Letter to My Sweetheart by Rita
How are you doing? Why am I asking this rhetorical question? I know it has been very hard for you since June 3rd2012. I know at this time you are inconsolable, but believe me, time heals all wounds and God will comfort you in His own special way.
Recall that whenever I travelled, I always sent you a mail on my arrival to tell you about the journey. That is why I am sending you this mail because I have arrived safely, but at a destination we did not expect. I am going to start with the moment we boarded the flight from Abuja to Lagos.
I called you to tell you I had boarded. I could hear the excitement in your voice. Though I had only been away 2 days, you made it seem as though we had not seen in ages. Oh my love! You always know how to make me feel special.
“Let us pray,” you started. “We are thanking You, Father, for a smooth and safe journey to Lagos. Thank you for my wife’s successful trip, and I look forward to being with my beautiful wife this evening. In Jesus Name, Amen!”
“Amen,” I replied and smiled, for as usual you were very honest in your prayer.
“Safe journey, Baby. I will be at the airport to pick you up!” You said. “Love you!”
“Love you too.” I replied after which I cut the line.
I switched off my phone and relaxed on my seat while waiting for the final checks by the cabin crew. I said a word of thanks to God for the successful trip. You always wanted me to be at peace with my family, despite all my father did. Finally I agreed to a reconciliation, which took place in Abuja with the rest of the family.
As the plane began take off, I noticed that the plane sounded noisy and as though it was rattling. It was as if something was vibrating the whole plane and there was no shock absorber. I didn’t want to say anything. So far I was impressed with the service by the airline. Their customer care was excellent. Their timeliness was impeccable, especially in this day and age where there are frequent flight delays. In my mind, I felt if I say anything, it will be as all my friends say, “I complain too much!”
The plane went down sharply, making me hold my breath. At the same time, I heard gasps from almost everyone in the plane. A baby started crying. But in no time, the plane had continued in its ascent. Then I relaxed in my seat, though I could not get over the rattling sound and continuous vibrations in the plane.
I drifted back to my thoughts. Reconciliation with my father. If anyone had met me any time before 3 years ago, they would have said I was an epitome of all that could go wrong in a woman. I was deflowered at the age of 6. My uncle was about eighteen then, and he was the one taking care of the kids in the house. I don’t know what came over him but he did it. I know my parents were furious, and I know that he was treated like an outcast after then, but as of that time, I did not understand what he had done.
Then came the separation of my parents when I was about 9. That woman that brought me to this world took me while my father took my 2 brothers. We never saw again and I never forgave my father for leaving me behind. He was the cause of all the bad things that happened to me. I had been raped several times by different lovers of my mother, right from when I was 11. The most painful of those experiences was the one that happened when I was 14. After all the bruising, I found out 3 months later (more like my mother found out) that I was pregnant, and of course, we had to terminate the pregnancy. And she accused me of enticing her lovers with my “fresh, supple body!”
By the time I was 16, I ran away from home, not like it was home to me. I was looking for someone to love me for who I was. But it was as though I walked into a den of lions. Every single man I met, married or unmarried, just used me like a piece of rag. I could not understand why no man wanted me as his one and only. The only one I managed to hold on two for the last 2 years before I met you, was what almost led to my untimely death. He was a chronic woman-beater. I was constantly treating for wounds and broken bones, and I felt that was the best thing life could offer.
Then I met you, the day I escorted my friend for an abortion in your uncle’s clinic. There you were, helping to stock the pharmacy with drugs when we came to buy the HPT kit. And then you said in a blunt but sincere manner, “abortion is not birth control, my friend! 2 times in a month?”
I wanted to take offense but then I knew you had a basis for what you were saying. I had been in the clinic only 3 weeks ago for an abortion so you assumed I was there for another.
“Tell that to the men who do not want to use condoms!” I retorted.
When my friend went in for the procedure, you came and met me at the waiting lounge. Then we got talking. Then we exchanged numbers. Then we started seeing each other. We always met at a joint those early days because I was still living with that woman-beater boyfriend. Then came the day you called me and I was at the point of death because of his beatings. You are courageous. You drove all the way to his house, carried me from there and rushed me to the hospital. Before that incident, all that I had in mind was to see how I could move from my boyfriend’s house to your house (or for you to pay for an apartment for me). I had no feelings for you. But the way you checked up on me everyday in the hospital, took me to a bone doctor afterwards, and paid my bills, made me love you immediately. At that point, I looked at my life and said God must be making a mistake. Me, a runaway child, school dropout, prostitute, who never goes to church or mosque, had someone like you, a clean, decent pharmacist to be, running all around me. No, I did not deserve the attention from you. God was definitely making a mistake.
After that incident, our relationship went to another level. I moved to my friend’s place, and then we started exchanging visits. We talked at a deeper level. You made me share with you all my hurt and pains deep down. You were surprised to know that I had refused to talk to my father even after all his attempts to be reconciled with me. You kept on talking about forgiving, but of course, I was not going to change my mind easily. You also encouraged me to go back to school, and from your school allowance you bought me JAMB form, tutored me, and made me write GCE. You said I had a lot of potential and you believed in me. To our surprise, I passed my JAMB and GCE in one sitting, meeting the minimum requirements. The day I showed you my admission letter to the University, you proposed. Who was I to say no? It also coincided with the week you got a job in the pharmacy of an oil company. Triple celebration for us.
We only did court marriage because I said I did not want my parents anywhere near my wedding. You believed that we would do the traditional marriage and white wedding some day. You wanted me to be reconciled with my family, especially my father. You took it upon yourself to see this come to pass. You really did a good job, reaching out to my father as well as softening my heart. Finally, when I was 3 months pregnant, my father and I had reached an agreement, and I decided to pay him a visit.
When I saw him, I wept. I realized that I loved him so much and I missed him, and all I was doing in life was just to get the love and attention of a father. I hugged him so tight and we both cried for a long time. He told me he loved me and he never stopped regretting why he allowed my mother take me from him. After spending the night with him, my brothers and his new family (wife and 2 kids), I felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted off my shoulders. It was one of the best weekends I had ever had, and I looked forward to thanking you for making it happen.
I came out of my reverie when the cabin crew started serving some snacks. It was when I felt something in my stomach. I realized what it was. It was the movement of our baby. I could not wait to share this with you. But midway into the serving of snacks, one of the cabin crew members whispered something to another, and then they began packing up the food and drinks.
I noticed that there was a sense of urgency in their movements. A few sleeping passengers were awakened and told to remain seated. The lights in the plane seemed to have gone off. Then I realized I was no longer hearing the noise and rattling of the place. I was seized with panic. My fear and anxiety was heightened when others in the plane started asking “what is going on?” I began to pray, though I am not sure of the words I said because I was scared.
The oxygen masks deployed. I was still muttering some words to myself when the captain spoke. I couldn’t believe my ears. I never thought I would hear these words that are only heard in movies or read in novels. I listened very carefully to his words:
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. The aircraft has developed a problem and we have not determined the cause of it. In twenty minutes we will have an emergency landing at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. Listen carefully to my instructions.
Put on your oxygen masks. People with infants and children should put theirs on before helping others. Fasten your seatbelts now. Ladies, remove your high heeled shoes. Everyone, remove all sharp objects from your bodies. We may have a double impact landing. At my word, everyone must cover their heads and assume a forward roll position, as shown on the safety card in the seat pocket in front of you.
When I give the word, upon landing, unfasten your seatbelts as quickly as possible, and head to the exit nearest you. Leave all belongings behind. Do not panic.”
There was no panic in the plane, but everyone was praying. Some children were crying because of the apparently rapid descent. The flight attendants had walked up and down with portable oxygen tanks making sure people were breathing well and their masks were working. When everyone was okay, they took their seats.
It seemed the plane was nosediving, because the angle of descent was too sharp. We all clutched tightly to our seats. The prayers intensified. I think there were powerful men and women of God in the plane because the words that came out of their mouths were very comforting yet powerful.
Suddenly, there was a loud bang, like there was a huge impact of the plane on something, and then there was nothing. I felt some pain, but it was like a prick of a needle.
There was an unusual peace in the plane just before the impact. People had the opportunities to give their lives to Christ in that plane. Yes, I heard a few people say things like, “Jesus! Save Me! I believe You are the son of God and I believe You died for my sins!”
I am sure you are wondering what was on my mind the last few minutes of the impact, or if I went through torture during the incident. I can tell you. Once the plane started nosediving, I told myself it is either I make it out alive or not. If it is the former, then to God be the glory. But if it is the latter, then I am thankful for my life. I was thankful that God gave me a second chance. I was thankful that despite the ungodly life I lived, God made someone like you walk into my life, show me the way, make me accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, and gave me a new meaning to life. I was thankful for the opportunity to be reconciled with family, especially my father. Please tell him I love him. I was thankful that God allowed me experience true love both from Him and from you.
Did I go through agony or torture? No! Like I said, I felt something but it was so swift before I entered into a state of blackout. I heard the bodies got burnt. Most of us had passed out with the impact and may not have felt the pain of the burns. And you know that 3rd and 4th degree burns are painless, so please do not think that I or most of us went through pain and agony.
My last thought was “I love you, my Sweetheart. I know I am going to a better place, and we will someday be together – you, I and our baby.”
And as you read this letter, just know that the pain you are going through shall pass. God will embrace you with love and comfort. One day you will look back at June 3rd. You will smile, not because the incident was nice, but because God has healed you completely, given you uncountable testimonies, and made memories of you and I a beautiful place you can visit anytime.
I miss you and I love you. Take care and God be with you. Lots of love, your wife.
This is the final story I'll be sharing here. However, you'll find a lot more submissions including some amazing poetry when you download your copy of the anthology. Thanks for reading.
May the souls of the dead rest in peace, and may those of us that mourn find comfort. Amen.