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Happy New Month
Merit Madume’s POV
(Note that POV stands for Point of View.)
“So, sister Merit, have you sought the face of the Lord on what I told you about two weeks ago?” The pastor who was in his early fifties asked me, his fingers locked together on the desk in front of him.
“Yes, pastor.” I smiled. My handbag was placed on my lap and I had dressed so well this Sunday all because I was already prepared to meet my soon-to-be husband whom God had sent to me; according to the pastor. Not that I am one who believed in such things, but in this church filled with handsome rich guys, I was already feeling very lucky. Truth be told, after the pastor had personally asked to see me in his office after church service two Sundays ago, I had been so elated at the news when he told me that a brother had come to him the previous Friday to inform him that God had chosen a wife for him and that I was the one. He explained further that the brother had even gotten my picture from Instagram just to show him, the pastor, what I looked like, and since I was easy to spot in a crowd such as the church, the pastor had immediatetly sent an usher to inform me that he would like to see me after the service that day.
After he had told me the news, I immediately logged into my Instagram when I got home, trying to figure out who the man might be out of my recent followers, but none of the fifty-plus number of men that had recently followed me on Instagram appealed to me. Ninety percent of them were just not my taste. So I relaxed my mind as I assumed that perhaps this God-sent husband of mine didn’t want to reveal his identity just yet. So instead of praying to God to reveal him to me spiritually, my prayer points were based on his physical qualities and financial capability. I began to pray that God should make sure that he was handsome, romantic, tall, sexy and rich enough to at least afford a vacation in Dubai. I didn’t care what state or tribe he was from; all I cared about was the fact that he should be capable of spoiling me silly and also be good in bed.
“Pastor, I prayed and fasted for seven days…” I lied. “…and then, the ever-faithful God finally revealed him onto me. He showed me so many signs to prove my doubts wrong and now, I’m without doubt that that brother in question is indeed my husband to be.” I said to further convince the man of God who kept nodding with a grin.
“Oh! That’s great! God be praised!” The pastor said, looking very pleased indeed. “Sister Merit since you have also confirmed from God, would you like to meet him in person now?”
“Oh yes, pastor, please.” I said eagerly, trying to contain my anticipation of finally meeting my dream man. “I can’t wait.”
“Alright, I’m sure that he’s also eager to meet you…” The pastor chuckled. “I’ll ask an usher to call him immediately.” The pastor got up, walked to the door and looked out without stepping out of the office. “Please Bimpe, ask any usher to fetch me bro Joe immediately.” I heard him say to his secretary.
“Yes sir.” I heard her reply and as the pastor returned to his seat, I smiled and asked,
“Sir, how do you know that he wouldn’t have gone home already? I mean service ended thirty minutes ago.” I was very anxious.
The pastor smiled. “No, not at all, sister Merit. Mr. Joe is actually a diligent worker in the church, and sometimes, he stays even up till two hours after the service closes.” He assured me.
“Okay.” I smiled and decided to wait patiently after running my fingers through my expensive artificial hair then adjust my dress so that I was looking presentable before he arrived. Too bad that I could retouch my makeup in front of the pastor before my husband-to-be showed up.
Soon, there was a knock on the door and the pastor verbally permitted whoever it was to come in and just then, a tall handsome man dressed in expensive white native outfit opened the door and stepped in. Immediately I saw him, I felt butterflies flutter in the pit of my belly. This was exactly what I had prayed for and even more. My heart began to pound and I almost sailed towards him on the sea of his wonderful cologne. It was only by God’s grace that I restrained myself from flying into his arms. Gently setting my handbag on the floor beside my chair, I rose up to hug him, stick my arms out.
“Hi, it’s so nice to finally meet you.” I said to him as I beamed, instantly enveloped with his sweet cologne. Everything about him was just right. Any one who was very familiar with the fashion world could easily tell that he was wearing designer’s shoes, wristwatch, bracelet and cufflinks and I was highly impressed to say the least. Then it dawned on me that the man was not making any attempt to hug me; instead, he was giving me a confused look and as I began to wonder why he was not so excited to see me as I was, the pastor rose and approached us, looking a bit embarrassed.
“Erm…sister Merit, this is not brother Joe; this is actually Mr. Peter Coker. He’s married and has two kids already.” The pastor explained much to my dismay.
“Oh!” I uttered in dismay, stepping back and feeling so embarrassed but my disappointment far surpassed my embarrassment. I placed my hand on my chest because it felt like my heart was being wrenched in my chest when I saw his wedding band on his left hand to confirm the pastor’s claim. Then who could it possibly be?! If it was not this man or someone like him, then I’m not interested in anyone else! I said within myself, seething. My hopes had just be dashed just after falling in love at first sight! Why was this world so cruel?! I swallowed hard now and removed my hand from my chest then I sat down to nurse my broken heart.
“Mr. Coker, I’m very sorry for that. This is just a matter of mistaken identity.” The pastor apologized to him.
“It’s alright, sir…” Mr. Pete said in understanding, smiling and I felt like kissing him but I was too hurt to think straight anymore. Then I watched him dip his hand into his pocket. “I was about leaving the church when I remembered that I haven’t given you this.” He said as he pulled out a white envelope and handed it over to the pastor who opened it and pulled out a cheque.
“Oh my God!” The pastor exclaimed after reading the cheque. “A sum of five point five million naira?!” He lifted his eyes to stare at Mr. Pete in shock while my eyes also widened in shock as I marvelled at the amount.
“Yes sir, it’s our own contribution to the budget of the ongoing completion of the church building.” He said calmly. The man had such a calm demeanour that made me like him even more. It was as if God had specially created him. He was handsome, tall and most importantly, rich. He seemed to be in his mid-forties but I didn’t care, I was attracted to his lower pink lip. How could a man be this fine? And how come I never noticed him in church all this time? Mehn, Merit, you have to change where you sit in church o and start sitting at the front because you are missing. I told myself.
“Praise God! This is wonderful! The last time, it was three million naira and now, you are giving us almost times two of what you contributed four months ago! May God continue to replenish your pockets.” The pastor began to pray, closing his eyes and shaking his right hand in the air while he held the cheque in his left hand.
“Amen sir.” Mr. Pete held out open palms in prayer and bowed his head a bit with closed eyes and this gave me enough time to keenly scrutinize him.
“May all your businesses both here and abroad continue to flourish!” Cried the pastor in prayer.
“Amen sir.” The man maintained his calm tone.
“May God in heaven open the windows of heaven for you and your wife till your cups runneth over!”
“As you continue to contribute to the church, may God establish you and your family in high places!”
“May God grant your every heart desires!”
“In Jesus’ mighty name we have prayed!” The pastor finished aloud. The cheque had obviously put him in a better mood and I didn’t blame him. If I had such money right now, I’d be smiling like a fool for the rest of the year.
“AMEN!” Mr. Pete answered, shook hands with the pastor and turned to leave. As he walked out of the office, my eyes lustfully followed him. I want me this kind of man so badly. Why the hell was he married?! Who was his wife sef? Who had beat me to it?!
Still smiling and partially oblivious to my presence, I watched the pastor sit down in his chair again, pulled out a drawer and slipped the cheque into it.
“He must really be a generous man.” I said to the pastor, finally speaking again.
“Yes. In fact, Mr. Coker is a philanthropist and has helped a lot of widows set up small businesses. He has given over twenty youths in this church scholarships to study in one of the best universities in the country, and I can say that there’s no one like him in this church. No one!” He said firmly.
No one like him? I asked myself. Did the pastor mean that there was no one as generous as he was or did he mean that there was no one else as rich as he was. Well, if there was no one else like him, then who had come to inform the pastor about wanting me for a wife? Who? I had barely finished pondering when a knock came from the door.
“That must be brother Joe.” Grinning, the pastor said quietly to me then said loudly towards the door. “Come in!”
The door opened and an average-height man walked in. He was dressed in a blue oversized shirt which was not properly tucked into the waistband of his trousers. The sleeves of the shirt were so long that if the cuffs were not buttoned, they would have almost reached the tips of his fingers. There was an old stain on the shirt and there was a brown stain along the edge of the collar. He had on a striped, fat tie and an old leather wristwatch and I could bet that it was not even working. He had on a pair of black trousers which had a dusty stain on the buttocks and on one of the calves as if he had sat on a dirty chair. His belt had begun to peel off in several places to reveal the grey layer underneath and he had used a rubber band to hold down the end of the belt.
His black shoes were old and worn and had creases on the front as if a lot of pressure had been added to it. The tip of the shoe was curved upward too and the tongue of the shoe was almost splitting open, not to mention that one of his shoe laces was almost trailing behind him on the floor. Besides all these, he was wearing no cologne, as a matter of fact, he smelled of klin detergent and starch. He was bald and had just a moustache. His nose was almost too big and his eyes were a bit sunken. As I stared at him in disgust which I couldn’t hide, I was suddenly reminded of how much I hated bald guys. How could you not have a single hair on your head?! What kind of genes are you going to pass to my unborn children? I marvelled within myself.
“Brother Joe, you are welcome.” The pastor said with a knowing smile and I could swear that brother joe was already blushing when he saw me. I on other hand couldn’t contain myself anymore. I was angry. In fact, I was so infuriated that I wanted to get up and storm out of the pastor’s office but I held my cool…at least for now.
“Brother joe, I’m sure that you already know sister Merit…” The pastor continued as he gestured at me with a hand.
Brother joe nodded. “Yes sir.” He smiled again but with a vain attempt to suppress it this time and I didn’t fail to notice that he spoke in a very local accent.
“Anyway, Sister Merit, this is the man that God has decided to tie your destiny to.” The pastor said proudly and if not for the fear of the wrath of God, I would have thrown an insult at the pastor. How could he say that my destiny was tied to this nobody?! This man that looked like a shoe maker?!
“As a matter of fact sir…” Began, brother Joe, grinning. “God gave me another revelation about her last night. I have no doubt that she’s the one for me.”
“God is wonderful!” The pastor chuckled. “He never makes mistakes indeed.”
“Yes sir.” Brother Joe supported, wetting his dry lips as he stole a glance my way.
“So, brother Joe, your wife-to-be, by the grace of God, actually came to me today and to God’s glory, she told me that she has confirmed that you are indeed-”
That was where I cut off the pastor. “Sir, is this the man you spoke about?” I asked in contempt as I pointed with a thumb sideways at brother Joe who was still standing with his hands behind him in a polite manner.
“Yes, sister Merit…” The pastor confirmed. “This is the man whom God showed you that you are going to be his wife.”
“God forbid!” I spat now and the pastor’s jaw literally dropped open. “God forbid that out of all the men in this world, it’s this thing that I’ll settle for!” I stated and the smile which had waned a bit at my first statement completely vanished off Brother Joe’s face. “He’s not even my taste or my class! God cannot be so wicked to have me settle with someone that I can even employ as my gate man!” I said haightily.
The pastor and brother Joe exchanged confused glances now, mouths still gaping in shock. “But sister Merit, I thought you told me that you prayed about it and that God finally confirmed this young man’s claims.” The pastor asked.
“It must have been the devil confirming such because I know that I don’t serve a clown for a God!” I said then turned in my seat to glower at brother joe. “Come, let me ask you some questions sef… What’s your full name?” I began my interrogation.
“Joe Akpan.” He answered.
“What state are you from?” I asked again.
“How old are you?”
“I’ll be thirty two in three weeks time.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“I am a plumber.”
I scoffed and murmured in distaste. “Plumber?” I scoffed again. “Chai! Merit, you have suffered!” I murmured to myself as I bit down on my lower lip, shaking my head in sympathy. “Do you have a car?” I asked him.
“No, but I’ve a motorbike that I use to transport myself anywhere.”
“Do you own a house or other landed properties?”
“No, I live in a self-contain for now but once we are married, I intend to rent a room and parlour with my small savings.”
“Have you ever purchased any designer item before?” I asked and when the pastor tried to cut in a second time, I held a hand out towards him and he went silent.
“No…um… I deal with OK for now.” He said, swallowing hard. “That’s what I can afford for now.”
“What’s OK?” I asked with a frown.
“Okirika.” He answered.
“You mean you wear second-hand clothes?” I asked in disgust.
“Yes, that’s the other name.” He replied.
“How much do you have in your account?”
He hesitated then glanced at the pastor before answering in a embarrassed but quiet tone. “I’ve saved up to one hundred and seventy nine thousand naira so far but I know that with enough time and more determination, I should be able to save up to four hundred thousand before our wedding.” He said in a determined tone.
I gave him a disgruntled look. “And after staring at me from head to foot, do you think that four hundred thousand naira is even enough to meet my needs, let alone plan for a wedding?! Jeez! The guts! The nerve! What makes you think that you can afford me?! What?! A common plumber dreaming of marrying a woman that his entire generation can never be able to take care of! Listen to me, Joe or whatever the bloody hell that name of yours is; YOU ARE NOT IN MY LEAGUE AND WILL NEVER BE! You just dashed my hopes just like that to think that I’ve been looking forward to this meeting, but little did I know that I was coming to meet a nonentity! In fact, I’m highly disappointed in you too, pastor!” I turned to face the pastor. “How will you wish me to marry this sort of human being! Just see the way he’s dressed!” I gestured at Joe with a hand. “He has zero sense of fashion! Common perfume of two hundred and fifty naira, he cannot even afford it to at least smell good! All he reeks of is detergent and poverty! I have not come to this world to suffer and even God himself will not be happy with me if I settle for this vessel of wretchedness!” I stated.
Astounded, the pastor who was utterly shocked at my behaviour asked, “But sister Merit, you yourself told me that God also revealed him to you thereby confirming this brother’s claim!”
“God did not reveal anything to me that looks like a hungry monkey!” I retorted. “God revealed happiness, designers, handsomeness, vacations, money and more money! Tell me pastor, just look at me…” I stood up now so that he could assess me in my expensive tight dress which revealed all my curves. “…do I look like what was sculpted for plumbers? Did I look like someone that wants to be proposed to with a five hundred naira ring? Do I look like someone that was created to live in a room and parlour? Do I look like a woman meant to belong to a man with a very poor sense of dressing? I’m not made for retards, sir, and I will never be! This brother should go back to God and tell him that I’m not interested! Perhaps, he’s only making the story up! He should go and pray again so that God can give him a wretched woman like himself because I’d rather die than be a laughing stock!” I stated firmly.
“But my dear, I’m-” brother Joe started to say to me and I turned to give him a scornful look which silenced him immediately.
“Who’s your dear? Are you mad? No, wait, like are you okay?! May lightening fry you right where you stand! In fact, may you be struck dead! Who’s your dear?! Next time you open that gutter of a mouth to talk to me again not to even talk of calling me dear, I’ll get you arrested and have you locked up for the rest of your miserable life!” I threatened. Snatching my handbag off the floor and letting it suspend by its straps from my forearm, I returned my displeased gaze to the pastor and said, “Thank you for wasting my precious time, sir, and with all due respect sir, next time any man claims to see any vision or whatever about getting married to me, make sure that before you summon me that you have confirmed that he’s rich, handsome and doesn’t wear worn-out belts or do bend-down-select!” I grated, shot Brother Joe a last distasteful look, turned and stalked out of the office, ignoring the pastor who kept calling me.
When I stepped outside the church which was almost deserted but only had a handful of workers inside and outside the premises, I slipped on my sunglasses as the hot sun hit my face. I was still mad about what had happened but I was determined not to let that ruin my mood. As I glanced around the street for any sign of a cab, I noticed Mr. Coker who had just finished a discussion with a fellow church member in the parking lot. Without noticing me, he got into his car (a white car which was the latest model in vogue), then he said something to a woman whom I presumed was his wife though I couldn’t really see her face. She smiled at him and said something back and both couple leaned in for a brief kiss. There was no denying that they were very much in love. I swallowed hard as I watched the man start his car, reversed out of the parking lot and began to slowly drive down the street.
Soon, a cab came along from the opposite direction and with a hand held out, I flagged it down. I immediately got into the back seat and said as I pointed out through his windshield at Mr. Coker’s car that had already reached the end of the street and was patiently waiting to join the traffic in the main road, “Abeg, follow that car.”
Without a word, the cab driver obeyed. I didn’t know why I was suddenly interested in a man that I didn’t even know existed until today, but there was just something about him that kept pulling me. Maintaing a safe distance, the cab driver followed the car into a popular estate, which more to my happiness, I discovered that one of my long-time friends, Thelma, lived in. After I confirmed Mr. Coker’s house address in the estate, as we drove back, I asked the driver to drop me in front of my friend’s gate where she lived in one of the apartments as a tenant. I got down and reluctantly paid the cab driver who had charged me more than I had expected. I couldn’t really afford the services of cabs or Ubers, but in order to maintain my self-acclaimed class, I had to make sure that I was never found on a motorbike or in a public bus.
My friend, Thelma, who was very surprised to see me after almost a year, welcomed me whole-heartedly. She was once a runs-girl like me but much to my dismay, I found out that she had quit and had started a decent lifestyle by getting a job which paid high. She had a car of her own and was living well. The only thing she lamented about was not having a man to call her own. By the time we finished having lunch together, I broke the purpose of my visit to her, knowing that she would not turn me down since we have been friends for four years and from the looks of things, she obviously needed some company in this big apartment of hers.
“Babe, please, I want to ask for a favour and I’m begging you not to turn me down… I want squat with you for at least three months until I’m able to rent my own place.” I told her and she stared at me with a sly smile.
“You don find one new maga for my area, abi?” She asked with a knowing smile and I smiled back but said nothing as I anticipated her acceptance.
To be continued…
© Angela Okoduwa