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Fall On My Sword 2

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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.”

“Okay.”

**************************************

 

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.

 

 

Chapter 2

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.

 

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Esau’s Pottage

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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?”

“Fine sir.”

“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.”

“Shoot.”

“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?”

“19”

“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.

  1. She was pretending to be pregnant to con him out of money
  2. 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.

“Thank you”

***************************************************************************************************************

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.

JUST BE!

Cheers, Dr.N

***************************************************************************************************************

 

If you would like to chat send me an email @ drnsmusings@yahoo.com or find me on twitter @nenabekee

Stay Approachable

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So I was in This Present House today and Mrs. R was teaching on the story of Namaan in 2kings 5 who was an army general. First of all  I had always battled with an army general who had leprosy but she put it in context. There is every possibility that he contracted it in the course of things; not that he was born a leper. I was wondering why his wife’s slave girl, a war prisoner from Israel should feel so concerned about his condition that she recommended Elisha. Again, when Namaan refused to dip in the river Jordan as prescribed by Dr. Elisha, his servants referred to him as “Father” when urging him to try the treatment. I can’t imagine a ferocious and intimidating warrior being referred to so fondly.

 

The thought that hit me was that the man had dual personalities.

Years ago, I spent about 3 months working in the staff clinic of a polytechnic. I had 2 male colleagues, a matron and a number of female nurses to contend with. My duties were to do medical fitness examinations for students who had gained admission, treat common illnesses in staff and students and offer first aid in cases of emergency. I loved the job because I got to meet a lot of young people. I was probably 26 or 27 (I looked 20 cause I was so skinny) so I got a bit of attention from those who marveled that I had finished school already.

I remember the colleague who was senior to me telling me not to apply myself too much as the pay was not worth it. The other one refused to touch patients without gloves because he didn’t want to catch something (even though he could have just washed his hands). I had to be all things to all men.

To my senior colleague, I was the humble, unobtrusive lady who only did her duty.

To the other one, I tolerated his skittishness though I felt like calling him out.

To the matron I was the ever available doctor who got there before the others and saw as many patients as she referred. She always knew I had her back.

To the nurses, I was friendly but firm. They knew what I expected of them and they did not need too many reminders.

To the staff I was bristling with medical information, always ready to counsel and give my opinion on everything from marriage to child care to boyfriend issues (I know what you are thinking. Lol).

When I got home I became the daughter of highly accomplished parents who needed me to listen to them and give them encouragement.

Did I mention I was in the choir and had to also remember to drop the day’s work and get into worship from the gate?

Where am I going with this? On the day I had to leave the job, the staff organized a going-away party for me and got gifts and made speeches with everyone saying something kind. My other 2 colleagues kept  asking what the hullaballoo was all about seeing I had not been there for long.

We all have different roles in life and people have their expectations of us but we must learn to adapt without losing our identity. This is something only the  spirit of God can enable you do. If you are constantly asking him “Am I doing what  you need done? How best can I serve you today? Is there anything you want me to make happen?” then you give God room to touch others.

You can keep insisting “This is just how I am! I cannot change for anybody! I don’t pretend!” but the truth is you are missing opportunities to witness. Namaan was a big boy at the war front but at home he was a kind master. He probably treated his staff fairly. Maybe they were impressed with his faithfulness to his wife or he paid them regularly or he made sure they were well-fed. Whatever be the case he knew how to be tough when he needed to be and kind when necessary.

Dear muse, have you carried your “Nobody should mess with me!” face that you use in intimidating opponents at work to your home? Is your witness affected by your loud voice that drowns that of others? You are not only setting yourself up for a fall, you are a prime candidate for elevated blood pressure and all sorts of cardiac disease. Stress is a proven precursor of many illnesses. Why not take that mask off, relax your shoulders, take a deep breath and put a smile on your lips.

Now raise your hands and say “I am not too accomplished to be approachable”

That’s better! See you in health. I love you.

 

Cheers,

Dr. N.

 

Note: I do not use the phrase “Dual personality” in the same context as the psychiatric term.

Also, I thank you for your patience while I nursed the latest addition to my family. Yes, Dr. N has 4 children. All I can say is if you have had enough get contraception ASAP. lol. I will be more regular, I promise. And thanks for all the messages. I really appreciate the love. God bless you

 

 

 

 

 

The Woman I Deserve 25- Conclusion

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Happy young businessman using digital tablet --- Image by © Sonja Pacho/Corbis
Happy young businessman using digital tablet — Image by © Sonja Pacho/Corbis

 

Chapter 10

It was 3 months after PA made it known that he was in a relationship. He didn’t exactly announce it in church but he introduced her to close associates and key staff. There were mixed reactions as expected but Ama’s behavior shocked him the most.

“That girl is not suitable for you, PA and you know it!” she had said during a heated argument.

“Is it up to you to decide?” he asked quietly.

She sighed and crossed her arms over her chest. “I apologize for my tone. PA, I have loved you like a son even though I am only a few years older than you. I will not mislead you. She may paint herself as an angel but I think she is coming to destroy everything you have worked for over the years.”

“How can you say that?” he cried.

“She is selfish, can’t you see? Why did she hide the boy from you in the first place? She knew that no decent man would want to be a step-father to a chinko!”

“Ama!”

“PA, I have to be blunt. This church belongs to all of us and we have invested so much in it. I don’t want people to make fun of me that my pastor was fooled by a loose woman.”

“Let that be the last time you will say that, Ama. Only God reads hearts. She is better than those who aborted their own babies.”

“PA, she should have aborted that boy!” she spat.

“Ama, you can close for the day. This discussion is over.” He rose to show her he meant business.

She rolled her eyes as she left his office. At her desk, she sat stiffly, head in her hands, elbows on the table, trying to hold back tears of frustration. She could only blame his stubbornness on some kind of witchcraft. There was no other explanation for a man who could have any woman on earth to choose the one woman who would divide the church.

Her phone rang but she ignored it till it rang twice. She answered when she saw it was Pastor Odion calling.

“What did he say?” He cut right to the chase.

“He has not changed his mind,” she replied.

“I have told him that he should not be in a hurry. Why not take some time, maybe two years and pray for God to give him a wife? I don’t understand what hold this girl has on him.”

“I partly blame myself. I should have pushed harder for that Toyosi. Maybe, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

“Anyway, a few leaders and I are talking. We are thinking of starting something shortly,” he said.

“Starting something?” she asked.

“Yes, a new ministry.”

“Wow! That is serious.”

“It is still hush-hush for now but we just can’t see ourselves under a mummy pastor whose story has a comma.”

Ama shook her head in disbelief. “Who else is in on this?”

“Chief Ebenezer has offered us some property. Abike has pledged some good millions. We have some good people.”

“Ebenezer who owns Karat plc?”

“Yes. The person we have kept out of the loop is Ovie. I don’t trust him.”

Ama thought for a moment. “He is PA’s guy.”

“All of us are loyal to him but our loyalty to God supersedes. The kingdom is above any man and we have a clear word from God on the requirement for a leader. Saint Paul said a leader should be the husband of one wife, not given to drink and have control over his family. The wife of a leader should be above reproach,” he postulated.

“I’ll have to think about all this,” she said after a period of silence.

“That’s fine but I trust you to keep this to yourself. We would really love to have you on board. I know you are the one who keeps the office running and it just tells poorly on PA that he can disregard your concerns despite the key role you play.”

“I appreciate that. Let me get back to you.”

‘Don’t take too long. The king’s business requires haste.”

“I’ll do my best.”

 

*******************************************************************

 

Pastors Onyema and Mofe invited PA for a chat when the rumors started flying. They met at Pastor Mofe’s house. He had guessed why he was there but PA was unfazed. It should be a small matter for him to win them over and besides, did he really owe them any explanations?

They had had dinner and were lounging in the living room. Pastor Mofe’s wife (Mama) and Pastor Onyema’s wife (Remi) joined them after an interval. Mofe cleared his throat to silence the chatter.

“Thank you everyone for honouring my invitation. I know we have been friends for long. PA here is someone we all admire and respect. We have been on his case about marriage particularly as he turns 40 this year. Let me get to the point,” he began.

“PA, we deeply honour the anointing on your life but the bible says in a multitude of counsel there is safety. You introduced a lady to us as someone you want us to pray along with you about settling down with. We all rejoiced with you especially as you told us so many good things about her.”

“What is this now we are hearing about her having a son for a Chinese or Japanese man…I don’t even know which is which?”

There were murmurs across the room. PA cleared his throat and sat up straight.

“Thank you for inviting me to clear things up,” he began. “She had a son for a Korean man when she was about 20 years old. At the time, she had backslidden from the faith. In as much as I would have gone for a woman everyone would be comfortable with, I am constrained by the love of God. He, who has been forgiven much, should not find it difficult to forgive and we all were once sinners.”

“PA, we are talking about a woman who will lead other women in church, mentor the youth, and even attend the meetings of wives of pastors. Do you know what that entails? Leaders will be held to higher standards,” Mama argued, leaning forward earnestly.

“She was not a leader when she had the boy. I think her past more than anything qualifies her to help other people to make good choices. Let’s be real. Do we know how many members of our congregations are living with people they are not married to, committing adultery, aborting their babies? Yet, we make it seem okay. This woman has owned up to her mistake and turned a new leaf. That is true repentance,” PA countered.

“Men do not forgive as God does. Don’t get me wrong, I am not judging her. All I am saying is you deserve better. The church deserves better. We need role models not women who ate their cake and still had it!” Sis. Remi said.

“Ate her cake and had it?” PA wondered.

“Some sisters in church are virgins, primary and secondary. God did not lead you to marry them. It is the one with a son, a chinko for that matter…”

PA interrupted her with a raised hand. “I won’t have that! Please watch your language.”

“Sisters, let’s be civil,” Mofe added.

“It just rubs people the wrong way,” Mama finished for her.

“Thank you,” Remi said.

“I appreciate your concerns. Zina is the woman I deserve. God has given me the go-ahead to be with her and I hope you will accept her,” PA stated calmly.

Pastor Onyema, who had been silent, spoke up. “The thing you don’t know is that this thing has already divided your church. Many of your members have left. There is a lady who introduced herself to me as Becky. She said she left because you are a hypocrite.”

“How am I a hypocrite?” PA asked, surprised.

“She said you suspended her and one Sis. Nkiru for the same sin your girlfriend committed. How do you explain that?”

“They were suspended for nearly coming to blows at a leaders’ meeting.”

“I don’t know about that.”

“Of course she left that part out. I did not suspend her for being in a relationsip. In fact, she showed no remorse. She never has and probably never will. The young man involved has moved on but she still tries to win him back.”

“Are you sure he is not the one chasing her?” Pastor Mofe asked.

“They were in a love triangle. The 2nd sister involved is funding Pastor Odion’s new church, just to get at me. But God is my witness. If I had sensed an aiota of repentance in them, they would have been re-instated. What do I gain by alienating people?” His voice was earnest.

There was an uncomfortable silence in the room for some minutes before PA’s phone rang and shattered it. He cut the call and put the phone in silent mode. Leaning his elbows on his knees, he bowed his head into both hands.

“We are just looking out for you. A man of God’s first consideration should be the flock. You don’t just marry any fine girl out there. You have to go for a woman who can hold the fort,” Pastor Mofe said.

“We could spend all night talking about this but I have to obey God,” PA said.

“I hope it is actually God you are hearing from. Girls of these days are diabolical…” Mama sneered.

“Haba!” PA looked up, hurt.

“I am sorry but she is right,” Onyema agreed. “Even the bible says the ways of men and women are mysterious.”

“Can we all agree that I am not under any spell? Please, banish that thought!” PA countered. “What you should do is to pray for me and trust that God will not allow me to make the wrong decision. Powerful men and women of God like you should have enough anointing combined to move any mountain.”

Mofe shrugged. “I see your mind is made up.”

PA was silent.

“We will not relent in praying for you.”

The meeting ended shortly after. Each of them knew that a line had been drawn in the sand and their relationships with each other would never be the same after that night. More than ever before, PA was convinced he was doing the right thing.

 

Narrow is the way that leads to salvation and few there be that find it. Lord, you have never led me down the popular path. I trust you. It was you who gave me this ministry. I cannot idolize your church. Should you choose to strip me, I will yet serve you. It was your son, Jesus who died for the world, not I. I cannot disobey you for fear of losing members. Please, give me the strength to stand.

 

Zina was working out along with Imaobong at the mini gym their serviced apartment complex provided for tenants when her phone rang. She answered shortly and then began to pack up her gear to leave.

“Was that PA?” Imaobong asked.

“Yes. He wants us to have breakfast together.”

Ima fiok! That guy is in love sha.” Imaobong chuckled.

“Ain’t I lucky?” Zina smiled.

“He is the lucky one.”

“Sometimes I wonder, though. I hope it is worth all the trouble.”

“What do you mean? If people are so offended that he chose you, let them leave. There are many churches in town.”

“Ima!”

Kpon! This thing has been annoying me. You owe no one an explanation for him choosing you. Imagine the shame and guilt you have carried for years. Let them rage. Baby, favour ain’t fair.”

Zina smiled as she left. Imaobong remained to complete her workout. Zina’s mind flashed back to the revelations PA had made on the day he heard her story.

 

PA (then known simply as Allen), grew up the 2nd son of a pastor and a school teacher for a mother. His older brother, Maxwell, had been the only son for years before he came along. They lost a daughter in infancy and never seemed to get over her death even after Allen was born.

Maxwell was an athletic, out-going, tall and good-looking straight ‘A’s student. He was the pride of their parents. The number of years between he and Allen prevented them from ever really being close but Allen idolized him. He wanted so much to get the kind of attention his brother got effortlessly. Rather, he was awkward, average in academics and in athletics.

To be fair, his parents did not put him down or anything. The favoritism was subtle but teenagers tend to be overly sensitive. Allen grew up under pressure as a pastor’s child. He had to put up a front before those who knew his parents so that their reputation would not be tainted. But that did not mean that he did not have the same temptations other boys his age had.

Maxwell would have been a mentor to him if he had a testimony of overcoming all these challenges but he did not. He was only a genius at covering his tracks. By the time he was in the university, he had two identities. At home, he was the perfect son. In school, he was a heartbreaker who went after the most aloof of girls only to dump them publicly.

He often regaled Allen with tales of his escapades when he came home on holidays.

“That babe that was forming for me because she won Miss Fine Face; I showed her pepper!”

“Hey I trust you!”

“She was the one begging by the time I finished with her.”

“How did you go about it?”

“I followed her about for two weeks, begging, writing poems. There is nothing I didn’t do. She got tired of me and gave in.”

“That was easier than the girl you had to do assignments for.”

“Don’t remind me of that dull girl. I wonder how she made it into the university. I have never met a more empty brain than hers.”

Allen laughed. “Maybe it was her bedroom skills that got her into your school.”

“It must be. Once in a while, I go for her when no catch is imminent.”

“I can’t wait to get into the University, I tell you.”

“You play your cards right, you can catch your fun and still graduate with a 2:1.”

“O boy!”

“You can say that again.”

 

 

Allen’s first girlfriend was Awele. She was in SS1 while he was in SS2. He had just been made the chapel prefect and was carrying out one of the duties assigned to all prefects; making late-comers kneel at the gate and give them portions of grass to cut before classes resumed. She flirted openly with him so much that he had to turn away to hide his blush. The next day, she wrote him a love letter. He ignored it at first but she way-laid him after school and offered him a sampling of her goods.

Subsequently, he began to ensure her exemption from capital punishments. The other prefects soon knew her as his girlfriend and all let her off when others were being punished. All this was carefully hidden from his parents, of course. They would probably have sworn by his virginity if anyone had asked. His mother was diabetic but rarely had need to be hospitalized. She was very busy, either with school work or assisting their father in church or going for medical check-ups.

They lived in a 3 bedroom flat rented by the Anglican Church his father pastored but they were never alone. Relatives, parishioners, friends and all who needed a place to lay their heads constantly flowed through their home. It was a lot of work cooking for all these people and resources were not exactly plentiful but his father believed no one in need should ever be turned away.

By the time he was in SS3, he had had three girlfriends. Maxwell was an able coach in matters of the heart and this resulted in him losing much of his awkwardness. Allen was no stud but, he knew how to choose the right girls using Maxwell’s philosophy.

It stated that “Every girl has a soft spot and all one needed was to be motivated enough to find it.”

Secondly, “Every girl will succumb to a persistent man even if she didn’t like him initially.”

“Girls who other guys avoid are easy prey because they secretly long for the one who will be bold enough to dare.”

These were statements he made so often that Allen had memorized them. He applied them in winning girls over so he could have stories to tell his brother when he came home. Maxwell was in his final year in the university, having initially spent two years doing his A-levels.

That term, Maxwell visited Allen in school for the first time. It wasn’t actually a social call. He had showed up to the house unexpected and everyone was in church for a prayer meeting. He knew that Allen would have a key because he would need to go home and change before going to church if he planned to join them.

“Who is that fine girl?” Maxwell asked as Allen walked him to the school gate.

Allen turned in the direction of the girl who had just walked past.

“I think her name is Omo. She must be in SS1 because I know all the SS2 girls very well,” he replied.

“Does she have a boyfriend?”

“I will have to find out. I don’t really know her.”

“Find out everything about her. This strike the lecturers are on will last more than 6 months. I need a diversion.”

“Done.”

So began the chase. Omo turned out to be a soft-spoken girl, one of the three daughters of a widow and the youngest of them all. She kept to herself most of the time. When she wasn’t studying, she was busy rehearsing with the choir where she was a lead soloist. She had a lovely voice, a beautiful face and fair skin. Her figure was just maturing but it was evident how striking she would be in a few years when she turned 18.

Omo was no match for the combined efforts of Maxwell and Allen. She fell in love with Maxwell. The affair was a big secret. Not even her sisters, with whom she was very close, knew of it. Maxwell convinced her that they would not approve because of their age-difference. He also warned her that her friends and classmates would be jealous of her for landing a guy who was almost a graduate and handsome to boot.

In truth, he knew his parents would raise hell if they caught wind of the relationship. Her mother would probably come for his head and even Allen would be under fire. They were very careful. Allen usually went to her house to call her. He had a friend who lived in their neighborhood so, he lied that he was visiting him while he sneaked to an opening in her fence at a pre-arranged time to tell her where to meet Maxwell.

They left no paper trail. Maxwell bought her gifts and gave her money but he advised her to hide them from her family so they would not become suspicious.

 

One day, Allen was summoned to the principal’s office by a junior student. He did not suspect anything was wrong. It was not unusual for a prefect to be called on by the principal. He was excused by the teacher taking the class before he put away his books and made his way to the principal’s office.

The sight that greeted him nearly made him run back to his class. Omo was huddled on the floor, weeping profusely. The school nurse was seated opposite the principal, glaring at her. The principal, Mr. Garrett, was standing over her, cane in hand. He greeted them after he recovered from the shock and stood as far from her as he could manage.

“Allen, do you know this girl?” Mr. Garrett asked.

“Sir?” he stammered.

“I asked if you know this girl, Omo.”

“I know she is in the choir…she sings in the choir, sir,” he stuttered.

“Is that all you know about her?”

“Sir, I don’t know any other thing about her,” he denied.

“Omo is pregnant,” the man stated.

“What!” Allen gasped, despite himself.

“Yes, she is,” the nurse confirmed.

“I can’t believe it,” Allen muttered.

“She came to my office complaining of a fever. I wonder how come her mother has not noticed it because she is far gone.”

Omo moaned loudly from the floor but was roundly ignored.

“I am not surprised. Mothers of these days are too busy to take care of their children,” the nurse spat.

“That is not the issue. She claims the father of her child is your brother, Maxwell,” Mr. Garrett went on.

“It’s a lie!” Allen shouted.

“You are the one who introduced me to him. You always came to my house to tell me where to meet him,” she accused, in tears.

“She is lying sir! I never did such a thing.”

“Are you saying you are not aware of the relationship between Maxwell and her?” Mr. Garrett asked.

“My brother is not even that kind of person. He cannot have anything to do with a small girl like her!” he protested.

“Why are you lying, Allen, why?” she cried.

“Shut up! You are the one who is lying. Instead of naming the person who got you pregnant, you want to implicate my brother,” he shouted.

“Why would she name you if you had nothing to do with all this?” the nurse asked.

“I don’t know O! I think she is just looking for a scapegoat.”

“Yes, but why you?”

“My brother is not here to defend himself. Maybe that is why she cooked up this story.”

“We are going to get to the bottom of this,” Mr. Garrett said, taking his seat dejectedly. “I have always boasted of the good morals of the students of this school. Even Maxwell is our ex-student. I am very disappointed at you, Omo. I will send for your mother. You too, Allen, your parents and Maxwell have to come in.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Return to your class.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Allen made his escape without another glance at Omo. He knew he was in serious trouble if he could not come up with a plan that would exonerate both he and Maxwell from Omo’s pregnancy. It was his final year and he had his SSCE coming up. Also, he was in danger of being suspended or even expelled if found guilty.

As for Omo, hers is over. How did she even get pregnant? I warned Maxwell that that girl is too naïve but he was blinded by love. See the problem she has brought on us?

*******************************************************************

 

PA had narrated this story while they sat in a somewhat quiet corner of the suya joint, their suya long forgotten. Zina could hear the pain and regret in his voice as he shared secrets that had tormented him for years. There was no sense of pride in his youthful exploits as some men are in the habit of displaying. He had only ever told his mentor, the founder of the school fellowship he pastored in the University and was advised by the man to keep it to himself forever.

“The day we fixed for a meeting with all the concerned parties dawned,” he continued. “Maxwell had been summoned from school. Omo and her mother were present. My parents and I were also there. We were seated in the principal’s office, waiting for the principal who had stepped out to attend to an urgent matter.”

“Her mother began to plead with us to accept the responsibility and spare her daughter the shame of being called a liar but we ignored her. I didn’t think that any of us should go down with her. She was already sure of being suspended. And after having the baby, here was no guarantee that she would be re-admitted. I reasoned that Maxwell and I did not have to let our futures get jeopardized as well. Add to that, my parents’ reputation as pastors. The church could decide to discipline them or transfer them to a remote village in order to prevent the scandal from ruining the name of God. I couldn’t take that chance.”

“I came up with a plan to save the day. Maxwell provided the money for us to pay all the actors. We got a student to act as a lookout. Timing was crucial.”

 

 

When Mr. Garrett came back in he apologized for his tardiness.

“Good morning all. I am sure you know why we are here as I have met with both families individually except for Maxwell. Maxwell, how are you?” he began.

“I am fine sir; just eager to get this behind me,” he replied.

“That’s okay. Pastor Ikpoki, you are welcome.”

Allen’s father replied as warmly as he could, given the circumstances.

“So, Omo, here,” He pointed at her bent figure in one of the chairs “… is pregnant and she says you, Maxwell, are the father of the baby.”

“That’s a lie, sir,” Maxwell said immediately.

“My daughter is not a liar,” her mother defended.

Allen glanced at the woman, still wearing the white two piece, wrapper and blouse some cultures made widows wear for a year after their husband’s death, and felt like laughing. She did not even know what was in store for her.

“Do you deny that you have ever had anything to do with her or just the baby?” Mr. Garrett asked.

“I don’t know her. I have never seen her. We are not in a relationship. I am not the father of her baby.” Maxwell said.

Omo kept her head down, biting her lip.

“What do you have to say, young lady?” Mr. Garrett addressed Omo.

“Why have you decided to pin your pregnancy on my son?” Allen’s mother asked arms akimbo.

“Your son is telling lies,” Omo’s mother spat.

“Did you ever see them together? How did they manage to keep their relationship a secret in this small town? What is the evidence that they were involved?” she retorted.

“I don’t understand it, myself,” Pastor Ikpoki murmured. “Maxwell has always been a good boy. Even if he wanted a girlfriend, why would he leave all the girls in the university for such a young girl?”

“He is a pervert, that’s why. That I am a widow does not mean I am defenseless. My God will judge all those who rise up against me.” Omo’s mother was crying by now, her chest heaving as she spoke.

“God will judge your daughter for wanting to destroy the future of my sons,” Allen’s mother countered. “She is the only one who knows who the true father of her child is.”

The principal was about to interrupt the tirade when a knock sounded at his door. He shouted “Come in” as all heads turned to see who was at the door. It was his secretary, a middle-aged man who had served him from the day he was appointed into the position of principal.

“Sir, one man has been insisting on seeing you. I told him you are in a meeting but he said he is supposed to be here.”

“What do you mean by ‘He is supposed to be here’?” Mr. Garrett asked but before he could get his answer, a man pushed past the principal and burst into the office, to the bewilderment of all who were gathered.

“Good morning, oga,” he greeted.

“Who are you?” Mr. Garrett gaped at the skinny man of about 45, dressed in worn out Ankara print trousers and top. His eyes were blood-shot like he had been drinking and his teeth were stained by tobacco.

My name na Yesterday and that pikin wey that girl carry na my own!” he said.

A collective gasp went up. Omo screamed and fell out of her chair in tears, muttering over and over, “I don’t know who he is. I don’t know who he is.”

Omo’s mother sprang up and pounced on the man. Grabbing him by the trousers, she began to rain abuses on him. It took the intervention of Mr. Garrett, his secretary, Pastor Ikpoki and a teacher who burst in to stop her. She stood in one corner of the room, huffing and puffing while the man continued with his story. Omo was crying loudly while Allen and Maxwell were silent, seemingly shocked by this turn of events.

She be my girlfriend. I be vulcanizer for Emotu road,” Yesterday explained. “My machine spoil so I go Lagos go borrow my brother money make I buy another one. As I come na him I hear say she wan carry my pikin give another man. That one no fit happen na. Money never dey but no be that one mean say she go deny me. I wan marry am.”

Maxwell let out a cry of derision and clapped his hands. “The truth is coming to light.

There was confusion in the office as Allen’s parents expressed their shock at the revelations and joy at their son’s acquittal while Omo continued to deny any knowledge of the man.

“You are a very wicked girl. Do you mean you are still denying everything?”Allen asked.

Maxwell snapped his fingers at her in the typical Nigerian expression of disgust and revulsion.

“How can you prove what you just said?” Mr. Garrett asked.

Prove ke? Na my girlfriend!” Yesterday protested.

“It’s a lie!” Omo cried.

Baby, no fear. No follow money leave me.”

Omo’s mother lunged at him but was restrained by the teacher. “You are very foolish for saying that. Is she your age mate? You should be ashamed.”

“Sir, I swear, I have never seen this man in my life. Mummy, believe me,” Omo cried.

“Me?” Yesterday seemed to have lost his temper. “You no get mark for breast, the left side, where hot water bin pour you when you dey small?”

Mr. Garrett looked askance at Omo’s mother. She stared at her daughter whose wailing had escalated, in disbelief.

“Omo?” she asked.

Allen’s mother rose and picked up her bag. “Pastor, let’s go. God has put my enemies to shame. Look at this loose girl and her mother, trying to pin a drunkard’s baby on my son.”

“Omo, what is this you have done to me?” her mother shouted, dropping to the floor in tears. “You know your father just died. Look at the shame you have brought on me.”

Pastor ikpoki had risen to his feet as well. “I think the matter is settled, Mr. Garrett. Please, counsel this girl to accept her lot and not to utter one more word against my sons or I will deal decisively with her mother and her.”

“I am sorry for the inconvenience, sir,” Mr. Garrett apologized.

“Kindly excuse my children and I.”

“Of course. My apologies again.”

“I have heard.”

The Ikpoki family made their way out of the principal’s office leaving behind a nonplussed Yesterday, a bewildered teacher, an angry mother, a confused Mr. Garrett and a weeping Omo. Outside, Mrs. Ikpoki hugged her sons in relief.

“The devil is a liar. See how God sent angels to bring this matter to an end without any further lies from that girl. My God is alive. He is faithful. He knows our hands are clean,” she rejoiced.

“This has to be God,” Pastor Ikpoki concurred.

Both boys made suitable sounds of agreement.

“You have to be careful, Maxwell,” his father warned. “If you see any girl you like, bring her home and we will go with you to see her parents. Don’t allow anyone to jeopardize your future.”

“Yes, sir,” he replied.

“As for you, Allen; face your books. What I need from you is 10 As like Maxwell had. You have been a prayerful child. Don’t disappoint me.”

“I will do my best, Dad,” Allen replied.

 

Zina was dumbfounded by the story PA had narrated. Her mouth actually hung open throughout his narration. She had never, in her life, imagined that a man as adored as PA for his pristine reputation could have such a secret hidden away.

“Who was the man, Yesterday?” she asked.

“He was a man we paid to get us off the hook and he executed it perfectly. In fact, he went a number of times to their house to disturb Omo and demand that they allow him to marry her.”

“Her mother must have been devastated.”

“She was but she could not bear the thought of her daughter marrying a man with no home, no income and no credibility. Besides, we heard Omo kept denying the man.”

“Of course she would!” Zina exclaimed.

“She was suspended from school and I heard she had a daughter prematurely.”

“Poor girl!”

PA sighed and dropped his head into his hands. “The whole town took our side. Her family had to relocate because the stigma became too much. People were calling them names, abusing her mother in the market, insulting her sisters. Of course, our church members were at the forefront. For all they knew, her family connived, unsuccessfully, to set up their pastor’s son. How I wish they knew!”

“Hei! PA! How did you not feel guilty?”

“I felt proud of myself. I had finally earned my brother’s respect, having saved us both from a nasty situation. He was forever in my debt. I had proven that he wasn’t that special, even though my parents still favored him, and I was now admitted into the ‘big boys’ gang.”

Zina wrung her hands in confusion. She was still trying to reconcile everything she had heard. People did not just admit their failures. It was a first for her and she did not know how to take it.

“I never heard anything about her till about two years later when I came to Lagos to visit an uncle. Maxwell had been in a motorcycle accident that left him in a bad fracture. He was bed-ridden. Eventually he died from an infection that set in from the wound.”

“That’s a pity.”

“My parents were heart-broken. He was their super star. My mother’s diabetes took a turn for worse. I had to postpone school to be there for them.”

Zina clucked her tongue in sympathy.

“I met a girl in my uncle’s house. She was his sales girl. He had a shop where he sold fabric. To my shock, she reacted like she saw a ghost when I told her my name. She started abusing me, calling me a liar and a murderer.”

“Wow!”

“Eventually, I found out that she was Omo’s sister. Omo nearly died in childbirth. She had post-partum depression, would not even look at the baby, was calling Maxwell’s name all the time.”

“That is terrible!”

“They eventually gave the baby away. I never found out who took the baby. They figured that she would snap out of it once she did not have to care for her but it never happened.”

“Have you tried to meet with the family and apologize?”

“After I got born again, I went to make restitution. I even offered to write a notice in the papers but they would have nothing to do with me. They refused to forgive me or allow me to see Omo. I hear she is a shadow of herself, living like a recluse, mumbling unintelligibly.”

PA’s voice broke as he burst into tears, not minding who could see him. “This is the torture of my life. I am responsible for that girl’s pain. I don’t deserve forgiveness.”

Zina held his hand while he wept. She began to remember the years she had spent struggling with guilt and shame and burst into tears as well. He was a kindred soul. Only one, who had carried the kind of load each of them had carried while trying to serve God, could understand what forgiveness meant.

Finally, they rose and made their way to his car. They sat in silence for a long time. PA had been forced to relive his nightmare, the cause of many sleepless nights, the subject of many prayers of repentance and many pleas for mercy.

“How do you go on? How do you get up and climb the stage and preach with such a burden?” Zina asked.

“At first, I was trying to make it up to God. Since her family has refused to allow me apologize to her, I felt that I could atone for my sins by serving God. Every day, I confessed my sins. Every day, I re-dedicated my life to Christ. I went for deliverance so many times that they knew my name.”

“I did the same,” Zina said.

“One day, I went back to Omo’s sister to beg her to give me access to Omo. She cursed me that I would never have a home of my own.”

“What?” Zina cried. “My God!”

“I decided to remain a bachelor for the rest of my life. That way, I would not rope another woman into my curse. Secondly, the curse could not come to pass if I did not propose to any woman,” he said.

“This is unbelievable. You told everyone you had the gift of singleness while you were afraid of a curse?”

“I did have the gift because it was not a struggle being single. I rarely battled lustful thoughts or felt lonely. My solitude gave me more time to serve God.”

“What changed?”

PA heaved a sigh. “Zina, I had a divine encounter.”

“Oh!”

“No, I really did. One day, I was lying in bed, writing in my journal when I felt as if Jesus walked into my room. He said to me “Why are you crucifying me over and over again?” I was paralyzed. I began to weep. I apologized and asked him to show me how I offended him.”

Zina’s eyes were wide open with shock.

“He said, I was paying for a sin he had already paid for.”

Zina felt tears roll down her cheeks as he grasped her hand in earnest.

“As long as I refused to marry, I was invalidating his death and resurrection and proclaiming a curse which had no effect on my life. Now, I am free of the guilt. I no longer feel I have to do anything to earn God’s forgiveness. Should Omo’s family demand a public apology, I will do it but that is not what will determine how God feels about me.”

“Know this. There is no small sin. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Repentance means turning away but if we deny ourselves God’s blessings, we are not doing him any favors.”

“PA pray for me. I want to feel forgiven. I want the shame to lift.”

“Let’s pray for each other, my love.”

 

The End

 

 

 

Thank you everyone for reading to the end and for all your kind comments.

I hope you enjoyed the ride.

I will be on a hiatus. kindly subscribe so you will be alerted of new posts.

You can send me an email on drnsmusings@yahoo.com

Follow me on twitter @nenabekee

And do watch out for my children’s book…”Adaeze the true princess”. Details soon.

God bless you

Remember to walk in love and live worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Cheers, Dr.N

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Woman I Deserve 5

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Happy young businessman using digital tablet --- Image by © Sonja Pacho/Corbis
Happy young businessman using digital tablet — Image by © Sonja Pacho/Corbis

 

 

Ovie was not surprised to see Ama in his office. He had expected her from the moment he told PA that he had fixed a meeting with Toyosi for 2pm on Wednesday. The man had looked absolutely bewildered. He almost pitied him. And he knew that Ama would notice his nervousness and come to him to dig for information. This had been their custom for a few years. Ama had tried to relate with PA as the public persona whose charisma on stage could charm your socks off. When she kept being faced with the private PA who was reticent, she learned to ask Ovie for anything she couldn’t get from him.

He was eating a sandwich, nursing a cappuccino, when she knocked and entered.

“Good morning, Sis,” he greeted, rising to give her a hug.

Ovisco, Ovisco! How far?”

He smiled at the term of endearment and helped her into a chair.

“How is PA?” he asked.

“That is why I am here. Ovisco, you didn’t tell me he met someone? He has been fidgety all morning,” she said, resting her elbows on his desk and fixing her stare on him.

“The girl is PO’s editor. It is not that you should start buying aso ebi. She is only going to go over the draft of that book he has been working on.” He swallowed the last bite of his meal and gulped down his drink. “Would you like something to drink?”

“No,” Ama replied. “Give me the gist first. What is she like? What’s her name? In fact, give me her name let me google her.” She brought out her phone.

“Toyosi Olayinka is her name. From the little I gathered, she studied creative writing in UK and now writes for an online magazine while doing free lance copy writing, editing, shadow writing and the like. I heard her late dad was an ambassador. Her mother owns a primary school in Ibadan that is doing very well and she is in the media team in PO’s church.”

While Ovie was narrating, Ama was scrolling through Toyosi’s pictures which she had found on facebook.

“The girl is not bad at all. She has a great figure,” she commented without looking up.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself. PA may be in the market but there is no haste. It’s not like he has an ovary full of dying eggs,” he joked.

They locked gazes and laughed as they remembered the lady who had come to as PA to pray for her a few years before. As was his custom, he never let any lady into his office when he was alone, so he invited Ama and Ovie in. They were hard pressed not to laugh as the woman emphasized on her “ovary full of dying eggs” despite PA’s attempts to build faith in her heart that she could find a husband at 43. It had become a private joke.

“Why do you think PA has never married?” Ama suddenly wondered.

“Beats me,” he shrugged. “The man doesn’t keep secrets so I used to believe he had a command from God to remain unmarried. For him to reverse his position without saying God said so, means it was a personal decision.”

“He is an only child and an orphan. I would have expected him to be in a hurry to continue his bloodline.”

“If I were in his position, my relatives would have given me an earful. As it is, my mother keeps calling to beg me to settle down.”

“Ovie, why did you break up with Wendy? If you continue like this, you will gain a bad reputation in church. Sisters will start avoiding you because you will be known as a serial dater.” Ama wagged a finger at him.

“Are you sure it hasn’t already happened?” Ovie was sober.

“Why?”

“The other day, I was teasing Sis. Angela of Ushering. I only held her hand and told her she was looking pretty. The way she batted my hand away and shunned me, eh? I was confused.”

“Maybe she was kidding.”

“That was what I thought so, I followed her, asking her what was wrong. She called me ‘heart-breaker’. Na wah O!”

“Na wah O!” Ama repeated. “They shouldn’t put my Ovie on a blacklist. I will have to do some damage control.”

“Thanks, Sis. You are the best.” Ovie took her hands in his and rubbed them.

“There is a condition. You have to wait till you are sure you have found the girl you would like to marry before dating again.”

“Ha! That is too harsh.”

“You can’t keep dating for the fun of it. It is a serious thing. Girls are emotional. You want to take them out, raise their hopes and then walk away when they try to pin you to a commitment? I can’t support that.”

Ovie sighed. “PA said the same thing.”

“Out of the mouths of two witnesses…”

“I can play though?” He raised an eyebow with his most charming smile.

“No flirting. And this is not me being hard. There is no way my damage control will work if you don’t change.”

Ovie nodded. He could see that Ama was right.

 

Pastor Allen was chatting with his associate pastor, Pastor Odion, when Ama called to tell him that he had a phone call.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“A lady called Toyosi.”

“Thanks. I’ll take it.” He turned to his guest. “Let me take this call.”

Pastor Odion nodded and smiled. “Of course.”

PA picked the receiver up and held it to his ear. “Hello.”

“Good morning, PA,” came the most sonorous voice ever.

“Good morning. PA, it’s me, Toyosi.”

“Hello.”

“Hi. I just wanted to ask that you send me the draft you have written via email. I want to read it before we meet. You are very busy and I would not like to waste your time.”

“I will ask my secretary to send it right away.”

“My email is Toyosilove@gmail.com. Did you get that or was I too fast?”

“No, you were not…I mean I got it…” He hated himself for stuttering. It didn’t help that Pastor Odion was trying unsuccessfully to hide his interest in the conversation he was over hearing.

“Have a great day, then.”

“God bless you, my sister.”

“Bless you too.”

When he ended the call, Pastor Odion scooted forward in his chair. “How did you meet her?”

“Meet who?”

“PA, I have never seen you blushing over a phone call. This girl has you wrapped around her finger.”

“Nobody has me wrapped in any way. She is PO’s editor…”

“Yes, I have heard that version but you and I know you have an editor, Dauda. He has read your draft and made recommendations. The last I heard was that he asked you to ditch the book because that topic has been over-flogged. How come you are now consulting PO’s editor?”

“I have to give it one last shot. She made PO’s books best sellers.”

“So there is no romantic interest?”

Pastor Allen shrugged. “Why you are all jumping to conclusions? ‘He that believeth shall not make haste.’”

“I believe, PA. I also believe that the way of men and women is mysterious. You know what, I will plan to be here for your meeting with her. That way, I can check her out,” he offered.

“You are too kind but, I am not ready for that. I have to decide to go after her before I ask you or anyone else to check her out.”

“In a multitude of counselors there is safety.”

“Odion, get up and go to your office. I think too much fasting is affecting you. Let me call your wife to come and pick you up,” PA teased.

Both men laughed.

*******************************************************************

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ovie was not surprised to see Ama in his office. He had expected her from the moment he told PA that he had fixed a meeting with Toyosi for 2pm on Wednesday. The man had looked absolutely bewildered. He almost pitied him. And he knew that Ama would notice his nervousness and come to him to dig for information. This had been their custom for a few years. Ama had tried to relate with PA as the public persona whose charisma on stage could charm your socks off. When she kept being faced with the private PA who was reticent, she learned to ask Ovie for anything she couldn’t get from him.

He was eating a sandwich, nursing a cappuccino, when she knocked and entered.

“Good morning, Sis,” he greeted, rising to give her a hug.

Ovisco, Ovisco! How far?”

He smiled at the term of endearment and helped her into a chair.

“How is PA?” he asked.

“That is why I am here. Ovisco, you didn’t tell me he met someone? He has been fidgety all morning,” she said, resting her elbows on his desk and fixing her stare on him.

“The girl is PO’s editor. It is not that you should start buying aso ebi. She is only going to go over the draft of that book he has been working on.” He swallowed the last bite of his meal and gulped down his drink. “Would you like something to drink?”

“No,” Ama replied. “Give me the gist first. What is she like? What’s her name? In fact, give me her name let me google her.” She brought out her phone.

“Toyosi Olayinka is her name. From the little I gathered, she studied creative writing in UK and now writes for an online magazine while doing free lance copy writing, editing, shadow writing and the like. I heard her late dad was an ambassador. Her mother owns a primary school in Ibadan that is doing very well and she is in the media team in PO’s church.”

While Ovie was narrating, Ama was scrolling through Toyosi’s pictures which she had found on facebook.

“The girl is not bad at all. She has a great figure,” she commented without looking up.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself. PA may be in the market but there is no haste. It’s not like he has an ovary full of dying eggs,” he joked.

They locked gazes and laughed as they remembered the lady who had come to as PA to pray for her a few years before. As was his custom, he never let any lady into his office when he was alone, so he invited Ama and Ovie in. They were hard pressed not to laugh as the woman emphasized on her “ovary full of dying eggs” despite PA’s attempts to build faith in her heart that she could find a husband at 43. It had become a private joke.

“Why do you think PA has never married?” Ama suddenly wondered.

“Beats me,” he shrugged. “The man doesn’t keep secrets so I used to believe he had a command from God to remain unmarried. For him to reverse his position without saying God said so, means it was a personal decision.”

“He is an only child and an orphan. I would have expected him to be in a hurry to continue his bloodline.”

“If I were in his position, my relatives would have given me an earful. As it is, my mother keeps calling to beg me to settle down.”

“Ovie, why did you break up with Wendy? If you continue like this, you will gain a bad reputation in church. Sisters will start avoiding you because you will be known as a serial dater.” Ama wagged a finger at him.

“Are you sure it hasn’t already happened?” Ovie was sober.

“Why?”

“The other day, I was teasing Sis. Angela of Ushering. I only held her hand and told her she was looking pretty. The way she batted my hand away and shunned me, eh? I was confused.”

“Maybe she was kidding.”

“That was what I thought so, I followed her, asking her what was wrong. She called me ‘heart-breaker’. Na wah O!”

“Na wah O!” Ama repeated. “They shouldn’t put my Ovie on a blacklist. I will have to do some damage control.”

“Thanks, Sis. You are the best.” Ovie took her hands in his and rubbed them.

“There is a condition. You have to wait till you are sure you have found the girl you would like to marry before dating again.”

“Ha! That is too harsh.”

“You can’t keep dating for the fun of it. It is a serious thing. Girls are emotional. You want to take them out, raise their hopes and then walk away when they try to pin you to a commitment? I can’t support that.”

Ovie sighed. “PA said the same thing.”

“Out of the mouths of two witnesses…”

“I can play though?” He raised an eyebow with his most charming smile.

“No flirting. And this is not me being hard. There is no way my damage control will work if you don’t change.”

Ovie nodded. He could see that Ama was right.

 

Pastor Allen was chatting with his associate pastor, Pastor Odion, when Ama called to tell him that he had a phone call.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“A lady called Toyosi.”

“Thanks. I’ll take it.” He turned to his guest. “Let me take this call.”

Pastor Odion nodded and smiled. “Of course.”

PA picked the receiver up and held it to his ear. “Hello.”

“Good morning, PA,” came the most sonorous voice ever.

“Good morning. PA, it’s me, Toyosi.”

“Hello.”

“Hi. I just wanted to ask that you send me the draft you have written via email. I want to read it before we meet. You are very busy and I would not like to waste your time.”

“I will ask my secretary to send it right away.”

“My email is Toyosilove@gmail.com. Did you get that or was I too fast?”

“No, you were not…I mean I got it…” He hated himself for stuttering. It didn’t help that Pastor Odion was trying unsuccessfully to hide his interest in the conversation he was over hearing.

“Have a great day, then.”

“God bless you, my sister.”

“Bless you too.”

When he ended the call, Pastor Odion scooted forward in his chair. “How did you meet her?”

“Meet who?”

“PA, I have never seen you blushing over a phone call. This girl has you wrapped around her finger.”

“Nobody has me wrapped in any way. She is PO’s editor…”

“Yes, I have heard that version but you and I know you have an editor, Dauda. He has read your draft and made recommendations. The last I heard was that he asked you to ditch the book because that topic has been over-flogged. How come you are now consulting PO’s editor?”

“I have to give it one last shot. She made PO’s books best sellers.”

“So there is no romantic interest?”

Pastor Allen shrugged. “Why you are all jumping to conclusions? ‘He that believeth shall not make haste.’”

“I believe, PA. I also believe that the way of men and women is mysterious. You know what, I will plan to be here for your meeting with her. That way, I can check her out,” he offered.

“You are too kind but, I am not ready for that. I have to decide to go after her before I ask you or anyone else to check her out.”

“In a multitude of counselors there is safety.”

“Odion, get up and go to your office. I think too much fasting is affecting you. Let me call your wife to come and pick you up,” PA teased.

Both men laughed.

*******************************************************************

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Woman I deserve.

Posted on Updated on

Happy young businessman using digital tablet --- Image by © Sonja Pacho/Corbis
Happy young businessman using digital tablet — Image by © Sonja Pacho/Corbis

 

“Ama, I think it is time for me to find a wife,” Pastor Allen announced solemnly.

His secretary of six years stared at him, mouth open. She hadn’t seen this coming. Although he encouraged marriage, wedded others, and counseled those in troubled marriages, he publicly proclaimed that he had the gift of singleness. In the first few years of their knowing each other, she had badgered him about finding love. She tried to match-make him with ladies who were “pastor’s wife material” in her estimation: Women, who were modest yet gorgeous, ambitious yet submissive, out- spoken yet demure, bold but not forward, and most importantly, able to preach a storm. He laughed off her suggestions. How could he change direction just when she had reconciled herself to him remaining unmarried for life?

He did not offer more, in his characteristic reticence. She was quite used to this and took his cue. They were seated on the armchairs in his office, quite alone. He had just had a meeting with the two associate pastors who worked under him. They had left shortly before she entered to offer him lunch. She was not surprised when he declined and asked her to take a seat. All day, he had been rather morose. In public, he was warm if not out-going but in private, his shy, introspective nature came to the fore. Ama had learned to let him open up when he chose to, if he chose to. This was the secret of their closeness.

Allen lowered his head into his hands. “What do I do?”

His voice was torn. Ama could hear his self-doubt, his uncertainty, his fear of the unknown. She had never ceased to marvel that he was that unconscious of his good looks, his accomplishments as the senior pastor of a two thousand member church with branches in two university campuses and six secondary school outreaches and of the adulation of teeming fans across the world. The media department ensured that his popularity on social media did not wane. Every Sunday, they posted his ‘outfit of the day’ on instagram with a portion of his sermon. His quotes were projected on twitter and facebook on an hourly basis. The blogs and magazines were inundated with his opinion pieces. He was known to take on controversial topics and thrash them without minding whose ox was gored.

What the world did not know was that he kept himself away from the madness by filtering what he responded to through his personal assistant, Ovie. He genuinely cared little about what people thought about him. Ovie was the one who bought all his clothes, shoes and perfumes. It was he who made him look good. Allen loved to read. He would rather curl up on a couch with a book than attend a member’s event. Sometimes, they ( Ama and Ovie) were able to convince him to attend a social event, especially if hosted by a cherished brother or sister but, it was a rarity.

“Is there someone you have in mind?” Ama knew there was no one even as she asked. He would have told her or she would have noticed. At the very least, Ovie would have spilled the beans.

He looked up but did not reply. She nodded.

“What do you have in mind?”

“I never used to feel lonely, Ama. Suddenly, my house is too big, empty, cold…”

“Why now?”

“I don’t know.”

“If I had a daughter, you would not need to say more and you know it.”

“Sure,” he scoffed. “You would have begged her to marry me.”

“This man just doesn’t know how many girls are dreaming of walking down the aisle with him!”

His phone rang but he made no move to pick it up. She let it ring out before rising to pick it from the coffee table. It began to ring again so she checked the caller ID.

“It’s Pastor Jenkins,” she said.

He shook his head so she turned off the ringer and dropped it on the table. Adjusting the hem of her black skirt, she took her seat.

“I don’t even know where to start from. I have no girlfriends, no prospects, nothing. Who will even want me?” Allen bit his lip as he spoke.

*******************************************************************

 

 

 

 

Hi, everyone. Thanks for all the messages in my absence. I was busy hunting for inspiration. Now that I finally found some, do read and tell me what you think.

And yay! I published a book and I am going to be posting an excerpt very soon. Watch this space. Cheers, Dr. N

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Knows Weruche’s Heart (A short story)

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Woman in large sunglasses posing in studio

“That usher, the dark one with froggy eyes, I gave it to her today, meeeen!,” Weruche boasted to her friend Amina.

They were heading out of church after the Sunday service. Amina served in the children’s department. Both ladies usually shared a cab home as they lived on the same street. Weruche was the tall, shapely, dark beauty who felt the whole world should benefit from her looks. Her outfit of the day was a red mini skirt, a navy blue blouse that revealed some cleavage, and six inch high navy pumps. Add to that her wild, wavy, blonde weave, and red lipstick and you had a siren.

“What happened? ,” Amina asked her.

“Imagine O! That I should not sit by the aisle. Why? Just check out my swag, now,” she replied.

“So what did you say to her?”

“I pushed her aside and sat there. She called the head usher. That one already knows me. He just told her to leave me alone”

“Hmmm”

“For goodness sake, this is a pentecostal church. Is it not for liberty that we all left the churches we grew up in? Abeg!,” she made a hissing sound and waved a hand dismissively.

“The girl would not have heard anything they preached today,” Amina murmured.

“That is her business. My mind is free of any condemnation. This is my father’s house and he understands me. Did Pastor send her?” Weruche was gesticulating as she spoke.

“Well…..”

“I was singing and dancing like no man’s business. And today’s praise was on point. That guy in the choir, I just like him”

“Is it Bro. Gbenro?”

“I think that is his name. One of these days, I have to get his number”, she mused, rubbing her chin.

“Hian! For what?,”

Amina exclaimed.

“He can teach me to sing now,” Weruche protested.

“Wallahi, don’t take your boobs anywhere near that man of God O!” Amina pushed her playfully.

Weruche laughed and tugged at her top so that it exposed even more than it had before.

“Is it my fault that I am a double D?,” she winked.

“You would be surprised that they have clothes that fit your bust in the market,” Amina mocked her.

Weruche laughed again. “Don’t be a sour puss. All fingers are not equal.”

She took a disparaging glance at Amina’s smaller figure covered in a blue gown that did her justice but was not revealing.

Amina also looked at herself.

“What does that mean?,” she asked.

Weruche rolled her eyes and waved a hand at a taxi that drew up just then.

“Palace way?,” she asked the driver.

“N3000,” the driver replied.

“How can?,” Amina protested.

Weruche motioned for her to be silent. Leaning forward provocatively, she let him have an eyefull.

“Oga, abeg, we be student. Help us. We only have N1500,” she purred.

The man stared helplessly.

“Come in, come in! I like helping students. Enter!”

She turned and winked at her friend who was shaking her head. As they turned to use the only good door on the other side of the cab, she whispered into Amina’s ears.

“You see favour? God is truly faithful.”

THE   END

Congratulations to Nigeria for successfully conducting the elections. We thank God for peace.

Cheers, Dr. N

Adire 30

Posted on

Regina got home at about 6pm to meet Ekene and Miriam fast asleep on her couch. They roused as she let herself in.

“Reggie, how far? How did it go?”, Ekene was rubbing her eyes.

Miriam rose to make room for Regina on the couch. She sat and dumped her bag on the floor. Pulling off her shoes, she lifted her feet to place them on the coffee table.

“What happened?”, Miriam asked.

“Hmm”, she sighed. “The man suspended me”

“Pastor?”, asked Ekene.

“Who else? As if I did what no one has ever done! “,she snapped.

“What did he do to Magnus?”, Miriam asked.

“He told him to come with that horrid wife of his, tomorrow. That was after he informed him that she is having an affair”

“What! Is she really? “, Ekene exclaimed.

Miriam snapped her fingers in shock and leaned forward.

“Apparently, she has a lover at work”, Regina disclosed.

“This is messy, man!”, Ekene frowned.

“No, let her go and defend herself. She went to report us as if she is innocent”

“But I doubt she has such a skeleton in her closet. That alone should have made her keep this out of the public eye. He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones”, Miriam pondered.

“Don’t mind the goat!”, Regina rejoiced.

“Who else was there?”, Ekene asked

“Pastor’s wife and Pastor Ekpiken”

“Hmm. That is serious. What did they say?”Ekene asked

“Who cares? I told them Magnus and I are getting married as soon as his divorce goes through”

“Has he filed for divorce? “, Miriam asked

“He soon will”, she replied

“I find it interesting that he has been talking about this divorce for more than 1 year but is yet to file for it. He is even a lawyer”, Ekene observed.

“So?”, Regina raised a brow.

“Methinks, he doesn’t want to leave his wife”, she said quietly.

“What does that mean?”, Regina shouted and burst into tears. “What are you trying to say? You are very wicked!”

“What did I do now?”, Ekene wondered.

Regina was blowing her nose into a handkerchief while Miriam rubbed her back.

“She didn’t mean any harm”, Miriam appealed.

“Ekene is just selfish. Why can’t she be happy forme? I have never been jealous of your relationship with Fred. Why can’t you be happy for me?”Regina cried.

“This is another woman’s husband we are talking about here”, Ekene reminded her.

“He would never have married her if he met me first”

“But he married her! They have 2 children!”

“He is the bone of my bones! ”

“Stop this, Regina! Stop it!”,Miriam raised her voice.

“Leave me alone”, she shook her hand off.

Miriam and Ekene exchanged glances and kept mum. They hung around for 2 hours and left after making dinner for her and seeing that she was calm. In the car, Miriam was thoughtful.

“What’s on your mind? ” Ekene asked.

They were in Ekene’s car. Miriam had let a neighbour drive hers home for her from church.

“Kene, I don’t want to end up like Reggie. I need a godly man. Please, give me that your formula, I beg” she replied.

“I worry for our friend”

“This is bad. Do you know she said she has not been having the nightmare since she and Magnus decided they are in love with each other?”

“Really? ”

“Yes. That may be why she is clinging to him”

“Believing that it is a sign from heaven”

“No, no. God does not contradict his word. Adultery cannot be made right by sweet dreams”

“Unbelievable! “, Ekene clucked her tongue. “How do we rescue our friend?”

“We can only pray”

“This is a hard one”

“God can do anything”

“Amen”

***************************************************

“Fred, shake my hand. You’re a man!”, his dad extended a hand to him.He and Aunt Nwando were giving him the lowdown on the proposal because he was out of the country when it happened.

“Thanks, dad”, Fred beamed.

“Nwando, that was great”, he turned to pat her back.

“Thank you. Anything for my son”, she winked.

“I didn’t want him to develop cold feet”

“Cold feet? I was very sure she’ld say yes. Haba! Am I not a great catch!”, he boasted.

“You are my son”, his dad slapped his thigh laughing. “An accomplished doctor, with his own car and house, faithful believer, soon to become a consultant. What’s not to love?”

“Yes, you’re a great catch but, Ekene is a wonderful girl. She is your reward”, Aunt Nwando remarked.

“Oi. I agree, Aunty. No contest”, Fred acquiesced.

“What did you buy for me?”, She asked her brother in law.

“I got you the iphone you wanted”, he stood up to get it from his room.

“Yay!”, Aunt Nwando clapped in excitement like a little girl. “Jehovah over do, thank you” .

He returned with a package of gifts and gave it to her before sitting down. She accepted it and began to rifle through it eagerly.

“Nkoli sent some pefumes and shoes too. She indicated which are for you and which are for Ekene”, he went on.

“Thank you, brother. I meka”, she happily began to fiddle with the phone.

“How about me?”, Fred pouted.

“Agadi nwoke, were you expecting gifts?”, his dad smirked.

“Chai, it’s not fair, O”

“I got an ipad and a wrist watch for your wife. You can thank me for that”,Fred’s dad teased.

“Thank you, sir, on her behalf”, he smiled.

“Your sisters sent her a big package of dresses, jewelry and what not. I nearly got charged for excess luggage”

“You don’t say”, Aunt Nwando remarked.

“Women and fashion”, he shook his head.

“Daddy, that’s what I see O! Ekene and Aunt Nwando make my life miserable, educating me on colour blocking, couture, avant garde, and all sorts”, Fred complained.

The three laughed as they continued to trade banters. Shortly, the cook appeared to invite them in from the patio for lunch. They went in still laughing and making jokes. It was a Saturday and they had all day.

****************************************************

“Good evening, sir”, Pastor Ekpiken greeted.

“Good evening. Please sit down”, Pastor Shedrack responded. “Let’s give mummy a few minutes. She and Pastor Adio will be joining us shortly”

“Yes, Pastor”, he nodded.

“Would you like some juice? ”

“Yes, thank you very much”

Pastor Ekpiken was sitting on the sofa in Pastor Shedrack’s office. He was casually dressed in jeans and a T shirt. Pastor Shedrack was wearing a linen shirt on capri shorts. It was a public holiday as the nation was honouring a muslim festival. They had agreed to meet just to thrash some issues, especially that of Magnus, Ijeoma, and Regina. While they helped themselves to juice and pastries, they watched a match being shown on the TV. Both were fans of the same club and though it was a repeat broadcast, they were getting absorbed when Mrs. Shedrack entered.

“Football? No, no, no, that is not why I left my house today”, she reached for the control and turned it off.

Both men groaned, then smiled as they met her scolding gaze.

“Good morning, ma”, Pastor Ekpiken greeted.

“Good morning, Bassey. How is Idara?”, she took a seat.

“Very well, thank you”

“Good morning Pastor Shedrack, Pastor Ekpiken, Mummy”, Pastor Adio nodded in turn as he entered and greeted before sitting down. They all responded warmly.

“So we should all be at home but I wanted us to talk about this in the office because it is a serious issue”, Pastor Shedrack began.

They all shifted and sat up in their seats.

“We have a case of adultery on our hands. This is a scandal that could blow out of proportion. Sister Regina is a long-standing member of this church”, he went on.

They all nodded.

“That’s true”, his wife concurred.

“She has served faithfully as an usher for years. Financially, she has sponsored some of our major events”, he continued.

“Yes, she and Sis. Uju off set the bill for our women’s event last year”, Mrs. Shedrack elaborated.

“I have personally referred some ushers who came to me for counselling back to her. As their leader, she ought to be the first person they consult before me” said Pastor Shedrack.

The three clucked their tongues in agreement, nodding.

“Bro. Magnus and his wife have been in this church for a while too. Though not serving now, he used to work in junior church before he got married”, Pastor Shedrack explained.

“Ijeoma volunteers for many events in church”, Mrs. Shedrack volunteered.

“You can see that we cannot wash our hands off this case”, he turned to Pastor Adio. “You were away last week. Ijeoma and Magnus have been having problems in their marriage. He met Regina, who helped him clinch a retainer, and started an emotional affair with her. Ijeoma, on the otherhand, was ‘involved’ with her supervisor at work, a certain Chike. Short of getting graphic, no one is sure how far these 2 actually went, as neither will say. The thing is they want a divorce. Regina and Magnus want to get married”.

There was silence as the audience mulled over his words. Pastor Adio scratched his head, trying to think of something to contribute.

“Do they intend for us to wed them?”,he asked.

“Imagine!”, Pastor Ekpiken sputtered. “Is that all you could come up with”

Mrs. Shedrack burst into laughter.

“Adio, sometimes, you worry me!”, Pastor Shedrack scolded. “Is that supposed to be a contribution”

“Sorry, sir”, he apologised.

“We are discussing a potentially explosive matter. Lighter issues have torn churches apart”, he spat.

“I’m sorry, sir”, he repeated.”So, on to the matter at hand. At our last meeting with both parties, I told us to pray about it and come with a wisdom for them. What say you?” , he looked round the room.

There was some silence. Mrs. Shedrack adjusted in her seat and put her chin in her hands. Pastor Ekpiken was tapping his foot, deep in thought. Adio bowed his head, trying to look as interested as possible.

“Yeah?”, Pastor Shedrack prompted.

“Sir, why don’t we put them in counselling?”, Ekpiken suggested.

“Okay…”, Pastor Shedrack nodded.

“We should give them 3 months and tell them that if after that they insist on going their separate ways, we won’t intervene”, he expounded.

“Meanwhile, let’s get the prayer team on their case. This is a spiritual matter. What God has put together, let no man put asunder. This is a couple we wedded in this church”, Mrs. Shedrack added.

“Right”, Pastor Shedrack agreed.

“I also think we should invite Sis. Ekene and Miriam to explain their roles in this matter. Sis. Ijeoma was very bitter about the fact that they knew of the affair and kept it from her”, Mrs. Shedrack suggested.

“Did she expect them to betray their friend?”, Adio asked.

“Apparently, they befriended her, sort of”, Ekpiken clarified.

“Really? ”

“They all were attending that Elyon fellowship. You know the one Amina, Pastor Musa’s wife, organizes on Saturdays”, she put in.

“Okay, I know of it”, Adio nodded.

“They have to answer for their role in everything. Let’s adjourn guys. I am hungry”,Pastor Shedrack concluded.

TO BE CONTINUED.

*I meka : You’ve done well

*Agadi nwoke : Old man

*Chai: Exclamation.

TO LEAVE A COMMENT, CLICK ON THE TITLE.

Cheers, Dr. N.

Adire 29

Posted on

Chapter 16.

Ndidi was in Ijeoma’s house. Already, she had heard all that went down at the hospital and was still clucking her tongue at the incredulity of it all. It was a Sunday afternoon and Magnus was out. Her children and Ijeoma’s were playing outside, supervised by Mofo, her Nanny.

“Has Pastor Shedrack called you?”, She asked.

“Not yet”, Ijeoma replied. “The meeting was to hold after service. I guess they are still there or have just concluded”

“Na wa O! Even in the house of God! What excuse will this girl give for her behaviour? ”

“The devil, of course. The devil made her do it”, Ij mocked.

“Ara gbachikwa ya nti, if she says that!”, Ndidi cursed. “And to think that Ekene and Miriam knew all this while!”

“People are mean! You see women? They can be so evil! How could they be friends with us and condone such a thing? “, Ijeoma snapped her fingers.

“Particularly Ekene who is so ‘spiro'”, Ndidi added.

“Don’t mind that girl! She even put up a picture of her engagement ring as her blackberry display picture yesterday. Does she think it will be well with her marriage? “, Ijeoma spat.

“I was really fooled”, Ndidi mourned.

“He will get the divorce Regina was hoping on. Then she can marry him and see the other side of him. Nonsense! ”

“She probably sees him as an angel”

“Yeah. A few days of marriage will take the wool off her eyes. She will see how indolent, undisciplined, and stingy he is”

“The grass always looks greener on the other side”

“Uh huh. Till u get bitten by the green snakes in the grass. Hahaha”, Ijeoma laughed bitterly.

They settled back to watch the programme on TV but neither woman’s thoughts were on the show.

***************************************************

Pastor Shedrack had several meetings that Sunday afternoon. It was 3pm before he asked that Magnus and Regina be shown in. They had sat in a pregnant silence in the reception. Even when they had to communicate, they sent texts. Neither of them wanted to give ammunition to any onlookers. Besides, the office had CCTV cameras.

Pastor Shedrack was seated, sipping from a glass of orange juice. His secretary let them in and shut the door behind them. They stepped forward gingerly, keeping a wide distance between each other.

“Good afternoon, Pastor”, both greeted.

He responded warmly and offered them seats. “Did you get some lunch yet? I’m sorry you waited so long”, he rose to join them on the sofa chairs where they were seated.

“I had a snack”, Magnus replied.

“I’m not hungry”,Regina said

“Okay, then. Let’s get to it”, Pastor Shedrack reached for the remote to adjust the temperature of the air conditioning. “Bro. Magnus, your wife alleged that you and Sis. Regina here are having an affair. What do you have to say about that? ”

Magnus squirmed in his seat. “Pastor……..”, he stuttered.

Pastor Shedrack leaned forward, gazing at him intently. Regina’s eyes were cast down as she fidddled with her purse.

“Sir, she is fond of jumping to conclusions. Regina and I are just friends”, he mumbled.

“What sort of friends?”, he raised an eyebrow.

“Very close friends. We have to chat a lot because of work”

“Regina is not a lawyer….”

“I represent the firm she works at”

“Really? Interesting”, he nodded and turned to Regina. “What say you?”

“Pastor, Magnus is my soul mate. He understands me. I don’t see why she is reading meanings into nothing ” Regina protested.

“Is this an emotional affair that generated into a sexual thing?” Pastor Shedrack pinned them with his gaze.

“No!”, they protested simultaneously.

“We are not having sex”, Regina added, waving her hands frantically.

“Magnus, have you ever spent the night in Regina’s house?” he asked directly.

Magnus hesitated.

“Yes, or No?”

“I have, Sir”, he averted his gaze.

“What happened? ”

“We were discussing some work. It was too late to go home, so I stayed”, he explained.

“Of course you called your wife to explain? ”

Magnus bit his lip.

“You spent the night in the guest room?”,Pastor dug deeper.

Magnus was silent.

“You prayed all night?”, he wasn’t letting up.

Magnus crossed his arms over his chest, hanging his head.

“Sis. Regina, how many times have you had sex with this man?”, he turned to her.

She looked away.

“Answer me before I lose my temper!”, he raised his voice slightly.

“Sir…….”, she stammered. “We have never gone all the way”

“What does that mean, exactly? How far is too far?” he spat angrily.

The duo kept mum. Pastor Shedrack rose and rang for his associate pastor. It was obvious that he needed to have a witness in the room. Besides, he could feel his composure slipping and needed that interlude to cool off.

****************************************************

Ekene and Miriam were in Miriam’s house. They were waiting for Regina to text them that her meeting was over. It dampened the mood which should have been upbeat, following the proposal the day before. They had waited in church till she asked them to leave. Both ladies wanted to be together as the tension tied their stomachs up in knots.

“Somehow, I feel more tense than when I had to tell Pastor that I was pregnant”, Miriam was hugging her knees as she huddled on the sofa with Ekene.

“This is just nerve racking”, Ekene agreed.

“Why, why, why,didnt that girl listen to me? Pastor will now be waiting for you to come to him with your own sob story”, Miriam complained

“God forbid!”Ekene snapped her fingers.

“Imagine what Ndidi and Ijeoma are thinking of us right now”

“Should we have told them?”

“I doubt it was our secret to tell”, Miriam shook her head.

“What a sticky mess!”Ekene sighed.

“Do you think Ndidi will forgive us?” Miriam wondered.

“It was doomed from the onset. We chose to be loyal to our friend even in her error. No way we get to eat our cake and have it”

“I really liked her. She was telling me of her dreams of owning a school, Ndidi I mean. I hoped to come in as a silent partner”, Miriam murmured.

“Nne forget that one. She won’t trust us after this” Ekene shook her head.

“Not that I blame her”Miriam murmured.

“Not that I blame her dear. We did what we had to do”

****************************************************

Pastor Ekpiken entered Pastor Shedrack’s office. Mrs. Shedrack was the last to arrive. She was a buxom woman in her 40s, pleasant and maternal. Today, however, she was not inclined to be friendly. “Bro. Magnus and Sis. Regina, you know Mrs. Shedrack and Pastor Ekpiken. They are here to lend their wisdom to us, so we can resolve the matter at hand”, Pastor Shedrack began. Everyone took a seat on the sofa chairs. His secretary served drinks and pasteries. No one reached out to take any. Magnus and Regina were squirming in their seats, darting anxious eyes about the room.

“Pastor Ekpiken and Mrs. Shedrack, these 2 were reported by Bro. Magnus ‘ wife for having an affair. Their defence is that they are ‘soul mates’. Also, they have not gone ‘all the way’. So we should let them be”, he went on, sarcastically.

“What is the meaning of ‘soul mates’?”, Mrs. Shedrack asked.

They turned to Magnus to explain. He looked up guiltily, then cleared his throat.

“We just understand each other. Our thoughts and opinions on issues are usually the same. Sometimes, we finish each other’s sentences. I can tell her mood even over the phone. She just gets me”, Magnus waxed philosophical.

“Clap for yourself”, Mrs. Shedrack mocked, clapping her hands. “The one you married and kept at home, what is she?”

“Ma, she is a nag. No matter what I do, she is not impressed. I have been there for her but she calls me names in front of the kids and constantly puts me down. We are headed for divorce, the way things are going”, he defended.

“Marriage is not like a car that you sell when it develops faults. In fact, you try to fix the car until it is irredeemable. How can you acquire another soul mate while your wife is alive?”, Pastor Ekpiken.

“All this soul mate talk is thrash. You are the one who turned that woman into a shrew. If you were treating her the way you treat this girl, she would have reciprocated”, Mrs. Shedrack scolded.

“So, if I come home from church and madam is upset about something, I should go to the choir and select a ‘soul mate’?”, Pastor Shedrack asked.

“Ntefi soul mate or is it soul meat!”, Pastor Ekpiken made a hissing noise.

“In the body of christ, there is no such thing. You should have come for counselling when you noticed issues in your marriage that threatened it. To go so far as having an affair……”Pastor Shedrack went on.

“Pastor, we did not have an affair”, Regina cut in.

“Eh eh?”, his wife leaned forward eagerly. “What exactly were you having?”

“Magnus and I are in love and we want to get married. We decided to wait till after his divorce, so we have never gone all the way”, she stated calmly.

“What!”, the three pastors exclaimed simultaneously, mouths hanging open.

She crossed her arms over her breasts defiantly. Magnus lowered his head into his hands. No one could speak for a full 60 seconds. Her boldness had floored them. Finally, Pastor Shedrack spoke.

“Magnus, are you in on this plan?”

“Sir, I can’t continue with the marriage. I believe I missed the original bone of my bones. Regina is my missing rib”, he insisted.

“Huh?”, was all Mrs. Shedrack could manage.

“Besides, Ijeoma is having an affair. Just call her and ask her about Chike, her supervisor at work”, Magnus brought out his joker.

“It gets worse and worse”, Pastor Ekpiken cried.

“Such should not be heard in the body of Chrst. Believers are meant to judge the world. Just look at the rubbish you are vomiting! “, Pastor Shedrack protested.

“These 2 are hardened. I don’t see them listening to us”, Mrs. Shedrack shook her head sadly.

There was silence for a long while. Then Pastor Shedrack arrived at a decision.

“Sis. Regina, you are hereby relieved of your position as a leader. If you can’t lead yourself, I don’t see how you will lead others. Magnus, you and Sis. Ijeoma should see me in my office, tomorrow at 6pm. We will unravel the mystery of whether she is cheating or not. Did I make myself clear?”.

They both responded that he was understood. His wife led them in a short prayer, asking for God to show them the error of their ways and enable reconciliation between Ijeoma and Magnus. As the duo left, the pastors stayed back to discuss the issue and decide on the next course of action.

******************************************

*Ara gbachikwa ya nti: Curse; Be stricken mad.

TO BE CONTINUED.

Dear silent readers, this extra long post is to move you to drop a comment. Just click on the title. Feel free to go anonymous. Cheers, Dr. N.

Adire 27

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He nodded, too shocked to speak. As the Matron left, Ijeoma stood up to shut the door behind her. Regina was standing in the centre of the room, looking bedraggled. Magnus sat up in bed, head in his hands.

“What do you have to say for yourself? “Ijeoma asked him.

He turned pain filled eyes to her. “Nne, why are you embarrassing me like this?”

“Nwoke m, answer the question!” She snapped.

“She’s just a friend. Is that how you’ll thank her for helping me?”

“Onye oma emeka! Helper!” She jeered. “What is she helping you to do?”

“She heard I was ill and recommended this place”

“Sister, did you hear him”, She turned to Regina. “He has denied you O! You are just a friend! After all the skills you displayed in the bedroom, you are just a friend? Ha! Will you get out of here! If I ever see you or hear you called him, I will descend on you. Goat!”

Regina ran out of the room like a puppy. She collided with the nurse and the security man who were listening outside the door for any sign of trouble. Lowering her head in shame, she walked out briskly.

“Stupid girl!”, the nurse frowned at her back. “I know her in Gateway church. Can you imagine what these girls do in secret? See how she was exposed today”

“Is that how your church members behave?” the security guard asked.

“Please, she is an exception! We are not like that! ”

“It is well, it is well, God of Gateway did this and that……” he scoffed.

“Excuse me. I am not getting into this with you”, the nurse raised a hand to shut him up as she walked away.

****************************************************

Magnus was debating whether to come clean or to keep protesting his innocence. Ijeoma sat on the chair by the bed, hands folded over her breasts, watching him silently. Should he turn the tables on her, accuse her of neglecting him, nagging him, cheating on him? What if he admitted they had become more than friends? : though God knew he never intended for that to happen. Regina was his escape from reality but, he never wanted to hurt his wife.

When he didn’t offer any explanation, Ijeoma brought out her phone and dialled Pastor Shedrack’s number.

“Good day Pastor Shedrack. Yes, Sir”, She spoke into the phone.

Magnus got down on his knees pleading with his eyes for her not to report him. She ignored him.

“Sir, I want to report someone to you” She went on. “I just caught Sis. Regina of the Ushering department having an affair with my husband!”

There was a pause, while she turned her piercing gaze on her husband. He had wilted on the floor, covering his face with his hands.

“Okay, Sir. I will be in your office tomorrow. The reason I am telling you is that she is probably in bed with other married men in church. Who knows how many homes she has broken, while you are busy praying for marriages to thrive” She made a hissing sound.

Magnus raised his head, silently willing her to say no more. She rolled her eyes at him.

“Tomorrow, then. Bless you” She ended the call.

“Why, Ij? That was too…..”

“You ain’t seen nothing. Tomorrow I am going to your firm to report you. If they don’t sack you by the time I finish with you, give a dog my name! Anuofia!” She spat.

“Ij! You have no proof. Don’t do this please” he pleaded.

“Watch me” Ijeoma rose.

She was looking around for her bag, when she realized she had left it in the reception. Magnus had come to stand before her. She evaded his out stretched arms and strode out, banging the door behind her.

Chapter 15

“Regina, what happened? “, Ekene broke the ice.

She and Miriam had hurried over to Regina’s house when she called in distress. They couldn’t make out her words through her tears, so they went over to comfort her. Regina was in her pajamas, eyes puffy and red from crying, a box of tissues by her side. Both friends sat on either side, waiting anxiously.

“Are you ill? Pregnant? Or what?”, Miriam asked.

She shook her head.

“Trouble at work?”, Ekene asked.

She shook her head again.

“So tell us”, Miriam was getting impatient.

Regina sighed and put her head in her hands.

“Magnus fell ill today”, She began.

“O, no! Is it serious?” Miriam asked

“Is he in the hospital? ” Ekene asked.

“He called me from the general hospital this morning”, Regina replied.

“Ewo! Don’t tell me he’s dead?”, Miriam exclaimed.

“No”, replied Regina.

Both friends let out a collective sigh of relief.

“So?”, queried Miriam.

“I went over to see him and decided to move him to Dr. Jubril’s hospital”

“Yeah, Dr. Jubril is good”, Miriam nodded.

“This afternoon, as I was preparing to leave, his wife walked in…….” She choked.

“Isi gini?” Ekene exclaimed, slapping her friend’s thigh.

“She pounced on me in the reception. Nearly tore my clothes, ranting like a mad woman”, Regina burst into fresh tears.

Both friends gasped.

“I was so embarrassed! ”

“Chei! The worst has happened! “, Miriam rose to pace the room.

“What did Magnus say?”, Ekene asked.

“Magnus is not important. Of course, he’ll deny her. My question is, how did she find out?”, Miriam was holding her chin thoughtfully as she paced.

“I don’t know. She’s so uncivilized. It’s not like she saw me in his arms or anything”, Regina sniffed.

“I hope she didn’t hit you?”, Ekene was examining her friend for cuts and bruises.

“No”

There was silence for some time, only interrupted by Regina’s sniffing. Neither friend wanted to say “I told you so”. Yet, that was all they could think.Her delusion had made her believe loving Magnus gave her the right to him, regardless of him being married. Ekene broke the silence.

“What are you going to do now? ”

“Exact my own revenge! She thinks she can get away with this? I am going to inform his law firm that Magnus scammed me of millions of naira. When he loses his job and they start starving, she will come begging me to forgive her! ”

“I don’t understand! You want to punish the wife by endangering his job?” Ekene asked, confused.

“Yes”, she folded her arms across her breasts, defiantly.

“I think this your plan is foolish” Ekene shook her head, clucking her tongue in disapproval.

“You are busy planning vengeance. I hope you know she has her own plans? “Miriam interjected.

“What more can she do? She has done her worst, disgracing me publicly”

“For starters, she is likely going to report you to Pastor. Except Magnus is able to stop her. At least that is what I’d do” Miriam warned.

Regina had not thought of this. She treasured the regard of Pastor Shedrack and did not want to lose his goodwill. Pausing in thought, she put her chin in her hand.

“Would she go that far? That would implicate her husband too”, Ekene observed.

“You don’t know how bitter she will feel. It’s better you report yourself first”, Miriam suggested.

“To what end? It is not my business what she tells Pastor”, Regina sputtered in false bravery.

Her quivering lower lip however, betrayed her true emotions. Church was all she had. It was her pillar of support, her network, her community, everything. To be ostracized, publicly disciplined, or possibly suspended was going to be unbearable. She would have to change churches.

“Why don’t we pray about this? God will give you the courage to apologize to her and end the wholething. That is better than seeking vengeance”, Ekene suggested.

“If God was hearing my prayers, he would have given me my own man before now. Better still, he would have convinced Magnus to divorce his wife. Heaven knows their problems started before I came along”, Regina stubbornly stated, rising to discard her used tissues.

“Look at this girl!”, Ekene exclaimed.

“Everybody is wrong but you”, Miriam remarked.

“O di kwa egwu O!”, Ekene shuddered. “I see this is beyond us. Nne, I’m leaving. Do as you see fit”

“Leaving? Why?”, Miriam asked. “I am not ready to waste my time with a hardened heart. When she accepts she’s wrong, let me know”

“Let her go! “, Regina made a hissing noise as Ekene left. “She always pretends to be holier than others. Who knows what she does with that Dr. Fred in secret?”

“They are abstaining, actually”, Miriam replied.

“How did you know? That tall glass of gorgeousness! I doubt it”, Regina scoffed.

“Not everyone is living is sin. God always has a remnant”

“I called you to be a shoulder for me to lean on”, Regina complained.

“That does not mean we should watch you step into a pit of snakes! We have avoided saying ‘I told you so’ but, we did!”, Miriam scolded angrily.

“All I know is his wife went too far! I wouldn’t fight in public, a hospital for that matter! Mtchewww! “,she made a hissing noise.

“My dear, you are missing the point. Please give me something to drink. I can see you don’t need advice, since you have decided what you want to do already”

“Help yourself”, Regina turned her back on her. She picked her phone, hoping desperately for a message from Magnus, anything, just a sign that he still loved her. Her world had become wrapped around him and she couldn’t let go.

***************************************************************************************************************************************

*Nwokem : My man

*Anuofia : Curse

*Ewo: Exclamation of shock

*I si gini?: What did you say?

*Chei: Exclamation of shock or pity

*O di kwa egwu : Unbelievable

Note: Hope all those commenters who promised me nannies and more are ready to make good their promises? Lol. Cheers. Do click on the title to leave a comment.