“Didi, I am pregnant,” Chichi said.
I almost fall out of my chair in shock. She is the most careful woman I know and her cycle is as predictable as the clock which is why she has had only 1 abortion that I know of. I remember her telling me that she and Moses had to be careful not only to avoid getting caught but also not to get pregnant. The church would not wed them if she was pregnant. They would have to do a “marriage blessing”; probably in some“ office in Shepherd centre without the normal fanfare of church weddings or wed in another church.
“How did it happen?” I ask.
“O buro Moses (Is it not Moses)? He claims he reacts to condoms and I told him it wasn’t my safe period but he said he would be careful. Lee nu ya (Look at the result),” she said folding her arms.
I was at hers because a tailor was to come there and take our measurements for the clothes for her wedding. She was running late.
“Ke ihe I ga-eme (What are you going to do?)”
“I don’t know. Moses says we can’t keep it. He can’t lose the job in church.”
“Will they fire him because you got pregnant?”
“You don’t know these people. They can be petty. Even if they don’t fire him, he won’t be seen in the same light ever again.”
“Well…I don’t know how that is a loss. Maybe they need to see him for the hypocrite he really is!”
“Didi!” she gasps.
“What did I say that is not true? He has everyone fooled that he is on a high spiritual plane or something yet, he is asking you to get rid of his baby.” I spit in disgust and cross my arms before the thought hits me. “Wait, is it his child?”
“How should I know?” she replies non-pulsed. “The child belongs to whoever I decide to keep it for.”
“O gini (What is it)?” She rises from her couch to pick the remote from the centre table and proceeds to flick through channels casually as if she just announced that it rains in Nigeria.
I gape at her, mouth open as she stands with one knee on the table and her left hand on her waist. She has crossed many lines in the past but now I feel like I can see into her soul and what I see is frightening. I feel like in place of her soul she has a yawning hole; deep and dark and menacing, filled with the souls of all the men she has been with. I shiver with repulsion.
“How did I ever admire her so much that I wanted to be like her?”
She takes her seat before speaking again. “Why is that tailor taking so long?”
“Chichi why did you continue sleeping with your boss when you knew you were engaged to Moses?”
“Who will pay for me to maintain my lifestyle? Is it Moses who can hardly fend for himself? I had to give him money to secure a venue for our traditional wedding. His rent just expired and his car is on its last legs. Why doesn’t he ask where I get all the money from?”
“He is afraid to ask…” I realize.
“Does such a man deserve…never mind.”
She picks up her phone, dials a number. I overhear her scolding the tailor for being so late and urging her to hurry.
I find myself wondering whether Stan would ask me to abort his baby if he found I was pregnant. Then I find myself wondering what Nedu thinks about abortion.
“Why am I thinking about Bro. Nedu?”
“That woman is testing my patience. I will change tailors if she doesn’t show up. The last time she kept me waiting like this it turned out she was lying and had never left her shop. Ndi mmadu di nno unreliable (people are just unreliable).”
“How far gone are you?”
“Is there any one apart from your boss?”
She nods. “There’s Chief Braithwaite and Felix.”
“But…but…Felix is married, newly married. I thought you guys broke up?”
“Is it my fault his wife doesn’t know her duty? He said she is frigid. All these “sisters” who don’t want you to test before marriage: She was hiding her issues. The guy came to me in tears. I had to put him out of his misery.”
She reaches for her glass and takes a gulp. With her it is never anything light. It’s go hard or go home. Even when she used to smoke she was smoking Cuban cigars. She gave them up last year when she felt she was losing control. I hug myself. There is a chill in the air.
Maybe it comes from us coldly discussing the future of a child who did not ask to be conceived by a mother who exists solely for the next thrill.
Maybe it is because of all the alcohol we have consumed.
Maybe it is about to rain.
I feel sad but I can’t explain why. Though I am the less adventurous of the two of us, I always defended her actions. Now I find myself wondering if there will ever be an end to the excuses.
“Where does it all end really?”
I realize I have spoken out my thoughts. “What will happen after the wedding when Moses finds out he has been fooled?”
“Like the good Christian that he is, he will accept his lot and make the best of it. Come to think of it, he is getting me.” She points at herself. “All this gorgeousness for one man?”
I laugh despite myself. She has a point; a woman as highly coveted as she is only comes at a price and Moses will pay it whether or not he realizes it.
My phone jars me out of my reverie at work the next day. It is Nedu. I realize I didn’t call him.
“Hi. Bro. Nedu good evening.”
“When did it become “Bro. Nedu?” he asks.
I almost blush and I wonder why. “Why am I so nervous around him? I feel like a bumbling fool, barely able to string two words together. Even pastors don’t make me this nervous.”
“I am sorry: Nedu. I should have called to tell you I will be unavoidably absent but if there is another class next Saturday, I will be there.”
“Will he let you come next Saturday?”
“I beg your pardon?” A cold feeling of dread descends slowly down my spine.
“I know you heard me. I had a dream last night and I saw you had a star on your head. Most people who are born to be stars find their destinies derailed early in life. It is never easy getting them to commit.”
“I don’t know who you think you are but…” My legendary temper has unleashed itself like a rottweiler that smells blood.
“Ndo Nne. Enjoy your weekend and come to class next week. I pray the angels of God protect you till you are ready to take the leap. Jesus loves you.”
“He ended the call! What is it that gives this man airs, biko nu?” I fume when he cuts off. “Who told me to attend that church and even come forward and write down my name? I should never have.”
If I had been tempted to cancel on Stan, the thought perished when he sent me flowers in the morning with a handwritten poem telling me how much he looked forward to our outing. By the time I got off the phone thanking him for the flowers, a package arrived for me. It contained the most decadent lingerie, my favourite perfume, chocolates and red wine. I had had great boyfriends but this one surpassed them all.
Which girl in her right mind would ever give up all that for a bible study class? Am I the first girl to get born again? I know a number of born again folk who live double lives; they have the right lingo, attend church regularly and go through the motions but when it is time to party, they take no prisoners. That is more my style. Not for me the life of the miserable minority who actually give up their former lives when they get born again.
“That just sounds so unnecessary.”
Didi and Chichi were chatting with Moses when Nedu approached. He barely noticed Didi as Moses, beaming with smiles gave him a hug and introduced Chichi. She gave him her best smile (the one that said I know I am all that and you wish I was with you but it’s never going to happen). He shook her hand and smiled back for he couldn’t help himself. She was gorgeous.
“Father, remember me too. How did this bro who can barely muster the courage to ask a woman out win this stunner? Wonders shall never end!”
“Meet my best friend Didi,” Chichi was saying. “She is a project manager for Scholl Oil.”
“Hello. I hope you enjoyed the service,” he said to Didi as they shook hands.
“I did. You sing very well.”
“That’s right. You led the singing. I really enjoyed it,” Chichi added. She had the habit of cutting in when Didi was speaking but Didi was used to it. It made people assume she was quiet but it was just easier to give in to Chichi who hugged all the attention like a plant hugs the sun on a chilly day.
“Thank you. I won’t hold you up. It was nice meeting you,” he patted Moses on the shoulder. “Have a good one.”
I watched Nedu as he left, my eyes following his tall, dark and slim frame for as long as I could do so discreetly. He is handsome and his face is given to smiling. I can tell from the laugh lines around his mouth and his bright eyes. However, I know he will not be mine because he is already enamored with Chichi and no man I have ever dated has fallen for her. Besides, I can tell he will not be as easy to fool as Moses was. I heard him lead the worship and I can sense he is different from Moses; probably older and wiser.
“Let’s take my car,” Moses suggests. “Didi can drive yours.”
Of course Chichi agrees. I don’t feel upset because I would rather be the 3rd wheel than be all alone this Sunday. Tolu the boyfriend is out of town, I have no plans for the day and I want the opportunity to watch Chichi work her magic on Moses.
“I’ll drive on the condition that you play the guitar for us,” I say.
“Of course I will,” he agrees.
Chichi makes a face at me but I smile at her. I know she is worried that I have learned so much from her that I am becoming a threat; so I grin. She can’t get rid of me at this point because Moses will wonder why. He lifts his guitar case with his left hand and takes her hand in his right. We turn and head to the parking lot where she hands me her keys and struts off with him.
I drop my bag on the passenger seat and pull off my shoes after getting in. The car is a 6-year old Toyota Camry. My car is the Lexus SUV of last year. I have not bought myself a husband-hunting car because I want to see if Chichi’s approach will work. She assured me years ago that she knew exactly how to get any man to propose to her and that our lifestyle would not hinder her from getting a husband. It is not that she lacked offers for marriage but she wanted one in which she would be in control. Many men have promised her heaven and earth if she would marry them; young, old, married, widowed, divorced, engaged, all manner of men. And the majority of them were rich and influential.
“Nne, a cho gi m onye ga-aku m ihe biko (I don’t want a wife-beater please),” she would say.
My Igbo was not as fluent so I usually replied her in English.
“I won’t present a false image of myself just to get married,” I argued.
“Noro there (Keep waiting)! These men are all the same. They want an accomplished wife but when they marry her they want to turn her to an accomplished housekeeper. Ara gbachi kwa ha nti! (May madness strike them)”
“Not my own husband, please.”
“They cannot all be the same. My dad was a pretty decent man.”
“Yes, he was. Still, in old age, he moved out and remarried.”
“Well, you can’t blame him. My mother was the one who had an affair.”
“Do you know what she was enduring? If he was the one who cheated, wouldn’t she have been expected to forgive and forget? Gini ka I na-ako ihe a? (What do you mean?). I hate double standards.”
“I am not saying he was perfect. I am only pointing out that he was faithful throughout the time they lived together.”
“Hapu ihe a (Forget it). Men are scum!”
I thought about our argument while driving to the restaurant where we were having lunch. The Camry made a squeaking noise each time I tried to negotiate a bend and the steering wheel was stiffer than that of my car. Otherwise, the journey was smooth. I could see Moses pulling into the lot in his old Honda CRV. It was so old that I couldn’t even tell what year it was made and that was unusual for a car freak like me. One of my hobbies was guessing the year a car was made. This one was falling apart but it was a blessing as far as Chichi was concerned.
You see, the Honda was the reason they met. It had broken down in front of her office when Moses stopped to use the ATM on that street. He played the guitar professionally and was on his way to someone’s home to coach them. She spotted him from her Range Rover but parked inside and walked out to offer him assistance. Before he knew what he was in for, she had called him a mechanic, exchanged numbers with him and dug her well-manicured claws into his consciousness. The rest, as they say, was a piece of cake.
Nedu sensed disquiet as he left Moses and Chichi. Moses had already confided in him that he was planning to propose to her that month. He had told him that she was beautiful but when he met her he realized Moses’ vocabulary was seriously wanting. This was the kind of girl he suspected would be high maintenance and he wondered how Moses would cope with his earnings from playing the guitar. Also, Moses was unable to answer any question about Chichi’s spiritual heritage; he just went on and on about how caring she was and how understanding she was. Nedu smelled a rat.
The issue was that Moses had been turned down by at least 3 of the girls he had asked out in church. As far as Nedu was concerned, it wasn’t that he was a bad catch; he just went for the wrong girls. First, Moses tried to befriend the pastor’s daughter. At almost 40, they had an 18 year age gap. The girl was a graduate of an Ivy League school who had lived in the US for most of her life. She had a job in an architectural firm and was also running the church’s school for the less privileged. Who in his right senses would expect her to get excited about his offer?
He tried to introduce Moses to more level-headed sisters in church but no; he wanted very young, flighty and immature girls. Chichi was no spring chicken but Nedu had 2 sisters and he could tell that her handbag alone could replace Moses’ jalopy of a car. If she loved him genuinely, there was a chance of them being happy together but he just couldn’t put his finger on what he sensed.
As was his custom, Nedu sat in his car and prayed. He always put both hands on his upper abdomen when he needed to hear from God. It reminded him of the scripture “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”. That was his way of focusing; tuning out the distraction of church-goers filing out of the premises and all the thoughts besieging his mind in order to pray.
He prayed in his heavenly language, moving his lips slightly but keeping his eyes open so those passing would not know what he was doing. A few had already accused him of being ‘too spiritual’. He didn’t want to spook them any further. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be to his disadvantage the day he decided it was time to marry. Right now, he wasn’t in a relationship. He had only been in one since he got born again at the age of 18 and she broke up with him because her parents wanted her to marry someone from her own tribe. From that day, he resolved not to get into any other relationship except God revealed to him that that was the lady he would marry.
I was on my way home from Chichi’s house where I had parked when I saw him. He was tall, fair, drop- dead gorgeous and dressed to the nines. At the gate leading to Chichi’s estate, he sat in his very new Range rover, probably waiting for whoever he was visiting to sign him in. I hit reverse and pulled in beside him. It was time to pull out a card from the bag of tricks I had learned from Chichi.
I got down without turning off my engine to beat the security guard who was already approaching perhaps to let him in and walked over to him. Tapping on his window, I gave him my best smile. It’s not as good as Chichi’s but it’ll have to do. He winds down and looks askance at me. I lean forward, not too provocatively so as not to put him off but just enough to convey my message.
“Today is your lucky day. It’s ‘give-your-number-to-a-stranger’ day,” I say.
He smiles at me. Of course he can’t help himself and I know it. I stretch out my hand for his phone. He puts it in my hand. I type in my number and dial it.
“What’s the name?” he asks as he collects his phone.
“You’ll find out when you call,” I reply and turn to walk back to my car.
I can feel his eyes following me so I make sure that my walk will remain in his memory for a long time.
Chichi invited me to her church. I know she is supposed to meet up with her boyfriend Moses, who plays guitar in their church. Moses is “the one”. Of course he doesn’t know it yet but his life has been planned for him. He is not tall enough but he is handsome and kind and he doesn’t ask too many questions. What more does a girl need in a husband? Money? No, money is for the desperate, thirsty girls out there who want to eat their cake and have it. Chichi works in an investment firm and handles the portfolios of the richest men and women in Nigeria. She has a sugar daddy for career advancement, one for trips abroad and another for high-end expenses. Moses is the one who will marry her and give her the title “Mrs”. I envy him. He is getting a great girl.
Their church has a very fancy name; The Shepherd Centre. I like it. I have only been here twice but the music is always great and the guys drool-worthy. What our native wear does to men; only God will deliver young ladies!
She drove us there in her humble car, the car that she used when husband-hunting. Moses has never seen her G-wagon. He doesn’t know of her 2 houses and property in Port-Harcourt. As far as he is concerned, she is a secretary in her firm and earns N200, 000.
That is just her basic salary, however. Last night she spent double that amount on the champagne alone while we clubbed. It was the birthday of a mutual friend and we threw her a party complete with male strippers, sex toys, weed and a few other substances guaranteed to lift our spirits from the dreariness of the Lagos hustle.
“Didi help me put on my bracelet,” Chichi asked.
She has called me Didi rather than Ndidi from the first day we met. She wanted our names to rhyme. Fortunately, everyone already called her Chichi rather than Chizitere Onyema. We met during NYSC (I’m sure you have heard about the compulsory 1 year service to the nation that gives the Nigerian government the right to fling you to the far corners of the earth and pay you a pittance for teaching children who have no intention of learning anything). During the orientation in Nassarawa state, she was the toast of the camp with her fair oval face and brown eyes, her figure that was just at the edge of being voluptuous and her ‘come-hither’ voice. We became friends when she rescued me from a soldier who was harassing me for avoiding the parade. He was already raising his voice when she slid over (I was hiding in mammy market) and said in that her ‘come-hither’ voice “Officer, please excuse me!”
He turned to stare at her like he was on puppet-strings, mouth-agape. Since then I have seen her do this to many people of both sexes. Her voice is so soft and sweet that when she speaks you feel sorry for her. I have seen her end quarrels just by saying “Hello”. (Like I said earlier, Moses is a lucky man). Anyway, the soldier pointed at his chest like a child and said “Me?”
She nodded and made a sign for him to come to her. He smiled sheepishly and followed her. I didn’t wait to find out where they went but ran back to the parade ground. A few minutes later, I saw her join the parade. I later found her and said thanks. She waved away my gratitude, smiling.
“What did you tell him?” I asked.
“O, he’s a teddy bear. I told him I needed help learning to march. He assumed I was offering more,” she said and laughed. Even her laugh was alluring. The way she threw back her head and opened her mouth very slightly such that a gentle ringing sound came forth; I knew I had to enroll in her school of seduction.
8 years later, I think I have done well for myself. This morning I am wearing an Ankara print shift dress but it was made by one of the big names in Nigerian fashion so it is remarkable. My nude shoes are louboutins, my make-up is great (I paid a lot of money for professional tutoring after all), my purse is chanel and my fragrance is Versace. I may not be as pretty as Chichi but the package is alright. Maybe I will get noticed by one of the brothers in the choir as well. The current boyfriend Tolu , is not saying anything that sounds like “Marry me”. I am not going to keep waiting for him to choose me from his myriad of girls (Yes I know he is unfaithful but there is this saying about a bird in hand…).
I help Chichi put on her bracelet and we get down from her car. A quick check in the car mirror and we start walking into the church, bibles in hand. She is wearing a yellow dress that clings to her in ways help you appreciate her flat abdomen (if you can take your eyes off her figure). We were 15 minutes late. The ushers in black smile at us, shake our hands and guide us to seats on the 2nd row to the right. I drop my possessions on my seat and rise to join the singing. The songs are new to me (I grew up catholic but I have attended many Pentecostal churches these past 4 years in Lagos). I fix my gaze on the screens so I can learn the lyrics or at least mouth them so I don’t look disinterested. No brother in this church will give me a 2nd glance if I don’t look spiritual enough.
It is actually not hard to get caught up in the emotion of the music. I spot Moses on the stage, strumming his stuff but I can’t concentrate on him. After a while, I am in my own world, Chichi, Moses, the crowd fades away. I find myself raising my hands to worship, swaying to the music. One song in particular keeps ringing in my mind long after we sit down and the pastor begins to speak. I barely hear him. I find myself distracted, not by the fashion of other attendees as used to be the case but by thoughts I cannot explain their origin.
“Turn to Psalm 33 verse 11,” the pastor was saying. “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Nothing can thwart God’s plan for your life, not your mistakes, your stubbornness, your pride, nothing! He sacrificed his son on the cross of calvary. That gives him a right to your life. You think you own it but you are living on borrowed time.”
I felt a stab in my heart. A wave or tremor or something went through my stomach. I glanced at Chichi. She was chewing gum, her face impassive. No one else around me looked like they felt what I was feeling. I sat up and crossed my legs. Maybe it was the moi-moi I ate in the club that caused the rumble in my stomach. Flicking my hair over my shoulder, I took my gaze off the pastor. Suddenly, he was too intense for my comfort. I brought out my phone and began to check twitter. My timeline provided the much needed distraction. Soon, the disquiet eased and I relaxed.
“ Maybe I ought to find the restroom after the service.”
The service was over but the music director wanted to speak to Nedu.
“Good job bro!” he gave him a hi-5.
“Praise God! I thought my voice would be cracked after last night.”
“No, it was fine.”
“Why did you drag that song for so long though? It went on forever. I asked Veno to start a new song on the keyboard to give you a cue but you didn’t notice.”
“I did notice but I don’t know why God just wanted me to keep singing that song. Each time I tried to change it, I felt I should stick with it.”
“Okay, I won’t argue with that. Thankfully, it didn’t get boring.”
“I have to go. Moses wants to introduce me to someone.”
“He does? That spiritual brother? I didn’t know he has a girlfriend,” Teni laughed as he spoke.
“Neither did I!”
“I want the full gist…with pictures, my guy.” He extended a hand for a handshake as Nedu laughed and turned to leave.
To be continued
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I hope to post 2 drafts every week.
I have been learning about emotional intelligence for some months now. At an event recently, I saw 1st hand just how important it is in our daily lives. Emotional intelligence has many definitions but one of my favorites is this “It is the ability to recognize and manage emotions in yourself and others”. There is a gift called empathy. When you step into the shoes others or try to see things through their eyes, you not only win them over, they will even defend you.
I was invited to give a health talk to a group of professionals as a panelist along with 3 other health care professionals. Before we were called up, a lady spoke on etiquette. I missed the beginning of her speech but I just got funny vibes from her. She probably did not mean to but she came across as combative and judgmental rather than engaging. I put it down to her personality type but what happened next was shocking. Questions were requested from the audience and a lady came forward and took the microphone to speak.
“Please Ma, you said that we do our jobs ‘anyhow’ because we know that we will be paid whether or not we come to work. That is not true because some of us love our jobs and do it with all our hearts,” she said.
The lady who was giving the speech looked shocked. I could not believe my ears as well but there was more to come. The MC asked politely, “What is your question?”
“Ma, you mentioned magic words. Could you use your magic word and say ‘I’m sorry’ to us?”
By this time my mouth was hanging open. A couple of audience members were shouting that the speaker had not generalized but said “some people do their jobs anyhow” while others were demanding the apology. It was brutal. The speaker explained that her statement was misquoted but went ahead to apologize (which I praise her for). The audience then applauded.
This lady had given a well-researched and delivered speech but a lack of empathy ruined it for her at the end. I bet so many will remember her for the gaff rather than the pearls of wisdom she dropped earlier.
Let me narrate a 2nd story. A number of friends of mine were complaining about their husbands’ lack of attentiveness to them. They felt their husbands were not spending as much time as they would have liked listening to them or talking with them. Rather they brought work home or watched TV. I decided to get my husband’s perspective. He said my friends were right about needing attention but were going about it the wrong way. In his opinion their husbands were under pressure trying to meet up with societal and family obligations and the more my friends demanded attention the more they alienated their men. He said their husbands would feel they were under attack and also lash out. If they attempted to be supportive, their partners would see them as confidantes i.e. part of the solution not part of the problem. This ensures that you have a partner who rushes home to tell you all about his/her day because you will listen first and empathize.
Even with friends of the same sex, no one likes a griper. I am sorry to say there are people whose calls I avoid because 15 minutes with them will rob me of my peace of mind.
Today, give someone the benefit of the doubt, a long rope, a break, name it
See through the eyes of others.
Be the 1st to forgive.
Listen without making assumptions.
I have learned that only God promised to always be there for you even until the end of time. Others can be busy or unavailable. Next time you can’t find anyone to unburden yourself to, look up and say “Hi, Jesus! Are you up for a chat?”
And do write me to share what He tells you.
His phone rang before he could say anything.
“Idoko, what’s up? Okay, just ask them for the VIP section. Come right in,” he said into the phone.
Toyosi sipped her coffee as he ended the call, wondering what was going on. She was not left in the dark much longer. A tall, dark, muscular man wearing dreadlocks and denim appeared to be heading their way. She groaned internally at the intrusion but kept her expression neutral. PA stood up with a huge smile to welcome the stranger.
“Idoko!, Idoko! The man who finished a pot of beans without even belching,” PA shouted, reaching to hug the man.
The man let out a guffaw before enveloping PA in his bear-like embrace. PA was tall but the man had the added advantage of being muscular and that made PA look like his son.
Toyosi stared. She had never seen PA in such a jovial mood, not even with Ovie or his pastors. It occurred to her that he had brought in his best friend to get his opinion of her. This was something she knew men did all the time. Without their best friend’s approval, they usually developed cold feet, no matter how attracted they had been to a lady in the first place. She put on her warmest smile. It was now ‘operation win PA’s mystery friend over’ and she was very much up to it. If that was how he wanted to play it, he had better be ready for a show.
Ovie and Ama came in as PA was introducing Idoko to Toyosi. He included them in the introductions and waved the waiter over as they all took their seats.
“How are you, my man? It’s so good to see you again,” PA said.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I can see this pastoring thing is favoring you,” Idoko teased.
Toyosi could see Ama and Ovie exchanging surprised glances and relaxed, taking comfort in the fact that she wasn’t the only one who was ambushed. She kept a pleasant expression on her face, just in case either of the two friends looked at her but neither paid her any mind.
“Please order breakfast or something. Let me catch up with this man. We’ve come a long way,” PA apologized.
Everyone murmured their consent while the waiter hovered over them, writing furiously. PA drew his chair close to Idoko and soon they were deep in conversation. Toyosi had no choice but to order some fruit salad so as not to look odd. Ovie had ordered a full continental breakfast. Ama’s order was similar. She, on the other hand was careful not to eat too much, knowing that her abdomen under the tight dress would disgrace her.
“How are you feeling now, Ovie?” PA asked suddenly.
Ovie was stumped. He had forgotten he had lied about having indigestion. Ama kicked him under the table.
“Ouch!” he yelled.
“What is wrong? Do you need to go to the hospital?” PA asked.
“No, sir. I am fine.” He glared at Ama.
“Okay. I need you to call Saviour. Let him prepare the guest room for Idoko. He cannot stay in a hotel while he is in my town.”
“Guest room?” Ovie repeated, obtuse.
“Yes.” PA affirmed.
He rose and excused himself.
“Ama, I know you have so much on your plate but from now, you will handle all enquiries Toyosi has about her teenage group. You have been involved in ours almost from inception and I don’t think there is anything she will need that you cannot provide. I have far too many things planned this month and I think I need to be prudent. Is that okay?”
Toyosi glanced at Ama, willing her to say No but knowing it would be too obvious. She cleared her throat noisily.
“Of course, PA; whatever, you need,” Ama replied without looking at Toyosi.
“So, Idoko, I particularly wanted you to meet Toyosi because she works for a magazine and I know you need publicity for your new film school. Hopefully, she can guide you on how to secure the best interviews with the media and get the exposure you need. As a “Jonny-just-come”, you don’t expect things to work here the way they do in South Africa.”
Idoko gazed at Toyosi keenly. “Hello again, Ma’m.”
“Hi, yourself,” she said dryly.
“So, I’ll give you both time to discuss and maybe set up another appointment. I have to dash off. Ovie will stay and bring you over to the house when you are good to go.” PA rose to his feet.
“That’s very gracious of you, man. I appreciate it.” Idoko rose to greet him with a handshake.
“It’s the least I could do.”
Ovie had returned.
“Aha! There you are. Stay with Idoko and help him find his way around town. I will go with the car. Pastor Mofe is expecting me. When he is tired of exploring Lagos, bring him to the house,” PA instructed.
“Yes, Sir.” Ovie nodded, bowing slightly.
“Toyosi, it was great seeing you. God bless you. Ama, see me in the office when you round up your meeting.”
He waved to everyone as he left. Idoko drew his seat close to Toyosi, intending to make good on the offer of her help with media exposure. Ama and Ovie exchanged glances over Idoko’s head, knowing that Toyosi was probably fuming on the inside but unable to do anything about it. PA was introverted but he was a very perceptive man. Ama sensed that they had crossed the line that day and that was why he handed the mentoring of Toyosi’s teenage group over to her. She didn’t blame him. The girl looked like Jacob’s pottage in her red outfit and she could see he was not willing to sell his birthright like Esau; not just yet and maybe not for Toyosi.
PA was taking a walk the next morning with Idoko. It was about 6.30am. He had already prayed and studied his bible for two hours as was his custom before his guest woke up. They were in their jogging suits, walking back home slowly, having done a power walk around the estate PA lived in.
“What did you think about the girl,” PA asked his companion.
“Toyosi?” Idoko asked in turn.
“She’s a looker.”
He didn’t say more so, PA waited. Idoko caught his eye and grinned.
“Do you like her?” PA asked.
“I didn’t know you were into match-making.” Idoko raised a brow.
“Ever since that girl broke your heart, you have not given anyone else a chance.”
“A chance to finish up from where she left off, right?” Idoko shook his head slowly.
“You need to move on.”
“Yeah and what’s your excuse?”
“I made the choice when I became born again to remain single. I have not regretted it but it was not made due to heart break,” PA replied.
“Why exactly did you make such a foolish decision?”
“I have never told anyone. I don’t think I can,” PA murmured thoughtfully.
Idoko nodded, understanding. Some things were meant to be left alone, even among friends. PA did not speak for a while. His friend walked beside him, lips pursed.
“Toyosi is in love with you,” he declared finally.
PA was stunned. He stopped in his tracks. “What makes you think so?”
“I know women. And this one is dangerous. She will not take no for an answer. If you are not interested, cut off totally,” his friend advised.
“Dangerous?” PA was blinking in unbelief.
“Take my word for it.”
They walked along in silence for a long while. Idoko took a gulp of water from the bottle he had brought along and stopped by a grassy patch. He turned aside and began to do some stretching exercises. PA sat on a log a few feet away, his head in his hands.
Is this what you have been trying to warn me about, Lord? Why then does everyone approve of her: Onyema, Ovie, Odion, Ama and even Onyema’s wife? Your word says that in a multitude of counsel, there is safety. Although I have tried to get your opinion, I cannot really say I feel physically attracted to her. I thought you were guarding me from temptation by giving me the grace to keep my feelings in check. Should I take this disquiet as your way of telling me to back off?
“Ima, you would not believe what happened to me today?” Zina clapped her hands as she spoke, seated on a kitchen stool in front of Imaobong who was kneading dough.
“What happened? Did you get lost?” Ima did not look at her but spoke with her eyes on the bowl she was working on.
“No, the house was easy to find.”
“Wasn’t Ovie there?”
“He was O!”
Imaobong stopped what she was doing and looked up with a frown. “Did he try anything funny?”
Zina laughed. “No.”
“So what is it?”
“I met PA.”
“For real? I don’t think I have really had a close encounter with him despite years of being a member of the church. He is very quiet.”
Imaobong narrowed her gaze when she saw that her friend had more to spill. However,she didn’t have to beg Zina to indulge her.
“He was sitting in front of the house. I thought it was Ovie and covered his eyes.”
“Abasi mbok!” Imaobong screamed. “You covered whose eyes?”
“I nearly fainted when he turned. Kai! My sister, foolishness is not good.”
Imaobong had her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide in astonishment.
“Wait till you hear the rest.”
“There is more? You mean he did not bind you and cast you out into the abyss? I heard he doesn’t play.”
“He plays O. I had to pry my hands out of his grasp,” Zina said, straight-faced.
“He held your hands? How?”
“He said I have very soft hands, that I am lovely and interesting.”
“It’s a lie! Zina, you are lying!” By this time, Imaobong was hitting her friends laps in disbelief.
“Ima, I cannot make up such a story.”
“Hmm…I was struggling not to bite my mouth. But Ima, that guy is fiiiiiine! Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you? Haven’t you been seeing him in church?”
“This ‘seeing’ was different. He was casually dressed and down to earth and he is a very good listener.” Her voice was becoming dreamy.
“Zina! You are in line to become the 1st lady O! I can’t believe it. My friend as PA’s wife?” Imaobong began to pace the kitchen, one hand on her hip, the other tugging at her chin.
“Hahaha! That is not likely to happen. He was just carried away.”
Imaobong stopped and faced her. “What do you mean? Now that I thought of it, you are a perfect fit. You are confident, out-spoken, used to being in leadership, well-versed in scripture, spirit-filled and stunning to boot. What’s to stop you from filling the vacancy?”
“I didn’t know there was a vancancy.”
“I didn’t either. He has been single for long and he promotes singleness. There was a time women were out to snare him but I think he wore them out. Besides, he has impregnable security. How did you even get so close to him?”
“I went to see Ovie. In fact I forgot he lives with PA. The man was just sitting there casually and he was hidden by some plants.”
“This has to be divine.”
“Na! I think God just wanted to teach me to see Pastors as human beings. I am in no way Pastor-wife material,” Zina shook her head sadly.
“Do you have anything against marrying a pastor?”
“No. I never thought about it but, I think it’s a call for those who have spotless records. I can’t even deceive myself on that one.”
“Who is spotless? Only the lamb is pure, my dear. Even PA is no angel.”
Zina frowned. “Does he have scandals trailing him?”
“No but, he always says salvation is a gift. We do nothing to earn it and we have no right to determine who is qualified before God and who is not. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
A call on Imaobong’s phone interrupted their conversation, leaving Zina to her thoughts.
All have sinned indeed but some sins leave scars and they are visible for the world to judge you. There are sins God may forgive but man may never forgive. I will live with the consequences of my decisions but which Pastor will join himself to a woman with my kind of baggage? No, it will never happen.
Moji, Idara and Toyosi were coming from the house of a musician they had gone to interview for their magazine. They were in Moji’s car, a roomy SUV with state of the arts fittings. Idara was fiddling with her camera in her lap. She was wearing a tank top on blue jeans, her standard work gear except they were attending a formal event. Moji was dressed in a black caftan, her expensive weave cascading down her shoulders in attempt to soften her hard frame. Toyosi was wearing a floral top on white capris. She looked lovely with her hair in a bun and minimal accessories.
“So how is your relationship with that Pastor? Have you guys fixed a date for the wedding?” Moji asked, tongue-in-cheek.
Idara rolled her eyes, wordlessly.
“What do you mean by ‘have we fixed a date’? Are you mocking me?” Toyosi was incensed.
“No, my dear,” Moji smirked.
“Anyway, he called me yesterday to invite me on a date.”
“Na lie!” Idara scoffed.
“I have a text to prove it. Do you want to see?” She handed her phone over to Moji as she spoke.
Moji and Idara read the message aloud, incredulous.
“10 am on Thursday at Brioche café is fine. Regards, PA.”
“Who is laughing, now?” Toyosi sang. “Behold, as long as the earth remains, seed-time and harvest-time will not cease.”
Her two friends glanced at each other and swallowed every thought of the intervention they had planned. She was obviously succeeding in her schemes. PA had never had a meeting with her in private and most of the meetings were instigated by her. That he was willing to be seen with her in a café was almost a public declaration of his interest in her.
Idara was almost seized by apoplexy over fears of being thrown out and more. Moji on the other hand saw the positive side of it. If her friend who was no better than her could land such a great guy, perhaps there was hope for her despite her age and the fact that she had an adopted child. She began to think that she might have been wrong to write off all men as evil. There could be someone out there who would love her for who she was and even be willing to marry her.
Toyosi eyed her friends, guessing their thoughts and laughed to herself. She knew what they thought of her brazen attempts to woo PA but she took comfort in the story of Ruth. Besides, she had no evil intentions for the man. All she wanted was to guard herself from the heartbreak that appeared to be all that the men she had been meeting had to offer. Was that too much to ask for? A man whose Yes was his Yes and whose No was his No. One who would not cheat on her, beat her or leave her. How could that be too much to ask.
“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…”
“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
If it seems too good to be true it probably is. You were such a blessing to us that after 3 months, we engaged a private tutor to teach you to read and write. Even spelling your name was a chore. I could not understand how a 21 year old could not read and write. You were so dilligent that you rarely needed tobe told what to do. In fact, I often had to scold you to stop cleaning and eat something. And the kids loved you.
Our bone of contention was the 1 weekend you had off every month. You claimed you spent it with a sister of yours in another state but I suspected this was not true. Someone called you each time you returned and you blushed and gushed over “him”, using endearments I had to memorize and ask someone who spoke your language to translate. Eventually, you opened up to me about him. It was the day he seized your purse and prevented you from returning on the right day. You told me you loved and wanted to marry him. Moreso, as you were told women are like flowers that bloom in the morning and wilt at night. Someone sold the lie to you that if you did not marry him, you would be left on the shelf.
I reasoned with you, I begged, I pleaded. I wanted you to spend 2 years with us because if you learned to read and write you could take O’levels as a private candidate and then update your employability. You see, Nanny, I did not want you to remain a Nanny for life. I dreamed of you owning a cleaning services company, or heading a franchise, for you are a good leader. My heart was broken when you left a few months ago to marry him. Notice he refused to meet us as requested. Did you say he promised to hire a tutor for you? What a laugh! People will say anything to fool you.
I ignored you for a while, answering coldly when you called to ask about the kids. Even when you called on E-boy’s birthday, I was surprised you remembered but I didn’t ask if you needed help. I heard it in your voice, I sensed your regret, I felt your pain but, it was not my business, I decided. You laid your bed and you would lie in it.
Today, you are back, cleaning my house every day and returning to him at night. What difference has he made in your life? He snatched you out , for what? You have no skills, no training, no education. He did not start a business for you. I heard you live in a wooden house in the slum. I dare not ask for I know you will say all is well.
Well, I hope he is worth it. I hope he still professes the love for that is all he has to give. Please, Nanny, look out for yourself. It’s a cold cruel world out there. Even in marriage, there is often extreme loneliness, sometimes leading to depression and suicidal thoughts. I know how many young mothers who have told me they felt like taking their lives because their husbands appeared so fulfilled in their careers while they felt stuck with the kids.
Look out for yourself, darling. It’s a cold, cold, world.
Cheers, Dr. N
Jeff was going over the pictures of his ex-girlfriend, Ejiro.They first met in church during a meeting organized by the leaders of the youth fellowship to appoint a few of them to form a committee that would be charged with visiting members who had special needs. It had been observed that those who lost a loved one, or needed company at one social event or the other, often complained that they lacked brethren to go with them. They would be named Youth Hangout.
He had been a member of Mountaintop Church since he moved to Lagos and served in their technical department. People who saw him manning the cameras or carrying heavy equipment would not have believed he was a HR manager. But he was too humble to care. He never forgot where he came from or who it was who had lifted him from the pit of poverty. Ejiro and Jeff became fast friends. They were inseparable for months, attending weddings together, going to the beach, shopping, seeing movies: the entire church knew them and everyone was expecting to hear of their engagement.
1 year later, Jeff proposed. It was during a visit to a park in Abuja. He had enlisted her friends and family to surprise her. She was ecstatic as he slipped the diamond ring over her finger. They began to plan their wedding for the later part of that year. Jeff scrolled over her pictures which he still had in his phone 1 year after their break-up. She was tall, slightly taller than he was, fair and slender, with striking features that never failed to earn her a 2nd glance wherever she went. He was immensely proud of her. She made him feel lucky. He, Jeff, the local campus photographer, the orphan; engaged to such a princess, a lawyer working in a multinational company? It had to be a miracle.
1 month after their engagement, they went to Ghana together to attend a wedding. Jeff booked two rooms that were opposite each other. Ejiro did not know of this arrangement till they arrived Ghana. She was livid.
“What is really going on? Are you avoiding me or you are hiding something? ,” she asked in the taxi.
“Nothing is wrong! What could I be hiding?,” he was surprised.
“Ever since we got engaged, you have not given me so much as a kiss. Now that we have the perfect opportunity to discover one another, you booked different rooms for us! Are you for real?,” she asked not caring that the cab driver could hear them. ”
I told you how I feel about honouring God with our bodies from the day we met,” he defended.
“Yeah, I feel the same way. The same God said we should not go into anything without being sure. How will we know if we are compatible?,” she questioned, crossing her arms across her chest.
“I can’t believe you are saying this.”
“Saying what? I have no intention of taking a blind leap. We will soon be married and I believe no one expects us not to be together.”
” I love you, honey. Can we not argue in front of everyone? ,” he cajoled.
She turned away from him with a humph. The wedding was a disaster as she refused to say a word to him. When they returned to the resort, he walked her to her room and tried to give her a hug but she pushed him away. He returned to his room in torment.
“Lord,” he prayed. “Should I go and beg her?”
“No,” he heard. “If you go to her, you will not be able to say No. Ask her to meet you outside.”
He sent her a text asking her to meet him in the garden of the resort. While he waited, he prayed. He had not told her he was a virgin because he never saw it as a big deal. It didn’t matter to him if the girl he married was a virgin or not. All he cared about was that she had practiced abstinence after giving her life to Christ. He believed in the God of a second chance. Ejiro had told him that she had been celibate for the 2 years she had been a believer. That was enough for him.
He watched her approach him, drawing stares from 2 men who were lounging by the pool. Rising, he held out a hand to claim ownership. She leaned in for a hug. He guided her to a stone bench and told her his conversion story. She listened silently.
“I love you so much, darling,” he said at the end. “Please, understand how much you mean to me.”
She sighed as she held his hands. “You mean you are a virgin? At 31?” she asked, incredulous.
“Yes, Is that strange?” he wondered.
“No, I think it is great. It’s just not for me,” she said.
“What do you mean?” he asked, frowning.
“I cannot marry a virgin. I don’t think it is possible for a ‘normal’ man to see a woman and not be moved. Let me not get into what I will regret.” As she spoke, she released her hands from his grasp and averted her gazed.
He was pained. “Are you implying that something is wrong with me? I am very much okay,” he defended.
“Please, don’t misunderstand me. I applaud your self-control. God will give you a girl who deserves you. As for me, I need a little more experience. ”
“What does that mean? You were once a virgin, were you not? Can’t we learn together?”
“No O! Please, I don’t want stories that touch the heart. Let us end it here. No one has to know. I will just say we found out we were not compatible. ”
Jeff rose. “Ejiro, I thank you for being honest with me. Have a great life.”
She also rose and scratched her head. “Ummm, yeah, take care.”
Jeff watched her walk away. It took all his ego not to go after her. She was the woman of his dreams. He debated lifting her in his arms, carrying her to his room, pinning her to the bed, and showing her exactly how much of a man he was. Then he felt a calm descend over him. He could not describe it. It was like ice cream in a hot desert. Suddenly, he did not feel the need to prove himself anymore. He did not need to bask in the glow of her adulation. He did not need her to validate his existence: Not anymore.
Ejiro’s pictures had remained in his phone despite their break-up. Now that he realised he was spending far too much time thinking about Veronica, he decided to do something about them. God had been dealing with him about cutting off totally. He had stopped calling her and cut off from her social media accounts though they remained civil in church. However, just as the Israelite kings often left the high places in Israel, he had clung to her pictures.
That same calm that came over him in the garden when tears were stinging his eyelids descended on him again. He was lying on his bed, holding his phone in his hands. Praying in the spirit, he began to delete all her pictures. It was like getting rid of an over-grown beard. He felt new, lighter, refreshed. A smile stretched out his lips. Maybe, God wanted him to try again. Heaven knew he had avoided women like a plague but today, he felt like trying again; casting in his net for 1 last haul.
Perez and Abel were hanging out at a bar. It was 11am but they were already high on drugs and alcohol. They were alone. It was a bar that belonged to a friend so they were allowed in though it was not yet officially open. They were bored at home and had decided to get wasted.
“What did that lawyer say about our chances of getting dad’s will overturned?” Abel asked.
“He is optimistic but he is costing us so much. I think we may have to sell more of the stuff at home. We are running out of cash,” Perez replied groggily.
“I wish we could just sell that house, man…”
“Yeah, mate. Lots of cash tied up there. You know, I got a script that I think will make a great movie”
“What’s it about?”
“This tough dude who just goes ballistic when a guy breaks into his home and kidnaps his baby. He rescues her after bashing in the bad guy’s head!”
“That’s what I’m talking about,”Abel exclaimed and slapped his thigh.
“Yeah! Some serious kung fu moves there too.”
“When does filming start?”
“Money, mate, money is the issue! How do I pay for stuff when that little girl is sitting on our inheritance? ”
“Even if we took over the hospital today, we would have to sell it to raise that kind of money. Running it will only gulp more money cause that girl has run in down.”
“In 2 months?”
“Yeah. Kasarachi told me she doesn’t know what she is doing. I don’t think the staff believe in her. Patients often refuse to see her.”
“Who’s Kasarachi? ”
“The one who gave you sexual healing? “Perez laughed as he slapped his brother’s shoulder.
“She has mad talents, mate. And they are not medical.”
“I tell you. Empty upstairs, gifted in every other way,” Perez agreed.
“And how would you know that? You have not been…”
“She sent me her nudes”
“Whaaaaaat! You are a bloody liar. How did she get your number?” Abel was bristling with fury.
“See for yourself.” He handed his brother his phone.
Abel took it and looked at the page that was opened for him. His eyes widened at pictures of an unclothed Kasarachi in various poses. The pictures had been sent over the course of the week that he had spent chatting with her via text. He could not believe his eyes.
“Forget her, mate. She is not worth it. Let’s call that guy that bought the Prado SUV. Maybe he can find a buyer for some of the other stuff. We need money fast.”
Abel was silent for a while before nodding. No woman had ever come between them. No woman ever would.
Veronica was in the emergency room attending to a patient when Nurse Anuli came in.
“Doctor, some policemen are in your office. They said they came to arrest you,” she whispered so the patient would not hear.
Veronica’s felt like her heart would drop into her stomach. She could not concentrate.
“My God!”she exclaimed.
“Let me finish up while you go and see them. Don’t worry, God is in control.”
Veronica stumbled from the room to the hallway, already feeling the sting of tears on her eyelids. How could she handle the police? This was more than she had bargained for. Nothing in her medical training had prepared her for a life behind bars. What would become of her if her licence was revoked? She had dreamed of being a doctor all her life. It was all she knew to do and all she wanted to do.
Matron Ngwanu came across her standing in the hallway. She was a tall, overweight, woman in her 50s, who believed she was better than everyone else and made sure they knew it.
“Doc,” she mocked. “Why are you here? The police are waiting for you. I think you should go with them so they don’t disturb the patients. Dr. Korede and I can manage the hospital.”
Veronica looked at her angrily. She opened her mouth to say something rude but shut it when she felt a nudge from within.
“Are you okay?” Matron Ngwanu asked again.
Veronica ignored her and turned away. She headed for the restroom. Once she was sure she was alone, she pulled out her phone and called Barr. Obi.
“Sir, I just heard that policemen are in my office to arrest me. What do I do?”
“What station are they from? Do they have a warrant? What is the charge?”
“I have not spoken to them. Right now, I am hiding in the toilet.”
“Go to them. Stall them, that you won’t go anywhere without your lawyer. Blow hot air, say you have a critical patient. Whatever it takes, delay them till I get there. I will do my best to meet you in 1 hour.”
“1 hour! I doubt I can stall them for that long,” Veronica cried.
“Just do your best.”
Veronica ended the call and knelt down in the bathroom.
“Heavenly father, I have served you with clean hands all the years I have known you. Now, I am faced with a giant of a problem that is bigger than me. If I could trust the legal system, I would not come to you but you know how things work in Nigeria. Father, deliver me from those that are stronger than me. Give me courage. I am so afraid. Make me bold. Let my appearance be larger than my frame. Silence my accusers and give me victory. Above all, let not my good work of trying to save that boy turn to my downfall. I know you have sent angels to guard me. Thank you”
Suddenly, she felt as bold as a lion. Rising, she rinsed her face with water, dried it with a paper napkin, straightened her clothes, and fixed her hair. Facing her reflection in the mirror, she smiled.
“No temptation has seized me but that which is common to ladies with my kind of abilities. God has provided a way of escape so I will be observant so as not to miss it. It must end in praise,” she declared.
Then she turned to the door, opened it and stepped out. *************************************************************************************
If you have an African mother, you know how much power a glance carries. As children, when we visited a friend of the family or a relative, we knew better than to jump at every offer of food or drinks. You had to check with mom. Sometimes she would not say anything. It was left to you to recall her “earlier expressed sentiments” about that individual. Silence can be so loud, I tell you.
In my line of work, confidentiality is absolute. Or is it? So many things happen in the hospital that make you want to scream. Unfortunately, you have to plaster on a smile and carry on. I want to use an incident that a matron told me she was personally involved in, to remind us all to learn to take a hint.
This lady had been the matron in charge of that particular hospital for years. She knew every patient, their kids, their addresses, their dogs, and even their cats. She’s the kind of lady who could reel off a patient’s medical history if his file got lost. That’s how good she was.
One day, a spritely young nurse was employed in the hospital. She was very pretty and eager. Before long, there was a rumor that she was being courted by one of the hospital’s richest patients. This man had the kind of money that makes people answer “Yes, Sir!”, when no one called them. (That was meant to be a joke in case you didn’t get it). He was in his mid forties, either divorced or widowed, and had been a patient for a long time. The matron called the young nurse aside.
“Is it true Mr. Moneybag asked you out?”,she enquired.
Young nurse rolls her eyes, and makes a face.
“I’m just asking”, Matron reassures.
“Yeah, he asked me out”, Nurse replies, looking away rudely.
“Are you interested in him? I thought you had someone before you came? ”
“Eh…He is not really serious…”
“I just want to advise you, as my daughter, investigate well before you have anything to do with anyone. Some of these men are not straightforward”
Young nurse made some non commital sound and walked away. Shortly after, another member of staff walked up to the Matron to ask her if she had any problem with young nurse. It turns out that she had told a number of people that the matron was jealous of her. The wise lady realised she was being labelled a “hater”, “enemy of progress”, and worse. She went back to the nurse and apologized for being nosy, assuring her that she had no evil intentions.
You may have figured it out. Mr. Moneybag had AIDS and his status was a closely guarded secret. He and the nurse had a lavish society wedding. The who is who of the town attended. She had everything she could ever dream of. The Matron shook her head while the lady danced and he sprayed her with Naira bills.
AIDS is most certainly not a death sentence. You can live a very normal life and even get married. However, I am sure, any sane person will prefer to go into such a marriage, fully informed and prepared. There lies the crux of my message. You know better than every one else. The property you want to acquire, someone tells you that area is prone to floods but, you won’t listen. The job you are taking, they have been owing their staff for months, yet you plunge right in. I don’t even want to speak of relationships.
Will every situation be perfect? No! Sometimes, we need to take risks. However, according to Ben Carson, risks should be evaluated carefully. This year, keep your sensitivity acute, your ears sharp and your intuition active. You will need it.