her young siblings? Do you think she wouldn’t think I may likely explore any opportunity I get for sex? I feel that people shouldn’t judge us for our past, however, anytime we make certain mistakes, we give people more reasons not to trust us. It takes maturity to some extents to separate people’s past from their present. As much as God has no issues with us, people may have some doubts about us even if they were our partners in crime.

I didn’t explore the opportunity I had with her, not because I didn’t want to, not even because I was more morally right. I believed that whatever reason that made me win over that situation didn’t make me better than her or anyone else. As much as I don’t regret fleeing the temptation, I also believed she was just being human. Perhaps, I can understand it this way: I was being tempted with what was natural. Right there on that stage, I was encouraged at her sight. Somehow, I became an example to her.

The future is broad, any bad decision you make today can follow you into the future and any good decision you make today can also help your confidence tomorrow! Opportunity is not a justification to do certain things. Before you do something, ask yourself again “do I have control over my emotions or is my emotion controlling me?” My emotions controlled me for a while but I had to put it under control.

However, the ability to overcome certain temptations don’t make us better than anyone else! Where she is strong, I might have failed and where she is weak I might stand strong.  It had nothing to do with me being better than her, I was not! However, the ability to overcome certain temptations don’t make us better than anyone else! Where she is strong, I might have failed and where she is weak I might stand strong.

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