‘It was ok,’ he said still surprised.
‘What would you like for breakfast?’ Sharon asked.
‘Is this a joke or something?’ Gabriel asked.
‘That I want to make my husband breakfast? Of course not.’ She smiled.
‘Oh okay, I see what this is about. Listen, don’t worry you are not a mess; you should still be able to find someone to marry you.’ Gabriel said.
‘Gabriel, why will you talk like that? I just wanted to know what to prepare for your breakfast.’ She wasn’t happy with how he spoke.
‘Since when did you start showing interest in my breakfast? See, my mum doesn’t have to know you don’t like cooking for me. I don’t intend to tell her anyway.’
Sharon sighed, ‘You can come downstairs for breakfast when you are done dressing up.’ She got out of bed and went downstairs. There was this joy and excitement she felt as she went on with her activities. She sang as she prepared the meal. ‘Father, I thank You for what You did last night;’ she said ‘please give me the wisdom to relate with Gabriel and help this marriage to work.’ She prayed as she fried the eggs.
Gabriel came downstairs dressed in a black well-tailored suit with his laptop bag in his hand. He was headed to the door when Sharon informed him that his food was ready. His initial thought was to ignore her and leave, but unfortunately for him, his mum came out of her room.
‘Junior, won’t you have breakfast before leaving?’ She asked still in her night gown and hair net.
‘Nne ututuoma(mummy good morning), hope you had a beautiful night rest?’ He tried avoiding the question.
‘Yes I did my son, as a matter of fact, I spent most of the night praying. You have to eat before leaving..o,’ she repeated.
‘Ok ma, I’ll eat.’ He said.
‘What about you?’ He asked her.
‘Her food is ready too,’ Sharon who was standing by the dining table answered with a smile. ‘Mummy good morning,’ she greeted and curtsied.
‘Ha my daughter, I just love you. Thank you my dear.’ She walked towards the table and sat down.
Sharon smiled and sat down to the left of Gabriel.
‘Gabriel, make sure you are mindful of that woman at work, today. Don’t give her any chance to seduce you. In fact, you must not be alone with her. You hear me?’ she pulled her ear.
‘Definitely, that won’t happen.’ He said as he dished his food.
After they were done eating, Sharon and Mrs Okafor saw Gabriel off to the car and waved at him as he drove off.
‘Have a lovely day,’ they said.
As they went back into the house, Mrs Okafor couldn’t help but comment on the change she noticed in Sharon.
‘You seem really bright this morning, Sharon. What exactly is going on?’ she asked.
Sharon smiled, ‘Mummy, there is this joy in my heart.’
‘Tell me about it,’ Mrs Okafor wanted to know more.
They sat in the living room and Sharon told her all that happened the previous night and how she prayed for God to come and reign in her life. She also told her how terrible things had been going on in their home and how they had been trying to hide it from her.
Mrs Okafor smiled and reclined in her chair.
‘You don’t seem surprised, mummy?’ Sharon wasn’t expecting the response she got.
‘Just how much do you think you can hide from God?’ Mrs Okafor asked with a smile. ‘Do you think I came visiting because I had missed your faces? No, my dear. The Holy Spirit had already told me all that was going on behind closed doors and sent me to you as an agent of restoration.’ She told Sharon.
Sharon was shocked, ‘You mean you knew all along?’
‘As the Lord lives, my dear,’ she smiled. ‘Tell me about Ben.’
‘What! The Holy Spirit told you that too?’ Sharon couldn’t believe it.
Mrs Okafor chuckled, ‘Well, He could have but He didn’t. These walls are thin, you know? I heard you and Gabriel arguing the other day.’
Sharon sighed, ‘Hmm..Ben was a mistake I made when I didn’t know any better. I actually thought that by doing it, I was going to get back at Gabriel. I didn’t know that by tearing him down, I was tearing myself down too because before God, we are one.’
‘That’s very true,’ Mrs Okafor said.
‘Ben was the owner of a firm I applied to for a job. I had applied to three other organisations before then but none of them got back to me. It wasn’t like I was desperate to have a job or anything like that; I just wanted to prove a point to Gabriel that I could do something with my life. When Ben asked for sex, I initially turned down his offer but that day, when I got back home, Gabriel and I had a serious fight. He told me to my face that he didn’t enjoy having sex with me and that I was good for nothing. That was what pushed me back to Ben.’ Sharon opened up to her mother-in-law who had by now became more than just a mother to her.
‘The devil is a wicked devil o. He planted that seed of discord that day of all days so you could make the wrong decision.’ Mrs Okafor said.
Sharon sighed, ‘I slept with Ben just that once and I felt terrible afterwards. I told Ben that I didn’t want the job because I couldn’t live with the guilt of knowing that I got the job at the expense of my body and integrity. I had no idea I was pregnant till I landed in the hospital.’
‘I thank God for sparing your life my dear. See, your story is very similar to mine. Except that it was my husband that cheated on me with a member of the church. It was a huge blow on our marriage. There were times, I had wanted to leave him but because of Gabriel and his sisters, I chose to stay. Along the line, God visited us. He healed us and restored our marriage. I forgave my husband and we rededicated our home back to God. Neither Gabriel nor his sisters ever knew about this. I’m not telling you this to spite my husband. God forbid I do that, I just want you to know that in marriage, challenges are bound to arise. We need God to fight and fight through. It is not enough to be a church goer; you need to have a sound relationship with the Father and be grounded in His word because the storms are bound to come. It is your grip on his word that will be the anchor in the storms. Remember Peter in the Bible that walked on water? When the storms arose and his focus was no longer on Jesus but on the storms, what happened?’
Sharon answered, ‘He began to sink.’
‘Exactly! He began to sink. That means it was a process and when he realized that he was sinking he cried to God for help. Marriages don’t crash in a day. The problem is that when it starts crashing we either don’t cry out for help or we run to the wrong places for help. God is the one that created marriage and it is He we are to run to when our marriages begin to sink.’
Sharon nodded and listened attentively.
‘I’m so glad you have cried out to God. It is never too late to do so. What is left is for you to begin to pray for your husband relentlessly. Don’t let what he does or doesn’t do bother you. Just keep praying for him. Is that all right? I, too, won’t stop lifting your home unto God in prayers.’
‘Thank you mummy’ Sharon said and hugged her. She was glad to have such support and encouragement from her mother-in-law at such a time like this, when she needed it the most.
‘It is well with you in Jesus name.’ Mrs Okafor prayed and hugged her too.
‘Amen!’ Sharon replied and unwrapped her hands from Mrs Okafor’s.
‘Let me go in and freshen up.’ Mrs Okafor stood up.
‘Alright mummy, thank you very much’
Sharon cleared the plates from the dining table. As she was in the kitchen washing plate, she heard her phone ring. She dried her hand and went to the sitting room to see who it was that was calling. It was an unknown caller.
Sharon didn’t like picking such calls and Truecaller, the app that reveals a caller’s identity didn’t show the name. She reluctantly picked the call.
‘Hello!’ She spoke into the phone.
‘Good morning, is this Mrs Sharon Okafor?’ A strange male voice asked.
‘Yes, please who am I speaking with?’ Sharon asked.
‘This is Dr Williams from Sound Health Special Treatment Clinic.’ The caller introduced himself.
‘Ok?’ Sharon wondered what that had to do with her. ‘It’s either a wrong number or a ‘“419”,’ she told herself so confidently.
‘Yes, please your attention is needed,’ the doctor told her
‘What do you mean by my attention is needed?’ Sharon raised her voice ready to attack the “419” caller.
‘We conducted a test on Mr Benjamin Olamuyiwa and he tested positive for HIV and some other sexually transmitted diseases.’
‘Jesus!’ Sharon cut in and exclaimed as she placed her free hand on her head.
‘We did what we call contact tracing, a way of getting all those he has been sexually active with and that’s how we got your number. Please, we will like you to come to the clinic tomorrow to get tested so we can start you on treatment if you are found positive,’ he explained. ‘I’ll send the address of the clinic to you right away.’
Sharon’s hand immediately began to tremble. She looked for the closet seat to sit down. ‘Is this how my life is going to be ruined?’ she wondered. Her eyes became moist instantly. She dropped the phone without even caring if the call had ended or not. Hot tears rolled down her cheeks, ‘Lord it was a mistake and I’ve asked you to forgive me already. Why does this have to happen to me?’ She cried.
She left the kitchen and went to the room. She didn’t know what to do or who to call. She went down on her knees and cried. ‘Lord Jesus, please have mercy on me. If you will please spare my life and not let me have HIV, I promise to live the rest of my life for you.’
She spent the rest of the day wondering what the test result would be.
The first thing the next morning, she drove straight to the clinic, introduced herself to the nurse at the reception and asked to see the doctor. She was directed to his office.
As she knocked on the door and opened, she was shocked at who she saw. The doctor Williams that called her the previous day was her secondary school classmate. She was so ashamed she wished the ground could open up and swallow her right there and then.
‘Hey Sharon, long, long time,’ he stood up and hugged her.
‘Hi George Williams, how have you been?’ She tried to conceal her shame.
‘I’ve been good. It’s been like what? Ten years?’ He asked smiling.
‘Yeah about that.’ She responded.
‘Please have your seat.’ He pointed at the empty chair opposite his desk and went back to his seat. ‘So you got married to an Igbo man?’ He laughed. ‘There was nothing I didn’t do to get your attention back then; you just never gave me a chance.’
Sharon forced herself to smile. She was both nervous and ashamed.
‘So to the business of today, you’ll go to the lab opposite this office, the scientist there will carry out the tests and the results will be conveyed to you as soon as they are ready.’
Sharon could feel her heart beat faster.
‘We have a policy here. Whatever goes on here stays here.’ He assured her.
‘Who is talking about privacy? I’m talking about my life here,’ she thought. ‘Thank you’ she said and stood up to leave.
She went into the lab and the scientist took her blood sample while another doctor took a vaginal swab. They told her to come back the next week to know the result of all the tests.
‘Next week?’ She asked. ‘Can’t it be ready any sooner?’
‘Well, the HIV test can be ready today but the swab will take at least 5 days,’ the scientist explained.
‘Ok, so please can I know the result of the HIV test?’ She asked eagerly.
‘I’ll get it across to the doctor; he will tell you the result. Please wait outside; he’ll call for you soon.’ The scientist said politely.
Sharon sat outside the doctor’s office and prayed. ‘Lord, please let it be negative. See how what was done behind closed doors is about to ruin my life. Please Lord, just have mercy’ She tapped her feet on the ground. It was her way of easing off stress and anxiety.
After what seemed like forever, Dr Williams came out and called her into his office.
‘Let me start by saying that in contrast to what people think and say about the disease, HIV is not a death sentence. With regular use of your medications, one can live a good and healthy life. Also, there are ways to protect one’s spouse from contracting it if he doesn’t already have it.’
Sharon couldn’t take it anymore. The suspense was killing her, ‘What does the result say George?’ She asked.
‘Those are the routine counsel we give to everyone that comes to this clinic,’ he explained as he tried removing the pin from the stapled result. ‘Let’s see what we have here. The results show that you..’ his phone rang, ‘Excuse me please, this is important.’ He picked the call and was on the phone for about two minutes.
Sharon began to sweat; the suspense was killing. She felt like snatching the result from the doctor’s hand and reading it herself.
‘I’m sorry about that; that was one of my patients.’ He explained.
‘It’s alright. You were about to tell me the result.’ She reminded him in case he had forgotten
‘Yes, sorry about that. The result shows that you are HIV negative. Congratulations!’ He smiled.
‘Oh praise God. Thank you Jesus.’ She went on her knees, tears in her eyes. ‘Thank You, heavenly Father.’ She stood up and sat on the chair.
‘Heavenly Father?’ Dr Williams asked. ‘No offense but where was this “Heavenly Father” of yours when you were with Mr Benjamin?’ He asked sarcastically. It was absolutely none of his business to intrude into her personal life neither was it right, in any way, for him to have been so judgmental.
Sharon was upset and felt like insulting him but instead, she took a deep breath and decided to tame her tongue. ‘George, it’s one thing for your profession to allow you into my personal life but it’s another for you to rudely intrude. However, if you must know, what happened between Ben and me was a total mistake and God, who has now become my heavenly Father, has forgiven me. You shouldn’t be so concerned about me, George, but about you. Is God your heavenly Father?’ She asked him.
Dr Williams was speechless; he didn’t expect such a comeback. He decided to apologise, ‘I didn’t mean to upset you Sharon.’
‘It’s okay; no offense taken.’ She told him.
‘Cool. I’m glad the result is negative, however, here are some condoms for you to use next time’ he brought out a pack of condom from his drawer.
‘Don’t you get it? I’m a changed person. That won’t be necessary. I’m now born again and I have a home to protect.’ She explained to him.
‘Calm down Sharon, I’m also a Christian and a married man too but I still use them when I want to.. you know?’ He winked at her and smiled.
‘George,’ she looked at him and shook her head ‘I don’t need them. Thank you, I’ll be back next week for the other results.’ She stood up and left.
On her way home, she thanked God for the result and remembered the promise she made to God. ‘Lord I owe you my life; give me grace to serve you faithfully,’ she prayed.
When she got home, she checked on her mother-in-law and saw that she was sleeping. She quietly closed the door and tip-toed away. She prepared lunch and set the table in preparation for when Mrs Okafor will be awake and when Gabriel will return home.
She went up to her room, removed her earrings and wristwatch and placed them on the dressing table. Gabriel’s ring was still lying there. She picked it up and prayed in her heart, ‘Father, please fix our home; finish that which you have started, Lord.’
She lay on the bed and slept. It was the blaring of Gabriel’s car horn as he drove in that woke her up. She checked the time and exclaimed, ‘Wow! Its past six; mummy would have been so hungry.’ She jumped out of bed and went downstairs. She met Gabriel and mummy in the living room.
‘Welcome dear, ’ she smiled at Gabriel.
Gabriel who was talking with his mum suddenly froze and turned to look at Sharon in amazement, ‘thank…you’, he said looking really disturbed. ‘What exactly is going on? He thought. ‘What’s this new attitude? Why the ‘dear’ or the smile?’ He wondered.
‘Mummy, I’m so sorry; I slept off. Your food is on the table; I didn’t want to wake you up when I got back.’ Sharon explained.
‘Me ke? I have eaten.. o. I saw the food and figured you were either busy or resting. So I decided not to disturb you. I enjoyed the food dear.’
‘Thank you ma,’ Sharon smiled.
‘Gabriel, better go and eat; I’m going inside,’ Mrs Okafor said as she stood up.
Gabriel could not help but notice the glow on Sharon’s face. Her countenance was bright. There was something different about her; he just didn’t know what it was.
‘Your food too is on the table, Gabriel,’ she informed him. ‘Should I warm it for you?’ She asked.
‘Er… okay… I guess,’ he was still trying to get used to the new homely Sharon.
Sharon took the food and warmed it with the microwave oven. She served both her food and Gabriel’s with two glasses of juice.
They sat down at the table to eat. ‘How was your day?’ Sharon asked.
‘It was good, thank you.’
‘Anything special happened today?’ She tried to sustain the conversation.
‘Well, nothing much. Ms Adetayo was transferred to Kaduna.’ He told her.
‘Are you kidding? That’s great,’ she smiled. ‘Did I tell you that I’m grateful you escaped her trap?’
‘Er… no you didn’t. If I could remember correctly, you said you didn’t care if she raped me.’ He said bluntly.
‘Gabriel, I’m sorry for every wrong thing I have ever said or done,’ she apologised sincerely.
Gabriel’s spoon dropped from his hand, ‘Sharon do you want to tell me what exactly is going on?’
Sharon paused and looked at Gabriel, ‘So many things have gone wrong with us but right now I believe we can make it work with God on our side.’
‘God? Sharon, did you just say God? When did God ever become important to you?’ Gabriel asked.
‘Gabriel, I got a call from the doctor yesterday. Can you believe that Ben has HIV?’ She informed him.
Gabriel froze in his seat. He stared at her not sure what the implication of that news meant. So many thoughts ran through his mind, ‘Does that mean you have HIV? Could I also have HIV?’ Even though he was ready to quit the marriage, deep down within him, he still cared about his wife.
‘I was tested today and the result was negative.’ She beamed with joy.
Gabriel gave a sigh of relief.
‘I owe my life to God, Gabriel. He is the reason why I think this marriage can and will work.’ She told him.
‘Whatever Sharon, count me out.’ He wasn’t interested in giving it a shot.
‘I have realized I did a terrible thing by sleeping with Ben,’ she went on her knees ‘Gabriel, I am truly and deeply sorry. I’ve asked God to forgive me and I hope you’ll find a place in your heart to forgive me.’ She said soberly.
Gabriel could not take it anymore. ‘Sharon what are you doing?’ He asked and stood up. ‘I really don’t care if God has forgiven you. After what you did, you think I’ll just move past it and warmly embrace you? Really?’ He was upset.
‘Gabriel please,’ Sharon held his hand and pleaded on her knees with tears streaming down her face.
He snatched his hand from her grip, ‘Don’t you dare touch me.’ He left the dining angrily not moved by her tears.
To be Continued…
What do you think happens next?
Watch Out For Behind Closed Doors Part 6 next week Sunday. Don’t miss it.
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