NYSC

Fall On My Sword

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Chapter 1

 

 

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.”

“Yeah”

“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

 

 

******

 

Kindly comment, like, share and follow me on twitter @nenabekee

I hope to post 2 drafts every week.

Cheers,

Dr.N

Bottom power

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African American woman lying in bed, covering face with hands.

My post on ‘Sleeping your way to the top’ reminded me of this story. For NYSC (A mandatory 1 year paramilitary service in Nigeria where you are posted to a state different from yours to work usually in a rural setting), I had lots of adventures. I was posted to a village in the Niger Delta, whose health centre had always been run by a nurse. She was surprised but happy to see me. They delivered skeletal services and she came from the town 3 times a week. I told her I needed accommodation, so she took me to the village head.

He was a dark, tall and stocky man in his 40s. Once I was introduced, he made an exclamation in his language (which I didn’t understand). It didn’t need interpretation. His wife(from within the house), began scolding him loudly and he laughed. He promised to rent a room for me and deliver fresh fish to me daily. Next he collected my number (to keep in touch), and told me I was highly welcome. I left the village fearful. Obviously, my medical skills were not required as much as ‘other’ skills, I need not mention. Therefore, I began to pray for a change.

While the accommodation was being prepared, and my phone being bugged daily by the village head, a miracle occured. The male nurse I worked with in the orientation camp clinic, was an elderly man. One day, he had severe abdominal pain from peptic ulcer. I felt so concerned because of his age and went all out to ensure he had food to eat, before taking his drugs. At a point, I had to spoon feed him since there was no other nurse on duty. He never forgot it.

Turns out he was a chief in his village (who would have thought). The doctor posted to their health centre absconded since the village had no electricity. He convinced their king to request that I be posted to them. Before I knew it, a letter was written to the NYSC authorities, with the King’s seal, requesting me personally. I was therefore sent to give the local co-ordinator my new posting letter to that effect.

What surprised me, was that everyone, from the NYSC state staff, to the local staff kept asking me how I met this King. I narrated the above story but they all snorted. One particular woman told me to my face that I should be careful how I dated older men. I got tired of protesting my innocence. Coming from strangers, it was less painful. However, a colleague also wanted to be posted to this health centre. He told me to either decline or ask for both of us to get the job, as he needed the freedom it would give him. The pay would be higher and he would report to no one. Prior to this, he was posted to a secondary health institution where he would answer to many senior doctors.

The king insisted he wanted to try a lady, as they had never had one and all. I thought the matter ended there. Few months later, I went for a free medical treatment scheme sponsored by an NGO. They paid us a stipend to provide our services for 1 week in a village only accessible by boat. One of the dentists who came with us, had worked with me at the orientation camp. He began to narrate his bitter experience at the hands of the colleague who had contested my job with me.

It turns out my colleague reported him for sneaking off to do the free medical treatment scheme since he was not invited. Meanwhile, the dentist had told him in confidence, that he arranged for another doctor to cover his duty. Full of regret, he apologized to me for believing the lies that one spread about me.

“Do you know he said you slept with the king of that village? Everyone heard it. In fact, I not only believed, I help spread the story”, he confessed.

“But we worked together. Did I give you any reason to believe I would stoop to such measures?” I asked.

“You know how it is. Many girls do whatever it takes. I just thought you were pretending earlier”

“Really?”

“I feel so foolish. Look how he has showed his true colours. I am in danger of getting a query or a sack, because I trusted him”

“Never trust a gossip”, I laughed.

Yes, I laughed. You see, the bible says “Why do the heathen rage? He who sits in the heavens shall laugh!”

I shared this to remind you, you don’t need to make it your headache to prove people wrong about you.

Are you doing the best you can?

Is someone insinuating otherwise?

Do you wonder why the conversation changes when you enter the room?

As long as your conscience is clear, please wait for God to vindicate you. I know what I went through that period. This is not familiar terrain because I was fresh out of medical school and had never encountered such evil. Remember that in school, everyone knows what you can do. But, God gave me the courage to forgive and to let go.

Today, I urge you, let go of bitterness and move on. Peace means that a storm could be raging, but you’re just sitting on Jesus’ laps, munching fries. Munch on then, munch on.

Cheers, Dr. N

Return to Sender

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A reader made a comment that reminded me of this story. I had been contemplating sharing it but, I was unsure of how it would pan out. She shared how she rejected the temptation to get depressed over an issue simply by saying No! Well, let me share my own story.

While serving as an NYSC doctor (Read my post ‘Eat that frog’), I lived in the village I worked in. My house was a 2 bedroom apartment with a sitting room, dining room and kitchen. The matron lived in the adjoining apartment. Patients came at odd hours to knock on my door. Though I tried to restrict them to clinic hours, they would plead that farm work or trading determined when they came.
© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

At this time, my mother held a political office in another state. I did not let anyone know. Rather, I maintained a low profile. The villagers saw no difference between the other corp members and I. Save for the fact that my house was bigger and I worked longer hours, of course. The village head had assured me of my safety and the people were generally hospitable.

One day, I got a text from an unknown person. It said that he had a revelation that there was a plot to kidnap me because of my mother’s position. He asked me to be careful and vigilant as only this would ensure that the dream or prophecy was averted. He signed off as a pastor. My spirit was so angry. I felt like throwing something. I replied him that there was no such plot and I did not accept that imagination. Also, I warned him never to send such messages to me again. He said it was good that I had faith but I should be prayerful. I cut him off. After that, I told my mother not to give my number to any prayer merchant . However, I did not tell her why.

Shortly after this, a corp member was rushed in late at night. He was said to have been drugged by some unknown men in a bus conveying him back to the village. The people who brought him said some villagers found him unconscious. Probably, he had been thrown out of the bus. He had no visible injuries and his vital signs were stable. I tried to resuscitate him but, he remained unconscious for about 2 hours. The hour was too late to refer him, though some corp members were trying to find a car to convey him.

I prayed and God told me he was in shock and that I should not do anything more. So, I confidently told the panicking friends gathered that he would wake up when he was ready. They could not understand why I was so calm. Well, daddy said it was gonna be okay, why should both of us be awake at the same time? When he was good and ready, he woke up and was barely able to narrate what happened. As far as I could tell, he suffered no untoward effects. I asked him to spend the night and leave in the morning. His friends had refused to inform his parents on phone. He was an only child and they feared his mother would pass out.

The next day, he left after I told him we would bill the NYSC for his treatment. The drugs had been released to me on trust as I stood surety for him. Getting that money was like squeezing water from a rock. I will tell that story another day. However, through the years since then, I have wondered about that incident. There was no other such case till I left. Was that plot actually designed for me? Is it that the prophet was right and I didn’t regard his words? Was the guy a substitute for me? Should I accept negative revelations like that in future? I couldn’t answer these questions until my pastor preached one day on prophecy.

He said prophecy should edify. If it does not, then I have the right to shut it down. Even when it is negative, there is always a clear instruction to avert it. Also, I don’t have to receive such from a stranger. Only a man of God whose call and integrity I can vouch for, should speak into my life. Remember the story of King Uzziah. The prophet was sent to tell him to put his house in order and prepare to die. He turned to the wall and marshaled out his stong arguments. God sent the prophet back to tell him he would not die.

From all these, I concluded that what I bind on earth, is bound in heaven. Whether the man was right or not is inconsequential. I decided not to receive it, and like any package in the mail, I simply sent it back to the sender. Who the sender is, doesn’t matter.

Today, we live in troubled times. Let not your heart be troubled. Do not permit anyone to steal your peace. Those dream interpreters (Joseph dreamed of food and did not die), the people who read meanings into nail scratches on your skin and so on. Stop taking their calls, don’t listen to them.

The peace of God will set up a garrison around your heart, stabilizing your blood pressure and keeping your skin supple. Cheers

A Bite and An Affair.

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One day, I attended a meeting with some ladies. In the process of our discussion, I made a remark about how women were opting to have children out of wedlock. The next time we met, someone pointed out to me, that a lady who had been in attendance, was a single mother. She was absent from this 2nd meeting. I immediately tried to recall my words, to determine if they had been unkind. Alas, I could not remember them. Even if I could, I could not take them back.

Words are difficult to reverse. I share this because we find it so easy to judge others for sins we may also be gulity of. The other day, someone mentioned homosexuality on facebook and asked if it was right to support gay rights. I have no interest in gay rights, as we all know the bible’s opinion on the act itself. However, if I am sleeping with a man I am not married to, what gives me the right to judge a homosexual?That is the crux of my post, today.

We are quick to shoot off our opinions about others. Are we secretly doing the same or worse? During my NYSC (Read my post ‘Eat that Frog’), I was called to see a woman rushed in with a laceration on her upper lip. She was moaning in pain, surrounded by the staff, who were pressing some gauze to minimize the bleeding. When I examined her, I found that it was quite deep and had left a portion of her lip almost detached.

Guess what happened? She was having an affair with a married man. His wife accosted her in the market place to demand that she end the affair. Of course, she showered her with abuses. Well, the lady proceeded to push her to the floor and pummel her with blows! Dear muse, do not get into a fight with a village woman, particularly one from Niger Delta! They have huge biceps from farming and fishing. Your life may never remain the same!
© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation

During the course of the altercation, the wife proceeded to bite off my patient’s lip. I guess the onlookers sympatized with the offended woman, since they did not attempt to separate them. However, when blood started flowing, they rushed the victim to the hospital. I was suturing the cut while the story was being narrated.

Expecting the wise ladies who worked with me, to berate her, I worked silently. To my amazement, they blamed the other lady.

“Why would she attack you publicly like that?”, one asked.

“I can’t fight over a man!”, another exclaimed.

“Rubbish! Does he belong to 1 woman? He has the right to get what she is not giving him elsewhere! ”

I was shocked. Then I realized one of my staff (who I will not describe but will name Q), was the loudest voice. She was laughing and gisting and gesticulating, while assisting me. Q was in her late 40s to 50s, married with grown children. Her husband and kids lived elsewhere and she lived alone in the village, working in the health centre.

She had a married man as a boyfriend. In fact, the 1st day he came to see her, I greeted him respectfully, thinking he was her husband. Later, the local radio (gossips), told me he was not. Every other Friday, he arrived with gifts to spend the weekend. An ungainly man in his 50s, with an abdomen so rotund, I pitied the motor bikes that brought him. He was neither handsome nor rich. I really wondered what attracted them to each other. As she went on mouthing what she would have done if so attacked, I watched her in amazement.

She felt so smug that her lover’s wife would never find out about her, or would be afraid to come to another village to attack her. Imagine how small people can be! I heard that the man’s wife was suffering neglect because of the control Q exerted on her husband. He even showed up on valentine’s day with a huge chunk of meat! What! The cheek of it! And she would convince anyone of how religious she was.

Dear muse, let us remove the specks in our eyes before discussing the planks in other eyes. If I abort my own babies, who am I to mock a single mother? At least, she owned up to her deeds. If I tell lies, who am I to blame the government for spinning stories to make themselves look good? If I wear so much make up that I am unrecognisable without it, why would I blame the guy who deceived me into believing he owns houses in Denmark, when he can barely feed? We must stop it with the double standards.

Do we condone evil? No! But we overcome evil with good. Cheers, Dr. N.

Sugar and Friends.

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Chronic diseases are the most annoying, I think. To be given a diagnosis, and told you have to live with the symptoms for life, can be unnerving. I don’t know of anyone who would not try some other method to get a solution. Diseases like Hypertension, Asthma, Sickle cell disease, Diabetes and the like have become very common in Nigeria. People blame it on our changing culture, dietary changes, and even on pollution. I am of the opinion that they always existed. It’s just that when people died, there was no diagnosis. Evil spirits took the blame.

During my NYSC, (please read my post Eat that Frog), I had a friend who l will call kk. She was probably 19 to 21 years old, slender, and very pretty. She was diabetic and was dependent on Insulin shots.Let me give a little background. Diabetes is a condition in which there is excess sugar (glucose), in the blood because for some reason, the tissues are unable to utilize it for their energy needs. The glucose in the blood constitutes a huge problem, apart from the fact that the tissues are starving.
Portrait of a Fulani woman, Mopti, Mali, West Africa, Africa

Most times, the tendency is hereditary. This means that having a diabetic parent can put you at risk. At other times, no one knows the cause. Remember that all our food is converted to glucose in the body for use by our tissues. The blood is just a transport medium and should not contain more than a certain amount of glucose at any time.

Kk did not accept her diagnosis. She tried herbal cures, and all manner of interventions, I care not to mention. When there was a crisis, they would rush her to the health centre and I would resuscitate her. Buying her insulin was a huge challenge. I wish I had an endowment fund for such youngpeople. You see, her parents were not interested in coughing out money. They felt she should go and hustle.

She was in a relationship with a much older man (probably married). It was he who occasionally gave her money for Insulin. She did not restrict herself to the recommended diet, or check her blood glucose regularly. In fact, she was fond of disappearing without notice. At a time, she developed a nasty sore on her foot. It produced a foul-smelling exudate which drove her to the clinic. I had warned her not to come if she would not obey my instructions.

In that condition, I had to treat her. She would smile when I scolded her about resorting to herbs.

“Doc, the herbs are working. How can I be taking injections for the rest of my life?”, she would ask.

“Try to be consistent first”, I advised. “You don’t even eat the right food”

“Hmm. I should not eat garri? How can I eat beans everyday?”

“I gave you a menu. You don’t need to eat beans daily. See how skinny you are, and dehydrated. You don’t drink enough water”

I could only scold her half-heartedly for I really liked her. She was very pretty and ambitious. Her affair with the older man was to fund her education and she had good grades. Though not the best of ideas, at least she had a plan.

One day, I heard that she had died. She had stayed away for long with the foot ulcer and depended on her herbs. Who knows how she died. I cried for my friend. Perhaps I could have saved her, perhaps not. Chronic diseases are frustrating. I feel helpless telling patients I know of no cure for them. Who am I, then, to stop them from trying alternative medicine?

If someone boasts that he can cure AIDS, Hypertension, and Diabetes, and I can’t, should I stop my patients from checking him out? What proof do I have that his herbs are harmful? Where is God in all this? Here is my take on all this.

God is superior to medicine. He can cure anything, even replace limbs. One thing, though, is you have to accept the diagnosis. Not as final, but as a test you have to pass. What I mean is, if a diagnosis is made, just go through the motions to fulfill all righteousness. It is like refusing to write an exam because you believe you passed from the foundation of the earth!

You can and should petition God for the cure science cannot give. I cannot tell you how many have been taken off medication when they showed up healed. I have no problem with herbs, God will use anything. Only be sure you are being told the truth. I will trust the mechanic who admits he doesn’t know the solution, over the one who knows everything but never gets anything done. Somehow the blame always comes back to you.

“It is because you took the drugs with cold water!”

It’s because you were menstruating! ”

“You ate okro soup on the same day!”

Somehow these rules are not given beforehand and they are modified as you go. We all have to be a support for those passing through such challenges. Be there for them. Encourage them. Tell them they are not alone and they don’t have to die in it. Demystify the disease so they do not feel alone. I pray we all enjoy the best of health . Cheers

Cords of love 3 (prose)

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This is a sequel to ‘The Attraction’

Chapter 3.

Laura was on phone with her cousin Ekene. He called to inform her that he had been anointed the Assistant Pastor of Gospel of Grace Fellowship.

“Praise the Lord, Ekene! I’m so happy they recognised the call on your life”

“Amen. The anointing service was awesome! You should have been there”

“I couldn’t make it, dear. With my meagre allowance, I could not afford to travel east”

“How is work?”

“Things are winding down of course. It will soon end, so I’ll be back to port Harcourt”

“Great. Do you have any job opportunities waiting?”

“None, my brother. I will enter the job market like my mates”

“I actually called for that reason”

“Really? Does your dad have a job for me?”

“You want to work in that his company that owes for several months before paying up?” Laura laughed.

“God gave me a word for you”, Ekene said solemnly.

“Yeah?”

“He says that the rod in your hand, is what He will use to part the red sea. You must not despise what you have”

“Rod in my hand?”

“Your baking skills. You are actually very good, I don’t know if you believe it”

“Ekene, do you know how many people are baking cakes? Every Tom, Dick, and Harry! It’s not easy to break into the market”, she lamented.

“Put all your savings into buying the equipment you need. Then prove God. If I am a false prophet, the business will not thrive”, Ekene declared.

“Hmm”

“Can you take God at his word?”

“Ekene, I will think, sorry, pray about it”

“Alright. Meanwhile send me airtime. You are still my big cousin”, Ekene whined.

“Haha! Pastor Ekene! Collecting offering, eh?”

“No, O! You know everything! ”

“Alright, I’ll send what I can”

“Okay, take care”

“Bye”

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

Uche was getting dressed for work. Bisi was lounging in bed as she had no need to go to work that day. She turned a magazine idly.

“Are they going to retain you at work?”, she asked Uche.

“No, I plan to go to Lagos. Someone promised me a job”

“Who? Dan? That one who came here empty-handed?”

“Empty-handed? He took us out for lunch!”

“That was why you left August?”

“Bisi!”

“Spirikoko! You left a correct guy for someone who is feeding his family on a small salary and has no car!”

“How much do cars cost? He will soon buy one”, Uche was applying her make-up in the mirror.

Bisi laughed mockingly. “When they advise you people, you will refuse to listen. Look at the kind of money August has. He broke up with Veronica and has been begging you for months”

“It’s not that. I love Dan. Why should I continue with August?”

“Because he is born again, richer, more handsome, and crazy about you!”

“Did he pay you or what?”

“No, O!”, Bisi protested.

“Are you sure? Because he offered Laura N500,000 if she convinces me to dump Dan for him!”, Uche turned to face her

“What! And he promised me only N300, 000!”, Bisi blurted.

“Bisi!”, Uche exclaimed.

Bisi realized her slip and clapped her hands over her mouth. “Oops! Sorry, but, I actually think he’s a great guy”

“This is the last time you will mention him to me. Is that clear? “, Uche warned.

“Abeg, sorry O! My lips are sealed. Go and marry that one. Instead of your wedding to feature on Bella Naija, we will be donating money for you”, she mocked.

“Bisi! I will not warn you again!”

“Sorry”, she muttered and got up to leave the room.

Uche made a hissing sound and turned to snap her make up case shut. “Greedy thing!”, she muttered. “Dreaming of N300, 000”

Chapter 4

Ekene was reading in the library. He had ananatomy test the next day. Sunday service had been awesome the day before, as he was given an opportunity to preach. It was his 1st time, and the reception was mind blowing. Many were prostrate, getting slain in the spirit, receiving healings, repenting and just worshipping with no restraint.

After the meeting at 8.00pm, he stayed behind to attend a meeting with Pastor Excel. They were mapping out strategies for the expansion of the fellowship. Also, there was the issue of the anniversary coming up the next month. They needed to choose a guest minister and a theme. The meeting ended at 11pm. He headed to his room and after a shower, set off for class with his bones, books, and torch. Many others were headed the same way, for an all nighter.

He stopped on the way to buy fried yams, potatoes and Coca Cola. The hawker had no change to give him his balance, so he stood there waiting for her to ask around for change.At midnight, he got to the classroom. He saw Sherry seated at the back and made his way to join her. Beside her were James and another classmate.

“Good evening, Pastor Ekene”, she greeted.

“Good evening. Course repo! I’m loyal! “, he set down his package on the table and sat down.

“It’s a pity what Dr. Ikponwusa did to you”, she commiserated.

“Don’t mind that man”, he smiled and turned to shake hands with James.

“That guy can be mean. I don’t understand why he didn’t let you in. Afterall, you were only 15 minutes late and it was a surprise quiz”, James added.

“I hope he won’t make use of it for our continuous assessment? “, Ekene asked.

“I pray not. I didn’t answer the question on Elbow joint well. When I checked my text later, I saw that I had written rubbish”, James mourned.

“Guys, please, let’s lower our voices. Some people are reading!”, complained the other classmate.

The three apologized. Ekene brought out his food and offered some to everyone. They all thanked him and rejected it, except for James. Both of them munched away, as Ekene turned to open his book. It was almost 1am.

“Ekene, Ekene, wake up! “, Sherry shook him 1 hour later.

“Hmm”, he rubbed his eyes.

“You’ve been sleeping for long”

“Mmmmm. I really needed that nap”, he wiped off the saliva that had dribbled on his book. Turning, he saw that James was also asleep.

“That one will not wake up today! I have been trying to wake him”, Sherry said.

“It’s well. Let me take a walk to clear my head”, Ekene rose up to step outside.

Outside, he began to sing and walk up and down the corridor. His voice was low, in order not to disturb those reading. Soon, he broke into prayers.He had a burden to pray for his test, as he could feel a heaviness in his spirit concerning it. After 1 hour of prayers, he returned to the classroom. James was still asleep.

(To be continued. Please click on the title to leave a comment)

*Spirikoko: Someone who is overly spiritual.
*Abeg: Pidgin English for I beg.
*Bella Naija: Lifestyle Website.

Cords of Love 2.(prose)

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This is a Sequel to ‘The Attraction’. Please read if you have not. Thanks.

Chapter 2.

Pastor Chuks called for a meeting of the executive members of Gospel of Grace fellowship. He was graduating soon, and the matter of who would succeed him was up for discussion. The meeting was holding in his room. It was spacious, though sparsely furnished.

Already, his assistant had brought in chairs, borrowed from neighbours to accommodate the group. At 7pm, the room was full. A standing fan creaked noisily, attempting to cool the room.

“Praise the Lord!”, began Pastor Chuks. “Pastor Excel, please lead us in prayers”

Pastor Excel led a rousing prayer session, before Pastor Chuks continued.

“This will be my last Semester in school. Among other matters to be discussed, we need to choose a new pastor for the fellowship. I have prayed about it and discussed with our founder, Pastor Achigbu. What I need today, is your input. We want to make sure everyone is carried along”

“Praise the Lord!”. This was Justin the music director. “I believe Pastor Excel should have that position. Except he declines. He has done very well this past year”

“I also second the motion for Pastor Excel to be anointed in your place, Pastor Chuks”, said Sister Boma.

Other voices joined in chorusing their support for him. Soon the various positions for Music director, Ushering director and Follow up director, were filled. Their occupants were all graduating.

“Who should be the Assistant Pastor then? “, Pastor Chuks asked.

“Bro. Bright of the follow up department is a good choice”, suggested Sis. Clara.

“I’m sorry to say, I heard he is having an afffair with a girl in History”, opined Luke.

“Really?”, asked Sis. Clara. “Brethren!”

“We need to confirm that story. Any other suggestions? “, Pastor Chuks went on.

“How about Dickson, that guy who shared the word during the picnic?”, suggested Sister Boma.

“That guy has issues with authority. He left his former fellowship in rebellion”, Pastor Excel offered.

“I think we have to offer the position to Bro. Ekene. He has the word, the healing anointing, and a good character”, Pastor Chuks announced.

Everyone was silent. That Ekene was a medical student, was the reason no one else had mentioned him. It was doubtful he would accept, seeing that his 2nd MBBS exams would be coming up.

“Will he accept?”, asked Luke

“I hope he will…”, mused Pastor Chuks. “I pray he will”

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

Ikenna was on his way to Abuja. He was on a buslistening to music on his phone when a call came in.

“Hello”, he answered.

“Ik, how are you? “. It was Mrs. Dougherty, the widow whose child he used to teach Accounting and Mathematics privately.

“I’m fine, ma. How is Drake?”

“Ik, you’ve forgotten me”

“Ma, it’s not so. I’ve really been busy”

“So busy that you can’t call me?”

“No, ma. I….I actually lost your number”, he lied.

“Ikenna, I’m in Abuja. Let’s talk”

“Eh?”

“I’m sending you my hotel address. Let’s talk, okay?”

“Yes, ma. I mean, No, ma…”

“Cut out the ma!”

“Sorry, ma”

“I’ll see you tomorrow, then”. She ended the call.

Ikenna began to fret.

“How did this woman even know that I am in Abuja? Lord, deliver me from temptation”, he thought to himself.

His plan was to hang out with friends in Abuja for the weekend. Also, he planned to pop in and see Uche. Though he no longer asked her about Laura, she always dropped hints on how she was doing. He had stopped calling Laura or taking her calls and deleted her contacts on social media. For a while, he hoped she would miss him and send a message through Uche that she was in love with him. It had not yet happened and they were due to pass out in 3 weeks.

Arriving at Segun’s place, he paid off the cab and slung his backpack across his shoulder. Segun was serving in a Federal government parastatal. He lived in a modest accommodation provided for he and his fellow corp members. Idris, his room mate was a graduate of International Relations. Ikenna got along very well with him.

“Ik, my guy!”, Segun greeted him with a shout when he opened the door to his knock.

“Sege!”

“Come in, come in! You meet us well. I was just about to wolf down the spaghetti Idris’ babe prepared”, he led him in.

Ikenna dropped his bag on the floor and collapsed on the huge mattress that served as a bed.

“How have you been? Any hope of being retained at work?”, he asked.

“They promised me O! I really hope the DG will come through for me. The ministry of water resources pays well”

“That school they posted me to, even if they beg me, I ain’t staying man”, Ikenna stated, pulling off his shoes.

“Something will come up. You can stay here with me till then. After we pass out, I will hang on till the next batch of corp members moves in”

As he spoke, Segun was returning from the kitchen with a plateful of food.

“Nice, man! Nice!”, Ikenna rubbed his hands together in anticipation.

They ate silently and quickly. After the meal, they pulled off their shirts and lay back, fanning themselves with plastic fans.

“Power supply here is very poor”, Ikenna noted.

“It’s just this street. You wouldn’t believe it but, everyone else around us has regular power”

“What are you guys doing about it?”

“Nothing. What can we do? ”

Ikenna’s phone made a pinging sound. It was a message from Mrs. Dougherty. He read it and hissed loudly.

“What is it?”, Segun asked.

“That woman I told you about?”

“Which one? ”

“That widow, Mrs. Dougherty? The one whose son I was teaching privately in Lagos?”

“Yeah, yeah, the hot mama!”

“She called me out of the blues”

“What does she want?”

“That I should resume teaching her son!”

“Ah,ah! I thought you left the job cause she made advances towards you?”

“She didn’t exactly try anything. She just used to look at me like I am a piece of meat”

Segun laughed. “Fine boy, no pimples! ”

“Are you teasing me? I am yet to win the battle with acne”

“But your face is far smoother than it used to be”

“Hmm”

“Really, I think your obsession with Laura was stressing you out”

“Forget that girl! I’m over her”, Ikenna went back to fiddling with his phone.

“By the time she realises what she missed, it will be too late”, Segun added.

“Guy, let me take a shower. This heat is too much”,Ikenna got up and headed for the bathroom.

To be continued. Do leave comments by clicking on the title. Cheers

The Attraction 24 ( prose).

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“I hope not. When I see the way she looks at you….”

“Really?”

“Guy, that girl has feelings for you”

“Are you sure? She never says anything”

“She’s making you work for it. The other day we went to Dotun’s house, he made the same observation”

“You don’t say!”

“He was like, ‘The way that girl looks at Dan, he is a lucky guy'”, Bobby informed him.

“I pray so…”, he chuckled as Bobby punched his shoulder.

“Let her go. We will pray she will discover something that will convince her you are the man for her. Meanwhile, buy enough airtime. Her phone must know no rest”, Bobby advised.

“Ha! I will surely visit her as often as possible. She ain’t going nowhere! ”

“No retreat, no surrender” They laughed and hi-fived each other as announcements were made that the audience should rise to usher in the couple. ******************************

Ikenna had kept up an onslaught on Laura for her affection. She remained polite but adamant. He got a job teaching Accounting to children of 3 priviledged families who were preparing for their WAEC (O’Levels). This fetched him a tidy sum. Also, he assisted Segun with the financial planning of a business idea he came up with and was promised a share of the profits. He was an usher in his church and actively participated in all the activities.

These and more were enough in his estimation, to prove to Laura that he was capable of providing for her. He did not have the wealth Eddy had but he was on his way there. Already, he was preparing to advance his career by acquiring further qualifications. He planned to use his service year to achieve just that. Ikenna met several ladies in church, on the streets, at his job but, his heart was on Laura. One 40 year old lady even promised him a car and a fat bank account, if he became her lover. She was a widow of a millionaire, whose child he was coaching. He rejected her advances and left the job. As much as the money would have been great, and she was a looker, he was not going to sell his soul.

Laura had cut off from Eddy. Though he called with a new number each time she blocked one, she ended the call as soon as she heard his voice. The temptation to renew their relationship was so great. He sent gifts, texts, and just made her a nervous wreck. She wondered what he really wanted as his wedding drew nearer.

“What do you really want?”, she asked one day that he called.

“I want to know you have forgiven me”

“I have, and I’ve told you so”

“Yeah, but…..”

“What more do you want?”

“Can’t we be friends?”

“To what end? Do you plan to introduce me to your fiancée? Invite me to your wedding? Get a house for me in Lekki? What?”

“Leave Angela out of this!”

“Why should I? I think she needs to know that she’s not enough for you!”

“Just forget her. I don’t love her the way I love you. You have a special place in my heart. She’s just someone I’m marrying”

“Are you listening to yourself? Eddy, do you even have any fear of God in you?”

“God himself knows that 1 woman cannot satisfy any man. When he created more women than men, don’t you think he had a reason?”

“Don’t call me again! You must be out of your mind!”, she ended the call abruptly.

That was the last time they spoke. Uche’s theory was that he regretted never sleeping with her. He probably rued the fact that some other man would have her when he never did. She was inclined to believe her. While she waited for Prince Charming however, she was not ready to settle with Ikenna. She met a few guys in Lagos but, did not start anything concrete before she left to visit her grandma. She had taken ill suddenly and they had always been close.

Chapter 23.

Uche arrived in camp with great expectation. She shared a small office with 3 ladies and 1 man. They got along well, though she was younger than them. She was settled though she missed Laura and Ikenna. 2 other friends from school were serving in Abuja with her. Bisi and Stella were posted to different schools as teachers. They begged her to let them stay with her as they could not afford accommodation. She was glad to have their company as she had been lonely.

Ikenna popped in from his place of assignment occasionally. He had decided to let Laura be. After months of pleading, conscripting Segun, Uche, his brothers, and other friends, he decided to let it rest. Uche saw the sadness in his eyes and prayed he would snap out of it shortly.

August was a frequent caller at her house. Bisi and Stella were enamoured with him. He never failed to get them gifts or take them out. Driving his father’s numerous cars at top speed with the girls screaming, was a favourite way to spend the evenings. They wondered why Uche had not decided in his favor. Dan did not compare with him in their estimation. He had visited once and they felt he was nice but was no match for August.

One day, Bisi came home with news for Uche. Uche was cooking in their kitchenette. Stella was out.

“Uche, guess who I saw today?”, she asked, throwing her bag on the table.

“Who?”

“August!”

“O, where?”, she asked stirring her stew.

“A colleague used his picture as her black berry display picture!”

“O! Maybe they know each other”, Uche was unconcerned.

“The message was ‘My boo'”, Bisi insisted

“So? Anybody can be anybody’s boo”

“Let me gist you. The girl is Veronica. She is a corp member in the Batch A. You know they will soon pass out?”, she settled in a chair.

“Yeah?”

“She called me to see the design of a dress she wants to make on her phone. We were in the staff room. I noticed the picture and asked her who he is. She said they met at a party and he asked her out. They have been dating for 6 months”

“Really? “, Uche put off the fire to face her.

(To be continued. Pls leave comments by clicking on the title)

Why we need faith

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Faith is being sure of an expected outcome based on a scriptural promise, without physical evidence to support it. That’s my paraphrase of Hebrews 11:1. Many of us are accomplished in our areas of strength. One of my friends is a lawyer, and I just think she’s so smart. Every word that leaves her mouth is measured, like she’s before the judge, and I think her training is responsible for that.

The temptation is to forget that situations will arise that our training, accomplishments, strengths, e.t.c, will have no effect on. I’m talking about the situations that defy logic. Someone once asked me, “Why is it that doctors don’t believe in God?”. I laughed and replied that that was the old generation. With more exposure, I got to realise that without God, we are no better than native doctors. We cannot guarantee life, healing, or any positive result.

A funny incident happened while I was in medical school. A consultant asked a group of about 6 male students who happened to be christians, what disease they were most likely to suffer at about 50 years of age. One by one, they answered that no such disease existed. He was very angry.

“Have you not heard of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)? That was a give away question! If this was an exam, you would have failed!” One of them answered,

“Sir, it’s not that we didn’t know the answer but, we don’t believe we are going to suffer it ourselves. You asked us what disease we are most likely going to suffer!”

“O, you guys are part of that group of fanatics, are you?”, he asked. “Just be glad I’m in a good mood. You would have heard my opinion of you”

In my post “Eat that frog”, I shared about my NYSC days in a remote village health centre where there were very sparse facilities. We had only 1 trained nurse. The others were community health workers. They are trained to a certain extent but, they do not have the restraint nurses do. Often, they dabble into areas where they have no expertise. You really have to supervise them closely to get the best out of them. That being said, they are a great asset because, they speak the language of the people, and are able to win them to your side.

It was about 5 am, when I was called to the labour room. Usually, I don’t run to answer such calls because it makes me frazzled. This time, I ran like Usain Bolt because, the ward maid told me a baby had just been delivered and wasn’t breathing. When I got there, the community health worker who I will call Bena (not real name), informed me that the delivery was difficult because the mother was uncooperative.

I was already putting on gloves to examine the baby. He was breathing in a very shallow manner, turning blue rapidly, getting cold

“Doc, can I leave now? I’m really hungry and tired”, Bena asked.

I could not believe my ears. You botch a delivery, then run off?

“Why didn’t you call me when she presented? How can someone be in labour and I won’t even know?”

“I didn’t want to disturb you. A young lady needs her sleep”

This was not true. They often treated patients behind my back in order to pocket the money they made, since I insisted such monies be remitted to the hospital account. She remains a friend, we talk on phone till today. However, she was no use to me at that point. She was so obese that she could not walk 10 footsteps without stopping to sit on a stool that her daughter carried behind her. Skipping her breakfast was going to leave me with a 2nd emergency and I was not ready for that.

To be continued.

Eat that frog

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A surgery team operating on a patient in an operating room, focus on hands

It’s a new year, and many of us have made resolutions, goals, and more. Whether you wrote them down or not, you have that inner excitement that this year is going to be loaded with opportunities to shine. At work, in school, in business, and in your relationships, the time will come for you to step to the plate and prove yourself. You want a management position, have you considered the added responsibilities it will come with? Do you realize you may make enemies of your former colleagues when they become your subordinates? You may not have as much time for family, or social outings as you used to. Promotion comes with sacrifices; so you must adjust your lifestyle, else you set yourself up for ridicule. The bible says, “What man begins to build but does not check that he has enough to complete the project? Lest people mock him”(paraphrased).

I hope I have not bored you, I do have a story for you. My NYSC was a very interesting one. For my non – Nigerian muses, after college, every Nigerian is required to undergo 1 year of service to the land. A kind of para military affair, there is a uniform for official events, 3 weeks camping, and then everyone is posted to a school, health centre, or industry,to work. What makes it interesting is, often, you are posted to a state where you don’t understand the language or customs of the people. I was posted to a village in Rivers state, where there was no power supply. The health centre had a generating set that was put on for 3 hours every other night. The doctor posted there before me absconded, so they decided to try a female, hoping I would not mind the lack of amenities. I was given very comfortable accommodations, a royal welcome, and so I stayed. The first thing I noticed was that no one was coming to the health centre.

I was so bored,waiting for patients who never came. They had their native healers and patent drug stores, I was not needed. One day a boy brought his girlfriend for an abortion. When I refused, that dried up the major source of income I should have had. The girls got a dilatation and curretage (D $ C), every few weeks, without a pregnancy test. They did not thank me for refusing to branch into this business. I went to the churches, market squares e.t.c. preaching that people should visit the health centre to no avail.

One night, the matron woke me at about 2 am. A young man was brought in barely conscious. He was a member of a political gang who betrayed a deadly assassin to the police. I don’t know how the rival gang found out but, they traced him to a popular hang out. He was probably celebrating his reward money with friends. They descended on him with matchets and made mincemeat of him. No inch of him was spared. Who put him on a bike that brought him from the neighbouring village, I never found out. The matron actually called me to write a referral letter, for him to be taken to the general hospital, 2 hours away by car.

I decided to examine him first. His cuts were not very deep, though multiple, he was no longer bleeding actively, he was not unconscious, and I felt we could help him. The bike rider could not take him uphill to the hospital, taxis were a rarity, especially at night; sending him away was actually condeming him to death. I told the matron to put on the generator, that we would suture the cuts. She argued for a while but finally agreed, after emphasizing that the outcome was on me.

It took 6 hours to suture all the cuts, the matron holding a lamp when the diesel got exhausted. At about 4 am, the village roused. Rumor had gone round that I was performing ” major” surgery. They gathered to watch. We didn’t have a theatre, so we were using the corridor. I was too tired to send them away. The next day, his relatives, party members and friends, descended on us. By then I was getting so much praise that I didn’t need breakfast.

“Such a small girl! You need to see how she was putting her hands into the blood, like it was water”, the eyewitnesses magnified the story, till it was legendary.

Overnight, our attendance tripled. Patients were coming from neighbouring villages, we even had to admit for days. By the time I left, the centre was bustling with activity, and I have remained friends with many of them, years later.

I told this story, to encourage you to eat that frog. This year, when opportunity comes, it will be dressed as a difficulty, an inconvenience (those who know me, know I treasure my sleep, and being woken at 2am is a no no), and there will be many nay sayers. Do you want a prosperous, victorious 2014? Get ready to step outside your comfort zone.

My mantra is, “If God asked me to do it, then it’s not a risk”. See you at the top!