QUE SERA

Ebun and I walked into the female ward in block E. It was one of the Saturdays when we were bored with poring over chemical structures and cramming botanical names. We strolled in with our labcoats, smiling as we greeted the nurses. They replied without giving us any attention, their heads bowed into patient files open before them.

Ebun and I walked round from patient to patient as they lay on their beds. Some smiled at us, some were to weak to, and some were oblivious of our presence. We spoke with them, prayed for them and left them with few fruits. There was this man who began to pray for us after we had prayed for his wife. He was grateful we had visited.

On our way out, at the far end of the room, close to the window with open louvres void of netting, she sat there, watching us, smiling, a slight one. On the bed beside her was a very pale woman, with almost no clothing on. She looked seventy. Her thighs were not larger than my thin wrists. On her head were patches of scraggly hair. Her skin sagged. She lay limp and lifeless.

“She’s my daughter. She’s only nineteen,” the woman on the chair began as we drew close, not bothering to wipe off the tears that now rolled down the sides of her face. “Her name is Onyinye. We’ve been in and out of hospitals since last year. She is also a medical student, schooling in University of Port Harcourt.” She broke off to sob some, I and Ebun only listened, speechless. She stood up to turn her daughter the other way, exposing her deep sore-ridden buttocks, her half-full urine bag dangling over the edge of the bed. I started to have a dizzy spell, nausea welling up in me, beads of sweat breaking out on my forehead. I needed to sit down, to lie down actually.

She continued, “Please pray for her. God will not answer me, but I believe he will answer you.” I fought tears, I think Ebun did too.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Ebun began in her sincere way, stammering a little, “but I know God will restore her health.”

Even as I quoted, “By His stripes, we are healed,” I tried not to envisage the degree of healing Onyinye would need. I tried not to let logic get in the way of miracle. I believed, for her mother’s sake too.

“Let’s pray,” Ebun said, stretching out her hands to take both mine and Onyinye’s mother’s. Before Ebun got to the end of every prayer sentence, a passionate believing Amen rendered the air. God had to heal Onyinye.

I forced a smile and held onto her hand a little while longer after the prayer. I nodded as Ebun spoke reassuringly, “She will be in our prayers. God will heal her.” Gratitude seeping through her tear-stained face, she exchanged numbers with me and promised to keep in touch. She would tell us when Onyinye was leaving the hospital.

It was late one morning a few weeks after, when I was preparing to go to the lab that my phone beeped. It was a brief message: Onyinye passed on early this morning. Thanks for your concern and prayers. I didn’t know if to heave a sigh of relief.

Chinazar Okoro©2013

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THIS TOO SHALL PASS (1)

It was the dining set Chikanyimma loved the most, the one whose plates were embroidered on its four edges with violet and red flowers, the one her favourite aunt, Nnenna, had presented to her and Kachi as their wedding gift. They had received several dining sets on their wedding day, but this one from aunt Nnenna, Chikanyimma held with high regard.

“See, it’s a set of four,” she announced to Kachi as they unwrapped their gifts in their modest apartment weeks after the wedding, “Just perfect for us and the two cuties we would have. I will keep this set until our family is complete.”

“Very well then,” Kachi said smiling at her excitement. Chikanyimma had not ceased to amuse him. He could not get enough of her innocent looks and sincere laughter, the way her eyes twinkled and her lips tilted upwards ready for a smile. He mostly laid back and watched her enthusiastically open the gift items, shrieking as she revealed who had given what.

**********

One rainy Saturday evening when lightning struck and thunder bolted repeatedly, that was the set Chikanyimma lifted high into the air and smashed against the wall, sending the splinters flying dangerously across the kitchen. Hot angry tears streamed down her face and watery mucus raced from her nose, settling around her lips. She screamed and her voice was drowned in another bolt of thunder. Kachi was away at Abuja, undergoing an intensive seven-day training by his company, and it was only the second day since he left.

Chikanyimma didn’t know for how long the twins had stood by the entrance watching her, but as she crumbled helplessly to the floor by the kitchen cabinet, she saw them, their eyes wide with fear holding their breath, their feet bare, clutching each other in their matching night gowns. She bowed her head in defeat for what seemed like a fraction of a second, and when she raised it, she spoke in a tone unflinching, void of expression, “Go to your room… now.” The twins walked away without a word, but as soon as they shut the door to their room, Akunna said in a whisper, “I think mummy has run mad,” and Nwakego began to cry. Akunna held her twin’s hands tightly, and together they sobbed silently, not uttering any word further until they fell asleep curled up on the bed.

Chikanyimma locked the kitchen door and took the key to her room. Her six-year-old son, Ahamefuna, walked the posterior length of the room in tandem gait, counting, “three, four, five, six…” with every step he took. When he reached the end of the room, he made a turn and walked back with new counts. Chikanyimma slammed the door shut, and hovering close to him, she screamed, “STOP IT! JUST STOP THIS!” But Ahamefuna only made another turn, oblivious to her presence.

Dragging him by the arm, she led him to his room where all his colouring books lay horizontally arranged on the floor. All the while, Ahamefuna struggled, yelping, trying to free himself from her firm grip. She sat him on his bed, but he slipped to the rugged floor.

“Aham, you know it’s past your bedtime,” she spoke in a quivering voice.

“One, two, three, four…” he was counting again, this time his fingers and toes.

“Ahamefuna,” she shook him hard, looking him squarely in the face. Stunned, he looked into her eyes. Trying to hold his gaze, she clenched her teeth and said in a low voice, “it’s past bedtime.”

He looked away immediately, “four, five, six, seven…”

Chikanyimma stretched out on the floor, some distance away from Aham. She was silent, only the tears flowed.

**********

After Saturday’s lecture, Kachi sat in his hotel room sipping a cold beer and going through facebook when he saw Tamuno’s update.

He had met Tamuno only once during his last trip to Abuja, the night before he was bound for Lagos. She had accompanied her friend to visit Babatunde, his colleague, and they all hung out at the hotel’s bar. He remembered her as the shy undergraduate who was not as flirtatious as her friend. She mostly fiddled with her blackberry and laughed good-naturedly at the lamest jokes. She had never taken alcohol, so Babatunde had ordered five-alive for her instead. She frequently put her hand through her hair and avoided Kachi’s eyes. A week later, he received a facebook friend request from her which he accepted. Twice, she called him. First, to know if he had had a safe flight to Lagos, and later to know how he was faring. Kachi remembered she was beautiful.

Now that he saw her update, he clicked on her name, and scanned through her pictures. She smiled sweetly in most of them. He hadn’t noticed her dimples and firmly-set jaw the night they met. She was more beautiful than he realized, and he had a crushing urge to see her again.

He reached for his phone to dial her number. She answered at the fourth ring.

“Hello.”

She didn’t sound as upbeat as Kachi expected. “Hi Tamuno. This is Kachi. Do you remember me? We met some…”

“Sure, Kachi. I know. Did you think I was gonna delete your number?”

“Ohhh,” Kachi laughed awkwardly. Tamuno sounded brazen now, making him feel a little stupid. “Of course not, you would not delete me. You may have errr… lost your phone or flashed it and lost all your contacts.” Tamuno laughed and Kachi relaxed.

“Been a while… A long long while really,” Kachi said.

“Yeah, since you fashied my side nao

“Haba! I didn’t. It’s work, you know…”

“Oh, please. Tell me another lie.”

Kachi laughed again, more heartily. He sensed Tamuno smiling at the other end. “Okay, how about if I told you I wanted to see you again. Would you think I was lying?”

“Most definitely.”

Kachi laughed exaggeratedly. “Am I permitted to prove you wrong?”

“Good luck then.”

“Give me an address.”

“I’m in school, University of Abuja. It’s at Gwagwalada. And if you get lost, mine is not the number to call.” She hung up.

By this time, Kachi knew she was excited.

Chinazar Okoro©2013

P.S: I hate to sound typical, but… to be continued 😀

The Man That GBENGA AWOMODU Is

I know Gbenga Awomodu.

He is one amongst the few Nigerian youths who believe in Nigeria.

With a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos, and an impressive resume, Gbenga was posted to Benue State in June 2011, for the mandatory National Youth Service (NYSC).

Although his service year is over, Gbenga embarked on a project in Nongov, an interior community in Buruku local government area of Benue, that is deprived of the most basic of amenities. In Nongov, there is no form whatsoever of electricity; the people are in dire need of health care; women deliver their children on banana leaves, and their predicament is at best, pathetic.

Aside advocating for a Primary Health Centre, Gbenga has since spearheaded work on the site, carrying out research and consultations, mobilizing the community and seeking external support in order to build and equip a 10-room primary health centre.

Construction has begun, and although progress is slow, it is certain. Gbenga has dedicated a blog, thenongovproject to state explicitly and extensively, every work and fund that is going into this project, and to keep us abreast with its progress.

If for a moment you wondered how you could support, this is how:

A donation to:
Account Name: AWOMODU Olugbenga Akinsanya
Bank: Ecobank
Account Number: 0061802372

N.B: This is a project-specific account. Every donation will be acknowledged and duly accounted for.

For further enquiries concerning the project, kindly call 0803 335 4965 or 0802 582 0901, or send an e-mail to gbengaawomodu@gmail.com

I think for the sake of this sort of people, the whole concept of NYSC may be justified.

Gbenga blogs at Gbenga’s notebook and in his own words, we can change our world, one community at a time.

a classroom in the only school, Kings' Technology Academy

a classroom in the only school, Kings’ Technology Academy

Gbenga with the land donor

Gbenga with the land donor

SLOW FADE

She leads him by his collar, and he has no time to make his decision.

Babatunde complained out loud as his phone rang for the fourth consecutive time. Everyone was driving him crazy. He hated government work! He hated female bosses!! And he hated incessant callers too!!!

“Guy, how far? … Sorry joor, I been dey busy… How your side nah?” he asked trying to sound upbeat. The voice on the other end rang with laughter, and soon Tunde’s face lightened up. “Omo, na to pop champagne be dat ooo. No dull boiz.”

Ikemefuna Nwoye ran his fingers across his embossed name on the promotion letter. “Manager (Projects),” it read; he was only 26 and in a multinational company. It fitted well there, he thought, it was where he belonged. “Meet me at the top,” he usually told those who cared to listen. He clenched his right fist, and grabbed it with his left. Picking up his car keys and quickly tidying his desk, he added a spring to his gait, and on his way out of the reception, generously tipped the security guard on duty who saluted him expectantly.

“I swear, that woman na winch. Just dey carry government work on top her head like say na her papa business. Make she no go marry,” Babatunde was complaining bitterly.

“Who wan marry devil put for house? I swear down, Babs, you needs comot for that unit. E be like say na prayer and fasting you go do on top her head,” Tiwi proffered in consolation.

Osas rubbed his forehead. “Should we exchange jobs then? Would you rather wash madam’s lab coat? Or her two-day-old flask of food? And then say gleefully, ‘you’re welcome, ma’ when she thanks you for paying some money into some account. Sometimes, I wonder if it is not Biochemistry I studied. I just dey waste for this country.”

They were seated in their corner at Mama Casa’s awaiting semo and pounded yam.

Festus was about narrating how he ‘treated one babe’s fuck-up’ when Ikem strolled in. “IK baba,” they hailed in unison, bobbing their fists in the air.

“Guys, look, he’s got the swag to go with it now.”
“No dey whine me nao.”
“Abeg, chop knuckle.”
“Congrats, bruv.”
“Congratulobia, nna.”
“Thanks, mehn”

“So, how are we celebrating?” Festus threw Ikem a quizzical glance, and the others cast him their expectant glances as well.

Ikem paused, and with a brilliant smile announced, “All your orders are on me. Drinks and all. We can even have ice-cream afterwards.”

“Are you for real, mehn? See insult o. I think say e wan talk better thing sef.” Festus shook his head.
Nna, you don’t mean it. Odikwa risky. No try that rough play again,” Tiwi said with a fake Igbo accent.
Babs looked truly incredulous, “Igbo man. Your money no dey drop. How much food I wan chop. Something wey no go pass N500. We dey primary school? Ice cream ke? Why you no talk cabin biscuit and caprisonne? Mscheeeeeeew.”

Ikem felt offended at first, and then embarrassed. He was smart, probably the smartest of them all. He could handle the situation. “Alright, alright, cool down. Una blood too dey hot. So what do you want?”

Osas cleared his throat as Babs announced, “Now you’re talking. Let’s hit the bar,” and the others lent their support. Ikem was silent.
“We can’t be drinking Tandy and zobo at this our old age. Abi your pastor will beat you ni?”
“Pastor dey house dey shack im own. We fit see am for bar sef. Abeg, make we go flex joor. Life is short. Bros no do us strong thing.”
“C’mon man, one or two bottles can’t kill you. No dey fall my hand. You are a man now ooo.”
“I don’t think I have enough money on me right now?”
“ATM no dey? Shuo? Besides, I can always lend you, you pay me back ASAP sha.”
Ikem smiled and threw Osas a playful punch on the shoulder. “So, where will it be?”
Babs led the way amidst cheer, “Follow me.”

As they pulled into the parking lot, Babs announced, “There’s an adjoining club, so we can just chill out there later.”
“Sure boy.”
“I hope we won’t be staying here till like forever?” Ikem protested after deliberation.
“Dude, relax. Relax, mehn. That’s why today’s a Friday. Your promotion get sense.”
They sat in the lounge sipping martini and requesting for more, whilst talking about girls and yabbing Ikemefuna.

They entered the club and were embraced by its warm ambience despite being fully air-conditioned. The neon lights and fast-paced music sent the fun-seekers gyrating in every direction. Abruptly, the music changed and there was a unanimous scream of delight from the dancers. A lanky girl clad in a sleeveless chiffon top that was same length as her bum-short screamed excitedly at Festus as she threw her arms around his neck; “Tina baybee,” he exclaimed, and they immediately danced away.

Soon, Babs and Ikem were left sipping from their glasses in one corner of the bar. Now and then, random people walked gaily up to Babs, the brazen girls pecked him on the cheek, and the guys either shook his hand or chopped his knuckle.

I am just an Oliver
Oliver Oliver Oliver Twist
Just an Oliver
Oliver Oliver Oliver Twist

The tempo changed again, loud screams rent the air, and she caught his interest. She danced without a care in the world, drowning her sorrow, forgetting her pain. She swayed her body in rhythm to the song, wriggling her hips seductively as her buttocks frolicked dangerously from side to side.

Ikem sat across the room, amused by her gymnastics, and all the while he sipped from his glass, his eyes never left her for a millisecond. The song changed again, and as she retired to her seat, a close-enough distance for Ikem to conveniently observe, she summoned the waiter for a drink.

With slender legs and feet that sat comfortably in purple stiletto heels, and fingers that gently rubbed the wine glass as though it were a man’s beard, Ikem noticed that her glistering neckpiece lay gingerly on her cleavage, as though it did not really mean to lie there at all. Then, he noticed how well-rounded her breasts were, and imagined how supple they would feel to his hands. His hormones arose at the clarion call, and his blood became turbo-charged. With his eyes still fixed on her, she flipped her Peruvian hair and met his gaze briefly. Babs kindly refilled Ikem’s glass and he downed it in a gulp. Boldly, Ikem stood to his feet, but sat down again almost immediately.

Chisom. Why?

“C’mon, Ikem, it’s not a big deal. You’ll be done in a jiffy,” he thought he heard Osas, who had returned with the others from the dancing floor speak, but when he looked sideways, a girl with a mix of blue and red weave-on had her gigantic lips all over him. Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead, and he rubbed his temple thoughtfully. When he looked back up, her eyes were fixed on him. They were intent. They dared him. “Chicken,” her eyes accused. He broke away from the interlock and gulped another shot.

He thought what to say to her when they met. Would he satisfy her? Maybe he should tell her, “please this is my first time.” Heck, no! What man does that? What girl wants to hear that? He nearly laughed out loud. And then the battle raged:

Do not conform to standard. He felt the bob of his Adam’s apple as he swallowed.

For heaven’s sake, YOU ARE 26. It’s only as much a big deal as you make it.

You were bought with a price. You are not your own. I’m sorry.

God will not hold this one sin against your many good deeds.

Chisom? Chisom. You love her.

Yes! Chisom. You love her, and she loves you too, and love shall cover a multitude of sins.

You promised her. Ikem groaned out loud.

And she would forgive you. 70 x 70 times, no?

SILENCE

You are only human, with blood flowing through your veins.

SILENCE

Yes! You are like Jesus, but you are NOT Jesus.

SILENCE

Take charge, son. NOW! Ikem rose to his feet as Babs slipped a small pack into his back pocket, and he walked casually to his quarry armed with fresh worry:

Would she change her mind at the last minute and make a fool of him? Would she be disappointed by his stunts? Would she tease him unmercifully? Would he run into her sometime in the future? Would he suffer the guilt syndrome in the aftermath? Heck! Most probably not. That’s for women, he heard. His boxers- would she be put off? He hoped it wasn’t smelling. He could not remember now whether it was for three days or four that he had worn it at a stretch without washing.

Well, now it won’t matter anymore. She had him by the collar.

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
– Casting Crowns

Chinazar Okoro©2012

ODINAKACHI

I settled into the sofa to read his message for the sixth time that day, a blush firmly registered on my face. How was Nnamdi so able to succinctly say the exact words that vigorously excited the waters of my heart, I pondered warmly.

Late that evening, I felt the blood flush my face again as Nnamdi gently caressed my hair. The feeling was better than when he stroked my chin. That only made goose bumps rise. But on this night, we were standing face-to-face at the Lagoon front, our faces only inches apart, and I could tell exactly what scent he was wearing.
This was the man I fell in love with, the man I married. He knew God, he had potentials… but all this magic was six years ago.

Nnamdi has changed more than I could ever imagine. He is such a fearful uncertain soul, except when he is dealing with me. He can’t summon the slightest courage to resign from his job and start the business we spent countless nights talking about during courtship, but he comes home to me a poignant being, after reprimand from his female boss at work, and endlessly drives home the point that he is the MAN of the house.

“Then act like one,” I thundered one day during a quarrel, and I immediately saw bright stars. The impact from the slap took a while to register. I cried for hours- the slap was only an excuse to unleash years of hurt.

Every passing day, I hate Nnamdi more. We never agree on an issue. He totally stopped attending morning mass. He asked me to choose between our marriage and a job that offered to pay me a salary more than six times his own. He greets Laide, our neighbour who is a single mother, with extra fondness. I’ve tried to convince myself severally that Nnamdi is not deliberately trying to frustrate me.

But why does he irritate me so? The way he sleeps and snores like a dying animal, sometimes awaking me at 2a.m. as though I am nothing but a child-breeding female; demolishing the mound of pounded yam and onugbu soup I serve him without as much as a compliment; wearing over-sized shirts; and not giving me enough money to cater for our children. You should hear him analyse Jonathan’s government, and you’d think someone should at least be kind enough to drop a kobo for all his knowledge, for all the effort. The sound of his voice appeases his soul, and Laide’s frequent exclamations, Lobatan! e gba mi!! kpekele kpekele!!!, fuel his desire. He is a man, afterall, he must think gleefully. Hadn’t he told me severally?

Daily, I cringe at not providing a good enough life for my children. I hate that they run around in those over-worn over-washed Mickey Mouse polo tops, that they attend a state public school, that they are denied opportunities I planned way before their conception. I am in my late twenties and this is too much for me to bear.

I have harboured thoughts of divorce, or at least, the less-dramatic one- separation. But I think of my elderly mother in the village, how distraught she would be. She would become the talk of the village, trend in their discussions when they gathered for town’s meeting at the ilo. They would cast sympathetic glances at her, and she would be an example of those who thought they had everything going for them, an example mothers would cite to warn their daughters from marrying wrong, or perhaps be submissive to their husbands and not behave like those overly-educated girls who thought the world revolved around them.

Things would not have been this bad if I had not been brought up in a very religious home. My father made me and my siblings belong to at least two organizations in church. We were never found wanting in activities. The priests knew us. We had dedicated our time to service at the local parish. Now he was gone, he died six months before my marriage to Nnamdi, and nne was alone to face all the impending shame I would cause.
I shake my head vigorously. Nne will not… cannot understand. How can she understand that I need a life? How can she understand a desire as simple as that? Is it too much to ask that I want some of my childhood dreams to come to pass? How can I explain to nne that Nnamdi is now not the only problem, but that I also find Chief Olaitan’s offer to give me and my three children a fresh start in the UK very tempting indeed, and imagine, in exchange for only a few nights?

My sad smile evolves to hoarse laughter as I play out nne’s response. “Odinakachi,” she would call out in full, “you may so do only after you have killed me.” This she would say going on her knees, and simultaneously picking her falling wrapper. Her eyes would be armed with tears flooding their banks, and generously pouring unto my best ankara. When I visit the village, I have to endorse myself with my best clothing, to differentiate from the villagers, for I have come from Lagos, and am more educated, a class apart, and so they would know I am not suffering, and so my mother would be proud of the daughter she begot.

I have cried many tears no one sees… no one knows. Thoughts of Chief Olaitan have lingered on my mind. I have replayed countless times how he let me sit on his laps in his luxurious office, and how tightly he held me close, how he even wiped a tear ever so gently from my cheek.

I turn at the noise of what brings me back to life, and Nnamdi shuffles across the sitting room without throwing me a glance. We are fresh from a quarrel from the previous night.
I look at my husband and I fight the despise that wells up in my heart. Why is he not even the tiniest bit attractive?- His beards overgrown, his stomach round, his gait clumsy. Why has he failed so woefully? I recall the words of Reverend Father Iheanacho – I must be the Proverbs 31 woman. I think about nne – I must not shame her. I take a glance at my children – they must not be the product of a broken home. Another crushing look at Nnamdi, and I resolve to endure my marriage.

Chinazar Okoro©2012

THE UNSUNG HEROES

Nedu raised his head for the first time in four hours bearing that unmistakable cherubic smile, the kind Muna was sure in a few years time, would capture almost any woman’s heart. His eyes sparked with enthusiasm, and his demeanour betrayed his artistic nature. For the first time ever, Nedu’s smile did not cause Muna to smile in return.  She stared at him absent-mindedly, and turned away just in time for the torrential tears to gush out.

Nedu could not seem to understand women these days. First, it was Titi and Tope at school, and now Muna. Why were women always crying? “Women sha,” he mused. He had heard that phrase severally from uncle Kola, their neighbour, who was always quarrelling with his wife. But his mum was different. She never shed a tear.

Two weeks ago, Nedu had bounded home excited, hardly able to contain his news. The makers of a leading brand of noodles had come to his school to sponsor an arts competition. Pupils aged six to ten years were required to send in hand-made representations of their superheroes. The more interesting part was that the winner would be sponsored on a family-of-six trip to Ghana for five days during the forthcoming Christmas holidays, in addition to N200, 000 prize money.

He turned seven years only last month, and he wanted the prize as badly as any of the other eligible children in his school. He hadn’t given his mother a chance to ask how school was before updating her on even the unnecessary details, like how he, Nedu Adili, was going to give ten-year old Bambi (best Art pupil three years running) a run for the prize.  He took a deep breath only after he had spoken to his heart’s content. His mum had made him eat lunch and do his homework first before trying to put him to siesta, but he was too excited to shut an eyelid. Seeing that Nedu’s sleeping was no longer an option, she had cuddled up with him on the bed now strewn with pieces of paper and they had deliberated for an hour on what superhero was the most amazing. She had suggested superman, and although Nedu thought it was so drab, he didn’t say so. He figured out that was probably the only superhero she knew. He preferred Spiderman. His favourite scene was where Spiderman hung upside-down and kissed Mary Jane. Anyway, that was by the way. Again, he didn’t tell his mum this.

The next day, his mum bought him a dozen marvel comics, and he spent the next two days with them trying to make up his mind.

By the third day, he had made his choice.

It was now three days to the deadline for submission of their exhibits, and Nedu lay sprawled on the rugged floor. He spent some time missing his mum. She didn’t like to talk about his dad, and well, he didn’t like to bother her much. He thought about the things he liked best about his mum. How on earth was she able to turn out an excellent meal in twenty minutes? He was only a young boy afterall, but he knew his mum would sacrifice her life for him. He, Nedu, was drop-dead gorgeous (Adaeze, his seat mate had described him with those same exact words, aside all the adults that usually complimented his good looks), and he gave credit to his mother for that.

Nedu wasn’t quite certain his choice of a hero would impress the judges, but he was sure thinking out of the box. He had drawn his mum sporting a unique superhero costume on which was a rhomboid bearing BM for Best Mum. She was carrying him soaring high in the sky, and far beneath them were the thousands she trumped. It was quite hard to decipher her cape, because now and again, it looked like an angel’s wings. Nedu smiled at its ambiguity.

Mrs. Adili had excused herself from her office to rush down to Balogun market to purchase a surprise outfit for Nedu. He had been chosen as one of the school’s orators to render a poem, and he was reciting Christopher Okigbo’s “Labyrinth”. She also thought it would be nice to see Nedu receiving the prize for best exhibit while dressed smartly.

So she had made an excellent choice, and boarded a bus that would take her home. As they neared a police check point, the bus was flagged down and there was an intense vernacular exchange between the police and both the driver and conductor of the bus. Tempers flared and one of the two policemen raised his rifle threateningly. The conductor hanging above one of the passengers against the closed door of the bus laughed scornfully, and two blasts in quick succession cut him short. Mrs. Adili, seated just beside the conductor slumped forward, a pool of blood gushing out from her neck and immediately drenching her shirt. The thin woman to her left let out a piercing scream, and went limp upon Mrs. Adili’s body. The policemen took to their heels.

Muna received the call by 6.14 p.m, and by 9.00 p.m, Enitan Babalola, the newscaster on the local network news announced, “Police stray bullets kill one, injure one late this afternoon in a clash at Oshodi.”

Nedu’s eyes still shone with palpable exuberance at his accomplishment. “Muna,” he called out in almost a whisper, “can you hide this away for me in your room? It’s for mum and it’s a surprise.”

… for the unsung heroes; the ones the world would never acknowledge; the heroes that become only statistics at death.

Chinazar Okoro©2011

make I nak u tory

And so today, pastor announces that we would be going for evangelism. My brother pre-warns me before we get to church, and watches carefully for my reaction. I’m kind enough to give him a piece of what he expects, and he good-naturedly rewards me with a hearty laugh.

It’s been a while I evangelized, and even so, only in the confines of school and its immediate environs. I belong to that class of people who realize that nothing should replace personal/ one-on-one evangelism. It’s not just enough to claim I’m writing about God, or singing gospel songs or acting Jesus-films, and then proclaim that I’m justified of Mark 16: 15. We love to get comfortable, don’t we?

I think I’m a bit rusty, so I try to mentally rehearse my self-developed skills at evangelizing. I ask God for utterance and pray for the people I was going to minister to. I never bother if they believe what I’m saying. That’s God’s part of the deal. He’d earlier said, “Faith comes by hearing the word.” He also said if I lifted Him, He’d draw all men to Himself. The Word has been trusted to transform a man, so obviously, that’s not my job! By default, when anyone turns me down, I don’t feel bad. What can I do? I only feel sorry for them.

So I begin to evangelize, and then I get to this man, Onyekachi, and when he opens his mouth to reveal his name, the offensive stench of cigarette [or maybe it’s ‘weed’ for I can hardly tell them apart (I simply group them together)], charges at me.

“Yes,” he replies when I ask him if he is a christian and if he is born-again (usually, we have to make the distinction in instances as this). “How do you know?” I probe further, and then I get blood-shot eyes gaze fully at me, perhaps suspiciously. I afford him the slightest smile, notice him ease, and then proceed to make the question more explicit. He doesn’t know how he knows he is born-again. As I begin to explain to him the Word of God, I notice his eyes become watery. He nods his head from time to time, and I believe he understands.

“If you have anything to make me stop to dey drink and smoke, just give me. Feel free. I wan stop. I drink and smoke too much.” he tells me when I pause. I go on to explain to him that I did not possess such powers, and that only God can cause a true transformation if he yields himself. He looks pathetic, so I tell him God has not condemned him, “In fact, if Jesus were to live in these times, He would hang out with you,” After which he looks less pathetic.

As I round off with him, in typical evangelism tradition, I asked for his phone number and address. He looks at me for a while and says he doesn’t like bringing out his phone in public. “Oh,” I assure him sweetly, “you don’t have to bring out your phone. Just your number…For follow up,” I offer hopefully.

He must consider himself generous indeed for he suddenly comes up with a bright idea, “Lemme have your number. I go call you, e hear.”

“Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat,” the alarm in my head goes off, and I stammer. “Emm, I may not be the one to call you. It may be the church secretary. As in, we are to call… I mean, get the numbers of everyone we speak to. Do you understand?” He brings out an ‘mtn’ wallet on which a number had been scribbled, and reads it out.

“Thank you for your time,” I tell him.

“I love you,” he responds.

After I speak with one or two other persons, I walk back down the street, and Onyekachi is pulling dedicatedly on a stick of cigarette. I wave at him and he waves back.

I thank God for the salvation of his soul.

Chinazar Okoro © 2011