Buried in Guilt – XII

 

Petrina had been missing for a month and the police had absolutely no idea about her whereabouts. They insisted that they needed more information in order to effectively search for her.

Gerald was once again trying to study and once again, he ended up thinking about Petrina instead. He just wished he could figure out a way to unravel the whole mystery. He had gone over most of their conversations that he could remember but he simply couldn’t put a figure on any instance where she had hinted at leaving the house unannounced at any point in time.

Probably, I should go with Mrs. Bannerman’s mindset that she has been kidnapped. He thought.

Deep down in his heart, he was very convinced that she was not with kidnappers. Apart from the obvious fact that the kidnappers should have asked for a ransom by then, he just didn’t think she had been kidnapped. For some strange reason, he felt very sure that she was just fine, only that she was not with them. He didn’t know what made him so certain but he sure was very certain. He remembered those moments with Petrina when he would say, “I just know that…” and she would argue with him endlessly about how what he was saying was impossible. It almost always turned out that he was right. Those moments caused her to give a slight frown. He would tickle her then and she would toss her hair backwards and laugh heartily. He sighed as he remembered that hearty laughter. He heard it in his mind that very moment. He had really missed her. Her laughter always brought life to his heart.

Gerald tried to bring himself back to his studies. He looked at his desk that was messed up with so many books.

Maybe if I clean the desk up a bit, it would be easier to study.

He nodded at that thought. He got up immediately and began cleaning up his table. As he did, he noticed a book with a jean case on his desk.

“I know this book.” he said to himself. “Ah ha! Pet’s diary!”

He remembered she had brought it over the last time they had been together and as usual, she opened to a specific page for him to read. He had always been authorized to read only that which she allowed him to read at a particular time. He wondered to himself whether he had the license to read it. She would be filled with anger if she ever got to know but he felt there was probably a clue to her disappearance in it. Torn between respecting the woman he had loved for the past two years and searching the book for answers, he sat back in his chair and was deep in thought. It was true that he had always pledged to respect what she requested of him.

Should this be an exception?

Gerald was confused. He wondered what would be the most loving thing he could do for Petrina at that moment. Would it be to respect her or to take a step to finding her whereabouts? Without allowing himself to think any further, he opened the book to the last page. He read the last diary entry. He smiled as he envisioned Petrina writing out those thoughts. She loved to worry about nothing and that always made him smile. His smile however left his face because he realised that he had not gotten any information about her disappearance. He turned to the penultimate entry and the other two before that one. He still had no information. He began to feel frustrated. If her diary did not hold any clue to thoughts about running away from home, then could it be that she had been kidnapped? Or even worse, could it be that she was not alive? His heart skipped a beat when that thought crossed his mind.

“No!” he said firmly to himself. “She is alive.”

He was trying to be brave but he wondered if he was convincing himself enough. He took the diary and opened the first page. It was titled “Petrina’s Personal Commandments”. He smiled. Petrina was just so principled that it was so funny especially because he was the direct opposite of that. He began reading through them. He kept smiling until he got to the last one. His head felt heavy as he read it. He read it again to be sure he was seeing right:-

“Commandment 18: My most important. I would keep my virginity till the day I get married. If I ever lose it before then, I would run away to a very far place, a place no one would find me. I would not be able to bear the shame of disappointing everyone around me and the guilt of disobeying God.”

Gerald closed the diary and wept. He could not remember the last time he had wept like a baby. It cut his heart to know that his selfishness was the cause of Petrina’s disappearance. His mind went back to the last time they were together. She had come to visit him and after a long period of talking, she decided she had to leave. Their goodbyes normally lasted thirty minutes and that day was not an exception. It started with the usual hug. Then a kiss followed. They had decided at the beginning of their relationship that they would not start kissing just yet, but after three months, they had. Petrina always warned him that it would lead them to go further than they had planned, but even after such warnings, she would end up initiating it. And he would happily join in. That night had been one such occasion. He however could not figure out the point at which they began going just too far. Everything had happened so fast. Truthfully speaking, they had both seen it coming long before that day because although they were both very active youth members at church, their relationship was getting more devoid of intimacy with God day after day and it began to focus on intimacy with themselves. They had once agreed in passing that they would seek help from their youth pastor but they never did. They had simply become more passionate about satisfying themselves than satisfying God.

Gerald tried to put himself together to enable him see how this knowledge could lead him to find a solution. He thought about all the various places that Petrina had ever showed interest in. He didn’t believe she was out of the country so he ruled that option out. He remembered vividly how much she had always talked about staying in the Northern Region one day. He closed his eyes to remember one of those discussions about the North that they had had not too long ago. She had gone on endlessly about how badly she wanted to stay among a people she had heard so much about. He had asked her how she ever thought she would end up there.

“Maybe National Service,” he remembered her saying. Then she had laughed her beautiful laughter, tossing her hair to her back. “Or maybe, I could run away to go there.”

He had laughed then “What would make you run away from a familiar place to an unfamiliar place?”

“Life is full of mysteries, you know.”

Gerald wondered if this seemingly insignificant memory was the key to finding Petrina. It seemed to be nothing but a casual talk then.

But does it mean more now?

 

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Buried in Guilt – XII

  1. Marilyn

    Nice one there!!!

  2. Emmanuel Kofi Appiah

    hehe. nice piece but i think i know the personalities in the story 😉

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