WHEN NEXT YEAR COMES THE NEXT MINUTE
– WRITTEN BY RUTH TORTY
The night Ogechi called you and invited you over for lunch, you almost said no but you swallowed it back and said yes. As you sit across from Ogechi at the restaurant she recommended, you are wondering why you didn’t turn down the invitation. She looks up from her plate of Egusi and Eba and says “Nne, honestly, 2020 has been that kind of year”
You know how much you hate that line and somehow it’s the anthem everywhere. You smile tightly and sigh. You are praying she would not discuss the year. You had always felt Ogechi was always trying to fit it and look ‘tush’ and yet she was so comfortable eating with her fingers.
“See, during Covid-19 lockdown ehhh… Chai, the suffering ehh”
You sigh again.
She nods, thinking you are trying to empathize with her. Somehow your sighs are encouraging her to continue.
“Churches were not open, services were being held virtually and I was not really praying…”
You notice she is looking at your face to check if you are judging her in your mind. You want to laugh and tell her you to have no right to do so because you can not remember the last time you prayed instead you hold her other hand and press it gently.
After another morsel has found its way down her throat, she continues her tale. Somehow you know you passed the test, the one you did not know you were writing.
“…Then protests and everything else.” You realized you zoned out of the conversation and missed the other details. You are relieved, listening to people discuss the year is draining for you.
You watch her hands wash her hands in the bowl, her plates wiped clean and it occurred to you that you did not take more than five spoons of your rice.
“But I am happy. I know 2021 is going to be awesome and amazing.”
You scoff but cover it up with a cough.
“Why do you think so” You can not seem to stop yourself from asking
“Well, I have forgiven myself for my wrong choices this year, I have asked for GOD’S forgiveness, I am more intentional now. I am much kinder to myself. Did you notice I ordered swallow in public and used my hand to eat it”
You nod, shocked by her response. Soon you hug each other goodbye and you get back to your house.
You wait till late in the night, then you call a lady who you met at a sisters’ conference two years ago but you have never really had a conversation with and asked if she could listen to you. She agrees and you start talking.
You tell her you are numb. You are having an in-bed relationship with an unbeliever and he is becoming almost obsessed with you. Each time you try to pray, nothing comes out of your lips.
You tell her you are tired. Everything has exhausted you emotionally and you wonder what your mental health is like.
You tell her you to feel caged. How do you tell your friends these secrets? You fear telling your pastor. Your work life is fine and money is not a problem. You feel angry because everyone is thankful for something while you feel you are walking on hot coals.
There are other truths you choose not to tell. How you have a fiance who is worried about you. You leave out the fact that the ‘unbeliever’ is Leke, the guy you left when you became a Christian. You exclude from your story how some of your friends are also worried about you.
You pause and hear someone sniffing on the other end of the call. You ask why she is crying.
She tells you it seems a lot of people are going through so much pain emotionally. She says it’s too sad.
You ask her what she thinks about the new year.
She laughs and ask what you think about the next minute.
You laugh too because you understand. You both pray and end the call.
You laugh again and kneel down by your bed.
You do not do it for the new year, you do it for yourself.
You turn off your phone and begin to cry. At first, slowly, quietly, and then you scream and cry. You cry for many things; GOD’S Mercy, forgiveness for yourself and you cry to forgive yourself.
Written by Ruth Torty
Ruth Torty is a Christian, biochemist and healthcare & biotechnology content writer. When she is not closing the science gap with her words, she is sharing real-life struggles of Christians on her blog https://undyingembers.wordpress.com/
You can reach her at [email protected], on WhatsApp @ 08053731208 or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn @Ruth Torty.
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