When I was still single, I had this patient who was middle-aged; a politician with a lot of cash to throw around. The reason he got my number(which I usually withheld) was that I referred him to an ENT specialist and he requested to be able to call me to speak to him if need be. Subsequently, he kept in touch, calling occasionally just to say hello and so on. The staff of course loved him cause he was a big tipper. Whenever his posh car with the government license plate rolled in, even those who should have closed for the day would hang on, hoping for a “blessing”.
One day, he called me in the afternoon.
“Good evening, sir”, I greeted. (Note he had a leadership position in church that came with a title).
“My doctor! How na?”
“I am eating **** in **** restaurant. Would you like to join me? Let me send my car for you.”
Now picture me, fantasizing about myself being chauffeured in that posh car with good air conditioning, insulated from the harsh Niger Delta sun, arriving said restaurant like a ‘queen’, being served all sorts of delicacies, where I proceed to eat myself to stupor. The smell of hospital antiseptic jars me back to my senses.
“No, thank you sir. I have had lunch.” (Aunty long-throat whispers in my head ‘Liar! You have not!” but I ignore her voice.)
“Are you sure? They have**** and ***. Have you tasted****?”
(By this time I am shaking my head like MFM prayer warriors muttering in tongues to bind the devil)
“No, thanks again. Have a good meal. I have to see a patient. (Another lie!). Bye now.”
He never asked again even though he called me for many other reasons through the years. A few years back, I was married and living in Lagos at this time, he called me out of the blues. I greeted him heartily.
“Doc, I don’t know how to tell you this. I need a favour.”
“Well…it’s just that…I wish you were in town I would have come to see you to ask for advice.”
I wonder why he is stuttering. What could be making him so nervous?
“Why not tell me what the problem is; I could be able to help even though I am far away.”
“Is it not all these small small girls? They don’t know how to do the right thing.”
“Small girl? Is your daughter ill?
“No, not my daughter. It’s one small friend I have…(Big shot actually sounds sheepish). She said she did not see her period.”
I am tempted to sound obtuse and ask him to go to her house, take permission from her mother and help her find it but “Not today Satan! Stay professional Dr. N!)
“How old is she?”
“Haba! That is too young. An older girl might have known to use protection. Why didn’t you use protection?”
I can feel him squirming over the phone…even MTN can feel it. His money, cars, connections cannot protect him from the wrath of an Igbo woman.
“I used condom. She said…I don’t even know what she said…”
“Are you sure she is pregnant? Have you done a test?”
“She showed me the pregnancy test she did. It was positive. Doc, how do we flush it out? Is there any friend you have who can do it for me?”
“You know I don’t do such things!” I scolded.
He winced. “I know but maybe your friends?”
“I don’t have friends who do abortions. You know it is illegal. Why not keep the baby?”
“Ha! You know my status. I am an *** in church and she is a small girl.”
I thought for a while. There were 2 possibilities.
- She was pretending to be pregnant to con him out of money
- She was actually pregnant and if I didn’t intervene he would take her to a quack and she would end up with a septic abortion or even worse die.
“Go to the hospital, call one of the doctors aside and tell him you need to ask him something privately. If he is willing to get involved, tell him your predicament and he will make sure it is done right. But first, he should do another test to confirm she is actually pregnant. If you insist on going ahead, ensure it is done under the strictest of sanitary conditions, and keep an eye on her afterwards to prevent any complications.”
“Okay, doc. Thank you.”
“Sir…you need to choose your girlfriends carefully. 19 years is too young!”
He mumbles something unintelligible.
“And you need to use protection. Carry a condom around. You will protect yourself from scandal and protect Madam from catching something. These girls are not loyal.” I was speaking fast because I knew he had had an earful and would soon end the call.
I never heard from him again.
Now the moral of the story… Esau was so hungry that he sold his birthright for Jacob’s pottage. If I had gone out with this man, even if I didn’t have sex with him, I would not have the temerity to call him out.
We are in this world as a light to expose the deeds of darkness. Make your standards evident once people meet you and they will leave you alone.
There are men who cannot call out their friends who are beating their wives just because they are indebted to them. Stop borrowing money you cannot repay to impress people who do not care about you.
There are ladies who paid people to write their exams, now they can’t raise their heads when people who know you were an arts student wonder how you ended up an Engineer.
Stop laughing at crude jokes in order to be politically correct. Even if you are not bold enough to speak against things, stand up and walk out. Psalm 1 talks about how blessed is the one who does not sit in the seat of scorners and mockers. You believe…who knows?
Making your stand known also protects you from undue pressure. I remember my husband telling me how a colleague at work was about to invite him to hang out with him in a club when another colleague interrupted and said “Leave him O! He doesn’t drink or hang out.” One day when the ribbing got too much, I told him to accept their invitation if he felt like it. He was such a bore at their outing cause while they were getting wasted he was worrying about the work he brought home and wishing he had his laptop. Suffice it to say they never invited him out again.
You have the power.
If you would like to chat send me an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on twitter @nenabekee
****** Hi, everyone. I apologize for the delay. Hope the extra-long post makes up for it. Cheers and do leave a comment.
Ekene was on a date with Fred. They were at the beach on a Saturday. He was wearing board shorts and a white T shirt. She was wearing white capri pants and a green print blouse. Her braids were flying loose in the wind.
“Sit down. Let me put your hair in a bun for you”, Fred offered.
“Do they teach hair styling in medical school too?”, she teased.
“I would have you know growing up among 3 sisters was enough to equip me to set up a hair salon”, he smiled.
“You have such a lovely laugh, Kene”, he held her gaze soberly.
She averted hers and started walking away. He put his hands on her shoulders from behind.
“Is that a No?”, he asked.
She nodded. He spun her around and hugged her.
“I don’t mean to frighten you. It’s been a lonely 8 years for me. I threw myself into work to bury the despair. Now that God has brought you to me, I forget that it’s only been 2 months. Please, don’t be put off”, he pleaded.
“Said the man hugging me so closely, I can barely breath”, she muttered.
He released her but held on to her hand. “I’m sorry”
“I am not angry. We have all the time in the world. You have to let me know you for who you are, without trying to confuse me with your touch”
“It’s too much, right? ”
“Okay. 1 more thing to pray about”, he sighed.
She patted his shoulder and laughed.
“Race you to the suya stand?”, she teased.
“Please, I don’t want to lose. Win or lose, I will end up being declared the loser”
“Never win a competition against a woman”
“Chauvinist!” she punched his arm.
He held her head in the crook of his arm till she pleaded for mercy. When he released her, she came up for air, laughing.
“What did we just discuss about touching? ”
“I haven’t prayed yet. When I get home and pray, then we wait for God to answer”, he joked.
She threw a punch and set off in a sprint. He ran after her, laughing hard.
Miriam was in Pastor Shedrack’s office. He was a middle aged man, with a spattering of grey hair that gave him a distinguished look. A natural introvert, he only came alive while preaching. In informal settings, he said little and listened attentively.
“Good morning, Pastor”, she greeted as she took her seat.
He was sipping from a cup of coffee. It was a rainy Monday morning.
“Hello, Miriam”, he smiled. “Glad you could make it. How’s work? ”
“So, how are you?”
“Very well, Sir”
“Coffee? Tea?”, he offered.
“Tea is fine”
He placed a call to his secretary and they made small talk while waiting for the tea. When it was brought in, she thanked him and accepted a cup. She was stirring it thoughtfully, wondering how to tell him her mind.
“Sir, I have a challenge in my relationship”, she began.
“I didn’t know you were in a relationship. Who’s the lucky brother?”
She was silent for a while.
“He is not a member of Gateway”, she said.
“Okay, so which church does he attend?”
“He is not really a church person but, he loves the lord” she explained.
“Is he born again?”
“He fears God”
“Even the devil does!”
“Sister Miriam! You have been in Gateway for how long?”
“You are an usher, so you are always in church, hearing the word. Weren’t you the assistant to the Co-ordinator of the Singles’ fellowship till last year?” he asked gently.
“Alright. Just tell me the story. Where did you meet him and how far have you gone?”
“Sir, we met at a mixer. I represented my bank at a cocktail for stakeholders in finance. He introduced himself and asked for my card. At first, it was just business but later, we fell in love”, she narrated.
“He promised to marry me. We spent all our spare time together. He is so caring, generous, and kind. I have never met any man like him”
“This year, he started asking me to set a date for our marriage. I hesitated because, I was unsure of how my parents would take it”
“He is Lebanese. They would worry about the differences in our culture and all that”
“But, I love him. I really love him”
“I don’t see what the problem is”
“Emmmm. I let down my guard because of how I felt about him. Now he says I should abort my baby”
“What! You are pregnant? “, he exclaimed in surprise.
She nodded. He twiddled his thumbs thoughtfully, choosing not to say any more. After 15 minutes, he spoke kindly but firmly.
“How long have you been born again?”
“Since my 3rd year in the university, Sir”
“You came out publicly to give your life to Christ?”
“Yes, Sir” “Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? ”
“When last did you pray in tongues?”
“Do you think it’s right to be physically intimate with a man you are not married to?”
“He promised to marry me. We were in love”
“Mary was engaged to Joseph, yet, they waited till Jesus was born”
He fixed his gaze on her, waiting for her defence.
“I am sorry, Sir. The temptation was too great for me…….”
“Who did you ask for help?”
She was silent.
“How old is this pregnancy?”
“So, it’s very safe to abort it? Why don’t you want to?”
“You must have considered it. Besides, why doesn’t he want the child?”
“I don’t know. He is just being selfish”
“Is he married?”
Miriam was silent, trapped. She had hoped to keep this last bit secret. If for nothing, to retain some of his respect. He noticed her biting her lower lip nervously and shook his head.
“Does his wife live in Nigeria?”
She shook her head.
“You are going to have the baby. Raise him alone and teach him the ways of the Lord. I will assign Sis. Monica of the counseling department to you. She will hold your hand through this journey” he decided.
Miriam nodded soberly, relieved.
“First, what the Lord requires of you is repentance. You are his temple and you have defiled his place of worship. Can you do that?” He stretched out his hand for hers.
She burst into tears, as she began to pray softly, asking for mercy. After some time, she calmed. He took out his bible.
“Jude verse 18 ‘In the last days, there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions’. Miriam, you were a scoffer. For whatever reason, you decided that you could serve God following your own rules. You either serve God or mammon. No one can be under 2 masters. In the course of our discussion, I noticed how hard your heart was. Though you tried to pretend, you were not sorry. As far as you are concerned, life has been unfair to you and it’s time you took the reins of your life in hand. True?”
She nodded, making no effort to wipe the tear that ran down her cheek.
“What did Jesus do to you?”
She burst into fresh tears. He let her cry for a while, then encouraged her to be open.
“Pastor, my heart has been broken by so many men. They keep promising me all sorts and leaving me. When I got to this age, they stopped coming. I feel so cheated. In the university, I was the toast of the school. That I am still unmarried, is very surprising to many”
“How is it God’s fault? ”
“Is He not supposed to take care of me, give me my heart’s desire?”
“Are you not supposed to do His will, whether convenient or not? ”
Miriam bit her lip, battling with her emotions. Pastor Shedrack let her think on those words. He could see that she would require extensive counseling. He made a mental note to follow her progress.
“I wonder how the other singles are coping”, he thought. “If this one who should be an example is even pregnant, what are others doing? ”
Ijeoma was at a retirement party for 1 of their staff. She had offered to leave the kids with Ndidi so Magnus could attend but, he declined. They were in a strange place in their relationship. Few words were exchanged that didn’t pertain to the kids or household requirements. It seemed as if no one wanted to say anything that would lead to disquiet.
She was wearing an emerald green dress that highlighted her best features. As she strode into the venue, she smiled at the thought of what Chike would say when he saw her. Quelling the guilt she felt for looking forward to seeing him, she lifted her head and flicked her hair away from her face. He was standing by the table, helping himself to the finger food. By his side was a pretty girl, almost as tall as him, clinging to his arm and laughing.
Ijeoma was seized by a paroxysm of jealousy. The main reason she had come, despite Magnus declining, was to enjoy Chike’s company. As much as it was borderline improper, she felt alive in his presence. He made her tingle with excitement when he rolled his lovely eyes at her as she walked away from their encounters at the car park. The names he called her excited her. His flirting did more for her ego than anything Magnus had ever or would ever be willing to do.
Was it wrong to want to be wanted?
Must she stiffle her feelings forever?
Didn’t she deserve to be pampered too?
Ijeoma turned away sadly, and joined some colleagues who were being served drinks.
“Hey, there! You look good”, one of them greeted.
“Thanks”, she smiled
“Mrs. Ozo, meet Deola. He is the celebrant’s son”, another made introductions.
“Good evening. Great to meet you” she shook hands. “I haven’t said hello to your dad. We all enjoyed working with him and will miss him”
“He’s around somewhere. Did he say Mrs?” Deola enquired
“Wow! You don’t in any way look it. What a lucky husband you’ve got there”
She thought to herself”Does he know it?” To Deola, she smiled and muttered something appropriate.
The rest of the evening, she chatted gaily with other guests, had some fruity cocktails, and food but, she was unhappy. Chike had not as much as said hello to her and she would not swallow her pride to break the ice. Who was the girl he came with, anyway? She clung to him like moss to stone, scarcely letting him out of her sight.
Ijeoma was irritated. When she could no longer pretend to be enjoying himself, she made her excuses and left. As she stood at the doorway, rumaging in her purse for her car keys, she heard his voice behind her.
“Ij, why are you leaving so early?”, Chike asked.
“Any business of yours?” she replied tersely, without turning.
He hugged her from behind, pulling her into the shadows.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Ijeoma was doing the laundry. Magnus was watching a football match while trying to mind the kids. It was a Saturday.
“Honey”, Ij called. “Could you pass me the laundry basket in Jonah’s room, please?”
“O, no, Ij! This is not the right time. 15 minutes more and I’m all yours” he moaned distractedly.
“It is never the right time. Since this premiership started, you have forgotten I exist”, she snapped.
He ignored her. Jonah was trying to act grown up, watching with him. Kevin was drawing on the wall. Ijeoma came out of the bathroom where she was washing, and into the living room.
“What!” she exclaimed. “Kevin! Look what you’ve done”
He had drawn pictures all over the wall. Impressed with his work, he smiled at his mom.
“Magnus, didn’t you see him?” she asked, arms akimbo.
“Mummy, can I have juice?” Jonah asked
“Nkita ta kwa gi ebe ahu!”, she cursed.
He burst into tears and Kevin went over to him to put his arms around him
“Magnus!”, she called again .
“Ijeoma, leave me alone. Just leave me alone”he replied without turning.
“Okay, absentee father. The snake will not fail to deliver a long offspring. You are following your father’s example who abandoned your mother with 3 kids and ran off with another woman” she accused.
“Jonah, please shut it. Daddy is watching a match, okay?”, Magnus spoke to his son with his eyes still on the screen.
Ij made a hissing noise and turned to exit the living room, when there was a power outage. A groan resounded throughout the neighbourhood. Obviously, everyone was watching the match.Magnus sprang up.
“If you are thinking of putting on the generator, there is no fuel in it” she mocked.
“What does that mean? I gave you money to buy some” he asked.
“Yes, but, kevin needed diapers, wipes, and cereal”
He picked his keys from the table and pulled a shirt that had been lying over a dining chair, over his head.
“Where are you going?”
“To watch it elsewhere”he replied
He left without a word, banging the door behind him. Ijeoma crumpled to the floor, bursting into tears. Kevin and Jonah came to hug her.
“Why are you crying, mummy? ” Jonah asked. “Is Daddy being naughty?”
“Naughty!, naughty!” echoed Kevin.
“Hush. Come to the kitchen and take juice”, she got up and wiped her tears.They whooped for joy and followed her. While they were busy with their drinks, she sat on the couch and sulked.
“Stingy man! I asked for N30000. He made sure he gave me only N10000 and still asked me to fuel the generator from there”, she made a hissing noise as she complained.
Power was restored suddenly, and the children shouted excitedly “Nepa!”
“Do you want to watch cartoons?” she asked
She turned on the set and changed the channel to a kiddie station.
“Come and watch football”, she muttered under her breath. “Onye ara!”
Chike was standing by Ijeoma’s desk at work. She came in and he smiled.
“Good morning, nwanyi di nma”, he greeted
“Good morning, Sir”, she put her bag on the desk and pulled out her chair.
“I came to invite you to a party this weekend”, he extended a card.
She took it, opening it before speaking “Whose birthday is it? I don’t know this person”
“My best friend’s wife. I want you to be my plus 1”
“What! Are you listening to yourself?”
“Onwe ihe di ya? (Anything wrong with that?”, he asked innocently.
“I doubt you are serious. Or are you inviting Magnus and I?”
“That fool doesn’t deserve you. Why would I invite him?”, he dismissed.
“Just leave. I had a rough weekend. Don’t let me take it out on you”
“Take it out on me, please. If that will make you feel better. Ij, I don’t like the way you look these days. You are losing weight. That man is not worthy of you and you know it”
Benita walked in and slapped some files onIjeoma’s desk .
“Good morning, Mr. Chike”, she sneered.
“Hi, Benita. How are you?” he smiled
“Fine. Mrs. Ijeoma, good morning”, her voice dripped with sarcasm.
Chike waited for her to return to her seat.
“Please think about my request. I really want you to go out, let down your hair, have a good time”
“I’ll think about it. Just go”, she muttered under her breath.
Chike took the hint and left.
“What’s the harm?” Ijeoma thought. “Can’t I go out for once with a man who finds me attractive? I can leave the children with Ndidi. But what do I tell Magnus?”
Ekene and Miriam were in Miriam’s car. Her driver was going to drop Ekene off as her car was undergoing repairs. They were coming from the Wednesday service at Gateway Church of Christ. Both Miriam and Regina were ushers while Ekene was in the decoration team.
“I met a guy on facebook”, Ekene began
“Really? Me, I’m not into the whole social media dating thing”
“It’s funny, he looks like Okenta. You remember Okenta who was in Chemistry department? The one who used to play the keyboard in school? That is why I accepted him as a friend”
“What’s his name? ”
“And how does Frederick sound like Okenta?”
“I thought it was his English name or something”
Miriam made a hissing noise and turned away
“What? ” asked Ekene
“These small boys on facebook, looking for who to con. He’ll soon start asking you for money”
“Skeptic! Won’t you even ask what he does for a living? ”
“Probably lies. How do you verify his details?”
“I’ll keep the gist for Regina, since you are not interested”
“Keep it for her. You should be asking me about my Lebanese bobo”
“And why would I?”
“He says he wants to marry me”
“I thought he has a wife and 3 children back home?”
“Eh….He’s going to divorce her”
“For your sake?”
“No, O! They were already having problems. Why do you think he fell for me? If their marriage was intact, would he be in my arms every night?”
“Miriam, you need to repent. How did you get to this point? You who used to be so…..”
“I mean….”, Ekene gestured with her hands worriedly
“Say that thing you want to say. Say it!”
“Sorry for yourself! Because I am open. Regina wey carry belle, nobody know till she comot am, nko?”
“That girl is coded sha!” Ekene shrugged.
“Aha!” Miriam threw up her hands.
“That does not change God’s word. We all will give account individually, of our actions”
“Eh, God understands. I make sure I confess my sins every night, in case rapture occurs. I don’t want to be left behind”
“What if Jesus returns while you are in bed with that man?”
“God forbid! It’s not my portion!”
“I am a giver and my seed will speak for me”
“Yeah, your seed will tell Jesus to return at your convenience” Ekene snorted.
“Don’t underestimate the power of giving”
“I am also a giver. That doesn’t mean I can live in disobedience. Even obedience is a seed”
“Holy sister! It is easy for you to say” Miriam mocked
“Why, exactly? ”
“Can we just change the topic already? Regina should have taken you home. I don’t know why I put up with you”
“Probably because we have been friends for too long for me to be afraid of you”
Miriam brought out her smart phone to signal her unwillingness to continue the conversation. Ekene shook her head and leaned back. Silently, she sent up a prayer for her friends that they would find the peace she had found in being single and faithful. Ekene was plump and dark. Her pretty round face gave her an endearing appearance. She was of average height and soft spoken but not in any way timid.
Though 1 year younger than Regina and Miriam, they had all been roommates for years in the university and attended the same fellowship. A friendship was forged that lasted after they graduated, though Regina and Miriam were closer to each other than to her. Ekene had lost several opportunities to be married because she would not compromise. One time, the man involved mocked her that she was no virgin and had no right to be unbending. She replied that she was a new creature and that Christ considered her a virgin.
Of the 3 friends, she was the one who was so unyielding. Miriam did whatever she had to do to get what she wanted. Regina would compromise if the right man came along but so far, he hadn’t. Sometimes, she felt like an outsider because, she took things so seriously.
“And why, Lord, have you not blessed me? They would take my counsel if you had given me my own man. Don’t you think I have waited long enough? ” she thought in the frigid silence as Miriam’s driver navigated the quiet streets that led to her house.
TO BE CONTINUED
Nkita takwa gi ebe ahu : Curse; May you be bitten by a dog.
Nepa : Public power supply company
Onye ara: mad man
Nwanyi di nma: Fine woman
Regina wey carry belle, nobody know till she comot am : How about Regina who hid her pregnancy from us till she aborted it
Coded : secretive.
In Nigeria, abortion is illegal except advised by a doctor in order to save the mother’s life. There are a few cases where due to some complications in pregnancy, it is necessary to terminate the pregnancy for the mother’s sake. Majority of abortions however, are procured for the mother’s convenience. I happen to be a pro-lifer. Not one of the crazies who burn abortion clinics but I will not offer anyone an abortion, or advise on it.
My first abortion was when I was fresh out of school, yet to complete my internship. I was working in a private hospital, quite green, still finding my voice. A lady came in and said she suspected she was pregnant. I sent her for a pregnancy test and it came back positive.
“Congratulations! ” I exclaimed in excitement. “Who do we call to share the good news? Is yourhusband in town”
She did not share my enthusiasm. Now I am more experienced, I rarely make such mistakes. More women are opting to have children on their own and asking about the father would be a rookie error
.”Im not married”she told me
. “What are you going to do?” I asked. I could tell she was in her mid-thirties. (She had given her age as 31 but my mother always says to add 5 years to any age a woman gives you. I don’t know why people lie to doctors).
“I don’t know. I think I want an abortion” she went on, holding her chin thoughtfully.
“Why?” I asked. “Is there no prospect of marriage? Don’t you know who the father is? ”
“What then, is the problem? Have you even told the father of the baby?”
She said she had told him she suspected she waspregnant and he told her he wasn’t ready for a child as his finances were shaky. He felt he could not foot the bills he would incur if he planned a wedding and had to welcome a baby shortly after
. “So do agree with him? What does he do? Does he have a job?”
She replied that he had a steady source of income and was quite mature
. “Do you love him? Is he someone you would love to marry?” I probed further.
“Yes, I love him. I really want to marry him”
“If his only excuse is monetary, I think he can be reasoned with” I concluded. I went on to advice her to tell him her family would not expect him to spend millions. Considering her age, and the fact that she was pregnant, they had more to lose if he didn’t marry her. They would have to take care of both the baby and her, besides answering the inevitable questions from nosy neighbours. It was also an opportunity for the man to get a wife without breaking the bank. I reminded her that many women her age were praying for this blessing and she was reducing her chances of having children in future by trying to procure an illegal abortion. She agreed with me. Thanking me, she left the hospital.
I think those who carry out abortions forget that we have more to gain by keeping those pregnancies. The income from ante-natal care, delivery, post-natal care, immunizations, infant care and so on, far outweighs the income from abortions. Few weeks later, she came back to see me. She had to remind me of who she was because she was so radiant that I did not remember her. Her boyfriend had not only seen reason with her, he went ahead to see her parents and carry out the traditional marriage rites. Not all my abortion stories ended this happily. I have lost several babies I spent hours trying toconvince their mothers to save.
Here’s to all my babies in heaven- ‘I love you ‘
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” Every embryo is a child whose purpose has been planned by God. There are so many options for you. You can raise that baby, or give her up for adoption. Consider this before you take a life that is not yours to take. Be blessed