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 proffer advice at the request of their protégé? Are they monitoring spirits?
I wished I had stayed back at home instead of going over to Mama D’s house. Well, the reason I visited her that Saturday morning was to welcome her back from her trip to
Kaduna. Mama had been away for three months to take care of her daughter who had given birth to a set of twins.
As I sat with her on a folded chair in the open courtyard, I did everything possible to change the topic about my relationship with Wale but Mama was stubborn. She kept
going back to it.
“Yemisi,” my mentor said, her gaze fixed on me. I avoided her eyes and stared at the green tomatoes sprouting at the center of the yard. “This guy you said you are in love
with, what’s the position of things now?”
I stared at my feet. “Mama, we are 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 answered abruptly and stayed silent.
Just 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 minister anywhere, where does he go on such Sunday mornings? You didn’t give me any answer. Who is he accountable to? Who does he listen 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 stayed back in my room to watch the movies series I started the night before. That was far more exciting than this interrogation. Why can’t
Mama just leave me alone?
“Mama D, I’m sure about one thing. 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 house-help, Kudirat came in to inform my mentor that she had finished preparing the rice. She wanted to know if she should go ahead to
make the stew. Looking for an excuse to get away, I stood up quickly.
“I’ll prepare the stew.”
Mama pulled her ears. “Don’t add maggi o. Little salt will do. Make sure you use the olive oil to prepare it.”
I shook my head. Mama! Even when you prepare 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 house-help. “Kudirat, pour the rice into the brown food warmer so it doesn’t get cold.”
I went into the kitchen. Mama followed me. 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.” Mama said. I rolled my eyes playfully at her. “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 before leaving the kitchen. From where I worked, I could hear her speaking sternly to Kudirat and giving her more orders.
The front door opened and a familiar laughter filled the house. Mama appeared in the kitchen followed by my friend Abigail. She stepped past Mama and entered the
We hugged. “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 whispered.
I was about responding when Mama D entered the kitchen again with another set of instructions.
Wale refused to see my mentor and it bothered me. Well, he didn’t outrightly say 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 ministry.
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 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 holds my heart in her hands. How are you today?”
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. I wanted to know how bad he wanted to see me.
“Maybe another time.” I said. “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 likely 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 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 someone actively involved in the ministry and it was the reason I stuck with Wale.
Back on campus, God had shown me a picture of my husband. I knew he’d be committed to ministry full time. He’d
be a man sold out to the work of God. It made sense when Wale told me he perceived God would require him resign
from his job very soon to face the ministry.
“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!” I glanced down at my notebook. “Let’s continue with our notes.”
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 these children. Why were they acting so giddy? Teenagers never seem to amaze me.
“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 walked past the two arms of the SS2 class and down the corner that led to the staircase. In front of one of the 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 beside the staircase.
“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 girl. 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 that. 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.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 ‘I won’t be eating out every night again, all thanks to my beautiful 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 seeing 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 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 school today?”
I pulled her closer 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 it. 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 mother was 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 about this 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 very much.
I read that message several times and the last statement rang 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 to myself.
There was no way he would be playing pranks on me. He must mean those words. An unbeliever could try to play smart 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. I paused, angry at the interruption and wondering who it was.
“Hello, who is-”
“Stay away from Wale!” A loud feminine voice barked.
“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.”
The line went dead. I stared at the phone screen, and for the first time since I met Wale, I was truly afraid.
To be continued
Written by: Ife Grace