It is the last day of the year. Everyone is happy and celebrating. Now and then, fireworks are shot into the sky, producing bangs that make earth and hearts tremble. Some of the fireworks spark high above withered trees and form colourful stars that disappear as soon as they come into sight. I walk past some shabbily dressed children who are dancing excitedly to some hip hop songs. Something budges within me, urging me to dance along with them. I rebuke the devil and put my body under subjection. I will not dance to such ‘worldly songs’ tonight. I am going to the church.
Over here, it is customary to go to a church at the last hours of a year. People say it fortifies you for a greater new year and helps you subdue whatever demons from your village that are bent on hindering the fulfilment of your destiny. I would have preferred to sit back at home like I am always wont to on Sundays, but I know better than allow myself to be made the subject of gossip in the neighborhood. That is why I now have my bible carefully tucked under my armpit, as I walk to the church with a sombre look.
“I’m trading my sorrows
I’m trading my shame
I’m laying them down
For the joy of the Lord…”
I sing with gusto along the street, impressed with the sweetness of my own voice. I know it is a song only worthy to be sung by sisters-in-the-Lord alone, but who says I am not one of them? Forget about whatever definition has been given as to who a sister-in-the-Lord is. Just look at me from head to toe and you will see the glory of the Lord radiating upon me. Hallelujah!
That I am going to church reluctantly for the watch night service does not mean I do not know the acceptable dress code. Now, the skirt I am wearing is so modest it billows in the prevailing soft breeze. Also, my blouse is round-necked, one that you can barely see my neck in it, and the sleeves are so long they swallow my fingers in them totally. I am neither displaying my hot legs nor any part of my cute boobs because I am going to a sacred place. If all these do not qualify me as a sister-in-the-Lord, what will? Is it until I speak in tongues? Even that I have now learnt to do. I am Sister Rebecca of God.
I have finally gotten to the church, and I am awfully mesmerized with the population of the congregation today. The church is unusually filled to its capacity. Oh, I should have known that everyone desires to step into the new year with the Lord’s backing. I see so many people around who I believe might not have been to church at all throughout the year. I can sight Baba Power from a distance. He is an incorrigible drunkard. Scorpion, the ringleader of touts at New Garage, is also present tonight. Lizzy Babe, the unabashed harlot who flaunts her promiscuity about like a new cloth, sits at a corner of the church too. Unmistakenly, they have all come to receive the Lord’s blessings to excel in their various endeavours as another chapter of life begins. After all, everyone has yearnings and expectations for a new year.
I have my yearnings and expectations as well. So it should not be thought that I left the comfort of my bed at an odd hour like this just because I want to use my buttocks to warm a cold chair in some church. Far from it! I am here of my own volition because there is a dire need of mine which I want the Most High to minister to in this new year. I cannot deceive myself. No matter how I feign to appear unperturbed, I know deep down within me that there is a vacuum in my life. It hurts already, and I will appreciate if people learn not to rub salt into my wound.
I am 30 years old. As a lady, I understand I have been long ripe for marriage. I have been putting up with some attendant embarrassments on being single for a couple of years now. However, the most annoying of them happened just last week. Abeke has been my friend right from childhood. Until last year, we were both singles. Before she tied the nuptial knot with her spouse, we were always chatting on social networks about our numerous experiences with men; how unpredictable and dishonest they could be. Then we were so free with each other, and saw ourselves as friends without any sense of superiority. Now that Abeke is married, she makes me feel inferior; more like we are no longer of the same calibre.
No, I do not begrudge her this. For indeed, we are no longer of same calibre. Marriage brings a lot of incredible changes to a woman. Sometimes I sit and ponder on the surprising differences it makes within a short period. Marriage is like a stranger who you allow into your room, and before you ask him to sit, he is already sprawling on your bed and even demanding you bring him food. Marriage does not stop at what you offer it, it takes more than you are most times willing to offer. Little wonder why it puts ring in your hand, changes your name, your dressing and even alters your CV, among others.
Therefore, when Abeke told me a couple of weeks ago that she was going to visit me with her husband on Christmas day, I was not amazed. It was just okay that she had to show off her latest asset and newest qualification, one that I am yet to have. Truth to God, I did not make much fuss about my preparation for their visit. There was no long table of assorted fruits, salad, drinks and food. No, no! God forbid that I should go bankrupt to entertain a friend who wanted to come and intimidate me with her new asset in my own very house. Ahn-ahn, my stupidity was yet to reach that level. So, I merely prepared jollof rice and made some bottles of wine available.
One should expect that Abeke would engage her discretion in talking about a matter like this, knowing quite all right that I am like a nine-fingered man, in front of whom other ten-fingered men should not accentuate their wholeness by counting their fingers. Instead, before their visit, Abeke praised her spouse to the heavens the way little children admire their newly acquired toys to make their playmates envious. But I was disappointed when they finally visited me and her husband didn’t match up to the kind of my dream man. He was neither tall nor well-built. Although I admit he behaved like a perfect gentleman, certain things about him just did not go down well with me, like his receding hairline and protuberant tummy.
By Jove, I am a radio presenter and Twitter overlord. Thus, it follows that neither my English nor my interactive skill is likely to be bad. These qualities have always been of immense value to me in my daily association with people. Perhaps these were what caught the interest of Abeke’s husband in me, making him chat vivaciously with me to the discomfort of his wife. It came as an utter consternation to me when Abeke would later accuse me of trying to snatch her husband from her. It was not enough that I had to grapple with the intimidation and debt incurrence that their visit brought, I still had to bear insults and false accusation to complement. But seriously, did Abeke think I had interest in her potbellied and bald husband? Ah, I have suffered.
It is to seek an end to embarrassments like this that I am in the church this night. In this new year, the Almighty God must bring to me the flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. He is a loving God, and that is why I have given Him the specification of the kind of man I want already- certainly not the type of Abeke’s husband. My mind has long wandered out of the church, for I did not notice when the choir rendered their song and the sermon began. Now, the pastor asks the congregation to rise up on their feet for the prayer that must usher them into the new year. I stand up as well.
The pastor prays about so many things. He binds whatever spirit that may want to hinder our breakthrough in the new year. He prays that the jobless will get gainfully employed. He prays for the sick and those seeking admission into tertiary institutions. He prays that, if Jesus tarries, we will all live to see the end of the new year. Then he mentions spinsters and bachelors, praying that the new year shall not pass before their wedding ceremonies take place. To this, I shout the loudest amen.
To be continued.
Catch you next Friday!
P.S: “Still Searching” is going to be the first dosage of TGIF Special in 2015. As usual, it will be in 4 installments. This is the first of the installments; others would come in subsequent weeks and would be published on this blog. I apologize for not posting a TGIF Special last week. I chose to delay it till today because I felt it was better to start a new dosage in a new year.
Have a prosperous year ahead!