I’ve not eaten any home-made meal in three days. I can’t believe it myself because I don’t play with good food.
I’m the kind of girl who’ll prepare edikaikong and semo the night before a major exam. I still remember the shock on the faces of my friends when on the morning of CHM 115 exam, I rushed to the market to purchase ingredients for fried rice. I figured since the exam was for 3p.m, I’d still have enough time to revise my notes.
My friends just stared at me like I was from another planet. Who cooks on the morning of an exam set by a sadist. When I finished eating, I stretched out on the bed and slept.
The result was released the following session, I had the best grade in the faculty of sciences. One lady in my class who had been mesmerized by my academic prowess began to follow me around. I remember telling her that I had my way of studying, yet she clung to me. My best friend, Franca, looked at her one day and said,
‘You better carry your book and run to the common room. If you follow Kike’s pattern, you will fail.’
And true to her words, the lady carried over some courses. She stopped talking to me after that semester.
Things were different with my Ph.D. program. I was buried under a load of research work that sapped my strength. My supervisor, who also was my mentor, pushed me to work. My job as a volunteer in an NGO was tasking as well and when Professor Femi, my supervisor, gave me a deadline for the submission of my analysis, I knew the only way I could achieve that was to take time off work.
Now I was tired and hungry. I’d been sitting for almost five hours without realizing it. I jumped on my bed but hunger pulled me to my feet. I reached for a box of Kellogg’s Fruit and fibre and poured some into a cup. As I added milk to the cup, my phone rang.
My heart fainted. Our last conversation had not gone well. We had an intense argument that left me with bouts of depression. Mum wanted me to visit her Pastor again but I refused because the last time I went with her, the man just splashed saliva all over my body as he prayed.
He said he was casting out demons and ancestral spirits stopping my man from coming my way. At a point, he held my chin and barked into my face. He needed to remove the mask that made it difficult for men to see me. For days, I was emotionally destabilized, but somehow I got through it.
What does mum want from me this time? I decided to pick the call since we had not spoken for weeks after that incident.
‘Kike, where are you?’ Mum sounded hysterical.
Where else will I be on a Sunday evening. ‘I’m at home.’
‘You have to come to the house right now! Please.’
I panicked. What could have gone wrong? Had Dad fallen ill again? I rushed out of the house and drove to my parents’ house. My heart pounded as I approached the street I’d lived in for more than twenty years.
Driving into my parent’s compound, I felt guilty for not visiting home and quietly made a commitment to put behind the hurt and check up on my parents often.
I froze when I entered the living room. All my mother’s sisters, four of them, were sitting in the living room, chattering like small children. Gbemi, my childhood friend and a mother of two rocked her daughter while my elder sister served fried goat meat to my aunts.
My heart fainted. I wanted to retreat quietly but mum had already seen me. They all stopped chatting at once when I walked into the living room.
My mother pointed to an empty sofa. ‘Sit.’
I sat, carefully crossing one leg over another. I was boiling with anger.
I can’t take this anymore. If this is how mum chooses to humiliate me, then I’ll be glad to cut her out of my life.
My mother shifted in her seat. ‘I had to call for this meeting because of the critical nature of what’s on ground.’ She turned to me. ‘Kike, I carried you for nine months. If you will not take your life seriously, I, your mother, will not sit and watch the enemy steal my joy and put me to shame. What exactly is wrong with you Kike? You are not even bothered about settling down!’
‘Is that really the problem?’ Iya Ilorin, my mother’s elder sister hissed. ‘How can somebody with a first class and a master’s degree get husband. Which man won marry you?’
‘Iya Ilorin, Kike has two masters. Two!’ Another of my aunt added.
‘Imagine. What are you using two degrees to do?’ Iya Ilorin continued.
‘I wonder o.’ my mother said, adjusting her wrapper. ‘I am just tired of the girl. Look at your elder sister. She did not waste time at all. By her final year in the university, a man was already making moves to pay her bride price. As she returned from service like this, gbam, she did the right thing. You say Masters’ is not enough, you have started Ph.D.’
My aunties shouted. ‘Ph.D!’ One clapped her hand and shook her head in pity. Another mumbled words I couldn’t hear. Gbemi just stared at me and I could tell that her eyes were full of pity for me. My elder sister rushed into the room to attend to her crying baby.
‘That’s why I have asked you all to gather here to share my pain with you. Thank God for Joke son’s wedding that gave us the opportunity to meet here. Right now, Kike thinks I am a troublesome mother. She packed out of my house to another apartment and every time we talk, na fight. Ija ni sha. I don’t blame her. Her father has spoilt her. If he isn’t sending money to her and encouraging her to read book, maybe things will be different. I just can’t understand how a sensible woman will be chasing career without thinking of having a man to call her own.’
‘But which man will marry her with all the plenty certificates wey she dey carry upandan?’ Aunty Folake said.
Iya Ilorin sighed. ‘This calls for serious prayers and divine intervention.’
I couldn’t hold the tears anymore. I felt humiliated. Sitting there, I convinced myself something was wrong with me. I sighed in relief when Aunty Ronke, my mum’s youngest sibling pulled me to my feet and led me into one of the rooms.
I could hear my mother’s loud voice behind me. ‘Ronke, talk sense into her head o. She must marry this year!’
Ronke pulled me into her arms and waited until I’d stopped crying. We sat on the bed and she held my hands.
‘Stop crying Kike. God will do it. I trust the God that I serve. He will answer your prayers.’
I nodded. ‘Thank you Aunty Ronke.’
Ronke sighed. ‘Do you have any suitor now?’
I shook my head.
She sighed. ‘Kike, let me be frank with you. You are intimidating men. If I were a man, I’d be scared of approaching you because of the height you have attained. Men naturally have the ego instinct. They are created that way. They can’t stand women like you.’
I raised my head and stared at my aunt.
‘I’m just being truthful with you. Leave this Ph.D for now. You can continue when you get married. That’s what my friend did. She is happily married and has started running her Ph.D. There is time for everything Kike. It’s not bad to have dreams, but right timing is what matters. If you are too focused on your career, what time will you have to find a man that’ll put a ring to your finger.’
I took in every word my aunt said. I must have been intimidating the brothers in my church. They respect me and listen with rapt attention every time I stood up to contribute at the singles meeting. Was it possible that they just saw me as an intelligent smart woman but not a wife-material?
The last proposal had come shortly after I started my master’s programme. Before I’d give him a response, he disappeared out of sight after duping an elder in church.
‘I’ll connect you with one of my friend’s cousin. He is a very cute guy. You’ll really like him.’
‘Thank you Aunty.’
I left the room feeling better. Mum was at the door, talking to my dad. When dad saw me, his eyes brightened and he pulled me into his arms.
‘I’ve missed you.’ he said and planted a kiss on my forehead. Mum just stood there winking at me and trying to make me smile.
I left the house with my prospective suitor on my mind. I created a face in my head and thought of all the great things we’d do together. His declaration of love, my wedding ceremony, the time we’ll spend prayers and studying the bible together, the kids we’d have together. My thoughts rolled on till past midnight and by the time I’d hit the sack, I had a broad smile on my face.
This year, I am getting married!
His name is Charles. My aunt was right. Charles is a stunning young man. He has such bright eyes and warm smile. After we met shortly in my office, we planned seeing a movie together. It was such a relief to know that I was finally heading out of my single life.
Even though the movie didn’t make much sense, I didn’t want it to end. When I hugged myself to keep warm, Charles removed his jacket and wrapped it around me. I felt so loved and laughed at his jokes even though they weren’t funny.
It didn’t take a month to figure out that I was walking on the wrong path. I just knew this wasn’t right. I was restless, unhappy and dissatisfied. The more I got to know him, the more my spirit wrestled within me.
Every time, I talked to God about it, hoping to get an approval, I was met with silence. It was when I finally ended things with Charles that I felt light in my heart. I expected him to protest or probe my decision but instead he chuckled and said ‘Well, if that’s what you want, fine.’
‘What have you done?’ My mother called the following week
‘God isn’t leading me to him. I can’t go on with Charles.’
‘Which God! Is God going to come down to bring husband for you? Don’t you see that we need to do something about your case. Ki lo ti e se e gan! What is your problem exactly!’
Mum ended the call. Calls began to flood my phone. Aunty Ronke. Iya Ilorin. My aunties. My elder sister. Gbemi. I stared blankly at the phone.
I was so discouraged that I put aside my research work and ignored Professor Femi’s calls. I was stubborn to settle for less than God’s best and yet I was depressed that this part of my life was on a standstill. I canceled an invitation to speak at a youth conference because what use was jumping here and there for the Lord when this part of my life was on hold.
Be still and know that I am God
‘God why should I be still? You are not giving me answers. I’m tired!’
The plans I have for you are for good, to give you hope and a future. Talk to Professor Femi.
‘Why have you not been picking my calls?’ Professor Femi said as soon as I walked into his office.
My lips trembled. I was at the verge of crying again.
‘What happened?’ Professor Femi asked,
I told him everything. The pressure from home. The man I’d met. The restlessness I felt every time we were together. My thought of putting my research work on hold so God could see how serious I was about getting married. The way I felt about God and how I believed he had forsaken me. .
‘Kike, Until you realize that you were re-created to please God and to do his will, you’ll keep getting disturbed by whatever society throws at you. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the source of your life. You must remember that you are his first before anyone else. It’s okay to feel the need for companionship but never let it stop the things God has called you to do. You must be comfortable with the phase God is having you go through.’
I nodded. ‘Thank you sir.’
‘I have good news. You remember your paper that I recommended to NWCA? It has been accepted.’
I covered my mouth. ‘Oh my God!’
‘They are requesting you present the paper at their annual conference in South Africa. Expenses are fully covered for one week. Check your mailbox. I’m sure they sent you a mail.’
With trembling fingers, I tapped my phone and opened my mailbox. I was just about opening the mail from NWCA when my eyes caught something. For some seconds, I froze and stared at my supervisor.
I gave my phone to him and bowed my head.
Jesus, did you really do this?
The two applications I submitted early that year had been accepted. DAAD had offered me a one-year research grant in Germany and another short grant had been given to me by ProFellow. My heart welled up in joy. I couldn’t believe my dreams were coming to reality.
‘Kike, will you take the opportunities God is laying before you or you’ll rather sit here grumbling over a man that is yet to show up?’
I knew the answer right there. I was going to pursue the path God has placed before me. This was my platform. I was going to give it my best.
The door opened and a man entered.
Professor Femi smiled. ‘Kike, meet my nephew, Rotimi. He just got back from the US last week.’
He smiled and shook my hands. ‘My uncle has said so much about you. I’ve been longing to see you again.’
Again? Have we met before? ‘It’s nice meeting you Rotimi.’
‘I’m sure you don’t know me. I had my first degree in Unilag too. You were once the vice president of NIFES right?’
I chuckled. ‘How come I don’t know you?’
‘Our path didn’t exactly cross. But you were quite popular back on campus. I attended RCF and you know people like us, we just quietly served God behind the scene.’
We laughed and talked about our old school days. My supervisor just sat there watching us. It was only when I stood up that Professor Femi finally spoke.
‘I want your analysis ready before the end of this month.’
I nodded and left. As I drove out of the school compound, I allowed my mind to focus on what was ahead. My paper had been accepted. I had the grants I’d been praying to God for. God was in charge of my future.
It suddenly occurred to me that I’d been so carried away by my desires that I hadn’t even enjoyed fellowship with God in weeks.
God, are you there? I’ve really miss you. Any gist for me?
And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it. Colossians 4:17.
Dear Christian Singles, when we finally leave this earth, are we going to confidently stand before God, glad that we fulfilled his plan and purpose for our lives?
What exactly will you say you used your singleness to do?
I bring a word from the Lord for every Christian single reading this.
God has an assignment for you. You are not in this phase of your life to stay blank. There is something for you to do. Find it.
Have you put God aside for a frantic search of a life partner? Or are you involved in the things of God for that singular purpose? To get God to give you a spouse? What about that career path God is placing on your heart to pursue? What about the platform you’ve been given to stand and proclaim his name? What about the burden he’s been placing in your heart?
Here’s what God is saying:
You are mine, beloved. I want to enjoy fellowship with you now. I want to pour my love in your heart and watch you fulfil the purpose for which I have called you. I want you to come into deep intimacy with me. I want to have interesting conversations with you. I want to see you laugh, jump for joy, sigh, chuckle while we talk.
You are mine. My heart is calling out to you for a sweet communion. Trust me, every other thing will fall in place.
‘My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’ Psalm 27:8 NLT