On our way home I find myself deep in thought. It appears what I thought was an emotional response to a call by a compelling speaker has turned into more. I feel torn, conflicted. It is a Saturday and Stan and I have plans to hang out in a new club his friend opened in Victoria Island. Chichi and Moses are supposed to meet us there as well as some other friends of ours. We are now driving to a boutique so Stan can buy me a new outfit and shoes; the works. Not because I don’t have anything to wear but because he just wants to. I feel tickled but I also feel a tug inside, in a part of me that I never knew had a voice.
Stan is caressing my hand with his right hand and driving with his left. He is talking about how he is going to lock down at least 3 deals tonight at the club but I am only paying partial attention.
“Honey, you need to meet the guys who will be at this party. It’s going down, men! The owner of Xaz airlines, the son of the governor of Kogi state, the owner of Alps systems and many musicians and movie stars are showing up. It’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for me to network and make sales.”
He claps his hands in glee, momentarily releasing mine before reclaiming it.
“And you are going to make every head turn!” He pats my cheek before leaning over for a peck.
“Be careful Babe; you should concentrate on your driving,” I remonstrate.
“Honey, I have never been in an accident for the 20 odd years I have been driving. I am in control.” He laughs.
I shift uneasily and remove my hand from his grasp in order to pick up my phone. He has come to understand that whenever I interrupt a conversation to use my phone it is because I don’t want to argue with him.
“Okay, I apologize. Give me a smile else I’ll park beside the traffic warden and give you a kiss that will end up on social media.”
I smile despite myself. He has done this before; making me blush to my roots even though my dark-skin refused to do the needful. The traffic wardens arrested us for obstructing traffic but by the time he threw money at them they were even asking us if we wanted them to help us book a hotel room.
“The things that money will buy for you in Nigeria are unbelievable!”
“That’s better. You’ll love the boutique I am taking you to. It is owned by a friend of mine, Morris who only caters to the big boys and girls of Lagos. We met in secondary school but it was in Germany we became friends. He actually lived with me for years before he found his feet there.”
“When does the party start?” I ask.
“It won’t start till midnight; you know how these things are. Don’t worry; we will have enough time. Besides I was hoping for some ‘revival’ in the car?” He raises his eyebrows cheekily.
I bat his hands away and release a loud hiss. “We are just coming from bible class and you are still asking for revival. You need help.”
“Don’t be like that, honey. I am just a sinner saved by grace. You know God wants me to be happy. That’s why he brought you into my life.”
We have arrived at our destination so he pulls into their lot and lifts my palm to his lips.
“You do not seriously believe I was born to make you happy?” I scowl.
He murmurs something and pulls me closer. I have so many arguments lined up but for some reason they suddenly fly out of the window. All I can think about is the gorgeous man holding me in his arms telling me I am the most beautiful woman in the world.
“What more do I need? Life is perfect.”
Nedu and Moses were at final fittings for the suits they would wear to Moses’ wedding. Kevin was to buy food and meet them as he had a few appointments to catch up with. The other members of the train had promised to get theirs done within the course of the week. The wedding was in two weeks. He and other members of the church had accompanied Moses to Chichi’s village for the traditional wedding the previous week. Nedu was amazed by the lavishness of the event. He knew that Chichi had a good job but he was a trader and he was almost losing his mind mentally calculating the cost of the drinks and food that was consumed.
Moses told him that she had sacrificed her life’s savings for their wedding. Nedu thought she was very generous but he doubted they were being wise. Already, Moses was owing him N100,000 and that was besides the money he donated towards the wedding in conjunction with their group of friends. He prayed that his friend was not digging a hole for himself and his new wife.
“Chichi wants me to hire a limousine to drive her to the church on that day.”
“How much is that going to cost?”
“I don’t know but she also wants it filled with fresh white roses. That my babe has great taste!”
Nedu stared at his friend, incredulous. “What did you say, Nwoke m? How are you going to afford that? Do you know the exchange rate?”
“You know I have to make my babe happy. She has to get the wedding of her dreams.”
“I want her to get her dream wedding as well. However, a percentage of this money you are squandering could have been used for you to start the music school you have always wanted. Instead of driving to people’s houses, they can come to you. That way, you get a larger number of people signing up and more income.”
“You like money, Nedu! When will you stop calculating everything in terms of opportunity cost?” Moses playfully punched his arm.
“Even Jesus said we should count the cost before we begin to build a house lest we run out of funds and those who see it mock us,” Nedu argued.
“I am not building a house. I am building a marriage.”
“Your blueprint; O nwekwa ka O di! (It is confusing). What precedent are you setting by never offering a contrary view to her demands and ideas? You can’t start a marriage in that way. The day you decide to put your foot down on any issue she will balk at it because you have given her the impression that she will always have her way.”
“This is the modern era, my friend. We are not in the stone ages where you “put your foot down”. Now, it is all about compromise.” Moses was shaking his head as he spoke reclining in the sofa while Nedu sat by him one foot on the floor and the other leg folded on the seat.
“In every organization there has to be a leader. Compromise does not mean that you should drop the reins. Get your foundation right. Remember what pastor says; “Don’t complain about a pattern you allowed.” It is not even as if you have the money to squander. Gini ka I na-ako ihe a(What is going on here?)”
Nedu turned from him in mild irritation and picked up the magazine on the coffee table. Moses folded his arms over his chest defiantly.
“It is because you are still single. When it is your turn you will do worse than I have done,” he said.
“Tufiakwa! I do not take the grace of God in vain. I intend to put into practice all the things that Pastor Dawodu has been teaching us.”
“Nobody holy pass!” Moses scoffed.
“Brother, without holiness no man shall see the Lord!” Nedu retorted.
There was a pause before they both burst into laughter. Moses was leaning over, rubbing his tummy while Nedu was pounding on his thigh as they shook with mirth when Kevin came in with the food.
“Una still dey laugh? Na him be say hunger never wire una. Make I carry the food go chop!” He pretended he was walking away.
“Guy, behave well!” Moses shouted in jest as they rose and blocked his path. “Bring that food before we teach you the difference between June and July.”
“Men of God!” Kevin laughed as he put down the packages.
Nedu opened one and brought out a drumstick.
“This brother needs to get married. See how he is eating like a starving orphan,” Kevin joked.
“Let it be; after all, you are married but living as a single man since your wife is abroad schooling,” Nedu retorted.
Kevin sat down and let out a “whoosh!”
“How are you coping though?” Moses asked.
“It has not been easy. 6 months without sex is not a laughing matter,” he replied.
“It should be easy for someone like you who remained a virgin till your wedding night,” Moses said.
“Guy, as the woman don dis-virgin me, the fountain has been opened.”
Nedu and Moses laughed. “It’s not the same?” Nedu asked.
Kevin shook his head. “The worst thing is that one girl I met on facebook has been sending me nude pictures. I nearly drove to a hotel to meet her last night.”
“Haba!” Nedu exclaimed. “And you are just telling me? Give me your phone.”
He dropped the chicken and wiped his hands on a napkin. Taking the phone he allowed Kevin to open his facebook page. Without speaking, he sent the girl a message that the relationship was over and blocked her account. Next, he deleted all her nude pictures from the phone and blocked her number.
“If she ever calls you with another number I want you to call me immediately and we will make it a conference call,” Nedu instructed.
“Thanks.” Kevin let out a sigh.
“Don’t thank me yet. We need a prayer chain tonight. Your hedge is already broken so we need to fix it. Secondly, you need to tell Amina.”
“No, please I can’t!”
“I can’t make you but I think you need her to know what you are going through so she can help you. Why don’t we put money together for you to pay her a visit?” Nedu suggested.
Moses who had been quiet spoke up. “I hope it is not the money meant for my wedding that you are eyeing?”
“My friend, keep quiet!” Kevin responded with a playful tap on his head. “Thanks bro,” he said to Nedu. “I don’t know what we would have done without you.”
“Hey, we have to be there for one another, don’t we?” He patted kevin’s back.
The three men nodded silently. Just then the shop attendant came in and asked them to come to the changing room to try on their suits after having lunch. They pounced on the food again, eager to get the fittings done with. It had been a long morning.
Nedu was in a trance. He was sitting in his room at home, going over the song selection for the choir on his computer when he felt as if he was in a concert hall. He saw himself on stage singing a fast tempo song. There was a large crowd. Everyone was singing along and dancing. Then he spotted someone in the front seat who was dancing like he was deaf. His dance steps were not in tune with the song. Nedu saw himself stop the song and ask the security team to walk the fellow out. Suddenly, the trance ended.
‘What does this mean Lord?” he asked aloud, placing his hand on his abdomen as was his custom. “I don’t understand. Why would I interrupt praise only to embarrass someone who does not know how to dance?”
He cocked his ear, hoping for clarity but he did not hear anything. Dropping to his knees, he began to pray in the spirit, groaning loudly without knowing why. He could sense he was interceding for someone but he did not know who.
“Perhaps Harvey is in trouble.”
Harvey was his cousin and childhood best friend whose salvation had been a long-standing prayer point. They had both been members of an R and B singing duo until Nedu got saved and joined the choir. Harvey had gone on to release a few singles but did not become a huge success. He wrote songs for more successful artists to make ends meet but his dream was to become famous. Nedu’s dream was for him to be saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. The thought made Harvey laugh.
“You mean I should leave all the honeys out there, all the shisha, all the Hennessy? I should live this kind of life you are living?” he would say and cackle making a rude sign to say that Nedu had lost his mind.
“Concentrate on what you will be gaining and not on what you will be giving up.”
“Which is what exactly? What would I be gaining?”
“Deliverance from addictions for starters; you can’t even sleep without getting high. Look at you; Harvey you need help.’
“I am just fine, thank you. I don’t want any part of your ‘born againism’. Spare me the lecture.”
Nedu began to cry as he remembered his cousin. “Deliver him Lord. Do not allow him to die without accepting the gift of salvation. Place a hedge around him till his heart is soft enough to hear you. I know it is because he is running from you that his life has been spiraling out of control. Take away the veil blinding his mind and show him the light.”
Chichi came to tell me all about their visit to Uncle Tari. We are sitting outside my house nursing drinks. She likes gin but I am a red wine girl.
“Is Moses still insisting on meeting someone from your father’s side?” I ask.
“Insist?” she scoffed. “O di egwu! (How likely)”
We both burst into laughter. The thought of his making such a demand was absurd. He was behaving exactly as she had predicted years ago when I asked her who would marry two party-girls who had a body count longer than the voters’ register at the last elections.
She had said, “When the time comes, I will marry a man who will be so crazy about me that he will be afraid to ask questions lest he lose me; a man who will not dare to order me about or raise his hand to me like my father did my mom.”
When the mirth ceases, we lean back in our chairs watching the antics of her puppy Manuel. He is playing with a bone-shaped toy Chichi got him on her last trip to Antigua.
“What do you think about Stan?” I ask.
She is silent, thoughtful. “Do you like him?”
“I kind of like him,” I admit. “He is very persistent. My phone battery will soon wear out from constant chats and calls. Besides, he is quite a looker.”
“Well, you have always dreamed of someone from fairy tale land. I don’t think he is husband-material. He will want to be in charge and know everything you do. We have only met once but he appears to have a strong personality. Can you handle it?”
I purse my lips. Chichi has issues with control because of her childhood but I grew up in a relatively happy home. My parents may be divorced now but they hid the cracks in their marriage till we grew up. My two older brothers and I were never exposed to their altercations or anything else which would make me balk at the thought that a husband would want to know where I am or who I am with. I nod.
“I think I will give him a chance. He has not gone to first second base yet and I can tell how impatient he is.”
“Is there any man who does not want to go there? Even Bro. Moses who was telling me how we would have to wait till our wedding night because he does not want to disappoint his pastor; the day I spent the night for us to pray for discernment whether God approves of us or not, he was the one who made the first move.” Chichi clucked her tongue.
I let out a guffaw, bending over to hold my sides. Chichi sits there, straight-faced. She has a great sense of humor. She is able to make you laugh without even smiling. She only calls Moses ‘Bro’ when she wants to make fun of him.
“Did I say anything bad?” she asks.
“No, you did not…” I am still panting.
“I have joined the ushers in Shepherd Centre since they said they will not wed us if I am not a church volunteer,” she announces.
“When was this?”
“I filled the forms last Sunday. The training is for two weeks, starting on Monday. You do know this means you are automatically a member of my church now, right?”
“Me? How does this concern me?” I make a face at her.
“You have to join the church please. I need you in my corner.” She takes my hand and tugs at it.
“Hmmm. Let me think about it.”
Chichi picks up her phone and begins to type in it. I rise to use the bathroom. My laundry man has just dropped off my laundry so the fragrance of newly-washed clothes fills the corridor. I inhale deeply and smile. It’s not just the laundry though. Stan sent me flowers, so I have another source of pleasant scents. After using the bathroom, I linger by the vase, cradling the roses to my chest and breathing in their perfume. Flowers always make me smile.
“Didi!” I hear Chichi call so I head for the porch.
“I invited Stan to church and he said he will be there. He can’t come with us though cause he will be late. He has a client to meet with at 9.30.”
“You invited who? When did we agree to do that?” I am already bristling.
She waves a hand to dismiss my concerns. “Calm down. I did not steal his number from your phone. He is following me on twitter. I simply sent him a message.”
Her excuse seems plausible but it takes a while for my breathing to return to normal. I am known for my quick temper and I do not trust her. She has seduced a number of my boyfriends in the past and each time I confronted her she would claim they were not worth my while since they fell for her so easily. On each occasion we fought for a few weeks but we always made up because our bond was strong. I was not so deluded as to write off her behavior but I really did not care for any of those men so it was difficult to remain angry at her betrayal.
I remember that Stan did not ogle her when I introduced her to him and I let out my breath. He had later told me that he preferred dark-skinned women and that he loved my slim frame. I smile again at the memory.
“Is that a yes?” Chichi asks.
I roll my eyes and let out an expletive.
“Don’t call me such names. I am a child of God,” she feigns horror.
“Child of God indeed! You think God doesn’t know his children?”
“Pass me the bottle, please. You are becoming boring. I don’t know what is wrong with you.”
I make a hissing sound and pass her the gin. “You need Jesus!”
“Hallelujah!” She raises a hand and closes her eyes as she responds.
I shake my head and take out my phone to chat with Stan. I want to gauge his mood so I can find out if she has come between us. She also takes out her phone to chat. The rest of the evening passes with little or no conversation till she passes out drunk.
Thanks for reading and for all the kind comments.
If you are not following me on twitter @nenabekee or sharing this story…wyd? Lol.
I believe I have made up for all the delay and if you are still angry with me, come closer let me tug at your ear. Hahaha
Cheers, Dr. N
Hello Muses, forgive me for my absence. It was due to unforeseen circumstances. I’ll try to make up for it.
Two days later, I get a call from the Range rover guy. He introduces himself as Stanley and I immediately christen him Stan. Chichi says this is the best way to get intimate with a guy within minutes. He addresses me by name before I tell him my name and I laugh because I know he used a phone app to discover it. His voice is so incredibly husky, it gives me the shivers.
“I am sorry I didn’t call earlier,” he apologizes.
“That’s fine,” I lie.
It is not fine. I had spent those 2 days regretting making the 1st move. I had only tried it twice before. The first time, he turned out to be married and I have a principle of avoiding married men. The 2nd time, the guy was such a cheapskate; he tried to make me pay for our first date by pretending he forgot his wallet in the car. I offered to go and get it for him but he smiled and said “Or you could just help me out.” I asked for the ladies room and made my way home from there. I had already blocked his number in the taxi.
Chichi laughed at me and insisted that I not give up. As far as she was concerned, the more times I tried, the better I would get at it. I was not so sure.
“How does lunch today sound?” he asks.
I glance at my watch. The time is 3pm. “Lunch? It’s 3!”
“Really, I didn’t know. I have been so busy. How about a late lunch then? I really want to see you.”
“Suddenly someone is in a hurry after I nearly developed stomach ulcers from worrying.”
“Tomorrow is fine. How does 12 noon sound?”
“What is the matter?”
“That felt like ‘rejection’. Ouch!” he makes an exaggerated sound.
I can’t help laughing.
“Let me buy you dinner. I promise to be good,” he begs.
“I already made plans…”
“I’ll do a video call on my knees if that is what it takes.”
“You know what, I’ll see you at 5pm for drinks but I have to leave at 7pm. I have a work dinner.”
“Awesome. You made my day. That wasn’t so hard, was it?”
I make a face but refrain from replying. I don’t really like being pushed and I do have a date at 7 with Tolu (even if I plan to dump him once I verify that Stan is a worthy replacement). Tolu has been the one I use to escape my mom’s sharp tongue. Each time she calls to ask me when I am going to fix a date for my wedding, I wonder what I would have done if I had no boyfriend. No matter what anyone says, I am not letting him go till I get into another relationship.
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t have a man. God created too many fine men for me to be walking around morose, mourning any relationship. The minute I sense a man growing cold on me, I put myself out there so that someone awesome (in this case Stan) appears like a knight in shining armor and rescues the princess (my humble self). My mantra has been “Fly like a butterfly; sting like a bee”. And it has worked for me for years. I am not about to change strategy; not at 33 years.
Stan and I exchange a few more pleasantries and end the call. I begin to strategize on how to get out of my date with Tolu. Tolu and I met online. He helped me find my present job and also bought me my first car. Thereafter I have taken care of myself most of the time. It is only when I need something extravagant that I get someone to pay for me. That someone should have been Tolu but he is as slippery as an eel; here today, gone tomorrow. Not long ago, a girl called me to warn me off him. I laughed at her. She actually thinks she owns him. Chichi simply arranged for some rough-looking fellows to show up in her parents’ home and threaten her. I am sure her parents will keep her off Tolu; if for no other reason, for their own safety.
“Moses, how long has your girlfriend been saved?” Nedu asked.
He frowned, joined his fingers behind his head and leaned back in his chair. “I am not sure. She said she has always gone to church and you can see she loves the Lord,” he replied.
“How am I supposed to see that?”
“She left her Anglican church to start attending ours and she is even willing to go through our bible class to register as a member. I think that shows commitment.”
“Is she filled with the Holy Spirit?”
“I am not sure…”
“Does she pray; scratch that, do you both pray together?”
“We have actually been spending a lot of time getting to know each other, trying to confirm if we are compatible.’
“That’s good. How do you confirm compatibility?”
“You know…” He squirmed. “As a couple, you need to be compatible…”
“Okay, I see you don’t want to talk about it. Has your prayer partner met her?”
“Chuks? That one wanted to snatch my girl. He was misbehaving around her. I don’t want to ever have two of them in the same room again.” Moses gesticulated angrily.
“Misbehaving? Did he come on to her?”
“He was smiling like a foolish puppy, moping at her with his tongue nearly hanging out…what’s the word? Drooling, yeah…drooling!” Moses made a hissing sound.
“That is serious. Did you confront him?”
“No, he will only deny it. I know she’s a great catch but she is my catch not his.” Moses took a gulp from the glass of juice in front of him.
They were in Nedu’s house having a chat after rehearsing a song Nedu was to sing in church the next Sunday. Nedu could not explain the disquiet he always felt when Chichi’s name came up. He had devoted a few days to praying for clarity but all he heard was “There is a way that seems right to a man.” He did not know what to do with it. As was the case whenever he was nervous, he began to tap his right foot on the floor.
“Is anything wrong?” Moses asked.
“I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but I feel you should postpone the proposal and fast about this decision. Marriage is a big commitment and you need to hear from God.”
“Are you not the one who said that God will not come down and choose for us? Didn’t the bible say “he that finds”? You need to loosen up, man!”He threw a playful punch at his shoulder.
Nedu rubbed at his shoulder, absent-minded. “Hmm…”
“I have not heard anything that convinces me that this lady has any spiritual heritage worth mentioning. Besides, you both have been using your time together to explore yourselves sexually,” Nedu said.
“How did you know?” Moses was genuinely shocked.
“The Spirit of God told me; and He said that your sense of judgment is getting more clouded each time you compromise like that. Have you forgotten our purity pledge? You should have let Chuks know you were under pressure. Instead you accused him of having an interest in your girlfriend. That is the devil’s tool-isolation.”
Moses bowed his head and heaved a sigh. “Bro, I won’t lie; I have been trying to control myself around her but bodi no be firewood. She’s the kind of girl I always dreamed about but never thought I would marry. I can’t even keep it together when I’m with her. I have tried binding, loosing, communion, feet-washing, all sorts of things; but the moment we are alone…”
“You are binding what you are carrying around?” Nedu asked in humor.
Moses looked up and laughed.
“What is her stance on chastity? Is she up for it?”
“She is. In fact she said had abstained for 3 years before we met. One unfortunate guy broke her heart and made her swear off guys till we met. That is why I feel like I have been a huge disappointment to God and to her. I am supposed to be the man. I am supposed to keep it together. I should be the one protecting her innocence. Instead, I have been the problem.” Moses bit his lip in regret.
“Let’s pray together. I believe all is not lost. God will always show us the way out if we ask.”
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Didi and Chichi were chatting with Moses when Nedu approached. He barely noticed Didi as Moses, beaming with smiles gave him a hug and introduced Chichi. She gave him her best smile (the one that said I know I am all that and you wish I was with you but it’s never going to happen). He shook her hand and smiled back for he couldn’t help himself. She was gorgeous.
“Father, remember me too. How did this bro who can barely muster the courage to ask a woman out win this stunner? Wonders shall never end!”
“Meet my best friend Didi,” Chichi was saying. “She is a project manager for Scholl Oil.”
“Hello. I hope you enjoyed the service,” he said to Didi as they shook hands.
“I did. You sing very well.”
“That’s right. You led the singing. I really enjoyed it,” Chichi added. She had the habit of cutting in when Didi was speaking but Didi was used to it. It made people assume she was quiet but it was just easier to give in to Chichi who hugged all the attention like a plant hugs the sun on a chilly day.
“Thank you. I won’t hold you up. It was nice meeting you,” he patted Moses on the shoulder. “Have a good one.”
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
Kindly comment, like, share and follow me on twitter @nenabekee
I hope to post 2 drafts every week.
When I was still single, I had this patient who was middle-aged; a politician with a lot of cash to throw around. The reason he got my number(which I usually withheld) was that I referred him to an ENT specialist and he requested to be able to call me to speak to him if need be. Subsequently, he kept in touch, calling occasionally just to say hello and so on. The staff of course loved him cause he was a big tipper. Whenever his posh car with the government license plate rolled in, even those who should have closed for the day would hang on, hoping for a “blessing”.
One day, he called me in the afternoon.
“Good evening, sir”, I greeted. (Note he had a leadership position in church that came with a title).
“My doctor! How na?”
“I am eating **** in **** restaurant. Would you like to join me? Let me send my car for you.”
Now picture me, fantasizing about myself being chauffeured in that posh car with good air conditioning, insulated from the harsh Niger Delta sun, arriving said restaurant like a ‘queen’, being served all sorts of delicacies, where I proceed to eat myself to stupor. The smell of hospital antiseptic jars me back to my senses.
“No, thank you sir. I have had lunch.” (Aunty long-throat whispers in my head ‘Liar! You have not!” but I ignore her voice.)
“Are you sure? They have**** and ***. Have you tasted****?”
(By this time I am shaking my head like MFM prayer warriors muttering in tongues to bind the devil)
“No, thanks again. Have a good meal. I have to see a patient. (Another lie!). Bye now.”
He never asked again even though he called me for many other reasons through the years. A few years back, I was married and living in Lagos at this time, he called me out of the blues. I greeted him heartily.
“Doc, I don’t know how to tell you this. I need a favour.”
“Well…it’s just that…I wish you were in town I would have come to see you to ask for advice.”
I wonder why he is stuttering. What could be making him so nervous?
“Why not tell me what the problem is; I could be able to help even though I am far away.”
“Is it not all these small small girls? They don’t know how to do the right thing.”
“Small girl? Is your daughter ill?
“No, not my daughter. It’s one small friend I have…(Big shot actually sounds sheepish). She said she did not see her period.”
I am tempted to sound obtuse and ask him to go to her house, take permission from her mother and help her find it but “Not today Satan! Stay professional Dr. N!)
“How old is she?”
“Haba! That is too young. An older girl might have known to use protection. Why didn’t you use protection?”
I can feel him squirming over the phone…even MTN can feel it. His money, cars, connections cannot protect him from the wrath of an Igbo woman.
“I used condom. She said…I don’t even know what she said…”
“Are you sure she is pregnant? Have you done a test?”
“She showed me the pregnancy test she did. It was positive. Doc, how do we flush it out? Is there any friend you have who can do it for me?”
“You know I don’t do such things!” I scolded.
He winced. “I know but maybe your friends?”
“I don’t have friends who do abortions. You know it is illegal. Why not keep the baby?”
“Ha! You know my status. I am an *** in church and she is a small girl.”
I thought for a while. There were 2 possibilities.
- She was pretending to be pregnant to con him out of money
- She was actually pregnant and if I didn’t intervene he would take her to a quack and she would end up with a septic abortion or even worse die.
“Go to the hospital, call one of the doctors aside and tell him you need to ask him something privately. If he is willing to get involved, tell him your predicament and he will make sure it is done right. But first, he should do another test to confirm she is actually pregnant. If you insist on going ahead, ensure it is done under the strictest of sanitary conditions, and keep an eye on her afterwards to prevent any complications.”
“Okay, doc. Thank you.”
“Sir…you need to choose your girlfriends carefully. 19 years is too young!”
He mumbles something unintelligible.
“And you need to use protection. Carry a condom around. You will protect yourself from scandal and protect Madam from catching something. These girls are not loyal.” I was speaking fast because I knew he had had an earful and would soon end the call.
I never heard from him again.
Now the moral of the story… Esau was so hungry that he sold his birthright for Jacob’s pottage. If I had gone out with this man, even if I didn’t have sex with him, I would not have the temerity to call him out.
We are in this world as a light to expose the deeds of darkness. Make your standards evident once people meet you and they will leave you alone.
There are men who cannot call out their friends who are beating their wives just because they are indebted to them. Stop borrowing money you cannot repay to impress people who do not care about you.
There are ladies who paid people to write their exams, now they can’t raise their heads when people who know you were an arts student wonder how you ended up an Engineer.
Stop laughing at crude jokes in order to be politically correct. Even if you are not bold enough to speak against things, stand up and walk out. Psalm 1 talks about how blessed is the one who does not sit in the seat of scorners and mockers. You believe…who knows?
Making your stand known also protects you from undue pressure. I remember my husband telling me how a colleague at work was about to invite him to hang out with him in a club when another colleague interrupted and said “Leave him O! He doesn’t drink or hang out.” One day when the ribbing got too much, I told him to accept their invitation if he felt like it. He was such a bore at their outing cause while they were getting wasted he was worrying about the work he brought home and wishing he had his laptop. Suffice it to say they never invited him out again.
You have the power.
If you would like to chat send me an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on twitter @nenabekee
I apologize for my long absence as I have been under the weather. Thanks for checking in on me.
“How did it go?” Idara asked Toyosi.
She flung her shoes off and sank into a sofa before answering. “Don’t you trust me?”
Idara sat up, eager to hear the details. The laptop on which she had been editing pictures was abandoned on the table before her.
“Give me the gist.”
“By the way, I saw your husband on my way home,” Toyosi remarked.
Idara let out a long hiss. “Is that supposed to be a joke? You are beating about the bush because PA shunned you.”
“Shun ke?” She rose and turned her bum so that it was in her friend’s face. “Do you see any man rejecting this?”
Idara pushed her away with a laugh. “It’s not by bum or by cleavage but by revelation.”
“Exactly! The divine revelation I had today, even you will not believe it.”
“Tell me more.”
She sat again and began unbuttoning her jacket. “You know PA works with teenagers, right?”
“Yes, I have heard about it. PO’s wife has been planning to copy his idea for sometime but she is yet to find a capable hand to run the group as she is so busy with women.”
“I have officially begun a teen’s group in our church O!”
“Just like that?”
“Overnight! I called Sis. Remi to back me up. Make she no go fall my hand. She was happy as the lady who attempted to handle the group initially fell short of expectations,” Toyosi narrated.
Idara clapped her hands in delight. “How wonderful! Your idea is genius.”
“My dear, I had to think on the spot. That Ovie of a person just abandoned me on the parking lot. You can’t imagine how much I have spent on designer perfume for him.”
Idara made a hissing sound and snapped her fingers. “I thought he said he could arrange a meeting with PA for you.”
“That guy is a joke. Anyway, he has his uses. It was his phone call that enabled me get past the security.”
“So what’s next?”
“Off to google. I have to read up about the teen ministry and all that.”
“What is PA’s role in all this?”
“He has to mentor me, my sister.”
“I need that kind of mentoring O, Sister.” Idara rubbed her chest in jest and rolled her eyes.
Both ladies laughed as they hi-fived each other.
Zina was working late when a message alert made her pick up her phone. She had largely ignored it all day but it was 8pm and she needed to cool off. The message was from Imaobong. It read, “I just noticed that you are not yet home. Kindly turn off that laptop and get into the car. Afang soup awaits.”
She laughed to herself as she replied. “I am suspecting you. I hope you did not invite any blind date as well.”
“No! I would never do that. I can’t be sure you are not wearing one black suit or the other. That would be a risk.”
“Wearing black is a risk?”
“Promising much and under-delivering is. I would have told the guy how hot you are only for you to show up dressed like a widow.”
Zina chuckled. “Get off my case. Black is beautiful.”
“Why do you labour so, whom the Lord has given rest? It’s time to go home. Sufficient unto the day are its troubles.”
“Okay. Alright. I am closing right away. Happy now?”
“Yipee! See u soon. Xoxo!”
Zina smiled at the smiley her friend inserted and inserted one of her own. She really could have closed earlier but there was no one to go home to. In Port Harcourt, she had often had her mother over, her father being late. Here, she had to return to an empty house, mocking her with its two bedrooms, large kitchen, study and balcony. She was given the house because it befitted her status as M.D but in truth, she would have been happier in a one-bedroom apartment. Her voice would not echo in the stillness and her loneliness would not be so amplified.
She called for her driver and asked him to meet her at the front. He lived very close to her house so she did not feel bad about working late. Besides, she gave him a tip whenever she felt she had been unfair even though his contract put him at her disposal for 24 hours, 5 days a week. This was a privilege reserved for her position as she was expected to be available for late meetings with executives and he was paid higher than his colleagues.
At home, she found a note taped to her door. Imaobong had accessed her flat with her spare key and deposited the food in the microwave. She silently blessed her. It would have been rude to call her up at that time of the night as she had a family to care for. Zina decided not to make eba since it was late. She would eat some of the soup and save the rest for later.
PA and Ovie were planning his meeting with the parents of Cybil who Amara had sent her nudes to. He had walked into the trap which they set up in her house and they were able to record him on video, threatening her. She had invited him over, assuring him that her parents were abroad. He was defiant when caught, insisting that he had done nothing wrong and that she was his girlfriend.
“Girls send their nudes to me all the time. I didn’t ask her for it and I never intended to publish it online,” he had said.
“She wants the pictures back,” PA had told him. “Hand them over and destroy any back-ups you have.”
He had laughed in PA’s face and stormed out. It took a lot of effort to stop her parents from manhandling the boy. As it was, her mother followed him out, cursing loudly with no care who heard.
“Return those pictures, anu mpama! Idiot! You think you will get away with this but God has exposed you! A small boy like you who should be concentrating on his studies; being stupid. God will judge you!”
Her husband had to beg her to come back into the house. They stood at their doorway and watched him saunter off, oblivious of the pain he was causing.
PA’s lawyer, Ebie, was present. He had given his counsel and they had already involved the police. It was the phone call from Ebie that made his parents wade into the matter. They had hired their own lawyer as well. As PA anticipated, they saw nothing wrong in their son’s actions. Over the phone, they abused Amara, calling her a loose girl who was trying to seduce their son. PA did not bother defending her. He simply asked for the nudes to be returned.
Cybil first claimed he had deleted them. PA then requested his phones and computers so a technician could verify his claims. He then stalled and claimed he saved them in his dropbox. The matter was spiraling out of control. Amara was under pressure in school as she could not change schools in the middle of the term. He had spread rumors about her and conscripted his followers to taunt her whenever the teachers were not watching. Notes were left on her desk with obscenities whose writers were never traceable. PA suspected the teachers were sympathetic to Cybil since it could be argued that she could have simply refused to send the nudes.
Shortly, Ama let in Cybil, his parents and his lawyer. PA greeted them cordially and offered them refreshments which they declined. They sat on the sofas in his lounge.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” Ebie began. “I believe we know the issue at hand. I would like us to introduce ourselves and then we’ll take it from there.”
Introductions were made with no particular enthusiasm. Both lawyers knew each other, so they shook hands cordially. Ovie sat in a corner, eyeing Cybil and his family. The thoughts going through his mind were uncharitable to say the least. He could see the boy was indulged; wearing Gucci trainers that even he could not afford and slouching in his sofa with a scowl on his otherwise handsome face.
PA interrupted his thoughts by speaking next.
“We have been asked by Amara and her parents to handle this matter because emotions tend to run high when all the parties involved are present. Besides, they trust our judgement.”
“Loose girl!” Cybil’s mom muttered under her breath.
“Madam, kindly refrain from any abusive language. This behavior is the very reason we felt it was unwise to invite her. She is not guiltier than your son.”
“My son is innocent!” she protested.
“Then let him release the pictures to us!” Ebie said.
Their lawyer, Ogwa interrupted the exchange. “We asked him not to because you have a video that implicates him. You also have to release it to us. Also, we are not happy that his parents were not approached directly. Rather, you set a trap for my client. That was very low.”
“Considering their behavior since they heard of their son’s actions, I think we did the right thing,” Ebie countered testily.
“Is that a supposed to be a veiled insult?” Cybil’s father roared.
“Calm down, everyone.” PA raised his hands to appeal for calm. “The two lawyers will make their recommendations and we will go with what they say. Ebie, what do you propose?”
“Cybil should transfer the pictures to me right now and then sign that he has held back no copies and if he is found to have released any into the public domain, he is liable for prosecution,” Ebie said.
“He will delete the stupid pictures. They were unsolicited and he has no use for them,” his mom snapped.
“Our video proves otherwise. He was trying to coerce her to have sex with him. Would you like to see it?” Ebie asked.
“Nonsense!” his dad spat.
“We want the video before he transfers any picture and you also have to sign that the video will be destroyed and never used against him,” Ogwa demanded.
“Fair enough,” PA nodded.
A laptop was brought forward and all the parties came forward to observe the proceedings carefully. Ovie could not take his eyes off Cybil. He had shown no remorse at all and was probably already planning who his next victim would be. The school had tried to punish him but his lawyer threatened to sue since the school rules did not spell out that no one should receive nude pictures of fellow students. They were forced to back down.
Task completed, the guests rose to leave. Ama let them out and then came in to ask how everything went.
“Watch out for that boy,” PA said. “I will not be surprised to hear he has raped someone in the near future.”
“The boy is already using weed,” Ovie added.
“How did you know?”Ama wondered.
“My sis, it is not only women who have intuition. Don’t worry; you will soon hear how he ended.”
PA was on a lunch date with the teens from his church. It was a large group of about 48 children, male
and female. They were all casually dressed, clutching ice cream cones and frozen yoghurt, according their preferences. About 10 of their teachers had come along to keep an eye on them. The venue was a park where a picnic had been set up. Sitting in groups according to their cliques, they chattered animatedly.
He knew them all by name. They loved him for this and for the access they had to his phones no matter what time of the day. He had of course taught them not to abuse the privilege. One young man who had called him up at 2am to complain that his parents would not let him stay up to see a movie had experienced the discipline PA meted out to offenders. He gave him an earful and assigned him to wash the toilets every Sunday morning for three weeks. That was the alternative to his phone being seized or being cut off from the group with special access him. His parents were surprised at how eagerly he accepted the punishment and that he even apologized in writing to the pastor. Many more parents signed on their errant teens to the group, including non-church members.
They were now so many that the lunch dates had to be planned in batches. PA genuinely loved them and considered the time he gave them well worth it. Their parents constantly brought reports of changes in their behavior and were full of gratitude. The lunch dates were for sharing issues, no holds-barred and receiving counsel in a judgement-free zone.
“So guys, gather around. I want your advice on something,” PA began after lunch. When he had their full attention, he continued. “A 14 year old falls in love with a Muslim man who is her neighbor and agrees to elope with him to his state to convert to Islam and marry him. If she was your friend and she confided in you, would you tell her parents before she ran away? Secondly, would you discourage her?”
There was silence, and then noise as everyone began to discuss the story.
“I’ll let you think about it before you reply but everyone must say something. If you are shy, send me a text.’
There was laughter.
“Amara, why are you silent? Come over here,” he said to one of them.
The girl in question rose from her position and walked over to him. He took her aside so that no one could overhear them.
“You have been very quiet today. That’s unlike you.”
“PA, I made a big mistake,” she whispered.
“Do you want to tell me about it or do I get Aunty Ama?”
His secretary Ama, usually came along as did any of the wives of his pastors who was available.
“No.” Amara shook her head.
“What is it?”
“There is this boy in my class, Cybil. He has my nude picture.”
PA had to hold the tree beside him to keep from staggering. He took a deep breath and counted to 10 before speaking.
“How bad is the picture?”
“I was wearing panties but no bra.” Her voice was wooden, strained with unshed tears.
“Did you show your face?”
PA stifled a scream.
“Who else knows?”
“Why did you send it to him?”
She hid her face in the crook of her elbow. “He said he loved me and that I was the prettiest girl in the class. He said he needed to know if I was as beautiful without clothes. He said since I refused to have sex with him, he needed the nudes to masturbate with.”
“Now, he is threatening to release them online if I don’t have sex with him.”
PA scratched his head. He gazed at his mentee. She was in the gangly phase of puberty with an acne-ridden face that was most certainly not the prettiest in her class. “Do you want to have sex with him?” he asked.
“No!” she protested. “I hate him! If he loved me he would not try to force me to sleep with him. Besides, Stephanie told me he has slept with two girls in our school.”
“Stephanie is your BFF, I assume?”
“And she doesn’t know about the nudes?”
She shook her head.
“I need your permission to involve your parents.”
“No, PA, I don’t want them to know. My pop will kill me!”
“I have no choice. That is the only way to stop him. Amara, we will not try to confront him. With your parents’ consent, you will agree to meet with him. When he arrives, we will come in and ask him to surrender the nudes and call his parents. He will swear an affidavit not to ever use them in case he has copies or he will go to jail. We have to get him on tape, threatening you; else his parents will protect him from the long arm of the law.” PA was earnest, worried that her fear of her parents’ wrath might push her to make the wrong decision.
Amara was silent, considering her options. He saw that the larger group needed him; they were becoming loud and fidgety, so he placed a hand on her shoulder.
Ovie had met the girl of his dreams. After service that Sunday, he was dashing out to pick a document from PA’s car when he bumped into Imabong. He knew her from when he had facilitated a meeting between her and PA. She had needed his counsel about an issue.
“Good afternoon, Sis. Imabong. How is the family?” he asked after apologizing for the near accident.
“Very well, Ovie. Meet my friend Zina. Today is her first day in church.” She pushed the said friend who was standing slightly behind her, to the front.
Ovie, for the first time in his life, was speechless. He didn’t even realize his mouth was hanging open as he gaped at her. Imabong noted his reaction and smiled cunningly. She intended to get her friend hooked within weeks. He was a good catch but if he didn’t go for her, she knew he was connected to a number of eligible bachelors in the church,( being so close to PA and all), and could get Zina into the right circles.
“Zina is the M.D of Dataconsult. She just moved to Lagos and we are neighbours. Isn’t that awesome?” She smiled.
“Awesome,” Ovie mouthed, referring to her figure in a blue dress that fit her like a glove.
“Zina, meet Ovie, the senior Pastor’s personal assistant and very dear friend.”
Zina smiled as they shook hands.
“Could I get your card? I would love to discuss some IT needs we have in the church. You may have noticed our monitors failed to display the scripture PA quoted once or twice during the service.” He was thinking on his feet because he knew there was no other way he would get her number.
“Of course.” She handed it over, after getting it out of her purse.
“I hope you enjoyed the service,” he asked.
“I did, even though we were late because my former bestie here, took forever to do her make up.” She gave Imabong an evil look.
That one affected a pained expression. “Former bestie?”
“Yes, I have no love for latecomers,” she retorted.
“I have apologized. Next Sunday, I will be prompt.”
“Will there be a next Sunday?”
Ovie’s ears pricked. “Ah, Sister, you cannot hold it against all of us. I will come and pick you on Sunday, if Sis. Imabong will not be ready in time. Kindly pardon us.” He grinned cheekily.
“Won’t you be busy getting your pastor to church?” She raised an eyebrow.
“He will happily excuse me. Souls are very important to PA.”
“But I am not a soul in need of saving. That applies to an unbeliever you are trying to win over. I am…”
Imabong could see an argument brewing and wisely stepped in. “Ovie, I am sure you were rushing to somewhere. Don’t let us keep you.”
“That’s right. I’ll see you ladies. Thanks for the card, Zina and may I say that you look very beautiful in that dress. What is it, ASOS?” He held out a hand for a handshake.
Zina raised a brow. “You know your fashion.”
“I have a number of sisters who educate me on what’s in and what’s not. Have a great day.”
“Great meeting you…and thanks,” she replied.
Imabong smiled as she observed her watching his retreating back. “Ufan, I see you like what you see?”
“Ima, I see you are a matchmaker.” She turned to face her willy friend. “You made us stand here for almost 10 minutes, pretending to be making a call.”
“He always dashes out after the service. I don’t know what he goes to the car park to get but this was the best way to get his attention.” Imabong grinned.
“You are unbelievable!” Zina was astonished.
“My dear, faith without works is dead.” She chortled.
“Eh, eh! Is that how you met Felix?”
“That was years ago. Things were easier then. Men actually did the work of wooing women. Nowadays, they have been spoiled by the ladies of easy virtue.”
They had begun walking toward the nursery to meet her nanny who had gone to pick up the twins.
“My sister, you are right. I have decided to stay on my own. Must we marry to get to heaven? These men are too entitled these days!” Zina snapped her fingers.
“Would you pay for the cow if you got the milk for free every day?” Imabong inclined her head as she asked.
“No, I would not. And men are great negotiators. It has to be a great deal; else, they are not buying.”
“You have swum among the sharks for so long.”
“True. I know how they think, I can read their moves and I know how to control them. When I am at work, I am one of the boys. That was how I ascended so fast. I didn’t have any godfather. My parents are middle-class. I didn’t have any special connections. All I had was grit and the favor of God.”
Imabong laid a hand on her arm. “Did you ever have to fight off male attention?”
“No. Like I said, at work, I am one of the boys. I work harder than they do. I do my research. I put in more hours and I pray for angelic covering. No one has ever approached me for sexual favors. Once or twice, I was nearly passed over for promotions. All I had to do was threaten to quit. I have made myself such an asset that they would rather offend the powers that be, than let me go to a rival company.”
Imabong gave her a Hi-five. “That’s my girl. I wish I had met you earlier. I actually quit my job because of harassment. One oaf decided I was the apple of his eye and I knew it would get of hand if I stayed.” She sighed.
“I am sorry to hear that. Well, it worked out for good. You have a great business and with time, I think you will be making millions,” Zina said to cheer her friend up.
“Amen, Sis, Amen!”
“But Jesus said, “Not everyone is MATURE enough to LIVE a married life. It requires a certain APTITUDE and GRACE. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked – or accepted…. But if you are CAPABLE of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.” Matt.19:11-12 (MSG).
When I wrote Adire, there was an avalanche of requests for the CV: The almighty CV one of the characters, Ekene kept talking about. I couldn’t work it into the story, so I let it go. Yesterday, I saw this mind-boggling Scripture, quoted above. Can you imagine Jesus saying marriage is not for everyone? So, who and who should not get married? Is it your destiny to keep attending friends’ weddings and never invite them to yours? Will you ever get your nosy aunts off your back? How do you get the girls you would prefer to marry to be interested in being more than friends? How do you stop your daughter from making the mistakes you made in choosing a partner?
I must warn that I am no marriage expert. I have only been married for 6 years and my husband is the first and only man I had a relationship with. Someone once told me I am not qualified to give advice because my heart has never been broken, I have never been dumped and I have never been a real part of the dating pool. I hear it’s tough out there. So many wolves in sheep clothing. Never fear, I turn 35 in 3 weeks, so I am not unsympathetic to the men and women out there searching for answers.
The reason I didn’t dive into the dating pool is that I had a very interesting childhood encounter that changed the way I think. At 10 or 11years I was due to go to boarding school and my mom said I should cut my long hair since she believed I would not be able to find anyone to plait it for me. I cried because the school permitted us to wear our hair long but she insisted. My dad would not hear of me going to the new-fangled barbers who used electric barbers. He sent me to his barber, an old man who kept the cartons of hair from his customers’ heads under his rickety tables. I don’t know why this man decided to put his hands down my clothes. For whatever reason, I did not stop him. I just kept wishing he would cut my hair so I could leave.
“Should I have left with half a hair cut? Shouted? Fought?” I did not know what to do and I felt no one would believe me if I said an old man tried to have sex with me. Eventually, he asked if he could go all the way. I shook my head, praying furiously for someone to walk in on us. No one did. Thankfully, he did not try to rape me. He charged me N5. I pleaded for him to accept N4. He refused. Just before I left, he called me back and gave me N1; probably to buy my silence. I ran home, throwing the coin into a puddle of water by the market. No one was home, so I got in the shower and srcubbed myself clean. Then, I knelt by the tub and promised God that if he would forgive me, I would not let anyone but my husband sleep with me.
A few years later, I was on holiday at my Uncle’s. His son was my favourite cousin, the darling of the house and the toast of the campus. I learned that he was the crush of every girl in the university he attended and he milked it. When he returned from lectures, he would tell me of all his adventures.
“Girls have fish brain,” he would say.
“How can you say that? I don’t have fish brain and your sisters are very intelligent, ” I retorted, indignant.
“You and my sisters are the exception. Okay, how can a boy tell you he loves you and you will just believe?”
“Why would a girl not believe that?”
“Is she stupid? How can someone fall in love with you just like that?” He would shake his head at the absurbity of it all and chuckle loudly.
A group of friends and him had the habit of driving out in a car and chatting up any girl they saw along the road. They would tell her how pretty she was and how they longed to take her out and ask her to go get her bag or something. Once she turned to leave they would burst into laughter. Hurt and astonished, she would turn to ask why they were laughing.
“Come on get out of here! Ugly thing! Who told you we wanted anything to do with you? ”
They would speed off, screeching their tyres, while she either railed at them or burst into tears. Don’t judge, we have all done things in our youth which we now regret. The point is that, I determined that I would never be a ‘fish brain’. In fact, I remember the day we went on a stroll and a girl walked past. He immediately lifted me in his arms and swung me around, calling out endearments. I laughed, thinking he was being his usual playful self. Later, he told me that the show was staged for that girl. She was someone he wanted to show that she wasn’t that special. I pitied her but, it was too late. The damage was done. She believed I was competition.
I had seen and heard enough. 2 years later, I got into the university. I decided that I wanted a husband, not a boyfriend. Yes, it didn’t matter that I would miss out on having someone to show off, gifts, love letter, etc. I did not want to be a fish brain. Those “October rush” guys made me laugh. I did not even give them 5 minutes because I suspected they wanted to laugh at me. Mba! Not I! Before they shared their manifesto, I already disqualified them. I was brutal because I was 18. I did not need any distractions. My goal was to finish medical school and then marry the man who had proven to me that he deserved my loyalty.
I have always been honest with God. I decided that he is the giver of good husbands so I made my life an audition. Whenever the Holy Spirit pointed out a flaw or defect in my character I would do my utmost to fix it because, I did not want God to change his mind about the kind of man he would give me. I wanted a premium man, a MAN not a boy who would be a prayer project for the rest of our marriage. There were times I said something and then I would remember that I was being examined; so I would repent and promise to do better. I devoted a % of my pocket money to books and when I read them I tried to change.
Back in the day, girls used to audition for great husbands. They would fetch water, farm and even clean for potential fathers-in-law. It was up to him to ask his son to marry her or not. God is the giver of all good gifts. I could not afford to audition for man because woe to he who puts his trust in man. If I move into a man’s house and give him wifely priviledges, how am I sure he is not laughing at me behind my back? I could not take that risk.
This article may seem directed at ladies but not so. As a man, you should be very concerned about the spiritual maturity of the lady you marry. Did you know that a study has found that women cheat more than men but just don’t get caught? Are you aware that social media is full of chat sites where lonely women catch fun? Would you like to pay school fees for children that are not yours?
My humble submission is that we have to be business-like about marriage. I kept reminding God that I was making the choices I was because I wanted to please him and so, he was responsible for the faithfulness of any son of his who he chose to hook me up with. When I met my husband, he had to convince me he had been living his life as an audition for God and for me. It was not an over night affair. That scipture said not everyone is mature enough to LIVE the married life. So one of my fave bloggers (warning: she can be raunchy but I love her anyway), http://www.thelmathinks.com, wrote about married bachelors. These are men whose wives never know their wherabouts. They even call the man’s friends to ask, “Have you seen my husband? Please tell him to call me” . Can you imagine that? Also, some wives fly to Dubai without infoming their husbands. All because they can afford to.
So, how do you hear from God regards marriage? The same way you should have been getting feedback concerning your audition, that’s how. How do you know he/she is the one? Is he/she also part of the audition? Is he/she mature enough, not to marry but to LIVE the married life? Does he/she have the APTITUDE (skill and intellect) and GRACE (divine enablement) for marriage? For e.g, married people tell someone where they are going. Single people can just take off to the moon.
Why are some good singles yet to marry? They are not ready, that’s the honest truth. You may accept it or not but age is not maturity. When you are ready, you will become far more unselfish than you could have ever dreamed possible. It will amaze you that someone else could actually come first. I stand to be corrected.
Are you already married? Kindly teach your children the business of marriage. It is a contract not to be entered into lightly. Be careful before you sign. Ask you lawyer (The Holy Spirit) to read the fine print first.
Happy new year muses. It’s a leap year. May your blessings come in leaps and bounds.
Cheers, Dr. N
(Should you wish to send me a confidential email, send it to email@example.com. Do click on the title to leave a comment)
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