God does not play dice III
In case you missed them, here they are: Part I and Part II
It was not long the Adeoye family heard The Volkswagen Passat wheels crunching in the yard. Everybody except Mr Adeoye - who was in his bedroom was excited and nervous at the same time but still. If any of them had swallowed spit, it would have been heard. Even Banky that was acting like he didn't care, adjusted himself, checked his fingernails and bit off one or two dirty ones.
The door was opened after a knock and a figure entered wearing a deep pink Peplum top and skirt, a black shawl and light silvery jewelry adorning her neck and wrist.
The visitor had come at last, the children sat dumb, enduring several minutes of yells, giggles and a swing-from-side-to-side-hug that looked like it would never end. Bankole nudged Titi gently in the ribs. “Is this how you greet your friends?” He asked softly.
“Ah ahn naw. They haven’t seen each other for a long time.” She replied. As they both returned their heads to look at the women, they felt soft hands on their cheeks and a warm face with a ‘Close-up’ set of teeth smiling at them. The children took in the fresh fragrance oozing from the lady who was about the same age like their mother – only fresher and fleshier, she was a little bit shorter than their mum though. Unlike most elderly ones, she introduced herself to them first before asking them to introduce themselves.
They got to know she was Mrs Michaels. Mr Adeoye finally came out and exchanged greetings with and left the house, saying he had stuff to do. In a short while, Titi served Mrs Michaels the meal prepared for her and the children watched her eat heartily, adjusting her shawl as she tooks balls of swallow and efo soup. “Hajia, remove this thing jor. You and this your shawl.” Motunrayo giggled. Elizabeth had teased her a lot during service when she wore her shawl out every time but she had explained to Elizabeth time and time again that she always felt self conscious because she was busty. “Sorry, You can’t change this part of me.” She kept talking with food in her mouth on how Elizabeth had not lost her kitchen skills. Titi never thought she would ever see anybody regard her mum as anything important. Bankole was surprised she didn’t act her status. He was starting to like her already.
After the meal, the children excused themselves and the two ladies reminisced on memorable moments during their service year and did some catching up on who married, who gave birth, who travelled abroad and who died, they also talked about their marital lives. Elizabeth has not been this happy in years. She was so happy at seeing her friend that it had skipped her mind to ask how Motunrayo how she got her number. She suddenly remembered and asked.
“I thought you would never ask. My husband came for a conference here and I decided to follow him, having not seeing you since your wedding. I went to your church on Sunday to look for you and I got your number from a kind usher. He is presently at the conference and I used the opportunity to drive his car to come see you. I should go and pick him up in an hour’s time.”
“Oh, I see. That’s good.” Mrs Adeoye said.
“So you left your place of work to come with your husband?”
“I own my own business. Textiles.”
“Oh, I see.”
“So what do you do?”
Mrs Adeoye stuttered, “Eem, you know there is no work anywhere now, so I teach in one little primary school nearby for the time being. The school is on holidays though.
“Aww. You’ve always loved children. What do you mean ‘for the time being?’”
“Eer, but I would like to open my business soon sha.”
“Really?! Wow, what nature of business?”
“Eer…I don’t really know yet, maybe open a shop, go into wholesale, or even start a school, anything sha, depending on how and when God will bless us.” Mrs Adeoye said, not sure of everything that came up from her lips.
She just needed to sound like someone who was going somewhere.
Motunrayo didn’t like what she just heard. This is how many of those half-baked Christians talk; Christians who didn’t know what their salvation entails and were ignorant that they needed knowledge more than the 'blessings' they so crave. She didn’t believe she would ever hear Elizabeth use this ‘sympathy talk’. Small anger knotted in her tummy.
“Emm, and what do you mean by ‘when God will bless us.‘”
“Wo, my sister, it has not been easy o. Things have been hard, especially since my husband lost his job at Honda some six years ago. We have really been struggling since then. We have been sowing seed and hoping for a miracle but it has not yet come…”
“So for now, you are cursed.”
“Cursed? No o. Please don’t talk like that.” Well, my husband’s people were traditionalists but we have been breaking any covenant with them since we married. But who knows…”
“And they may still be pursuing you.” Motunrayo went on.
“You know spirits don't die...wait, why are you attacking me now? Is it because God blessed you? That’s what I so dislike about you people. You feel you are better than others, because you are up the social ladder. Money that will come and go.”
Mrs Adeoye defended in a increased voice pitch and hissed. The children sensed the switch in the tone of voices and came to peep behind the curtain.
Motunrayo stared at her friend and took the time to look at her. She was not the same Elizabeth who preached ‘joy during hard times’, while other corpers cursed and shouted of being tired of service in the remote area of Ondo, she never uttered hopeless words. Elizabeth did her duties like she was going to be given NYSC State award for it. Elizabeth would take her allawee and go to market in Akure and buy ingredients for cake to teach the female students of her secondary school. Where did that life-giving, spirited person go? She wondered.
"Ore, what happened to you? Where is the 'Joyous Lizzy' I once knew?" Elizabeth remained silent, still sulking. Motunrayo took a swig of water from a glass cup set before her. "You know there were times I felt you should have been the one bearing my name. You lived by it in one year more than I ever did in my entire life." She had seen the children's curious eyes behind the curtain and decided to end the visit before they start to think negatively of her. She stood up to go.
"I think I should take my leave now. My husband should soon be done with the conference.''
Elizabeth stood up too and silently opened the door. The fairer woman stopped at the entrance and asked "When last did you eat your chocolate cake?"
"My chocolate cake?" Elizabeth found herself replying without intending to. She gave a thought, she ate it last after Bankole was born. That's about seventeen years ago. Elizabeth used to bake and treat herself during service year, every month. Either because of calories or family pressure, she stopped making it. And since her husband never bothered about it. She didn't too. After all, getting meals for the month is more important than some cake. She felt she had outgrown it, though she missed the feeling it gave her. Happy, positive and rich.
Elizabeth walked her friend down to her car. She was no more frowning, she was thinking hard. Motunrayo turned to her friend "See, ore, you aren't the only child of God who goes through hard times but you cannot afford to lose your joy. If not, the devil will just make you see only your difficulties and your wants, and you'll chase them endlessly, thinking in them you'd find life's meaning meanwhile, you have been blinded to tangible things such as your family, your spiritual growth and your purpose in life. Ok, ask yourself when last you looked away from yourself and encouraged other people like you used to when we served. I fell into this same trap when my husband was led to leave his company work and go into full time ministry. I was distraught, I battled to maintain our social status. I gave selfishly to men of God for prayers for 'instant breakthroughs'. Yeah, I call it selfish because when a needy neighbor comes calling, I always never had but would sacrifice my last kobo to 'God'.
Many Christians are also guilty of this. Woh, God is not those pastors o. It is your neighbours. "Whatever you did for the least of this ones, you did it for me. Matt 25:40. Giving to men of God is not wrong o but not with distorted motive. And as for not been blessed, waiting to be blessed, this is wrong. We are the seed of Abraham, joint heirs of Christ, we can't be in him and carry curses, all ordinaces against us has been dealt with on the cross. Colossians 2:14.
Do you know how I got delivered? I remembered you. I stopped fighting and I started smiling and gathering knowledge in the Word and in the laws of money. I began seeing clearly and making plans and commiting them into God's hands and helping brothers and sisters too. As a result, no income was spent accidentally. That's another trap I discovered many Christians fall into. They so cry to God for blessings without plans for the future and financial security that when they finally have some 'financial breakthrough', in a couple of months, they are back right where they were, looking to God for another windfall. No. A life best lived is a life by design. Your God makes plans, you too should make concrete plans in any area of your life and submit to him for assessment. He would edit and smoothen rough paths. You already know him, but it is clear you need to upgrade. The knowledge you had then is quite stale. II Pet 1:3-10. "
The children had now come outside. Actually, they had been standing outside for a while. They wanted to see the vehicle Mrs Michaels brought - and they were already ogling away already. Mrs Michaels went to hug each of them and gave them five hundred naira each. Bankole and Titi purposed in their hearts not to release this one to anybody and kept on avoiding mummy's eyes so as not to fall for 'the look'.
Motunrayo approached her friend again. "Lizzy, I am going o." She made to hug her friend but she was frigid, "So ti binu si mi ni? Oda, ma binu." (Are you angry with me? please don't be angry) "Oya please smile, you remember what you first said to me when we met, I should say it back to you. "Lizzy, maybe if you smile, your home would be brighter". Mrs Adeoye was still. "And you know something else, we can always change, "Titi." she called, when the young lady came, Mrs Michaels took off her shawl and wrapped it round Titi's head and shoulders. After Titi thanked her, Mrs Michaels asked if her look without the shawl was okay. Titi commented it was better than when she wore it. The older woman smiled and dismissed the young lady.
Mrs Michaels turned to Mrs Adeoye for the last time and squeezed some naira notes into her palm and drove off. Elizabeth was still quite unnerved by the harsh truth she just heard, embarrassed because it was done in her own home with her children listening and was surprised at her friend's maturity, never assuming she could ever be lectured by that 'Baby Christian' of that year. This was not the visit she anticipated. She thought as she turned back home.