No one can accuse me of any wrong doing. After all, there was nothing wrong with what I said two weeks ago at the parish. It was the kind of things Priests like myself and Pastors were expected to do – help the needy; place poor kids on scholarship and even foot hospital bills for those who cannot afford to. So I was only toeing in that line when I asked every young teen between the ages of 18 and 21 in the church, who needed a little vacation job, to apply through Deacon Agbo. Since I would be needing someone to regularly cook, clean my house and office until Mr. Ignatius my housekeeper – who went to briefly be with his daughter that recently put to bed (he was a single parent); returned from his visit, I had to throw the ‘job’ offer open to young teenagers in the church. I felt it was a good way of assisting one of them and helping him understand he could earn benefits if he works hard. I was going to pay whoever it finally turned out to be on a weekly basis and he was going to use the guest bedroom downstairs, at the Rectory where I lived – at least, until his services weren’t needed anymore. The only requirements was that he had to have the fear of god and the diligence to do the little chores he would be required to do, such as cooking and cleaning. And of course, it had to be a male, for obvious reasons.
She was the only girl who applied for the position among over 25 applications Deacon Agbo received and Mirabel which she told me her name was, was equally the youngest! She was exactly 18 years and 2 weeks old. And was getting set to write her entrance matriculation examination into the University. She was so young and innocent that she felt not even a tad of embarrassment or shame telling me, during my interview with her, that she wasn’t a virgin anymore! That was after I had asked her if she was already a member of the ‘Daughters of Trichet’ – our parish society for young virgin girls who are dedicated to giving alms and showing mercy to the community. It shocked me quite significantly, as to how she could so easily reveal that to me. But it also explained in a very glaring way, that she was still very innocent and naive. Of course, I already had my rules and it included that I wasn’t going to consider any other persons outside the ‘male and destitute’ bracket. But the later, was why I even had to invite her for an interview. Part of the application requirement was to explain to the deacon why you needed the ‘vacation job’ and the deacon explained to me that she said her parents won’t be able to pay for her coming exams; so she had to apply. That was what attracted the sympathy. And she was seating with me at my office Monday morning.
During our two-hour-plus chat, I got to know more about Mirabel. While she was still very young and probably gullible, I could still attribute some of her personal challenges to her parents. Most especially, her mother. While we spoke, she explained how her poor mum would leave home for several days in search of willing potential clients she could do menial jobs for. Her dad was a paralytic and had been retrenched out of a job since Mirabel was 10.
She had to grow up mostly without the close attention of her mum and with little or no attention from her sick father either. She struggled through Secondary school and had to finish two years older than usual. I had to blame her mum for the avoidable problems because Mirabel told me that her mum’s younger sister who had recently secured a Federal job began offering her the old shop where she used to sell female shoes, knowing she wasn’t going to be continuing with the business. But her mum refused the free offer, out of sheer ego – she wasn’t comfortable continuing with a business her younger sister had ‘just left’. Her ego apparently put them through very difficult times and it seriously affected Mirabel’s growing up.
She was disvirgined by a late Deacon who I happen to know very well. And that was after her parents had to hand her over to him for care when they couldn’t just feed her and the little brother anymore. The seeming absence of a mother’s attention was telling on her. Even the way she sat in my office that morning (she couldn’t sit with your legs pressed together for once), showed she missed a thing or two in the ‘how to be a girl’ grooming classes.
Even though Mirabel was from a very poor home and needed the job more than anyone else, I wasn’t sure that was the likely reason I began to consider her for the role. Or maybe it was, but not the major reason at all. I had to later suspect, it was probably because she was outlandishly beautiful! I already know how that feels hearing that from a priest, but I have to come out and say it. I was by every inclination touched by the radiating beauty of the young innocent Mirabel!
The way she packed her hair that morning was worthy of note and it easily fit her finely cut face! Her eyes were like glaring light bulbs and never stopped looking excited, while the perfect combination of her ridged nose and pouty lips never ceased appealing to me at every moment she smiled. The fact that she was always laughing or spotting a grin, was what particularly caught my charm! Of course, I was a priest and under celibacy. I don’t want to say I am a virgin but I am, technically – since I hadn’t touched a woman since after I took my Vow of Chastity. I can equally add, in a whisper though, that I had a normal childhood and did what other kids did. I had a few crushes and saw a few nudies before teenage-hood was over.
I basically dropped most of these habits though, except for masturbation which I carried into the Seminary. ‘Fortunately’ it was something that was quite common within the walls of the institution so I hardly found it difficult getting on with it until I eventually stopped it about 14 years ago. That said, it does look clear that all those were likely done out of youthful stupidity and I always thought I wouldn’t ever go back into them again – most especially, masturbation. After all, I was a 42 year old man now and it had been like a millennium since I got involved with any carnal lusting of the soul! I couldn’t be so hurriedly pictured as being lustfully driven already for simply admitting that a young good-looking girl like Mirabel was beautiful. While it was always going to be questionable for a female to share an empty house with a male priest, I had to think the fact she was in need, ‘might’ outweigh the question mark over the decision. She had looked like a well mannered and amiable girl during the interview, and I was moved to bring her home; even if I was obviously, letting temptation!
Mirabel moved into my Rectory, Tuesday Evening. It looked like none of us had the desire to spend further time before doing so. I sincerely was eager to assist her and even wondered how the parish hadn’t leant about herself and her family before now. Probably, the parents weren’t interested in approaching any other deacons after the kind of treatment they got from the previous deacon – that is, if the parents were aware of what he did to her. The deacon was likely rotting in hell, given what he had done to such a poor humble kid. He had an opportunity to help just like I had gotten and yet he spurned it. I was already making the most of mine. I had decided to add an additional N2,ooo to the initial N5,ooo I had budgeted weekly for the vacancy, just to make sure she saves enough for herself. I was placing her with some extra-classes where she would be brushed up ahead of her exam.
I had also taken it upon myself to pay for the entrance exam separately as well as foot her first two tertiary tuition fees when she eventually secures admission into school. You needed to see how overjoyed she was! She laughed and laughed displaying her finely arranged immaculate set of teeth! She even almost embraced me if not for the large office table between us! For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a daughter and got immense satisfaction seeing her gladden up for what I had promised to do for her! However, as I drove her to her temporary home, something deep inside of me, kept insisting that I was doing all those for the wrong reasons. Of course, I didn’t waste any time in pushing such thoughts away, with a very quick Sign of the Cross!
As Mirabel moved in her bags, I got to know how much property she actually had, for the first time. She basically had so little and I had to wonder how the clothes she had with her could take her through the 3 months she was going to stay in the Rectory. I could only see a small sling bag which I suspected contained her very few shoes. And two Nylon bags which I could see held her cloths! There were no books, toiletries and stuffs like that, let alone a jewelry box! She was almost without anything! I had to wonder where I would begin helping from in that area. I had no knowledge of female clothing and I was scared giving her money to buy cloths herself might be poor judgment. She was such an unprivileged child. And how I was happy to assist her every difficulty. She didn’t even ever seem to have any problems in the world! I think that was what I loved most about her – she was always cheerful and happy! She was slightly a talkative and that made her an immensely enjoyable person! Just within the few hours I have got to know her, she had already told me more than a textbook worth of details about herself and her family! She also told me how she had announced the new ‘vacation job’ she got to her parents and how they felt so relieved.
I now knew they were planning to come to my office on a thank you visit sometime next week. Of course, I tried discouraging that as I wasn’t interested in receiving any gratifications for what I was doing for them. But that didn’t deter Mirabel from continuing with her many revelations! She made the very short journey to my Rectory very enjoyable! And even as I showed her around the house, she openly displayed a soothing acceptance for her new but temporary home. Unfortunately, I had very few minutes more before the Evening Mass and was already almost running out of time. I had to hand her over the key since there was no way she could attend Mass after just arriving. She needed the time, to make herself comfortable.
To Be Continued…