Posted in TALL TALES

MARIO 15 – TRUST

Read the full episodes here

“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.”

 

Self discovery Mario
source: nacministers.info

I feel like a contortionist. I have been squeezing my body at different angles just to be comfortable in this miserable airport chair. A snort snaps me out of my fitful dozing. I resist the urge to glare at the child laughing at me. I guess I looked funny with my head hanging at an awkward angle while nodding in my fitful sleep. I ask the woman sitting opposite me to help me watch my hand luggage as I was going to visit the rest room. The cleaner looks at me with disdain. I roll my eyes at her. I know why. I look like a “runs girl*”. First, my braids are blonde at the tip, and they are just below my buttocks – that long. I have multiple piercing on my ears and I am wearing my ankle chain and my toe rings. Toe rings are not obvious as I am wearing shoes. My skin is bleached – well, I don’t think I am ready to stop soon. And I have a tattoo on my ring  finger (as per Emilia Clarke for “Me before You”) – tattoos on bleached skin are very obvious. I fixed my eyelashes and my nails. What else? Oh, my fingers are covered in knuckle rings, and my wrists are buried under my bracelets.

I have roughly one hour before my flight. I look at the mirror and take a deep breath. I notice the cleaner still eyeing me. I tell her, ‘Jesus loves you’ and see disbelief slip into her eyes. I throw my head back in laughter as I exit the rest room. When I get back, the child who was laughing at me was in my seat. She catches a glimpse of my tattoo, but not before her mother drags her away from me. I settle in my seat and continue with my “Atonement Child” by Francine Rivers. I never mentioned that I was addicted to romance novels. I used to do erotica heavily. I have read fifty shades for the umpteenth time. But they were an impediment to maintaining my self-imposed chastity so I had to let them go. Then, the problem with romance novels is that they affect the way you see real life romance. And I had a problem because I began to compare my real life male friends to the standard  in those books, and they fell short each time, but I couldn’t stop. So I am replacing my secular romance with Christian fiction and romance books. I am so hooked on Francine Rivers and “Atonemment Child” is deep. But it is not keeping me awake in this airport. I throw the book into my bag in frustration, relax on my seat and try to fall sleep. That child snickers and I pretend to glare at her. Her mother shoots me daggers.

The announcement from the speaker interrupts my sleep. I change my position, without opening my eyes, and continue sleeping. The announcer repeats the announcement. For God’s sake, can I sleep? I reach out for my bag to take out my ear muffs. I feel nothing. That’s when I open my eyes, and see Philip looking intently at me. I tell myself loudly, ‘this is not real, Mario. This is just an image of Philip. This is  not really Philip’. The image of Philip laughs and when he takes my callused and ugly hands into his soft palms, I know that it is real. Unaided, the tears begin to fall out of my eyes. Continue reading “MARIO 15 – TRUST”

Advertisements
Posted in TALL TALES

MARIO 14 – EPIPHANY

Read previous episodes here

Self discovery Mario
source: nacministers.info

“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins[a]? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 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.’

Luke 12:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

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.

 

     His eye is on the sparrow

And I know He watches me

 

 

Posted in TALL TALES

MARIO 13 – DRUNK

Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise

Proverbs 20:1 New Living Translation

Self discovery Mario
source: nacministers.info

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”

Posted in TALL TALES

MARIO 12 – PAST TENSE

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.

Self discovery Mario
source: nacministers.info

Church today. Abigail is preaching. Or not. I am learning that she is a teacher, like Sunday school, but it goes by a different nomenclature here. I don’t know what I am doing here. Immediately, she asks somebody in our group to pray so she can bring the class to  a close, I find my way to the door. But it seems like Enkay has guard duties and so she stops me before I can slip out of church quietly.

‘Really?’

I shrug my shoulders. ‘I waited to the end’

‘We are serious. Let us help you. Mario. Please.’

I shake my head. ‘See you around.’

Watching Tv. But that is not really possible now? Can I watch and write? Absolutely not. I put of the TV and dragged my laptop to my bed. I watched ‘Me before You’ twice. The fantastic movie about a handsome guy who ends up in a wheel chair becomes an arse, but is rich enough to hire a caregiver who needs his money and so can put up with his attitude. They fall in love but guess what? She is still not enough for him. He decides that he is better off dead. I love her wardrobe. Let’s keep this between the both of us but that’s me, and her cheerfulness is infectious. I could use the sunny disposition. After watching it, I wander about in my room. I am really restless. I put Taylor Swift’s Love Story on replay until I remembered that, that is an 18 year old singing about love. I don’t want to talk about Church today. I feel like I have a permanent seat in hell, and my friends are trying to get me out of it. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink and I don’t follow men.

 I have been craving garden egg sauce with boiled yam. I can’t recall how it came to be one of my favourite foods. I sigh as I throw in the pieces of fish into the pot cooking on the cooker. I get a plate from the rack and put pieces of cooked yam on it. This time it takes me down memory lane.

It was the week following one of my Dad’s usual misadventure. By the way, my Dad’s life is like the life of the protagonist in one of those Lantern books. I think the title is, ‘one week, one trouble’. My Dad’s never ending desire to travel abroad cost us a lot. We never recovered from it, and in a way it has moulded our lives today. Of the four of us, only one of us might be resident in Nigeria after all – Ireti. I don’t know if am coming back. My brother isn’t until he is able to get the citizenship deal, and my baby sister isn’t coming any time soon. I won’t even support it. I remember the wonder in my brother’s voice, the first few months. He was always in awe. But we are talking about my dad, aren’t we…  Continue reading “MARIO 12 – PAST TENSE”

Posted in TALL TALES

MARIO 11 – HEART CRY

Self discovery Mario
source: nacministers.info

… my friends think I am joking about leaving the country. I am not. Think about it. There is nothing for me here. There isn’t exactly anything for me there too, but it won’t be said that I didn’t try with all that I had to find some happiness. It wouldn’t be said at all.

 

Work is great. I made myself this really horrible red velvet. Even a glass of Bailey on the rocks couldn’t save it. I will keep at it. Practice makes perfect. I find that I may soon be back to my life of drinking Baileys and watching African magic. My days at this cake shop are numbered.

 

Abigail and Enkay and Fifunmi are here to monitor me. They are not taking this news well. I guess it is okay to have friends who worry about you but I would prefer to be alone.

 

‘So, how could you not have told us? Nobody had an idea you were even applying for a visa.’

I sigh in exasperation. We have been through this. ‘I didn’t think it would work out. Plus, two of my siblings are there.’

Enkay shakes her head. ‘That’s not it. You can go visit. Which one is you are leaving the country? What will you do there? You couldn’t even hold a job here.’

I laugh dryly. ‘Maybe my destiny will be fulfilled if I leave Nigeria.’

Abigail moves to the corner and seats on the floor. She is gazing into space. ‘I have failed you, Mario. I have.’ She looks around the room. ‘We all have failed you. Youa re an amazing person, and God put you in our lives for a purpose. Do you know what you have done for each of us? Enkay? Fifunmi? Me especially. I prayed to God for a friend and I met you. But what have I done for you in return? Nothing. How did I help you with your quandary? I have failed you.’

Fifunmi nods in agreement. ‘The truth is when all is said and done, we really don’t know what is at the end of the road we have taken till we get there. But what if you had access to the person who made the roads? Listen Mario, if you don’t even take away anything from what we are trying to tell you. Take this. There is a God who loves you so much that He took the human form to die for you. He knew you from when you were formed about you. And He has a plan for your life. A plan that defies human understanding. But if you don’t draw close to Him, if you don’t believe in Him, if you don’t believe that He is and saves, then you bear the burden alone.’

I resist the urge to scoff. ‘Why are we having this conversation?’ I shake my head in disbelief. ‘Why? God is Alpha and Omega. That’s fine. But what has He got to do with me? Am I contesting His Supremacy?’ Continue reading “MARIO 11 – HEART CRY”