Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Friendly Stranger

The bus dropped me off at Jakande bus stop as usual.  The day had been so hectic I stretched on the road not minding who was looking at me, my bones needed that stretch.

I looked left, right and left again then crossed over to the other side.  As usual, there was no bike thanks to the lovely BRF.  The thought of walking all the way home again made me groan physically.  I paused, looked up to the sky and asked the lord for strength to get home in one piece and survive Lagos.

I started walking down the road, I passed by the woman that sold yam, plantain and stew with cucumber, I always bought cucumber from her, but that day, I was too tired to even pause and buy.

“Aunty good evening.  You no buy today?” her daughter asked

“No, Mama good evening o, how market?” I replied acknowledging the girl and greeting her mum.

I kept walking after the pleasantries.  I looked back and saw a black jeep coming towards me.  I’m not very good with cars, so I don’t know what kind of jeep it was.  I only know it was one of those types that looked like a box with wheels.  I remember thinking to myself ‘here comes one of those box drivers again’.  I physically shook my head and gave way for the jeep to pass.  Mile 2 roads are that bad.

Surprisingly, the Jeep stopped and the window on the passenger’s seat slowly came down.  On a normal day, with how tired I was, I would have walked away, but when i saw the guy in the Jeep I was glued to the ground.

“Hi, can I give you a lift?”

“No, thank you” I said sharply and moved my legs.

“I’ll keep following you if you don’t talk to me”

Now that got me.  As fine as they guy was in his box, I sincerely didn’t want him to follow me home. I stopped and looked at him.

“What do you want” I asked.  Hoping my eyes were not betraying me and letting him see the effect his fineness was having on me.  Eyes have a bad habit of not minding their own business.

“Can I give you a ride home” he asked

“No, thank you.  I use this as my daily exercise” I replied.

“Ok, I’ll park my car and walk you home”

Is this guy crazy?  I thought to myself.  “And why would you do that?”

“Because I want to talk to you and since you don’t want me to give you a ride that seemed to be a great option b” he smiled

“Did I mention that I also like to reflect on my day and pray while I walk?  So, I don’t want any distraction” I said hoping to get him to give up and drive away.

“Well, how about I walk with you and not say a word until you get home and can talk to me.  I wouldn’t want to compete with God’s time… he’s a jealous God you know.” He giggled

I couldn’t help but laugh at that comment.  I imagined God frowning at the guy that minute.

“You have a very lovely way of laughing”

I suddenly became aware of his presence again and stopped laughing immediately. 

“We have to reach a compromise.  I am tired and I do not want you to give me a ride or walk me home and you want to talk to me.  

How about I give you my card, so you’d leave me alone to have my solitude walk, you can stay in your car and give me a call later to have that all important talk”

He smiled “That sounds like a plan to me”

I nodded, opened my bag and gave him my card.  He didn’t offer me his and I didn’t ask.  He thanked me, promised to call and drove off.

Honestly, I walked faster so I could get home before he called.  And you guessed right, I couldn’t reflect or pray either because a certain young man with a happy smile, driving a box filled my thoughts and I found myself smiling and looking forward to his call later that night as I walked home. 

When I stepped into the house, my phone rang.  I rushed to the living room dropped my bag and myself on the sofa, ignored my sister’s greeting and picked the call.

“Hello” I said trying to hide my excitement

“errrrm, I’m outside your house.  Can you step out please?”

Before I could protest, he hung up.  Still ignoring my sister, I walked out of the house and literarily ran to the gate.  When I opened it he smiled.

“You were not supposed to follow me home” I said.

“Are you going to ask me in?”

I apologized and asked him to come in.  Like PHCN knew, power came on that minute.  I ushered him into the living room.  My sister had seen us from the window and helped to clear all the mess before we came in… thank God for smart sisters.
When he sat down, I offered him water, but he turned it down.

“Seat down please” he said tapping the space beside him.

I walked over and sat facing him.

“How are you?” He asked.

The sincerity in his voice and eyes made me shiver.

“I’m fine, thank you.  You didn’t keep to our deal.” I managed to say.

He smiled and took my hands in his.  “When you came down from the bus and stretched, I saw you and thought, oh, she must be really tired.  Then you paused and looked into the sky and at that moment the Lord said to me ‘Give her a ride home’.  When you refused my offer, I did not argue because the Lord told me not to”.

His face assumed a more serious look “God told me to come tell you that what you are going through is only a phase that will not kill you but make you stronger.  He said he sees your heart and your longing to serve, he knows your desire to be with children instead of in an office.  Infact, He said that is what you always discuss with him every time you walk home after work.  He says I should tell you that though it tarries, the vision He has put in your heart will come to pass because He has a plan and you are right in the middle of it.”

“He also said he knows how tired you are and how many times you have been on the verge of giving up, but He says you should hold on because He is with you always and is working everything out for your good.”

I was crying because everything he said was true.   He pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped my tears.  “Finally he told me to tell you that He loves you.”  I didn’t follow you home, He told me where to find you and said I needed to deliver his message to you personally and not via a phone call.    Oh and yes… He said he has given you strength to survive in Lagos”

That made me laugh, I was still crying though.  He allowed me simmer down while he looked around the living room.

When I was calm, he said “You have a lovely home”

“Thank you.  You haven’t told me your name” I said.

“That’s not important my dear.  You’d probably never see me again.  Just call me a friend”.

“The friendly stranger?”

“That’s cool”

He stood up to leave.  I stood too, but I didn’t want him to go.  I didn’t want the moment to pass, I wanted to hold on to all that he had told me, I didn’t want to forget and he was the only tangible thing that would help me remember the message.

“What I just told you is right here” he touched my heart.  “You won’t forget it.”

I smiled. 

We walked to the gate and he said goodbye.  Then I realized he wasn’t even with his box(the jeep).  “How did you get here” I asked.

“Never mind” he smiled.

I thanked him for coming all the way to deliver the message. He gave me a hug and walked away.  When he was out of sight, a certain illumination flooded my heart and then I realized I had just been with an angel.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Knight in Shinning Tuxedo

Every time I pictured this moment, I always wondered what would be on my mind.  This fascination always made me stare intently at other brides I had seen take the walk.   I mean, their minds could not be blank during that long walk; they had to be thinking of something.

I stood at the door, watching as everyone tried to arrange my train; I only had a little bride and ring bearer.  I have always had a soft spot for little brides, maybe because I had done several in my tender age, but every time I saw this moment, I only saw a little bride.  Her dress matched mine except for the yellow wings she had and a halo on her head, she looked just like I had pictured her in my many fantasies.

As the organ began to play the hymn “Lord give us Christian Homes”, to usher me in, I started my journey down the aisle.   I thought I’d be thinking of how beautiful I looked and how green with jealousy all the ladies around me would be.  I had imagined my heels breaking in the middle of the aisle, missing a step and falling flat on my little bride and dragging my dad to the floor too (poor old man).  I’d thought I’d be worrying about making a huge mistake with my decision.  I had even imagined myself getting scared and running out of the church screaming for my mummy.  I thought I would be thinking about the fact that I was giving myself to a man and would have to take care of him for the rest of my life, and how my life would no longer be mine.

But I was surprised because my thoughts were far from these, instead, with every step I took, the picture of every guy I had met in my life flashed before my eyes.  All the guys I had been in love with, the ones I dated, the ones I had not dated, the ones who broke my heart and the ones whose heart I shattered, the crushes and the flirts.  One after the other, I saw all of them and each scene played in my head; the pain I felt after each heart break, the foolish things I had done to get their attention, the ache that followed after each rejection.  I felt all these emotions at the same time, I relived all of them.  The struggle to let go of the guy I thought was my life and my world, the pursuit of what I thought was the best thing for me.  Like a slide show, I saw everything flash through my mind.

I thought I’d faint from all the rush of emotions.  Just then I looked straight ahead and saw him, my knight in shining tuxedo.  He smiled that smile and all the negative emotions dissipated.  His smile felt like cold water in the hot summer, his love washed over me, I could literarily feel it drip from the crown of my head to the sole of my feet.  It felt like an electrical surge flowing through my veins, pumping into me strength and courage.   

Suddenly I felt the strong urge to go on my knees and thank God for not making all others work out.  The aisle looked like a tunnel and my Knight looked like a light at the end of the tunnel.  All other memories of every other guy faded into the shadows of his Love. 

I was tempted to look in the crowd and search for the faces of the guys who had walked away from me (if they dared to show up) and whisper a thank you to them (actually the initial thought was to stick out my tongue in their faces).  As painful as it was, truth is if they had not left me (or if I had not left them as the case may be) my Knight would not have found me, if I had not felt the pain of heartbreak, I would never have known what real love felt like.  Tears threatened to fall but I had to pull myself together lest I incur the wrath of my makeup artist.

When we reached the altar and my dad placed my hand in the hands of my Knight, he gently squeezed them and looked straight into my eyes and like the days leading to this moment, I read his unspoken words… the feeling was mutual.

“I do”

I could not imagine myself saying that to any other man.  His love had been a healing balm to my wounds and though I knew this journey we were about to begin would have its ups and downs, I was assured that we would pull through together just as long as he was beside me… his presence was all the confidence I needed.

“I now pronounce you man and wife.  You may kiss your bride”
He gently unveiled my face and as our lips met, the tears spilled.  I was overwhelmed with joy.  When we turned to face the congregation, I silently whispered a heartfelt prayer to God for the pain in the wait, for it was worth it…

It was in that time my Knight found me.