By Ifeyinwa Kojo
My story continues...
"Chubby and I met in downtown Optija"
"Where's that?", I said too quickly surprised
"Google", the brain mocked me. I ignored it.
"It's one of the worst places in our great Croatian country, quite a mess of a place", she sighed. I could feel a sudden change in her countenance. "Regret?, not exactly"
"I was a social worker assigned to those areas and you won't believe half the problems we have there", she continued thoughtfully.
She was a social worker?..... What made her stop?. I decided to keep my questions for later so as not to stop the flow.
"There was a terrible snow storm and as always, we had to check some of the streets after to see if there are any homeless trapped in the Strom. That's how I met Chubby", she smiled.
"He was trapped in the storm?", I whispered, shocked to my core. She nodded.
"He was half dead, almost frozen. I nearly walked past him but I just felt this sense that we could save him and I called the medics. Luckily we did. He was homeless and starved, but even in that condition, there was this thing in his eyes that wouldn't let go of life.
I stared. These Igbo boys will not kill me! Homeless, half frozen and starved in Optima! What the heck is wrong with these boys! Why this compulsion to leave the country or die trying!
"The usual routine was to release them to their fate after treatment. There was no way to accommodate all of them especially with immigration breathing down on us but within that time we kinda developed a bond.
He was funny and quick minded, and I kinda liked him. So we agreed that he will stay with me for sometime until he can get a job and get off the streets.
One thing led to another and fast forward 2 years later, here we are....married and in Lagos...his country."
I shook my head. Someone hit me please.
"What made you help him?", I asked.
This is a woman I almost condemned for marrying a boy young enough to be her son or at least younger brother. She was quiet for a while, then smiled.
"I am not exactly sure why I picked him out that day, maybe "Cosmic Intervention". But I do know why I married him", she said laughing.
"You know when you have this very strong urge to do something....Good. You can call it Fate in religion."
"Helping him was like an atonement for me. I also lived a rather rough life. So I could easily identify with him. Always running and hiding. Once upon a time someone good dragged me out of the trenches, thought to do the same for him".
I stared at her like she was a saint in the flesh. I knew this woman had lived "that life", but she definitely had my absolute respect right now.
In all my churchy-girl disposition, would I extend such love to a stranger? This is exactly the line......"What would Jesus do?" Meanwhile she is not a Christian.
"When you took him in, did he get a job?", I asked.
She shrugged. "An illegal black foreigner, without any known skill, or education.... His chance of survival was slim. In the city where he found himself, the next thing was drugs. The one good thing going for him was his willpower. If he wanted to do drugs, he would have easily survived but he didn't. So the other friends wouldn't help him. They left him to roast alone. That's why I called it Cosmic Intervention, some Comic Powers wanted to save him."
"Lord, I take that to be You. "Thank You" I thought to myself.
"So, knowing he probably won't get any job, you still took him in?"
She nodded. I squeezed her hand in gratitude. I was close to tears.
"Father, I love this Nwa Bekee"
She smiled at me, and reached for some tissues.
"You Nigerians are really nice", she said. I have met some awesome people.
"We are the nicest, happiest, poor people in the world", I thought.
We were quiet for sometime, each with our own thoughts.
"Why did you marry him?", I asked suddenly remembering what she said earlier.
"The Sex is Good, ....No Great!", she said without qualms.
"W...h..a..t?", I screamed, shocked to the core.
"Black boys get down so good, and Chubby is a blast"
I covered my ears with my two hands and she burst out in a loud laugh.
Seriously, I am done here.
Dad, this is Your daughter, I need to check in right here, right now.
Nwa Bekees' nose had turned carrot red. She kept slapping her face a little to even up the colors without success. I looked at my collection of make-up accessories, and held it up to her.
Together we burst into laughter. The sound of it felt good. I guess we both imagined what she will look like using my shade of powder. She examined her face critically and sighed.
I watched her. It wasn't easy pinning her to a particular age. I had a feeling she could be older than I am but couldn't tell. Her skin was roughened a bit and there were tell-tail traces of wrinkles. Was it the Nigerian sun or she......?
But, I give it to her, she was pretty, very. She had not answered my question yet.
I bid my time, if she needs to talk, I will listen but I wasn't ready to push her.
"Can't go out there like this" she sighed unhappily.
I nodded. I didn't want another run of sobbing so I thought quickly. "You know what, I think I need some fresh air, would you be interested in going out to the garden with me?. A bit of air will do us good". She nodded eagerly.
The crying actually brought out her age to the surface. And she felt a bit self conscious. I left her in the lobby after explaining that I needed to let my Adam know where to find me. She nodded but made no move to do the same with her Okoro. Guess she was still pissed with him.
More buddies had joined our table and my Adam was well engaged. I managed to squeeze in the message with a sign llanguage. My cousin took a cue and rose to follow me, I quickly froze her to her seat. Two is company, three is a crowd. I could feel her missiles down my spine as I walked away. Whatever!
Nwa Bekee and I walked out to the garden and stood by the fountain. The air was good and the wind was doing an East-West pendulum swing.
She inhaled deeply, and reached in to her bag for a cigarette. She paused and arched an eye at me. I shrugged. Not my thing but I won't stop her.
She lit up, drew long and hard at the poor tiny stick. I watched her mmesmerized
At the point I thought she had swallowed all the smoke, she let them out in a long snake dance. She was a pro, no doubt about that, this is no baby chick.....this is a "chicken". The aroma hit me and my tummy turned, I moved out further.
What did I get myself into? What was that?
The aroma was very strong though not bad. Just being near her gave me a heady minty feeling already.
"You OK?, she asked me.
"Seriously?", my mind screamed. Thank God she couldn't hear it. "I will survive", I said pointing at her stick. She laughed, took another deep one, and put it out.
I smiled my gratitude, didn't think I would have lasted long against the onslaught of that poison.
"Hubby Chubby".....she finally answered the question. I wasn't sure what she called him....Lobby, hubby, chubby or Bobby. The idea of her calling that small Okoro boy "hubby" phased me.
"What did you just call him?", I asked.
"My hubby "Chobyike" she attempted in Igbo.
"Chibuike?", I volunteered smiling.
That guy didn't look like any Chibuike to me, Donatus, or Magnus would have fitted better I thought. "Chobby Hobby", or Hubby Chubby...." See naming things!......To think I feel so cool calling my Adam "Sweet"... Chai, Nwa Bekee!
Hubby Chubby..... Alias "Okoro with a stamp"....couldn't be a day older than 30. And I was standing with a nearly 50 elegant and pretty Nwa Bekee calling him "hubby"
I felt a wave of sadness hit me inside......what wouldn't this small Igbo boys do to leave this country and survive....?. What won't they....
"Judge not", my heart warned. I sighed.
"The cover does not make the book a work of art", you must first read it", my dear heart declared.
I agreed with it this time.
I hear You Lord, I will be patient and non-judgemental in this. There is never a smoke without fire.
Again, You will always use the little things in life to confound the wise.
I am here, I am ready, And I will listen.
This is Your daughter, and I am checking in.
My cousin, My Adam and I sat beside their table at the event. In all honesty, I did not notice the couple at first until....
"Don't look, but something interesting is going on there...", my cousin said.
"Stay out of it", warned my Adam under his breathe.
"What?", I rolled my very innocent eyes at him. He shook his head at me, trying to be very stern. I winked at him. Looking and feeling very good with myself. What was he trying to prevent me from interfering with?
As far as I was concerned everything was A-Ok, the party was revving hot. The hotel was grand and the entertainment super.
Whatever it was must be behind me, so I did a 2 O'clock' shift to my left and saw the couple.
My Adam just knows me too well. What got my attention was the lady's face. The scene was too obvious, lady Bekee and a typical Okoro boy with "illiteracy" stamped across his forehead. And Adam doesn't want me to see this? Hiaa!
I quickly adjusted my seat to the right angle, to ensure I can have good visual access to lady Bekee.
My Adam gave me a sharp look and shook his head again.
"What?", I gave him my sweetest smile and did a zip sign. I was at a vintage position now and could see the scene clearly.
Lady Bekee had a strange colour on her face. It was obvious that she was very upset, and was practically sobbing silently. The Okoro with a stamp, had a little too much to drink and was becoming way too boisterous.
"She needs help Sweet" I whispered to my Adam.
"She needs a friend or a shoulder", my cousin giggled.
"Stay out of it" he insisted.
How can you ask a goat to stay out of the barn? I love stories......OK fine, I am very compassionate, and I'd love to help!
"I have to use the bathroom'", I said to My Adam. My Cousin laughed.
"You have to?", my Adam eyed me.
"Seriously!", I said pretending a squeeze.
"You are simply impossible", he raised his hand in surrender.
The silly cousin was still giggling. I smiled Innocently, picked my purse and walked.
I intentionally bumped in to lady Bekee's seat. She thumped forward to her table and dropped her tissue. "Oops!", I cried innocently, "I am so sorry"
"You OK?", I asked
She shook her head, tears loading back into her eyes.
"Would you like to come with me to the lady's?; I am headed there"
She grabbed the invite with two hands. She jumped out of her seat and held my hand immediately. She was shaking. I gave my Adam a very sad pleading look and he shrugged. To the Okoro boy, I plastered politeness on my face and nodded in the direction of the bathroom. He stared at me like a clueless Tom. Lady Bekee and I walked straight out.
We met two Ladies there touching up their make up. As soon as the door closed on them, Lady Bekee broke down and sobbed.
I was so surprised. For a brief moment, I wished I had listened to my Adam. I knew she was upset about something, but the sobbing seemed to have triggered something deeper. Am I really able to help her?
What is her story? Why was she sobbing her heart out on the shoulders of a total stranger in a strange country? I held her and stood there, rubbing her back very gently.
I tried to find some memory verses that will back up my kind words but they all disappeared. So I stuck to ...
"It's fine, it's all good....it will be well!" Gradually lady Bekee calmed down and tidied up a bit.
She stared at her reddened face in the mirror and attempted a smile.
"Thank You", she whispered. I nodded....."Its nothing", I smiled back.
I nodded again.... "I could tell"
"He's been so horrible lately"......
I will finish this Lord, I promise You, but right now, my baby is awake and needs me.
I love You.
I know I can be very daring, but then again, You said that all things work together for good to them that love You. I am number one!
This is Your daughter, I am checking in.
I watched the Lion King again with my daughter. And like always, it amazes me how Simba, a would-be king of the jungle took so easily to the life of a worm-eater. How those who should normally be his meal became his best friends. He adapted to a contrary identity so much so that even when he was told who he really was, he had a hard time believing that.
Until he truly saw a reflection of himself for who he really was.
Life conditioned Simba early to lose his identity and he did. He believed who he had become not who he really was.
Every time I watch that movie Dad, I feel so drawn to Simba. Isn't it the same life I live?
Life has conditioned me to run instead of chase. To quack Instead of roar, and to live like a workmaid instead of the heir apparent to Your Kingdom.
What is more apt is that I have turned my relationship with You into a Hakuna Matata!
A problem free association, feel happy, be happy opium! No consistency, one moment I am soaring like an Eagle, the next moment I am flip-flopping with the chickens.
I like Simba a lot Dad, he got his roar back and he became who he was born to be. The King of the jungle.
"Mum, Do you think Simba will ever eat worms again?", my daughter asked me.
"No, I think not", I answered. "He has found the Him that he lost. And that Him eats no worms"
"I like Simba alot, but Nala is my favorite person" she said thoughtfully.
"She never lost her strength or her identity, she was so sure of who she was", she said simply.
Hmm! Never thought of that. I am always fixated on Simba "
"But Nala didn't have the bad experience Simba had, maybe she would not have done better if the role was changed.
"No Mum, remember what you used to say, It's not what happened to you, it's how you react to it that matters".
"Wow! That is my girl Dad! That is the daughter of my heart!
"I want to be like Nala, she continued, I will stay focused no matter what"
I hugged her fiercely. I love that girl. "Yeah, I'd like to be like Nala too, I agreed, but it's OK to be like Simba. It's OK to make mistakes but most importantly, it's okay to correct them and move on to your destiny. Lesson ended Dad.
This is your daughter and I am checking in.
Hmm, I did ponder for a while what I should say on this first note of the year. Should I tell you about my resolutions? The dos and don'ts that I will eventually breach?
Should I tell You about my goals? The long list of things that will keep me awake at night and keep me praying for answers?
Should we talk about the lesson learnt these past years?
Hmm, I doubt if I will ever graduate from my school of lessons.
I finally decided to just say Thank You again. Yes, Dad.
Please don't laugh at me, I may be repeating myself but if it's not such a bother, I'd say Thank You again and again.
For all the healings You already did this year....Oh I have a special reason for this... Thank You.
For the amazing Grace that will take us through it all... Thank You.
For the certainties and uncertainties... Thank You.
For the knowns and unknowns... Thank You.
For the tears that will follow and the joys to come... Thank You.
For the ones we will win and those we will lose... Thank You.
For all the challenges to come and the corresponding triumphs... Thank You.
For the times I will be faithful and the times I will be faithless... Thank You.
For the times my heart will leap and the times it will sink.... Thank You.
For all things beautiful and all things ugly... Thank You.
For the times I will give and the times I will receive... Thank You.
Dad, what I am saying in effect is that I am ready for this year. Yes I Am.
I fear no Fear. For Thou art with me.
See, Goodness and Mercy follow me around...Yes? So what's to fear?
Goodness will ensure my triumphs and Mercy will keep me safe from all evil.
So, let's do it Dad, let's drive through this year. I so look forward to it.
Hmm, If You like Smile, if You like shake Your Head..... Thank You Lord!
I actually love saying it... Thank You.
This is your daughter and I am so checking in with Thanks.
A long time ago my fellowship in school declared a fast and in that same blessed weekend, my friend decided to celebrate, without consultation.
Lord, You remember my struggles with fasting then, whenever I engaged in it, people with culinary skills appear, and meals for kings crawl out of nowhere.
So that day, the innocent me, determined to do the will of my Father walked into my friend's house and the first things that assailed me were a variety of aromas from the kitchen.
My first thought was "RUN! GET OUT!"
But my legs had already stepped on glue, I stood there... stuck! Staring and wondering why on earth I got born-again!
All around me friends were having fun! Dancing, eating and drinking. They hailed when they saw me, and I smiled. My heart was doing its own lumba dance.
"Get out or you will fall! "..One voice urged me.. (The voice of the Law)
"You are not a coward", the other reminder me... "You can do all things".... (The voice of Grace)
"Do All things?... Hmmn, it's not your tummy that is riding a roller-coaster inside"
I hugged my friend, gave her my sincere wishes and sat down!
As if on cue, a tray of everything I love appeared before me. Right there in a plate all by itself, was "fried meat" Meat! My favorite thing in the world! Chai, when temptation means you, it comes prepared for you. How many times my hand voluntarily stretched! How many times I mentally questioned the rational for the fast!
Poor Eve! Is that what you went through when you saw the Apple? I forgive you! I sat there like a nice girl but the battle I fought in my heart was mind-blowing. Finally, I stood up, I had to leave. My friends didn't believe it.. She did NOT eat meat?
Dad, Thank You so much for helping me that day. That I did not eat meat wasn't because I was strong, it was simply because You did NOT want me to.
Today, I know that even if I had eaten that meat, it wouldn't have meant Jack to You, because it's not what enters a man that defiles him, it's what comes out of him.
You helped me because my heart so wanted to obey You so Your Grace stood up for me. Thank You.
Today I know that coming short of Your Glory is simply Not believing The Who that You are and The Work of Grace.
Today, I understand why I came back from fellowship that day and found out that my friends packed the whole foods plus the "meat" and left them for me in the room.
Today this reminds me that righteousness is by Grace and Not Works.
Today, I again Thank You for The Cross, and for The Grace! I am so proud to be Born-again. To Believe.
This is Your daughter and I am checking in.