shepherd centre

Fall On My Sword 8

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Chapter 5

Stan and I are planning a romantic weekend together. Finally, I am going to give him a taste of what he has been missing all his life. He and I have been making out since we met but I held out on going all the way because I like him and I am hoping he is “the one”. If he is, I will have to make him work for it so that he will never be able to boast that I came on to him. Yes, I made the first move but that is because this is the 21st century and not bible-days.

Thinking of bible-days, the folk from Shepherd centre have been on my neck; calling and sending messages every day. One of them even works in a company on the same street as mine so she popped in on Wednesday to invite me to evening service. I declined because the whole thing was getting too much. I don’t want to start hearing voices or something; these fanatics can’t confuse me. The decision I made was to clear my conscience. At least if the world were to end suddenly I will be on the safe side. I never planned to change my lifestyle or habits or start going to church every day or let go of my toys.

“It’s never happening!” I say out loud, forgetting that I am at work and a few heads turn in my direction. I stare them down and they avert their gazes.

People can never mind their business!” That thought did not refer to my colleagues alone but also to the members of Shepherd Centre.

When I close from work, I stop by a suya joint to buy suya. While the guy re-heats it, I notice my phone is ringing. I pick it without checking the Id because I am expecting a call from Stan.

“Good evening Ndidi,” I hear.

I realize it is not Stan but it would be childish to end the call without speaking though I suspect it is from Shepherd centre.

“Good evening,” I reply in my most disinterested voice.

“How was your day?”

Invite me to church already so I can say no.” I am rolling my eyes so hard that if my eyes could speak they would ask me to stop.

“Sir, I had a good day. Could I call you back?”

“Do you intend to call me back or is this a way of getting rid of me? I told you I would be on your case. My name is Nedu by the way.”

He laughs! He has the temerity to laugh? What nerve!”

“My full name is Chinedu. I have been called Nedu for as long as I remember. What do you prefer to be called?”

I ignore him hoping he will get the message.

“Ndi? Ndi? Are you there?”

No one has called me Ndi since I was a child. I recoil in horror at the name. “Didi…everyone calls me Didi,” I almost gasp out.

“I’m so sorry; Didi, forgive me. I have been praying so much for you that I feel like I know you already.”

“Praying for me?” I gulp.

“Yes, I always pray for the new believers by name.”

“New believers: Is that what it is called?”

“Yes. When you give your life to Christ, you become a child of God. You will find that God sends his spirit into your heart and the first sign of his presence is joy. Did you feel excited when you prayed this morning?”

Pray? I was too busy dreaming about my weekend getaway.” But no one needs to know that. Aloud I say, “I did not pray. I don’t know how to pray.”

“That is why you need to attend this class on Saturday. You will learn about the new life that is yours in Christ and even learn how to pray. Sister Annette said you told her you would not be able to attend but I called to urge you to shelve all other plans and put Jesus first, please.”

There is a pause but it is not an awkward one. Something must be wrong somewhere. I find myself actually considering cancelling my plans with a 6 foot tall hunk of creamy goodness who earns in 6 figures and who has leased a boat to take us to a private island for a weekend to remember. How absurd!

“Let me think about it and let you know tomorrow.” I finally say.

“Is it okay if I call you, in case you don’t call me?”

“Yes, you may.”

“Thank you Didi. May the peace of God envelop you tonight and may angels thrill your sleep with pleasant dreams in Jesus name.”

“Amen. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

 

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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.”

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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.

 

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To be continued

 

 

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I hope to post 2 drafts every week.

Cheers,

Dr.N