This is the diary of a Nigerian Christian Girl. Season 1
Sometimes, Mama D pisses me off with her inquisitiveness. Why won’t she just allow me do what I want? For goodness sake, I’m an adult. Abi? Is a mentor not meant to just give advice? Are they monitoring spirits?
The reason I visited Mama D that Saturday morning was to welcome her back from her trip to Kaduna. She had travelled out of Lagos to take care of her daughter who had given birth to a set of twins.
I did everything possible to divert her attention away from talking about Wale, but I knew she’d bring it up. When she stood up from her recliner and settled beside me on the sofa, I just knew exactly what she was going to talk about.
‘Yemisi,’ my mentor said, her gaze fixed on me. ‘This guy you said you are in love with, what’s the position of things now?’
I sighed and looked away from her. ‘We are doing fine.’
Mama D hissed. ‘What kind of answer is that?’
What else was she expecting me to say? That I no longer loved him?
I wonder how I ended up with a fifty-five year old woman as my mentor. Most of my friends had mentors who were young. They understood the language of my generation. I’m sorry to say this, but my mentor is old school.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have learnt a lot from Mama D. There were days I’ve been blessed by her deep insight and concern for my welfare but today was not one of those days. She should leave Wale and I alone.
‘I’m talking to you Yemisi. From everything you have told me, It doesn’t look to me like this guy is serious about getting into a marital relationship with you.’
‘He is.’ I responded.
Yesterday evening, Wale cupped my face in his strong hands and told me he’d never loved a woman like me. Few weeks ago, he sent me a love poem. On my birthday, he organized a surprise party for me. How can a man like that not be serious?
Mama D was not ready to drop the subject. ‘I asked you the name of the church he attends, you said he doesn’t have a stable church because most Sundays he is occupied with his ministerial assignments. I asked you that on the weekends he is not invited to minster anywhere, where does he go on such Sunday mornings? You didn’t give me any answer. Who is he accountable to? Who does he listens to? Where is this dating or whatever you call it headed? What are your convictions? For a year now, you’ve not said anything concrete that I can hold on to. Don’t you think you need to hear God clearly?’
At that moment, I wished I had not visited. ‘Mama D, I’m sure about this. Wale is the man God wants me to marry.’
My mentor folded her hands and looked at me for a long time. ‘I want to see that young man. Nobody takes my girl on a merry-go-round.’
Thankfully at that moment, the househelp, Kudirat came into the living room to inform my mentor that she had finished preparing the rice and wanted to know if she should make the stew. Looking for an excuse to get away from the discussion, I stood up quickly.
‘I’ll prepare the stew.’
‘Don’t add maggi o. Little salt will do. Make sure you use the olive oil to prepare it.’
I shook my head. Even when you have prepared meals for Mama D a thousand times, she’d still talk to you as if you were entering her kitchen for the first time.
Mama D turned to the househelp. ‘Kudirat, turn the rice into the brown food warmer so it doesn’t get cold.’
I went into the kitchen. Mama followed me there. She stood at the entrance of the kitchen, her eyes following my every step. I washed my hands before stooping low to remove a pot from one of the kitchen cabinet.
‘Make sure you rinse the pot first.’
I rolled my eyes playfully. ‘Mama, I know.’
She pointed at a set of white aprons neatly folded in the store. ‘Get a clean apron and please don’t put maggi. I don’t know why Kudirat will buy maggi cubes and put them in my cabinet. That girl needs to be flogged.’
I worked slowly, praying she’d leave me alone. I do not cook well under supervision. One glance at Mama D and she got the gist. She stepped away from the entrance.
‘I meant what I said earlier. I want to see Wale. This time I’m not going to take any excuse from him. I must see him.’ She said and walked back to the living room.
The front door opened and a familiar laughter filled the house. Mama appeared at the kitchen followed by my friend Abigail. She stepped passed Mama and hugged me.
‘Virtuous woman. Correct wife material.’ Abigail said as she pulled away. ‘The man you will marry is blessed.’
I laughed. ‘It’s good to see you again. How are you?’
Mama clicked her fingers. ‘Save your chit-chat for another time. Let’s get the stew cooking. I have a sick friend to feed.’
‘Who is sick?’ I asked.
Abigail smiled sadly. ‘My mum. She slumped to the bathroom floor last night. Thank God my baby sister was with her. It might have been worse. She is getting better though and the doctor said she’ll be discharged soon.’
I reached for the onions and began to chop them slowly. ‘I’m so sorry. I didn’t know about it.’
Mama D stood impatiently at the entrance. ‘Ladies of Virtue, can we get to work? Abigail, there are pineapples and oranges in the store. You can peel some. Where is Kudirat?’
Mama left the kitchen. I fried the stew while Abigail peeled some oranges.
‘How’s Wale?’ Abigail asked.
I was about responding when Mama D entered the kitchen again with another set of instructions.
******* ***************** *****************
Wale refused seeing my mentor and it bothered me. He didn’t say outrightly that he wasn’t going to see her. These were his exact words.
‘Yemisi, you know how busy I am. It’s not easy combining my job as a real estate supervisor and my ministerial assignments. Your mentor should understand. I’ll find time to see her but right now, my schedule is tight.’
I didn’t push but I wasn’t happy either. He noticed my sad countenance when we met on Sunday evening and the way he felt he could get me cheerful again was to fill my week with endless calls and romantic words.
6a.m on Monday morning, Wale called. On my way to work, he called again. As I returned to the staffroom from the SS3 class, my phone rang.
‘My sweetheart. The woman that makes my heart beat. How are you?’
This time I couldn’t hold back the laughter. The anger was gone. ‘You’ve asked me that question three times already. Wale I am fine.’
‘I can’t stop thinking about you. I wish I could see you right now.’
‘That’s not possible. I am at work.’
‘I know jare. I’ll be seeing you this evening right?’
I decided to do small shakara for him. Let me see how bad enough he wanted me. ‘Maybe another time. I’ll be tired by the time I get out of here.’
‘Babe, you can’t do that! I have a ministration at Jesus Assembly this evening. You have to come with me please. Listen, this is going to be my biggest preaching engagement. I’ll be ministering to about a thousand people. I need you.’
I chuckled. Those words made me feel like I was his wife already. I always love when Wale made statements like, ‘I need you.’ ‘I can’t do without you.’ ‘You have to be right beside me.’ There was this wholeness it gave me.
I had always known I’d marry a minister and it was the reason I stuck with Wale especially when he told me he sensed God would require him to resign from his job very soon. Back on campus, God had shown me a picture of the kind of man I’d marry. I knew my husband would be in full time ministry. He’d be a man sold out to the work of God.
‘Okay, fine. We’ll go together.’
Wale shouted in excitement. ‘Thank you! I love you so much. Listen, my boss is approaching my table right now. I’ll talk to you soon. Make sure you keep your phone close. Your voice is what will make my afternoon go smoothly.’
I was still smiling when the bell rang for my next class. You won’t believe Wale called me again before the end of that class. You know, at first when the phone rang, I didn’t expect it would be him since we had just spoken less than an hour ago. I couldn’t also check the Caller ID because my phone was in front of the class while I stood at the back dictating notes to my students. I ignored the call at first.
One of my students Dotun, a tall dark teenager with playful eyes looked at me, smiling.
‘Miss Yemisi, pick up your phone. That might be your boyfriend.’
Two boys sitting beside him chuckled. One slapped him playfully on his back.
‘How can you tell it’s Miss Yemisi’s boyfriend. It could be anyone.’ A girl in front of him said.
‘Fine, I may be wrong.’ Dotun responded. ‘But if it rings again, then it’s definitely her boyfriend.’
‘I’ll send both of you out of my class. Be careful!’ I glanced down at my notes. ‘Let’s continue.’
My phone rang again. My students burst into laughter. I walked to the front of the class to turn off the ring volume.
‘Dotun was right. Love never gives up.’ A boy in the front row commented.
‘Miss Yemisi’s boyfriend is lucky.’ Dotun said. ‘If I were old enough to be her boyfriend, I’d kill anyone who dared come close to her. She’d belong to me alone.’
I stopped in front of the table and looked sternly at Dotun. His smile disappeared and quickly he bent down his head.
I pointed a finger at him. ‘Dotun, one more word and you’ll be detained throughout this week. There’ll be no break time for you.’
He raised his head. ‘Ahh! Miss Yemisi.’ He placed his fingers over his lips. ‘Lips sealed.’
The phone rang the third time. When I glanced at the caller ID and saw that it was Wale, a smile escaped my lips. My students started clapping and making some funny sounds. Seriously, I don’t understand those children. What was the clapping for?
‘Please excuse me.’ I said quietly and left the class. Before I got to the entrance, a girl sitting close to the door grinned at me.
‘Miss Yemisi, where are you going to? There is network in our class.’
One glance at her and quickly she turned her face away, suppressing a smile. I moved away from the class and walked past the two arms of the SS2 class and down the corner that led to the SS3 classes. In front of one of the SS 3 classes, a pudgy boy frog-jumped. He was sweating profusely and grumbling at the same time. I moved farther away and leaned on the rusted railings.
‘Wale, I don’t understand you. You’ve called me four times in less than twelve hours.’
There were days Wale would not call and I’d be so mad at him. Other times, we won’t stop talking until my battery ran flat.
‘I just wanted to hear your voice. I miss my baby. Were you busy?’
‘Yeah. I was in SS 2A.’ I responded. ‘That’s the last for the day though.’
‘That reminds me, I’ve not thanked you for the box of pizza and the malt drink that was delivered to my office on Friday. I learnt you placed the order. Babe, you didn’t have to do it. Your salary can barely pay your bills.’
I smiled. ‘Wale, just say thank you.’
He laughed. ‘I was getting to that. That meal was an answer to a famished soul. Thank you so much.’
I made imaginary love shapes on the dusty railings with my fingers. ‘Honey you’ve not seen anything yet. By the time we get married, I’ll make sure you come home to delicious meals. Food will never be an issue.’
Wale went quiet. I waited. I wanted him to say something to me. Something like, ‘of course, I can’t wait for us to get married!’ Or ‘ Finally, I won’t be eating out every night again, all thanks to my wife.’
I remained silent, hoping and praying he’d say something that showed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.
‘I can’t wait to see you this evening.’ He said, finally. ‘A day without you drive me nuts.’
That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Why was he always avoiding the subject of marriage? We’ve been together for a year now. What was stopping us from settling down? Was I not the kind of wife he wanted? Did he have doubts about us getting married?
It became clear that not once had we talked about the future. I couldn’t trace back to the day he made any commitment to me. I just knew we became friends and somewhere along the line, we got intimate. Was there something wrong that I wasn’t seeing?
‘You should get back to the class.’ Wale said, interrupting my thoughts. It was clear he wanted to dismiss me so quickly because he was uncomfortable with the line of conversation. That hurt.
Annoyed, I ended the call and returned to the classroom. Different questions flooded my mind that afternoon.
When a man says he loves you, does it not translate to ‘I want to spend the rest of my life with you?’
We didn’t have issues with affection for each other. I have watched him struggle to concentrate because he was aroused at my presence. There were times we had hugged and it took so much restraint not to fondle with each other’s body. There were times we could barely keep our hands off each other. We talked for hours over the phone, eager to share details of our day. We prayed together, shared scriptures together and proclaimed our love for each other. We never went to bed without settling any misunderstanding between us. What then could be the problem?
‘How’s he?’ Dotun said, grinning as I entered the class.
I completely ignored his question and faced the class. ‘We’ll continue with our notes tomorrow. Team leaders, see me at the staffroom for your questions. Each team has three weeks to prepare for a presentation. If any of your team members do not co-operate, you know what to do. As you are aware, your presentation is part of your continuous assessment.’
The bell rang. I was relieved that my class was over. A small thin boy with round glasses took my lesson note from my hand while another reached for the students notebooks on the table. The boys walked ahead of me to the staffroom. I was half way gone when I heard my name. I turned to find one of my students running towards me. Her hands were trembling as she held mine.
‘Miss Yemisi, Can I see you at the end of the school day?’
I pulled her aside and touched her chin tenderly.
‘Phoebe, are you okay?’ I gazed into her troubled eyes.
The girl shook her head. Tears welled up her eyes. ‘Miss Yemisi, I’m afraid for Dotun. Yesterday, while I was sweeping the class, I saw a leather bound journal beside his chair. He must have left it carelessly on the floor. Out of curiosity, I flipped through. What I read made me shiver. Dotun needs help.’
I stopped for a moment, unable to believe the information Phoebe had just told me. Dotun was always cheerful in my class. His parents were responsible and loving. He had access to the basic needs of life.
‘Are you sure the journal you saw belongs to Dotun?’
Phoebe nodded. ‘I know Dotun’s handwriting. The journal is his. I scribbled down some of his words from the journal. I can show them to you.’
For a moment I didn’t know what to say. ‘What subject do you have next?’
A man with two long whips bounced past me into SS2A. ‘Your teacher is here. We’ll talk later.’
On my way to the staffroom, my phone beeped. It was a text message from Wale.
I’m grateful our path crossed. You are everything a man desires in a woman. I can’t wait to pick you up this evening. I love you so much.
I read that message several times and the last statement rang sounded like music in my ears. Wale loves me. He loves me so much. Maybe I was just worried for nothing.
‘Wale said he loved me.’ I muttered again.
There was no way he would be playing pranks on me. He must mean those words. An unbeliever could do this but certainly not a man of God. Could it be that he didn’t know how to tell me he wanted to marry me?
I sat quietly behind my table, glad to find the staffroom almost empty. I typed a reply.
I love you too. I can’t wait to see you too.
A call came in before I hit send. The number was not familiar.
‘Hello, who is-‘
‘Stay away from Wale!’ A loud feminine voice shouted. ‘You cannot take him away from me. I don’t even know what he sees in you. I’m begging you in the name of God, stay away from my man.’
I glanced at the Caller ID and put the phone back to my ear. ‘Please who is this?’
‘Just stay away from Wale and stop asking me stupid question.’
She ended the call. I stared at the phone screen, and for the first time since I met Wale, I was truly afraid.
Episode 2 comes up on Monday.
Read also: The Pastor’s wife Episode 1-13