EVER since the day Staka lent a listening ear to VeShadd’s dilemma, the midfielder lost his peace of mind.
It was like the still waters in the young dude’s heart had been invaded by large crocodiles. And which stirred a turmoil in the waters every now and then.
It didn’t take too long for the young man to notice the change in him.
The first time he began to take notice was when he prepared for their team’s third match at the group stage. The match they had against Croatia.
While the rest of his teammates were calm and composed before the match started, Staka was pretty anxious.
But he wasn’t just worried about the match. He was worried over every little thing there was in the world.
When a members of the team who noticed his demeanour tried to calm him, Staka only got more agitated.
Eventually the midfielder’s nervousness soon affected his performance. For he was the reason why the team lost the golden opportunity to score a second goal against Croatia.
And the match ended with a 1:1 draw.
Staka’s nervousness didn’t escape the eagle eyes of the chief coach.
Alhi knew Staka wasn’t mentally prepared for the match against Croatia.
But the coach wasn’t that interested in Staka who previously lost a penalty against Nigeria. Like he was interested in VeShadd who could score a goal from any point on the pitch.
Staka’s restlessness was getting at him. And he was becoming more withdrawn as the days went by.
But then, a day came when Staka decided to do everything he can to get his head above the waters. He decided to take a look at himself and try to see the cause for his change in demeanour.
After brainstorming a few hours, the young man only ended where he’d started. He was down and sad still.
Tired and exhausted, the young believer decided to pray to God.
He knelt down by his bedside, but he couldn’t bring his thoughts together to pray. It was rather a feeling of guilt that shrouded his heart like an envelope of a dark cloud.
Staka wondered why praying suddenly became difficult. He knew there must be something wrong somewhere.
And then, he decided to simply talk to friendly God. To just talk freely to the benevolent, omnipresent Ear. And talk as freely the words come to him.
The young man sat himself on the floor by the beside in his hotel room. And he spoke to God.
‘You know I’m worried and nervous, God,’ he prayed. ‘There’s a fear in my heart I can’t just place.
‘I feel sad and guilty too and I really don’t know why I’m feeling this way.
‘I’m pretty sure I’m not bothered about my performance in the last match. In fact, I’ve called dad and mum, and my sisters, too. And everything is okay with everybody.
‘Yet, God, I still feel worried, and sad – and guilty, too. Please help me, God. I really don’t know what the problem is and I wish to know. Please help me, God!’
Exhausted, Staka soon started to doze off. He decided to lie in bed and take a proper rest.
He got up and started to lay his bed. The bed was littered with a few materials. And among them was a bible that lay randomly open.
Staka picked up the bible to close it. His eyes fell on a passage subtitled: ‘Confession and Forgiveness.’
Staka stalled for a moment and sat down on the bed.
He looked closely at the passage and he carefully read the chapter in his mind.
It was Psalm 32.
Happy are those whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.
Happy is the one whom the LORD does not accuse of doing wrong and who is free from all deceit.
When I did not confess my sins, I was worn out from crying all day long.
Day and night You punished me, LORD; my strength was completely drained, as moisture is dried up by the summer heat.
Then I confessed my sins to You; I did not conceal my wrongdoings. I decided to confess them to You, and You forgave all my sins…
The words reached to Staka’s heart and soul. They were the very answer he needed.
It didn’t take long for the young man to figure out what his sin was. It was the self-centered piece of advice he gave his friend VeShadd; when the latter confided in him about his crime and sin.
He remembered how he’d discourage VeShadd from confessing his sin, because of his ambition to win the World Cup at any cost.
His ambition to have his name go down history as a part of the first African football team to win the World Cup ever.
Staka felt broken, seeing where he went wrong.
He thought of what he had been through in previous days simply because he discouraged a person from acknowledging his sin and confessing them.
And he wondered what VeShadd himself might have been going through in his soul.
The young man felt so sorry for his sin. He knelt down by his bedside and prayed to the merciful God for forgiveness.
He knew he’d got to right his wrongs, too. He prayed for God to help him in correcting what he’d done wrong.
So he could also help VeShadd out the worry, and sadness, and guilt.
The previous few days had been hectic for Tai VeShadd.
His absence from the team’s training and from the public view hadn’t been able to stop the battles that went on in his soul.
Coach Alhi knew VeShadd’s emotion had been unstable since the crime incident.
He also knew the ace goalkeeper wasn’t stable enough to play in the next match coming on in a matter of days.
He planned on substituting him in the matches ahead. But he told himself that the team needed VeShadd to get through the next stage first of all.
‘We should at least get through to the semifinals before I let go,’ he reasoned.
‘VeShadd’s all we’ve got,’ he said. ‘At least, for this particular World Cup!’
On a fateful Saturday afternoon, the entire nation was preparing to watch the Desert Camels of Quitalia take on the Red Devils of South Korea.
That afternoon, Mr and Mrs Jan’il were at the Planetario Hotels, tending to their unconscious daughter Beya… in the hotel suite turned a hospital ward.
Mrs Jan’il was sketching some designs on a small sketchpad. From her lookout through the suite’s glass windows.
Being an accomplished civil engineer, the middle aged woman was suddenly inspired by the fantastic window view of the city.
Mr Jan’il was reading a classic to the hearing of his daughter. He was reading the third part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
The novel series was Beya’s favorite and the nineteen-year-old had read the complete series a couple of times.
Beya’s father had picked up the novel on her daughter’s bedside at home early that morning.
It was the first time Mr Jani’l would be reading any of The Lord of the Rings series.
The middle aged father took on a soft, low voice and read the adventure and fantasy novel to his daughter lying in coma.
It was with a gentle, easeful pace that Mr Jan’il read out the novel.
It didn’t take forever before the barrister got engrossed in the work of art. And rather than read the beautiful prose to his unconscious daughter, he began to read to himself.
For his voice soon dropped to a quiet whisper.
In a moment, the distracted father felt a sensation tap on his left fingers, where he sat by the bedside.
But the man was still so engrossed in the story he was reading that he didn’t take much notice.
And then, he felt it again. It was a little tap of a hand; he could recognise it.
Mr Jan’il raised his head at once. He took a glance at his hand. He’d placed his hand beside his unconscious daughter and had felt someone tapped him.
He rushed up closer and stared at his daughter who had laid in coma for so long.
Her eyes were open. Beya was awake.
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