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? Why? 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. Pray? 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 300 Level 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.
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“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? No! 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.
Jesus! 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. Geez! Work out? Weight lifting? 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. Nawa o!
“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. Thank God.
I moved to an ATM slot and stayed in front of it. Geez! I had grown really fat! See my chest, oh my goodness! I am really a gorilla with this hairy face of mine. Geez! 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 and then… 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.
The Candle In The Wind~Episode 8