Omono was dreading her mother’s phone call. It was Christmas day and she had promised to travel to Benin the day before to spend Christmas day with her. Unfortunately, her boss discovered errors in the presentation she sent in at the last moment. No thanks to her mom who kept distracting her with calls all day. She had to stay back to do it over. It was 10pm before she got home.
She woke up that morning and decided to stay in bed and turn off her phone. After her break up with Anthony, who dumped her on Christmas eve 2 years ago, she had come to dread Christmas. He was headed home to his village when called her to say it was over.
“Why? How?”, she had asked.
“You know why? I have to be honest with you. This relationship is not working”, he replied.
She could hear the cars honking around him. He was driving his Ford explorer. That car they had believed God for, together. Now that the job and car had come, she was suddenly not good enough. He now realized she was from a different tribe. The most painful, was his demand that she should conceive before he proposed to her.
“My mother will not accept anyone who is not pregnant”, he said over and over.
“Why? Is it like a culture or something? Cause I know several people from your village who tell me they didn’t have to do that”
“You are not yet ready. When you hear the tick tock of your biological clock, you will do as I say”
Omono rubbed her forehead in thought. It was a habit she didn’t even know she had. Her phone was off but she was sure her mother was trying to call her. The only one who could get her to back off, her dad, had passed on a year ago. She was the last of 3 daughters. Her elder sisters were unhappily married to men their mother had convinced them to marry.
Henrietta married a textile importer who was the son of their mother’s best friend. When a ban on importation of textiles crippled his business, their mother advised her to walk out on him. She did not but was so unwise as to tell him in a moment of anger. He never forgave her and their marriage became a union of two strangers.
Stella married a man 15 years her senior whose redeeming quality was that he gave their mother money to fund her business when funds were low. Now he was obese and diabetic. She was tired of nusing him through his frequent breakdowns. Their home was a smouldering volcano about to erupt. Omono’s father toughened up when she got of age and stood up to his wife. He forbade her from trying to influence her choice of a partner. She still tried to matchmake her with all sorts of men. However, she did not press her.
Anthony was her 3rd relationship. Ochuko had broken up with her after 3 months because he heard girls from her tribe were “loose”. It was surprising that he was the one always demanding sex and she was the one who kept refusing. Metu was the one she caught in bed with his so called cousin. A girl she had wondered why he was so close to but was fooled into believing they were related. Anthony was the one she thought she would marry. Never did it cross her mind that she would be back in the marriage market, after they had dated for 3 years.
She was 31. Her mother was on her case. She needed a breather. Turning to look at the clock, she found it was just 7am. She could still make the 9am service if she tried. As a member of the prayer department, she had to be in church 30 minutes early to pray with others. However, they were not meeting that day as it was Christmas.
Omono rose and knelt by her bed. Turning on her tablet, she let the music from worship songs fill the room. Soon, she was humming along. It was 15 minutes before she felt light enough to pray but she poured out her heart.
“Father, I have cried, blamed, regretted, accused, hated, railed, vented, and more but today, I bring thanks. I am grateful that you have kept me for a worthy son of yours. Take your time to choose my partner for I will wait despite the clamour. I receive the grace to silence the panic. Lord, whoever you assign me to love and submit to, I will make sure he returns to thank you for giving me to him. You know how we do it”, she smiled as she prayed.
“Take your time. I’m in a hurry but that should not move you. Just keep mom off my case. I love you.”
With that, she rose and took a shower. As she did her make up, she admired her frame in the mirror. She was rather short, dark and slender. Her round face was pleasant with a button shaped nose and brown eyes. Her best feature, was her thick long hair which people had to feel before they believed it was all hers. That always made her smile.
Usually, she wore something simple to church and minimal make up, modest earrings and low heeled shoes. For some reason, she felt like celebrating. She fished out the red jump suit a colleague gave her for her last birthday, and donned red lipstick. Mounting her high heeled red shoes, she chose a nude clutch and tried the fragrance her mother gave her during her last visit. It was stronger than she preferred but she had no choice, as hers was finished.
With one last glance at the mirror, she blew herself a kiss and whizzed off to her car. It was a toyota corolla that looked better than it actually felt. After several months at the mechanic, it had been released just in time for Christmas. She couldn’t be happier.
On the last turn she had to make to drive into her church, she narrowly spied a car making the same turn at top speed and braked sharply. She heard a crunching sound and stopped to investigate. The driver of the other car was a young lady of about 18 years. She was already apologizing profusely but Omono was busy inspecting the damage to her car.
“Aunty, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you”
“It seems you are learning to drive?”
“Well, you need to be more careful. Next time, slow down when making a turn”, she warned her solemnly.
“Good morning”, a male voice greeted. Omono turned to see the owner of the voice. She frowned. “I know. I should have been in the car with her but I chose to drive behind her as she has gained confidence over the past few months”, he explained.
“Uncle Alex, I’m sorry”, Ginika whined.
“Alex”, Omono repeated. “Alexander Kalu. I am an architect. Do I give you my card so we can handle the repair of your car?”, he asked.
“Not to worry”, she backed away. “The scratch is minor. Nothing I can’t manage”
“Ginika, give us a minute, will you?”
“Okay”, Ginika turned to leave.
Alex stuck out his hand. “You know my name. May I know yours? ”
“I’m Omono”, She shook his warm firm hand
“You also know what I do…..”
“What a subtle way of getting information! “, she teased.
“Not so subtle, if you caught on”, he winked.
“I am an engineer with a small firm on the Island”
“Despise not the days of little beginnings”, he quoted.
“I see you know your bible. Let me be on my way”
“Are you going to Bible Believers Mission?”
“That’s where I am going. I returned from South Africa a year ago, to set up my own firm. Ginika’s mother is my sister. I live with them. Shall I drive behind you?”
“Is it your 1st time?” she asked.
She shrugged.”You don’t need to drive behind me”.
Alex put his hand over his heart. “Let me confess. Jesus said, “A man found a pearl of great price in a field. What did he do? He buried it and went to sell all he had to buy the field”
Omono cleared her throat noisily.
Alex smiled.”I don’t want any sharp brother to sit beside you in church and then by the time I see you again, you would be promised to him” , he went on.
She doubled over with laughter.
“Nna meen! I was born and raised in Naija O! Don’t let the accent fool you. I only spent a few years in London for my schooling”, he teased.
“You’re so funny. Please, let’s go. We are running late”
Omono was sure the message was awesome but she didn’t hear a word. Alex got Ginika’s mom to drive behind her on her way home after the service. During the service, he had sat by Omono. Now they were off to have lunch. The church was hosting a picnic on it’s grounds for young singles. A violinist was providing music. Food vendors abounded. Colourful mats were strewn on the floor for people to sit and make conversation.Alex led her to a mat and helped her sit.
“Have I told you how lovely you look?”, he asked. “I mean I’ve always loved a lady in red but, that jump suit is beyond lovely”
“Thank you”, she smiled.
“No, thank you”
“For?”,she raised an eyebrow.
“I was impressed by your kindness to Ginika. Someone else would have torn her to pieces before I arrived. You are so patient”, he stated.
“No, that is who you are. You can’t fake character”, he insisted.
“If you say so” she teased .
“I say so…” , he laughed and slapped his knee .
She laughed with him. They spent 3 hours at the picnic. Afterwards,they took a walk down the road to a spot where the atlantic lapped at the edges of the road. No one wanted the day to end.Alex was enamoured with her features. He had always loved petite women, despite being 5ft8. She struck him as a kind, patient, bubbly lady. Her intelligence and candour were endearing. The more she spoke, the more he thanked his God that Ginika had hit her car. Talk about all things working together for his good.
Omono was impressed with his looks,his wit, his passion for God, his work ethic, his life goals, and family values. He shared how he was living with his sister to cut costs while he built his company. Already, he was trying to rent a house and move out. At 8pm, she took her leave. He made her promise to meet him at a concert being hosted by a popular church in town, the next day. She brought out her phone to take his number and realized it had been off all day. Her mother would have torn out her hair with worry.
“Merry Christmas! “, he called.
“Merry Christmas”, she waved and got into her car.
As she watched him drive off, she dialled her mom’s number. “Hello mom. Merry Christmas! “, she smiled.
“Why was your phone off? I’m sure you were hiding at home as usual, like an ostrich. How will you ever meet your own husband? Now, you are telling me merry……”, Her mother was ranting loudly.
“I met a guy, mom. A very nice man. He could be the one” She interrupted her.
“Did you invite him home? Did you cook for him? Where is he? Let me speak to him? ”
“I have to head home. We’ll talk later. Love you” she blew a kiss and ended the call.
Merry Christmas my muses! Thank God for His indescribable gift, Jesus. Love u all.