WALE CAME TO THE SCHOOL TO PICK ME up
after work. I couldn’t leave immediately with him
because the Principal had asked one of the English teachers, Mariam, and I to check up on a boy who lived with his grandmother, not too far away from the school. I explained to Wale and he said he would wait till I got back.
There were two paths to our destination. One would require we walk down the street that led to the express road, board a taxi, stop at a particular bus stop and trek through a narrow path to the boy’s house.
The second option was faster. We could go through a bush path, walk past a refuse dumpsite, take the corner that led to some uncompleted buildings and then appear on his street.
We settled for the bush path. When we got to the refuse dump, we had to cover our noses because of the stench.
We also had to watch the ground for rotten food and defaces. The place stank. The heap of refuse was so high and broad that it would take two large trucks to clear the mess. As we approached the uncompleted buildings, Mariam suddenly stopped walking and pulled me quickly behind a mango tree.
I was scared to my wits. This was a lonely path. If anything happened to us here, no one would discover us for days.
“What is it?” I asked, looking around for any sign of danger. Were there rapists here? Even if we screamed, no one would hear us. My heart pounded fast. I followed Mariam’s direction to the back of an abandoned bungalow with weeds gathered in front of it. Right in front of the building were images that looked like the shapes of humans.
“What’s that?” I asked, squinting.
“Is that not your student, Adesuwa?” Miriam asked.
We moved away from the tree and it was then I saw Adesuwa and the Games prefect of the school kissing passionately. My eyes and mouth opened wide in shock. The thing is, I was not surprised that Adesuwa could make attempts to kiss a boy. The issue was the kind of boy she chose to do it with. If it had been with a boy like Dotun or Badmus, it would have been easy to contain. But Daniel?
The guy everyone knew messed around with anything in skirt.
What was she doing with a boy like that? Why would a
girl know that a boy screwed around and still allow herself to be used, knowing he’d dump her for someone else?
How do girls think?
“You have to sit Adesuwa down.” Mariam adviced. “An
intelligent girl like that should not fall for a stupid boy like this.”
I was getting upset as we tip-toed towards them.
Daniel. It was easy for any girl to fall heads over heels for his athletic body. He had won awards for the school in sports and represented the state in many football matches.
Why a young boy like that could not control the thing between his legs beats me.BWe froze when Daniel unzipped his trouser. I closed my eyes and opened them again. Was Daniel really going to have sex with Adesuwa right there?
Will you stop that nonsense!” Mariam shouted. They
froze. Daniel cursed under his breath when he saw us. He zipped up and stepped away from Adesuwa. Her eyes were filled with shame. She stared at the floor and gently tucked in her rumpled blouse. Daniel stood beside her, his hands thrust into his pockets.
Mariam faced her. “Adesuwa, when did you start this nonsense? Why are you girls stupid like this? Of all the boys to mess around with, it is this public toilet you chose.”
“Mariam.” I said quietly.
“Leave me jare let me talk sense into her head.” Mariam eyed Daniel. ‘You are already a vagabond so I won’t even waste my time talking to you.” She returned her attention to Adesuwa. ‘If this useless boy gets you pregnant, you will forever live to regret it because he will hate you and deny ever having anything to do with you. You will suffer while he goes on to be with another girl. Even if you use contraceptives, it won’t heal the emotional pain when he dumps you. Stop acting like a fool!”
I couldn’t say anything. My anger had dissipated and was replaced with compassion. This was a girl who had received a standing ovation during the last graduation ceremony for taking prizes in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography and English. She wasn’t just intelligent, everyone at school spoke well of Adesuwa.
Some of the boys in her class had told me that if there was a girl they could boast about who had never messed up with a guy, it was Adesuwa. One time I overheard Dotun saying,Adesuwa is tough jare. I don’t even know what to do again. Are you sure she is not a boy wearing a girl’s uniform. How can somebody be so unemotional?”
I wondered what Daniel did to win her heart.
Mariam dismissed them. “I’ll deal with both of you tomorrow. Now, get out of here. Go home!”
Adesuwa scuttled away, half running, half walking. Daniel bounced with his hands still thrust in his pockets.
Mariam’s face broke into a smile. “I think I have the right question for our in-house press club presentation.”
I looked at Mariam, waiting for her to continue. When she didn’t, I asked, “What’s the question?”
“Why do good girls fall for bad boys?”
I chuckled. “That might be a simple one. Opposite attracts.”
Wale looked content and relaxed when I returned. Mariam had taken a bike home and I’d been forced to walk the lonely path to the school building alone. A bible was opened in front of Wale when I climbed into his car.
“I’m sorry for keeping you waiting.” I said and shut the
Wale closed his bible and placed it gently on the back seat.
“It’s okay. Can we go now?”
The Honda Civic jerked forward and stopped. Wale started the engine again. It hummed and died. He tried again. The same thing happened. Hissing, he got down and opened the bonnet of the car. After a few minutes, he returned to start the car. It roared.
“I’m trusting God for a new car.” Wale said as we moved away from the school gate. “How can someone like me be using this kind of car. It does not befit my status. Thank God, the Senior Pastor of Jesus Assembly will be sending a driver to pick me up for tonight’s meeting.”
Wale nodded. “I love invitations where the host takes care of their guests. I remember one particular invitation I received. I paid my transport fare to the venue. Guess what they gave me at the end of the ministration? Two Hollandia drinks and a bowl of Danish cookies. The next time they invited me, I turned the offer down sharp sharp.”
“Don’t you think that might be the best they had to offer?
We are not motivated by gifts in our service to God.”
Wale sounded annoyed. ‘Forget that thing! Nothing is free my dear. We love the envelopes too. Won’t the minister of God eat? Some of these people just want to drain the life out of you.” He gave me a quick glance and changed the topic. “How was work today?”
I wanted to tell him about the call I received from the
woman who’d refused to disclose her name but I held my lips. This was a big evening for Wale and I didn’t want to spoil it. I had learnt that a wise woman shares her worries with her husband only at the right time.
“Women, don’t ever welcome your husband from a tiring day at work with disturbing news.” a relationship cousellor had said. “Train yourself to know when to let out your concerns. When your husband is well rested, you can, in a polite way, present the problems.”
I was preparing to be a good wife. What better time than to start practising now. I decided to wait until after his ministration. It was difficult though but I knew I had to try.
“Are you okay?” Wale asked.
I nodded and flashed him a smile. “I wasn’t expecting you to pick me up after work. I’d love to shower and change to something more appropriate before the meeting.”
He looked at his wristwatch. “I have an hour and a half
before the meeting starts. You know what? I’ll take you home and then we can go somewhere quiet. I want us to pray together before the meeting.”
I smiled again. Wale really loves me!
It was almost 7p.m when we got to the church in the Grey highlander the Pastor sent to get us. We stopped to pick up two of Wale’s mentees. One of them was a lady who looked at me with contempt. What was her problem gan?
If she was crushing on Wale, then she needed to deal with it and not take it out on me. All these campus sisters should be married to their books!
This was the reason I told Wale how unhealthy it was for a guy to mentor a lady. Many of these ladies don’t know boundaries. They’d just be catching feelings anyhow.
When the Senior Pastor came to greet us at the car park, Wale did something I didn’t like. He introduced us to the Pastor by saying,
“I came with my people.”
Am I part of the ‘people’?
I was annoyed that the wife of the Pastor addressed me the same way she did with the mentees. No personal acknowledgement. No special treatment. Did they really know who I was to Wale? I was already feeling moody but I got out of it and smiled warmly. This was Wale’s day and I would enjoy it with him.
The Senior Pastor led us into the church auditorium. It was packed full. I felt like a Pastor’s wife already as we filed to the seats reserved for us.
Wale’s ministration blew my mind. I had never seen Wale expound scriptures like I did that evening. He taught the Word with so much authority that at a point I couldn’t sit still. It was as if I was listening to a different man.
The words that came out of his mouth, the effect those words had on the congregation, I almost didn’t believe this was the same man I laughed and played with. People fell under the power of God without being touched. There was a strong flow of the gifts of the Spirit.
“Oh God!” I muttered beneath my breath. “This is my husband. This is the man I’m getting married to. This is my man!”
At the end of the meeting, the Pastor handed him an envelope while the women packed food and drinks into the Pastor’s car.
I smiled. Those women ignored me again but very soon, they’d give me the respect I deserved. It was a matter of time before I’ll be addressed as Wale’s wife. I’ll get their attention.
I stood there, staring at Wale as he talked with the Senior Pastor. My love for him deepened. We’d do ministry together. We would go global for Christ.
When it was time to leave, Wale’s mentee rolled her eyes at me when I sat beside Wale and she had to sit in front with the driver. I was boiling with anger. I’d deal with her very soon and make sure Wale stopped mentoring her.
Wale leaned close to me as we left the church compound.
“I caught you staring at me several times.”
I turned my face away, embarrassed.
He touched my hand lightly. “It’s okay. I like when you
I smiled and relaxed. Before I knew it, I was staring at him again.
When we got to my sister’s house, Wale handed me three packs of food and some cans of soft drinks.
“I’ll call you.” He said and waved at me. I thanked him
and climbed the steps that led to my sister’s apartment.
My sister, Yewande was in a hot argument with her husband when I entered the house. They were screaming at the top of their voices in the kitchen. I stood for a while in the living room that reeked of urine. Toys were scattered all over the place and grains of rice messed up the centre table.
“God, please let Wale propose to me so we can get married this year. I’m tired of this place. I want to be in my husband’s house.” I pleaded quietly.
I entered the bedroom I shared with my nieces. They were all asleep on a large mattress on the floor. As I set down the food and drinks on the table, my sister entered the room, her eyes welled up in tears.
“The only reason I’m still in this marriage is because of my children!” Yewande shouted.
I glanced at the three girls and back at Yewande. “Stop shouting. Do you want to wake them up?”
She wiped the tears from her eyes and sat on the bed. “Yemisi, I’m tired. Stephen blames me for everything. His mother was here earlier. She said I was the cause of her son’s misfortune. She said before he married me, he was doing well financially but immediately after the wedding, he lost his job and has not gotten a stable one since.”
“But it’s not your fault he lost his job. He defrauded the company. He should be glad he is not in jail now.”
“Yemisi, If I had a job, Stephen will not have the guts to talk to me anyhow.”
I touched her shoulder. ‘Everything will be alright. Have a little more faith sis. Things will get better.”
Her eyes caught the food packs on the table. She reached for one of the packs. Her eyes lit up as she opened a pack.
“Jollof rice and chicken.” Yewande exclaimed and flashed me a quick grin. She dug the plastic spoon into it.
“Where did you get this?”
I told her about Wale’s preaching engagement.
She took three quick spoonful. “You are lucky to have a man like Wale. I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to marry Stephen. There is no love for God in his heart at all. I asked him why he stopped going to church and he said churches were full of hypocrites. He’d prefer to stay at home and read his bible. How did I end up with a man like that? I asked for ordinary one thousand naira to get panties because mine were getting torn. My husband
said I was selfish and all I could think about was myself. Imagine, one thousand naira.”
I loved my sister but I was tired of her complaints. When I suggested we prayed about her marriage, she said prayers solved nothing. How do I dismiss her now without offending her?
Yewande continued. “I know Stephen has been giving his mother the money we should be spending. Imagine, he was mad at me when I told him I won’t have sex any more without contraceptives. We are yet to finish paying the children’s school fees and he is looking for more children.
How can a man be heartless?’
I knew Yewande would not stop talking if I didn’t do
something. I shook my head and made sounds like, ‘uhmmm..’ ‘chai..’ as if sympathizing with her while at the same time flipping through my lesson notes. She got the clue and stood up.
“Sorry for bothering you with my plenty issues.” She lifted the three plates of food and salad from the table. “I’ll take these to the kitchen. When your bobo calls, thank him for us.”
Relieved to be alone, I lay on my back and dialled Wale’s number. It rang for a while but he didn’t pick up. When I tried the second time and he didn’t answer the call, I changed into my nightie and got ready to sleep.
I suddenly began to feel restless. I sat up confused. What was this heaviness I was feeling?
My eyes went to the wall where I had written out the names of my SS2 students. When I became their class teacher at the beginning of the term, I decided I would pray daily for them. I had written all their names, thirty of them, on two long pieces of paper and pasted them on the wall of my room. After the first week, I had been too lazy to continue.
I felt strongly that God wanted me to pray for them that night and I got off my bed and went to the wall. I touched each name on the list as I prayed. The more I prayed, the stronger the burden I felt in my heart.
A picture flashed across my mind. Dotun was standing on the edge of a cliff.
I stopped praying and sat on the floor. What was Dotun doing on a cliff? I knelt down and continued to pray. Dotun appeared in my mind again and this time, he pulled off a smiling mask to reveal a dark face with blood shot eyes.
Lord, what’s going on?
My phone rang. I felt a restraint in my spirit not to pick the call but I couldn’t resist. It was Wale. I decided I’d continue with the prayers later. I answered the call.
“Hello beautiful. I was in the bathroom when you called.” Wale said.
I let out a deep breath. “I wanted us to talk. I need to get some things off my chest.”
“Go ahead sweetheart. I’m all ears.”
There was so much I wanted to say. Where was our relationship headed? Were we even in a relationship? Do I have to tell him to propose? Who was the woman that called me at work shouting at me to leave him alone? I wanted an assurance that I was Wale’s girl. I wanted him to say that I was the lady he wanted to marry.
I let out a deep breath. “Can I ask a question?”
“Of course, you can ask me anything.”
I waited, unsure of how to start the conversation. “Whenever I bring up the subject of marriage, you push it aside.
I know you really didn’t ask me out or propose to me
but from how close we’ve been, we are more than just
friends.” I paused. “I get confused sometimes and I’d love to know where we are headed. Is this intimacy leading to marriage?”
Wale chuckled. “Why are you all about marriage Yemisi? Is that all there is to life? Let me ask you this, do you even know what you want to do with your life? I think what you should be concerned about is getting a better job and pursuing a viable career path. I don’t mean to hurt you but you are too complacent.”
My heart stopped at those words. What did Wale just say?
“Please, don’t be offended but I have to tell you the truth.
Right now, I expect to hear you talk passionately about your life goals, empowerment programmes you want to attend, business ideas you desire to pursue. Is it this teaching job you want to spend your life doing?”
Tears stung my eyes. I had never felt more humiliated in my life.
“Listen, Yemisi, women are stepping out of the norm. They are changing the status quo my dear. Search for Taiwo Aderemi on Facebook. She is younger than you are and already runs two businesses. Just last week, Mercy Thomas was asked to head a huge project for a Saudi Arabia firm.
That’s a lady who’s not even thirty yet. Aanu Coker now runs her NGO and just two weeks ago, she was invited to speak at a UNICEF event.”
I was trembling as I held the phone. “Why are you comparing me with these ladies?”
“I’m not! I’m just using their achievements to challenge you. I can’t allow you live below your capability. You are very smart and intelligent. Recently, I was invited for a panel discussion and I was mesmerized by the profile of one of the speakers. If we take a look at your CV, the only thing we’d find there is that you were a salesgirl in a supermarket and now a secondary school teacher. Can’t you see ladies getting their MBA and-” Tears trickled my face. “Why are you doing this?”
“I didn’t mean to offend you. I love you Yemisi. I really
do but there are more important things than marriage to talk about right now. Pursuing our divine assignment is paramount. We need to fan God’s purpose in our lives into flames.”
When I didn’t say anything, he continued. “I’m on the
lookout for a job for you. I want you out of that school as soon as possible. It’s time to fly. I promise I’ll support you to any length you want to go. You’ll become one of the top influencers in the world. Yemisi, are you listening to me?”
My throat was dry. No words came out. I felt defeated.
Wale’s words rang in my ears several times.If we should take a look at your CV, the only thing we’d find there is that you were a salesgirl in a supermarket and now a secondary school teacher.
“Yemisi, I hurt you right?”
I didn’t answer.
“I’m sorry. I just want the best for you. What would I have done in this life without you? I love you. Do you love me?”
I was at the brink of tears. “Yeah. I do.”
“When am I seeing you again?”
I didn’t feel like seeing him ever again. “I don’t know.”
“Tomorrow after work. Let me leave you to rest. Goodnight sweetheart.”
Just like that? He was going off again?. “Goodnight.”
I lay on the bed, downcast. The image of Dotun rushed back to my mind. He had been standing at the top of a cliff.
Had I just been imagining it?
Pray. Yemisi, pray.
I didn’t feel like praying. I was still angry that Wale could compare me with those ladies on Facebook. How many of them were really happy? Was it not few days ago that Abigail narrated how a colleague of hers flooded her Instagram page with the perfect picture of her family when in truth she cries almost every night because her husband would not stop cheating on her?
I was so wound up that I could barely think. Maybe I was complacent. Maybe I was a dummy.
I needed something to make me feel better. I reached for my laptop in search of comic relief. I settled for a movie but the scene that usually got me laughing hard irritated me.
I wasn’t halfway through the movie when I slept off.
To be continued
Written by: Ife Grace