For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Laide is acting weird. She loves Jesus. That is what really attracted me to her. I never imagined I could ever find someone so passionate about the things of God.
She is looking at everywhere but me. It has not been easy to get close to her but God has been faithful.
‘Merry Christmas, Laide’
‘Thank You Lari. Always remember that Jesus is the reason for the season’
‘I just always hoped that we could talk and swap experiences about our walk with God. Your passion is infectious.’ I notice her shoulders sag a bit
‘Today is Jesus’ birthday?’
‘Yeah.’ She notices my puzzlement as I answer her question.
‘When I was younger, Uncle Boshalli – the assistant head teacher – always wore the red costume at every end-of-the-year party. He would stay at a corner in the Creche and we would go in to collect our Christmas gifts as we had behaved well throughout the year. That was what I thought until my mother showed me my school fees list. The end-of-the-year party is one of the things we paid for. My mother always told me not to be confused. She was my Father Christmas. After primary school, there were no more end-of-the-year-parties. That signalled the end of Christmas for me.’
I say nothing because I really have nothing to say. I have no words. I follow her words as she speaks.
I wonder a lot about this Jesus dude. Did he really save the world? I am afraid he would have to die again when he comes the second time – that’s what my land lady used to say. See the way the world turned out even though he saved it when he died on the cross the first time. Why would he send some people to hell? He is supposed to save everyone, isn’t he? That was why he was born, no? I didn’t get it then – when my Landlady used to sing all over the place, I still don’t get it now.
I have had three major encounters involving Jesus. Not with but involving.
The first time was during puberty. I struggled with puberty. Struggling, because it was more of transformation than development for me. I had already bloomed. Men came in all shapes, sizes, and statuses. I failed to learn to politely turn them down. It was impossible. Some men were like houseflies. Just when you think you have swatted at them successfully, they buzz right in your face. Initially I cried, other times I yelled. But with time, I got wiser and I talked about Jesus. It was a trick I learnt from our Landlady. You see, anytime our Landlady tried to talk about Jesus to my mum, mother became extremely uncomfortable. When the visits were getting too long, and each sentence had about two to three mentions of Jesus in it, my mum would pay the rent in advance for a year. When my Landlady wasn’t too broke, she didn’t talk about Jesus so much, so my mum paid rent in arrears. The moment things were not looking bright, Jesus became the way, the truth and the life. On more than two occasions, my mum thrust the rent in the Landlady’s hands and shot the door in her face before the poor woman could say Jesus.
Talking about Jesus made the men uncomfortable. I said it the way my Landlady said it. My eyes shone and my voice cracked. I would hold my chest and shake my head. And sometimes I would pause and talk about hell, and my voice will quiver and the tears will come. And when the men ran for their dear life, my body will shake with mirth and laughter will erupt from chest. It was fun. It was my weapon of last resort. I used it sparingly. I didn’t want to be like my Landlady, though. She was a Jesus freak.
The second time was when I was twenty-one. Things were not looking too good. I left the university with a third class. I would love to say that there were some extenuating circumstances and all that. The truth is I am the reason I left the university with a third class. Then coupled with my body or my looks, people just categorised me as one of those girls. You know, those girls our parents warn us about. So getting a job was very hard. I mean, you graduated with a third class and you look like a ‘runs’ girl, you are just very lucky. I ran into my Landlady after one very embarrassing interview. She did the Jesus talk and I just pretended to be glad to see her. She invited me to Church – My mother forbade me expressly from going to church when I was younger by the time I was old enough to decide, I didn’t care enough to include it in my schedule. When people ask me, ‘Why don’t you go to church?’ I reply with, ‘Why don’t you smoke?’
After that chance encounter, I went for another interview. Fortunately for me, there was only one interviewer and when I saw her, I felt something familiar. As I was waiting my turn, it hit me. She was like my Landlady. They dressed alike. They wore no jewellery. They wore long and full flared skirts, ugly shoes and shapeless blouses. I made a dash for the bathroom and discarded my jewelleries, cleaned my makeup. I bit off my fixed nails – Till today, I don’t know how I pulled that off. I had a Pashmina in my bag; I tied my hair, head and ears up. I dragged my Camisole up and sagged my skirt a bit. It was time for some Jesus talk.
It started simple and basic. I mentioned Jesus, quoting my Landlady of course, from time to time. When the interviewer asked me about my third class grade, I nearly collapsed. I mentally ran through my childhood/adolescent memories searching for at least one of my Landlady quotes about Jesus. After two minutes, the interviewer was getting impatient and I was yet to come up with something. So with my most earnest expression, I said to her, ‘You remember the story of the man who was blind from birth?’ She nodded. I continued, ‘Was it his fault or his parent’s fault?’ She shook her head. Then I quoted my Landlady, ‘it was so that the works of God should be made manifest in him’. I got the job – this job. My life changed of course. I had to work the talk. (pun intended)
The third time is today. I don’t feel brave at all. I am a fraud. Do I have the chance to know this Jesus? He was born for me, no?
P.S I hope you enjoyed it? Remember to join the conversation. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given … there is a birth and a gift – something new, something undeserved, what are you doing with yours?