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Adunni was sentenced to life imprisonment. They called it manslaughter.
I sat there stunned beyond words. Why didn’t God hear our prayers? Why didn’t Jesus do a miracle and touch the heart of the judge? For goodness sake, didn’t the bible say, old things are passed away?
Tears ran down my eyes as I watch Adunni walk out of the court room, handcuffed, flanked by two uniformed men. She was led to the truck that would take her to a place where she’d spend the rest of her life.
A woman rolled on the floor wailing. It was not hard to tell that this was Adunni’s mother. A man stood near the woman, eyes dried, jaws set. Adunni glanced at me, her face smeared with tears.
‘Tinuke, I’m not spending the rest of my life in prison. God told me that yesterday. I’m coming out. You’ll see what God will do. Will you visit me in prison?’
I nodded, unable to stop the tears pouring down my face.
‘When you come, please bring me some books. I want a bible too. And check up on my parents. Let dad know that I’ve finally found Christ.’
We stood and waited until the truck left the court premises. From the little opening, Adunni waved at us. Her mum was on her feet now, staring at the truck as if she had just been stabbed. Then she fainted. Some of the women who had come with her splashed water on her face. She opened her eyes and stood up. She began to wail again.
I walked over to where Adunni’s father stood. His lips moved but I couldn’t understand what he was saying.
‘I’m sorry about your daughter.’ I started. He looked at me and continued to mutter words. ‘Adunni said to tell you she has finally found Christ.’
His lips closed shut and he stared at me. ‘She did?’
I nodded. ‘I was in the cell with her when she surrendered her life to Jesus.’
He wiped the tears already forming on his eyelids and pulled me into a warm embrace.
‘Oh thank you. I know Jesus will never leave her. He’ll never forsake her.’ He said in a soft voice, barely audible. It made me wonder how a father could still trust Jesus after a sentence like this.
My birthday came two weeks later and by then I’d decided to return to my father’s company. Dad flew in from Abuja on the eve of my birthday and asked that I come to the house for a little celebration. Patrick was in Lagos now that school was on semester break.
On my way to see dad the following morning, I sent Patrick a text message.
I will marry you. Tinuke.
Patrick called me in less than a minute after I sent it. When I informed him about the celebration and asked if he could make it, he said he was at the hospital with his mother for a check-up. He promised to join me soon and asked that I send the address. He thanked me for accepting his proposal.
I met a full house when I stepped into the living room that morning. Dad, Shade, Yetunde, Gbenga and a handsome young man whose hand was wrapped around my step-sister’s waist. A large cake was on the center table flagged by bottles of wine.
‘Happy birthday!’ they screamed immediately when I entered the sitting room. Dad led the ‘Happy birthday to you’ song and I stood there watching as they danced in a circle. I wished Patrick could get here fast. Dad had a beautiful bass voice and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
We did the father daughter dance. Dad held my hand and we moved from side to side.
Omo o, ke i pe d’agba
Omo o, ke i pe d’agba
Kekere, jojolo, mo feran re
Omo o ke i pe d’agba
Omo o ke i pe d’agba
Patrick came in while Dad addressed us. My father winked at me when he settled beside me on the sofa. He’d been dying to meet Patrick after I had told him Patrick’s role in helping me get back on my feet.
‘Thank you for giving me another chance to be a better father. I’m sorry again for whatever hurt I’ve made you go through and for not being there all those years.’ He looked at Shade. ‘Shade will be taking up a job at a children’s foundation in Abuja.’
My eyes widened. ‘What! Shade is leaving Fidson?’
Shade smiled and winked at me.
My father grinned. ‘Yes she is. The last thing I want is for her to live my dreams. I followed my passion. You all should do same. You must pursue what brings you satisfaction. Yetunde has decided to travel out of the country to pursue a master’s degree. I’ll be enrolling Gbenga at a school in Abuja until he makes all his papers. That leaves you Tinuke. Lagos branch is yours to run. If you will kindly take my offer, I want you to head the Lagos Branch of Fidson Corporate Solutions.’
My mouth opened. I glanced at Patrick, speechless. He smiled and squeezed my hand. I returned my gaze to my father, my mouth still opened.
‘I’ll take it.’ I said.
That was when the party began. The caterers came in with silver trays stack high with different delicacies. I couldn’t eat. I was too excited.
From where I sat, Dad was talking to Patrick and the guy that had been with Shade. They laughed easily. I was curious to know what my father was saying that held Patrick’s attention. Shade perched on the armchair and joined me as we watched them together.
‘You’d think they’ve known each other a long time.’
I smiled. ‘So when is our wedding?’
‘Next month, hopefully.’
I looked at her, surprised. ‘So fast. You didn’t tell me about him when I was still at Fidson.’
‘It wasn’t so serious then. I was still observing him. So when is yours?’
I shrugged. ‘I don’t know yet. Hopefully, next year.’
‘That’s too far. This is May. You can still fix your wedding before the end of the year.’
The gifts came afterwards. Dad got me a black Toyota Venza. Shade gave me a Mac laptop. Yetunde presented As the shofar blew by Francine Rivers and a collection of Karen Kingsbury’s Redemption series. Gbenga got me a wristwatch. Even Shade’s fiancé had a journal for me. The best gift I received that day was from Patrick.
He opened a small box and brought out an engagement ring which he slid into my finger.
Dad looked at his two future sons-in-law. ‘I don’t joke with my daughters. You must take good care of them.’
Patrick’s gaze rested on my face. ‘By God’s grace, I will.’ When I looked up, Shade’s head was on her fiancé’s shoulder. They were giggling like teenagers.
The birthday celebration ended quickly because in Lagos, time is money. Patrick drove me in my new car to work. A meeting had been scheduled in the conference room for 11a.m. I sat with Dad as he introduced me to the members of staff as the new branch head of Fidson Corporate Solutions. He made it very clear that I was his daughter and when the other employees looked at him in disbelief, he emphasized, ‘biological.’
My eyes scanned the room. I had worked with most of these people and now I was going to lead them. I missed Francis and wished he was back. Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined returning to Fidson.
Oh God! Is this how you work? Is this how you take a person’s mess and make something out of it? But why are you showing me so much love?
I didn’t get any response. His silence spoke a thousand words.
Later that evening, we saw dad off to the airport. He had to return to Abuja to prepare for a meeting with a Belgium company. Yetunde sat behind me in the car, working on her school application.
‘Did mum agree to Gbenga moving in with dad?’ I asked Yetunde as we approached the airport.
‘Yes she did. I was so surprised. I wonder what Dad wrote in that letter to mum.’
Patrick glanced at my sister from the rear mirror, ‘Tell mum we’ll be visiting next weekend.’
Yetunde smiled. ‘I called her this afternoon. She can’t wait to meet you.’
We pulled behind Shade’s car and climbed down. We waited outside until Patrick and Shade found a place to park and then we walked into the airport together. I couldn’t help but smile at my brother in a fine t-shirt and jeans with matching sneakers. He looked so different from the Akure boy I knew.
We waved at the men, my father and my brother, as they left for the departure lounge. Shade had decided to stay back for a while to properly hand over to me. Yetunde was returning to Akure to help mum until her travelling papers were finalized. As I locked hands with my husband-to-be, all I could think of was the faithfulness of God.
I slept over at Tola’s place that night. Mercy had travelled to Akwa-Ibom to see her parents and so we were alone in the house
‘Finally! You said Yes to Patrick.’
I frowned. ‘How did you know? This was supposed to be me breaking this news to you.’
Tola laughed. ‘I should have just pretended I didn’t know. Patrick told Wale and he told me.’
We sat in the living room and talked about love and men and marriage. I noticed that nothing had changed since the last time I came to Tola’s place.
‘I was asked to convince you about something.’
I stared at my friend, curious. ‘What is it?’
She moved closer to me. ‘Can we get married on the same day. I want us to have it in record that we got married the same day. You know, both of us starting this marriage journey together will be fun. Patrick is fine with this.’
‘Your wedding is just two months away. I can’t get married in two months Tola.’
‘We can move it to November, if you want.’
I wrapped my hand around Tola’s neck. ‘Girl, you’ve been waiting for years for this day. Adding another four months doesn’t seem reasonable.’
‘It’s fine by us. November is almost here. We actually thought of November 17th.’
‘The three of us.’
I stood up and laughed so hard. ‘Wait, I just said yes to Patrick this morning. How did you guys already fix my wedding date?’
‘Like I said, it’s just a suggestion. You can say no, even though we will like for you to say yes.’
‘I have to call Patrick.’
I dialed Patrick’s number. Tola tried to distract me by blowing air into my ear. I stood up and moved towards the dining table. She followed me. I moved back to the living room. Tola pulled my free hand.
Patrick came on the other line. ‘Hello, my dear queen.’
‘Don’t queen me abeg. How can you fix my wedding date without my consent.’
‘Sweetheart, it’s not like that. We were just brainstorming and ehm.. you know…we thought you might like the idea. If you say No, we have no choice but to accept on your terms.’
I chuckled. ‘E ku ise o. Una weldone.’
‘Is that a Yes?’
I didn’t respond immediately. Tola was tickling and winking at me. I could hear Wale in the background singing, ‘My soul says Yes, says Yes.’
‘You can think about it, if you want. There is no pressure, Tinuke.’ Patrick said softly.
‘Yes. November 17 is fine.’
Excited, Tinuke held my waist and pulled me across the living room. My phone flew out of my hand and landed on the floor. As I crawled to pick it, Tola jumped on my back and began to jerk my waist back and forth.
We hung out that night, stopping at Funmi’s house to pick her up. I had fun. It wasn’t until midnight that we returned to the house.
Everything went very fast. My introduction ceremony where I finally met Patrick’s parents. My trips to Balogun market for my wedding accessories, selection of hall for the event, the pre-marital counselling sessions in church, Shade’s wedding in Abuja, our visit to my mum in Akure, my meetings with clients. I felt like my life was on a spindle.
I visited mum again shortly before my wedding. Dad had sent a huge amount of money for mum to start a Montessori school. Our pure water factory wasn’t making so much profit and mum decided it was time to take a path she’d been dreaming of. We sold the factory and bought an old building in a swanky area in Akure.
While the building was under renovation, we arranged with experts to train mum on how to run a Montessori school. Thankfully, the years mum spent as a nursery and primary school teacher gave her an upper hand.
Yetunde’s admission process had been completed and she was due to travel to the U.S that weekend. We decided to spend that Friday together with mum before leaving together for Lagos.
‘Mum, what exactly did dad write in that letter?’ Yetunde asked, rummaging through mum’s wardrobe.
Mum chuckled. ‘You can’t find the letter in that wardrobe.’
I played with mum’s finger. ‘What did Dad write that changed your mind about him.’
Mum smiled. ‘I just realized that I was getting old and I didn’t want to go to the grave carrying that pain in my heart. Forgiving your father was the hardest and yet the best decision I made. I cried to God after reading that letter. I asked him to help me forgive your father. He did. By the way, how’s Patrick?’
‘He is fine.’
‘When he came here, I observed the way both of you talked. It was so sweet. It was so different from the way you and Kunle related. I always pitied you when Kunle shouted and scolded you like a child.’
‘And you wanted me to marry him.’
Mum shrugged, ‘We all have our flaws.’
Yetunde looked up from her phone. ‘Baba Jide just sent me a text now. The toys have arrived. He is waiting for us at the school gate.’
My mother clapped in excitement and stood up. We dressed up and left for mum’s new school. The painters were working on the walls when we got there. I stopped at the entrance to read the name of the school in bold letters.
DIVINE HOPE MONTESSORI SCHOOL
The men began to arrange the toys into the different rooms. The school looked very colourful. Everything was almost ready in preparation for resumption of the new session. I remembered I had a meeting the following week with the marketing and creative team.
We left for Lagos the following morning. Yetunde flew out of the country that night.
A week after Yetunde left for the United States, I returned from a meeting with the M.D of Zach Tech to find Patrick sitting in the reception, reading a magazine. Seeing him was such a relief because I was so drained out by the meeting and furious with the terrible way I’d been treated by the M.D who felt because I was a woman, I had nothing serious to offer. I’d left his office almost in tears.
‘You look upset.’ Patrick said as we entered my office.
‘I had a rough day. Business is like that sometimes.’ I pulled out a bottle of chilled apple juice from the fridge while Patrick got two cups from the cabinet.
‘I didn’t mean to bump into you like this.’ Patrick said as I filled the cups.
‘It’s fine. You came at the right time.’
I emptied the glass and refilled before sitting beside Patrick.
‘Dad was at my house this evening.’ Patrick said.
‘Oh. Nice. He told me he had a meeting but he would be travelling back immediately after the meeting to attend a function in Abuja.’
Patrick placed a bunch of keys in my palm. ‘He sent his wedding gift ahead.’
I looked from Patrick to the bunch of keys. ‘What’s this?’
Patrick smiled. ‘The duplex. Our wedding gift. He has given me the contact of the lawyer who’d help us with the papers.’
My eyes widened. ‘How are we supposed to live in that big house alone.’
Patrick brought a small box from his pocket and gave it to me. ‘This is from Shade’s mother.’
I opened it to find a beautiful necklace and a matching pair of earrings.
‘This is so beautiful.’
Patrick stood up. ‘That’s what I came to deliver. I think I should leave you to work. I’ll pick you up at 5.’
I pulled his hand. ‘Please stay a little more.’
‘But you have work to do.’
As if to confirm Patrick’s statement, Cynthia, my secretary came in to inform me that some men from one of the big firms we managed were at the reception waiting to see me.
Patrick stopped at the door and faced me. ‘Can’t we just move this wedding date closer. Mehn, this body needs to be fed. Wedding night, come abeg.’
I laughed. ‘Bro, the patient dog eats the fattest bone. Besides, our wedding is next month. It’s here already. But until then we wait.’
‘Definitely. We don’t negotiate where sexual purity is concerned. Lest I forget, I’ve booked our flight to Paris. Every other logistics has been settled.’
I jumped in excitement. My first trip outside the shores of Nigeria would be my honeymoon.
That evening, Mimi went with us to see our new house. I was mesmerized as I moved from one wing to another. I could hear Patrick and Wale’s voice from the other end of the house. There were three rooms downstairs and about four upstairs. Dad had changed the chairs in the sitting room and brought in new sets of dining chairs. The master bedroom was the largest room with its own sitting area furnished and neatly arranged.
The housekeeper, Kike, introduced us to the chef and other domestic staff. I wondered what I’d be doing with a chef. I was definitely going to cook my husband’s meals. As we walked down the stairs, laughing at Mimi’s jokes, I had just this prayer on my lips.
Lord, help me to always stay at the center of your will. Thank you for the blessings you have given me. But Lord, I hold all of these material possessions with loose hands. May I never struggle to release any of the things you have bestowed on me. I pray for the grace to follow you daily.
November 17th. My wedding. Dad sat beside me as we drove to the church.
‘I’m so proud of you.’ Dad said.
‘Thank you Dad.’
I was nervous. I knew that the only way to stay calm was to talk about other things. So I began to narrate to dad the deals I’d pulled in and some of the challenges I was facing. At first, Dad looked at me, puzzled. But when I kept talking, he relaxed and listened. He gave me tips on how to handle difficult clients. He laughed when I told him about Zach Tech. He said immediately I left, the M.D of Zach Tech called to tell him how he’d drilled me and how I was the true daughter of my father. By the time we got to church, we had spoken so much about business and deals and ways to get the staff to be more proactive. I was very relaxed when we got to church.
Tola and Wale had been joined an hour earlier. Now was my turn. The moment had arrived.
Slowly we walked into the church, father and daughter, hand in hand. I saw mum sitting somewhere in front, in a purple aso-oke, her beautiful gele decorated with stones. She looked radiant. When I raised my head and saw the bridegroom, the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with, I couldn’t help but grin. He looked smashing in his navy-blue suit.
This was a journey of faith for us. I prayed quietly for the grace to be a true helpmeet to Patrick. God’s unstoppable love had been revealed in my life, his mercy had shown up and pulled me out of the ditch. I was hoping to reflect such depth of love in my home in the face of any challenge or storm. The song that I had woken up with that morning began to play in my heart as I stood before Patrick.
Oh the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God
Oh it chases me down, fights till I’m found,
Leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it,
Still you give yourself away
Oh the overwhelming, never ending reckless love of God.
I have met with love and that love is God.
..When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech. ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to his servants. ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here-given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found! And they began to have a wonderful time. Luke 15:20-24 (Message)
Thank you for coming with me on this beautiful journey of the immeasurable love of God revealed through Christ Jesus. Lekki Sisi has finally come to an end. I really hope you were blessed by this story.
Thanks for all your feedbacks and the comments you leave after each episode. It gave me the encouragement to sit and scribble down more words.
I look forward to sharing God’s heart with you again through another story series. God bless you.