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.
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.
Thanks for reading. kindly like share and retweet via my handle @nenabekee.
“Didi let’s go to the bible class together on Saturday. They keep bugging my phone and I just want to go so I can get them off my back.”
I stare into my phone aghast. The caller id is Stan; I remember we took this picture at the beach one month into our relationship. Yes, he responded to the altar call last Sunday while I was working off shore and I was excited that we are both “born again and heaven-bound” but I am surprised he wants to attend the class.
“Why?” I ask.
“I don’t think it will be any harm. Don’t you want to formally join the church and get your name into the register?”
“Is that what it takes?”
“I think so. Come on; it will be fun. Shall I pick you up at 4.30pm?”
“I have a bridal shower next Saturday,” I argue.
“Won’t it be in the morning?”
“Even if it is, I don’t want to go for the class. Go and then you can tell me all about it afterwards.”
“No way: It was you who first invited me to church. How can you abandon the soul you won?” he teases.
“Ha!” I scoff.
“I’ll buy you suya afterwards.”
Stan knows I am a fan of suya and he even introduced me to the hottest suya spot in town. I thought I knew Lagos until I went there with him and met highly influential people from all walks of life eating suya in the wooden shade. One of them was an ex of mine who is a colonel in the army. He barely acknowledged me when he saw me. I didn’t say anything to Stan; after all it is none of his business.
“Let me think about it,” I say finally.
“Great; I’ll pick you up then. Love you.” He ends the call after blowing me kisses.
That is a habit Stan has that irks me. He dismisses my need for space and to have control without even batting an eyelid. My wanting to think about his offer means acquiescence in his books. After years of going along with whatever Chichi says I have about had it. In every other respect he is wonderful. He is attentive, kind, romantic and generous. Despite my sufficient income, he has been sending me hundreds of thousands of naira monthly, buys me gifts randomly and sends messages every morning. He made my picture his display picture on social media and has introduced me to all his friends. My mother is already in love with him though they have never net because he has won her over by spoiling her with gifts. I know it would be ungrateful to complain but I just wish he would not go ahead with whatever he originally planned even after I have voiced dissent. After a while one begins to feel invisible, irrelevant…taken for granted and it was so from day 1.
Nedu was thinking of an innovative way to take the bible class for that Saturday. He was checking the websites of some of the churches he felt were leading in soul-winning hoping to scrounge an idea or two when it hit him that he hadn’t prayed about it. He dropped to his knees and began to pray placing his hands on his abdomen as he did whenever he wanted to hear from God.
“Dear Holy Spirit, you are my mentor and counselor. Give me innovation and inspiration. I want my classes to be dynamic and life-giving. Touch my mind and fill it with pictures from your word that grip the minds and hearts of my listeners and set them on fire in Jesus name.”
After a few minutes, he picked up his phone and began to play some worship music while still sitting still. It was a Thursday. He was on his desk in his office preparing the outline for the class he was to teach. Just then, he happened to look up and spotted a hawker walk past his shop with a tray of leafy vegetables on her head.
“That’s it! Thank you Father. I love the way you come through for me.”
Rubbing his hands in excitement, he began to plan the class. He decided to call his younger brother who owned a farm located 20 minutes away from the church to discuss his ideas with him and to solicit his help. After that he called his assistant follow-up director Kevin and told him what he wanted to do. They shared a laugh over the possible reactions to their approach but they were confident they were on the right track. When he ended the call, his sales assistant came in to ask for permission to take half the day off to run some personal errands.
“You owe me extra time, Bosco. I am not paying you to take off and do what you like during working hours,” he warned.
“Thank you sir. I appreciate it,” the young man said bowing.
He waved him away and pulled out his laptop. He had accounts that needed balancing and time was precious.
Stan and I got to church at 5.pm for the new converts class. He helps me get out of the car and smiles when I turn to check myself out in the car window closest to me.
“You look gorgeous honey.”
I make a face at him and he laughs.
“I’ll have you know I asked you out because I want beautiful kids. When you doubt how exquisite you are, I wonder whether I am mad or you are blind,” he teases.
“Flatterer!” I scoff though I am tickled.
He takes my hand and pulls me close for a hug before locking the car.
“Lead the way,” he says.
We make it to the room being used as a venue for the class just as it began. Kevin is standing at the front speaking.
“Good evening everyone and thanks for being punctual. Please introduce yourselves to one another and then pick up a name tag and put it on. My name is Kevin Odion and I am the assistant to Nedu who is our coordinator. Annette is the communications director for the unit. Thank you all for receiving her calls and keeping your promises to attend.”
There is a pause and then a buzz as conversation ensues as people get to know one another and also rise to find their name tags. In all there are about 30 people in attendance and more than half are female. I get my tag and adjust my jeans before sitting beside Stan wondering why I had been so nervous about attending. Chichi has been through the class but could not tell me what exactly it is about. Moses was no help either as he had done his in another church. I sneak a glance at Stan, sitting beside me, looking good enough to be eaten in his black T-shirt and blue jeans. Thank God he came along. My nerves are quite settled and I even feel serene.
I look around for Bro. Nedu but he is nowhere to be found. Maybe he had somewhere to be. He will find out that I made it and forgive me for being rather distant on phone for the 3 months he has made it a duty to call me once a week to invite me. As admirable as his persistence was, I had no reason to budge. Whatever they are teaching that did not change Moses, that did not screen out my friend Chichi and that accommodates the numerous members I see living a life more sinful than mine; is probably a waste of time.
Being here Stan makes it worthwhile as we have almost become inseparable. The only reason I have not moved into his house is that I feel he is a keeper and I don’t have the liberty of time. He has to propose in a few months or I will move on. When I was in my twenties, I could live with men because it didn’t matter if they married me or not. I hoped they would but if they didn’t, it wasn’t the end of the world. Now, I feel that I need to get married as soon as possible. My mom keeps reminding me that menopause is the destiny of every woman (as if I need reminding).
“Now that we have done the introductions, we have some news for you. The venue of the class is actually a secret location to which we will be conveyed by some buses parked outside. Please rise and make your way to the car park,” Kevin announces.
My stomach tightens in alarm. “Where are we going?” I whisper to Stan.
“It can’t be anywhere far. Maybe the room is too small and they rented an event centre.”
I relax, thinking he is probably right. He picks up my red bag and hands it to me. Stan is one of those men who is secure he could walk down the street carrying my bag but since we are in church I know he is being discreet. That is another thing I love about him. He is demonstrative but he knows when it would make me uncomfortable and holds back.
A few people are gathered around Kevin trying to get him to tell them where we are going but he just smiles and asks them to trust him. We file out making quiet conversation and soon arrive at the bus and take seats. The lady seated beside me smiles and taps her tag.
“My name is Preye. I love your top.”
“Thank you. I picked it up in Zurich when I went for a conference last year.”
“It’s lovely. Yellow is your colour.”
“Thanks. I’m Ndidi. Do call me Didi.” I extend my hand for a shake. Stan who is seated to my right also says hello and shakes her hand.
“Where do you think we are going?” I ask her.
“Maybe we are going to the pastor’s house. I heard he has a huge house not far from here,” she says.
Stan rolls his eyes, unseen by her. “That’s not likely.”
“He thinks we are going to an event centre,” I tell her.
“That sounds plausible but the church has a room that can seat 100 people apart from the one we were in and it is not in use.”
I am interrupted by the driver hooting his horn at the gate of a farm. A sign in front reads “Maduabuchi Farms”. The gates open and we drive in to park a short distance away. I clutch my bag wondering why we are at a farm as we descend from the bus.
Standing before us is Nedu. I am surprised to see him.
“What is going on here?”
If he heard the murmuring he doesn’t let on. He just stands there, legs apart, hands behind his back smiling in his overalls. I wonder why he is wearing overalls.
“Hi everyone. Welcome to the first class of the 4 we organize for new converts. Today we decided to switch it up by coming to a farm. Jesus often taught his disciples using the things in their environment to explain what he was saying. I realize this generation has a number of people who think chickens grow in the supermarket…”
Nedu is cut off by laughter. I find myself laughing as well.
“Let’s welcome Omoye. She will give us instructions and some protective gear to put on before we go in. Give her a round of applause.”
We clap as a petite lady fully kitted in overalls, boots and so on steps forward. She explains that the farm produces vegetables and poultry products. They also manufacture their own feed and have a hatchery for rabbits, a fish farm and a nursery for flowers. After her talk, we on put some of the gear and head for the poultry. Nedu begins to explain to us what it means to be born again.
“Man is a spirit. In our spirit lies our intuition, our conscience and our ability to connect with God. Do you ever sense things before they happen?” he asks.
I nod. Many times I have felt like I knew something was going to happen before it did.
“That is the part of you God is after. We are born sleeping giants because by virtue of events in the Garden of Eden our spirits are cut off from fellowshipping with God. Spirits speak and their words cause ripples in the physical. You may turn your bibles or flip your phones to Genesis chapter 1.”
There is laughter at his phone reference.
“When you open your mouth and say “Be my lord and savior Jesus”, you have set in motion a sequence of events in the spirit realm. You have signed the release form for your spirit from the control of Satan who operates the kingdom that is responsible for all the evil on earth. Your spirit becomes reconciled with God and you can establish the dominion of his kingdom on earth. His kingdom is responsible for everything right with this world.”
A man raises his hand.
“Yes?” Nedu says.
“Can one get born again without saying the prayer?”
“You must say it whether privately or publicly or in your heart or under your breath. As long you, satan and God heard it, you are born again.”
Nedu looks around for more questions before continuing. “Your soul houses your will which controls your decisions, your emotions which control your feelings and your mind which controls intellect and reasoning. When your spirit comes under the control of God you have to train your mind to think like him. Isaiah chapter 55 verse 8 says our thoughts are different from God’s. This class is to teach you how to cultivate God’s thoughts by studying his word. Now you see why we are in a farm. The final part of man is the body and it is controlled by the 5 senses.”
I look round and see that people are taking notes as we had been informed there would be a test at the end of all the classes. I had chosen to record his talk on my phone. Stan and I were separated by two of our classmates so we could not make eye contact. I shifted on my feet and focused on Nedu.
“What God wants from you is transformation. You will see in this poultry that the egg becomes a chick which grows into a chicken but no chicken ever turns into an egg. They may lay eggs but they do not decide to return to eggs or chicks. Please take a walk around and take pictures. I want anyone who sees a chicken becoming an egg to raise an alarm so we can also behold it.”
I join the class in laughing. There is no way any chicken is going to turn to an egg. Even Darwin’s theory of evolution has not been in manifestation for us to witness; how much more devolution. I hear a chuckle beside me and turn to see that it is Preye. She smiles at me and I smile back. It appears I have made a new friend.
Hi, Muses, I apologize for the delays. Getting this out took a while so I wrapped 2 episodes in 1. Hope you enjoy and share, like and retweet on my handle @nenabekee.
Shoot me an email if you have questions firstname.lastname@example.org
Nedu regretted ending the call abruptly but he was more disappointed that he had not discerned there was a battle over Didi’s soul. He began to think of the next step to take. Of all the new converts of that Sunday, she was the only one who blatantly showed no interest in learning more. Two would be unavoidably absent from the class but they apologized and promised to attend the next one. From Didi’s tone, Nedu knew she would never attend any class and as soon as she could do so without a twinge in her conscience, she would be back to whatever she had left behind when she stepped forward that day.
He decided to call his closest friends and prayer partners to share his prayer burden with them. They were a group of young men who held each other up in prayers, met once a month to share and held each other accountable. In the group were Bola, the music director, who was married with 2 kids; Veno who played keyboard and was engaged, Kevin the assistant follow-up director, Chuks the head of ushering who was Moses’ accountability partner and Moses.
It was a group call.
“Guys, are we up for it? Midnight as Veno suggested,” Bola said.
“Midnight is great. Are we doing a fast?” Moses asked.
“We do a 3-day fast from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and pray together at midnight, Kevin replied.
“Thanks guys; I really appreciate this,” Nedu said.
“No need to thank us. I remember when we prayed together about those 2 brothers in ushering who were giving me sleepless nights. Do you know they are now 2 of the most dedicated members? Last month 1 of them won ‘Best dressed usher’ and the other won ‘Most Punctual usher’. I am so glad we prayed,” Chuks said.
“I like your idea of internal awards. Bro. Bola, shouldn’t we copy this in the choir?” asked Veno.
“You just want Nedu to win all the awards, don’t you?” Bola replied.
Everyone laughed for Nedu was indeed very dedicated.
“He won’t win best-dressed though; no offence meant,” Moses chipped in.
“It’s not my fault we don’t wear suits to alaba market,” Nedu retorted.
“You can still wear a suit. In fact your customers may even prefer it.”
“What customers want is quality products, excellent service and discounts.”
“Amen somebody!” Bola hailed.
The group of friends laughed again.
“How are wedding plans coming up, Moses?” Veno asked.
“These things ain’t cheap, man! When next I see a newly-married man I will be sure to give him a handshake.”
“You know we will be there for you. When you set up your marriage-planning committee, let us know,” Kevin said.
“Of course I am counting on you all. Thanks guys.”
After a few more deliberations, Nedu ended the call. He spent a few more minutes praying for Moses; asking God to bless his marriage and bless his fiancé as well.
It was the week before Chichi’s traditional wedding. She and Moses had decided to terminate the pregnancy because he couldn’t bear the thought that his pastors and friends would find out that he was sleeping with her. He knew that Nedu would not betray him; besides he had nothing to gain from it. Their group had wrestled in prayer for Didi but she remained nonchalant. She showed up in church every Sunday, arm-in-arm with her boyfriend who Chichi told her she had practically moved in with. Nedu had done everything he could to get her to attend just one class but she would not. He called, sent messages, and even tried connecting her with two women in their 40s who were mature in their Christian walk; all to no avail.
Moses did not blame her. He had met Stan and found him to be an intelligent, generous and demonstrative man. It was obvious he was in love with Didi from the way he fixed his gaze on her whenever they were together, holding onto her hand and rubbing it and talking to her like she was the only one in the room. He had yet to meet any other man who did not seem attracted to Chichi and that was a huge tick in his books. As far as he was concerned, Didi was a lucky girl. Add to all that, the fact that Stan was very good-looking and had the kind of money he had been sowing seed for all his life.
“Father, when will my own turn come? I have been paying my tithe since I learned about tithing and I always sow towards all the projects in church. Don’t you think it is time to change my level too? I also want to share testimony. I want to spoil Chichi. I want to bless my parents. Remember me for good in Jesus name,” he prayed under his breath.
He was waiting at a café for Chichi who had gone to see a vendor to finalize plans for her bridal bouquet. She insisted all the flowers at the white wedding must be imported white roses. They would be flown in from South Africa the day before. He thanked God for all her savings over the years and the huge donation her boss at work gave them for the wedding. How else would they have pulled off such an expensive wedding?
“That is why it is good to be diligent at work.”
He felt a hand on his arm and snapped out of his thoughts. It belonged to a young lady he did not know. She was staring at him.
“Are you the guy who plays the guitar at Shepherd centre?” she asked.
He smiled at her, flattered. “Yes ma, I am.”
She squealed in excitement and clapped her hands, almost dropping the phone she was holding. “I loved your solo on Sunday. You play so magically!”
“Thank you ma. We thank God for his grace.”
“All my friends love you. Oh my gosh…we actually wanted to come over and say hello on Sunday but you seemed to vanish after the service. Fancy meeting you here?”
By this time she had taken a seat next to him and was snuggling up to him in a rather suggestive manner. Moses was uncomfortable particularly because the cropped top and skinny jeans she was wearing were leaving nothing to his imagination but he felt she was just being over-expressive and sat there wondering how to discharge her.
“Let’s take a picture. Better still, let me do a video for snapchat or my girls will call me a liar.”
She lifted her phone to the right angle and began to video the two of them while instructing him on how to pose and smile and so on. At the point that Chichi walked in, it actually looked like she was smooching Moses, though she was only putting her arms around him and resting her cheeks on his.
Chichi made it to the table before Moses could tear himself away and tapped her on her shoulder.
“Who are you? Nnunu (bird) what are you doing?” she asked.
“Excuse me!” that one tried to wave her away.
“I si gini (what did you say?)”
Before Moses could intervene Chichi pulled off the girl’s wig, threw it to the floor and pulled her off the chair. There was pandemonium. A few patrons of the café had surrounded them trying to pull Chichi off the girl but her grip was too strong. Meanwhile the poor girl was yelling like a banshee. Moses was behind Chichi begging her.
“Stop it Chibaby. I don’t know her. Nothing was going on!” he pleaded.
“Hapu m ka m ta this girl aru! ( let me bite her)”
“I’m begging you.” Moses had his hands around her waist trying to pull her away.
“Aunty leave her. She won’t do it again.” A patron lent his voice.
“Let them fight!” One prankster called from the back of the crowd.
The whole incident lasted about 10 minutes though to Moses it had lasted forever. He stood there mortified as Chichi finally released the girl and ordered her to run away and never look in his direction again. She picked her wig and bag from the floor and left in tears. The crowd began to disperse as the manager of the establishment stepped forward and asked them to leave. Chichi grabbed Moses’ hand and dragged him away.
“Who even wanted to taste your expired products?” She made a loud hissing sound as she stomped out.
Outside, Moses stood leaning with his back to his car arms crossed over his chest, tapping his foor furiously. Chichi went over to the passenger door and tried to open it. It was locked.
“Unlock the door,” she requested.
“If I don’t will you also fight me, Chichi? What was that all about?” he spat.
“Are you angry with me?”
“Shouldn’t I be? What were you thinking causing a scene like that?” Moses was pounding one fist into his open palm angrily.
“Please open the door. The heat is too much. I want to sit down.” Her tone was unperturbed, conversational.
He released a sigh and unlocked the car door for her. She thanked him and got in; putting her purchases in the backseat. He got in and started the car.
“Chichi, I am not happy with you. Your behavior was embarrassing and…”
She reached over, fixing her earnest eyes on him and took his hands in hers cutting off his words with her soft touch.
‘Gbahara m ezigbo di m (forgive me dear husband). You are right and I was wrong. It will not happen again. I just couldn’t stand the thought of another woman touching you,” she cooed.
“I can’t have that. You should have listened to me,” he insisted shaking his head.
“Let’s forget it happened, please.” She tugged at his earlobe gently leaning forward in a manner that caused his anger to evaporate like water left for too long in a boiling kettle.
“It’s okay. It’s just that I never saw this side of you. Are you sure you didn’t watch too much wrestling on T.V. as a child,” he joked.
She laughed before changing the topic as he put on his seatbelt and sped off. Later when she told Didi about the incident Didi pitied Moses who had been shielded from his fiance’s true nature. Unlike Didi, what Chichi did was not out of jealousy or anger. On the contrary she was just marking her territory. It was her way of manipulating him into staying faithful. It was probable that her heart rate did not increase by even a beat throughout the incident but the memory of the embarrassment would serve to restrain him from cheating and if he did, at least he would not be brazen about it.
Thanks for reading. Kindly leave a comment, like, share and retweet via @nenabekee on twitter.
Who is your favourite character so far?
What do you think about Moses’ decision to get rid of Chichi’s pregnancy?
Are bridal showers and weddings getting too flamboyant?
“Didi, I am pregnant,” Chichi said.
I almost fall out of my chair in shock. She is the most careful woman I know and her cycle is as predictable as the clock which is why she has had only 1 abortion that I know of. I remember her telling me that she and Moses had to be careful not only to avoid getting caught but also not to get pregnant. The church would not wed them if she was pregnant. They would have to do a “marriage blessing”; probably in some“ office in Shepherd centre without the normal fanfare of church weddings or wed in another church.
“How did it happen?” I ask.
“O buro Moses (Is it not Moses)? He claims he reacts to condoms and I told him it wasn’t my safe period but he said he would be careful. Lee nu ya (Look at the result),” she said folding her arms.
I was at hers because a tailor was to come there and take our measurements for the clothes for her wedding. She was running late.
“Ke ihe I ga-eme (What are you going to do?)”
“I don’t know. Moses says we can’t keep it. He can’t lose the job in church.”
“Will they fire him because you got pregnant?”
“You don’t know these people. They can be petty. Even if they don’t fire him, he won’t be seen in the same light ever again.”
“Well…I don’t know how that is a loss. Maybe they need to see him for the hypocrite he really is!”
“Didi!” she gasps.
“What did I say that is not true? He has everyone fooled that he is on a high spiritual plane or something yet, he is asking you to get rid of his baby.” I spit in disgust and cross my arms before the thought hits me. “Wait, is it his child?”
“How should I know?” she replies non-pulsed. “The child belongs to whoever I decide to keep it for.”
“O gini (What is it)?” She rises from her couch to pick the remote from the centre table and proceeds to flick through channels casually as if she just announced that it rains in Nigeria.
I gape at her, mouth open as she stands with one knee on the table and her left hand on her waist. She has crossed many lines in the past but now I feel like I can see into her soul and what I see is frightening. I feel like in place of her soul she has a yawning hole; deep and dark and menacing, filled with the souls of all the men she has been with. I shiver with repulsion.
“How did I ever admire her so much that I wanted to be like her?”
She takes her seat before speaking again. “Why is that tailor taking so long?”
“Chichi why did you continue sleeping with your boss when you knew you were engaged to Moses?”
“Who will pay for me to maintain my lifestyle? Is it Moses who can hardly fend for himself? I had to give him money to secure a venue for our traditional wedding. His rent just expired and his car is on its last legs. Why doesn’t he ask where I get all the money from?”
“He is afraid to ask…” I realize.
“Does such a man deserve…never mind.”
She picks up her phone, dials a number. I overhear her scolding the tailor for being so late and urging her to hurry.
I find myself wondering whether Stan would ask me to abort his baby if he found I was pregnant. Then I find myself wondering what Nedu thinks about abortion.
“Why am I thinking about Bro. Nedu?”
“That woman is testing my patience. I will change tailors if she doesn’t show up. The last time she kept me waiting like this it turned out she was lying and had never left her shop. Ndi mmadu di nno unreliable (people are just unreliable).”
“How far gone are you?”
“Is there any one apart from your boss?”
She nods. “There’s Chief Braithwaite and Felix.”
“But…but…Felix is married, newly married. I thought you guys broke up?”
“Is it my fault his wife doesn’t know her duty? He said she is frigid. All these “sisters” who don’t want you to test before marriage: She was hiding her issues. The guy came to me in tears. I had to put him out of his misery.”
She reaches for her glass and takes a gulp. With her it is never anything light. It’s go hard or go home. Even when she used to smoke she was smoking Cuban cigars. She gave them up last year when she felt she was losing control. I hug myself. There is a chill in the air.
Maybe it comes from us coldly discussing the future of a child who did not ask to be conceived by a mother who exists solely for the next thrill.
Maybe it is because of all the alcohol we have consumed.
Maybe it is about to rain.
I feel sad but I can’t explain why. Though I am the less adventurous of the two of us, I always defended her actions. Now I find myself wondering if there will ever be an end to the excuses.
“Where does it all end really?”
I realize I have spoken out my thoughts. “What will happen after the wedding when Moses finds out he has been fooled?”
“Like the good Christian that he is, he will accept his lot and make the best of it. Come to think of it, he is getting me.” She points at herself. “All this gorgeousness for one man?”
I laugh despite myself. She has a point; a woman as highly coveted as she is only comes at a price and Moses will pay it whether or not he realizes it.
My phone jars me out of my reverie at work the next day. It is Nedu. I realize I didn’t call him.
“Hi. Bro. Nedu good evening.”
“When did it become “Bro. Nedu?” he asks.
I almost blush and I wonder why. “Why am I so nervous around him? I feel like a bumbling fool, barely able to string two words together. Even pastors don’t make me this nervous.”
“I am sorry: Nedu. I should have called to tell you I will be unavoidably absent but if there is another class next Saturday, I will be there.”
“Will he let you come next Saturday?”
“I beg your pardon?” A cold feeling of dread descends slowly down my spine.
“I know you heard me. I had a dream last night and I saw you had a star on your head. Most people who are born to be stars find their destinies derailed early in life. It is never easy getting them to commit.”
“I don’t know who you think you are but…” My legendary temper has unleashed itself like a rottweiler that smells blood.
“Ndo Nne. Enjoy your weekend and come to class next week. I pray the angels of God protect you till you are ready to take the leap. Jesus loves you.”
“He ended the call! What is it that gives this man airs, biko nu?” I fume when he cuts off. “Who told me to attend that church and even come forward and write down my name? I should never have.”
If I had been tempted to cancel on Stan, the thought perished when he sent me flowers in the morning with a handwritten poem telling me how much he looked forward to our outing. By the time I got off the phone thanking him for the flowers, a package arrived for me. It contained the most decadent lingerie, my favourite perfume, chocolates and red wine. I had had great boyfriends but this one surpassed them all.
Which girl in her right mind would ever give up all that for a bible study class? Am I the first girl to get born again? I know a number of born again folk who live double lives; they have the right lingo, attend church regularly and go through the motions but when it is time to party, they take no prisoners. That is more my style. Not for me the life of the miserable minority who actually give up their former lives when they get born again.
“That just sounds so unnecessary.”
Stan and I are planning a romantic weekend together. Finally, I am going to give him a taste of what he has been missing all his life. He and I have been making out since we met but I held out on going all the way because I like him and I am hoping he is “the one”. If he is, I will have to make him work for it so that he will never be able to boast that I came on to him. Yes, I made the first move but that is because this is the 21st century and not bible-days.
Thinking of bible-days, the folk from Shepherd centre have been on my neck; calling and sending messages every day. One of them even works in a company on the same street as mine so she popped in on Wednesday to invite me to evening service. I declined because the whole thing was getting too much. I don’t want to start hearing voices or something; these fanatics can’t confuse me. The decision I made was to clear my conscience. At least if the world were to end suddenly I will be on the safe side. I never planned to change my lifestyle or habits or start going to church every day or let go of my toys.
“It’s never happening!” I say out loud, forgetting that I am at work and a few heads turn in my direction. I stare them down and they avert their gazes.
“People can never mind their business!” That thought did not refer to my colleagues alone but also to the members of Shepherd Centre.
When I close from work, I stop by a suya joint to buy suya. While the guy re-heats it, I notice my phone is ringing. I pick it without checking the Id because I am expecting a call from Stan.
“Good evening Ndidi,” I hear.
I realize it is not Stan but it would be childish to end the call without speaking though I suspect it is from Shepherd centre.
“Good evening,” I reply in my most disinterested voice.
“How was your day?”
“Invite me to church already so I can say no.” I am rolling my eyes so hard that if my eyes could speak they would ask me to stop.
“Sir, I had a good day. Could I call you back?”
“Do you intend to call me back or is this a way of getting rid of me? I told you I would be on your case. My name is Nedu by the way.”
“He laughs! He has the temerity to laugh? What nerve!”
“My full name is Chinedu. I have been called Nedu for as long as I remember. What do you prefer to be called?”
I ignore him hoping he will get the message.
“Ndi? Ndi? Are you there?”
No one has called me Ndi since I was a child. I recoil in horror at the name. “Didi…everyone calls me Didi,” I almost gasp out.
“I’m so sorry; Didi, forgive me. I have been praying so much for you that I feel like I know you already.”
“Praying for me?” I gulp.
“Yes, I always pray for the new believers by name.”
“New believers: Is that what it is called?”
“Yes. When you give your life to Christ, you become a child of God. You will find that God sends his spirit into your heart and the first sign of his presence is joy. Did you feel excited when you prayed this morning?”
“Pray? I was too busy dreaming about my weekend getaway.” But no one needs to know that. Aloud I say, “I did not pray. I don’t know how to pray.”
“That is why you need to attend this class on Saturday. You will learn about the new life that is yours in Christ and even learn how to pray. Sister Annette said you told her you would not be able to attend but I called to urge you to shelve all other plans and put Jesus first, please.”
There is a pause but it is not an awkward one. Something must be wrong somewhere. I find myself actually considering cancelling my plans with a 6 foot tall hunk of creamy goodness who earns in 6 figures and who has leased a boat to take us to a private island for a weekend to remember. How absurd!
“Let me think about it and let you know tomorrow.” I finally say.
“Is it okay if I call you, in case you don’t call me?”
“Yes, you may.”
“Thank you Didi. May the peace of God envelop you tonight and may angels thrill your sleep with pleasant dreams in Jesus name.”
“Amen. Thank you.”
Didi and Chichi were chatting with Moses when Nedu approached. He barely noticed Didi as Moses, beaming with smiles gave him a hug and introduced Chichi. She gave him her best smile (the one that said I know I am all that and you wish I was with you but it’s never going to happen). He shook her hand and smiled back for he couldn’t help himself. She was gorgeous.
“Father, remember me too. How did this bro who can barely muster the courage to ask a woman out win this stunner? Wonders shall never end!”
“Meet my best friend Didi,” Chichi was saying. “She is a project manager for Scholl Oil.”
“Hello. I hope you enjoyed the service,” he said to Didi as they shook hands.
“I did. You sing very well.”
“That’s right. You led the singing. I really enjoyed it,” Chichi added. She had the habit of cutting in when Didi was speaking but Didi was used to it. It made people assume she was quiet but it was just easier to give in to Chichi who hugged all the attention like a plant hugs the sun on a chilly day.
“Thank you. I won’t hold you up. It was nice meeting you,” he patted Moses on the shoulder. “Have a good one.”
I watched Nedu as he left, my eyes following his tall, dark and slim frame for as long as I could do so discreetly. He is handsome and his face is given to smiling. I can tell from the laugh lines around his mouth and his bright eyes. However, I know he will not be mine because he is already enamored with Chichi and no man I have ever dated has fallen for her. Besides, I can tell he will not be as easy to fool as Moses was. I heard him lead the worship and I can sense he is different from Moses; probably older and wiser.
“Let’s take my car,” Moses suggests. “Didi can drive yours.”
Of course Chichi agrees. I don’t feel upset because I would rather be the 3rd wheel than be all alone this Sunday. Tolu the boyfriend is out of town, I have no plans for the day and I want the opportunity to watch Chichi work her magic on Moses.
“I’ll drive on the condition that you play the guitar for us,” I say.
“Of course I will,” he agrees.
Chichi makes a face at me but I smile at her. I know she is worried that I have learned so much from her that I am becoming a threat; so I grin. She can’t get rid of me at this point because Moses will wonder why. He lifts his guitar case with his left hand and takes her hand in his right. We turn and head to the parking lot where she hands me her keys and struts off with him.
I drop my bag on the passenger seat and pull off my shoes after getting in. The car is a 6-year old Toyota Camry. My car is the Lexus SUV of last year. I have not bought myself a husband-hunting car because I want to see if Chichi’s approach will work. She assured me years ago that she knew exactly how to get any man to propose to her and that our lifestyle would not hinder her from getting a husband. It is not that she lacked offers for marriage but she wanted one in which she would be in control. Many men have promised her heaven and earth if she would marry them; young, old, married, widowed, divorced, engaged, all manner of men. And the majority of them were rich and influential.
“Nne, a cho gi m onye ga-aku m ihe biko (I don’t want a wife-beater please),” she would say.
My Igbo was not as fluent so I usually replied her in English.
“I won’t present a false image of myself just to get married,” I argued.
“Noro there (Keep waiting)! These men are all the same. They want an accomplished wife but when they marry her they want to turn her to an accomplished housekeeper. Ara gbachi kwa ha nti! (May madness strike them)”
“Not my own husband, please.”
“They cannot all be the same. My dad was a pretty decent man.”
“Yes, he was. Still, in old age, he moved out and remarried.”
“Well, you can’t blame him. My mother was the one who had an affair.”
“Do you know what she was enduring? If he was the one who cheated, wouldn’t she have been expected to forgive and forget? Gini ka I na-ako ihe a? (What do you mean?). I hate double standards.”
“I am not saying he was perfect. I am only pointing out that he was faithful throughout the time they lived together.”
“Hapu ihe a (Forget it). Men are scum!”
I thought about our argument while driving to the restaurant where we were having lunch. The Camry made a squeaking noise each time I tried to negotiate a bend and the steering wheel was stiffer than that of my car. Otherwise, the journey was smooth. I could see Moses pulling into the lot in his old Honda CRV. It was so old that I couldn’t even tell what year it was made and that was unusual for a car freak like me. One of my hobbies was guessing the year a car was made. This one was falling apart but it was a blessing as far as Chichi was concerned.
You see, the Honda was the reason they met. It had broken down in front of her office when Moses stopped to use the ATM on that street. He played the guitar professionally and was on his way to someone’s home to coach them. She spotted him from her Range Rover but parked inside and walked out to offer him assistance. Before he knew what he was in for, she had called him a mechanic, exchanged numbers with him and dug her well-manicured claws into his consciousness. The rest, as they say, was a piece of cake.
Nedu sensed disquiet as he left Moses and Chichi. Moses had already confided in him that he was planning to propose to her that month. He had told him that she was beautiful but when he met her he realized Moses’ vocabulary was seriously wanting. This was the kind of girl he suspected would be high maintenance and he wondered how Moses would cope with his earnings from playing the guitar. Also, Moses was unable to answer any question about Chichi’s spiritual heritage; he just went on and on about how caring she was and how understanding she was. Nedu smelled a rat.
The issue was that Moses had been turned down by at least 3 of the girls he had asked out in church. As far as Nedu was concerned, it wasn’t that he was a bad catch; he just went for the wrong girls. First, Moses tried to befriend the pastor’s daughter. At almost 40, they had an 18 year age gap. The girl was a graduate of an Ivy League school who had lived in the US for most of her life. She had a job in an architectural firm and was also running the church’s school for the less privileged. Who in his right senses would expect her to get excited about his offer?
He tried to introduce Moses to more level-headed sisters in church but no; he wanted very young, flighty and immature girls. Chichi was no spring chicken but Nedu had 2 sisters and he could tell that her handbag alone could replace Moses’ jalopy of a car. If she loved him genuinely, there was a chance of them being happy together but he just couldn’t put his finger on what he sensed.
As was his custom, Nedu sat in his car and prayed. He always put both hands on his upper abdomen when he needed to hear from God. It reminded him of the scripture “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”. That was his way of focusing; tuning out the distraction of church-goers filing out of the premises and all the thoughts besieging his mind in order to pray.
He prayed in his heavenly language, moving his lips slightly but keeping his eyes open so those passing would not know what he was doing. A few had already accused him of being ‘too spiritual’. He didn’t want to spook them any further. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be to his disadvantage the day he decided it was time to marry. Right now, he wasn’t in a relationship. He had only been in one since he got born again at the age of 18 and she broke up with him because her parents wanted her to marry someone from her own tribe. From that day, he resolved not to get into any other relationship except God revealed to him that that was the lady he would marry.
I was on my way home from Chichi’s house where I had parked when I saw him. He was tall, fair, drop- dead gorgeous and dressed to the nines. At the gate leading to Chichi’s estate, he sat in his very new Range rover, probably waiting for whoever he was visiting to sign him in. I hit reverse and pulled in beside him. It was time to pull out a card from the bag of tricks I had learned from Chichi.
I got down without turning off my engine to beat the security guard who was already approaching perhaps to let him in and walked over to him. Tapping on his window, I gave him my best smile. It’s not as good as Chichi’s but it’ll have to do. He winds down and looks askance at me. I lean forward, not too provocatively so as not to put him off but just enough to convey my message.
“Today is your lucky day. It’s ‘give-your-number-to-a-stranger’ day,” I say.
He smiles at me. Of course he can’t help himself and I know it. I stretch out my hand for his phone. He puts it in my hand. I type in my number and dial it.
“What’s the name?” he asks as he collects his phone.
“You’ll find out when you call,” I reply and turn to walk back to my car.
I can feel his eyes following me so I make sure that my walk will remain in his memory for a long time.
I have been learning about emotional intelligence for some months now. At an event recently, I saw 1st hand just how important it is in our daily lives. Emotional intelligence has many definitions but one of my favorites is this “It is the ability to recognize and manage emotions in yourself and others”. There is a gift called empathy. When you step into the shoes others or try to see things through their eyes, you not only win them over, they will even defend you.
I was invited to give a health talk to a group of professionals as a panelist along with 3 other health care professionals. Before we were called up, a lady spoke on etiquette. I missed the beginning of her speech but I just got funny vibes from her. She probably did not mean to but she came across as combative and judgmental rather than engaging. I put it down to her personality type but what happened next was shocking. Questions were requested from the audience and a lady came forward and took the microphone to speak.
“Please Ma, you said that we do our jobs ‘anyhow’ because we know that we will be paid whether or not we come to work. That is not true because some of us love our jobs and do it with all our hearts,” she said.
The lady who was giving the speech looked shocked. I could not believe my ears as well but there was more to come. The MC asked politely, “What is your question?”
“Ma, you mentioned magic words. Could you use your magic word and say ‘I’m sorry’ to us?”
By this time my mouth was hanging open. A couple of audience members were shouting that the speaker had not generalized but said “some people do their jobs anyhow” while others were demanding the apology. It was brutal. The speaker explained that her statement was misquoted but went ahead to apologize (which I praise her for). The audience then applauded.
This lady had given a well-researched and delivered speech but a lack of empathy ruined it for her at the end. I bet so many will remember her for the gaff rather than the pearls of wisdom she dropped earlier.
Let me narrate a 2nd story. A number of friends of mine were complaining about their husbands’ lack of attentiveness to them. They felt their husbands were not spending as much time as they would have liked listening to them or talking with them. Rather they brought work home or watched TV. I decided to get my husband’s perspective. He said my friends were right about needing attention but were going about it the wrong way. In his opinion their husbands were under pressure trying to meet up with societal and family obligations and the more my friends demanded attention the more they alienated their men. He said their husbands would feel they were under attack and also lash out. If they attempted to be supportive, their partners would see them as confidantes i.e. part of the solution not part of the problem. This ensures that you have a partner who rushes home to tell you all about his/her day because you will listen first and empathize.
Even with friends of the same sex, no one likes a griper. I am sorry to say there are people whose calls I avoid because 15 minutes with them will rob me of my peace of mind.
Today, give someone the benefit of the doubt, a long rope, a break, name it
See through the eyes of others.
Be the 1st to forgive.
Listen without making assumptions.
I have learned that only God promised to always be there for you even until the end of time. Others can be busy or unavailable. Next time you can’t find anyone to unburden yourself to, look up and say “Hi, Jesus! Are you up for a chat?”
And do write me to share what He tells you.