WHAT CAN YOU NOT FORGIVE?
Last Friday, I went with my lawyer friend, Festus, to the Federal High Court, just to observe proceedings and learn more about life, but I never planned for the life-changing experience I got.
Festus led me to a courtroom where the next case was that of a man who was alleged to have strangled to death, a man and his wife; leaving alive their only daughter. I guess he was a sentimental criminal.
I could see the small girl among the court audience; she was playing with a plastic toy elephant on one of the back benches.
Her ponytails bounced right and left on her head. I looked on and wondered what the future holds for this little orphan but she didn’t seem perturbed.
The girl laughed as she played with her toy and then, our eyes met.
I winked at her, smiling in pity as I did so. And though I was a stranger, she smiled back and even waved at me.
When I tried waving back, my heart sank and my teary eyes looked on as she continued her play.
My sad thoughts were rudely interrupted by the noisy entry of the accused.
He was a large man with thick black unkempt beards littering his jaw. His large head was covered with scanty hair and as I looked into his hard face, I think I caught a smile escape from the corner of his mouth as he walked in.
Despite the prods of the Security personnel around him, he walked slowly, nay, majestically to the bench just behind the dock.
I know I have said over and over again I never get angry, but at that moment, looking from the girl, who had now stopped her play, to the accused, I had to hold on the to the edge of my seat, just so I wouldn’t burst forward.
What I felt in my heart against that man was more than anger; it was pure red hot wrath. And the calmness around him fuelled my wrath the more.
‘COOOUUURT!’ The announcement of the court clerk as the judge walked in did well to drag me out of my murderous thoughts.
The judge was a huge woman. She looked imposing and her flowing gown crawled behind her as she took her seat.
She looked around the courtroom and when satisfied with the level of decorum, she put on her glasses and asked for the case to be presented.
A lot of law court rituals took place and then, the accused was led into the dock.
Standing there with both hands across his chest, his lawyer was asked by the judge,
‘Do you plead guilty or not guilty to the charges laid down?’
The court was silent now.
I looked towards the girl again and I saw she had resumed playing with her toy, not the least bothered by the court proceedings.
‘Not Guilty!’ the defendant’s lawyer said.
I heard it loud and clear and was still shaking my head in anger when the judge asked him to repeat his plea.
‘We plead not guilty, my lord!’ He said again confidently.
Some minutes later, the case was adjourned to another court session and the judge left.
And then the unbelievable happened.
In the silence of the courtroom and with the judge just out of sight, this accused man laughed. I mean, he laughed audibly.
And then, all hell broke loose.
A man sitting beside the girl whose parents were murdered stood up sharply and shouted in deep anger and pain.
‘You killed my sister and you are laughing about it! You think you can go scot free?!’
The Clerk hit the gavel on his table to restore decorum but it was to no avail.
Other members of the family also stood up and asked for the accused’s head who was looking over his shoulder and smiling at his lawyer.
I stood up too and shouted alongside the family members, damning all consequences.
The court was now in ruckus; a large portion of the audience was on its feet, shouting and some women were already crying.
‘He is guilty! He should be killed too!’, I heard between sobs.
The clerk had a filled day trying to take control of the proceedings. Even the security men couldn’t intervene. Some of them held the dead wife’s brother from dashing into the dock where the murderous accused was held.
‘Because your in-law is the police commissioner, you think you can go scotfree?’ the man kept shouting.
And it was only then I understood why the accused smiled. He knew he wouldn’t be punished.
We were still in this rage, madness and anger when I heard it.
The ever so sweet voice of that girl.
I knew she was saying something so I paused in my rage and looked at her again, trying to listen.
Out of the midst of her shouting relatives, she was wriggling her way forwards, and trying to be heard.
And I heard her voice again, and so did her uncle who had now stopped struggling with the Security.
And when he stopped, so many others stopped and followed his gaze until they saw the tiny little girl.
She was now in the space, the walkway between the two columns of seats.
With tears dropping from her eyes, she held on to her Elephant toy and cried again.
Then she said it tenderly. ‘Let me see him’.
The court was silent now. I mean a deafening silence fell on the courtroom.
And then this girl said it again,
‘Let me see him.’
My hands started shaking and my heart broke from the little girl’s soft and broken voice, laden with a pain I never could describe, no matter how hard I try.
With her little feet, she walked to the man accused. She stood in front of him, her height merely reach his waist, and she peered at his face.
‘Where is my mommy?’, she asked, now crying softly.
‘Where is my daddy?’
‘Bring my mommy and daddy…’
Her gentle sobs could be heard by everyone and we all, including the clerk, just looked on in wonder, most of us weeping.
And right then, I knew there was absolutely nothing that would be more shocking in my entire life.
‘I saw you that day when you came to our house.’ the girl continued between her painful sobs.
‘Where is my mommy? I want to see my daddy!’, she was almost wailing, each word breaking through my sorrowful heart.
Her cry rang out within the room. And even the bravado of the accused was shattered.
He dropped on his knees now and held the girl’s soft hands.
‘I am sorry’, he whispered with the most broken voice I ever heard. It was a quiet voice but it was still so loud.
My nostrils were already blocked from tears by this time. I just wiped my eyes as my anger turned to pity.
I brought out my handkerchief and wiped some tears away from my eyes.
Whether I was standing or sitting, I can’t even remember now.
But I know I really I cried. Who wouldn’t?
A murderer who killed and maimed. And a child whose entire family were wiped away. Both holding hands in front of the everyone. and both of them were in tears.
The girl stopped her wails and wiped her eyes with the back of her hands. She blinked and stared at the face of the man accused.
I don’t know why she did it, or who told her to do so, but after some seconds, she found her voice again.
‘I forgive you sir’, she said, searching his face.
At that moment, I caught a glimmer of tears fall on the clerk’s cheek, the sorrowful liquid gathering on his eyes and blocking his vision.
With shaky hands, he removed the glasses and wiped his eyes too.
We were all too stunned to speak.
And the girl continued speaking.
‘We were told in children church that we should forgive those who make us cry or sad if they are sorry’.
Turning to the clerk, with her toy still in her hands, this girl pleaded.
‘I forgive him sir; please let him go.’
The court went dead silent as the tiny voice said those words.
‘I forgive him.’ she said again.
The Murderer, whose look was now of a damned man, looked down on the little girl feet, ashamed to look at her face, and I saw something change in his eyes.
He dropped his head and said,
‘I am sorry child; I am very sorry.’
He then stood upright, shook his head, looked to the clerk and cried out,
‘I am guilty. Please tell the judge I am guilty.’
‘I. Am. Guilty.’ he drew out the words and said slowly, pronouncing judgement on his own head.
I, and every single person present in the court, looked with tears in our eyes as the girl put her tiny arms around the murderer’s legs.
‘It is alright’, with a sorrowful smile, she said.
‘It is alright sir’.
‘Please don’t cry’.
‘I am Guilty. I am sorry…’ the accused sobbed.
This purely 100 percent fiction is to illustrate the love of God toward us all; and that no matter our sins, Jesus is ready to cleanse and forgive us if only we ask. Jesus loves you too.
Give your life to him!