Nedu and Kevin were at a double date with Kevin’s wife Tamara and Isio. The venue was an ice cream shop a stone throw from church. The outing was planned over the course of two weeks after Nedu and Isio got talking and became fast friends. It would be their first date. Nedu could feel the nerves particularly because he had been unable to hear God’s opinion on him asking Isio out. She was witty and friendly and it was easy to talk to her. He almost began to forget about Didi.
You don’t want me to ask Didi out yet I chose to befriend someone else and you are not giving me your approval either. Is there no winning with you?
I gave you a direct instruction and you flouted it.
But I am tired of being alone. I want to marry. Besides, Isio is everything I everything dreamed of.
You are mine. As a soldier in my army, you obey your commander without complaining.
I am sorry Lord. What do I do now? The girl is already expecting that I will ask her to be my girlfriend. How do I dig myself out? I did not mean to disobey you. Forgive me.
Tell her you want to match make Obinna and her.
My younger brother Obinna? That is not a bad idea. Thank you so much. I will wait for whoever you appoint me to love and cherish. But…Holy Spirit…mee ngwa ngwa…I will be 38 soon. Let people not wonder if there is something wrong with me.
Nwoke m call Obinna and tell him you have found a great girl for him. See your mouth like mee ngwa ngwa. He that believeth shall not make haste. Don’t you know a day is like a thousand years in my sight?
Meaning I will have to wait 1000 years…na wa Oh!
Keep complaining and your wait will be elongated.
Na joke I joke Oh! Sorry sir!
“Stan, hi; I wasn’t to see expecting you in church.”
“Are you kidding me? I couldn’t miss hearing you sing,” Stan says reaching for a hug.
I hug him discretely, slipping out of his grasp almost immediately. Chichi is coming over to say hello. We usually catch up while Moses is helping his mates pack up the equipment. Sometimes we get lunch. On other days we part at the parking lot and I go to find Preye who is always ready to hang out. I have avoided Stan as much as possible and luckily he has been busy with work. It appears my luck has run out.
“It was just back-up,” I deflect his praise.
“Nonsense; I heard you distinctly and you out-sang the others.”
“Well, thank you but remember it is not a competition.”
He takes my hand and intertwines our fingers. “Of course it is not a competition. How can a cheetah race rabbits?”
Chichi is at his side so he turns and hugs her without letting me go. “Hello, Chi; you look nice.”
“Thank you. You have been away for too long. Did you want my friend to go nuts?” Chichi asks, throwing me a conspiratorial wink.
If only she knew what I have gone through in his absence; buying books on sexual purity, praying and fasting, plotting what to do in every scenario: everything but break up with him.
“I missed her as well. You know how I feel about her.” He draws me close and pecks my cheek.
I cringe but he doesn’t notice.
“Aww! You guys are just cute together,” Chichi beams. “Are we getting lunch?”
“No! I want her all to myself. By the time I finish with her, her legs will be shaking!” Stan announces.
“Ewo!” Chichi exclaims. “Take it easy on my friend please. You haven’t paid her bride price.”
“How much is it? I will pay double,” he scoffs.
Mentally, I am fishing for excuses. “How do I extricate myself from this mess? Father help me. I want to serve you in spirit and truth. I can’t keep going round in circles.”
Chichi is laughing and saying something I can’t hear because I am scouting the room for Preye or Annette. I reach into my bag to get my phone and call them for help.
“Baby, shall we?” Stan doesn’t give me time to think but ushers me towards the door.
I wave at Chichi who makes a face at me and turns away. Preye and Annette are not in sight. I can’t make the call without being heard. We get to his car and he opens the door to let me in.
“Let me drive behind you,” I suggest. I am hoping he says yes so I can run away to fight another day.
“We can come back and pick your car in the evening. I have missed you so much. I want you now.”
He is in the driver’s seat, staring into my eyes intensely, breathing into my face. I nod like an agama lizard and he kisses me.
“I love you,” he says.
“I love you too.”
How about me, Didi? Do you love me?
Who are you Lord?
I am your Lord. Do you love me?
I love you Lord.
Why then do you not obey me?
“Didi, I got you your favourite perfume.”
“No way! It has been out of stock in Nigeria for a while. Where did you find it?”
“I wrote to the designer and told him I offended my girlfriend and the only way I could apologize was with a bottle of his perfume. He had his team send me 2 bottles. 1 is complementary.”
“That is unbelievable! You mean I have 2 bottles to myself?” I reach over for a hug but he turns it into something else until I come up for air.
“Keep my reward till we get home. I don’t want these sanctimonious folk to kick you out of the choir.” He smirks and fastens his seatbelt before speeding off.
His statement reminds me of my conversation with the Holy Spirit. In the past I would have chuckled at his criticism of church folk and thrown a few barbs of my own. Now I am one of them and it has just brought me back to reality.
I am saved.
I am filled with the Holy Ghost.
I have been baptized in water.
I know the truth.
I serve in the choir.
“How can I continue serving two masters?”
He doesn’t notice that I am more quiet than usual while he carries on telling me about his trip and all the deals he closed. I am biting my lip because I don’t know how to tell him the relationship is over. I can’t continue to live a lie. Like Sis. Annette said, I have to be single for a while and learn how to serve God with my single status before I commit to serving God as a married woman. Even if he proposes today, I cannot marry him because I can sense that he will end the pretence and forbid me to go to church or sing in the choir. I know he has humored me thus far so as not to scare me.
We pull into the driveway before his house after his gateman opens the gate for us. It is an imposing 5 bedroom house with a pool, pent house, gym and field at the back for his dogs to run in. he has a gardener who comes in 3x a week, a live-in steward and a cook who comes in whenever he is around.
“I asked Kweku to make lunch and leave because I didn’t want any interruptions. I hope you don’t mind dishing the food?” he asks as we step into the house.
“I don’t mind.”
In the foyer, he takes my bag and flings it on the floor. Then he picks me up, kisses me and carries me up the stairs to his room. I find myself placed gently on the bed before I can protest.
“Do you know you are the most beautiful woman in the world?”
“Umm,” I mutter. I feel as though a stone were in my throat.
If you don’t rescue me, I will be here all night and this cycle will never end. Give me a way out Lord. I meant it when I said I am tired. Help me. I feel so weak. I don’t know what to do.
Huh? How am I going to do that? All 85kg of him is lying on top of me.
Ask him to go and take a shower.
“Hmm?” He raises his head from where he was trailing kisses down my neck.
“Could you go and take a shower?”
“Now?” He gives me a quizzical glance.
“’l’ll join you. Let me just get a drink from the kitchen.” I smile hoping he doesn’t read my thoughts.
He makes a face and grunts. “Oh well…what the lady wants, the lady gets.” He rises to pull off his clothes slowly, teasing me till I blush. Then he blows me a kiss and heads for the shower.
When the door closes behind him, I rush downstairs and pick up my bag from where he threw it. Opening the door as quietly as I can manage, I make my way outside.
“Oti, come and open the gate for me,” I call to the gateman.
“Madam, any problem?” he asks as he unlocks it.
“I want to collect something from someone. I will soon be back.” I am almost shaking. I cannot bear the thought of him noticing I left and calling to his gateman to stop me.
Once I am outside, I remember I don’t have my car.
What do I do now? If I call a taxi, he may come outside and see me waiting for it. I don’t want him to talk me into going back.
Call Preye and tell her where you are. Then turn off your phone.
I check to make sure Oti is not watching and then run to a small kiosk down the street. Taking cover behind the owner’s desk, I explain to her that I don’t want my ex-boyfriend to see me. She smiles in understanding and goes to sit outside in order to deflect all intruders. I pull out my phone and call Preye.
“Hi Didi; I didn’t see you after service.”
“Where are you?”
“I am in a friend’s house. She is supposed to give me some fabric for…”
“What street is it? I need you to come and pick me?”
“It is Duromi street. Is there any problem?”
“That is not far from here. I’ll send my address. I am hiding from Stan in a small kiosk called Madam Ice. She is outside. Just tell her you came to pick me. I have to turn off my phone.”
“Are you in any danger?”
“No, I am fine. I will tell you everything when you get here. Please hurry.”
“Okay, I’ll be there shortly.”
“Didi, what is going on? Stan has been calling me. He said you blocked his number and you are not in your house. What is the matter? Did he hit you?” Chichi asked on phone.
“I sent him a message telling him it is over between us. Why won’t he accept that?”
“What did he do? Did he cheat on you?”
“I want more than he can offer.”
“What more do you want, Didi? The guy is sweet, romantic, stinking rich and caring. I don’t think he deserves this.”
“Chichi, you remember the day I called you to tell you Moses asked me if you smoke weed?”
“Yes, I do.”
“I lied to him and I felt very bad; I felt as if I stabbed a child.”
“It’s not that deep, Didi. You know I would do the same for you.”
“That’s the thing. I don’t want to live that life anymore. I want God to be proud of me. Jesus did not die for us to live this kind of kalo kalo life we have been living.” I am almost in tears at this point.
“I don’t understand.”
“Come clean to Moses. He will forgive you. Wipe the slate clean and make your marriage work.”
“If you want to insult me let me know. What is this about wiping the slate,” Chichi sneers. “Kpachakwara onwe gi anya (Mind your business).”
“Chichi, Moses told me you secured him an investment to import sound equipment. He even asked me to thank you for him.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Does he know you are having an affair with that man?”
“I am doing it for Moses!” Chichi snarls, defensive.
“If you wanted to help him why didn’t you tell him to ask Nedu his friend for the money or the contacts? Nedu is doing something similar, I recall.”
“He said he is already so indebted to him and he wants to surprise them; to prove he is a man. What should I have done? I had to support my husband.”
“You are on a slippery slope, Chichi and I would be a bad friend if I didn’t tell you. End all those relationships and face your marriage.”
Chichi is silent for a while.
“Where are you?” she asks finally.
“I moved in with a friend of mine.”
“Did you quit your job? Stan said you haven’t been at work for a few days.”
“I had to quit. I got that job the wrong way and they will keep using it against me.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“I have some savings. I might go into consultancy as a project manager or look for another job. Right now I am waiting on God to lead me. I don’t want to preempt him. Who knows he might even want me to become a professional gospel musician.”
Chichi laughs. “Musician? That will be the day.”
“You never know.” I laugh as well.
“Chichi, do you promise to think about what I said?”
“I will think about it. It’s scary though, to open up that can of worms. I don’t think Moses can handle it.”
“We can pray for wisdom. I want to introduce you to my best friend, the Holy Spirit. There is no mess he can’t get you out of. Nothing fazes him; he can’t be embarrassed and he is always compassionate. He won’t mock you or use your mistakes against you.”
“Jiri nwayo! One thing at a time. It seems you have become a pastor. Meanwhile, what do I tell Stan?”
“Tell him it’s over. I am with someone else and he has to move on.”
“Is this like self-mutilation or what? Are you punishing yourself for your past?”
“On the contrary, Jesus was punished for our sins. What I am doing is called dying to self. I made the decision to fall on my own sword and I’m loving my new life in Christ. If you decide to do same I will hold your hands and support you.”
“Fall gini? Biko kwa. Take care of yourself.”
“Bye, Chi. I am praying for you.”
“Thank you. I mela. Let me call Stan. I hope he won’t kill himself.”
“He won’t, Chichi. Bye now.”
Thanks for reading everyone. The Final episode comes up next week after which I will go on a break. I really appreciate all the comments, likes and shares. God bless you real good.
I am @nenabekee or email@example.com in case you have questions.
Moses was battling a suspicion he had had for long. It started as a hair-raising sensation whenever he got home before Chichi unexpectedly and she would be at the backyard with the back door locked. The house was designed such that he could not access the back from the front without alerting whoever was there. The last time this happened it took her almost 20 minutes to unlock the back door and when she did her eyes were dilated, glazed, unfocused. He actually panicked thinking she was ill but she smiled, squealed and flew into his arms for a hug and a deep kiss that forced him to abandon his suspicions.
Another day, he smelled what he suspected to be weed in the bathroom. He thought it was a leak from somewhere and shouted for their help to clean it thoroughly. Chichi was not at home that day. The girl said she had cleaned it that morning but proceeded to do it again. After that, the odor disappeared. Moses heaved a sigh of relief.
Today, he saw what looked like a stub from a roll of weed at the backyard when he went to practice his guitar in solitude. He did not want to ask Chichi about it because he felt she would take it badly. It was inconceivable to him that his domestic assistant used drugs because he had never had reason to suspect her. They did not have a gateman because the house was in an estate with a central gate. No other person had access to their backyard but the three of them. He decided to call Didi for help on a whim. He could not live without knowing the truth.
“Hello Didi, good afternoon,” he greeted when she answered at the fourth ring.
“Is this a good time or you’re swamped with work?”
“I am actually at a lunch date with Annette and Preye. We are having a shourt-course mentoring so we work around our busy schedules.”
“That’s so nice. When you go for all these programs you don’t invite your friend; why is that?” he accused.
“I do; it’s just that she has been busy. I assumed you are one of the reasons she no longer has time for me.” Didi laughed shortly.
“Could you find a private spot? I want to ask you something confidential,” Moses requested.
He heard her tell her companions she had to take the call privately and then he heard the scraping of chairs as she changed locations.
“Alright, shoot; what’s going on?”
Moses heaved a sigh before asking the question that kept him awake the night before.
“Didi, does Chichi smoke weed?”
Didi was shocked. She stood there, silent, heart pounding for minutes.
“I…Didi…are you there?”
“Have you ever seen Chichi using weed?’
“Moses, I am surprised you are asking this type of question! How can you accuse your wife of smoking weed and then come to me to confirm it?”
“I am sorry to put you on the spot. I just felt you would know because of how close you both are…”
“I have never seen Chichi doing drugs!”
“You haven’t? Not even when you both were in school.”
“I never did. If she did, it was not in my presence and I never had reason to suspect her. Go home, love your wife and enjoy your marriage.”
“Okay, Didi, I am sorry I put you on the spot.”
“Thank you. I’ll talk to you later.”
Didi ended the call unceremoniously and dialed Chichi’s number furiously. She did not want to be drawn into their issues but she had to warn her that her husband was on to her before her addictions led to the breakup of the marriage.
Nedu was interviewing a new entrant into the follow-up department Isio. She was a fair and heavily-endowed woman, a teacher who had known the Lord for over 20 years and had recently joined their church after relocating from Ibafo. Kevin his assistant who was also part of the interview panel had stepped out to take a call.
“What do you believe about demonic possession? Can a believer be possessed?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “I think a believer who doesn’t know his rights may be oppressed but never possessed. He is already possessed by the spirit of God and there cannot be two captains on one boat,” she replied.
“Good. What do you believe about salvation? How can we lose our salvation?”
“I don’t think anyone can lose his salvation. The gifts and calling of God are irreversible. Maybe the person would have to recant as in, say I don’t want you to be my Lord anymore Jesus or something. But I don’t think there is any sin we can commit that God cannot forgive. Paul wrote that neither death nor life angels nor powers can separate us from the love of God.”
“You are well-versed in scripture,” Nedu complimented her.
“Thank you but I don’t think that should be a rarity. We are called to be priests and kings so each of us should know the word for him or herself,” she smiled.
He noticed she had dimples and smiled back. Kevin came in at that time and apologized.
“That’s fine. I think we are done here. Your training will commence tomorrow. I’ll send you a text.” Nedu rose and shook her hand. Her grip was firm but soft and her eyes were kind.
“Thank you Bro Nedu,” she said.
“My parents did not name me Bro. The name is Chinedu, Nedu for short.” His eyes twinkled with mischief.
“Well, I prefer to be called Madam Isio,” she joked.
“Me too, I want to be called Sir. Kevin. After all my father was a knight of St. Mulumba,” Kevin added.
The group burst into laughter.
“It was nice meeting you Isio. Welcome to our department.”
“Thank you so much. I’ll take my leave.”
The men watched her leave.
“Nedu, na your wife be this! I know she is your spec; fair, shapely, not too tall and she is grounded in scripture,” Kevin said when she was out of earshot.
Nedu was silent. Kevin was right. Before he fell in love with Didi, he dreamed of marrying a girl who looked like Isio and his friends knew. He began to wonder if there was anything wrong with him getting to know her better.
Father, since you won’t let me go for Didi, should I ask Isio out? She’s beautiful, full of the word and she’s a teacher. There’s a good chance Didi will not want to marry a trader in Alaba market. Am I putting all my eggs in one basket?
You are silent Lord? Why?
“Guy, collect her number and follow her up very well. The girl is hot and if anyone else notices her you may not have a chance,” Kevin was saying.
“How do you know she isn’t already in a relationship?”
“I heard her fiancé died a few months to their wedding years ago and since then she has kind of kept to herself.”
“How did you get all this information, Kevin?” Nedu stared at his friend with his mouth hanging open.
“My wife has a friend who went to school with her. Apparently the guy had sickle cell and was battling one crisis after the other.”
“Yeah, pity; so are you going for her or what?”
“I’ll give her a call and see how she responds. If she gives me the green light I’ll know it’s a sign from God,” Nedu decided.
Kevin raised his hand and thumped him on the shoulder. “That’s what I’m talking about!” he exclaimed. “You need a good woman to put your life in order.”
“Are you trying to insinuate my life is out of order?” Nedu pushed him in jest.
“Guy, you won’t know what you’re missing until you taste it. Thank me later.”
Thanks for reading, for leaving a comment and liking and sharing.
Chichi invited me to her church. I know she is supposed to meet up with her boyfriend Moses, who plays guitar in their church. Moses is “the one”. Of course he doesn’t know it yet but his life has been planned for him. He is not tall enough but he is handsome and kind and he doesn’t ask too many questions. What more does a girl need in a husband? Money? No, money is for the desperate, thirsty girls out there who want to eat their cake and have it. Chichi works in an investment firm and handles the portfolios of the richest men and women in Nigeria. She has a sugar daddy for career advancement, one for trips abroad and another for high-end expenses. Moses is the one who will marry her and give her the title “Mrs”. I envy him. He is getting a great girl.
Their church has a very fancy name; The Shepherd Centre. I like it. I have only been here twice but the music is always great and the guys drool-worthy. What our native wear does to men; only God will deliver young ladies!
She drove us there in her humble car, the car that she used when husband-hunting. Moses has never seen her G-wagon. He doesn’t know of her 2 houses and property in Port-Harcourt. As far as he is concerned, she is a secretary in her firm and earns N200, 000.
That is just her basic salary, however. Last night she spent double that amount on the champagne alone while we clubbed. It was the birthday of a mutual friend and we threw her a party complete with male strippers, sex toys, weed and a few other substances guaranteed to lift our spirits from the dreariness of the Lagos hustle.
“Didi help me put on my bracelet,” Chichi asked.
She has called me Didi rather than Ndidi from the first day we met. She wanted our names to rhyme. Fortunately, everyone already called her Chichi rather than Chizitere Onyema. We met during NYSC (I’m sure you have heard about the compulsory 1 year service to the nation that gives the Nigerian government the right to fling you to the far corners of the earth and pay you a pittance for teaching children who have no intention of learning anything). During the orientation in Nassarawa state, she was the toast of the camp with her fair oval face and brown eyes, her figure that was just at the edge of being voluptuous and her ‘come-hither’ voice. We became friends when she rescued me from a soldier who was harassing me for avoiding the parade. He was already raising his voice when she slid over (I was hiding in mammy market) and said in that her ‘come-hither’ voice “Officer, please excuse me!”
He turned to stare at her like he was on puppet-strings, mouth-agape. Since then I have seen her do this to many people of both sexes. Her voice is so soft and sweet that when she speaks you feel sorry for her. I have seen her end quarrels just by saying “Hello”. (Like I said earlier, Moses is a lucky man). Anyway, the soldier pointed at his chest like a child and said “Me?”
She nodded and made a sign for him to come to her. He smiled sheepishly and followed her. I didn’t wait to find out where they went but ran back to the parade ground. A few minutes later, I saw her join the parade. I later found her and said thanks. She waved away my gratitude, smiling.
“What did you tell him?” I asked.
“O, he’s a teddy bear. I told him I needed help learning to march. He assumed I was offering more,” she said and laughed. Even her laugh was alluring. The way she threw back her head and opened her mouth very slightly such that a gentle ringing sound came forth; I knew I had to enroll in her school of seduction.
8 years later, I think I have done well for myself. This morning I am wearing an Ankara print shift dress but it was made by one of the big names in Nigerian fashion so it is remarkable. My nude shoes are louboutins, my make-up is great (I paid a lot of money for professional tutoring after all), my purse is chanel and my fragrance is Versace. I may not be as pretty as Chichi but the package is alright. Maybe I will get noticed by one of the brothers in the choir as well. The current boyfriend Tolu , is not saying anything that sounds like “Marry me”. I am not going to keep waiting for him to choose me from his myriad of girls (Yes I know he is unfaithful but there is this saying about a bird in hand…).
I help Chichi put on her bracelet and we get down from her car. A quick check in the car mirror and we start walking into the church, bibles in hand. She is wearing a yellow dress that clings to her in ways help you appreciate her flat abdomen (if you can take your eyes off her figure). We were 15 minutes late. The ushers in black smile at us, shake our hands and guide us to seats on the 2nd row to the right. I drop my possessions on my seat and rise to join the singing. The songs are new to me (I grew up catholic but I have attended many Pentecostal churches these past 4 years in Lagos). I fix my gaze on the screens so I can learn the lyrics or at least mouth them so I don’t look disinterested. No brother in this church will give me a 2nd glance if I don’t look spiritual enough.
It is actually not hard to get caught up in the emotion of the music. I spot Moses on the stage, strumming his stuff but I can’t concentrate on him. After a while, I am in my own world, Chichi, Moses, the crowd fades away. I find myself raising my hands to worship, swaying to the music. One song in particular keeps ringing in my mind long after we sit down and the pastor begins to speak. I barely hear him. I find myself distracted, not by the fashion of other attendees as used to be the case but by thoughts I cannot explain their origin.
“Turn to Psalm 33 verse 11,” the pastor was saying. “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Nothing can thwart God’s plan for your life, not your mistakes, your stubbornness, your pride, nothing! He sacrificed his son on the cross of calvary. That gives him a right to your life. You think you own it but you are living on borrowed time.”
I felt a stab in my heart. A wave or tremor or something went through my stomach. I glanced at Chichi. She was chewing gum, her face impassive. No one else around me looked like they felt what I was feeling. I sat up and crossed my legs. Maybe it was the moi-moi I ate in the club that caused the rumble in my stomach. Flicking my hair over my shoulder, I took my gaze off the pastor. Suddenly, he was too intense for my comfort. I brought out my phone and began to check twitter. My timeline provided the much needed distraction. Soon, the disquiet eased and I relaxed.
“ Maybe I ought to find the restroom after the service.”
The service was over but the music director wanted to speak to Nedu.
“Good job bro!” he gave him a hi-5.
“Praise God! I thought my voice would be cracked after last night.”
“No, it was fine.”
“Why did you drag that song for so long though? It went on forever. I asked Veno to start a new song on the keyboard to give you a cue but you didn’t notice.”
“I did notice but I don’t know why God just wanted me to keep singing that song. Each time I tried to change it, I felt I should stick with it.”
“Okay, I won’t argue with that. Thankfully, it didn’t get boring.”
“I have to go. Moses wants to introduce me to someone.”
“He does? That spiritual brother? I didn’t know he has a girlfriend,” Teni laughed as he spoke.
“Neither did I!”
“I want the full gist…with pictures, my guy.” He extended a hand for a handshake as Nedu laughed and turned to leave.
To be continued
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