A Sudden Revival
Below is one of the short stories i wrote for a writing competition i entered last year. Thought i should share it with you. Hope you enjoy it.
She felt like she was suffocating as her mother squeezed her in her arms. She never was affectionate from a young age. “Mom, you can let go now, I am not moving to another country, I’m only moving to another province.”
“I know but the house is never going to be the same without you, I feel like I’m losing my girl.” Lisa’s mother said as she looked into her eyes whilst stroking her arms. Lisa was moving out of home. The only home she ever knew since she was as young as she was able to know that the boxes that human beings live in, is called a house. Her mother firmly holds her right hand and walks her out the door, “Go before I ask you to sleep home one more night.” Mother kisses her forehead, opens the driver’s door and quickly peeks through the driver’ window. “Baby, remember God will never leave nor forsake you. We may be far, but He is never too far to be reached.”
“Yes ma, I know. I love you and I will call when I get to my home.” They both chuckle as she drives off her parents’ home.
As she drives off, childhood memories plague her mind. The home where she was born, the very home that accommodated people from all walks of life. Her parents were forever giving to the community including giving off their home. She remembered the morning devotions that happened without fail every day and wondered if she had the strength to carry those in her own life without being reminded. Those busy days when it was school holidays and her friends were back from boarding school. She would host pyjama parties and mother would bring bible stories to life as they were relayed before bedtime. The home cooked meals her mother always prepared with love. The signature scones her mother baked that were stuffed with vanilla custard. She remembered how mother would bake the scones when her father was coming home. Her eyes got teary as the memories flooded her mind. She is moving into her own home where she will live alone. The thought of that was terrifying but also left an exciting feeling. “Finally I am going to have my own space”.
Her parents’ home was like a church, always accommodated people from different walks of life. Some would stay over for a night, others for weeks and most for months. Her father is a priest and a missionary in the Eastern African countries. Her father loves people. He would meet most of the people at church, and before she knows it, they would have moved in with them. Mother never had a problem, she loved accommodating them, especially if it were young girls and women. She had special love for women. With her husband away, she never felt lonely as she got to know her “new” family.
Lisa always admired her mother. In her eyes she is her role model. Always joyful, always encouraging others, even when she needed to be encouraged. To her, God was her mother. As much as Lisa grew up in a Godly home, she has never had a revelation of her spirituality being renewed. She perceived the idea of God being like her mother, as mother did everything joyfully and knew her mother would never intentionally disappoint her. She believed that is how God is, the God she grew up hearing being mentioned all the time at home and church. What Lisa did not know is as much as she believed there is a God, she did not really know God. It was as though the thought of God was sold to her, and she copied all her parents did but hadn’t had a personal experience with God. That was one of the things that scared her into having her own home. Would she acknowledge God in all she does in the absence of her mother? The thought of it left her confused.
Mother’s health gave Lisa a scare when she was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. Even in sickness, mother would be on the phone praying for others yet grasping for air as the cancer in her body brought pain. She never wanted Lisa to worry but, in her not wanting her to worry, she went on most days worrying. Her mother’s health is one of the reasons that made her turn down job promotions that would move her far from her beloved mother. As much as she made excuses that she really did not want to move, her mother knew she was turning down jobs fearing leaving her alone. Mother always told her she needs to live life and explore for she has lived her life to the fullest. Mother wanted Lisa to fulfill her dreams, yet Lisa worried who would take care of mother if she decides to leave.
When mother heard Lisa finally accepted the promotion she had always turned down in fear of being away from her, she was happy that she is finally going to live for herself and not for her. Lisa knew she only accepted the job because mom got better and better. After her chemotherapy sessions, doctors were able to get rid of the cancer.
As much as her father is a missionary in Eastern Africa, whenever he was home, he always made sure he spends time with Lisa and mother. He adores Lisa, his only child and daughter. Lisa felt assured by his father’s love. One thing she knows is her parents love her.
“Finally I am home. Six hours driving and I am home!” As Lisa looks around her new fully furnished apartment, it did not feel like her parents’ home but just a big space. First night in it, she does not know what to do. She thinks of unpacking her suitcases but is exhausted from driving. Taking off her shoes, she sighs “this place is really quiet. I miss mother singing or praying.” Quickly she gets hold of her phone to call her mother. “Ma, I arrived safe.”
“We thank God for His traveling mercies. So, what are up to?”
“Well, I am thinking of taking a long bath and go to bed. I bought a burger for supper. Tomorrow is first day in my new position, but after work I will have to do groceries, there is nothing in the pantry! Ma, I already miss your cooking.”
“You will be fine baby. I have to go. Your father is going to call in an hour, I will let him know you arrived safe. Call me if you need anything.”
“I will ma. I love you, good night.”
Lisa had a long bath. Her uncomfortable feeling in her apartment was quickly replaced with excitement and joy as she relaxed in the bath listening to jazzy music and realised she is living in the early stages of the life she dreamed of. Career she loves, her job promotion has put her in middle position, has her own personally designed apartment and, her mother is healthy. She laughs with excitement as she sings loudly with her scruffy voice to an old ballad “I have got you, under my skin”. Life looked bright from her eyes as she dozed off in bed.
Lisa arrives at the Meadows&Alek Architect Durban offices where she is a manager for one of the company’s clients. As she walks into the reception area, Dave Meadows, the MD for the company approaches her stretching his hand to welcome her. Dave is fond of Lisa and is excited she finally took his offer of managing one of their clients and is looking forward to working with her. “Come with me this way to meet the staff.”
“Hi all, this is Lisa Stanford, and she will be heading up the Eagles View properties client. Some of you know her from our Johannesburg offices but those who don’t, Lisa joined the company as a graduate straight after school and has ever since proved herself to be valuable to the company. Lisa we are pleased to have you with us this side.”
“This is the team assigned to you. Jerry the landscape architect; Tammy the interior designer and Dintle, the intern. Tammy please take Miss Stanford to her office.”
Lisa is ushered to a glass door office which overlooks the open plan office of her team. Right away, she decides they all go and have drinks whilst getting to know one another and the client they are working on.
It was 4pm when they left the café. Knocking off late is a norm for architects, so she suggests they make the best of getting home early. She offers Dintle a lift to the taxi rank where she can catch a taxi home.
“Someday you are going to drive your dream car and live in a beautiful house. I started as an intern but look where I am now.” Lisa thinks she is encouraging Dintle as she softly directs her to the taxi rank. “Yes I know, everything has its own timing.” Dintle responds to her with a smile. “Would you like me to drop you off at home? I don’t mind since I’m in no rush.”
“I will be fine, thanks. You can drop me off here. Thanks again, and see you tomorrow.”
“Don’t mention it, bye.”
There is something about Dintle that Lisa cannot figure out. Dintle is from Lesotho but moved to SA after high school. She got a bursary with UKZN to study Architect. Now she is completing her final year and also interning. She is a strong believer in the things of God, but never imposes her beliefs on anyone. Courageous in nature and has a dry sense of humour. Her dress sense is very artsy and has an anchor tattoo on her left wrist.
Work has been hectic. Lisa knew the manager role would come with new challenges, but was overwhelmed by the amount of work. She can’t remember the last time she had a decent home cooked meal. She goes to sleep exhausted and gets up in the morning rushing to work. She has not visited home in four months and missed dad’s visit when he was back in the country. Mother worries about her more than she misses her. Lisa wished she was like mother, even in challenges, she still made time for God. She tried but failed. Not only was she physically drained, she was spiritually dry, but again she would not know that side as she has never had a personal spiritual encounter.
Lisa is about to take a shower when she remembered mother tried calling her during the day. Looking at the time “Its 22:00, she is still preparing for bed.” She returns mother’s call. “Hi mother, how are you? Sorry I missed your calls earlier. Is everything alright?”
“Hey baby, did dad get through to you when he called you a week back? He wanted to talk to you.” “Unfortunately he didn’t but I tried calling him with no avail. Is he fine?”
“The house dad lived in was set on fire last night, fortunately they were not in the house, but they were abducted as they approached home. Dad is missing baby.” Mother’s voice shook as she spoke. Lisa remained silent. “Baby, God knows everything and knows where dad is. Let us pray.” “I’ll be on the first flight home tomorrow to be with you.” Lisa hung up before mother could respond.
Lisa sat silently in her bedroom, not knowing what hit her. She thought she is being punished for not making time for God. When she woke up in the morning, Lisa prepared to leave for home. Before leaving her apartment, she knelt down to pray to God. Before boarding her flight, she runs to a bookshop to buy a bible, a book she has not read since she moved to Durban.
Evening came. Mother cooked her favourite meal and they ate together. Her home was overflowing with visitors as always. Lisa looked anxious as she tried enjoy the meal. After a good catch up with mother, mother prayed before she headed for bed, but the prayer seemed short to Lisa.
“Ma, don’t you think that is short prayer for God to answer, how about we spend the night praying?”
“Baby, God doesn’t answer our prayers based on how long they are. Now, let’s go to sleep.”
Lisa still didn’t understand. Days and nights came as she prayed endlessly and read the word. Most times, her mind wandered around and didn’t know what she was praying for, but she thought “Lord, I am praying, reading the bible and going to church. Please bring my father back.”
Two months passed, and still no word of her father being found. Lisa got back to work a month after being with mother. Her work team saw change in her. During lunch break Lisa would sit in her office reading the bible or praying. Her work assignments started lacking. She wanted to do spiritual things during work hours.
“Lisa you are trying to manipulate God into being what you would like Him to be. Your performances don’t move God. Just be yourself.”
Anger rose in Lisa as Dintle uttered those words. “First what does she know about God. I grew up in a Godly home, my father is a priest. No tattooed girl with torn jeans is going to tell me how to serve God.” Lisa thought to herself.
“Lisa can you hear me? I don’t mean to be offensive but nothing you do will ever earn you righteous in the eyes of God. It is your heart that moves God. ”
“I believe you get off here? Bye.” Dintle saw that Lisa was offended but she wasn’t apologetic for telling her the truth. As Lisa speedily drove off, her phone rang. It was her mother. Hesitant, she answers, “ma…”
“Daddy was found dead.” Lisa switched off her phone and pulled aside. She sat silently in the car for a minute, a minute that felt like a lifetime. Going through every grief emotion, she turned and drove back to Dintle’s house. As she walked in like a robot, she looked at Dintle “My father is dead!” floods of tears ran down her eyes. “After all I’ve done, God takes away my father.” Dintle comforts her with a hug and leads her to the couch. Dintle saw fit to lead her into a prayer and prayed for her. Lisa felt God remove the scales on her spiritual eyes. She felt different, felt God’s love in a remarkable way. She realised that spiritual things have nothing to do with performance. She glanced at Dintle and softly asked for forgiveness for judging her faith based on her outward appearance. As she cuddled on Dintle’s couch listening to her singing, she felt at peace. Somehow she knew that all this time, she was spiritually dead.