Click to read Episode 5
This is the diary of a Nigerian Christian Girl- Season 1 Episode 6
We ate lunch in silence, except for the clinking sound made by our spoons and forks. When Papa D finished his meal, he wiped his mouth with a clean towel napkin and turned to Wale.
‘You are a powerful vessel for this generation but you have to calm down. Don’t jump ahead of the process God wants you to go through. Get your foundation right and follow the Lord step by step. There are instructions the Lord will give to you that are not for the moment. It’s important you only move with God at his pace.’
Wale placed his spoon gently on the empty plate. ‘Sir, I understand all you have said. I know what God is saying to me per time and I am following him as he leads.’
Papa shrugged. ‘Alright. I wish you all the best. It was great having you around.’
Wale smiled and looked at Mama. ‘Thanks for the meal. I really enjoyed it. It reminds me of my mum’s delicious meals.’
‘You are welcome to join us anytime.’ Mama said.
I cleared the dishes and joined Kudirat to wash and dry them. When I was done, Wale was ready to leave. I saw him off to the gate.
‘I can’t leave now Wale.’ I said. ‘I need to stay around for a while.’
Wale thrust his hand in his pocket and looked back at the house. ‘Mama D is accommodating but her husband reminds me of my former Pastor. I detest men like that who enjoy breathing down the necks of young ministers. Why are they unhappy that we are zealous for the work of God? How many people can throw away enviable careers for full time ministries? No matter what anyone says, we have counted everything as dung for the sake of Christ. Nobody will clip my wings.’
He pulled me close to his side. ‘Don’t let them put ideas into your head.’
I nodded and waited until his car disappeared out of sight. Back in the living room, Papa was reading a newspaper while Mama watched a documentary on the TV. Mama D was clearly unhappy. She turned off the TV before I had the chance to sit down. Papa also put down the newspaper he was reading.
‘Yemisi, do you really know what you are getting yourself into? That man answers to nobody. He clearly will not listen to anyone.’ Mama D said.
Papa D patted the space beside him. ‘Sit here.’
I sat down quietly and waited for their reprimands. It was clear they didn’t approve of Wale. I wish they had attended meetings where Wale moved in the supernatural and preached with so much fire. Wale may have some flaws but there was no doubt that he exudes the power of God.
‘Why did you leave Cornerstone College?’ Papa asked.
I hesitated, wondering how to answer the question. Dotun’s death had hit me hard. I had left because I wanted to shut out any memory of my fondness of him. I wanted to kill the thoughts that reminded me of my failure to stop his death. I had to leave for my own mental health.
‘I perceived my time at the school was over. I needed to move on to other things.’
‘Are you sure?’ Mama said. ‘I thought your leaving was tied to your student’s death.’
I wished I had left with Wale. I sighed. ‘That was part of it. But I believe it was time to leave.’
Papa kept quiet for a long time. That’s how I’d come to know him. He was a deep thinker and there were times his silence bothered me. You’d raise an issue with Papa expecting to receive a quick counsel and Papa would not say anything until after a while.
Finally, he patted my back gently. ‘Yemisi, we love you. I hope you know we can’t choose your spouse for you but we can guide you into making the right decisions. Your mother here prays for you every night. You should see her groaning in prayers. Her desire is for God’s plan to be fulfilled in your life. We have nothing else to do than to pray for all the children the Lord has placed in our care that the divine will of God would be birthed in their lives.’
‘Thank you so much.’ I looked from Papa to Mama and bowed slightly.
‘Now to the other important matter.’ Papa continued. ‘You have not told us anything that shows that you are led to this brother. My wife has been keeping me up to date. All you have informed us so far are emotional jargons that holds no stamina. In light of the facts we have before us, you are going to take a break from this relationship.’
I looked at Papa D, shocked. ‘Sir?’
‘You heard me. You will pray one hour daily for the next forty days. I want a weekly report sent to my mail. In the body of the mail, you will state the time you started each day and the time you finished. During this time too, you will stop every communication with Wale until the end of the prayers. You need to come to a point where your emotions are not influencing what God has to say about this issue.’
I’d lose my mind before the end of the first week if I didn’t talk to Wale. ‘Papa what you are asking me to do is really difficult.’
‘There is nothing difficult about taking a temporary break!’ Mama snapped. ‘Get a grip on your emotions for goodness sake.’
Papa tapped my shoulders. ‘At first it might be difficult to stay away from him. But as you keep praying, it’ll become easier. Listen, we are not saying you should not marry. Let me repeat what I said earlier. We can’t choose a spouse for you. If at the end of the prayers, you return to tell us you are convinced about him, then we’ll accept your decision. You can be sure we’ll also be praying along with you ’.
Papa’s words stayed on my mind after I left his house. I walked down my street, my mind torn in different directions.
Maybe this was what I needed to get my heart at peace. I said this because there were times I feared I was walking out of God’s will and there were other times I was excited about the relationship. There were days I had to convince myself that no marriage was perfect. Wale was human like anyone else. I had my flaws too. I convinced myself that by the wisdom of God, we’d be able to sort out our differences.
When I told Wale about the assignment my spiritual parents had given me, he was so angry that I could feel it as if he was standing in front of me.
‘I said it. That man does not like me. What did I do wrong? Why is he jealous of the grace of God upon my life? Is it wrong for a young man to flow in the power of God?’
I was puzzled at Wale’s words. ‘What does jealousy have to do with this Wale? We just need to be convinced about-‘
‘What other conviction do we need Yemisi! We are doing fine. Our dreams align well. We are passionate about the work of God. What else do you want? How else does God speak? They just want to drag this matter unnecessarily. I’m sorry to say this, but choosing a spouse is not as difficult as people make it to be. Where in the bible did God say we have to pray for forty days to get convinced about our spouse?’
I didn’t want to get him upset. ‘Wale, I think they-‘
‘Don’t make excuses for them please. If you want to follow their instructions, fine. But listen to me, if you take a break from this relationship, that’s the end. Don’t ever come back to meet me because I will not take you back. I need a woman who is stable and not tossed to and fro by every wind of opinion. Let me know what your decision is before the end of today.’
Wale ended the call. Panic overwhelmed me so much that sweat broke out on my forehead.
I was torn between obeying my spiritual parents and keeping the relationship going. Were Papa and Mama being heartless? Were they really doing this to get me to stay away from Wale? What should I do? I didn’t want to lose my fiancé. My heart was already broken with the way he yelled at me over the phone. I was wrong to have agreed to a temporal break-up. It was my responsibility to stay by my man.
A black tinted car stopped beside me about three houses from where I stayed. It was Wale’s friend, Jide, the man who helped me secure the job at Pavillion. He also provided a temporary accommodation in a four-bedroom flat built by his father. I wondered if he had come to chase me out of the house. Of course, he had every right to do so.
I’d spent enough time in my new job to get my own apartment. I had no right to take his kindness for granted but the fact remained that there was no money to rent an apartment and I did not want to return to my sister’s place.
‘Hop in.’ Jide said and opened the passenger door. I obeyed.
He smiled. ‘You need to get a car soon. A beautiful lady like you should not be trekking.’
We got to the house and I immediately apologized for not moving out yet. I asked for more time to get enough money to rent mine apartment. Jide waited until we were settled in the bigger sitting room before responding.
‘Yemisi, you can stay here for as long as you want. My father knows you are here and he is comfortable with it. We don’t want to rent this house out because this is where my dad and my siblings stay whenever they comes into the country. Don’t get another apartment. Be comfortable here.’ He moved a step away. ‘I’ll be right back.’
Jide went into his father’s room, while I entered my room and pulled off my gown. I changed into jeans and a white t-shirt and waited for him in the living room. He came out moments later, holding a blue clear bag that had documents neatly arranged in it.
I served him a cup of yoghurt. ‘I’ve been curious. Why did you choose to reside in Festac when you have access to a four-bedroom apartment just thirty minutes away from work.’
Jide put the half-filled cup on the center table and smiled. He sat on the arm of one of the sofas.
‘My mum asked the same question after I got married. It’s complicated. My wife does not want to have anything to do with my father’s properties. There is another one just few streets away from this place that we sold to a business tycoon. Dad wanted us to stay there but she vehemently refused. She preferred we rented our apartment with our own money.’
‘That’s incredible.’ I stood up to go to the kitchen. ‘What would you like to eat? There is vegetable soup in the freezer.’
‘Don’t bother jare. My wife was preparing dinner when I left the house. I dare not eat anything until I get home or else we’ll fight again tonight.’ he shook his head. ‘Women. Even a four year course is not enough to understand you.’
I laughed. ‘That’s why we are special.’
‘That’s true. Women are special. I can’t trade my wife for anything. She is my best friend. We may not agree on everything but I love her very much.’
‘I’d love to meet her someday.’
‘Hopefully.’ He stood up. ‘I came to get some documents for my father. I should get going before my wife calls me.’ He motioned for me to follow him. ‘I got bread for you. It’s in the car.’
We went out of the house together. Jide reached into his car and brought out a loaf of bread.
I took it from him. ‘Thank you so much Jide.’
He started the engine. ‘How’s Wale?’
‘You guys should do and marry o. The Yoruba demons are waiting eagerly. We want to storm that wedding in our correct agbada and please we are not taking malt drinks at the party. Tell Wale to make an exception for us. Gulder all the way. We are coming to scatter that place.’
It is not at my wedding you will display your madness. I chuckled. ‘The date will be communicated to you.’
Jide shot his head out of the window as he drove out of the compound. ‘If you need anything, please let me know okay?’
Wale didn’t pick my call that night. I tried it a couple of times, he still didn’t answer it. I was worried. I decided to leave him a message.
I love you Wale. I’m not letting you go. Don’t be angry with me please. I love you so much.
My phone beeped.
I love you too Yemisi. I’ve not stopped thinking about you since our last discussion. What can I do without you? I want you by my side always. I want you to be the mother of my children. I want us together to fulfil God’s plan for our lives. We’ll talk once I’m done with my bible study. I love you my queen.
Those words were a balm to my soul. There were butterflies dancing in my stomach and I couldn’t stay still. I was obsessed about Wale’s text and even after I lay down on the bed waiting for his call, I couldn’t stop thinking about him.
We would get married in March as planned. After the wedding, I’d apologize to my spiritual parents. They’ll have no choice but to forgive me. You don’t throw a baby out with the bathwater right?
Wale and I travelled to Ijebu-igbo to see my parents. I had informed them about the proposed date for the wedding. Dad had kicked against it at first but mum had convinced him there was no need to waste any more time. The trip was for two purposes. One was to formally introduce him to my parents as the man I wanted to marry and the other was to fix a convenient time for the introduction ceremony.
Yewande refused to come with me. She was still angry about the money for her soft drink business that I refused to give her. My Pastor had no idea I was planning any wedding. I had deliberately kept it away from him. If he knew my plans, he’d insist I put the wedding plans on hold and serve disciplinary action for six months for not informing the marriage committee of the church about the proposal.
I could not ask Abigail to come with me. She’d have to tell her mum who would inform my mentor and I’d be in trouble.
Mum came out of the small bungalow where I’d been raised. The walls were still not cemented and the nets were torn and patched. At the back of the building was the bathroom. A chicken pen was erected beside it. Two goats and a few hen loitered around the frontage of the house.
‘Welcome my children.’ My mum said, dancing excitedly. ‘We have been expecting you. Come in.’
My dad was sitting on a cane chair by the window. He had aged greatly and my heart broke seeing how weak he looked. We had almost lost him four years ago and since he got out of the hospital, he had not been his usual cheerful self. He still went to the farm but he could hardly do much. Akin, younger brother and the first son of the family had taken over the affairs of the farm and the home.
Wale prostrated before my father. Dad patted him gently on the back. I went to hug my father. He glanced into my eyes and I could see the joy in them. The drinks arrived just as I left the living room for my mother’s room.
‘Have you bought your wedding gown?’ My mother asked as we sat on the bed.
‘Not yet. I should do that soon.’
Mum went to an iron box and fished out a clean blue aso-oke and white lace material.
‘Is this okay for your introduction ceremony?’ She asked, holding them out for me to see.
My mum never ceased to amaze me. I wouldn’t be surprised if she brought out the lace she’d wear for my wedding.
‘Sure. It’s perfect.’ I said.
Mum began to dance again. ‘My daughter is getting married. I’m so happy. Wale looks very responsible. I like him very much.’
‘Where are my brothers?’ I asked.
‘They are on the farm. They’ll join us later.’ She sat back beside me. ‘Let’s talk about your sister. I don’t even understand her again. She acts as if she is not part of this family. I hope you will not marry and abandon us. Imagine, I asked her to send twenty thousand naira. She said she didn’t have. She never has money in her life.’
‘Mum, things are a little difficult for her. Just be patient with her.’
Before we left the room to join the others, I looked around my parents’ room. Nothing had changed. The floor was the way it had been years ago. The curtains were old. Mum still folded her clothes in locally made iron boxes. Lizards still habited the walls. Everywhere looked the same
My parents deserved better. Even if I didn’t have the resources to give them the best life offers, I could make life more comfortable for them. I decided to send twenty thousand naira home monthly. I’d also tell Akin to get a carpenter to make a wardrobe for her.
Wale enjoyed the wraps of amala and gbegiri he was served. I sat there giggling and watching him lick his fingers and sweat profusely. My mother was the best cook in town. I took out a clean handkerchief from my bag and wiped the sweat from his face.
My brothers arrived and in my excitement, I dropped the hankerchief and ran to hug them. Akin seemed taller and darker. Seyi had not changed much. He had dropped out of school because there was no money to continue. I told him I’d see that he returned to complete his studies.
My mother asked the question that scattered the whole visit.
‘What do you do for a living?’ My mother asked.
Wale grinned, hoping he’d impress my parents with his spiritual accolades. ‘I am the General Overseer of Pure Heaven Assembly.’ Wale answered.
The smile on my mother’s face disappeared. ‘You are a Pastor?’
Wale nodded. ‘Yes I am. My church is committed to raising men and women who’ll become great influencers all over the world.’
‘Hmmm.’ My mother sighed and looked at me. I understood that expression. She didn’t like this one. Akin must have noticed my worried countenance.
‘Calm down.’ He mouthed. ‘Everything will be fine.’
‘When are we meeting your people?’ My father asked, his voice a little shaky.
‘I was telling Yemisi on my way here that next weekend would be a perfect time. I’ve already spoken to my parents and they are eager to meet you.’
My mother stared at the ground. ‘They cannot come next weekend. We have a major meeting in the community.’
Wale looked frustrated, ‘What about two weeks from now. I believe that should work out fine.’
Racked with coughing spasms, my father held a small cloth to his mouth. No one said anything until the spasm passed. ‘What date did you fix for the wedding again?’
‘Last weekend in March.’ Wale answered.
My father sat back and was silent. ‘Why the rush?’
‘I wonder.’ My mother said. She was clearly no longer interested in the wedding. ‘We are just seeing you for the first time and in a month, you want to marry our daughter. We don’t do things like that here.’
I was surprised to hear my mother say this. When I told her about the plans, she had been excited and had encouraged me to get the wedding rolling. She said she had married my father just six weeks after they met. Why did she suddenly change her mind now? What grievance does she have against Pastors?
‘Can I have a word with you?’ My mother beckoned on me. We went to her room. As we entered, she faced me.
‘What kind of man did you bring home?’
I was confused. What kind of man did my mother expect me to bring? ‘Mum, what are you talking about?’
‘Of all the men in the city of Lagos, it was a Pastor you brought to us.’
I was puzzled. ‘What do you have against Pastors for goodness sake?’
‘I hate them! They are thieves. All they do is manipulate you until they suck you dry. The ones that we know to be real Pastors are roaming the town in torn suits. You need to see their shoes Yemisi. Their wives go around town begging for food. A man that does not have a job has no place in this house.’
I wanted to remind my mother that Yewande married a man who had a car and a good job but at the moment he had nothing to show for it. How do people even judge a man by what he had at the moment? Don’t they know that things change?
‘Mum, not all Pastors are like that.’
‘Shut up! What do you know? Send that man away and bring me a proper son-in-law. I am not putting you under any pressure. Take your time and get a man with correct sense and money. You are not marrying that man. Don’t you even pity your father? We suffered to put you in school. It’s your time to take care of us!’
I left the house with Wale disturbed and confused. At the motor park, as we waited for the bus to get filled up, Wale stared out of the window with his hand on his chin. I didn’t know what to say. We had no support. My spiritual parents didn’t want us together and now my own mother had rejected him. I reached for his palm and pressed it to my face.
‘Baby, everything will be fine. I’ll find a way to convince my mother. It might take some time but I’m sure she’ll change her mind. Akin has promised to talk to her. She listens to my brother more than she does my father. She’ll agree, you’ll see.’
Wale glanced at me and my heart broke to see the sadness in his eyes. ‘I love you.’
My heart melted for him. ‘I love you too. We’ll get past this.’
Wale smiled sadly and squeezed my hand. I rested my head gently on his shoulder.
Click here to read Episode 7