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Just praise me in advance…
Those were the words that woke me in the very hours of the day and I just had to forgo my sleep and started to thank Him.
I had woken up with a start and there was a kind of peppery sensation in my chest.
I was so shocked and surprised that I felt that way because I had not taken beans or its products during the day neither did I eat heavily at night. Even if I did, I wasn’t suffering from heartburn or asthma so what was the problem with me?
Throwing my beautiful, furry cover cloth aside, I stood up from the bed and scurried to the water dispenser. I pressed the ‘hot’ button because only hot substance could clear the rubbish that had gathered in my heart- I thought
What is this oh God?
Are you trying to say something to me?
As the cup got filled up with the hot water, I looked over at the wall clock.
Just 2.30a.m and I was awake…it was weird!
As I gulped the water down my throat and it burnt me right where it mattered, I looked up at the ceiling.
Let me even give a thought to my life right now.
Does my life even have direction at all?
Does it even seem as if I am making headway at all?
Something whispered to me so convincingly but quietly-
‘Count your blessings and it will surprise you what the Lord had done for you!’
As I gulped the water down, it felt that I was gulping freshly ground pepper down my throat. The sensation did not subside. In fact, it became worse!
Something was tightening round my neck- for real!
Jesus! My Lord Jesus!
Is this death? Is this what it means to die?
I am but a child. Why do I feel this way oh God?
I dropped the cup on the water dispenser and dragged myself back to the bed. My eyes dilated really badly.
The hold on my neck tightened and my eyes became teary. As I gasped for breath, almost surrendering to whatever force it was, I fell to my knees, holding my neck in anguish and desperation.
“God have mercy” I cried out on my knees, my voice already going croaky.
You are in the right position to pray!
The voice was distinct and I wasn’t sure if that was God or my conscience.
To pray and this is what I’ve got?
That’s the mistake you make daughter. When you pray, you are not doing God any good but yourself!
Who holds your life in His hands?
“It’s God. Only God does” I said weakly
Who can kill both the body and the soul?
“It’s God alone” I moaned
All the leadership positions you have held since your primary school days were made possible because of whom?
“It’s because of God o. Who am i? Who am i?”
I started crying.
The realization suddenly dawned on me that God had woken me up in the night to pray and because of the pains; I had reflected over my life and concluded that I had really achieved nothing in life which God found wrong.
If I had woken you up without you having any discomfort, would you have prayed?
Would you find yourself crying and praying fervently as you do now?
“No sir. Oh my Lord! I am sorry. I never realized that I had created no time out to hear you. I am sorry Lord” I cried still.
God was speaking to me!
It felt so real!
It had never ever happened to me before and I was thrilled.
I listened and listened again but I heard no voice again. The discomfort had gone and I was wide awake.
I started to cry.
I really hadn’t taken God seriously in my life before this time- just the ceremonial devotion thing and ceremonial activities of going to the church and all that.
I had always had almost everything on a platter of gold- everything I had achieved had been in an easy way.
I graduated with the best WAEC and NECO results in the whole federation and I had been on different forms of scholarships till I graduated from the University of Kent, Canterbury.
Afterwards, I graduated as the second best student in the University of Kent and I proceeded to Harvard University on recommendation and by merit.
I decided to have another Master’s degree because I felt time was still on my mind and I wanted more certificates and all- I had that at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana- on scholarship again!
My parents had really never spent money on education for me. I had always been their pride- though I never exhibited pride or anything of such.
I just felt I was just being favored but I had never ascribed all the glory to God!
It escaped my mind that every little success that a child of God gets are as a result of the backing of the Almighty God and that we were supposed to send the glory back to Him for all He’d done.
I started all over again, thanking him for my past successes, my parents, my siblings, my students, and oh mine oh mine, I had enough things to thank God for!
It was really shocking that I had that much to thank Him for when I thought I had never experienced His touch in a long time.
…and oh the peace that followed!
The joy from the over two hours’ thanksgiving prayer session I had lingered for hours as everyone could notice it. I wore a very beautiful smile throughout the day- it was like a permanent plastic surgery!
“I would go to the school’s studio to have a photo-shoot after the school activities because the smile sure fitted me” I had thought to myself.
I had just ended a lecture with the 300Level Students and as I left the class, I hung my school bag around my neck and bounced out of the social science block.
“Aunty Tomboy looks really glad today o”
That was what my very sharp ears heard as I walked down the park to get my car.
“Abi, she’s falling in love ni?” another voice asked and I heard a chorus, scornful laughter.
“Love ke. Abeg jhur…the only thing I like about the woman is that she sabi teach. Ah, if it’s that one, I give it to her. But romance, love, marriage, mba!” another person said
My heart started to race as I struggled within my heart about what to do.
Should I look back at the students and shout at them to stop it?
That wouldn’t be good because if I should sight them, I would so hate them uncontrollably!
Should I hear more from them?
That won’t be nice!
It’s better to just intensify my footsteps and disappear from them.
But I didn’t obey that instinct. I wanted to have more of their stories.
“Who does she remind you of?” one asked again
“Hmmm, let’s say Serena Williams” another answered
“Yes! That’s very correct! I had never even thought about it that much” the third person said
“She definitely works out. All these hard jobs, you know? Weight lifting and all…” one was saying again and I balled my fist in anger.
See how these children are finishing me- right in my presence!
I could hear them very clearly.
Did they think I was a dummy or a deaf person?
They were not even making attempts to reduce their voices.
What did they know about me?
Was that how bad I now look?
These students could so kill somebody o. they could show me love like anything in the class and outside the classroom, my stature was being crucified.
“So, except she becomes a baby mama or she marries James Bond o, forget marriage jhur. Who wants to marry big hefty mama and call her wife” they said again and I was mad.
I just walked really fast towards my car, opened and entered.
My head was in a kind of disorder.
There were stuffs like cobwebs hanging as curtains in the room of my head and I couldn’t think straight.
I placed my head on the steering and it took loud, repeated knocks from some passers-by at my car door to raise my head up again.
What was the problem?
My head that was on the steering had caused the horn to be blaring loudly and the parking lot was in disarray as all eyes were on me.
I just bowed and waved in apology!
The joy that I had started the day with had melt away like a candle beside the fire!
I needed to just leave this place- but where to?
I was confused and afraid and discouraged and all but I didn’t know the right thing to do.
I zipped my school bag and brought out my hand mirror, opened and checked myself out.
I wasn’t that bad- in fact, I was so so beautiful!
Or maybe it was a full mirror I needed.
I turned the ignition key and drove off to the bank beside the Accounting Department.
Let me quickly have a look at myself in a large mirror because it seemed my bathroom mirror had lost its potency and accuracy.
The bank building was glassy so, I could just use the opportunity to use the ATM and have a good look at myself.
There was no queue.
I moved to an ATM slot and stayed in front of it.
I had grown really fat!
See my chest, oh my goodness!
I am really a gorilla with this hairy face of mine.
What do I do?
No wonder my straight skirt could not fit in properly this morning. I condemned about four skirts before I was able to select the one I eventually wore.
I withdrew some cash and returned to the car.
While in the car, I quickly switched on my Wi-Fi and switched on my phone’s data connection.
I was going to search for her!
What was that name again?
I racked my brain so much…
Oops, my brain…was I getting old that this brain no longer wanted to obey me?
Yes! Serena Williams.
Google search loading…
I clicked on the images and looked at her.
She was exactly my look-alike!
I started saving some of the images of the gowns she wore to special occasions.
Even if they were not too decent, I would make mine decent
Done and dusted, I smiled to myself as I adjusted the rare mirror.
I was not going to the studio anymore because my plastic surgery smile had even disappeared, so of what use would the photo-shoot be?
It was time to change the course…
I decided to go to the —
Boutique to pick up some beautiful gowns
The Gym Centre!
I zoomed away with such great alacrity and determination because contrary to those students’ prediction, I wanted marriage- a very beautiful, romantic, godly, heaven-bound marriage at that!
May God help me.
I rode the treadmill for like ten minutes non-stop before I slowed down a bit to catch my breath. I wiped my sweaty face with the towel hanging round my neck and looking up, I saw him standing, gazing at me with his mouth twisted to the side- Tony!
My heart skipped a beat!
What was he doing here?
I obviously would not like him seeing me all sweaty and manlier in the new sportswear that I just got as I got registered in the gym center.
What was he doing here?
Just then, still mouth agape, he started clapping
“Bravo!” he exclaimed as he clapped on, walking closer to me.
I smiled sheepishly.
“Good evening” I said, wishing the ground could open and swallow me up.
The students’ comments were obviously getting at me. I felt inferior and unworthy.
“Good evening ma” he said, smiling too
“What’s with the ma?” I was almost getting furious. He saw it and smiled.
“I was only joking but really, you are my boss o. See how you handled a treadmill so perfectly like a man!” he said, still smiling
Even you Tony!
What’s with this man man thing that
everybody is talking about today?
Obviously not Tony should be saying this right now.
He should just keep quiet and not allow someone feel bad continually like this.
It’s just not fair!
He smiled and came over.
“Would you love to train me on how to use the treadmill?” he asked, looking deep into my eyes so much that it hurt.
“And who says I am a gym director or something?” I spat out
I hope that was not too rude
“I just love this stature of yours and now I know the secret. You work out!” he said, smiling widely.
“I don’t work out. Since I left the NYSC Orientation Camp about 6 years ago, I had never done any rigorous exercise.” I retorted
Get that into your skulls before insulting me!
“Wow! That’s so beautiful o. We have very few girls that have this kind of stature and for real, its wonderful” he said and I looked into his face.
Was he joking right now?
Just trying to console me right?
I had never had inferiority complex and it wouldn’t start now but I just wanted good words from Tony and I shockingly seemed to be getting it.
“Really?” I asked to be sure and he smiled
“I am serious. You just need a little trimming down and you would be oh my goodness, gorgeous! The treadmill choice is just fine” he said further and I smiled
It was looking real.
He seemed to like me, right?
“Thanks” I managed to say and he smiled.
“It’s okay. I have a question please” he said and I looked up at him
“What?” I asked anxiously
“How old are you?” it was so sharp and concise.
Very blunt guy!
“Are you for real? Asking for my age out of the blue? Did you ask with the intent of receiving answers from me?” I asked and he pouted childishly
“Please one, please two, please three” he said, childishly and I couldn’t help but laugh out loudly.
What a very playful guy he was!
“Tell me yours and I will make my addition or subtraction” I said and his eyes widened
“Addition? Oh, because I look this small shae? I definitely would be older than you” he said and I looked into his face
I was beginning to like him more
He saw me as younger than him and not his mama…Nice one!
“I guess everyone can see that underneath your muscular genetic build-up lies your very young age” he added and I mesmerized
This guy is good jhur!
“Ok, guess my age” I said, sweetly and he looked at me, squinting and biting his lower lips.
“Hmmmm, you would be 25 in few months’ time?” he asked and my mouth came open widely
“What! You have been stalking me?” I almost screamed
“Stalk? Wasn’t it just an innocent gentlemanly guess I made as instructed by you? God does not lie, does he? ”
“Of course not!” I replied
“If I wanted to know your age, I could just ask God and He would tell me, right?” he asked again but I was speechless
Talk to God?
Could this mean something?
Why would He be so concerned about my age that He would ask God?
“I didn’t say I asked God o. Don’t get me wrong. I just guessed. Now, let’s treadmill a bit before I would leave. I am on call this evening.” He said
“Your age?” I asked and he smiled as he settled on the belt
“Just call me egbon” he said and I chuckled
“For real!” I said, trying to conceal my excitement
He’s older than me!
Sweet sweet, oh sweet!
Joyfully, I took a hold of the machine horns, pressed the button and on and on, I ran on spot.
I’ve got to shed off this fat so that I would look gorgeous for…any man…
…the only man that had seen the best in me and had voiced it out!
Oh my God, if it is Tony, just speaking to him about me.
I still don’t know how to hear you well.
Most times when I really sit, kneel or lie down to hear God speak to me, the only thing I feel rushing into my ears would be air!
But I really did want Him to talk to me…or Tony if my heart wasn’t in the right condition to receive the best from God.
“Would you be coming to the choir practice tomorrow?” he asked as he slowed down in his exercise
“I don’t think so” I said and he pouted
“Are you avoiding somebody?” I asked and I threw my head up in the air
This guy’s spiritual antenna is dope!
“Yes I am” I replied and he chuckled
“Me?” he asked and I almost fell off the treadmill as I held my breath
How could someone be so blunt, huh?
“Hmmmm, I am really not scary person o. I always enjoyed choir practice whenever you are around” he said and my heart started pumping more than required plasma
I always did avoid people that are very unapologetically blunt
This was someone that I had never spoken a word to in that choir room.
He was always busy listening to and counseling different ladies that had ran to him for counseling.
Ladies liked to cling to his side too much!
So what was he saying now?
“I am talking gibberish?” he asked and I nodded in affirmation.
“You remember the day we had the choir concert shae?” he asked and I nodded
I remembered pretty well. He performed a very beautiful duet with Abigail, Mummy Pastor’s housemaid and it was the bomb!
“What shirt did I even wear that day?” he asked, walking in the treadmill while I still jogged
“You wore a green shirt on a black trouser at the beginning but you thereafter changed to a white shirt and a blue trouser. At the end, it was one nice Ankara shirt you wore” I explained on and on, gasping for breath as I breathed heavily.
He stopped on the belt.
“Do you notice if I used cuff links that day?” he asked again, maintaining a serious face as if to remember something important.
I didn’t need to rack my brain before spitting the response out
“Yes. It was different cuff links sha. You used silver ones at first and then ruby colored ones afterwards with matching ties” I said again.
When I did not hear any sound, I stopped on the belt too and looked at him.
He looked really dazed, mouth suspended
“What?” I asked, quite shocked, breathing heavily from the long period of exercise
He looked on at me, still dazed
“Now, who is stalking who?” he asked, still looking dazed
Blood ran through my veins from head to toes and I was covered in embarrassment.
I scrambled for words and found none.
He tested me and caught me read-handed even to his own amazement.
Oh my God!
Should I get angry?
What was the best thing to do right now dear Savior?
I watched him as he walked gently away.
I stepped down from the treadmill and sat on a raised part of the gym center, my head bowed low.
I felt a touch on my shoulder
“Take” Tony said.
I looked up to find two bottles of water in his hands.
That was exactly what I needed.
Should I collect it?
No! my pride answer.
I looked into his face and his urging smile made me to constipate immediately
I collected it hurriedly and gulped down almost half.
There was a grave silence between us.
What was on his mind right now?
His phone rang and he received it
“Yes Abigail…what? Jesus!… do you know what you would do now, just use a pillow to raise her head. Will join you in a jiffy…oh my God!” he exclaimed, cleaned his face with the towel round his neck and looked at me
“I am sorry. I’ve got to go”
“Isn’t that Mummy Pastor?” I asked and he nodded
“Yes she is.” He said as he walked to the door hurriedly.
I followed after too.
What could be wrong with Mummy Pastor today dear Savior?
My phone rang
It was mummy pastor!
“This is Abigail ma.”
“Yes dear, is anything the matter?” I asked
“Its mummy o and daddy is not around” her shaky voice rang in my ears.
Was she crying?
I dropped the call.
“Was that Abigail?” Tony asked and I nodded
“Let’s use your car. Mine isn’t here now” he said and I nodded
I didn’t even know that he had a car.
As Tony drove with a great speed, I could only pray for God’s mercies and a safe journey.
“Should I call the pastor?” I asked Tony and he shot me a one in town look.
“No please.” He replied and I looked shocked
What does he know that I didn’t?
Nice one!…now, I remember.
He was the one I saw climbing the stairs to attend Mummy Pastor that last time. He must know what was wrong with her.
“Tony, what exactly is wrong with mummy?” I asked and he shook his head
“Whatever it is requires our urgent prayers for God’s intervention” he said and concentrated on the driving.
Oh what a curt answer!
There really must be a problem and that exactly was what I didn’t understand.
God, please intervene and keep mummy pastor for us.
“Visit her marriage and her family oh God because I really do not understand anything that is going on round me now” I lamented silently
But I knew that it was just a matter of time and all would be clear to me!