Today is a day I will never forget.
After my last meeting, I was tired and hungry. I took a taxi home, and once the vehicle turned into my street, the chaos happening on it made the driver slow down. People were running to the end of the road where a crowd gathered. It almost seemed like they were in front of my compound.
“Should I keep going, madam?” The driver asked.
As we drove down the street, I saw my neighbors and friends standing and talking. Some were shouting. The car stopped and parked in front of the compound opposite mine.
I paid the driver and slowly got out of the vehicle, trying to find the easiest way into my house without being noticed.
“Mama Toby, welcome.”
I had been caught. I turned with a smile to meet five women looking at me.
“Women of God, what’s happening?” I asked.
I had been appointed the leader of the Women’s Fellowship in Church, and I was still adjusting to the role and its responsibilities.
“Mommy Toby, so if not for Iya Risi, you would have crept into your house to hide?” Ada’s mummy asked, the one adept at troublemaking.
“To tell you all the truth, I am tired and hungry, and I have no idea what is happening on our street. Yes, I would have entered my house to rest until it’s time to pick Toby from school.”
Ada’s mummy hissed and clapped her hands. “Leader.” She said, her mouth turned up. The job should have been hers, but favor entrusted it in my care.
“Mommy Toby, your friend is in trouble.” Aiden’s mum, my next-door neighbor, said in a whisper.
“Which friend?” I asked, turning to her.
She took my hand and led me to the crowd of women and children. We moved forward wherever we saw space, excusing ourselves and apologizing until we got to the front, and I looked down at the horrible spectacle, my eyes widening.
My young friend, Emma, was almost naked on the ground. She had been beaten, people were still spitting on her, and she wasn’t moving. Her eyes were shut, and I couldn’t see movement in her chest area. The women and children were shouting insults and obscenities at her.
“Would you please hand me your second Ankara?” I asked Aiden’s mum.
She looked at me for a minute, knowing what I intended to do. She untied the material from around her waist and handed it to me.
“Be careful. This crowd is unforgiving.” She said.
I walked forward with caution and covered Emma with the material. She shivered as the cloth touched her bare skin but did nothing else. The crowd erupted with no’s.
“Remove that nonsense, and let her suffer.” Someone said, shouting.
“Chief supporter, go and sleep.” Someone else said.
“Are you her madam?” Yet another person said from behind me.
“Mama Toby, what do you think you’re doing?” Ada’s mummy asked as she and the other ladies circled me like a protective shield.
“We need to take this girl out of here before these people kill her,” I said, looking at the ladies one after the other, hoping they would agree with my plan.
“Why? Do you know what she did?” Ada’s mummy asked, folding her arms.
“It doesn’t matter what she did. This kind of treatment is inhuman. If she committed a crime, the police should be called into the matter. Let’s not let this crowd take the law into their hands.”
The crowd had quietened for a bit, and most of them heard what I said.
“She is a prostitute. She sleeps with married men who live on this street. We have caught her today.” A woman shouted from the crowd, and the rest of the people agreed.
“Did you hear that? This girl, your friend, sleeps with the married men on our street and blackmails them for money. We caught her today because her last victim had the sense to confess to his wife, who set a trap for her.
“The man’s wife took her phone by force and opened up her photo gallery. All she told us was that there are many more men who might have been blackmailed by your friend and that she would delete all the photos to save people’s marriages. This girl needs to be taught a lesson!” Ada’s mummy said, her tone high, her eyes narrowed in anger.
“Yes!” The crowd chorused.
“People like her should pay for their wicked ways so that they can change.” Ada’s mummy said, continuing to work the crowd.
I wondered if she was angry at me or something else.
“How many women here has she slept with their husbands?” I asked, shouting out the question.
Nobody said a word.
“The person this girl owes an apology is the woman who caught her. Why are we trying to kill someone who hasn’t done us any harm?”
“Are you sure your husband is not one of her victims?” Someone asked, and people laughed.
I looked at Emma, who still lay on the ground, unmoving.
“I am not a judge, and I will not condemn her. I was a spinster once, and I know the life I lived before God saved me.”
“Birds of the same feather.” A woman shouted from the crowd.
“Yes, you can say that. I have been saved by grace in Christ, and I praise God for it. I am not like most of you who were good from birth and never sinned or did wrong. No, I can stand because I have been washed by the blood of Jesus from my sinful ways, not by my righteousness. Since we are birds of the same feather, please do to me what you’ve been doing to this girl.” I said, challenging them.
I had no idea what made me say that. My anger may have unhooked a bolt in my brain. I almost cowered before the crowd in fear. I stood tall against the panic I felt, hoping and praying they would not take the bait and deal with me.
“Mama Toby,” A voice called from behind me.
I turned, and it was Iya, the oldest landlady on the street. A kind and no-nonsense woman who didn’t tolerate wrongdoing. In her, I saw our deliverance.
“Doesn’t she deserve to be beaten for what she has done? Fornicating with the men on her home turf? She has no sense at all.” Iya said.
“Mama, God doesn’t give us what we deserve.”
“We are not God, Mama Toby. Leave us to handle this the right way.”
I sighed, not ready to give up. “If Lade, my daughter, was caught in a situation like this, would I be happy to see her left to the crowd? Would any of you leave your children at the mercy of people who would hurt them? God created this girl, and He is her Father. Let Him deal with her the way He sees fit.
“I serve a living God who asks me to leave all judgment to Him. How will I pray, praise, or worship Him, if I judge and condemn this girl?” I asked, looking at the faces in the crowd.
The women remained quiet. I heard the noise of the children alone as I waited for their decision. Mine was not to leave the place without Emma.
Iya hissed at me and turned to walk away. People made way for her. Next, Ada’s mummy walked away with the women who protected me. One by one, they departed until I was left with the crowd. They also dispersed.
One woman remained, with Emma and me.
“Tell her to leave this place. She must pack out of this street, or I swear, the next time I see her, she will not leave my presence whole.” The woman said and walked away.
“That’s the wife of the man your friend went to blackmail. It’s her day, I suppose.” Aiden’s mum said from behind me.
“Please help me with this girl. I need to take her to the hospital.”
We covered Emma with the material and rushed her to the hospital. She received treatment for her bruises. Emma refused to look at or talk to me the whole time until we dropped her in front of her house.
I hope she heard, understood, and believes.
Till next time, be transformed!!!