“But I told you never to take off that necklace.”
“I-a-m sorry, Daddy,” he stuttered.
“You did?” his mother was surprised. “You promised me you will never do that.”
“It was Paul,” he said, pointing to their neighbour’s compound. “He wanted to see what it was made of.”
Chuks turned to his wife, anger in his eyes. “Do you still allow my son to go to those born again Christian people?”
“But Veronica and her husband, Christopher, have always been good people. Their son, Paul, and our son are playmates.”
“I don’t care!” Chuks raised his voice. “I never want to see those people here and I forbid you from being friends with them. My son must never step a feet to that house again!” He stood up and walked away angrily.
Veronica and her husband, Christopher, understood without being angry when Doris told them about her husband’s decision to keep the two families apart.
Chuks had not always been friendly with the couples next door. He hated that they were christians and supported everything that he was againts.
They sometimes disturbed his sacrifices with their prayers and there was no way he could get rid of them except he had to make them disappear which was very impossible.
And while Christoper and Veronica continued to pray for Doris and Chuks, they hoped that one day the couples would come to know Christ and give up idol worship. They still couldn’t understand how educated people would choose to remain idol worshippers rather than serve the one true God.
So when Chuks finally gave the verdict to keep them at arm’s lenght, they respected his wishes but didn’t stop praying for them.
Six years later, fate would again bring Hassand and Paul together in the classroom of the private secondary school they attended. The two boys became friends without the knowledge of their parents. They had so many things in common.
Hassan loved football, so did Paul, and together, they were on the school team and soon found themselves spending so much time together.
Paul was known to be a good Christian in school.
He was also made the chapel prefect in their final class.
Many times he shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with Hassan who at the initial stage was turned off by Paul’s sermon.
But Paul wouldn’t stop.
He told his best friend that it would be the greatest joy to see him give his to Christ.
“But you know how impossible that is,” Hassan returned with sarcasm in his voice one afternoon.
“Because your parents are pagans?”
“We don’t believe in you God.”
“But He is the God who created you and me and is willing to save us from destruction. He is willing to give us everything we need if we will worship Him.”
“Including helping me pass my o levels at one sitting?” Hassan scoffed.
“There’s nothing too hard for God to do,” Paul replied. “All you need to do is ask Him.”
“You want me to pray to your God?”
“And if He answered your prayer would you serve Him?”
“I’ve never been an ‘A’ student like you, Paul, and as much as you have tried to help me in the past, I still struggle in the exam hall.”
“I’m not tired of helping you,” Paul said. “I also know that God answers prayers. You will have to study hard and pray, too. You will be surprised at the result of prayer.”
“If I begin to pray to you God,” Hassan asked, “doesn’t it mean that I think He can help me?”
“That’s it, Hassan. Prayer is a sign of faith. When you pray, it’s because you believe God is up there and He can do that which you cannot do.”
“My parents are going to kill me.” He laughed at himself.
“Why don’t you attend the youth programme coming up this Friday in my church?”
“Are you asking me to come to your church?”
Hassan looked at Paul ridiculously.
“I’m inviting you to Church, yes.” Paul nodded.
“Even if I consider your invitation, where do I tell my mum and dad that I’m going?”
“I thought your dad was out of town?”
“Yes, he is, but my mum will think it is the craziest idea I’ve ever brought up.
“I’ll pray for you in my quiet times,” Paul said. “I’ll pray that your mum allows you to come to church with me.”
“Have you forgotten we are not supposed to be friends?”
Paul patted Hassan on the back. They were running late for their football practice on the field. “Ask your mum when Friday comes, and see if she will turn you down.”
Doris had been having terrible nightmares that had to do with her son.
He seemed he was imprisoned by some group of evil people. They wanted to kill him. They tried to, except that every time they made an attempt, Paul, Veronica and Christopher’s son, always showed up to help.
He always seemed to have that book they carried around in his hand, and when he opened his mouth to call on a certain name, the evil men disappear, and her son is safe again.
She had dozed off on the couch that afternoon expecting Hassan’s return from school when she had the terrible dream again.
She opened her eyes, looking really frightened.
She didn’t understand why she kept having this bad dream.
Hassan remained her only son: if anything went wrong with him, she would kill herself. And that boy, Paul, he always showed up to save her son. She asked herself now, perhaps the two boys were friends again. She knew her son and the neighbour’s son now attended the same secondary school, but Hassan had been warned by his father to keep away from the Christian. Hassan had always feared his father; he would dare not kick against his father’s instruction.
“Mum?” Hassan’s voice broke into Doris’s thought.
He had just returned from school looking sweaty and tired. “You look troubled.”
“Oh, no, I’m fine,” Doris put up a smile quickly, and then she peered at her wristwatch. “Aren’t you a bit late today?”
“Football practice took longer than usual, Mum, I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay. I was waiting for you to come back before I leave for the salon. Your lunch is served on the dining table, but you might want to wash up before you eat.”
“Definitely,” Hassan smiled. He was really hungry and couldn’t wait to fill his growling stomach.
He also wanted to have a bath; it had been a sunny day on the field.
He was almost out of the door when his mother stopped him.
“I was wondering if, Paul, our neighbours’ son is also on your football team in school. Is he?”
Hassan turned back to his mother with surprise in his eyes. Was she really asking him about Paul? Or had she forgotten how many times his father and herself had warned him to stay away from Paul. Why was she being interested in the boy of a suddenly?”
“Yes,” he answered quietly.
“Does that mean the both of you play on the same team?” Doris asked, trying to choose her words carefully.