Last week, I woke up with a feeling that something great was going to happen to me. I mean I couldn’t exactly place what it was going to be. I was just happy.
When I got to work, my boss called me into his office.
‘I want you to represent me at the CBS Business Summit. I won’t be able to attend because I have a meeting with one of our biggest clients.’
I was really excited. Me, attend CBS Business Summit. Small pickin like me. Apart from the fact that the registration fee for that Summit was five times my salary, the kind of people that attended the Summit were CEOs of established brands.
He dropped a folder in front of me. ‘Everything you need to know about the Summit is there. This is an important meeting for me Yomi. You have to represent me well.’
‘Sir, I promise I’ll not disappoint you.’
‘I’ll ask one of the drivers to take you to the venue. Be at the office by 7 a.m.’
That evening, I went from one store to another in search of the perfect gown to wear. Finally I settled for a blue gown and black blazers.
The D day arrived. Everything about the decor of that conference hall was superb. I sat towards the middle row, watching as young men and women walked in, heads high, confident faces, smart appearances. I took out my spectacles from my glass case and put them on. Yes o, I had to appear confident too.
It was then I remembered I had not even gone through the booklet my boss gave to me. I had been too busy worried about my appearance and had only glanced through it. I began to flip from page to page, going through the profiles of the facilitators and amazed at the wealth of experiences each of them had.
Then my eyes caught a name and I froze.
Mba, this had to be another Jerry. It can’t be the Jerry I know. The picture sure looked like him but it was not possible for Jerry to have such a profile as this. Even though I was two years younger than Jerry, there was no way at 35, he could pull this off. No way!
The first session went well. The facilitators spoke brilliantly. I loved every part of it. The second session commenced.
His profile was read out and by the time the moderator was done, he made his entry to the sound of thunderous applause.
As he stood on the podium, I realized it was Jerry. My Jerry. The boy who had sat beside me all through SS1. The guy I was irritated to be in a bus with. It was him. The same eyes. The same shape of head. I couldn’t believe it.
How could this have happened?
Was it not like yesterday in Landview College that Jerry was almost stripped naked on the assembly ground? He had broken the Principal’s windscreen minutes after the Maths teacher asked him to do frog jump because he scored 2/20 in his Maths test.
I can never forget that day. SS2. The Principal’s long cane landed on his buttocks. As he pleaded for mercy, the principal stopped and touched his buttocks.
‘You think you are smart. See how fat your buttocks are. Pull down your trousers down!’
‘I swear sir. I did not wear anything inside.’
‘I said, pull it down now!’
‘Let-let me go to the toiler sir.’ As he turned to go, the Principal grabbed his hand and pulled him back.
‘Pull it down here.’
There was a loud uproar among the students. Someone shouted. ‘Girls, close your eyes.’
Jerry’s trouser went down. A knicker appeared. The principal pulled down the knicker. A black one appeared. As the Principal made to pull down the third knicker, Mrs Coker, the biology teacher pleaded with the Principal to stop because by this time, Jerry was holding his short as if his life depended on it.
The students laughed and mocked him as he stood there, eyes welled up in tears.
How Jerry graduated with us baffled me. He was two years my senior but after repeating twice, he’d landed in my class. He remained at the bottom of the class .
I cried the day our class teacher asked him to sit beside me. I fought with one of the girls who said Jerry and I looked like a couple sitting beside each other.
Everything about him annoyed me. Good grades, zero. Handsomeness, no. His black face and thin legs chased us away. I still remember the day he took the ruler from my maths set and I shouted at him never to touch my property.
He lived on my street and many times I had denied knowing him. I tell you, the things Jerry went through- the jeers, mockery, rejection- were enough to drive any teenage boy to suicide.
Here was the same guy showing us business models and mesmerizing us with crazy ideas.
I had to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.
At the end of the conference, I saw him conversing with one of the top shots in the real estate business and walked up to him. He greeted me casually and as he returned his attention to the man, he stopped and stared at me.
‘I know you.’ He was looking closely at me. Then his eyes widened with recognition.
He moved away from the small crowd and pulled me into a hug. For some seconds, we stood looking at each other. Jerry was different. Tall. Broad chested. Clean shaved. Beautiful eyes. Oh he was handsome.
‘I can’t believe this. We have to talk.’
Thirty minutes later, we were seated at the hotel restaurant. We talked about the past. Our teachers. Classmates. Our late principal. School. Work.
‘Jerry I’m so sorry about the way I treated you back then.’
Jerry laughed. ‘Com’on. We were just kids.’
I was curious. ‘But what happened to you. Imagine how shocked I was to see you standing on that podium.’
‘Jesus did it. I went through serious depression after school. Of course I didn’t make my WAEC and JAMB. Mum looked at me and said, ‘Jerry, I’ve been praying for you since you were born. You are my firstborn and you will excel.’ I believe her prayers worked. She sent me to live with my aunt and that was how I met Christ. I began to spend time in his Word and I found hope and direction for my life. My eyes were opened to the things I could do with ease and I simply walked into it.’
My eyes stopped at Jerry’s finger. No ring. Maybe this was God answering my prayers. I’d just finished a three-day fasting and prayer session with my spiritual mentor and she had assured me that my days of waiting was over. She said God was going to send my man soon.
Lord could this be him?
We talked more about our vision and I saw that our dreams aligned. It was so easy talking to him. I loved that he was a great listener. I was already excited about what the future might hold for us.
He looked at his watch and that was when he dropped the bomb.
‘Oh! I didn’t know time had gone so fast. Yomi, I have to leave now. I am running late for an appointment with my fiancée. She is flying into Lagos and I have to meet her at the airport. This is my card. You can call me anytime you need my help.’
I tried to hide my disappointment. I smiled as we walked out of the restaurant. We looked perfect together. But life…
‘My wedding is next month in Abuja. I hope you’ll be able to make it.’
I smiled. Fake smile. ‘ Sure I’ll love to be there.’
The following day, my boss went hyper when he heard I had lunch with Jerry. He didn’t believe at first until he saw the pictures we took together.
‘Do you know how long I’ve been stalking Jerry on LinkedIn? You brought him right to me. Yomi, you are a genius. Just tell me what you want and I’ll give it to you. I think you are due for a raise. What do you say to heading Operations department.’
At that moment, all I could think about was the way I treated Jerry in the past. How I made him look like trash anytime he approached me to explain some of topics he didn’t understand.
Maybe if I had stayed close to him all those years, it would be my wedding next month. I returned to my office, sad.
I decided to call my best friend to tell her to have faith in her husband who is struggling to get his business off the ground.
I want to tell anyone who cares to listen that their current situation does not define their future possibilities. That it is best not just to faith in others but in themselves.
I want to share a lesson on seed sowing and harvest and to say to someone to keep following the Lord and doing whatever career or ministerial path God is leading them to do even though the result is not evident now.
I want to tell parents to never stop praying for their kids, whether biological or spiritual. They are becoming. The harvest is close..