Folake was setting the table for dinner when her husband walked into the house and went straight to the bedroom. Quietly, she placed the food warmer on the table and hurried after him.
Oladimeji removed his shoes and kicked them away from him.
Folake moved closer. ‘What’s the matter?’
He didn’t answer. In their five months of marriage, she has never seen her husband this upset. He pulled his socks and flung them across the room before yanking his tie and rummaging through the wardrobe in search of what to wear. But Folake had already settled that. There was a cotton t-shirt and boxers on one side of the bed and a pair of pyjamas on the other side. She picked up the t-shirt and handed it to him but instead he grabbed his pyjamas and began to undress.
What should I do? Folake thought silently.
‘Your food is on the table.’
He still didn’t respond.
Not knowing what else to say, she sat on the bed and waited, hoping he would finally share with her whatever was bothering him but instead, he climbed the bed and faced the wall.
Very early the next day, there was a loud knock on the door. Folake was already up preparing breakfast. She rushed to open the door when she heard a familiar voice behind it. Victor entered, angry.
‘Where is your husband?’
‘He is sleeping. Brother Victor, what is the problem.’
‘Tell him I said before 4 p.m, he should move everything he owns from this house.’
He was gone before she could say another word. As she rushed into the room to announce the bad news to her husband, she found him leaning against the entrance to their room. It was obvious he had heard every word. He entered the room and Folake followed behind.
‘Honey, what’s going on? I don’t understand.’
Her husband began to drag the boxes from behind the window that faced the toilet.
‘This is why I don’t trust brothers in our church. Tosin cannot do this to me! Call him a womanizer or a smoker, that guy understands the spirit of brotherhood. Imagine, because Victor gave us a rent free apartment, he thinks he can just order me around. Babe, start packing. I will show that idiot that I don’t need him to survive.’
Tears almost burnt her eyes as she picked up her phone and dialed Mary’s number. That was the only hope left. Mary was her friend and she would plead with her to talk to her husband.
This can’t be happening to me, Folake muttered.
Where would they move to? While they were courting, she had insisted she wasn’t moving in with him to the face-me-i -face you house where almost fifteen occupants shared two make-shift toilets.
The wedding plans had been delayed until he got a two bedroom flat which he claimed he rented from the proceeds of an investment he made shortly after NYSC. He also calmed Folake’s fears when he informed her that plans were underway to make him a full staff of Brent Oil and he would no longer be waiting for the once-in-a-blue-moon contract offer.
Nothing changed after the wedding. Dimeji didn’t get the job and no contract came in. They had been living off her salary and Folake was already tired of his many excuses.
When he came out with the truth of how he got the apartment, Folake had been very angry. He pleaded and she forgave him. While he looked for another job, he helped out in the church office where he received stipends.
Mary didn’t pick the call. Folake tried it again, it was switched off. She sat on the bed frustrated. Could Mary be behind this? Why would her phone ring the first time and the second time, it wouldn’t go through? Why would Mary switch off her phone?
There was barely any money left in her account to rent even a room. The bulk of her money had gone to the payment of debts from the wedding. It still annoyed her that her husband had dropped a sum of money only enough to cover for the drinks. Her parents had emptied their accounts just to see that her wedding went well. All Oladimeji could say was, ‘God will provide.’
Folake tried to stay calm. What good thing has her husband contributed to her life? The man she admired from the pulpit was different from what she was seeing and the last thing she wanted was to call her parents for money. Her dad’s business wasn’t booming as before and her mother was a retiree.
‘Stand up and pack your things!’ Oladimeji shouted.
‘Where are we going to?’ she matched her tone with his.
‘Just pack and stop asking me stupid questions.’
They ended up in a room provided by an old friend who already had three children. Folake stared at the ceiling all night. It was a store room and a part of it had been cleared up for a mattress that reeked of urine. She could hear the movements of rats as they scuttled past and tears ran down her face.
‘How could Mary do this to me?’ Folake said aloud.
Her phone rang. She looked at the caller ID. Mary. She cut the call and switched off the phone before returning her gaze to the ceiling.
After the service on Sunday, Mary rushed to hug Folake and to explain that she had left her phone in her mum’s place when Folake had called, she got pushed away so hard that she almost fell.
Mary was embarrassed. Some of the youths had stopped what they were doing to stare at her, with pitiful glances on their faces. She smiled and walked out of the church, pretending Folake’s action didn’t get to her. But all through that day, that was all she thought about.
The following Saturday was the Annual Sisters Hangout which for many months, Mary had looked forward to. As the Vice President of the Youth Fellowship, lots of preparation had gone into the event. Only few ladies showed up. There was so much leftovers and Mary stood there wondering what to do with the packs of food left.
She called for a meeting and expressed her disappointment but most of the Ladies didn’t show any sign of remorse.
Mary began to notice the way they acted towards her and except for a few ladies, they stopped responding to her greetings and even began to avoid her. It was later she heard Folake had poisoned their minds against her.
Mary sat in the living room unable to sleep. Every attempt to get Folake to talk to her about what she had done wrong proved abortive.
She knew most of the sisters were loyal to Folake who had been the Vice President of the Youth Fellowship for more than four years. She knew they adored her-Her smoothness of speech, charisma and power of persuasion
Few weeks before the handing over, Folake nominated Mary for the position of the VP and it had been effected immediately because Folake’s decision carried so much weight and even though Mary sensed pride and quiet arrogance in her friend, she had quietly envied her.
‘What did I do to her Lord? I feel rejected. Oh God!’ Mary cried.
Let all bitterness be put away from you.
Lord this bitterness cannot go away. I am angry at the way I am being treated. Should she always have her way? If she wanted the position a second time, why didn’t she just ask for it.
Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you.
Mary went on her knees. ‘Help my heart Lord. Help me Jesus.’
Pray for her
‘Jesus, this is difficult. I feel so hurt.’
You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
Mary hesitated, falling on her knees as she covered her face with her hands. ‘Folake, I pray for your home, that it shall prosper. I pray that God will make all things work for your good.’
She leaned against the sofa, as she felt calmness flood her soul.
‘There is something I need to tell you.’
Mary raised her head to find Victor sitting on the arm rest.
Mary sat up. ‘I didn’t know you were awake.’
‘I sent Folake and her husband away from the flat we gave to them.’
Mary’s eyes widened. She jumped to her feet. ‘You did what?’
‘I know I was wrong but I was so angry and I-‘
Mary paced around the living room. ‘Oh my God! Now I understand. Honey, why now? Why would you do that? I thought we agreed that they would be there until Bro Oladimeji gets a new job. You are going to call them now and tell them they can have the house back.’
‘I will not relax. Folake is my friend. How do you think she will feel about me. Maybe she thinks I’m involved in this. I don’t like what you did. No matter what you have against him, you guys should settle your differences. You are going to call them and-‘
‘He was in a hotel with your sister.’
Mary stared at her husband. ‘What did you say?’
He sighed. ‘You know I am the teens coordinator in church and I know how to reach my kids. You remember the teaching weekend we had on Sexual Purity?’
‘Yes I remember.’
‘While I was leading some of the kids to Christ, I saw Yewande crying at a corner. After the meeting, I asked her what the matter was, but she shook her head and said nothing. But I have been praying for her. I sensed there was something she wasn’t telling me.
‘Last week, I received a call from a lady saying Yewande was in trouble. She gave me the address and asked me to come quickly. Thankfully, I was around that area running a project for a client. I got to the motel and discovered that the caller was Gladys, the receptionist of the motel.
‘The sixteen year old girl that lives close to that orphanage close to the market. The girl I said my team has been trying to reach out to. Mama…what’s that her name again. The widow you usually take foodstuff to every month. Her daughter. ‘
‘Oh! Mama Rebecca. I know Gladys. I didn’t know she worked at a motel.’
Victor continued. ‘When I knocked, Yewande opened the door. I entered to find Brother Oladimeji coming out of the bathroom with a towel on his waist.’
Mary’s legs couldn’t hold her again. She sat down and for a moment said nothing. Then she stood up and marched into Yewande’s room.
Yewande was reading a novel when Mary entered. Two hot slaps landed on Yewande’s face.
‘Honey, why did you do that?’ Victor stared at his wife, upset.
‘This is the only sister I have. I need to put some sense into her head.’
She faced Yewande. ‘ how did you end up in a motel with a man? Did he drag you there? I told you that after school, you should come straight home. Was that not the instruction I gave to you?’
Tears ran down Yewande’s face. ‘He came with a taxi to pick me up from school. He said Aunty Mary asked him to give you something. It was when I got to the place that I sensed it was a set up. When we left the reception, I rushed back to get my novel that I deliberately left there and whispered to Gladys to call Uncle Victor.’
‘Why didn’t you just run away?’
‘Aunty, I don’t know. I was afraid. He stood there watching me.’
‘So when you entered the room, what happened?’ Victor folded his hands, taking over the conversation.
‘He locked the door and started saying he loves me and I have a beautiful body and he began to kiss me.’
Mary put her hand on her head. ‘Jesus! We have to report this to the Pastor.’
‘You slapped him.’ Yewande said, rubbing her hand on the spot where she had been slapped.
‘And what did I tell you to do if any man tries to touch any part of your body?’
‘You said I should run away or slap him or bite him.’
‘Is this the first time he has touched you?’ Victor asked.
Mary stared at the ground and shook her head. ‘No. He has touched me behind the generator house at the church. I was afraid to tell you.’
Mary moved close to her sister but Victor quickly stepped beside her. ‘Has he had sex with you?’
‘No, that day would have been the first because he showed me the condom he brought.’
Mary raised her hands. ‘My sister knows what condom is o.’ With her hands on her waist, she glared at Yewande, as if ready to pounce on her.
‘Yewande, you know what condom is.’
Victor rolled his eyes at his wife. ‘She is 15 for goodness sake.’
Yewande shook her head. ‘Aunty, I didn’t know it before. He was the one that showed it to me.
‘What if Gladys had not called my husband. What if he had not given you access to his phone. That’s how you would have given yourself to that man.’
‘ I had my plan. I saw a beer bottle under the bed and I kept it under the pillow. My plan was to act as if I was interested and then cut his something with it.’
Victor and Mary stared at the fifteen year old girl.
‘Yewande, that’s risky. While he was in the bathroom, you should have gotten away.’ Victor said and pulled his wife away from the room.
As they returned to their room, Mary stopped and turned to her husband. ‘Who knows what moves he has been making with other teenagers, We must stop him before he ruins the girls in the church.’
After the bible study on Wednesday evening, the couple walked into the Pastor’s Office only to find Folake and her husband at the entrance of the office. Folake’s face was dark with rage. Oladimeji with a bible by his side walked out of the building, eyes on the floor . In the Pastor’s office, they could hear the loud voice of a woman and a crying girl.
They came out of the office too and the woman, holding a teenage girl, walked passed them without saying a word.
Victor entered the Pastor’s Office leaving his wife with Folake.
Mary hugged Folake and led her out of the building.
‘Mary, how could he do this? It’s forgivable if this was with an adult like me and not with young girls.’
Mary squeezed her friend’s shoulders. ‘You’ll be fine.’
Folake shook her head. ‘No I won’t. I’m leaving him.’
Mary held her friend’s hands tightly. ‘You know you can’t do this. Please, Think-‘
‘You don’t know me. He disgusts me.’ She spat on the floor as if to prove her point. ‘Besides, what’s the point, he is going to jail. Stella’s father is taking him to court and you know how ruthless that man is. If it means using his money to get my husband behind bars, he’ll do it. Excuse me, I need a place to vent or I’ll explode here.’
Mary grabbed her hand. ‘I know you Folake. I’m not leaving you like this.’
Folake jerked her hand away as tears ran down her eyes. ‘Mary leave me, let me go and deal with that shameless dog.
Folake flagged down a bike and jumped on it before giving the bike man her address. Mary could only imagine what was going to happen that night. Everything breakable was going down.
The following Sunday, Victor called the teen workers for an emergency meeting. There was so much work to do. Beyond just evangelising to the teens, he had come to realise that a strong follow up program and enlightenment exercise must be included in their outreach plans.
Mary stepped down from her position as the Vice President and joined her husband in his new pursuit.
They sat at the dinner table mapping out plans and strategies for the teens department in their local assembly. Afterwards, they held hands and prayed, asking for wisdom to help the teenagers find their purpose in God as well as an exposure of all likes of Bro Oladimeji seeking to ruin the lives of young girls.
There are wolves in sheep clothing everywhere… May the Lord deliver our adolescents and teen girls from men like this.
And as singles, may we remain opened to the transforming power of God’s grace for character development and may we receive discernment to know the right choice to make.
Read Ife’s Notes 2 Here