It’s my birthday on the 24th. Yay!
So I got published today on Bella naija.
Would you do me a favor?
Please read the post, leave a comment and broadcast to your friends. Thank you so much.
Hello Muses, I want to introduce you all to a book I wrote 2 years ago. It’s targeted at kids aged 7 years and above but it’s a great read even for adults.
It is about Adaeze an 8 year old girl born into a wealthy family and pampered to the point that she believes her name which means Princess entitles her to tread on people’s feelings.
Eventually she loses everything and has to move in with a strict aunt where she has to adjust to a life where being a princess means entirely something different.
I am sold out at the moment but copies are available at Laterna, The Hub, Patabah and Ocent bookshops all in Lagos. Online it is available at Amazon, shuzia.com and okadabooks.com
Merry Christmas y’all.
Preye was seeing her last patient when a commotion outside got her attention. She asked him to excuse her and ran out to the gate to find that a crowd had gathered around a man who had hit a motorcycle rider. He was explaining that he was not at fault and that the rider had run a red light but the other commercial riders were not having any of it. She saw he was in danger of getting lynched and inserted herself in the fray.
“Can someone help me carry him into the hospital?” she shouted as she knelt to take his pulse.
He was a young man; lying on the road groaning in pain. She saw that he had a cut on his arm and a few bruises and concluded his injuries were mild. One of her nurses saw what she was doing and went back for a stretcher. Two of the onlookers assisted her staff to carry him inside. The car owner followed them, sweating visibly.
When the crowd saw that the fun was over, they dispersed. The bike of the patient was in bad shape so the gate man wheeled it to the front of the reception before locking the gate. By this time, Preye had donned her gloves and begun to examine the victim who had been laid on her couch. Her dental patient had also risen to watch the unfolding drama. She gave him an injection to relieve his pains and began to clean his cuts. Luckily none of them required stitches so she dressed them and asked her nurse to get him a change of clothes. All the while the driver of the car involved stood by watching her without saying a word.
He followed her to her office when she finished.
“How can I thank you?” he asked.
“I didn’t want them to set your car ablaze or worse beat you up. Those guys are aggressive,” she said.
He sank into a chair, his face in his hands.
Preye felt grief in her spirit. “There is something more. You lost a loved one this morning. Did you lose your mother?” she asked.
He looked up, surprised. “How did you know? She died yesterday after battling with Diabetic complications for months. I prayed, I pleaded, I begged God to heal her. Why didn’t he answer me? I have been serving him all my life.”
“The Spirit of God would have you know that He loves you and would never hurt you. Your mother told God she was ready to go.”
“Why must he take her? I needed her here.”
“What do you need that the Holy Spirit cannot do for you? He is reaching for you. Lay your head on his shoulder and allow him to comfort you.”
The man nodded still overcome with emotion.
“Let me give you space to talk with God. I think you both have a lot to discuss.” Preye rose and left her office to him.
“Moses, do you mean you have lost all the money you borrowed to start business?” Nedu asked, incredulous.
“Every dime is gone!”
“Were you duped or what? I don’t understand it.”
“Someone Chibaby introduced me to gave me a contact in China who was supposed to ship in the equipment. He has turned off his phone now. I can’t reach him at his address. They said he moved out.”
“Chichi should be able to tell you where to find him. She knows him, right?”
“She said I should have done my due diligence; that she only introduced him to me and didn’t vouch for his integrity. Now everyone is blaming me. How do I face my investors, Nedu? I am done for!” Moses was panting as he spoke, his hands on his head.
They were in Nedu’s house. It was 5am. Nedu had been surprised when Moses knocked at his door that early on a Wednesday without calling first but had received him without hesitation. Now, he wondered if the case was not beyond him.
“What kind of equipment were you importing exactly? And I wonder why you never involved me? I would have told you how to go about it.”
“Chichi said I should keep it to myself because of haters.”
“She said I needed to prove to you and all my friends that I am my own man and I can stand on my own. She said my friends see me as a weakling who is being fed by his wife and I need to challenge that impression.” Moses was sobbing by now.
Nedu shook his head sadly. “I wonder what gave her that impression. I have known you for far longer than her and I have never been a hater.”
“From the day she connected me to the man who invested the money she became ungovernable. She does whatever she likes and I am afraid to correct her. I thought when the deal pulls through I will become rich and finally have a voice in my own home but alas!”
“That means she simply set you up. I refuse to believe otherwise.”
“Nedu do you know she is a drug addict?”
“Isi gini? (what did you say?) Drug addict?” Nedu shrank back.
“She was doing drugs in secret but now she is so brazen. Even though she is pregnant, she still uses Indian hemp and cocaine.”
“Did you say she is pregnant?”
“She is a few weeks pregnant. What do I do? I am tired of this life. I feel like taking my own life.”
“Let’s start with the money. How much is it?”
“It is a total of N25 million.”
“Okay; you will get a lawyer and do an agreement with the investors as to a time frame within which to repay them.”
“Repay them? I cannot earn that kind of money from guitar lessons even in 50 years. I will have to sell 1 kidney to get the money.”
“It is just to get them off your back while we put the EFCC on the guy who stole the money. I have a contact there. We went to school together and he helped out my brother Obinna when he lost some money to a business partner.”
“Thank you so much! You don’t know what you have done for me. You are a friend indeed!” Moses clasped his hand in gratitude.
“Don’t thank me yet, Moses. You need to come clean. What is the true state of your relationship with God? Is He your ATM machine or your Father? You need to declare your stand so I can define my relationship with you. Sometimes I don’t know if I am dealing with a stark unbeliever or a baby Christian or a scoffer. You have been born again for over 10 years yet you still struggle to obey God. What gives?”
Moses looked at him ruefully. “I haven’t been serious with my Christian life, have I?”
“No you haven’t. Younger Christians than you are bearing the fruits of the spirit, manifesting the gifts of the Holy Spirit and taking territories. I think it is time for you to come up higher?”
“How do I do that?”
“You start by telling yourself the truth. Stop pretending to be so smart and tell yourself the truth. Next, open up to God on how you got to where you are and be ready to give up anything he asks you to.”
“Help me my brother,” Moses sank to his knees in anguish.
“Let me call my boys to man the shop. I sense we will have to spend the morning praying. As for Chichi, does her friend know she is pregnant?”
“I am not sure she knows. She has withdrawn from her over the past few months. I heard she quit her job and moved to a new apartment. She and that girl who is a dentist are living together.”
“That’s good. I believe God wants to use her to talk Chichi out of her drug habit; if for no other reason, for the health of your child.”
Moses burst into tears at this point so Nedu knelt beside him and began to pray in other tongues.
Nedu and Moses went the next day to Preye and Didi’s house to talk to her. She had decided to share the rent with Preye instead of looking for another house and was now running a consultancy business from her living room. It had been 1 year since she broke up with Stan.
They had called to say they wanted to come over for a chat so the ladies were expecting them. Nedu had avoided direct contact with Didi as much as he could even though they saw each other in church often. It had almost cost him his sanity but he had concluded it was a test God was putting him through before introducing him to whoever would eventually become his wife.
As they talked with her while Preye made dinner, he tried to keep his eyes on the wall behind her but it was next to impossible. He thought she was really beautiful and it was punishment to hear how much she had progressed in her walk with God. It was evident she had changed the course of her life in obedience to God and even given Chichi space when she tried to drag her back into the life she fled. She broke down when she heard that Chichi was using hard drugs while pregnant.
“No, she can’t continue to do that!”
They waited in silence while she cried. Moses held her hand but Nedu was afraid that if he touched her his body would betray him so he crossed his arms and legs and sat as far from her as he could. When she dried her tears, she asked them if they would be willing to pray with her before she went to speak with Chichi.
“The bible says this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. If you would be willing, I want us to declare a 3-day fast for me so that when I talk to her I will be like the oracle of God. I want her to agree to go in for rehabilitation, detoxification, counseling, deliverance…whatever it takes!” she cried.
“Of course we will,” Moses agreed.
Nedu nodded, almost choking with his emotions. As they rose to go to the table he pursed his lips.
The man who will marry this girl is very lucky.
Do you want to marry her?
Don’t torture me. I can’t bear it. You know what it cost me to let her go.
It’s time Nedu. Ask her to go to lunch with you next Sunday
For real? A date? I can ask her out?
She will be your wife.
Noooooo! You’re playing
I don’t joke with destinies
Thank you so much! Whoop! I love you so much Holy Spirit.
I love you too!
Dear Holy Spirit, I wrote this story as a love letter to you. I fell in love with you when we met while I was in secondary school and you showed me how to avoid getting into trouble with the senior students. I am amazed by your compassion, your brilliance and your generosity. The reason I wrote this is I want everyone I meet to know you, to know you are the wind in my sails, the spring in my step, the reason for my sunny disposition. Thank you for keeping me. That I passed through the waters and did not drown, passed through fire and did not get singed, climbed mountains and did not gasp for breath is because your voice has always been in ear saying “This is the way. Go this way.” I love you.
Nedu and Kevin were at a double date with Kevin’s wife Tamara and Isio. The venue was an ice cream shop a stone throw from church. The outing was planned over the course of two weeks after Nedu and Isio got talking and became fast friends. It would be their first date. Nedu could feel the nerves particularly because he had been unable to hear God’s opinion on him asking Isio out. She was witty and friendly and it was easy to talk to her. He almost began to forget about Didi.
You don’t want me to ask Didi out yet I chose to befriend someone else and you are not giving me your approval either. Is there no winning with you?
I gave you a direct instruction and you flouted it.
But I am tired of being alone. I want to marry. Besides, Isio is everything I everything dreamed of.
You are mine. As a soldier in my army, you obey your commander without complaining.
I am sorry Lord. What do I do now? The girl is already expecting that I will ask her to be my girlfriend. How do I dig myself out? I did not mean to disobey you. Forgive me.
Tell her you want to match make Obinna and her.
My younger brother Obinna? That is not a bad idea. Thank you so much. I will wait for whoever you appoint me to love and cherish. But…Holy Spirit…mee ngwa ngwa…I will be 38 soon. Let people not wonder if there is something wrong with me.
Nwoke m call Obinna and tell him you have found a great girl for him. See your mouth like mee ngwa ngwa. He that believeth shall not make haste. Don’t you know a day is like a thousand years in my sight?
Meaning I will have to wait 1000 years…na wa Oh!
Keep complaining and your wait will be elongated.
Na joke I joke Oh! Sorry sir!
“Stan, hi; I wasn’t to see expecting you in church.”
“Are you kidding me? I couldn’t miss hearing you sing,” Stan says reaching for a hug.
I hug him discretely, slipping out of his grasp almost immediately. Chichi is coming over to say hello. We usually catch up while Moses is helping his mates pack up the equipment. Sometimes we get lunch. On other days we part at the parking lot and I go to find Preye who is always ready to hang out. I have avoided Stan as much as possible and luckily he has been busy with work. It appears my luck has run out.
“It was just back-up,” I deflect his praise.
“Nonsense; I heard you distinctly and you out-sang the others.”
“Well, thank you but remember it is not a competition.”
He takes my hand and intertwines our fingers. “Of course it is not a competition. How can a cheetah race rabbits?”
Chichi is at his side so he turns and hugs her without letting me go. “Hello, Chi; you look nice.”
“Thank you. You have been away for too long. Did you want my friend to go nuts?” Chichi asks, throwing me a conspiratorial wink.
If only she knew what I have gone through in his absence; buying books on sexual purity, praying and fasting, plotting what to do in every scenario: everything but break up with him.
“I missed her as well. You know how I feel about her.” He draws me close and pecks my cheek.
I cringe but he doesn’t notice.
“Aww! You guys are just cute together,” Chichi beams. “Are we getting lunch?”
“No! I want her all to myself. By the time I finish with her, her legs will be shaking!” Stan announces.
“Ewo!” Chichi exclaims. “Take it easy on my friend please. You haven’t paid her bride price.”
“How much is it? I will pay double,” he scoffs.
Mentally, I am fishing for excuses. “How do I extricate myself from this mess? Father help me. I want to serve you in spirit and truth. I can’t keep going round in circles.”
Chichi is laughing and saying something I can’t hear because I am scouting the room for Preye or Annette. I reach into my bag to get my phone and call them for help.
“Baby, shall we?” Stan doesn’t give me time to think but ushers me towards the door.
I wave at Chichi who makes a face at me and turns away. Preye and Annette are not in sight. I can’t make the call without being heard. We get to his car and he opens the door to let me in.
“Let me drive behind you,” I suggest. I am hoping he says yes so I can run away to fight another day.
“We can come back and pick your car in the evening. I have missed you so much. I want you now.”
He is in the driver’s seat, staring into my eyes intensely, breathing into my face. I nod like an agama lizard and he kisses me.
“I love you,” he says.
“I love you too.”
How about me, Didi? Do you love me?
Who are you Lord?
I am your Lord. Do you love me?
I love you Lord.
Why then do you not obey me?
“Didi, I got you your favourite perfume.”
“No way! It has been out of stock in Nigeria for a while. Where did you find it?”
“I wrote to the designer and told him I offended my girlfriend and the only way I could apologize was with a bottle of his perfume. He had his team send me 2 bottles. 1 is complementary.”
“That is unbelievable! You mean I have 2 bottles to myself?” I reach over for a hug but he turns it into something else until I come up for air.
“Keep my reward till we get home. I don’t want these sanctimonious folk to kick you out of the choir.” He smirks and fastens his seatbelt before speeding off.
His statement reminds me of my conversation with the Holy Spirit. In the past I would have chuckled at his criticism of church folk and thrown a few barbs of my own. Now I am one of them and it has just brought me back to reality.
I am saved.
I am filled with the Holy Ghost.
I have been baptized in water.
I know the truth.
I serve in the choir.
“How can I continue serving two masters?”
He doesn’t notice that I am more quiet than usual while he carries on telling me about his trip and all the deals he closed. I am biting my lip because I don’t know how to tell him the relationship is over. I can’t continue to live a lie. Like Sis. Annette said, I have to be single for a while and learn how to serve God with my single status before I commit to serving God as a married woman. Even if he proposes today, I cannot marry him because I can sense that he will end the pretence and forbid me to go to church or sing in the choir. I know he has humored me thus far so as not to scare me.
We pull into the driveway before his house after his gateman opens the gate for us. It is an imposing 5 bedroom house with a pool, pent house, gym and field at the back for his dogs to run in. he has a gardener who comes in 3x a week, a live-in steward and a cook who comes in whenever he is around.
“I asked Kweku to make lunch and leave because I didn’t want any interruptions. I hope you don’t mind dishing the food?” he asks as we step into the house.
“I don’t mind.”
In the foyer, he takes my bag and flings it on the floor. Then he picks me up, kisses me and carries me up the stairs to his room. I find myself placed gently on the bed before I can protest.
“Do you know you are the most beautiful woman in the world?”
“Umm,” I mutter. I feel as though a stone were in my throat.
If you don’t rescue me, I will be here all night and this cycle will never end. Give me a way out Lord. I meant it when I said I am tired. Help me. I feel so weak. I don’t know what to do.
Huh? How am I going to do that? All 85kg of him is lying on top of me.
Ask him to go and take a shower.
“Hmm?” He raises his head from where he was trailing kisses down my neck.
“Could you go and take a shower?”
“Now?” He gives me a quizzical glance.
“’l’ll join you. Let me just get a drink from the kitchen.” I smile hoping he doesn’t read my thoughts.
He makes a face and grunts. “Oh well…what the lady wants, the lady gets.” He rises to pull off his clothes slowly, teasing me till I blush. Then he blows me a kiss and heads for the shower.
When the door closes behind him, I rush downstairs and pick up my bag from where he threw it. Opening the door as quietly as I can manage, I make my way outside.
“Oti, come and open the gate for me,” I call to the gateman.
“Madam, any problem?” he asks as he unlocks it.
“I want to collect something from someone. I will soon be back.” I am almost shaking. I cannot bear the thought of him noticing I left and calling to his gateman to stop me.
Once I am outside, I remember I don’t have my car.
What do I do now? If I call a taxi, he may come outside and see me waiting for it. I don’t want him to talk me into going back.
Call Preye and tell her where you are. Then turn off your phone.
I check to make sure Oti is not watching and then run to a small kiosk down the street. Taking cover behind the owner’s desk, I explain to her that I don’t want my ex-boyfriend to see me. She smiles in understanding and goes to sit outside in order to deflect all intruders. I pull out my phone and call Preye.
“Hi Didi; I didn’t see you after service.”
“Where are you?”
“I am in a friend’s house. She is supposed to give me some fabric for…”
“What street is it? I need you to come and pick me?”
“It is Duromi street. Is there any problem?”
“That is not far from here. I’ll send my address. I am hiding from Stan in a small kiosk called Madam Ice. She is outside. Just tell her you came to pick me. I have to turn off my phone.”
“Are you in any danger?”
“No, I am fine. I will tell you everything when you get here. Please hurry.”
“Okay, I’ll be there shortly.”
“Didi, what is going on? Stan has been calling me. He said you blocked his number and you are not in your house. What is the matter? Did he hit you?” Chichi asked on phone.
“I sent him a message telling him it is over between us. Why won’t he accept that?”
“What did he do? Did he cheat on you?”
“I want more than he can offer.”
“What more do you want, Didi? The guy is sweet, romantic, stinking rich and caring. I don’t think he deserves this.”
“Chichi, you remember the day I called you to tell you Moses asked me if you smoke weed?”
“Yes, I do.”
“I lied to him and I felt very bad; I felt as if I stabbed a child.”
“It’s not that deep, Didi. You know I would do the same for you.”
“That’s the thing. I don’t want to live that life anymore. I want God to be proud of me. Jesus did not die for us to live this kind of kalo kalo life we have been living.” I am almost in tears at this point.
“I don’t understand.”
“Come clean to Moses. He will forgive you. Wipe the slate clean and make your marriage work.”
“If you want to insult me let me know. What is this about wiping the slate,” Chichi sneers. “Kpachakwara onwe gi anya (Mind your business).”
“Chichi, Moses told me you secured him an investment to import sound equipment. He even asked me to thank you for him.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Does he know you are having an affair with that man?”
“I am doing it for Moses!” Chichi snarls, defensive.
“If you wanted to help him why didn’t you tell him to ask Nedu his friend for the money or the contacts? Nedu is doing something similar, I recall.”
“He said he is already so indebted to him and he wants to surprise them; to prove he is a man. What should I have done? I had to support my husband.”
“You are on a slippery slope, Chichi and I would be a bad friend if I didn’t tell you. End all those relationships and face your marriage.”
Chichi is silent for a while.
“Where are you?” she asks finally.
“I moved in with a friend of mine.”
“Did you quit your job? Stan said you haven’t been at work for a few days.”
“I had to quit. I got that job the wrong way and they will keep using it against me.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“I have some savings. I might go into consultancy as a project manager or look for another job. Right now I am waiting on God to lead me. I don’t want to preempt him. Who knows he might even want me to become a professional gospel musician.”
Chichi laughs. “Musician? That will be the day.”
“You never know.” I laugh as well.
“Chichi, do you promise to think about what I said?”
“I will think about it. It’s scary though, to open up that can of worms. I don’t think Moses can handle it.”
“We can pray for wisdom. I want to introduce you to my best friend, the Holy Spirit. There is no mess he can’t get you out of. Nothing fazes him; he can’t be embarrassed and he is always compassionate. He won’t mock you or use your mistakes against you.”
“Jiri nwayo! One thing at a time. It seems you have become a pastor. Meanwhile, what do I tell Stan?”
“Tell him it’s over. I am with someone else and he has to move on.”
“Is this like self-mutilation or what? Are you punishing yourself for your past?”
“On the contrary, Jesus was punished for our sins. What I am doing is called dying to self. I made the decision to fall on my own sword and I’m loving my new life in Christ. If you decide to do same I will hold your hands and support you.”
“Fall gini? Biko kwa. Take care of yourself.”
“Bye, Chi. I am praying for you.”
“Thank you. I mela. Let me call Stan. I hope he won’t kill himself.”
“He won’t, Chichi. Bye now.”
Thanks for reading everyone. The Final episode comes up next week after which I will go on a break. I really appreciate all the comments, likes and shares. God bless you real good.
I am @nenabekee or email@example.com in case you have questions.
I returned to my seat after calling Chichi and telling her what had just transpired. Annette and Preye observe my somber mood and ask what happened. I deflect but it affects our mood. It is obvious I am holding back and our meetings have always been raw and honest.
For instance, Preye has confessed to Annette her struggle with greed and stealing. A number of times in the past she has cheated her partner out of earnings by falsifying documents, diverting patients and out-rightly taking money from the till with the collusion of the accountant. Annette asked her to own up and return all she took. She nearly died of shame when her partner told her he had become suspicious and was already planning to set up CCTV secretly in order to gather evidence.
“Thank God I confessed,” she had said. “Can you imagine how shameful it would have been if that man had confronted me? He could have written to have my license withdrawn or worse.”
Annette added, “He could have leaked the story to the papers or the blogs.”
“That would have been terrible!” I exclaim.
“I can’t thank God enough for the ‘liver’ to walk into that man’s office that day. Now I know that God is really looking out for me. How would I have faced my parents if such a thing were made public?”
“Like I told you, Jesus has broken the hold of sin in our lives. It is now up to us to resist temptation by identifying the pathways through which it creeps in on us. For you it was your desire to own luxurious stuff but now you have learned that godliness with contentment is godliness. We all have our struggles but when we identify the root we can ask the Holy Spirit for help,” Annette theorizes.
“That is what I do. Every day I ask Him for help in the area of greed and also when I feel tempted to dream about what I cannot afford I turn it into a conversation with the Holy Spirit. I tell Him how much I love designer stuff and to please provide them for me but in the time being to help me to enjoy the non-designer stuff I can afford,” Preye says.
“That’s so deep,” I mutter.
“Praise God for you my dear. Your God is with you,” Annette says.
I breathe in deeply and release the breath. “I have something I have been meaning to share.”
“Yeah?” Annette raises an eyebrow.
I lean forward on my elbows and put my chin my palms. “I have been unable to convince my boyfriend that we should wait until we are married. Each time we have sex I feel so guilty that I can’t pray or read my bible for days. It is because of this our meeting I studied the portion of the bible we discussed. The guilt is killing me.”
Annette and Preye scoot closer and hold my hands.
“I have tried everything; from avoiding him, to lying about my periods, to keeping malice with him. I even cried but he threatened to break up with me. He said he once had a girlfriend who denied him sex because she claimed to be a virgin only for him to catch her in bed with her ex one day.”
“That’s awful!” Preye cries.
“I really love him and I don’t want to lose him.”
“I thought he is a believer: You guys attended the discipleship class together?” Preye asks.
“I was excited as well when he seemed to have a hunger for God. When I bring it up these days, he laughs and asks me if Jesus himself doesn’t know that it is unnatural for a man to be without a woman for more than 1 month.”
“That’s ungodly of him!” Annette shakes her head sadly.
“Why doesn’t he just propose?” Preye asks.
“Even if he does, I don’t think the fundamental issue has been addressed,” Annette cut in. “He doesn’t have the mind of Christ. I think he is a scoffer.”
“It pains me to admit that but…I must.” I wince.
“What does the Holy Spirit have to say about it?” Preye fixes her gaze on me.
“He obviously wants me to end the relationship. There was even a prophecy the day I attended rehearsal in church for the first time.”
“Wow! You mean you have expressly heard God and you are still negotiating?” Annette shakes my shoulder. “That is dangerous! Do you know what happened to Jonah when he dodged his assignment? My sister, it is obvious you have the call of God upon your life. Take up your cross and follow him.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means give up whatever is standing in the way of total surrender to Christ.”
“I love Stan.” I am now sulking.
“Then the love of the Father is not in you. You can continue your relationship with Stan but do not lie that you love Jesus. He does not share.”
Annette is so brutal that I secretly wander if she is jealous of my boyfriend. I know she is a widower but she is young enough to still want a man of her own.
“Let me tell you what happened to Pastor Dawodu when he ignored God’s call into ministry. He was a pampered young man born to succeed his father who was the principal partner of one of the top 3 law firms in Nigeria,” Annette narrated. “He got born again in the university and felt God was calling him to be a pastor after his NYSC. When he told his mother, she advised him to perish the thought because his father would not abide it. She gave him an inkling of what was to come by seizing his car and stopping his allowance. Subsequently, his fiancé broke up with him and friends stayed away because the cash was not flowing as before. He held out for a few months before calling his mom to tell her he had changed his mind. He decided he could serve God as a leader maybe of a service unit or something so he could keep on enjoying the privileges of his birth.”
“Wow, I never knew this. Go on…” Preye says.
“He joined the law firm but it was one disaster after the other. It was either he lost a case or he offended a client or staff were quitting because he treaded on their toes. One day, a client accused him of sleeping with his wife for whom he was trying to secure a divorce in court.”
“Chei! Chi m Oh!” I exclaim.
“The scandal was monumental. He has not even lived it down. The worst thing was that when the man offered his wife more money than she had asked for she agreed to lie that they had had an affair.”
“I don’t mean to rain on your parade but…how are you sure he was innocent? People make mistakes all the time and I am sure we all have heard of pastors who took of the forbidden fruit.”
“I’ll tell you how I know but first let me finish the story. He quit the firm and left the country while his father begged the man to allow the matter to die. While abroad, he joined a church and opened up to the pastor about the call he had rejected. The man told him to accept his call to pastoring and his life would be back on track. He went to Bible College and became the pastor’s assistant for 5 years before returning to start Shepherd center.”
“That’s a very interesting story,” I admit.
“It’s really interesting. You haven’t told us why you are so sure he was falsely accused of adultery,” Preye asks.
“When he wanted to get married, his wife-to-be was concerned about the scandal as were his parents. He prayed about it and contacted the woman he was accused of sleeping with. She agreed to confess in person to them as long as it wasn’t recorded or ever repeated before her husband. The meeting was arranged at a venue chosen by the woman and only his fiancé and her parents attended. She confessed that she lied because that was the condition her husband gave her for their reconciliation and that he would kill her if he found out that she told anyone the truth.”
Both Preye and I are speechless. We sit there mouths hanging open, arms crossed over our breasts, staring at Annette.
“I only know this because his wife is my cousin and she confided in me. A few people know the truth but the story in the public space is that he is a repented adulterer.”
I clap my hands slowly, the way my mother used to do when amazed by the gossip my aunt brought back from the market.
“Wonders shall never end!” I sigh.
“Anyway, the point is you need to end this relationship and learn how to be single. Commit to 6 months or 1 year without dates and nurture your individuality. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace; how to talk with and walk with the Holy Spirit. Make him a daily part of your life. You know praying in tongues is just the beginning; you need to enter the conversation level to enjoy Christianity.”
“Does that mean I will never get married?” I ask exasperated.
“Let me tell you what used to happen during the days when African Americans lived as slaves. They needed the consent of their masters to marry and sometimes he took liberties with the lady of their choice before the marriage was allowed. Now, that is disgusting and I am in no way saying God is like that. However, we call Him Lord just as slaves do but He has no say in our lives. We do what we want and go where we like; how is Jesus Lord of your life if you cannot trust his choice of a life partner for you?”
Preye and I look at each other and nod.
“That’s a good point,” Preye agrees.
“I met a widower 3 years ago and fell in love with him. God asked me to wait for 6 months before going on a date with him. The man kept putting me under pressure because according to him he needed a mother for his 3 children. After 3 months, I was telling someone about him when the person said his name sounded familiar and asked for his picture.”
“No…” I interrupt.
“You guessed right. He had a South African wife who was very much alive and the 3 children whose pictures I saw were only 3 out of his 7 children.”
“Ewo!” Preye exclaims.
“The thing is my libido is such that I would have probably jumped him after the first few dates.”
Preye and I gasp. “Sister Annette!”
“I know my limits please. I don’t go on solo dates and I don’t date for the sake of it. The next man I will go out with has to be my husband and he has to have serious self-control. Also, there will be no time for a long courtship.”
Preye and I burst into laughter. “Sister Annette!”
She rolls her eyes and reaches for her drink nonplussed. “The Holy Spirit and I know my weakness and we are open about it. You girls are the ones forming macho. She that is down needs fear no fall biko.”
Chichi and Moses are at dinner with a couple from work. The man is the VP Operations at her firm and his wife is a fashion designer.
“Chichi tells me you want to start importing sound equipment?” the man asked.
“Yes, sir. I have a business plan and I have already lined up some contacts in the event business,” Moses responded eagerly.
“Church is good business these days. The way they are springing up left and right; I might go into it for myself.” He let out a guffaw.
Moses chuckled in agreement though, stifling his discomfort.
“All these pastors are thieves,” his wife concurred, spearing her steak like a warrior. “I don’t know why people still go to church. The most stupid are those who allow themselves to be talked into parting with their hard-earned money.”
Her husband let out a bellow and banged on the table without a care. Chichi laughed politely. Moses was dumbfounded. These people were unbelievable. How come all his wife’s friends were stark unbelievers. He wished he could tell them that his salary was paid from the money people gave to the church but he didn’t want to offend them.
“Anyway,” the man continued after wiping his mouth. “We have N10m to invest and I know Chichi to be an astute manager. My wife and yours go way back; which is why I brought her into the firm in the first place.”
Chichi nodded humbly, never letting on that she had a very ‘personal’ relationship with him far removed from that which she had with his wife.
“Submit your business plan to me and we will work things out. I also know a few friends who can commit more money so you’ll have a tidy sum to start with.”
“Thank you sir. I’m grateful sir.” Moses had all but dropped to his knees as he thanked him profusely over and over.
“Don’t thank me my man. Thank your wife. She is the genius who talked me into all this because she knows I like to make money.” The man bursts into laughter again.
Moses laughs politely as well. “I assure you sir; you will make more money than you ever dreamed from this deal. Trust me when I say I am completely devoted to this. You have my guarantee.”
“Words are sweet my man but money is sweeter,” the man responds and again bends over with a loud guffaw.
Moses stares in fascination at his protruding abdomen as it heaves with laughter. The button at his navel is rotating in tune with his laugh as his abdomen strains against the shirt.
“Yes sir; money is sweeter,” Moses concurs.
Moses was battling a suspicion he had had for long. It started as a hair-raising sensation whenever he got home before Chichi unexpectedly and she would be at the backyard with the back door locked. The house was designed such that he could not access the back from the front without alerting whoever was there. The last time this happened it took her almost 20 minutes to unlock the back door and when she did her eyes were dilated, glazed, unfocused. He actually panicked thinking she was ill but she smiled, squealed and flew into his arms for a hug and a deep kiss that forced him to abandon his suspicions.
Another day, he smelled what he suspected to be weed in the bathroom. He thought it was a leak from somewhere and shouted for their help to clean it thoroughly. Chichi was not at home that day. The girl said she had cleaned it that morning but proceeded to do it again. After that, the odor disappeared. Moses heaved a sigh of relief.
Today, he saw what looked like a stub from a roll of weed at the backyard when he went to practice his guitar in solitude. He did not want to ask Chichi about it because he felt she would take it badly. It was inconceivable to him that his domestic assistant used drugs because he had never had reason to suspect her. They did not have a gateman because the house was in an estate with a central gate. No other person had access to their backyard but the three of them. He decided to call Didi for help on a whim. He could not live without knowing the truth.
“Hello Didi, good afternoon,” he greeted when she answered at the fourth ring.
“Is this a good time or you’re swamped with work?”
“I am actually at a lunch date with Annette and Preye. We are having a shourt-course mentoring so we work around our busy schedules.”
“That’s so nice. When you go for all these programs you don’t invite your friend; why is that?” he accused.
“I do; it’s just that she has been busy. I assumed you are one of the reasons she no longer has time for me.” Didi laughed shortly.
“Could you find a private spot? I want to ask you something confidential,” Moses requested.
He heard her tell her companions she had to take the call privately and then he heard the scraping of chairs as she changed locations.
“Alright, shoot; what’s going on?”
Moses heaved a sigh before asking the question that kept him awake the night before.
“Didi, does Chichi smoke weed?”
Didi was shocked. She stood there, silent, heart pounding for minutes.
“I…Didi…are you there?”
“Have you ever seen Chichi using weed?’
“Moses, I am surprised you are asking this type of question! How can you accuse your wife of smoking weed and then come to me to confirm it?”
“I am sorry to put you on the spot. I just felt you would know because of how close you both are…”
“I have never seen Chichi doing drugs!”
“You haven’t? Not even when you both were in school.”
“I never did. If she did, it was not in my presence and I never had reason to suspect her. Go home, love your wife and enjoy your marriage.”
“Okay, Didi, I am sorry I put you on the spot.”
“Thank you. I’ll talk to you later.”
Didi ended the call unceremoniously and dialed Chichi’s number furiously. She did not want to be drawn into their issues but she had to warn her that her husband was on to her before her addictions led to the breakup of the marriage.
Nedu was interviewing a new entrant into the follow-up department Isio. She was a fair and heavily-endowed woman, a teacher who had known the Lord for over 20 years and had recently joined their church after relocating from Ibafo. Kevin his assistant who was also part of the interview panel had stepped out to take a call.
“What do you believe about demonic possession? Can a believer be possessed?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “I think a believer who doesn’t know his rights may be oppressed but never possessed. He is already possessed by the spirit of God and there cannot be two captains on one boat,” she replied.
“Good. What do you believe about salvation? How can we lose our salvation?”
“I don’t think anyone can lose his salvation. The gifts and calling of God are irreversible. Maybe the person would have to recant as in, say I don’t want you to be my Lord anymore Jesus or something. But I don’t think there is any sin we can commit that God cannot forgive. Paul wrote that neither death nor life angels nor powers can separate us from the love of God.”
“You are well-versed in scripture,” Nedu complimented her.
“Thank you but I don’t think that should be a rarity. We are called to be priests and kings so each of us should know the word for him or herself,” she smiled.
He noticed she had dimples and smiled back. Kevin came in at that time and apologized.
“That’s fine. I think we are done here. Your training will commence tomorrow. I’ll send you a text.” Nedu rose and shook her hand. Her grip was firm but soft and her eyes were kind.
“Thank you Bro Nedu,” she said.
“My parents did not name me Bro. The name is Chinedu, Nedu for short.” His eyes twinkled with mischief.
“Well, I prefer to be called Madam Isio,” she joked.
“Me too, I want to be called Sir. Kevin. After all my father was a knight of St. Mulumba,” Kevin added.
The group burst into laughter.
“It was nice meeting you Isio. Welcome to our department.”
“Thank you so much. I’ll take my leave.”
The men watched her leave.
“Nedu, na your wife be this! I know she is your spec; fair, shapely, not too tall and she is grounded in scripture,” Kevin said when she was out of earshot.
Nedu was silent. Kevin was right. Before he fell in love with Didi, he dreamed of marrying a girl who looked like Isio and his friends knew. He began to wonder if there was anything wrong with him getting to know her better.
Father, since you won’t let me go for Didi, should I ask Isio out? She’s beautiful, full of the word and she’s a teacher. There’s a good chance Didi will not want to marry a trader in Alaba market. Am I putting all my eggs in one basket?
You are silent Lord? Why?
“Guy, collect her number and follow her up very well. The girl is hot and if anyone else notices her you may not have a chance,” Kevin was saying.
“How do you know she isn’t already in a relationship?”
“I heard her fiancé died a few months to their wedding years ago and since then she has kind of kept to herself.”
“How did you get all this information, Kevin?” Nedu stared at his friend with his mouth hanging open.
“My wife has a friend who went to school with her. Apparently the guy had sickle cell and was battling one crisis after the other.”
“Yeah, pity; so are you going for her or what?”
“I’ll give her a call and see how she responds. If she gives me the green light I’ll know it’s a sign from God,” Nedu decided.
Kevin raised his hand and thumped him on the shoulder. “That’s what I’m talking about!” he exclaimed. “You need a good woman to put your life in order.”
“Are you trying to insinuate my life is out of order?” Nedu pushed him in jest.
“Guy, you won’t know what you’re missing until you taste it. Thank me later.”
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Stan was on his way home from the airport. He had been away for two weeks and he missed Didi. Though technology made it easier to stay in touch she had not taken advantage of all the opportunities they had to make video calls and so on. Instead she kept giving him excuses. He was worried that she had moved on. Perhaps it was time for him to propose. A proposal would put her mind at ease so they could go back to being the affectionate couple they had once been. He wasn’t really ready for the commitment but if that was what it would take he would take a punt and decide afterwards whether or not he wanted to marry her.
“Let’s stop and get flowers for Didi,” he instructed his driver. He preferred to drive himself but retained his services for occasions like this when he needed to be picked up.
“Did they clean the house?” he asked.
“Yes sir. Everything was done as you instructed.”
He picked his phone from the phone holder and dialed her number.
“Hi Sweetheart I am almost home. Should I send Attah to pick you or do you want to come over by yourself?”
“I am not sure I can make it. I have a ton of work to do.”
“Didi…you mean you are too busy to see me after I have been away for two weeks?”
“I do want to see you…I missed you…Today is just not a good day.”
“You can’t be serious!” He ended the call and barked at his driver. “Turn back and head to Scholl oil!”
Preye and I joined the choir together. We have grown closer as I gave Chichi a bit of distance. Of course being married has made it a bit more difficult for her to club and party as before but that was not my excuse. I really wanted to taste the deeper things of God and I didn’t see how possible it was to continue to indulge as I used to and grow spiritually at the same time. Stan was the only snag in my growth plans. He wanted me in his arms every other night and each time I left his house I would be unable to pray because I was so consumed with guilt. It was affecting our relationship and he had noticed. I didn’t know what to do about it so I just tried to push it to the back of my mind.
We were introduced to the other members of the choir by Moses who I could see was taking the credit for ‘discovering’ me. I smiled and nodded at appropriate times but my mind was in turmoil. The director of the choir Bola welcomed us and laid down the rules. Next, we were asked to listen as a song would be played from the speakers while the lyrics were displayed on the projector. I listened carefully, suspecting that we the ‘newbies’ might be tested afterwards.
It turns out I was right. Preye and I were asked to stand and sing into the microphone. She sang first and was applauded for her effort. When I was called up I had only sung 1 line when someone whistled from the back. Startled, I stopped and stepped away from the microphone stand.
“Don’t mind them. You are doing great.” It was Nedu. I had not noticed him when I came in. Perhaps he had stepped out to run an errand. “Go on please.”
I took a deep breath and did the rest of the short chorus. A whoop went up when I finished. Some of the ladies came forward and patted my back or hugged me or just gave me a hi-five. I noticed they also hugged Preye and made her feel welcome.
“You have an amazing voice,” one of them said to me. “I think you will soon be signed to a record label.”
I laughed at the thought.
“Engineer turned gospel musician? I think not.”
The rehearsal continued for 2 hours and then they began to pray about the service. I expected a perfunctory prayer; something short so they could say Amen and close the meeting but that was not the case. In the first place no one was telling anybody what to pray about. A lady who I later got to know was the prayer coordinator started singing in tongues and they followed suit. I tried to pray in my prayer language but I was so full of guilt for sleeping with Stan that all I could do was cry and cover my face.
When I peeked again, some people were rolling on the floor; others were laughing, crying, singing and dancing while praying in tongues. It was all so strange yet so new. I loved the electricity in the air and I wanted to feel it and carry it home with me but I was afraid.
“Lord, please forgive me for being so weak. I love Stan and I don’t want to hurt him. Please help me. Touch him so that he will want to wait till our wedding night.”
I was not expecting a reply to my request so I was alarmed when I heard a voice so clear yet so quiet.
“It’s either him or me.”
I looked round to be sure no one had spoken to me but I knew it couldn’t be a member of the choir because the voice was like a thought save for the fact that I could not possibly be telling myself “It’s him or me.”
“What was that?”
“It’s him or me.”
I raised my head and put my fingers in my ears, wiggling them to loosen the wax. I don’t know how this will help but I just can’t think of anything else to do.
“Praise the Lord!” one of the men had raised his hand and was acknowledged. The room stilled to hear him. “I don’t know who this word is for but God is saying you have to choose. You cannot have both. It is either you serve God or you serve mammon. Choose life and live. Hallelujah!”
I felt goose pimples on my arms. There was no way I could deny it any longer. God had spoken to me! And to confirm it He even asked someone who had no way of knowing what I was thinking to say the same thing. I began to cry, rocking back and forth as I fell to my knees.
“I choose you Lord! Whatever it costs, I choose you. You gave your life for me. No one and nothing comes before you. You are my Lord and I will serve you.”
I was praying out loud not caring who heard. Others had resumed praying along the same lines so no one paid me any special attention. Before the prayers ended there were 2 more prophecies but they did not appear to address me. Nedu brought the meeting to a close, admonishing everyone to keep the fire burning and to bring it to church the next day.
Preye and I will not sing with them for a few weeks as we have to learn many songs and also buy the uniforms. I don’t mind this as I had been worried about not even being good enough to stand before others to minister in songs.
Nedu came over to say hello but did not linger. It was late and everyone was eager to get home. I hugged Preye in the lot. She did not know why I was hugging her but I just wanted to squeeze someone else because I had had a surreal experience and I was pinching myself to confirm that it was real.
“So people can actually hear the voice of God?”
“Nedu, what did you think of Didi? Isn’t she awesome?” Moses was asking. They were packing up equipment while others filed out of the auditorium.
“Say nothing of your feelings for her!”
“I said say nothing of your feelings for Didi.”
“She is a good vocalist. Thanks for inviting her,” he said to Moses.
“You’re welcome. I wish Chichi could sing too. She complains that I spend too much time at rehearsals and she hates staying home alone. If she was a singer she would be here as well.”
“How did you discover that Didi can sing?”
“I heard her singing along to a song being played at an event we attended together. She even out sang the composer of the song.”
Both men laughed.
“I think she’ll be a great addition and she seems to be an open book. That she has never been in a choir means she has nothing to unlearn,” Nedu said.
“That’s what excites me. Since Itoro left, we have not been able to find a vocalist who can do those raspy songs and still sustain a falsetto.”
“She does have a great falsetto.”
“Guy, this one na jackpot!” Moses and Nedu hi-fived each other in jest.
There was a brief interlude before Nedu asked how things were with Moses and Chichi.
“We’re alright I guess. I mean…we haven’t been married up to 6 months.” He shrugged as he spoke.
Nedu noticed he wasn’t meeting his gaze and shook his head. “Just remember I am praying for you and I am a phone call away if you need anything.”
“Prayer warrior; go and marry!” Moses teased rolling his eyes.
“Have you found a wife for me?”
“There is no scarcity of wives. Look at that your assistant; what’s her name…Annette! She is crazy about you.”
“Don’t say that Moses!” Nedu warned wagging a finger in jest.
“I’m telling you she is in love with you; the way she hangs on your every word and mopes at you. If you propose to her she will gladly pay her own bride price.”
“Are we forgetting the little issue of her being at least 10 years my senior?” Nedu raised an eyebrow.
“Age is nothing but a number.”
“Get out!” Nedu laughed. “Please leave that precious woman of God alone. She is not looking for a partner.”
“Why then does she stare at you?”
“Don’t you know the anointing attracts? It is you who will clarify for the attracted what you are willing to offer and what is off the table. If I go after every woman my gift attracts don’t you know I will become Solomon; shouting from the rooftops ‘Vanity upon vanity’…”
“All is vanity!” Moses completed for him before they burst into laughter again.
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Cheers, Dr. N
Moses was in Nedu’s shop to restring his guitar. They were chatting in his office while his assistant did the repairs. Two bottles of malt drinks stood on Nedu’s desk. He was reclining in his chair with his fingers interlaced behind his head.
“Can you imagine my wife renting a house for more money than she told me?” Moses was saying. “What sort of behavior is that?”
“Did she give a reason for what she did?”
“She claimed she didn’t want to intimidate me. I don’t understand what she means by that. I have never acted like I was insecure about her earning more than I do in all the period of our courtship. That story does not hold water.” Moses tapped his foot angrily.
Nedu was silent.
“The worst thing is I couldn’t even make a big deal of it because I knew I was planning to borrow money from her the next day for my trip to Abuja.”
“You could have asked me for the money…”
“No. I still owe you the money I borrowed before the wedding.”
“Don’t worry about that. Consider it a wedding gift.” Nedu waved a hand dismissively.
“Wow! That’s too much. I can’t accept that. You already gave me a wedding gift besides what the choir and committee of friends bought.”
“Forget about the money. I am more concerned about your peace of mind. You need to cut your living costs so you can fend for your family. I hope you give her housekeeping money?” Nedu asked.
“No I don’t. The first time I did she laughed at the amount of money I offered,” Moses bit his worried lip.
“Why did she laugh?” Nedu leaned forward.
“She said that it would not even pay the house maid.”
“You have to insist. Tell her that she can augment it but she has to accept money from you.”
“I don’t want to hurt her feelings. We just got married.” Moses bowed his head, confused.
Nedu rose and paced the office. “Something is wrong somewhere. I feel this heaviness each time I pray for the both of you.”
Moses shrugged. He was used to his friend ‘sensing things’ and had never really thought much of it.
“I asked Didi to join the choir. You remember her?”
“How could I forget her? That voice, the eyes like a dove, the gleaming dark skin, that figure…that voice! Father, why won’t you let me ask her out?”
“I have a purpose for her. Leave her alone.”
“Ah! That is serious. This purpose does not include marriage at all? But I love her.”
“Do not awaken love until the time is right.”
“Chai! Holy Spirit…sometimes you can be harsh sha”
“Face your friend that came for counseling.”
“Hahaha. Okay, I’m sorry. I will wait until you are ready to give me a wife. I like Didi though; just putting it out there.”
“Nedu, did you hear me? I asked if you remember my wife’s maid of honour who sang at my wedding,” Moses was saying.
“Yes, I remember her. She seems shy. Did she say yes?”
“She did. I asked her to come in on Saturday.”
“Obviously she doesn’t need an audition.”
Moses laughed. “Her wedding performance was more than an audition. Pastor has already asked me why she is not in the choir.”
Nedu laughed as well. “She is welcome. Annette has been mentoring her. I will find out if she is ready for the big leagues.”
Just then, Nedu’s shop assistant brought in the guitar and gave it to Moses. His face lit up.
“My baby is back!” he screamed and hung the strap on his shoulder.
Strumming it gently, he began to play a tune. Nedu smiled and began to sing along. The shop assistants stood at the door listening to their boss and his friend worship unashamed.
I am staring at my poor performance evaluation scores. My chest feels tight and tears are stinging my eyes like the soldier ants that bit me when I tried to destroy their home one day when I was 8. I clear my throat noisily, trying desperately to swallow the bitterness. Ese has made good his threat. I actually thought I could hold him off without reporting him. Now I realize I should have got HR involved and even gathered evidence against him. If I say anything now, I may be accused of trying to get back at him for the poor evaluation he gave me.
Shaking my head sadly, I bite my inner lip to hold back my scream of frustration. I blame myself for trivializing his harassment because I felt guilty for giving in to the director. Besides, there had always been the option of giving in to his demands if the pressure got too much. That was till things changed.
Now I have the voice of the Holy Spirit in my head stopping me from indulging freely as I used to. I have even been feeling guilty about sleeping with Stan. The last time he was around I lied that it was the wrong time of the month and just before that I told him I had a migraine. Right now he is out of the country but I know when he returns in 2 weeks he will not believe any lies. I will have to decide whether losing him is worth it.
My phone rings and I jump. I check the caller Id. It is Nedu. I wipe the tears that had strayed down my cheeks and answer.
“Good afternoon Bro. Nedu.”
“Who is your brother? Anyway I don’t blame you. It is because the Holy Spirit told me to back off. Somebody I want to marry is calling me ‘Bro’”.
“Hi Didi. I hope this is a good time to talk,” he said.
“Yes it is.”
“Moses told me he invited you to join the choir. I hope you accepted the invitation. I was pleasantly surprised to hear you at the wedding and I think you would be a great addition to us.”
“Oh! I don’t know if I am good enough. He convinced me to sing at the wedding as his gift to Chichi so I went along with it but I had never been on a stage before.”
“No one noticed. You sounded like you sing for a living.”
I throw back my head and laugh. It feels good to be complimented for my voice and not my looks.
“Bro. Nedu you are funny.”
“My parents did not name me Bro.”
“I apologize Nedu.”
“Does that mean it’s a date?”
I spend a minute thinking about it and decide it’s worth a shot.
“I guess I’ll come. Who knows if I will come and ask for a paid position in church in the event that I lose my job?”
“There is no way you will be fired. Our rehearsals are timed to give working professionals time to meet their obligations.”
“Is there something you want to discuss?”
I hesitate. It’s not exactly wise to tell your follow-up director that you are being passed between men because you didn’t say no when you had the chance.
“Umm. I am just worried for my cousin. She made the mistake of getting involved with someone at work. She just called to say he gave her a poor evaluation and that made her feel so bad.”
“That’s serious. Is she still with him?”
“No, she broke up with him so he is punishing her.”
“Wow! Can’t she report? Does she have no evidence?”
“She can’t report because he has the ear of some top dogs in the company.”
He doesn’t speak for a while. I am already squirming in my seat, ashamed of myself for blurting out my business like that. Maybe he has sensed that I am a liar, a loose woman and a murderer of unborn babies.
“Is she born again?”
“Jesus said if anyone loves me he must hate his wife, his mother, his father, his siblings and even his own self. Ask her who is Lord of her life; this guy or Jesus? When she decides she will know what to do.”
“But…it is not easy to find work.”
“But it is not easy for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.”
“How will she fend for herself?”
“The God who clothes the lilies and feeds the sparrows; has He slept off?”
“We are not sparrows Nedu.”
“That makes us easier to feed because we can even work. Let me share a little of my story,” Nedu said. “I graduated with a degree in History and Internantional Relations dreaming of getting a job at an embassy or multinational. After 3 years of scouting for a job on a hungry stomach, I left my friend’s house where I was living because I hated the debauchery and moved into a relative’s house where I was like a steward. I happily ran errands, excited to finally have a room to myself so I could study the word. He had a shop in Alaba market where he used to sell kitchen equipment. I started assisting him at no pay with a written agreement that he would give me enough money to rent a shop after 3 years. In my spare time, I cleaned and repaired musical equipment in church. Soon other churches started paying me to do same. The money I made enabled me to buy musical equipment for sale when he rented the shop for me.”
I did not know I had been holding my breath while listening to him until I let it out with a ‘whoosh’.
“That’s awesome. I wouldn’t be surprised if you now own more shops.”
“Yes, I own more and we sell online to buyers all over Nigeria.”
“Thank God for you.”
“Amen and you can tell your cousin that God will provide for her. I have to go now. See you on Saturday?”
“I’ll be there.”
“That’s awesome. God bless you.”
“Bless you too!”
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Moses and Chichi were having an argument in the living room of the 4 bedroom duplex they had rented just before their wedding. Their domestic assistant was crouching behind the door, trying hard not to be noticed before she could hear what was the cause for this unusual quarrel. Her employers got along pretty well even if she felt Moses overlooked more things than he should.
“Where did you get the money to buy that car, Chichi?”
“It’s Chichi now and no more Chibaby, O kwaya?” Chichi raised an eyebrow in disdain.
“Nwoke m. A di na-aba mba there! (Don’t scold me)”
“How did you get the money to buy a car of over N15million naira? We just spent millions on the honeymoon and you did not win the lottery.”
“I have had this car for two years,” Chichi announced solemnly, taking a seat on their leather couch nonplussed.
Moses was speechless. He stood before her, mouth agape, hand extended but not reaching for anything like it got paralyzed mid-air. There was silence for what seemed like hours.
“What else did you hide from me?”
“I have some landed property you don’t know about. Also the rent for this house is actually N3million and not the N1.5million I told you.”
Moses gasped. He sank into the sofa beside her grasping his head with both hands. “Chineke mee!”
Chichi rolled her eyes and made a face. “O gini?”
“Chichi, how could you hide so many things from me? Have I been a fool? What have I got myself into?” Moses’ voice was broken, tearful.
Chichi dropped to her knees and put her hands on his knees. “I’m sorry, my prince, my baby. I am so sorry I lied to you. I was afraid that you’ld be intimidated by the money and all that. So many men have used me and dumped me. Forgive me. I am only a child of my past,” her voice was contrite, pleading.
Moses, wiped his tears and looked up. “Are you sure there isn’t anything more I should know? I mean just the other day you brought pornographic videos for us to watch.”
“I just wanted us to spice up our sex life, my prince. It was Moni my friend from the office that recommended it. I never knew they are demonic till you told me.”
“Is there anything wrong with our sex life?”
“No…mba…I am more than content. Please don’t read more into it than me foolishly listening to a friend.”
Moses shook his head. “I don’t understand you anymore.”
“I am still the Chibaby you know. I love you and I can never hurt you. Please don’t sound like you are disgusted. I can’t bear it,” Chichi’s voice broke as she burst into tears.
Moses tried to ignore her but before long he moved closer and took her in his arms. “I’m sorry. It was just too much too quickly. You shouldn’t have hidden anything from me,” he soothed her as he spoke, smoothening her hair.
“I’m sorry too. I should have trusted you.” She sniffed.
He lifted her head by the chin and gazed into her eyes. “From today, no more secrets; is that a deal?”
“Okay, my love. I won’t ever hide anything from you. You are my prince, my head, my crown.”
Moses sighed and hugged his wife of three months to his chest as tightly as he could, as if by squeezing her closer, he could silence the voice of suspicion whispering in his ears that he was being fooled. He did not want it to be true. This was the woman he had dreamed about, hoped to meet and wished for all his life.
“Lord help me to be a good husband. I know I am the head of the home and this woman is the answer to all my prayers. Help me to be all that she wants me to be.”
“Nne eh! That man wanted to prove he is smart. You needed to see me crying like I lost my birkin bag,” Chichi was telling Didi.
They were hanging out at a restaurant close to Scholl Oil.
“Poor him indeed! Even though I told him I wasn’t complaining about anything he nearly gave himself a heart attack in bed last night, trying to prove to me that he is all that and a bag of chips.” She rolled her eyes and burst into laughter.
In the past, Didi would have laughed hard and then said something even more vulgar but she was not the Didi she used to be. She shifted uncomfortably and mopped her brow despite the cool air from the air conditioner.
“O gini? Is Stan acting up?”
“No, we are fine. He has been doing quite a bit of travelling but we are good.”
“Okay because for a minute there I thought I had lost you.”
“It is not as if I am the most holy but, Chichi one has to be careful the seeds one sows…”
“Ta! Don’t tell me about karma. My father that was as mean as they come died peacefully in his sleep. Look at Uju that aborted so many babies in school that the nurses at that clinic started calling her customer. She has 4 children while that girl who was a pastor died in childbirth last year. What’s that her name?”
“That’s the one! POG is what they used to call her. Do you know it was her first pregnancy after 3 failed IVFs? Nobody should tell me about karma. It doesn’t exist. All I do is to try not to hurt my fellow human being so that in case heaven is real my good acts will outweigh my mistakes.” Chichi sucked at her teeth, leaning back in her chair as she nursed her gin.
There was a quiet Interlude while Didi worked on her roast fish and chips, struggling with feelings of inadequacy conflicting with her burden to tell her friend the truth.
“You’re not drinking?” Chichi observed suddenly.
“A naghi m a nuzi mmanya (I don’t drink anymore),” Didi announced solemnly without making eye contact.
“Was it Stan’s idea? First he stopped you from taking weed. Then he didn’t want you clubbing without him. Now…” Chichi’s voice was rising.
“Don’t give me that…” Chichi fired off some choice expletives. “That guy is controlling and you know it.”
Didi heaved a sigh. “He is a bit controlling, I admit but it was not his idea that I stop drinking.”
Chichi dropped her cup, narrowing her gaze. “Whose was it, then? How are you going to put up with the…” She fired off a few more expletives. “As for the scummy men that our mothers’ generation raised and foisted on us, I need my Dutch courage just to go home and pretend to need Moses.”
“I have something better.”
“What’s that? Codeine? Tramadol? Cocaine? What is it?”
Didi held her gaze. “I have the Holy Ghost.”
Chichi was stumped. She stared at her friend; hand over her mouth like she was bursting with questions but afraid of the answers. For a long time neither friend spoke beause there was nothing to say. Their relationship would never be the same.
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Stan and I have a lunch date. He is to pick me up from work so I wore something I know he will like. Unfortunately, it is also Ese’s favourite colour and the way he is standing by my desk and gloating, I fear he has mis-read the situation.
“You look lovely today, babe,” he purrs.
“I am not your ‘babe’ Ese.” I am short with him because he has wandering hands. His pea-sized brain has convinced him that relentless pursuit will get him into the bed of any woman he desires, no matter how many times she says no. I just happen to be his subordinate and I need him to sign off on my appraisals. That is the only reason I have not yet kicked him in the shin.
He sits on my desk, unbuttoning his jacket.
“Can you get off my desk? This is an office!”
He smirks. “You keep promising me a visit. When are you going to let me show you how I feel about you?”
“Your wife is the only person you should be showing how you feel about her,” I retort.
“Forget that fat bird! We are separated. I intend to divorce her as soon as you give me your consent.”
“I am so sorry to hear you are having issues in your marriage but I have a boyfriend. He will be here shortly and I don’t want him to get any ideas about us.”
“Does he know what you did to get to this position?” He raises an eyebrow in derision.
I raise my voice not minding who can hear us. “I fully deserve to be where I am today and you cannot blackmail me into admitting otherwise. Now get off my desk!” My right palm lands hard on my desk.
He rises, startled. “Hey, don’t shout. I was just joking. Send the revised schedule to my email.”
I scowl at his back as he leaves then rub my temples hard. He knows I had an affair with one of our directors when I needed a promotion. The two of them are friends who pass women they sleep with to each other. I refused to be passed though he has thrown every barb in his book at me. The worst they can do is to fire me and I have decided that losing my job is not the end of the world. Thank God I have Stan. He has given me the courage to stand up for my rights.
My phone rings. It is Chichi. They just returned from their 2 week honeymoon in Dubai.
“Hi! The latest missus in town,” I hail her.
“I’m fine. Never mind that opportunist, Ese. He tried to spoil my day but I put him in his place.” I lean back in my chair and sigh.
“I have told you to be careful with that guy. Do you want to lose your job?”
“I can’t give in to him, Chichi. One has to have limits. His friend is better than him. Ese is the type that will keep coming back for more. See how he leers at me like a fool. I can’t stand him. Besides, Stan and I have something good going.”
“You are right about Stan. He is a nice guy but you need your own income. Don’t plan to become a housewife please. I don’t want to hear sob stories.”
“That is not even possible. So, how is Moses? I hope he is a good husband?”
“He is doing alright, as expected. I still have a few weeks off so I am using the time to sell the stuff I bought from Dubai.”
“Business is moving! I am happy for you dear.”
“Thank you. Hopefully, Stan proposes soon so we can start planning your wedding.”
“Yes! I can’t wait!” I squeal.
Chichi laughs. “I’ll talk to you later.”
Annette was asked to mentor Preye, Didi and two young men at the next new converts class Didi attended. Stan had completed the classes in her absence. She had missed a few due to the preparations for Chichi’s wedding and was now trying to catch up. Preye had also missed a few because she was busy at work. They were having a break-out session in a seminar room in church.
“During the classes you missed, we learned about the Holy Spirit and the role he plays in our lives as believers. He is the one who delivers the anointing, the power essential to enable us live in the supernatural. Without him, we live like we are not born-again; doing whatever we feel like or what others are doing or what we have always done. The Holy Spirit is essential for a productive Christian life.”
Didi listened to her with rapt attention. She often wondered whether there was more to it all than just attending the Sunday morning services and praying for 2 minutes every morning. Would she ever be able to control her impulses? Would she ever do more than go to work, hang out with friends and watch TV? She wished she could change her life, change her behavior and become the kind of girl who had nothing to be ashamed of. Her past was terrible and even worse was that daily; she made decisions that did nothing to prove that her past was actually past. It felt like drowning in mire.
“Nedu asked that I take you all to the power plant. Didi, you are an engineer so you understand what power is to our lives. If you all don’t mind coming with me, the plant that supplies the church and its environs with electricity is a stone-throw away.”
The group rose and made it to the power plant where they were addressed by the technician in charge, Rob. He explained the capacity of each transformer and how much fuel was required to power it and how long it stayed on. They paid attention for the sake of it, not really understanding what it all had to do with being a Christian.
“Thank you for your time Rob. I have a final question. When this plant is turned off, is it possible to identify this building as a church?”
“It would be an empty shell of a place. The lights, air conditioning systems, microphones and other equipment that enable us to have a smooth service would go off. This place would be no different from the empty houses down the road that Bro. Jide the real estate guy is trying to sell off.”
She thanked him and ushered them back to the seminar room. When they were seated, she resumed her teaching.
“The Holy Spirit is like Rob, our prayers are the fuel, your spirit man is the plant and the electricity is the power you generate when you pray in other tongues. Praying in tongues delivered me from my addiction to cigarettes.”
At this, the eyes of all her listeners popped open.
“I had tried everything and gone for deliverance so many times but once I heard this message, I started praying in tongues once the craving hit. I have not smoked in 15 years. What’s more, I lost 50kg. I used to eat like a glutton. At one time I was weighing 120kg. That was after I lost my husband to my children’s nanny who was 10 years my junior. I turned for comfort to junk food. I started praying in the spirit each time I hit an emotional low and I found that I did not need to binge on burgers and soda. Praying in tongues is the way to bypass the intellect and plug into the frequency of the Holy Ghost.”
She was cut off by one of the young men who suddenly burst out praying loudly in a language the others could not understand.
“I see the Holy Spirit has taken over. Let’s bow our heads and welcome him. I am going to lay hands on you all and ask him to fill you. If you are not comfortable with being prayed for, just slip our quietly. The rest of you, bow your heads.”
Annette stood and began to pray. Did saw that the other brother had slipped out. She bowed her head and prayed following directions but did not feel any different. Soon, Preye was praying loudly as well. Didi began to cry so Annette took her aside.
“What is the matter?” she whispered.
“I know God is angry with me. It is because I am a sinner. I don’t deserve his mercy,” she wept.
“Once you give your life to Christ, all your sins are forgiven.”
“What of the ones I committed afterwards and keep committing?”
“If you confess them he will forgive you as well.”
“But I keep going back. Won’t he get tired of me?”
“You need the Holy Spirit to stay focused. The bible says one of the fruit of the spirit is faithfulness. Don’t deny yourself the helper you need.” Annette was rubbing her back as she spoke.
Didi looked up and nodded. “I want Him. Show me how.”
Annette motioned to the rest. They surrounded Didi and laid hands on her, praying loudly in their new languages. Didi was howling, kneeling down and bent over. They did not stop praying for her even when she emptied the contents of her stomach on that floor. Preye held her while the only brother present went for a mop bucket and wiped up the mess.
They raised a song of praise. Annette was singing in tongues. Suddenly, Didi heard herself speaking in a new language and marveled. The group thrilled. A spontaneous applause went up as they all collapsed on the floor, praying loudly with no concern for time, propriety or who heard them.
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