Nike was standing at the center of a room enclosed with glass walls. At the other end, she could see faces of broken women, many in their twenties and mid-thirties.
Some had babies strapped to their backs, others were crying and some crouched down on the floor. They were all pleading for help and trying so hard to get her attention.
Her husband folded his hands, his gaze measuring with hers. She remained in her position, stubborn, not flinching or making a move towards the door. Some of the women began to pound on the door.
When David tried opening the door but couldn’t, he left and returned with a piece of metal which he smashed the glass with.
Nike woke up, panting. She sat up and noticed she had slept off on the sofa. She looked at the time. 3a.m. She sighed, the dream playing in her mind. Who were the women standing behind her husband? What did they want from her? Why were some of them crying?
Lord, what’s going on? Who are these people?
She got no response. She closed her eyes hoping she would sleep and find answers in yet another dream but sleep evaded her. There was no light and she had no idea where her mother kept the lamp.
With her phone, Nike found her way to the room and tried again to get some sleep. In the darkness, she suddenly felt God’s presence fill the room. In her mind’s eye, he was sitting with her, holding her hands just the same way he had done the day her father died.
I know the thoughts I have for you, thoughts of good and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Her throat felt dry as that scripture coursed through her soul. How could she feel so loved even after her blatant disobedience to God’s command on submission. Her eyes glistened with tears. By the time she would settle under the duvet, Her body were racking with sobs.
I know the thoughts I have for you, thoughts of good and not of evil.
The words came back again as she spread herself out on the bed turning restlessly. She got up at 4 and began to prepare for work. Nike knew if she had to beat traffic, she would have to leave before 5.
Work went smoothly than Nike expected. The success of the meeting with one of the big clients pleased her boss greatly. With a smile he rarely offered, he turned to her and said, ‘You are exceptional. What can we do without you in this firm.’ The deposition had also gone well. But Nike felt restless and disturbed. Was supposed to be happy and comfortable? Wasn’t God suppose to hate her and make bad things happen to her?
When she entered the lunch room that afternoon, she saw Dami already seated, waiting for her. When Dami first resumed work at the law firm, she had immediately gone ahead to start a fellowship during the lunch break. She made beautifully designed invitation cards and sent it out to the staff.
‘You know how Lagos is. We leave home by 5a.m and return home late at night.’ Dami said, the day she brought the invitation card to Nike. ‘When was the last time you attended mid week service in your church?’
Nike smiled. ‘I try to make it once or twice in a month.’
‘Look at that, there are many of us that have not attended bible study in years. We don’t have to starve our spirits because we have a job. We can start something here. I’m proposing a 15 minutes bible discussion every Wednesday.’
The meeting had been a blessing. About five members of staff attended the first meeting and gradually the number increased. Dami was a great teacher of the word and the way she explained scriptures was so gripping you wished she couldn’t stop talking. It was a meeting they looked forward to, and in many instances, they used up their lunch time. Two months later, the boss got wind of the meeting and ordered it to stop. But Dami wasn’t ready to give up yet.
‘But wait o, can’t we talk scriptures over meals? After all, no one banned us from talking in the lunch room and we can use our phones if we need to refer to a scripture’
For fear of losing their jobs, most stayed away and only three persons showed interest. Nike, Dami and Segun met regularly at the lunch room and soon the trio became very close friends.
‘Where is Segun?’ Nike asked as soon as she was seated beside Dami.
‘He is still in court.’ Dami crossed her legs and looked at her friend. ‘I was praying this morning when you crossed my heart. This scripture came as I prayed for you. Jeremiah 29:11.’
Nike didn’t need to be reminded what was in that verse. It was the same scripture God had given to her after she woke up that morning.
Nike sighed. ‘Thank you.’
‘I won’t be staying for lunch. Francis and I will be travelling to Ibadan to speak to the witnesses on that murder case I told you about. We need to stop at the-‘
The door opened. Francis entered followed by Tony. ‘You are here Dami. Let’s go joor.’
Dami quickly hugged Nike and rushed out. Two ladies entered laughing as they settled somewhere close to the entrance to have their lunch. Nike brought out her food flask and opened it. Tony took a seat beside her.
‘Nike.’ He stopped. ‘I know you are still pissed about what happened that day. I’m sorry. I was vulnerable at that time. My girlfriend and I were having serious issues and I wasn’t in my right frame of mind.’
‘You locked the door, Tony.’
‘I was just playing pranks on you. You should know me by now. Haba, how can I do that to you?’
‘That was a very stupid prank. Anyway, how far with your girlfriend. Have you sorted things out?’
‘Yes, we have. You should meet her. She is a very sweet girl. We are getting married next month.’
Nike almost choked on her food. What if she had let down her guard and given herself to this man that day. Men and their ways. She remembered the way he had stared at her with pleading eyes.
‘I’m happy for you,’ Nike said and returned her attention to her food. Her phone rang. It was her mother. She picked it up just as Tony patted her on her shoulders and left the lunch room.
‘Nike, did you sleep here last night?’
‘Are you back?’
‘Don’t ask me question jare. You slept here, didn’t you?’
‘Yes, I did.’
‘Kilosele. Did David travel?’
‘We had a misunderstanding yesterday. He is still upset because I didn’t follow him to Ipetumodu.’
‘Nike, I have told you, except it is an issue of abuse, you don’t walk out of your marital home like that. How can you take flight because of a misunderstanding. If I did that to your father, what kind of wife would that make of me. Go back to your husband’s house. I don’t want to see you in my house.’
‘Mum, are you really saying this? ’
‘o ti binu. I didn’t mean it that way. But really, you can’t sleep in my house tonight. You can come this weekend to pack the things left here. But if you come here today, I’ll chase you back. You know I love you right?’
‘I miss dad.’
‘Ehn. Don’t start that now. I am the one who has to come back to an empty house. I miss him too. Let’s talk about David. Nike, God knows why he says women should submit to their husbands. He wouldn’t give that command if there was no blessing in it.’
‘Mum, it’s difficult. I have been struggling with it myself. But you know how I suffered to go to school after dad died and those his wicked relatives came to pack everything that belonged to us. I had to bake, sew clothes, sell beads and do menial jobs to pay my school fees. You remember law school and the fees?’
‘How many years did it take us to finish paying that debt. How can I just throw everything away like that.’
‘Maybe you could start a law firm somewhere around that place. I’m not sure Ipetumodu is that bad.’
‘We drank garri for one week straight. We slept with rumbling stomachs because there was no food. I don’t want to go back to that life.’ The tears came and Nike didn’t stop them.
Her mother cleared her throat. ‘You remember my favourite scripture. I read it to you all through those trying times. We turned it into a song, danced with it, prayed with it. You remember?’
Nike nodded. ‘Don’t worry about these things saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly father already knows all your needs.’
‘Exactly. We trusted God then and he came through for us. Listen to God, my dear. He’ll take care of you.’
Nike couldn’t eat again. She covered her food flask aware of the glaring eyes focused on her. She left the lunch room.
When she walked into her house at around 9 p.m, she turned on the light to find her husband sleeping on the bed, his bible and a notebook opened in front of him. He woke up as she entered the room and squinted, blocking the light with his hands.
Nike didn’t say anything. She began to undress. David stood up and moved towards her. He touched her elbow gently. She turned towards him and and swallowed hard, as fresh love for him rose so much that her heart ached. He led her back to the bed and planted her on his laps.
‘Sweetheart. I know I have been selfish and I want to say I’m sorry about that. The Lord told me today to be patient with you and to listen to you. We are partners of the grace of life and the last thing I want is to find my prayers hindered.’
Nike kept her eyes on the floor. He raised her head and stare into her eyes. ‘I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?’
She stood up and went to the edge of the bed and sat down. She was now more confused than ever. First it was God showing her so much love and now her husband. If this was meant to weaken her, it was working. She was losing her resolve.
‘Should I speak to the Pastor so you could go back to Ipetumodu. I’ll just sort out a few things and come spend some time with you. I can’t leave my job just yet. I can’t.’
He moved to settle beside her. ‘Honey, I’m not asking you to leave your job. I have been instructed to wait until you are ready. Right now, I’m learning all I need to know from the Pastor. Look at those books.’ He pointed at a pile of books. ‘They will keep me busy. Besides, the church accountant just put to bed so I’m standing in for her.’
‘Do you love me?’ Nike asked, her eyes locked in his. The answer was staring her right in the face. His eyes screamed it but she wanted to hear him say it. She watched his lips and waited.
‘I love you with every breath of my being. I love you so much. Come here.’
He wrapped his hands around her shoulders and gave her ears gentle nibbling. They stayed there enjoying each other’s warmth and presence. As he pulled her into a more comfortable position on the bed, Nike’s eyes caught something under her shoe rack.
She leaned forward to get a closer glimpse of it.
‘What’s that?’ her husband asked, his eyes following hers. She climbed down from the bed and reached under the shoe rack and pulled it out. Her eyes opened wide in surprise.
‘Oh my God.’ She muttered.
Episode 5 comes up next