Knock, knock, knock…
‘Who’s that at the gate?’ as he looked through the opening of the gate, he saw a nice young beautiful girl standing outside, waiting for the gate to be opened to her. But before he opened it, Elder Tut Jal, the brother to Nyan Jal, the businessman in the area, has to find out first who the lady is, and where is she going.
‘Who are you young lady?’
‘I am a relative to Panyim. Is he in here?’
‘Yes! You want to see him?’
‘Yes! I would like to talk to him sir. He said I should come this way to meet him. He told me he lives inside the church compound.’
‘Wait my daughter. Let me talk to him first. I will come back to you soon. Okay?’
‘Hello! Are you in there?’
‘Yes! Sir. I am here.’
‘A certain lady is at the gate. She said you told her to come and see you. ‘Is that true?’ Panyim has to think for a while. He couldn’t remember who that person may be. She may be one of his patients, but why did she lie about trying to get in to talk to him? He reasoned for a while and then decided to let the person come in.
‘Tell her to come over here, sir!’ he said.
‘Come in my daughter. He is calling you!’ she then walked in majestically, as beautiful as none other.
‘Come in!’ he said to her.
‘Have a seat on the chair!’
‘No! Sir. I will use the natural chair.’ She said this as she cleaned the floor with her cloth and sat there opposite to where he’s sitting on his bed, reading his medical book, ‘Where There Is No Doctor’ as he usually do after coming back from work. Panyim is serious about medicines, because he was cured by medicines a few weeks ago or so.
‘I am reading something here, but you are welcome. Who are you? Sorry for the rude question. But I want to know who you are. Are you one of my patients at the clinic?’
‘No! Sir. I am your former Sunday School student. Do you remember my face? It was many years back in history.’
Panyim could never remember such a beautiful face. It seemed he never seen her before. Could this be Nyakor? Why is she different like this? He’s thinking to himself for a while before he could give the answer.
‘No! My sister. I can’t remember whether I ever seen you before or not. Maybe it has been a long time back as you said. Can you explain a bit? Maybe I will remember where we have met. I can’t recall the place and the events. Was it here in Lankien? But I never taught any Sunday School students here. Panyim is thinking to himself.
‘It was in 1990s in Nasir. I was in Luäkpiny as a young little girl by then. You’re right to say you can’t remember it. But I think you know my maternal uncles.’ The girl began to mention the names, and Panyim remembered those faces associated with the names. But, about this girl? No. He can’t remember her face at all. People keep changing as they grow older and older.
‘I can remember your uncles and the places you’ve mentioned. I also know that I have been a Sunday School teacher for many years, since 1997. So what year exactly did I teach you?’
‘I don’t know for sure, but it was around 1990s. You used to come from a far place together with many other evangelists and song writers. Remember, you also taught the choir with one of your best songs. I still remember it. I love singing it all the time.’
‘Sorry! I don’t remember any of those songs!’
‘Are you sure? Can I sing one for you?’ Panyim has completely forgotten the very songs he composed and taught to the church in 1990s, when he was in Nasirthe Nasir area as a young man, a teenager by then. He became a Christian in 1997, when he was about 14. This was the same time when he got his facial scarification, just as any Nuer boy do in those days.
‘Yes! You can sing one if you know.’ Then the lady began to sing. He could remember the tunes, but not the actual words. He enjoyed the songs as she sang in the perfect Nuer tongue, the language he truly enjoys. It was his first language followed by the Dinka, then Arabic, and then English.
‘It’s time for me to go back to work. I go back to work at three in the evening. Thank you so much for coming. You have reminded me of my early years of service to God. God bless you!’
‘We will go together. I am going to that direction towards the town.’ The lady wanted to really have time with him, but he was not ready for that. His masculine body sends messages of love to her body, but he continued to resist it. He is staying in the church compound, and there is no room for such relationships in whatsoever format.
‘You have met your brother?’ James is asking her as she’s leading the way for Panyim towards the wooden gate as the size of a door. They are going out together as a couple, but they are not, at least not now.’
‘Yes! I have forgotten her completely, but she’s young. She reminded me of my earlier ministry roles in the church, back in history.’ The two of them walked out of the compound, heading to the town. They had to cross through the airstrip, which lies between the church and the town, where MSF clinic is located. As they walked on the narrow road, she grabbed his left hand and pressed it a bit; she then looked at him in the eyes and smiled.
The current begins to run through his spine, and then he leaned towards her, and almost kissed her naturally shining mouth! But, he realized he’s sinning in the process. The lady is so beautiful like none other. He has never seen a girl like this before, even Nyakor, his childhood friend, was not beautiful in such a unique way. His heart began to beat faster and faster.
They continued walking, but he pulled his hand away from hers. When they arrived at the clinic, he started working at his dispensary within the main clinic compound. The girl went in and sat at the window where he can easily see her face. Whenever their eyes meet through the window, she smiles beautifully, making him smile too in response.
‘Why are you so excited today like this my friend? What’s going on?’ one of his friends, Abraham Kom have seen the lady at the window. He knows about what is going on. He knew this lady for a long time before Panyim came. The lady is one of the modest ladies around, if not the only one. She had no boyfriends in the area, because she kept herself pure. But this time, she can’t stand the handsome former teacher. She knew him inside out. To her, this is the only man who qualifies to father her future generations. She loved him from the depths of her heart. She loves him with the whole of her being, body, soul and spirit. But the future lies in God’s hands.
As he finished working at around seven in the evening, she was still at the window, waiting for him. As soon as he walked out, she joined him and they both walked out of the compound.
It was getting dark Gatluok, the security guard greeted them, while he was smiling widely. Panyim has finally got his best companion. He had none, like this before, in that village as well as in his life, because Nyakor was his childhood friend, not a girlfriend as such.
As they crossed the airstrip, going towards the church compound, she grabbed his left hand again. He stopped and touched her forehead with the back of his right hand, as if she’s his patient. ‘Where can I meet you tonight?’ he whispered to her right ear. She smiled and took her hand away from his. They walked a bit further, and then she stopped!
‘Where do you want us to meet?’ she asked with a shaking feminine voice, sweet as her face.
‘Right here!’ he is pointing to one of the grass thatched buildings outside the church compound. The building belonged to the church, but no one stayed there at the time. She finally got what she wanted. She then sends him her final greetings. He told her not to lie, but keep her promises. She went back to the airstrip and then to her home, which is not very far from there.
‘I have a night duty today at the clinic, and I was told to come with my own mattress and bed sheets!’ he lied to the church leaders, because he wanted to go and see the most beautiful lady on earth. It’s like his watch is standing still! It will be his first time to try the game out. He ate quickly, and was restless. His leaders trusted him so much that there was no suspicion at all about his behaviors in that evening.
He prepared all the things he thought he needed for the work and then he left. He kept his mat, bed sheets and other things in that room on the road, and then he proceeded for the disco. He is looking out to see her there, but she’s not available. He’s thinking about what to tell her for the first time. He never had such meetings before.
What if someone finds out about it? What if someone discovers his bed sheets and mat in the house while he’s away? What if someone follows the girl into that room at night? So many questions flooded his mind, yet he’s determined to test the game tonight. There was no change of it. She’s determined to come, so what can change it?
After a while, he came back and entered the room. He stayed for a few hours and nobody shows up. He began to worry about it. Will she ever come this way? Was she serious about it?
He waited a bit longer, but no one came! He then dozed and started to sleep. But before long, he could hear her footsteps from the outside. When he opens his eyes, there was nobody, but the wind. He waited until he was disappointed. But when he was about to sleep, someone knocked at the door.
She finally arrived! He asked to find out if it was her. She confirmed with a shaking voice as if she was a thief. He opened the door joyfully. Everything in him was sensitive to her body, her smell, her skin and her voice. She sat down on the same mat, right on his left hand side, a place designed for a wife. But did he really know her motives in the first place? He was so fast to say a few words, and there his right hand was on her chest!
‘Stop, stop! You must stop this now!’ she said three times, with that soft and sweet voice. ‘Are you sure I am here for this? Do you know why I came to you in the first place? Please remove your hand from it, and let me tell you something more important than this!’ he was aback. He regrets about being nasty and fast. Will this turn her love away from him? How will it be if she turned away from him? He thought about his actions for a while, and realized he was wrong.
‘I am very sorry, my dear! Forgive me for being such a fast man instead of thinking first.’ He begged her not to leave as soon as possible. ‘I understand your actions. It means you love me from the depths of your heart. It means your body is normal and functioning like the husband’s. This is how men are anyway. Don’t worry about it. But I want us to talk before this. You will still enjoy the whole of me later on. You must tame that part of you for now. Is that okay?’
What? He’s so touched by her kind, wise words.
His hand fell off her chest as he listened to her words of true wisdom. ‘You know what?’ she began her heartily speech to him. ‘I have chosen you, not you choosing me! As a young and beautiful lady as you can see, I never experienced a man in my life. But you know our culture my brother. My parents are planning to give me away in marriage to someone I have never seen before. I don’t know how he looks like. I thought it’s God’s will to let me meet you in such a time as this. My plan is to run away with you, if you agree. You are the only man I know will love me from the heart. I knew you ever since I was a child. For this reason, you are the right man for me. This is why you need to commit your whole self to it, not only half of you. I hope you got the point? If you want us to do this thing now, make sure you take the whole responsibility.
Besides, this is the right day, the fertility day for me. When you do it, don’t say you don’t know who did it when I get pregnant.’
She spoke from her heart, and he’s thinking about it. He must take the full responsibility not half. What if she is already pregnant? What if she is HIV positive? All these questions came to his mind after listening to her. His desires came down to the zero level. He also spoke from his heart.
‘You know? Thank you so much for helping me. I thought you were someone to enjoy, just for a simple friendship. I never knew any woman before you either, just as you are. We are saints. We are all virgins. I will think first about your points. Please let us pray about it. It’s not easy. But I have a suggestion. What if you tell your parents to allow you to study for sometimes before you are given away in marriage? If this works, then we will have enough time to plan. Is that okay with you?’
‘Yes!’ she responds with enthusiasm in her voice.
‘I will do as you said. I will tell my parents that I want to study. The man who is to marry me is outside the country. I think he will love the idea. I will pretend to be in love with him. I will write love letters to him, and I will talk to his relatives in respect. I hope they will allow me to stay for a while, so that we plan well. We will then find a way to run away. Agreed?’
‘Yes. I agree.’ They then talked to their hearts after this. His lust left him for good. He kept holding her closer to his heart, but he’s not in lust or sexy about her anymore. He learned from her that day, that night, that true love is not lust. Love is not blind. He realized love is for the whole person, not just her body. A person is all that makes her or him, including emotions and desires.
After a few days from that night, the girl came back to him with a piece of paper with her name on it! She was allowed to attend the adult education courses in the area. She’s serious and committed to her studies. After a few weeks, she could read and write some few things by herself, without help. This means she’s having a good reason to study.
Panyim is in trouble. The church leaders had discovered or suspected something about him and the most beautiful girl. They began to doubt about their relationship. They one day called him to find out more about their relationship. He refused to tell them the truth. He knew the truth will set him in chains.
But during one of the nights, the same lady came and knocked on the elder’s door. When she is asked of who she is, she said it isn’t important to tell them who she is. She came there with one thing in mind, to tell her friend that he will never see her again.
It was time for her parents to act. She was on her way to be given away as a wife. She came to send him the final message. After this, she went her way. When Panyim heard this from the elder in the following morning, his heart was broken. He couldn’t hide the facts anymore. He burst into tears right in front of the church elder.
‘Why are you crying?’
‘Elder! I had a plan with the girl. But she’s gone. I will never see her again. I lost her for life! Oh, my God!’ he then thought and asked many questions. What if I played the game? What if I agreed and run away with her? But how can I pass through this land without being caught red handed, with someone else’s daughter, without paying the dowry? All kinds of questions came to his mind. But that was it. Life is full of fun.
Panyim missed the girl of his own heart in such a way. Many who knew about the plan, including the relatives to the girl, especially her age mates were sorry about what happened. He never knew other people knew about the plan. But because the lady was so excited, she shared her plans with others, which spoil the whole thing. Yet, there was a reason behind it all. It was not God’s will for such a thing to happen that way.
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