She caught my attention the very first day I attended my husband’s church. She wore a very beautiful flowery dress with a flowery headband to match.
She was the lead singer of the choir and each time she grabbed the mic, you felt the presence of her voice and felt the need to sing along. She had a very beautiful voice and you could see among her colleagues that they respected her a lot. My husband was sitting next to me. I leaned in and told him, “That girl has a glorious gift.” He asked, “You like her already?” I said, “I like what she does.”
I was also a singer in my former church. I’ve been in my church’s choir for over five years. Not only that. I’d been an integral member and a leader of the choir for so long until I found my husband and got married to him. Before marriage, we agreed to stick to our individual churches. He didn’t want to attend mine and I didn’t want to attend his. Both of us were deeply rooted in our individual churches that we didn’t want to change. But what’s love without compromise? What’s marriage without letting go of some things you believe in for the benefit of the marriage? After our wedding, I agreed to leave my church and worship in his because it’s the same God everywhere.
After church that day, I saw the lady—that beautiful girl with the beautiful voice coming towards me and my husband. She shook my hand and said, “You stole one of our own but we forgive you.” We laughed. She hugged me and said, “Welcome to our church. I hope you enjoyed the service today?” My husband said, “She did. Thanks to you. She had a smirk on each time you took the mic. She even whispered to me how she loved your voice.” She said, “Awww really?” I said, “Yes, you have a very great voice. I’m also a singer. I’ve been in a choir in my church for a very long time but I’ve never heard a voice like yours.” She said, ”It’s the lord’s doing. He blesses us with beautiful things and we can only use it to bless his name.”
My husband did the introduction. He said, “Alberta, so this is Gloria. You already know what she does. What you didn’t know is that she’s a very good friend of mine. Gloria, this is my wife, Alberta. You didn’t attend our wedding, you would have met her before now.” She said, “Must you say that? Alberta, sorry I couldn’t. I was out of town chasing dreams but don’t worry, I will make it up to you.”
Gloria became the friend between the two of us. After church each day, she will follow us to the house. I’ll go into the kitchen, cook something quickly for us to eat. The three of us ate from the same bowl and drank from the same bottle. She would mostly spend the rest of her Sunday with us, gossiping about what happened in church and what other people were doing in the name of the church. She’s one funny girl. Wherever she goes, laughter follows so I enjoyed her presence a lot.
One day she asked me to join the choir. “You’re a product of music. You don’t have to let that talent go to waste just because you’re in another church. It’s the same God. If he enjoyed your voice in your previous church, then he will enjoy it here too.” My husband chipped in; “I’ve been telling her every day but she doesn’t want to listen to me.” Gloria added, “You see, you don’t have to be a mere member of the church. They call it a floor member. Why be on the floor when you can sit on the high table? Join us. I will make it easier for you.”
So I started attending rehearsals with her. It took me just a day to witness the power play among the members of the choir. They all belong to a sect within the choir. The aim of each sect was to outmuscle the other sect. I went in there with Gloria so they saw me as a member of Gloria’s sect. I didn’t enjoy it. It looked nice when they gathered and lead the church on Sunday but behind the scene wasn’t so beautiful. One day at rehearsals a girl told me, “She’s good at pretending. You have to be careful.” She didn’t mention a name. She just said that and started moving away. I said, “Who are you talking about?” She said, “I’m talking about people we call friends.”
After rehearsals, I told Gloria about it. She said, “That’s one thing I don’t like about this choir. They don’t behave like a Christian choir at all. Even a secular choir would do better. Backbiting and name-calling all day. You just have to be careful of who you speak to. They can destroy names and break friendship just by lifting a finger.”
One afternoon after service, Gloria followed us home. It had been a long time since she did that. I even persuaded her to go with us that day. We got home, settled down and I went to the kitchen to start preparing what we would eat. I needed some eggs. I called out to my husband to get some for me from the fridge. He said, “There are no eggs in the fridge. You’ve eaten all of them.” “I thought we had some left that’s why I didn’t buy some.” He said, “You can get some from the woman along the street. That’s if you really need to use eggs.”
I really needed to use eggs so I stepped out to get some. From our house to that woman’s place isn’t that long. It should be about five minutes’ walking distance. I picked money and left the house to get the eggs. I didn’t go very far when I thought to myself, “Instead of getting just three pieces of eggs, why don’t I pick enough money and buy a crate instead?” I turned back and started walking towards the house. A few meters away from the entrance of the door, I realized the hall curtains had been pulled down. “Too much sun going in there I guess.” I thought to myself.
I opened the door….
If I could turn back the hands of time, I would turn it back to that moment when I decided to go back and take more money. I wish time would go back so I will undo all the mistakes of that day. First, I will keep going. I will get the three pieces and go back home. When I get to the door, I will just knock so they know I’m coming back home. Or maybe, I will turn the hands of time back to when we closed from church that day. I won’t ask Gloria to come to the house with us. I will undo all that so what happened that day would be prevented.
Gloria was on my husband’s lap, locked in an intense embrace while they kiss passionately. Immediately the door opened, they froze for a microsecond and that micro of a second was enough for me to see everything—to picture what they even did before I opened the door. I put my hands on my head. They rushed out of each other’s embrace. My husband walked towards me saying, “Please listen up…we didn’t mean to. I don’t even know how it happened. Please they don’t scream. Please don’t make a scene. It’s our first time. It has never happened before, trust me.”
It amazes me how people who are undeserved of our trust always try to con us to trust them, especially when you find them in a situation that breaks the trust they are asking for. Gloria sat on the sofa trying to fix her dress and hair to look like it used to be. Like a bird preening its feathers after food hunting. I was speechless for several minutes, my hands still on my head with my mouth opened wide. He came to hold me. “Please forgive me. It’s our first time. I don’t know what happened.” Maybe I was waiting for Gloria to speak before I do but she sat there with her eyes stuck to the floor as if she had found diamonds in the sand. When I left the door she got up trying to leave. I held her. I asked, “Since when? Since when has this gone on behind my back?”
She said, “It has never happened. I don’t know what came over me. I can swear on my life that this has never happened before. I picked my phone trying to call somebody but I didn’t know who to call. I was just pacing up and down looking for words to say and something to do. Gloria sneaked out while I stayed with my husband, trying to figure out what went wrong. Our marriage was only seven months old. All he said was sorry but sorry couldn’t fix what was broken in me—broken trust, shattered dreams, a world spinning in a crazy mode.
A year and a half later, all we have left are the relics of the marriage—a gown I once wore. A smile I once owned. Photos that say I was once married. But the marriage itself can’t be found in any register. Deleted. Gone with the wind. I won’t say we didn’t try to patch things up but the secrete that kept unveiling shook my foundations. It got me asking myself, “Will I ever trust him again?” They had a history. They had a thing going on just around the time I and my husband were getting ready to marry. Some ladies in the choir knew about it so they were surprised that she was still hanging around us after marriage.
I didn’t know all that so I opened up to her as a sister until she pushed the dagger right into my heart that day. I’m back at my church again. I’m singing again. I’m in the midst of those who showed me unconditional love right from the start. They don’t judge my failings in my marriage. They embrace me like the prodigal son was embraced by his father. I’m still young. I chalked thirty not too long ago. My heart is still open. Like the bird ready for a flight, I’m ready to fly again. But this time, I will be careful where I land so they don’t throw stones at me.