A Novel Written By: Kolade Segun-Okeowo (KSO)
Gbayike cut in “No problem, I understand.” She really did ‘understand’. Morakinyo was not the kind of man she will resist his visit. After praying for about two years hoping to get a brother to propose marriage to her, it was only right for her to welcome a man like Morakinyo; only God knows what he came for.
“I hope you won’t mind a cup of tea?”
“Ah please, don’t bother giving me anything. I’m okay, thanks so much.”
“I’ve come to discuss something very important with you. I wish we’ll round it up fast so that I can leave on time. I have a lecture with my students at ten and this is nine-fifteen besides, I can see you’re preparing to go out.”
“I’m not really in a hurry” She said it before realizing the implications.
‘Am I offering myself?’
“I mean to finish up my ironing before going out” She quickly said trying to prove she is not too free. “Just a minute” She stood to disconnect the pressing iron from the power source.
Morakinyo quickly used that opportunity to study the sitting-room. He was looking for signs of any form of a relationship with any man. He looked at the pictures on the wall and the shelf, there was none ‘incriminating’. She returned.
“Yes Bro. Morakinyo I’m all ears.” She was indeed all ears. She was almost sure he came to propose; what else could he have come to say? They were no longer in the same sub-group. No prior discussion, no former arrangement or talks. She prayed silently, her heart beating fast; that Morakinyo would make a proposal.
“I don’t want to mince words,” he started, damning all consequences. He had said to himself before leaving the house ‘if she will say no, let her say no! That’s the worst.”
“For some days now, the Lord has been ministering to me concerning you”
‘I said it, thank you Jesus’… “Concerning me?” She said putting on an almost too serious look while trying to suppress her joy. She wished he would go straight to the point. ‘I hope this is real’
“The Lord is making me to understand that He wants to assign me and you to a particular mission work”
‘Oh no, not again, mission work?’
“What kind of mission work? In the church?”
‘I’m not interested in any mission work, I’m doing enough already all I want now is my own partner’. Gbayike had prayed long for a partner. Fear was beginning to creep into her. Though she was just twenty-six, she had become skeptical. She had two older sisters who married quite late. That was the genesis of her fears; she hoped her case would be a difference.
“Not in the church” Morakinyo continued “The way the Lord has being ministering to me, the mission looks like a village outreach”
‘Village outreach?’ Gbayike’s countenance changed. ‘So that is why he came to waste my time, village outreach? No way!’
“But why is it that the Lord wants to use you and myself for this assignment, why not another person or some brothers in the church?”
Gbayike could not hide her anger. She had given up the thought of a proposal coming from Morakinyo. She knew he was the Director of Evangelism and Outreach; he had on a couple of occasions gone with the evangelism team to some villages for a weekend or more. Morakinyo was known to have called upon some sisters on different occasions to go into harlot joints and brothels to preach the gospel.
‘So he thinks am his next evangelism Aide de Camp! No way, I’m not interested’
“Sister Gbayike, don’t you understand? What I mean is that the mission God has placed in my hands is so big and it is my desire that you should be of assistance to me”
‘I see, he’s trying to raise funds’
“Be of assistance? Please explain better. Are you referring to financial support and contributions?”
Financial contribution for a mission work was not going to be a problem for Gbayike. She earns a good salary as a teacher in a high profile private international school where she works. Her monthly income would make a good offering to any of the sub-groups in the church.
“I am not referring to financial support of any kind.” Her heart missed a beat. “What I mean is simply that I sincerely love you, I have prayed about it and wish that you’ll become my wife”
Morakinyo could not believe the words could flow out so freely like that. He had spent hours trying to construct that single sentence. He memorized it while driving to Gbayike’s place that morning.
Gbayike stared blankly at him; the anger gave way to confusion. At last the Lord has answered her prayers but…not this way!
“Thank you very much” She said her voice shaking. “This is a serious issue I must confess, my vision does not tally with yours, so I really don’t know what to say. You’ll need to give me some time to pray seriously about it”
“Oh, no problem… but when should I see you for a reply?”
“Ah no! I can’t fix a time. Whenever I’m ready, I’ll simply call you and let you know.”
The tears started flowing immediately Morakinyo left. Gbayike knew she had got more than what she asked for.
“But, why God! Why? Why? Why a missionary! Why village outreach. I never bargained for that, Lord……. No o! I’m not interested! No way!”
“Congratulations Sister Gbayike” a voice from behind interrupted. She turned around to see where the voice came from. She knew it was her flat mate’s but she never knew Wonuola was still in the house. She had told Gbayike earlier in the morning that she will be going out to see some people.
“What Congratulations?” She said quickly using her palm to carefully wipe the stains of tears away.
“Ah! You think I’ve not heard all what he came to discuss with you? I see, you want to play hide and seek with me, you’re not serious.” Wonuola said jokingly sitting beside Gbayike.
Wonuola was always interested in gists. Just a few days ago, she had opened a gossip on couples in courtship in the church with Gbayike. Gbayike remembered Wonuola had said, “What if that brother leading the Evangelism Unit comes to propose to you, what will you say?”
“I’ll fall down flat for him!” Gbayike said as the two of them burst into laughter. But she was no longer sure if she could ‘fall down flat’ for him again.
“Don’t tell me you’ve been eavesdropping” said Gbayike “I thought you said you were going out to see some people? …… Sister Wo-nu-ola…You!” Gbayike pointed a finger at Wonuola in funny accusation.
“I decided not to go again. I never knew I was going to be a witness to this great doing of the Lord” Wonuola said smiling mischievously. “Sister Gbayike, this calls for celebration. Just last week, I prophesied that he would come, and here he comes today! Oh hallelujah!” She spinned her head around, enjoying the joke. “Someone should recommend me as a Prophetess in the church”
“With specialty in courtships and marriages!” Gbayike added jokingly, the two of them burst into a loud laughter.
Gbayike was not really happy but she was grateful for the company of Wonuola. The tears had suddenly given way to smiles and laughter not because she liked the jokes but at least they provided her a temporary comfort. She loved Wonuola so much. You can never have a dull moment with her. Gbayike had invited Wonuola to stay with her in the flat when Wonuola was looking for a job.
Even when Wonuola got one, Gbayike had continued bearing the cost of renting the flat without asking Wonuola for any amount. They both buy the food stuffs but Gbayike spends more. They were really like twin sisters. Most people find it difficult to believe they were not related in any way.
“So what’s all these tears supposed to mean, tears of joy ehn? Or are you saying you don’t want that brother again?” Wonuola asked still in the mood of fun.
“Sister Wonu, on a more serious note, I think the issue has become complicated” Gbayike said, her countenance changed very fast. “I must confess, I like him and wish to have him as my husband. Sincerely, I’ve prayed about him before”
“So what then are you waiting for?” Wonuola asked wearing a puzzled expression. To her, Gbayike was trying to play hard as the habit of most ladies in the church.
“Sister Wonu, the brother said something that scared me” Wonuola drew closer appearing more serious now.
“He said God has called him into a particular assignment which appears to be village outreach” Wonuola’s countenance changed, squeezed her face in disdain. “Sometimes last week, I stumbled on a discussion Pastor was having with Professor Adarabioyo. They were talking about a brother wanting to resign his job on campus to go into the ministry; it just occurred to me today that it’s Bro. Morakinyo”
“Oh my God! Full time!” the words rolled out from Wonuola’s mouth unconsciously, her lips hanged open as she stared wildly at Gbayike.
“You see what I mean, do you think I can ever marry such a man. Suffering and hunger will kill us. I’m sorry; I’m not ready for that at all”
“That’s true! A full time ministry in the village, God forbid! I reject it in Jesus name!”
“Amen!” Shouted Gbayike
“But what are you going to tell him?”
“I’ll simply say I’m not ready”
“Suppose he asks you why?”
“Then I’ll say the Lord has not convinced me”
“But that’s a lie, why not tell him you’re still praying about it”
“That will give him some hope and assurance”
“Then you’ll continue praying until he gets tired and looks elsewhere” said Wonuola gesticulating with her head as if in prayer. They burst out into another round of laughter with tears rolling down their eyes.
Three days later, Morakinyo was ready with his resignation letter. He had taken pains to type out the letter himself. He sat there staring at the letter again and again. He had directed it to the Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Academics) through the Dean Faculty of Technology.
Several thoughts flashed into his mind as he sat there reading the letter again. He looked around and saw his PhD research works and several other papers and research reports he had written over the years.
“So what are you going to do with this collection of books, it took you about ten years to gather all these together, will they become useless?” The thoughts rang out clearly. Morakinyo closed his eyes, pulled the letter out of the printer, signed it and enveloped it. He stood and went straight to the bedroom.
‘I must do whatever I want to do tomorrow’ He thought. ‘I must submit this letter tomorrow unfailingly’
He turned around on the bed again and again trying to get some sleep, but the sleep simply refused to come. He remembered Gbayike again and smiled. He hoped Gbayike would give a positive response.
‘But what if …..’ He stopped. ‘No what ifs tonight, the Lord is in control’
He knelt, prayed and turned off the lights…then, he started gathering firewood on a farm. He sings as he gathers a big bundle. He looked around for a rope to tie the bundle of firewood. He saw a good one and pulled at it but the rope would not give way, he tried again and a sharp thorn pricked his hand, he screamed and turned away from the rope.
He looked around for another one; he saw a thin rope not strong but was easy to pull, he pulled it out and tied the bundle all around. He pulled off his shirt and made it into head-rest. He carried the bundle to his head just then, the rope broke and the bundle scattered….
Then he woke from the dream!
“My goodness, so I’ve been dreaming and it appeared so real” He sat up and looked around for the table clock; he drew it closer and saw it was just five minutes beyond two. “But what kind of dream is this?” He asked himself “Firewood and rope?” He stood up and picked his Bible and read some chapters and slept again.
He had gone to pick his mail from the pigeon-hole when the Secretary to the Head of Department saw him.
“Good morning Sir”
“Ah Madam, good morning how are you today? Morakinyo greeted in his characteristics manner.
“I’m fine Sir and you?”
“Always enjoying the Lord” He said firmly!!!
Everyone in the Department of Engineering Physics knew Morakinyo with that statement. The junior workers always want to greet him to hear him say “Always enjoying the Lord!”
He picked the mails, two white envelopes with one marked ‘Ford Foundation’. He tucked the two into his pocket and headed towards the door, just then the woman called “Ah! Just a minute Sir” He turned back. “I need to share this funny dream I had over the night today with you.” The woman stood and came closer, smiling childishly.
“I saw you in our village, you wore a native dress and you were gathering firewood. You got a large bundle and looked around for a rope to bind it. You tried dragging one rope but it hurt you badly, so you left it and got another”
Morakinyo sighed heavily, his heart was beating faster. ‘This can’t be true!’
“After binding the bundle, you removed your dress and made an head-rest with it.”
‘I must be having another dream’
“As you carried the bundle, the rope broke and the firewood scattered”
‘Oh my God, can this be true?’
“When I woke from the dream, I laughed and laughed, it was such a funny dream”
‘You laughed, you don’t know anything’
“I asked myself what would a Senior Lecturer have to do with gathering firewood in the farm, our village for that matter. So I told myself, I must share the joke with you”
The woman laughed childishly, completely unaware of the impacts of what she was saying on Morakinyo. He was too shocked to know what to say. He simply managed to gather himself together, with an uneasy smile and said “Madam, that was really a funny one… Well you know dreams could be very funny?”
“And foolish sometimes” added the woman.
‘Not this one woman’
“Madam, by the way, what is the name of your village?” Morakinyo was already calculating.
“Onigba-Iwofa Sir… anything?” The woman asked curiously.
“No, nothing serious. I simply want to know the name of your village. You’re fond of talking much about the village. How far is it from here and how do you get there? Who knows I may find myself on a research mission there one of these days” Morakinyo said. He knew the Lord had used the woman to give him vital information he needed urgently; the similarities of the dreams are too real to be simple coincidence. It must be divine!
“Ah! It’s a very far place Sir” The woman said, smiling and holding her palms together childishly. “It’s one of the villages in the extreme part of Oyo State. It’s very close to Kwara State. It’s just about one hour drive from Shaki. From Ibadan, one can get a vehicle to Oyo town and from there……”
She gave all the details. Morakinyo returned to his office beaming all over with smiles, he closed the door and clenched his fist. “That’s it! I’ve got it right…. Onigba-Iwofa village, one hour from Shaki, very close to Kwara State in Oyo State of Nigeria! Beautiful!” He clenched his fist again.“That is exactly where the Lord wants to use me. That is the final confirmation I’ve been waiting for!” He started parking his files into the briefcase on the table.
Just then he remembered the letters in his pocket. He brought them out and opened the one marked ‘Ford Foundation’ and read the contents. His countenance changed, he squeezed his face and bit his lips.
“The Ford Foundation is glad to approve the sum off 16,000 dollars as take off grants for the proposals you submitted. You are to immediately….” He stopped reading, dropped the letter and sat on the table.
‘Sixteen thousand dollars as research grants for the proposal I sent over three years ago. O God! Why is the approval coming at a time like this?”
Then the thoughts rolled in again!!!
‘That’s some big money you know! If you convert that into local currency, it will run into several thousands’
The naira had crashed further in the last month to fifteen naira to a dollar!
‘Sixteen thousand dollars…That’s approximately 240,000 naira. If you collect the money, you can use part of it to do what God has called you to do, that will make the work easier you know….or won’t you use money?’
‘Should I tear this resignation letter now?” He asked himself. His thoughts were ready with the answer ‘Yees! Go on, tear it. Think of this money and other allowances coming your way soon. Do you know that Gbayike may refuse to marry you because of this? Think again.’
To be continued in Episode 8.