“Hi Zina, Esosa on the line.”
“I called yesterday but you must have been quite busy.”
“Yeah…It was a hectic day. I should have called back. Forgive me.”
“Forgiven. How are you?”
“Fine and you?”
“Fine…now that I have heard your voice.”
There was a pause during which Zina fidgeted with her phone, wondering what he really wanted.
“Is it okay if we meet in person one of these days?”
“Um…I don’t know. Why?”
“I would like to speak with you face to face. Phone conversations are not really my thing.”
“I am pretty busy at the moment so you may have to tolerate phone conversations for a while.”
She could sense his hesitation but she did not try to give him a soft landing.
“Okay, then. I’ll call tomorrow. How does 7pm sound?”
“I’ll be in church for the mid-week service.”
“O, that’s true. I don’t usually attend because I close from work quite late.”
“Yes. I manage a hotel.”
“Which hotel is that?”
“Thank you. I hope you’ll let me host you one of these days. Our Italian chef is the best in Nigeria.”
“I have heard of him. My boss swears by his zucchini.”
“Are you a fan of Italian food as well?”
“I eat what I am offered.”
“That’s nice. An accomplished woman with no airs…I like.”
“And you have a great laugh,” he added.
She sobered because his statement reminded her of someone. Guilt tugged at her conscience but she smothered it. After all, she had made no promises and she had not done anything but answer a phone call.
“I have to run an errand but thanks for calling,” she said.
“Thanks for brightening my day. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
Ovie was posting excerpts of PA’s latest message on his blog when he got a call from Ama. They had discussed her revealing to PA that she knew of his relationship with Zina and decided against it. Yet, two weeks had passed and he had not said a word to her. She desperately wanted to be involved in the whole thing; setting up dates, planning a proposal, choosing a ring, the works. Why he was keeping her out of the loop, was a question she could not answer.
“Ovisco, what’s up?”
“I am fine. Is it time for the staff meeting?”
“No, not yet. I had something else in mind.”
Ama could visualize him leaning back in his swivel chair, holding the phone to his left ear with one hand while strumming on the table with the other.
“I keep wondering why PA hasn’t told me about his new babe,” she began.
“New babe?” He chuckled. “Does he have any old one?”
She frowned. “I am being serious. I am the first person he told of his desire to get married. Why is he now being secretive?”
“I don’t think he is being secretive. He tells me whenever he is going out with her. I think they have gone out twice. And they mostly chat on bbm or call each other. You know his schedule.”
“I just feel he is associating me with Toyosi or something. Maybe he feels I will not approve of this girl.”
“That is possible but I doubt it. He is PA. He has a mind of his own.”
“Maybe he expects me to ask him. He can’t think I won’t notice the changes in him?”
“Has he changed?”
“Of course! He spends more time on his phone these days. I have caught him several times, smiling at the phone while typing chats.”
Ovie laughed. “You sound like an old woman.”
“I just don’t like being left out.”
“You know what? Walk in on him during a call that sounds like he is talking to the girl and use it as an excuse to ask him outright. Take your cue from his response,” Ovie suggested.
“Good idea. You have a mind that churns out mischief,” she said, smiling.
“Yeah, thank you for the compliment…”
“I have to do some work. Let me know how it goes if you ask him today, okay?”
Zina was on the phone with her mother who lived in Port Harcourt. She was reclining on the couch in her living room, flicking idly through channels while they spoke.
“What of the money I sent last week?” she asked.
“I used it to pay Boma’s rent.”
“Should I be the one paying his rent? He is 10 years my senior. If he won’t find something to do, he should move back in with you,” Zina snapped.
“Don’t shout at me. He is my 1st son. You don’t expect me to sit and watch him get thrown out of his home, do you?”
“Use your pension to help him. Don’t use deceit to get money from me, Mama.”
“Ma, that is not why I called. I am between a rock and a hard place.”
“That pastor I told you about; he is very serious O! I am afraid to continue with him. I don’t know if I should give that Esosa a chance.”
“How rich is the Esosa?”
“Ma! Who is talking about money?”
“Sorry…what does he do for a living?”
“He manages a hotel.”
“Hotel? Shei he no go like woman so? Hian!”
“Well…he sounds alright.”
“How is he better than the pastor?”
“He is a widower with 2 daughters who are 10 and 12. You know my situation. Don’t you think he will be more open-minded than a pastor?”
“The pastor na virgin?”
“Wetin?” Her mother let out a hearty chuckle. “You know say na me disvirgin your papa. E no mean. Dem dey quick learn.”
“Didn’t you say it was Boma’s father you disvirgined?”
Zina shook her head and let out a hiss.
“Just follow the two of them. The one who is more serious will win.”
“The 1st one is a pastor. I cannot do that to him.”
“But you deserve to be happy. You are a good girl. Is it because of one mistake that you will refuse to date a pastor?”
“Hmm…Mama…I am afraid. Remember Obas? He knew the truth from day one and he treated me like trash. This one I decided to wait before telling men wetin dey; I hope it won’t backfire.”
Her mother thought long and hard.
“Are you still there?” Zina asked.
“You have to find a way to tell him. If he chickens out, you face the hotel guy.”
“Na so na. Abeg, send me like 15k. Body don dry like crayfish.”
“Mama, I will send you 10k. And it must not finish till they pay my salary.”
“Fine girl. Better pikin.”
Zina laughed as she ended the call. She knew she was being taken advantage of but she could not help but admire her mother’s negotiation skills. The same skills had enabled her survive marriage to 3 different men in her lifetime, securing a job in the civil service with meager qualifications and convincing the schools she and her siblings attended in childhood to let her pay in installments. Even though she had grown up with the resolve to forge a better life for herself than her mother had provided, she could not help but acknowledge her strength of will.
It was a month before PA discussed his relationship with Zina with Ama. This was partly because he spent about 2 weeks away from the office due to preaching engagements outside the state. She was in his office to tell him about a proposal from one of their members to throw him a 40th birthday party. He usually celebrated quietly and discouraged staff from soliciting funds from members for him but this time around she hadn’t done the soliciting. The woman had suggested it herself.
“She said she promised God that if he answered her prayer to win a particular contract she applied for, she would throw you a party,” Ama was saying.
“I really wanted something private. Besides, now that I have a girlfriend, she might be planning a surprise or something,” he said shyly.
“PA! You have a girlfriend!” Ama exclaimed, pretending to be surprised.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. It just slipped my mind.”
“Who is she? I want pictures, the full gist.” Ama leaned forward in the chair she had been sitting in.
PA flicked to Zina’s picture in her phone and handed it to her.
“Her name is Zinabari. She started attending church a few months ago. She heads an IT firm, Dataconsult.”
Ama gazed at the pictures silently. She had seen them before but wasn’t letting on.
“She’s really pretty, PA.”
“How did you meet her?”
“She came to the house to install software for Ovie. That was how we met.”
“Nice. She looks nice.”
They both lapsed into silence till Ama spoke again.
“Do I tell Sis. Chi you said she should find some other way to sow her seed?” She returned his phone as she spoke.
He thought for a while. “Let me handle it myself. I’ll call her and talk to her so she doesn’t think I am ungrateful.”
“Good idea.” She rose to leave. “PA, this Zina, is she the one?”
“I believe so. Do you see me in the dating pool, going after one girl after the other for the next two years?” He raised a brow.
She chuckled at the thought of him philandering. “No.”
He inclined his head without saying more. She took that as her cue and made her exit.
Toyosi, Moji and Idara were in a restaurant having dinner. Moji had taken them out to celebrate the fact that their magazine had been given an award as the best in women’s fashion magazines. They had popped champagne at work for all the staff but Idara and Toyosi had needled her into buying them dinner.
“I know Bola will cry out her eyes. There is nothing she didn’t do to win,” Moji said.
“She and her crappy magazine; I wonder why people buy it,” Toyosi sneered.
“That girl is a learner. She betrayed me and left with people I had trained. Karma is after her,” Moji spat.
“Karma doesn’t even need to go after her. She had not learned the ropes and it shows in the poor quality of their publications,” Idara said. “There is nothing she has not done to poach me. She has offered me even double my salary.”
“Thief!” Moji muttered.
“Not everyone is disloyal like her,” Toyosi said.
“So, I met someone, girls,” Idara said suddenly.
Her friends cheered in delight.
“You don’t say?”
Idara waved a hand to silence him. “We are taking it slow. You know my divorce is not yet final.”
“Spill; who is he?” Moji asked.
“He is a director. In fact he directed this girl’s music video, Vixen.”
“Wait, wait; Is it Dotun?” Moji asked.
Idara rolled her eyes. “Yep.”
Both Toyosi and Moji gave her hi-fives.
“Not bad, girl!” Toyosi said. “We are still single to stupor. Please, if he has single friends, hook us up.”
“Have you given up on the pastor?” Moji asked.
“It is not today I dumped the guy O. Bad market!” She laughed.
“What happened?” Idara asked.
She launched into a tale of the circumstances that led to her deciding to count her losses and move on. They both nodded in understanding. As the night wore on, the discussion shifted from Toyosi to Moji’s plans for a men’s magazine as an equivalent of the one they currently published. Toyosi was all for it while Idara did not like the idea so they spent some time in animated banter. It was 10pm before they rose and headed for the parking lot.
“Is that not that your pastor?” Moji asked, pointing at a couple walking towards a car parked quite a distance from them.
Toyosi squinted. “I can’t tell.”
“He is the one. Who is the girl with him? The way he is holding her hand; they must have just had dinner,” Moji said.
Toyosi frowned. “He can do what he likes. Let’s go.” She began to unlock her car door.
Moji blew them air kisses and left to board her own car. Idara got into the passenger’s seat of Toyosi’s car and closed the door, silent.
“What is it?” Toyosi said as she started the car.
“I know that girl,” she replied.
“The girl with the pastor.”
Toyosi let out a hiss and turned her wheel to drive out of the lot without replying.
“I wonder if he knows her story,” Idara muttered.
“What could be that bad? Everyone has a past.”
“Unless he is not planning to marry her; I have heard he doesn’t flirt, so I wonder…”
Toyosi rolled her eyes. “She was a runs girl? She stole in the university? She has AIDS?”
“I knew that girl in Port Harcourt.”
“I doubt the pastor knows she has a son.”
“She has a son who must be more than 10 years old.”
“That is not all. No one knows the boy’s father. Rumor has it that she had him for one Philipino who used to work in Nigeria as an expatriate,” Idara elaborated.
Toyosi took her hands off the wheel and clapped in disbelief. “Unbelievable! The boy is mixed race?”
“I saw him a few times in PH. He lives with her mother. They used to be neighbours to my boyfriend at the time.”
“Hei! PA has entered one chance. Maybe she wants to hide the boy till he marries her, thinking she is a virgin,” Toyosi exclaimed.
“Na the way na. Sharp guy no be thief.”
Toyosi shook her head in disgust. “He didn’t even give me a chance. See? Is that girl mummy-pastor- material?”
The next day, Bisi, Stella, and Uche discussed the matter at hand.
“Do you mean that he denied sleeping with that girl?”, Bisi wondered.
“Yes, he did”
“Hmm, I’m surprised”
“Me too”, Stella added.
“Is it not possible? ”
“You need to see the yellow paw paw, boobs everywhere, face like a mermaid!”, Bisi described.
“Bisi!”, Uche exclaimed.
“kilode? (What is it?)”
Stella added thoughtfully,” It will be nearly impossible to find out the truth. That kind of girl will never admit to not getting a man she wants. The other day, she was boasting that he planned to buy her a car
“What!”, Uche screamed.
“I think you need to give him the benefit of the doubt. Let him break up with her”, Stella advised
“If he does, you can take him back”, Bisi advised.
Uche nodded as she turned to pick the book she had dropped when they came in. She had much to think about.
For 2 weeks, August called and sent messages asking for forgiveness. Though she was no longer angry with him, she felt she should give him time and space. Bisi confirmed that Veronica had taken down his picture and no longer seemed excited to talk about him. She didn’t know if there was a break up, as she did not categorically say so. Asking her, would make her suspicious.
After she had spent time in prayers, Uche decided to consult her Pastor’s wife. She was a wise and gentle lady, who Uche looked up to. She booked an appointment on a Tuesday morning, and took permission from work to see her. The office was spacious and cool. The creamy furnishing gave it a welcoming air. Pastor Nkechi was a fair,plump, middle-aged lady. She was dressed in a green skirt suit. She rose to greet Uche with a hug.
“Good morning, ma”, she greeted.
“Morning, darling”, Pastor Nkechi greeted.
Uche went on to fill her in about the two men, how she met them, her relationship with both,and the recent revelation.
“Uche, my first question is, who do you love?”
She was silent for a while. “I think I love Dan”, she said finally.
“Are you sure? Or is it because of August’s affair?”
“In truth, I knew I loved Dan but, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing out on a better man”
“You were wrong to date both men at a time”, she stated palinly.
“Pastor, how would I have let 1 go, when I didn’t know who was the right guy?”
“You should have told Dan that you were taking time to know August since you met him 1st. He had waited for some time. I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded. That would have given you more time to observe this August. Dating 2 men, is a lot of work”, she expounded.
“If I may ask, ma, is it possible for a man to abstain?”
“Yes, darling. My husband had abstained for 5 years before we met. We dated for 3 years, and never had sex. I was not a virgin either but, when I made a commitment to serve God, that part was not left out”
“Why is it so hard these days?”
“It has always been hard. What people have is a form of godliness that denies the power thereof. They want the grace without the price. They want to serve God on their own terms. They bring heathen customs into Christianity. Even in the olden days, you did not make a vow to an idol lightly. Now, we believe God is merciful. He must accept any goat or heifer we offer him, lame, blind, or scarred”
Uche sighed. Tears had come to her eyes.
“This emphasis on men, don’t women have a sexual urge? How do you handle yours?”, Pastor Nkechi asked.
Uche blushed. “I’m a virgin, ma”
“So? Don’t you long for a man to wrap you in his embrace?”
“Pastor! “, Uche hid her face.
“You are of age. I will be raw”, she folded her arms across her chest.
“Pastor, I pray, or listen to gospel music, or chat with my friend Laura. Anything to keep me busy”, she replied shyly and laughed.
“Why are you expecting less of your man?”
Uche mulled it over in her mind.
“Do you know that women are now cheating on men? I have so many cases of adultery that I am handling right now. Women go seeking lovers to revenge on their philandering husbands”
“What! “, Uche exclaimed.
“Darling, I know you have served God for long. When you lead worship, I feel the depth of your passion for Jesus. Don’t settle”
“Will I ever find the right man?”
“Yes, because, no good thing will he withhold from those who are upright in heart. Let us pray that God will give you discernment. As for the Lagos guy…”
“When next you see him, ask him how he handles his business. He must live up to the standards you abide by. Remember that you may need to be out of town, to fast, or be heavily pregnant. How will your husband cope? ”
“That’s true, ma”
They held hands and Pastor Nkechi led a prayer for wisdom, patience, discernment, and grace.
“Thank you very much, ma. I have truly benefitted from your wisdom”
“Uche, you’re welcome. Remember, if you ask God for fish, he will not give you a snake”
“Take care. Call me whenever you need to”
“Yes, ma” , Uche rose.
“God bless you”.
“Bless you too, ma. Thank you”.
(Watch out for the conclusion. If you would like to leave a comment, click on the title)
“I wouldn’t tell you if we were not friends! You know I like August but, I know that girl. She dates married men, politicians, name it. You need to assert your position before she snatches him. This one you are not sleeping with him. It will backfire O!”
“Where is your faith?”
“My sister, how can you marry a man you have never slept with! It’s dangerous O! You need to taste the goods! What if he is impotent?”
“God forbid! ”
“How do you know if you are compatible? This is why a lot of Christian marriages are crashing. You marry a man you never knew, only to find out he is freaky and you can’t keep up”
“Bisi, I thought you were born again?”
“I am but, heaven helps those who help themselves. I tried that abstinence thing and lost a great guy. Now, I buy pornographic movies and books on sex”
“Yes? Wisdom is profitable to direct. Even pastors are doing it”
Uche shook her head sadly. She wanted to defend her decisions but, the shock of finding out about August’s affair numbed her.
“What did you say her name is?”
“Vero, the man eater”
“I’ll ask him about her”
“Don’t mention my name O!”
“Of course, I won’t”
“Let me change. I’m hungry and your stew smells lovely”
“Good. You can boil the rice”
“Who is your slave? I made stew, you boil rice. Stella will wash up”
On another day, Uche would have laughed. Today, she shook her head sadly and exited to her room to bawl her eyes out.
August and Uche were sitting on the ground, in the park. She had packed a picnic. He noticed she was moody and wondered why. She ignored him.He filled the silence with gist about Law school, his lecturers, class mates, and more. She was lost in thought. How to get the truth without sounding accusing, was the issue. She didn’t want to sound petty but, she had to know.
“August, who is Veronica?”
“You heard me”
He was silent. She crossed her arms and fixed her gaze on him. He squirmed under her look. After a long silence, she got up to storm out. He stopped her.
“Uche, please, she’s nobody”, he turned pleading eyes on her, holding on to her hand.
“What do you mean?”
“She’s just a friend?”
“Why haven’t I heard about her before now? Why does she have your picture displayed on her phone?”, she snatched her hand from him
” Please sit down Uche. Let’s discuss this like adults”
After glaring at him for a while, she sat down and crossed her arms again.
“Uche, I would never cheat on you. I spend almost all my time with you. You are my girl”, he began.
“Who is she?”
“She’s just a friend”
“Does she know she’s just a friend?”
“Nothing is going on between you?”
“Yes, I swear!”
“Alright. Call her, I want to meet her. Let us pay her a visit”
August kept mute.
“Call her now! If you are not doing anything with her, let’s drive to her house. Introduce me as your girlfriend!”
“Have you ever introduced me as your boyfriend?”, August sputtered angrily.
“I asked, have you ever introduced me as your boyfriend?”
“You girls want to eat your cake and have it. You are stringing me along, keeping another guy by the side. Yet, you are angry that a girl put my picture up on her phone!”
Uche was silent.
“I have done everything for almost 1 year to show you I love you. What have you done for me?”
Uche looked away.
“No kiss, sideways hug, no smooching, nothing! The girl is providing what you refused to give me!”, he declared.
“August! You are sleeping with her!”,Uche couldnot believe her ears.
“We have never gone all the way. And that is because of the way I feel about you. She has almost accused me of not being man enough but, I can’t just cheat on you”
“You mean kissing and smooching are not cheating?”
“Really? I thought you were born again?”
“Forget that crap! No full blooded man can live without some sort of satisfaction. I should even be commended”, he boasted.
“I know many men who have abstained without dying”, Uche stated.
“Something is wrong with them”
“In what way? What of Ikenna? Segun, who is even in a relationship? And many others?”
“Are you living with them? If you knew what some of them do, you would give up this your holier than thou attitude”
Uche kept silent for a while.
“Baby, I’m sorry. Please, say you’ll be my girlfriend. End things with this Lagos guy. I will tell that girl off. I love you. I don’t want to lose you”, he pleaded.
“How can I trust you, after this?”
“Baby, I’ll make it up to you. That girl is gone! Please give me a 2nd chance”
“I just want to go home. Please take me home”
He spent a few more minutes pleading. When she remained adamant, he got up and picked their picnic basket. Silently, they made their way to his car. Uche was holding back tears. He was wondering how to dig himself out.
Back home, she dialled Laura’s number. She had discussed with her before confronting him. Her perspective would be godly, unlike that of Bisi. When she answered, she told her all that had transpired. Laura was dumbfounded.
“A faithful man, who can find?”, Laura wondered.
“My dear, this one takes the cake”
“We would never have found out O!”
“And to think he even accused me of double dealing?”
Laura was silent.
“What?”, Uche asked again.
“I am not accusing you but, you were stringing both men along”
“But, I let them know!”
“What should I have done? I wasn’t sure who I loved?”, Uche scratched her head.
“Are you sure now?”
“My sister, I am afraid O! The Dan may not be any better. August said every man has a way of satisfying himself”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I should forgive him, since they never had sex. He is willing to break up with the Vero of a girl”
“Vero, the man eater!”, joked Laura.
“Vero the man eater has eaten my man O!”, Uche laughed for the 1st time that day.
“How are we sure they didn’t have sex?”, asked Laura.
“Do we ask Bisi to investigate?”, mused Uche.
“That’s not a bad idea”
“I’ll think about it”
“Okay, dear, don’t let it get to you”
“Take care of yourself”
“You too. Goodnight”
(To be continued. You can comment by clicking on the title)
A number of people have wondered what my name is and why I don’t use it. I hope this answers the question. Apart from friends and family who are my biggest support base, I may keep my name secret for a while longer.
Years ago, a young man came in for a check up. He complained of burning sensation when urinating and other symptoms I can’t remember. I sent him for some tests and they confirmed that he had a sexually transmitted infection. I can’t remember exactly which one. He was wearing a wedding ring, so I slyly asked if he was married.
“Yes, I’m married”
“Does she have similar complaints as you do?”, I asked.
He said he had not told her of his symptoms, and believed her to be in perfect health.
“Is there a nice young lady on the side, who takes care of you?” I was looking away, as though theanswer did not matter.
“The reason I am asking, is not to embarrass you. I have to trace your sexual contacts, so they can get treated. Not only is there the danger of them spreading this disease, you will be re-infected if you go back to them” After a long hesitation, he volunteered that he had a girlfriend.
Ethicallyy, I could have just asked him to go and advice his contacts to come for treatment but,the Spirit of God constrains me. I struggle to let such opportunities slip by me. Though I am nervous sometimes, I grit my teeth and say my mind.
“Sir, I don’t mean to be rude, but do you think your wife is unfaithful? ”
He replied that he doubted she was.
“That nice girl you are keeping outside, isn’t she more likely the source of this infection? ” By now, he was squirming. I knew he wished he could shut me up. Alas, he could not. “You probably believed her too ‘neat’ and ‘classy’ to require you using protection. Now, it is likely your innocent wife is infected. Who knows for how long or with what consequences”
“Doc, is it incurable, or what? Why are you talking like this?”
“It is curable, but you should know better. What do you need a mistress for?”
“You’re a woman. You won’t understand. Bodi no be firewood. Sometimes you need variety”
“Variety of diseases???”
I did not let him go till I had made my point. No woman (or man for that matter), owes you loyalty till you marry them. Men who expect mistresses to be faithful, are deluded. They will tell you you are a stud, great in the sack, handsomer than Denzel Washington! When you leave, they will yawn and shake their head at your flabby stomach, and puny biceps. Handsome, my foot!
The bible says that a man who commits adultery is foolish, like a man who pours gasoline on himself! Let me stop there. Are you wondering if he came back with his wife? Maybe in my absence, for I never saw him again. That dear muse, is why I keep my name secret for now. In these days of social media, I know it is easy to dig up information. Hopefully, people will not start avoiding me. Lol. By the time I have to use my name, I hope I would have inspired a crop of soldiers. They will go on to tell the truth even when it hurts.
The market place is populated by Christians who are hiding their light. The children of this world are flaunting their debauchery. What would Jesus do? Dear reader, in school, at work, wherever you find yourself, be ready to give a godly opinion. Cheers
A friend posted the following story on facebook few days ago. It sparked off the part of me that made me start this blog. Yeah, the part that got tired of cleaning up messes that shouldn’t even have been made. She was in a hair salon and overheard a conversation between 2 women. One said she walked into an eatery (the preceeding conversation was not reported), to find a lady sitting on her husband’s laps. She sat down and quietly ordered a drink. The said lady got up and walked over to her.
“See maturity!”, she remarked. “We actually planned this to see how you would react. You were very mature. Keep it up”
The one narrating the story then said, “Thank God for maturity!”
Are you as angry as I am? I mean I felt like throwing something! Maturity? Was that show deserving of maturity? Boyfriends you have no right to question, but a husband made a vow to be faithful! I am well within my rights to walk up to him and ask if there’s something he forgot to tell me. Maturity would be resisting the impulse to throw my drink in both their faces. Let me halt the rant.
Just before I graduated from medical school, my favourite uncle made good his promise to give me a car. I did not know how to drive, so I still took a bike (commercial motorcycle) to attend choir rehearsals. One day, the guy who played the keyboard, offered to teach me to drive, for a small fee. He was a youth corp member, and needed the extra income. It was a great proposition for me. Learning to drive privately, at my own pace, away from ridicule, what was not to love. My parents were so thrilled that he was a “church bro”, they agreed to pay him double so he would teach both my sister and I. I will narrate how I went from being so timid, I often refused to drive even with him by my side, to a confident driver. Suffice to say, I recently received a compliment on my driving from a complete stranger. When I gleefully told my jealous husband, he laughed. He refused to believe there was no ulterior motive to it all. Can’t a lady take a compliment in good faith? But, I digress.
My tutor told me this story, which is actually the point of my post. His sister died as a result of domestic violence. The neighbours forced their way into her house, after they heard a loud ruckus, to find her lying lifeless. Her husband managed to escape, but was later arrested and detained. He was wealthy and had connections in high places. The case never saw the light of day. Presently, he is a free man. My tutor’s family was devastated. To lose a loved one so brutally, is one thing. To see her killer go free is the most painful thing I can imagine.
The strange thing is that his mom never betrayed any emotion. He couldn’t remember her getting angry, crying, railing at the authorities, or any other natural reaction. The only thing she kept saying was “It is well”. At a time, her children became worried about her and tried to get her to open up to them but she would not. She consistently put up a strong image. They were not fooled, for they knew how attached she had been to her late daughter. This continued until she began to manifest symptoms that can only be diagnosed as mental illness. She began to avoid her usual activities, keeping to herself, mumbling unintelligently, and so on. Yet, she always had a religious quote to give to anyone who asked her how she was. It got to where he dreaded calling her or even going home. It was heartbreaking.
Why did I share this? Mental illness often has it’s root in improperly expressed emotion. This is true even when there is an organic basis for it. Suppressed emotions lead to all sorts of symptoms like poor sleep, crawling sensation on the skin, intense sadness and so on. When ignored, it graduates to hallucinations, incoherent speech, thought insertion, name it. There are so many who would be better off today, if they had admitted early that they needed help. Relatives, fearing the stigma of mental disease, keep things quiet. Ultimately, we all lose out. The Kingdom of God suffers the irony of a person who talks a good game but, can’t function. Society loses out on their talents and gifts. Their family lives with the heartache.
Read the book of Job. Despite his rants against God, God judged him righteous! It is wrong not to say how you feel to those who genuinely care about you. You can put on your game face for the haters, but in the safety of your prayer closet, and with loved ones, be real.
Let’s talk about the woman who first said “It is well”. 2kings 4. She said so to Gehazi the servant (who later became leprous for his greed). When she saw Elisha she did not repeat those words, but told him exactly how bitter she felt. Her son was saved at the end of the day. Are you going through a challenge? Be honest about your feelings. Confide in someone. Cry out to God in plain speech. Do not keep it to yourself. If it is not well, don’t tell me it’s well. I am not Gehazi. I genuinely care about you and I want to know what is really going on. When you have let it out, healing can begin. You can start to build your faith through study of the bible, books on the subject, and counselling. By the time you say “It is well”, your faith will be so tangible, everyone will be able to feel it. Be blessed.
I decided to share this story because many people believe only women are at the receiving end of unfaithfulness in marriage. Though unusual, I believe with the increasing desire for independence among women, feminism, and women liberation, men need to know that they are also at risk. Some men grew up watching their fathers treat their mothers like rubbish. Perhaps she was illiterate, or had no career, or just soft-spoken. They are not as mean as their fathers were, but unconsciously, they believe they are doing their partners a favor by providing or being good fathers. This of course is not in anyway to say that there are no good men out there, there are several. However, every man must know his own wife. As the bible says, “Dwell with your wife according to knowledge”. I interpret that as, take time to study her and so prevent surprises.
Years ago, a lady was diagnosed with HIV- AIDS in a hospital where I worked. We assumed she had been infected by her husband who was out of town. More so, when she told us he worked on an oil rig and was home for only 2 weeks every month. She pleaded with us not to inform him, but the hospital made the decision to do so. We could not risk him infecting others in the guise of not knowing. If he knew and went ahead to do so, at least, he could be charged(where are my lawyer muses?).
I was the one on duty the day he showed up. His wife was admitted for complications of her condition. I remember he was a tall, slim, and handsome man. He had no clue what was going on. We first gave him a vague diagnosis, while appealing to his wife to let the cat out of the bag. She would not. One day, he came into my office and asked me point blank what was wrong with his wife.
“I hoped I would not be the one on call the day you would ask this question”, I evaded.
“What is it? Cancer? What could be so serious? She’s losing weight, and there’s this air of mystery in the ward whenever I go there. Even the nurses look at me funny”
“Your wife has a very serious disease. It’s sexually transmitted, and we are concerned you maybe affected”
“What could it be? HIV?”
“Whaaaaaaaat!” he screamed. “No! It’s not possible! How can she be HIV positive? ”
“That is the reason for all her symptoms. I heard she’s been sick for a while, and you’ve tried other ‘healers'”
“Yeah, she keeps going for herbal treatment. I had to call from work to insist she comes to hospital this time or I would not pay” “But doc, are you sure? Was the test repeated?”
I assured him we had done a confirmatory and that he could repeat it externally to be sure. After a while, he calmed down and asked if his 2 year old daughter had been tested. I informed him we wanted to test him first, then his daughter.
“Take my blood right now! I am sure of my status. I have never cheated on her and I have provided her with everything she needs. There is no way I will be affected. It’s my child I’m worried about” he insisted.
I was surprised. Never have I met anyone so confident. “Well, I am required to still counsel you. Even if you did not infect her, she could have infected you and ….”
“I know the God I serve. My hands are clean. I am absolutely sure I do not have the virus.”
As I write this, the chills I felt that day, have seized me. I have never seen such confidence. Honestly, I was nervous to take the sample. What if he was positive? Would he try to kill the woman? Were we going to need security? So many thoughts ran through my head.
Hours later, the man tested negative. So did his daughter. We went ahead to do a confirmatory test and it was negative. I tell you, a roar went up in the hospital. He was nice enough to pay her bills and even promised to stand by her, through her life. Though the marriage was definitely over, according to him.
I sympathize with all those whose partners have caused them heart ache of some sort. This is in no way to make light of it. I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that men don’t have to believe they have the right to cheat while their wives stay faithful. Most times, women are counselled to be prayerful, to be patient, loving, and so on. Men also need to play their role. You have no guarantee. This man was saved by his strong faith, I daresay your drinking, smoking, and hanging out will not save you in the day of reckoning. That lady you met in a bar, or who you pried away from 3 men, you expect her to stay home and play trophy wife? It may not work. Please, stay faithful, and stay in faith. God bless