Filed Under: Short Stories
Date Created:16 Jan 2015
Last Modified:07 Jun 2017
Number of Views: 1213
She had an important message.
They needed to listen, or else they would die.
Rachel new this. She had known it for the past three years. But she had kept it in. She had been afraid. She had been afraid of being laughed at. She had been afraid of being rejected. She had been afraid of being called evil.
But now she could not keep it in. Not anymore. It had gnawed her insides raw. It was killing her from within. She had to let it out, least she died along with them.
"Daniel, I have something important to tell you."
"What is it, my sweet munchkin?" Daniel replied absentmindedly, his eyes fixed on the screen of the laptop.
"Um, it's kind of unbelievable." She shifted uneasily in her seat. Her long skirt had formed creases under her thighs. She stood up, straightened it out, and sat back down.
"Oh huh?" He was now biting the end of his pen with his front teeth. She hated it when he did that. It looked painful.
"Do tell me whatever it is."
"We have been deceived."
Daniel froze. He slowly averted his eyes from the computer screen and looked at her. He narrowed his brows and twitched his ears. Apart from her kid brother, Daniel was the only one of the people she knew who could twitch his ears.
"We have been deceived, Daniel. Everything we have believed our whole lives is wrong. It is a lie."
The pen dropped from his mouth. She noticed the gape on his face and tried to interpret what it could mean. Was it horror, dismay or shock?
She waited for him to say something, but a whole minute passed. He just kept gaping at her, his stare so intense it began to hurt a little.
"What I mean--"
"What are you talking about?" He cut her short.
"What I mean is... I discovered that our faith... our beliefs; they are based on lies."
“Is that so?” He cast his gaze downwards, the gape on his mouth slowly vanishing into a wistful expression. Rachel was accustomed to that expression. He only got it when he was highly displeased with her.
“Yes, baby. I have been reading the Bible and praying and God has revealed to me the truth. It’s all about Jesus, Daniel. We have gotten Jesus all wrong. We are supposed to do more than acknowledge him as the son of God and God’s appointed king. We should praise him, call upon his name and worship him.”
Daniel nodded his head slowly and clasped his hands under his chin in a thoughtful stance. He noticed that he was trying his best not to stare at her.
“And most of our teachings about the hundred and forty-four thousand and the great crowd and 1914—they are all wrong, Daniel. They are not based on the Bible.”
“I see. I understand.”
“Thank God, Daniel! I thought I should let you know first… because I love you so so much and I don’t want this to affect our relationship.”
“Humph.” He was still not staring at her.
“I can help you see what I have discovered. I will show you right from the Bible and then you will see what I now see. I know it, God will open your eyes if you just let him.”
“Yes baby!” She started a bit at her own words. She had never ever called him baby before; not once in the two years they had been dating. She suddenly felt like hugging him. On the whim, she darted to her feet and flew at him, wrapping her arms around him, holding him tight against her bosom. He felt so warm. She never knew that another human being could feel so warm.
She flopped down on the bed next to him, her arm still around him. She gently turned his head towards her and looked into his big, brown eyes. She suddenly felt so much love for him. Her heart melted—for him. She leaned forward and placed her mouth on his ear.
“I will help you find Jesus, babe. And then together, we shall get out and follow Jesus. We are going to be free babe. Free in Jesus.”
She suddenly felt an urge to kiss him. She had never kissed him before. She had never considered it right. There were so many rules about the appropriate behaviour of a dating couple. Kissing was only allowed for a courting couple for whom marriage was more than a possibility. But today, those rules did not matter. She placed her hand behind his head and pulled him gently towards herself. Her lips met with his. They were soft and sweet. She closed her eyes and hungrily grappled with them. He was tense, she could feel him—as stiff as a corpse. But suddenly, he began to relax, and to respond…
Rachel suddenly felt herself flying and landed on the floor with a thud. The back of her head banged against the door. Shock rocked through her whole body. Wincing in pain, she slowly opened her eyes and saw Daniel standing above her. His eyes were wild and angry. His chest was heaving and his hands were clenched tightly into fists.
“Get out of my way you filthy apostate!” He roared. She could feel the extreme hate in his voice; a voice which hitherto had been full of nothing but love and adoration.
“Daniel, but—I thought—”
“Get out!” He screamed, gesturing with his hand, pointing at the door against which she was sprawled.
“No Daniel, please don’t do this!” Tears gushed out of her eyes and her nose instantly flooded.
“I told you to get out!” He sprang forward, bent down and grabbed her by the blouse she wore. He lifted her to her feet, the pressure of her weight on the buttons. She felt one pop off, and then another. A breeze of air swirled around her exposed cleavage when he opened the door. He pushed her through the partly open door and she collapsed in a heap on the floor.
“Now get behind me Satan! I don’t want to ever see you again!” He slammed the door shut. She started at the sound.
Rachel sat there for several moments, totally distraught. She was literally drowning in her own tears. She picked up herself and clumsily rose to her feet. Clutching her blouse to hide her cleavage, she staggered down the corridor, her sobs echoing hauntingly.
“Do you understand why you are here?”
Rachel stared at the three men dressed in black suits and bit her lower lip. They were staring down at her as if she had a bad case of flu. She knew the first one.The other two were alien to her.
“Yes,” she replied. “My boyfriend reported me.”
“Was,” the second man corrected with a smirk on his face. “He is no longer your boyfriend. You will not be able to see him, nor talk to him anymore.”
They were seated in a store room—one of the many store rooms that the Kingdom Hall had. But this one did not store books. It stored brooms, buckets and smelly old and obsolete equipment. A single, dim incandescent lamb provided a faint, yellow light.
Just shows how little they think of me now. She thought.
Rachel felt herself sweating in her dress. The little metallic chair she was sitting on felt uncomfortably hot. The three men sitting opposite her where in comfortable, plastic chairs, she observed.
“Well,” the one who appeared to be the chairman said. “Is it true, what Daniel told us?”
“Brother Justine,” she began, “I thought you are only supposed to take an allegation seriously at the mouth of two or more witnesses.”
“Is it true?” he repeated as if he did not hear her.”Do you think all our teachings are lies?”
“And that we have been deceived?” the second one added quickly.
“And that all our teachings are not based on the Bible?” the third one asked, his voice heavy with emotion.
Rachel felt a twinge of anger. “Not all of them. But the most important teachings—about Jesus, and the nature of Christianity.”
“So you are saying that the Faithful and Discreet Slave have not been teaching us the truth?” Brother Justine persisted, with a cold, severe expression.
“Unfortunately, they have not been entirely truthful.”
“So you are saying that they have been lying to us?” the third one asked, sitting at the edge of his chair. Rachel got the impression that he was going to jump at her throat any moment soon.
“To be crudely honest, yes.”
“I see.” Justine said firmly. Rachel searched his eyes for any hint of the gentleness characteristic of the Justine she knew; but she saw none. This was a new Justine—a serious Justine with no hint of emotion; a stranger whom she never knew. “So are you going to change your mind any time soon?”
“It has taken three years for me to reach this conclusion; three years of serious research, study and prayer. I don’t think I will change my mind any time soon. I am convinced I now know the truth—the truth you should all know.”
“I understand,” Justine said, jotting down something in a notebook.
Rachel shifted uncomfortably in her seat. He sounded like Daniel.
“So what is the truth?” the second man asked.
“Jesus is Lord,” Rachel said without hesitation. “We should all call upon the name of Jesus. We should all preach Jesus. We should all honour Jesus, just as we honour the father. We should worship Jesus…”
“Look at that,” he said tauntingly, “she now sounds just like one of them Jesus freaks.”
“Brother Justine, what are you waiting for? Isn’t it obvious? She is now an apostate. She needs to go.” The third man said. He had a shifty left eye that seemed to have a will of its own. It would go left, right, up or down of its own accord any time it wanted. It was quite disturbing.
“Yes, of course, Sister Nankamba—”
“She’s not a sister anymore.” The man with the shifty left eye cut in sharply; a look of vehemence on his face.
“Thanks for the correction,” Justine said, unperturbed. “Rachel Nankamba, you are disfellowshipped. The brothers will not visit you and you will not be allowed to visit them in their homes. They will not greet you and you should not greet them. When you come to the kingdom hall, you will seat at--”
“I know what it means to be disfellowshipped,” Rachel interrupted him, rising to her feet. “If you don’t mind, I was just leaving…”
“Of course we don’t!” the second man said tauntingly.
“I am sure you will soon realize how bad it is out there in the world and come back running to us for forgiveness,” the man with the shifty eye said, chuckling.
Rachel said nothing. She picked up her hand bag and made for the door. She did not look back. She did not want to look back. She felt tears in her eyes.
No, she couldn’t be crying. She was supposed to be happy. She was free now. But why did she feel as if her whole life had just crumbled away? Why did she feel worthless? Why was she unhappy?
She knew. Deep down, she knew.
Rachel moved fast along the dusty path. It was a short-cut to the sports complex. There was a hall there. That’s where her sister’s wedding was going to be. She was late, and so she had missed the wedding talk at the Kingdom Hall. But she could catch the reception. She knew she could. She just had to. Nancy would be terribly incensed.
It was a week since her disfellowshipping and they had made the announcement at the meetings last night. She hadn’t gone. She hadn’t wanted to hear that awful announcement. She had heard it before, dozens of times. A hush would fall upon the congregation; and then the elder would walk to the platform. With a grave look on his face, he would utter the following words:
“Jane Doe is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness.”
And then there would be speculations. No specific reason would be given. People where left to guess. Was it fornication? It was usually fornication. Rarely apostasy. That dreadful word—apostasy. She hated it.
This time it was not some random, unknown Jane Doe. It was Rachel. Everyone knew Rachel. Everyone loved Rachel. But not anymore. Rachel was now an apostate.
Nancy had called right after the meetings. She had been crying.
“Why, Rachel? Why?”
“I … am sorry Nancy. I will explain in person.” She had responded, her voice catching in her throat.
“Couldn’t you have waited until after the wedding?”
“I tried Rachel… but Daniel... It kept gnawing at me. I had to let it out. I couldn’t pretend to be something I am not, Nancy.”
“You understand I have to kick you off the bridal procession now?”
Her heart had sunk heavily. She had forgotten about that consequence. “Nancy, I am sure something can be arranged.”
“What Rachel? Tell me what can be arranged? Will you be re-instated overnight?”
“I am sorry.”
“This is so inconveniencing!”
“I am so sorry, Nancy. I will still come though.”
Nancy had cut the line. Her sweet, big sister had cut the line on her.
She hastened when the hall come into sight, her heart beating faster. Her big sister was finally being given away. It was wonderful, yet sad. They had grown up together, she and Nancy. Nancy had been there for her and helped her with so many girl issues. They were not just sisters, but friends. That’s why she had to be here. It was the least she could do after being kicked off the bridal procession.
“I am sorry, you can’t go in.” A firm, masculine voice said.
Rachel ground to a halt and frowned at the man standing in the door way.
“But I have the invitation card, Brother Justine.”
He winced at the way she addressed him. “It doesn’t matter. You can’t be here.”
“But that’s my sister in there!” She said pushing forward.
“I am sorry, Rachel,” he said holding her back.
“Let me in!” she screamed, hitting him with her fists.
“Get back before I hurt you,” he hissed.
Suddenly, from the corner of her eyes, she saw her little brother Andrew seated in the second row away from the entrance.
“Andrew!” she called with relief,” Andrew, these people won’t let me in!”
Andrew turned and looked at her but said nothing. There was sadness in his eyes. After a moment, he looked away.
Heads turned to stare. She knew all the faces. They were the brothers and sisters from her congregation.
Justine’s words echoed in her mind.
They will not greet you and you will not greet them.
“Andrew!” Rachel cried in despair.
“Look you are causing a fracas here,” Brother Justine said pushing her away further.
Rachel gave up and fell back, tears streaming down her face. She shook her head. She couldn’t believe what was going on. She turned and began to run. She hated Brother Justine. She hated him so bad.
“Fuck you,” she said under her breath as she ran. “Fuck you Brother Justine.”
It felt wrong for her to insult. But who cared? She was apostate now.
And she wondered how many more insults she would spit out; because this was just the beginning…
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