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Few days after the emergency meeting, Eniola woke up with heaviness on her chest. She sat up and wiped the sweat off her forehead. She looked around the dark room. What time was it? She reached for her phone under the bed. 4: 37a.m.
God, what’s going on?
This was not the first time she’d felt this way. It had happened when her husband embarked on a journey to Benin. That day, she had just finished preparing dinner when she began to feel restless. The heaviness stayed even after her kids finished their meal.
She knelt beside her bed and prayed. The picture of her husband, Seun, flashed across her mind. He was sitting in a bus reading a newspaper. Suddenly, a dark cloud began to descend slowly towards the bus. Eniola stood up and paced the room, blasting in tongues and declaring God’s word over her husband. The more she prayed, the stronger the pain in her chest. Few minutes later, she felt light again.
Later that evening, Seun called to inform her of God’s deliverance when their bus almost ran into a truck. The bus crashed into a tree but no life had been lost.
As Eniola left the room that morning, she wondered who needed prayers this time. She had learnt to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to respond quickly. Who was God asking her to pray for?
She made her way to the living room using a torchlight. She stopped when she heard muffled cries from the living room. Power had gone out but she could trace the silhouette of the person staring out the window. She sighed knowing who it was. Torn between approaching her sister and leaving her, she stood there for a moment.
Olamide jerked forward. ‘What do you want?’
Eniola stood beside her. ‘God cares so much about you. Mide, this is not the end of the world. I’m glad you got out of Martins’ claws. God can take these broken pieces and make something great out of it.’
Olamide pushed her sister aside and stormed out of the living room. Eniola settled on the sofa, praying her words had not pushed her sister farther away from her.
They’ d been very close while growing up. When her brother was born, Olamide became his second mother, rocking him to sleep and preparing his meals. Olamide knew how to settle fights, was a pro at dividing a piece of meat between her siblings. She knew how to scold with one hand and pull you into her arms with the other.
Eniola still remembered the day a boy in the next flat slapped her. She was in primary three at that time. She’d walked past her mother to Olamide who was peeling potatoes in the kitchen. With teary eyes, she reported the boy to her sister. Olamide jumped to her feet and they walked past their mother to the boy’s flat. When the boy saw Olamide, he took to his heels. Olamide ran after him and caught him by his collar. She slapped him and pulled his ears until he cried out in pain.
God, you know her better. Please reach out to her and comfort her. I love my sister so much.’ Eniola muttered.
A song she loved so much came to her heart. She began to sing, first a whisper and gradually increased her voice.
My wealth is in the cross
There’s nothing more I want
Than just to know His love
My heart is set on Christ
And I will count all else as loss, The greatest of my crowns.
She stopped singing when a picture appeared in her mind.
What was wrong with Lola? Guilt washed over her. She’d lost contact with her after she left campus. Lola had been in her first year when Eniola was moved to minister Christ to her. She had accepted Christ and they’d become very close. But after Eniola left school, they had not stayed in touch.
Where could Lola be right now?
‘Oh God, what’s happening to her? I’ve missed her so much. Lord, forgive me for not keeping in touch with her. Lord, is she okay?’
The heaviness deepened. Eniola lay flat on the floor of the living room and began to pray. Her heart felt like it would tear into pieces. She rolled on the floor, holding her chest as the tears ran down her face.
The heaviness finally lifted.
‘Eniola, are you okay?’
Eniola raised her head. Simi stared at her worried. How long had she been praying? She rose to her feet and hugged her sister.
‘Good morning Simi. I was just fellowshipping with God.’ Eniola said.
Simi’s eyes widened. ‘You are so weird. You were crying and holding your chest and you call that fellowshipping.’
Eniola sat down, smiling. She glanced at the clock above the Television set. 7a.m. Simi settled down beside her.
‘We have not really talked since I got here. Simi, how are you?’
Simi shook her head. ‘I’m not fine at all.’
‘What’s going on?’
Simi sighed. ‘I’m not happy in my relationship. When David and I first started dating, things went on smoothly. David loved me so much and he expressed it at every opportunity. We were so perfect for each other. I still remember that David would call me every night just to hear my voice. Many times we talked for hours into the night. But he has changed. I think he’s avoiding me. He doesn’t call me again and even when I do, he won’t pick my calls. I don’t understand him anymore.’
Eniola hesitated, pondering over Simi’s words. ‘When did you first notice these changes?’
‘It was the day I talked about wedding preparations. I wanted us to move our relationship forward. He said he needed more time. I try to convince him that we had no reason to wait. As it is, I don’t even know where we are headed. The relationship looks like a journey that has no end. I love him so much but I’m very confused.’
‘You need to relax Simi. When we are faced with doubts over any situation, we lay it before God and wait to hear what he has to say about it. We fan confusion when we use logic to figure out answers. I’ll advise you spend more time in prayers and seek God for light into this situation.’
Simi sighed. ‘Do you know if he still loves me? Do you think there is something I’m not doing well. I’m ready to make corrections. Is he the one for me?’
Eniola smiled. She knew what Simi wanted to hear. She wanted direct answers. She wanted her to say, ‘David will ruin you.’ or ‘David loves you.’ She already sensed in her spirit that whoever this David was, he was not the right person for her.
‘Simi, you have access to God as much as I do. Go to him. Tell him about David. Just as you’ve shared your heart with me, share with Him too. God will speak to you. You’ll know what to do.’
‘I wish I could just understand him. We loved each other so much that we could hardly stay away from each other. I don’t understand why he suddenly became withdrawn. Was I wrong to have asked that we kick off wedding preparations.’
‘Did he propose to you?’ Eniola asked.
‘Not really. I mean, he asked me out. He said he wanted to know me better and he sees a future with me. That’s enough right?’
‘But he didn’t say, ‘Simi, build a future with me.’ or ‘will you marry me?’
Simi shook her head. ‘No. But we’ve been dating.’
‘For how long?’
‘Six months. There were many conversations we had that proved we were made for each other. We’ve talked about the things he likes and the things that irritated him. We agreed that divorce was not an option and we would stay true to our vows. We talked about the number of kids we’ll have. He didn’t have to propose. It was clear what we wanted.’
‘Have you ever spoken to his parents and siblings?’
‘No. That was part of the things I was pushing for. I wanted to meet his mum and his siblings.’
‘Is your Pastor or any other spiritual authority aware about your relationship with David?’
Simi hesitated. ‘No.’
Eniola held her sister’s hand. ‘Now you need to really calm down. I know you want to get married and settle down, but you’ll have to relax. This is the perfect time to take a break from David and receive clarity into the future God has for you. Remember Matthew 11:28? Let God show you how to take a real rest.’
Simi nodded. ‘Thank you so much.’
Eniola stood up. ‘Any plans for today? Are you going to work?’
‘No. I took two weeks off work. But I need to stop at the tailor’s place. One of the ladies in my church is getting married this weekend and I’m part of the bridal train. I also need to get to my house to pick some clothes for the week. You want us to go out?’
Eniola nodded. ‘Yes. I want you to drive me to the market. I need to get some foodstuff for the house before I return to Abuja.’
Simi drew the curtain aside. The cold crisp air blew across her face, chilling her bones for a moment. The clouds had become darker and dense. She turned to her sister.
‘It’s going to rain.’
Eniola stood behind her, watching the tree in front of the house sway in the wind. Simi quickly shut the window when the rain came pouring in, giving off fresh earthly smell.
They left for the market later in the afternoon. Seun called as Eniola came out of a shop followed by a man carrying a gallon of groundnut oil. Simi opened the boot of the car. He dropped the heavy gallon into the boot before walking back into the supermarket.
‘Hello dear.’ Eniola said. Simi pushed a nylon bag of provisions into the back seat before going round to the driver’s side. Eniola got into the car.
‘Sweetheart, guess who I met today.’ Eniola’s husband sounded excited.
‘One of your sons back on campus. The one we called, Emmanuel the evangelist.’
Eniola’s eyes widened. He was the friend she knew was closest to Lola. No wonder he had come to her heart while she was praying. But how had she lost contact with many of the children she’d discipled.
‘This is unbelievable. Where did you meet him?’
‘I went to pick the kids from school and just as I got to the entrance, I bumped into him. His son just resumed school here. He is here with me. Talk to him.’
Another voice came on the phone. ‘Sis Eniola! Oh my God! I’ve missed you. Chei! I’ve been trying to find you. I’m so happy.’
‘Emma, are you based in Abuja?’
‘Yes, I am. I work with a federal agency. We just finished building our house and when we moved in, we had to change school for our son since his former school is miles away from our house. This is divine connection.’
Eniola wanted to cut to the chase. ‘Emma, when last did you hear from Lola?’
‘It’s been a while o. Since Lola married, we’ve not really talked much.’
‘Do you still have her number?’
‘Yes I do.’
‘Please send it to me now. Listen, I’ll be returning to Abuja tomorrow. We’ll have time to talk very well. But please send that number. It’s urgent.’
‘I’ll do that right away.’
Eniola’s heart pounded fast. She couldn’t wait to reconnect with Lola. She smiled as she remembered how cheerful and full of life Lola had been. There was no boring moment with her. She carried the same excitement and passion to the stage with her powerful renditions.
Lola, I can’t wait to see you again. I just cannot wait.
Lola drove aimlessly round town. Her hands were trembling. What was it the doctor said was wrong with her son. Congenital heart disease. He said there was an abnormal flow of blood from Benjamin’s heart to his lungs. How did that happen? Had she eaten anything while she was pregnant with him? What could have gone wrong?
Her husband, Kola, had given her the cold treatment since they left the doctor’s office. Whenever she asked how much he had gotten for their baby’s treatment, he never responded. She had asked everyone she knew for support but they all seemed to have one project they were working on or bills to pay. Apart from the 200,000 naira her best friend had given her, the church had managed to raise 60,000 naira.
Lola had to talk to someone. She pulled in front of Tosin’s house. She wanted to pour her heart out to her best friend. She was tired of life.
The previous day, she had seen a bottle of sniper on one of the shelves in a store and the thought of death had crossed her mind. She had pushed the thought aside. She had to get through this. There had to be a way out.
She dragged her feet towards Tosin’s flat. She turned the door handle without knocking first. She expected it to be locked but it wasn’t. She stepped in.
Tosin was fast asleep on the floor of the sitting room with her head resting on her husband’s chest. His eyes were glued to the screen of a tablet as he laughed softly at whatever video he was watching. Lola quietly shut the door and left the house.
Lola started the engine but turned it off again. She hit the steering with her fist.
What use was life when all it brought was pain? If she died, who would miss her? Her mother, maybe. Yes, her mother would cry and roll on the floor. Her siblings would give her a befitting burial. It’d nearly kill her father when he discovered her death hadn’t taken the natural course. Kola would be glad. She was sure he’d marry someone else the week after her body was laid to rest. Maybe that corper lady he’d slept with on her matrimonial bed.
Unsure of what to do next, she logged into her facebook account and began to scroll through her newsfeed. Maybe someone would give her words of hope. Just maybe she’d find a solution here. She stopped when she got to an update from one of the choristers in her church.
Please can someone explain why a sister with a sonorous voice who was vibrant as a single get married and suddenly stops singing in the choir. I don’t understand. Does marriage take away God’s calling from your life? God, abeg o. I’d rather remain single than have a man put out the fire you have deposited in my heart.
Lola’s face exploded with anger as she read it. It was obvious she was the one being addressed here. She’d heard rumors from the choir and members of the church who were saying, marriage was the water that put out the fire in her ministry. Why couldn’t they reach out to her to find out what was going on? Everybody was concerned about her voice but not her mental health.
‘Hypocrites!’ Lola shouted.
She tapped on the lady’s profile page and blocked her.
Her body went dark. Her mind stopped working for a second. She felt like driving into the express with her eyes closed. She held the steering, panting until the darkness lifted.
Lola stopped at KFC and bought three packs of a five-piece chicken and a double zinger burger. When she got home, she placed her purchase on the dining table and began to eat voraciously.
The door opened. Kola entered. He stopped when he saw his wife with the heap in front of her. Her mouth was full and oil smeared the side of her lips. Disgust was all Kola felt for his wife.
‘What kind of woman are you? Are you an animal? I’m looking for money to get our son out of the country and you are here eating like a pig. So corpulent and dunce-like.’
Lola looked at her husband and picked up another piece of chicken. She had to fill this hole in her heart. The more she ate, the more it seemed someone was using a shovel to dig up every bite she took. She tore one piece after another. Kola snatched the remaining pack of chicken from the table. Lola tried to pull it away from him.
‘Leave my chicken alone!’ Lola shouted.
‘You are not even ashamed of yourself. As fat as you are, you are still eating this’ he threw the chicken to the floor and did same to the burger. Nene stood at the entrance with Lola’s daughter, Hannah.
‘Mummy!’ Hannah cried.
Nene covered the girl’s mouth and pulled her back into the room.
Lola was down on her feet, picking the patties of ground meat and onions soup mix from the burger. She threw them into her mouth. Her husband stood aside, shocked. He shook his head and turned to leave when Lola grabbed his leg. She wanted him to stay. She wanted him to lift her up and cuddle her. She wanted his hand to caress her hair and in his husky voice say, ‘Everything will be alright.’
‘Let go of my legs, woman!’
Lola’s phone rang. It was then she released her grip on his legs. She reached for her phone on the table, tears pouring down her eyes. She stared at the phone.
She looked at her husband and back at the phone. Kola peered at the caller ID and took the phone away from her.
Kola’s face turned white. ‘What happened to the baby?’
Lola was hysterical. She tug at his arm. ‘What’s going on?’ What happened to Benjamin?’
Kola didn’t answer her as he sped out of the house. Lola followed him out. Like a mad man, Kola drove to the hospital.
‘I’m sorry. Your baby is gone.’ The doctor announced.
‘Listen the money is almost complete. By tomorrow I promise, we’ll get the money ready.’
‘Kola, Benjamin is gone. I’m very sorry.’
Lola didn’t say a word. She turned and walked slowly out of the hospital, oblivious to the voices around her. Her baby was dead. Benjamin was gone. She didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye. They had taken her son away from her.
There were no tears in her eyes but her heart was breaking to pieces.
Lola’s phone rang. She swiped the green button.
‘Hello.’ Lola said in a very low tone.
‘Lola, This is Eniola. My God! It’s been a while. I have missed you. How are you?’
‘Hello, Lola are you there?’
Lola ended the call.
Episode 6 is next.
Read Who will marry you?