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Hadizat stepped into the lounge quietly and looked around. There were about fifty people in attendance already. About three guys moved about towards the front setting up some gadgets. The others were sitted quietly. Some bowed their heads reverently while others were busy with their phones and some just looked about. Hadizat was about to take her seat when she saw Ahmad walk in through a side door close to the front. He saw her and nodded in greeting. She responded with a nod.
Hadizat sat down and clutched her bag tightly. She was anxious but she didn’t know why. All week, she had anticipated this meeting. After her last meeting with Ahmad, her curiosity was piqued. Who was Mercy? Could it be the name of the preacher? Or could it be an actual door just like in her dream? And what was this Mercy’s relationship with Deola? She had so many questions. And she had come for answers. She hoped she would not end up disaapointed.
Hadizat turned to see Alexa running towards her. She stood up and walked into Alexa’s outstretched arms. She had discovered Alexa was an unrepentant hugger. Hadizat was not but she couldn’t deny the fact that she enjoyed Alexa’s hugs.
“I’m so glad you came”, Alexa smiled. “Let’s settle down. The service is about to begin. By the way. I love your outfit.”
Hadizat smiled. She was dressed in an all grey ensemble with her hijab and handbag to match. When she stepped in earlier, she had seen a young lady’s eyes open in surprise. She probably wasn’t expecting someone dressed like that in a Christian gathering – Hadizat whispered a quiet thanks to Alexa and resumed her seat. Alexa took the next seat. A young man walked to the front and picked up a microphone.
“Praise the Lord!”
Hadizat looked on as everyone replied with Hallelujah!”
She had heard the words before – severally while she was at ABUAD and the few times she had attended the church. However, she was yet to decipher the meaning of the words and she felt it was better to abstain from speaking words she didn’t understand. She made a mental note to ask Alexa later on.
Several activities went on and Hadizat watched intently. She wanted to understand it all. After a session of singing and dancing, they opened to a portion of the Bible and read. Hadizat didn’t have one so she shared with Alexa. She read the words but they made no sense. After the reading, a group came out to sing while others listened. Hadizat felt like leaving but something kept her rooted to her seat.
“Where is Mercy?” She wondered.
After the choir ministration, a young man stepped up to the podium and led a short prayer after which he began to speak. He spoke of something Hadizat had never heard before – salvation. She almost laughed. Did they look like they were chained or something? Was she in a prison and unaware of the fact? Hadizat hissed quietly. She found it funny that he mentioned parts of the Bible that supported his claim. She heard expressions like ‘bondage’, ‘captivity’ and ‘freedom in Christ’.
“Who is this anyway?” She wondered.
When the young man told everyone to stand up and pray, Hadizat was seething! She had wasted two hours of her time and she was no closer to getting answers than when she walked in. she looked around and noticed all eyes were closed, including Alexa’s. Hadizat picked up her handbag and made to walk out the door when a strange wind picked her up and knocked her against the wall. Instantly, everything went black.
All of a sudden, Hadizat saw herself back in the hole. She was falling. Fast.
“I’ve got you!” The monster cried.
“He…elp”, Hadizat croaked as she fell. “Deola. He…elp.”
A door opened up above and the light shined through the door. Deola swooped down in a millisecond and held Hadizat by her right arm. The monster quickly grabbed her other arm and held on.
“Let her go”, Deola demanded.
“She’s mine!” The monster growled.
“You lie! She has mercy.” Deola retorted.
Hadizat looked ahead and saw a cross. Someone had died on that cross. For a moment, she forgot her pain and imagined what that person must have gone through.
“His feet were pierced Deola”, She whispered as the tears came down in torrents. “His hands too!”
Hadizat’s head was a flurry of emotions. She forgot she was torn between a monster and a friend. All she could think about was the stranger on the cross.
“Look at his head. Thorns! He bled to death! Who did this wickedness?!” Hadizat shouted.
“You”, Deola whispered quietly.
“What?” Hadizat turned to her. “What? How?”
“Your sins nailed Him to that cross. Your rejection drove the thorns in His brow. Your neglect put the spear at his side. You killed him Hadizat. You. And all of mankind.”
“Aargh!” Hadizat cried out in anguish. “I’m sorry. I never meant …. I wouldn’t …. I didn’t mean…”
As she cried, she saw a huge drop fall from the stranger’s hand. She watched as the drop came closer and fell on her head. The stranger on the cross seemed to raise His head. Hadizat blinked in surprise.
“I… I thought…. I thought He was dead.”
“Yes, He was”, Deola smiled. “But, now He’s alive. He’s alive and He has shown you mercy.”
“I will never let her go! She’s mine!” The monster growled again and pulled Hadizat towards him.
Deola pulled her back towards herself. “No! Didn’t you see? The blood avails for her! She has been shown mercy.”
“But she didn’t choose!” The monster countered. “She didn’t confess with her mouth.”
“Choose Hadizat. Who do you pick?” Deola asked. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Hadizat looked at the stranger on the cross, He nodded his head and smiled at her as He whispered “Obtain mercy…”
“Who is He?” Hadizat asked Deola, her eyes still on the man on the cross.
“Jesus. His name is Jesus.”
“I choose Him!” Hadizat cried. “I choose mercy. I choose Jesus.”
Deola pulled her completely from the monster’s grip into a big hug.
“I choose Jesus”, Hadizat said. “I choose Him. I choose Jesus.” She said repeatedly.
Hadizat opened her eyes to find herself surrounded with people praying. She put her hand to her head.
“Why am I on the floor?” She wondered.
She remembered the dream clearly. Only it wasn’t a dream. She had not been sleeping and it had happened in what seemed like a millisecond. What had happened and for crying out loud, who was that person screaming?!
Hadizat wanted to shout and tell the person to keep quiet but she discovered her lips were moving. She was the one screaming “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” She couldn’t seem to stop herself. It seemed her mind was separated from her body and her tongues and vocal cords had a mind of their own.
“Stop it Hadizat. This is not you. You are going crazy”, she chided herself inwardly. But, she could not bring herself to stop.
She saw Ahmad open his eyes and focus on her. It seemed he could sense her trouble. He knelt and looked straight at her.
“Relax. Relax Hadizat. Let the Holy Spirit take over.”
Hadizat relaxed. She stopped fighting. Her breath was almost gone yet she kept on shouting, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” Just when it seemed she was about to faint from exhaustion, she felt a calming sensation and her lips, still in a world of their own, burst forth into the most beautiful music she had ever heard.
Everyone opened their eyes and stared at her.
“Hallelujah!” Ahmad shouted. “Hallelujah”, he repeated again and again. Alexa knelt and laughed with joy. “Oh my God. Thank You Jesus!“ Tears streamed from her eyes as she kept on laughing. “Oh Hadizat, you are singing in tongues!”
Hadizat saw and knew everything going on around her but at the same time, she was oblivious of it all. She didn’t want the sweet sensation to leave. She didn’t want the music from her lips to ever end. She wanted to lie on that floor, surrounded by lovely people, wrapped up in that calming sensation, singing that beautiful music forever. At the back of her mind, it seemed she heard some words (and strangely in Deola’s voice), “Congratulations Hadizat! You have obtained mercy.”
All she knew was that the restlessness she had felt all her life was gone. She was at peace. She was home. She had obtained…mercy.