Please Forgive me Benita! By Izunwaonu
I was the man who misunderstood her intentions.
She saw a Rose (flower) in my computer bag and she insisted in knowing who it is meant for.
“This beautiful flower is meant for a beautiful woman right?”, She inquired.
“I am not saying that She is not beautiful but if She is not, nothing else is beautiful and nothing illuminating could be said about her without mentioning beauty and love!”, I responded.
Benita Michelle was never a Catholic and the only day she attended Catholic Church was the day my birthday fell on Sunday at St. Theresa’s Cathedral Nsukka.
After group studies on that fateful day 15th of August 2012 at the University of Nigeria Nsukka stadium, I told her that I was going to Chapel in Bishop Shanahan Hospital.
Every effort I made to refuse her from following me was futile.
Was it because of the rose? Does she know anything about Chapel?
Even if she knew, she would have known that her dressing code was enough to disqualify her.
“Yes we are going together but do you know it is very far from Hilltop; your residence?”, I asked.
I knew that no excuses could change her mind as she stood near me.
If I had put forward any other reason; she was ready to refute it.
The inscription, “SALUS IMFERMORUM, ORA PRONOBIS” was boldly written so that even a man who has no particle of understanding could read it.
Benita Michelle is good in foreign languages but I knew she was not interested in knowing the meaning, but interested in the wisdom of the sophist who constructed the Marian Grotto.
I had wanted to pray but could not because she was so close to me that even her heavy breath was drizzling on me.
body touching me was so luscious and on edge.
I felt so many things coming into my mind, things that made me change my direction. I wish I could think about that, which brought me to the Marian shrine.
Izunwaonu has never had this type of experience before but was only thinking about something different from what Benita was thinking.
I left the scene and preceded to the Chapel with my Chaplet in my palm.
A cloud of silence was wrapping both the indoor and outdoor of the Chapel.
People were going in and coming out of the Chapel in silence and she entered before me.
I was wondering where she was going and what she had planned to do there.
She stood beside the door to observe where I would sit.
I slipped off my slippers at the entrance door and went straight to the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and immediately dropped the rose at Her feet.
I never knew Benita was watching my movement until she asked me in a shrill voice why I kissed the feet of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Now she broke the heavy silence and distracted those who were praying.
I looked around, every eye was on me, and I felt a heavyweight around my time in the temple of God.
I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me but the worst came forth when she said, “this place is comfortable for reading”.
At this point, I had to leave because my purpose which was to give the beautiful rose to a beautiful and loving woman was already completed.
It seemed we had stayed there for a long moment, but it might have been only seconds.
I was heavily annoyed that even my face only, could express that.
I did not consider it.
I did not even consider considering that she is an Anglican.
She reached out and held my hands and began to ask me a litany of questions;
Who is that woman?
Why did you give her the rose and why did you pray to Her because I felt you spoke more with your spirit than with your lips before her?
I needed to be more critical but the shadow clouding her eyes made me understand that she was serious even dough I could not tell if she was serious when she said that the Chapel was good for reading.
Hence, I began to answer her questions, “The woman is the Mother of God and my Mother; the woman behind my success”.
Benita knew I excel in everything I do yet she did not believe the Woman was the person behind it.
” But she is just like an envelope who has already delivered the message by giving birth to God and for that, we should not honor her “, said Benita.
I had wanted to answer the question immediately but I remember that she had won many times when we engaged in quoting the Bible.
On the preceding day, I went to group studies with my New Jerusalem Bible.
I asked her to read from Luke 1:28…; ” And the angel said to her, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women”.
She stopped at verse 48, where Mary states, “because He has looked upon the humility of his servant.
Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed”.
I had wanted to give her more chapters to prove to her that the Virgin Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant but she was already raking her mind over, “ALL GENERATION WILL CALL ME BLESSED”.
I should have been the one to explain the verses but the reverse became the case.
She kept a stiff upper her mouth for sometime before she started repeating the clause, ” THE LORD IS WITH THEE: BLESSED ART THOU AMONG WOMEN”.
After a while, she kept mute. I thought I had begged the question but I knew I rode on the crest of the wave.
Three days later, she requested that we might go back to Chapel and she promised she was not going to make noise.
She wrote something on a paper, folded it, and gave it to me to hand it over to Virgin Mary.
She wrote in beautiful handwriting but did not allow me to read it.
“I love your handwriting, it is beautiful”, I said.
“The beautiful writing is a beautiful expression from a beautiful thought by the essence of beauty itself to request for a beautiful intention from a beautiful lady”, she responded.
Seven days later, I was coming out from Ifeanyichukwu hall; still Shanahan hospital Nsukka.
I saw her coming out of the Chapel with a Handout and Textbook.
I became annoyed when my friend Ikechukwu averred that he has been consistently seeing her going to Chapel with books.
A hand that is meant for blessing became an instrument of war when we reached her.
I am sure I was not aware when I slapped her.
The bead of tears rolling down her cheeks was nil to me.
I felt I could say sorry but I was full of myself that I could not take heed to my friend’s advice to apologize.
This not only separated our friendship but made me to delete her number from my phone.
Three years later, I received a message from her but before I could read it, I deleted it thinking that MTN had started to send unnecessary messages.
Her best friend, Nnadi Faith, called to infer if I would go together to Benita’s wedding at Cathedral Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity Onitsha, Anambra, Nigeria.
I would have hesitated but because she was going in her private car, I decided to go with her.
I was sure the handsome man holding her hand at the altar was not me.
Though I thought I was in a dream, I never dreamt of that.
I sat at the end pew drawing a cloud of confusion around me.
I knew she never noticed my advent until the time she was asked to give a vote of thanks.
She had wanted to start from talk but when she beheld me, no sound came forth her throat.
I noticed her gesticulation, signaling one of the bridesmaids to bring her a pen and a piece of paper.
I was circumspectly watching her; she folded it and forwarded it to me through the bridesmaid.
I never wanted to read the content of the letter but the more I resisted it the more my spirit sank.
When I opened the letter, I gave her a birds’ eye view, and then I noticed she was looking forward to see my reaction.
The content of the letter reads:
I was never a Catholic and you made me one.
You taught me your secret and never cared to know how I applied it.
You gave me way and turned away from me.
The first problem I encountered in the University was that I was unable to understand my Stumpf.
I took it to the Chapel, I never read it but presented it and other books before God as a problem to me.
The problem was later solved.
I also prayed for a husband and successful life and today is the manifestation of that prayer.
Matthew Obiefuna is a Medical Doctor at the National Capital Region Hospital of Manila in the Philippines.
We shall be going back to the Philippines in two weeks time.
I never noticed the presence of a cloud of people around me till the beads of tears started rolling down my cheeks.
I never knew her intention and I could not inquire before taking action.
I had wanted to write back immediately but I could not.
Her so-called husband has noticed that her mood has changed and stated that no present should be brought again.
That would have been the only time I could have taken my written apology back.
Benita!!! Anywhere you are now, please accept my humble apology, I was the man who misunderstood your intentions.