I remember the first time I met her. She was an intern at the office. From the first day I saw her, I knew. I just knew. I can’t still explain it. Five weeks later, her programme came to an end, but she had come to my department to ask some questions. And my mind didn’t just let her go.
She read me, like a book, and heard me even when I wasn’t saying anything. I remember the first time I had dropped the hint, she had given me her trademark tired smile and said, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about.’ And she would later tell me, ‘you are an honourable man, you know? How you waited after my internship to talk to me about this. But I am not sure I am interested.’ But she didn’t know, then, how tenacious I could be.
I remember the first time she told me that she missed me. I had an erratic heartbeat each time I recalled her words. I was finally making progress. For a very long time, I did all the calling, all the texting, all the talking. She would merely say, ‘I was just thinking about you sef. Thank you for calling. I appreciate this.’ Or she would reply my text like decades after and say, ’I really apologise for late reply. I got caught up with the application and interview process.’ Or she would just listen while I say everything on my mind and say, ‘I really don’t how to reply that. You worry too much.’ The really really annoying times, she would just say ‘okay’. You may be thinking she was probably not interested. She was, she just needed to be convinced. It was in how she would counter all my negative thoughts with her positive ones. How she was quick to say, ‘No o. I reject that for you in Jesus’ name.’ How she would tell me to talk to God about my problems. How she just always had the right thing to say. How she saw the good in me, and encouraged me to be better. How she really would get upset if I wasn’t taking care of myself. How she would hang her head to the side when I wasn’t feeling too good. How she would silently pester me to cheer me up when I was gloomy.
“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins[a]? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.’
Seated in church, again. I am wondering what I am doing in this place. I always thought that if I was going to be an ardent church goer, I would be doing it in a white garment church. They have very very pretty girls and I like the idea of traipsing around Lagos on barefeet with my painted toe nails sticking out from beaneath my overflowing white garment and the tail of hair peeping from the beret or cap or what-do-they-call-it. We frequented it a while during one of my father’s visa-thirst. Service is about to start. I came early. This is my third Sunday in this month alone. Quite unprecedented. I am kinda broke and coming to church means having lunch at Abigail’s house, and I keep thinking I would run into Philip and apologies. I can’t bring myself to call or text. Or that’s what I keep telling myself. I busy myself with replying my chats. The manager of the cake shop wants to know if I am still available. Not happening. I begin to type a response until a voice over the microphone says, ‘let’s be in the mood of worship.’ I roll my eyes, but I get up anyway.
Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart feel lonely
And just like that, I am listening to my heart beat. It is something I have never experienced before. My heart is speaking to me. Each beat gives away my despondency – how I have lived this long and have nothing to show for it; my regrets – how I would have loved to live in my twenties, and enjoy being a beautiful young girl instead of an unprepared mother to two teenagers and a child; my bitterness – how I have put myself last not out of love, but out of duty and how I would rather have sown my wild oats; my anger – at my Dad for being irresponsible and myopic and so unambitious; my inferiority complex – among my friends, my peers, how I am the least successful, I have no steady job, no educational experience, no talent, no skills; my disgust – with myself, for pretending that I have control over whom I give my body to, when I have had no control over no part of my life; my despair – over my seemingly bleak future, what next for me? Maybe I will wait tables when I travel, afterall, I merely managed a degree here, my loneliness – it is so bone crushing, sometimes I feel like an empty cave, my own thoughts vibrating randomly; my doubts – towards God, my mother paid her tithes and offering and even sowed seeds. I remember when one pastor had quoted the psalms where David had said he would not give God anything that didn’t cost him. My mother took the loan she had taken from the cooperative to get some new items for her trade, and dropped it in the offering baskets. We ate garden egg sauce for the next six weeks. Where was He that time? Where was Jesus when my sister was selling her body to get my mother treated?
So why shouldn’t I feel discouraged? Why shouldn’t I feel like I am buried on the shadows? Why shouldn’t my heart remain unyielding even if Jesus says he loves me, even from when I was a foetus.
When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is here
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches over me
The song invades my heart. Is this it? If I say yes to Jesus, will my heart be all right? Will everything suddenly make sense? Or has he been there all this while, and I am just accepting his friendship? My legs suddenly feel weak, and I fall to my knees and use my hands to support myself. Maybe it is okay for someone else to watch over me and look after me this time around. For the past ten years, I have been watching over someone or something. Maybe it is time for me to accept that someone else is watching over me. I want it too. I want it very much. I throw my hands in the air, and let the tears fall freely. Not maybe. This has to be it. This is it.
‘Lord Jesus, I believe that you are watching over me. I believe that you died for me. I don’t understand it yet, but I don’t need to, right? I just have to believe and confess, shebi? ‘
I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I am free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me
My shoulders shake as I sob my heart out. I have struggled so long, carrying everything, trying to fix things, trying to avoid my parents mistakes, trying to punish myself, being afraid of happiness, because it is fleeting. So I am giving it up to my Lord and Saviour Jesus. ‘Fix me, Lord. Help me to accept your love, I don’t understand it at all, but I believe. So here I am.’
I find myself being pulled up from the ground. It is Enkay. I have made a scene during service. Mario, everly dramatic. I bite my lip to hide my smile as I follow Enkay to the back of the church.
Why does my head hurt so much? Why do my eyelids feel like they are made of iron? And what is this horrible taste in my mouth? I force my eyes open but can’t keep them open. I blink intermittently as I try to deal with the brightness of the room. Why is everywhere so bright? I turn on my side and end up facing the windows directly. I squint as the rays of sunlight dazzle me. I push myself up and move towards the window to drag the curtain down with a huff. My movement is a bit unsteady and I feel nauseous. I run to the bathroom and empty the contents of my stomach. My bathroom smells really funny. I wrinkle my nose as I splash some water on my face before making my way back to the bathroom. At the foot of my bed, my toes get entangled in something. I bend down to retrieve it – my Bible. I smoothen its rumpled pages, and lay it reverently between my pillows, but not before I catch a whiff of Bailey. I lean forward to flop into my bed. My left big toe comes in contact with something sticky. I feel my bedsheets with my palms. My bed is dry. I heave a sigh of relief as I get on all fours. My right knee feels sticky too. Underneath my bed are two empty bottles of Bailey. I walk to the other side of the bed and find one more bottle. Okay? Did I have company?
I am still trying to figure out why the floor underneath my bed is covered in Bailey and why I have three empty bottles of Bailey in my room when the door of my bedroom flies open. Enkay walks in. I am subjected to a head-to-toes scrutiny.
‘How are you feeling?’
I shrug in confusion. ‘I am not sick.’
She gives me a tired smile, before calling out. ‘Guys! She is awake.’
I gather the Bailey bottles beside my bed and sit on the edge. Abigail and Fifunmi stroll in. Nobody says anything for like five minutes. I clear my throat. ‘I am in suspense here, guys.’
Enkay asks me again. ‘How are you feeling?’ I tell her that I feel fine except that I feel unsteady at times. ‘What were you thinking?’ I shake my head in confusion. Abigail sighs loudly and joins me on the bed.
‘Two days ago, late at night, Philip called. He said he felt in his spirit that you were in danger. I said you were likely at home watching Africa Magic and drinking Bailey. He wanted to come and see you. I told him it was probably a bad idea, that I would come the next morning and let him know what’s up. The next morning, I had to rush for a meeting. So I called Enkay. Enkay couldn’t get away until late afternoon. By the time she got here, you were on you second bottle of Bailey and you answered the door stark naked.’ Continue reading “MARIO 13 – DRUNK”→
#MyBarFinalsTestimony Extra is also brought to you by the MCQ APP in conjunction with Ekaete Hunter.
Name: Chizotam Nkechinyere Akwiwu
Campus: Lagos Campus (Second Class Upper Division), Chief Ernest Shonekan’s Prize for the Third Overall Best Student in Property Law Practice.
University: University of Lagos (Second Class Upper )
About: Chizotam is a contributing writer for Lawyard.ng (where I had previously written briefly about my law school experience and tips) and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
Reading through the other posts in this series I have noticed a recurring factor- The God Factor. It might seem cliché but it is not, at least not for me. Looking back now I can confidently say that God saw me through Law School. Yes I worked very hard also BUT so did almost everyone else and some people probably worked even harder than I did and may not have had the result they wanted.
I was particularly shocked when I found out about the award in Property Law Practice. It was ironic because on the day of the exam I forgot my folder of my practiced drafts at home. I had already reached the school gate at about 1pm and it was too late to go back to get them. Luckily for me I had gone over all the drafts the night before but still I was pretty destabilised.
Back to the God factor, at the beginning of law school and throughout and most especially after exams my key prayer was for “Favour”. I probably prayed for that more after the exams because I had made quite a number of mistakes in my Corporate Law Practise. I especially remember how I (in a hurry) did not properly read a sub-question and ended up answering completely off point! This was one of the compulsory questions and so I was very worried about this. Continue reading “#DEARASPIRANTTOTHEBAR, ‘I WORKED PARTICULARLY HARD AT STANDING OUT.’”→
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