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Raising Earnest Disciples (John 8:31)

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George was restless. As restless as a hungry lion. What happened this morning had set his body on a fire that would not quench. When he saw the way his wife’s body had peeled from the hot water and how she had writhed in pain, something within him snapped and a secret he had thought was buried had come haunting him. When Pauline had declared how much she hated him, her words had seared his heart, leaving a big hole that would never be filled. Truth was it was he that should have borne the scar. It was he that should have suffered all the years. It was he that should be asking for forgiveness. It was he that…

Dim, abeg come help me rub my back. You know say this belle no easy.” Nneka sat beside him on the double-couch.

George did not move an inch, his eyes staring into the empty space.

Nneka noticed his still expression. “Dim, you still dey angry with me? No be your fight I fight? That ogbanje no wan leave, so I use force push am out.” She moved closer to him, rubbing his chest. “Okay, no vex. But you suppose know say na my love for you and our pickin make me do am.”

George cast two cold eyes on her. “Our pickin?”

“Yes, our pickin. Abi you no want am again?” Nneka studied his expression and did not like what she saw.

George took her hands off him and stood up from the couch. “Don’t follow me.” He ordered as he walked to his bedroom.

Nneka was confused and wondered what it was she did wrong. She was trying to protect him from that foolish Pauline and now he looked like he was actually angry at what she did. Truth was when she came back and met them talking, she had been very scared and had acted out of fright. What would become of her if the man and his wife reconciled? She did not want to go back to the village and be called all sorts of names. And what about the baby? It was his, after all, wasn’t it? A little guilt sneered at her. You dey sure? You don forget your different escapades with Azuka and Obi?  She shook her head. No, this baby was George’s. She had it while with him, under his roof, and no matter what it would cost, she had every right to stay in this home. Her place was beside George now and if she had to repeat what she did this morning, she would do it with joy. No ogbanje would take her place.

George locked the door quietly behind him and headed straight for his cellphone on the bed. He needed to make a very important call, one he had been avoiding for a while now. He dialed the number and waited for the call to be picked.

“Hi, George. What’s up? Been a while.”

“There is trouble, Femi.” George was in no mood for nitty-gritty.

The person on the line took the cue. “What is it?”

“It’s Pauline.”

“What! Does she know?”

George released a frustrated sigh. “No. I haven’t told her.”

“Then what is the problem?”

“It’s the silence, Femi. I thought I had gone past this, but it has come back to haunt me.”

“You know I told you to tell her from the beginning, but you refused.”

“Well, it was better to keep quiet about it and save my marriage than speak up and destroy it.”

Femi could feel his friend’s disappointment across the phone. “Well, so what do you want me to do? Tell her for you? You know it isn’t my responsibility to do that. I am your doctor, not your mouth-piece.”

“You are making feel more terrible, Femi.”

“You should be. You better go and tell her now before it is completely late.”

“It is late already. Pauline moved out of the house. Actually, I sent her out of the house. Another woman lives with me now and she is pregnant.”

“What!” Femi sounded stunned. “You know that isn’t your baby, right?”

There was some silence on both ends. George staggered backwards and fell on the bed. The way Femi had plunged the truth at him had left him dazed.

“George, are you there?”

“Yes, I am.”

“I am sorry your marriage had come to this, but if you had listened to me and had told Pauline before now, perhaps, she would have been understanding. That woman loved you, George, but it is clear you took her love for granted. You are my friend and I must tell you the truth.”

“Oh God!” George felt like crying.

“That baby you think is yours isn’t. You have got to send that woman packing and bring your wife back.”

“That would not be easy.”

“Well, you should have thought about that before you sent Pauline out.” Femi sounded very serious. “God gave you an egg to protect, but you threw it on the floor that it broke and you know how hard it is to get spilled egg together, but it isn’t impossible. You can have a second chance.”

“Thank you, Femi. I’ve got to go and get my wife back.”

“Good. Guess my work is done.” Femi concluded before he cut the call.

George jumped off the bed and picked his car keys on the drawer. Then he dashed out of the room.

“Where you dey go?” Nneka came out of the kitchen with a cup of water in her hands.

“I am going to bring my wife back and before I return, make sure there is no trace of you in this house. If I return and find you around, ten buckets of hot water is the least you will suffer from.” He walked out the door and down the stairs hastily as fast as his legs could carry him. Femi had mentioned a second chance. Maybe he still had a shot at it. Maybe his wife would still forgive him if she still had a soft spot for him. He brought out his phone and dialed her number. He would gather what was left of the egg and make the best use of it. Give me a second chance, Jesus. Make my wife love me again.



“Ola!” The name tore out of Pauline’s lips before she could realize it. “You are here!” She fought with all her willpower not to get out of the chair and jump into his arms.

Ola dropped the full paper bag in his arms, shocked at the bandaged arm. “I thought you said it was only a minor accident.” He moved closer to her, his face etched with worry. “What happened to you?” Then he noticed the tensed atmosphere in the hospital, the uniformed police officers who carried a man who looked half-dead and covered with blood out of the building. “What also happened here? There is a little crowd in front of the hospital too.”

Pauline stood up. “You won’t believe any of it, if I told you. Please let’s go inside.” She led him out of the reception to the room where she had been admitted. “I am just glad no life was lost. That man they carried out came into this place to kill a young girl just next door.”

“What! For what reason?”

“I don’t know the exact details, but what I picked up was that it involved drug business. I think the girl messed up the plan and the man was sent to kill her before she could expose the people involved.”

“What a mess!”

“Yes.” Pauline sat on the bed. “But it’s okay and I’m glad you are here.” Her eyes flew to the bag in his hands. “And you got something for me.”

Ola smiled. “Well, it was not really what I wanted to get, but it was the best I could lay my hands on.” He placed the bag on the bedside drawer and emptied the content.

“Beverages and drinks.” Pauline tried to hide her disappointment. What else did she expect? That was what a friend would bring his sick pal.

“Well, and I got this too.” Ola brought out the last item. It was a yellow rose inside a beautifully-designed get-well-soon card. “Just to make your day more cheery.”

Pauline collected the item with trembling hands. He got her a rose? That communicated something deeper than what she thought, even if it was just a yellow rose. “Thank… Thank you so much. I… I really appreciate this.” Her eyes caught his and they held for a minute, before she became uncomfortable and averted hers. “Thank you for your care, Ola.”

Ola closed his eyes for some seconds, trying to gain control of himself. Did he just feel some current pass between them? Did he just notice how her eyes went all soft and inviting as if she was communicating something to him? She had appreciated him for his kind gesture, but deep within himself he knew he wanted to do more, to be more. But Pauline had built a hard shell around herself, as if she did not want anyone close to her at all. Starting from when they met at the University, when he had been her fellowship’s pastor, to the time of the rape incident and especially after that, Pauline had made it clear by her actions she did not trust anyone anymore. And when he had tried to be close and develop a relationship with her, he had always met with a brick wall. So he had recoiled and always acted out the part of the fellowship pastor, and nothing more, though sometimes he had wished he could be more. But her cold attitude had driven him away, and the fear that she may not want to be more than he wanted her to be had kept him apart from her all these years, coupled with a conscious effort to forget about her and carry on with his new life. When he stumbled upon her picture on Facebook, he could not resist the urge to reach out to her again and the business trip was just perfect timing. So he had made the call he did not want to make and here he was. When he eventually met her again last Friday, the feelings he thought he had overcome had come flooding back. But as much as he tried to reach out, she still tried to hold back from him, as if she was protecting herself from him. She should, because his feelings for her was dangerous, not only to both of them, but also to their families. She had a happy family with two beautiful girls and an adoring husband and he… well, he had his own family too, though he hardly saw his kids after the divorce, no thanks to his wife having custody of them. He needed to get out of here before he said something silly.

“Where is your husband?” He found himself asking as he regained control. “I thought you mentioned he was around.”

Pauline didn’t know how to respond. “He… He…”

The door opened and Ezinne walked in with a phone in her hands. She handed the phone over to Pauline. “It’s your husband. He wants to speak to you. He is on his way.”

Ola stepped back, trying to hide the disillusionment raging his body. “I should leave.” He said with a forced smile.

“Wait!” Pauline raised her hand. “Just hold on a bit for me, please.”

The way she pleaded made Ola’s heart melt, but he knew waiting was not a good decision. “Okay, I will be outside.” He concluded before walking out the door.

Pauline placed the phone against her ear. “Yes.” She sounded as cold as ice.

“Pauline, I am so sorry.” George sounded very broken over the phone. “There is something I need to tell you urgently and I am on the way to the hospital. In fact, I am almost there. Please forgive me for what happened this morning.”

“There is no reason for you to come, George. And there is nothing you want to say that will change anything. Our marriage is over. You got what you have always wanted with another woman. Please I beg you, don’t come and create more trouble for me. Go back to your new wife.”

“It is not what you think. Pauline! It is…” The line cut, leaving George more frustrated. He increased the pace of the car. He needed to get to his wife before it was too late. She sounded like it was too late.

Pauline felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction when she cut the call. Who did George think she was? That she would forgive him and forget the agonizing years in he made her life hell over a fake phone call? He must be kidding!

“That was the man you told me about, right?” Ezinne asked, pointing at the door. “He looks really cute, but we both know nothing can happen between you two.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you just spoke with your husband and I think he is coming to beg you. He sounded very sorry over the phone. I think you should give him a listening ear.”

“He never gave me a listening ear all these years. He doesn’t deserve mine.” Pauline disagreed. “You of all people knew what I went through. It is because of him I am in the hospital. I cannot believe you are taking his side, Ezinne.”

“I am not taking his side. I am just trying to find a solution.”

“Well, keep the solution to yourself.” Pauline walked towards the door. “I played the gullible wife for years. Today, I have outgrown that.”

“You are making a mistake, Pauline.” Ezinne advised. “That man out there has his own family too. You are emotionally distraught right now and are prone to take some actions you may regret later.”

“When you are married, Ezinne, or if you ever will, and you go through what I have gone through and survive, then you can have all the right in the world to advise me on how to solve my problems, okay?” Pauline opened the door and stormed out angrily.

Who was Ezinne to judge or advise her? Pauline thought furiously. Ezinne was her friend, not her counselor. It was she who wore the shoe that would know where it pinched. It was she who bore the scar of humiliation on her body. Funny how everyone usually had an opinion on other people’s matters, without minding theirs. Ezinne should get married first, before she was qualified to air her views on marriage matters. Pauline walked straight to the reception where Ola was waiting for her, as he should be. But what she saw when she arrived the room stopped her on her track.

Ola was chatting happily with the elderly woman as if they had known each other before. When he turned and saw her, he stretched his arms at her. “Come here, please Pauline. Let me introduce you to this wonderful woman here.”

Pauline walked slowly to them, her eyes never leaving the woman’s.

“Mrs. Williams, please meet Pauline, my good friend.” Ola introduced before he turned to Pauline. “Pauline, meet Mrs. Williams, my elementary school teacher over thirty years ago. Isn’t that amazing? She did not change much at all.”

Lola appeared calm as she stretched her hand for a handshake. When she felt the hands of the younger woman, she sensed some stiffness. “Nice to meet you again.”

Pauline muttered a rigid response, her eyes still on Mrs. Williams, and still wondering how this could have come to be. She never would have thought, in her wildest dreams, that Ola would know this woman, this woman who liked poking her nose in other people’s affairs. When she first saw the woman and her ‘goddaughter’ thief-girl, she knew they were trouble and had tried as much as possible not to cross their path. She had failed, falling into her arms like a pack of stick.

“I need to leave now, Mrs. Williams. It’s so good to run into you again.” Ola gave Lola a big hug.

“Good to know God has made you great, Ola. Don’t ever forget to serve Him more.” Lola patted his back.

Ola turned his attention to Pauline and was short of words for a second. He pulled her into a deep embrace, whispering aloud. “Take care of yourself, Pauline.”

Pauline relaxed into those strong, protective arms as if she belonged there. She had never felt safer, more loved at that moment. It was as if she should remain there, as if that was where she was meant to be. Her arms tightened around him and she could feel a tear trying to slip from her eyes.


The trio looked at the entrance and saw a big man standing there, looking very angry as if he just witnessed something he hated to see.

“George!” Pauline drew out of the embrace.

“You better start explaining to me what is going on here before I lose my temper permanently.” George walked into the reception, looking every bit like an irritated animal. He turned to face Ola, who looked very confused. “What were you doing holding my wife in your arms like that?”

“You are her husband?” Ola pulled back.

“It isn’t what you think, George.” Pauline tried to defend them.

George looked like he just got a blow to his heart. “I cannot believe what I just saw. I thought I was coming here to get another chance with you. I didn’t know I was coming here to get a broken heart, to see you in the arms of another man.” He spat at Pauline. “I was right all along. You are guilty of adultery, you love another man.” He shook his head pitifully. “No wonder you were eager to make me not to come here. You could not wait to be with your boyfriend.”

“You know that is not true, George.” Pauline retorted at the top of her voice. “You sent me out of our matrimonial home, remember? You felt I was barren and got another woman who is now pregnant for you, remember? Your new wife poured hot water on me that got me into this hospital, remember?” Pauline pointed a finger at him. “You have no right to come here and accuse me of adultery when you yourself are guilty of same.”

“It’s okay!” That came from the elderly woman. Lola could not believe how things were turning out. “We can settle this elsewhere, not in an hospital.”

“But you told me you had kids. Mary and Martha you called them.” Ola asked Pauline. “You were lying to me?”

Pauline didn’t know what to say. She shook her head, words escaping her mind. Tears gathered in her eyes. “It is now what you think, Ola. Please let me explain.”

“No, there is no need.” Ola stepped away from her. “I don’t want to be part of this charade. He looked from one person to the other. “Excuse me, please.” He walked towards the exit and when he passed by George, he stopped. “And I am not her lover. Never has, never will.” He walked out of the hospital without a backward glance.”

“Don’t even think of coming back home.” George told Pauline. “We were a mistake from the start.” He turned his back and walked away.

Pauline broke down on the floor, very flustered and confused. Soon, the tears starting falling like a flood. She had lost everything. EVERYTHING.

Lola watched the younger woman weep away and her heart broke. She wished she could help, but the poor woman had always snubbed her. She dipped her hands into her purse and brought out a card. She knelt beside the young woman. “If you need to talk, please call me on this number. I will be glad to help you.” She stood up and walked back into the room where her ‘goddaughter’ was being prepared to leave.

Pauline stared at the paper on the floor. She didn’t want anybody poking into her life. She didn’t want any advice from anybody. She just wanted to be alone. Calling the woman was the last thing she would do, even if it was her last breath. She picked up the card and squeezed it as hard as she could. Her life was over.




Bola sat rigid against the black leather seat of the car with her bandaged left leg and arm carefully tucked in comfortable positions. She was very tired and had just gone through the most horrifying moment of her life. In the last few hours, she had been forcefully involved in a drug deal, had nearly lost her life in a motor accident and had almost been murdered in cold blood by the man she thought was her way into a better life. Her life had been a roller coaster, going round and round and always ending up where she started, without a purpose. Stagnant.

She took a quick peek at the woman sitting at the other edge of the seat. The way her hands were placed calmly on her laps showed she was someone who had everything under control. She had come to Bola’s rescue before, when Bola had almost been put behind bars after her theft incident in the Mall, and here she was again, helping her out of a precarious situation. As much as she tried to deny it, Bola knew she owed the woman her life. If not for her, she wondered who she could have turned to. When the woman had stepped into the room after Bosco had been disarmed, Bola had jumped off the bed into her arms. Suddenly, the person she had once turned her back against suddenly became her only hope of safety and salvation. And for the first time in her life, she was grateful. Someone had shown great kindness to her and had not asked for something in return.

A little nudge on her left made her turn to see her little brother, sitting in the middle, smiling up at her. He looked so happy that Bola could not resist returning the smile. He had been a brave hero, her knight in shining armour, without whom everything would have gone sour. He had been the one who had made the call that would save her life. She ruffled in hair and tried to kiss him on the forehead.

“You should be careful not to stress yourself at all.” A woman, dressed in a nurse’s attire and sitting in the front seat, advised. “Today has been a long day for you.”

“For all of us, actually.” Lola replied. “Once we get home, we need all the rest we can get. It’s been an eventful day.”

Lola turned her head to the young girl. “What happened today is a miracle you should thank God for. That He brought us together again is astonishing, isn’t it? And at the point where you needed urgent help. I should get in touch with your parents and tell them where I am taking you.”

“No!” Bola yelped. Then she calmed down. “I mean you cannot tell anyone where I am.”

“Why?” Lola could not understand why the young girl would want to keep her location secret from her parents.

“I don’t have a family. It is just my brother and I.”

Lola faced her fully. “You mean you don’t have a family? What happened to them?”

“Nothing.” Bola was getting nervous. Couldn’t this woman not just stop bothering her with questions?

“Baba sent us out of the house.” Tomiwa cut in, much to his sister’s annoyance.

“And your mother?” Lola asked, a bit flustered by the response she was getting.

As Tomiwa was about to answer, Lola placed a hand above his mouth.  “Our mother died when she gave birth to Tomiwa.” She lied. “And since then we have been living with our father until he sent us packing.” If only the woman could stop asking these irritating questions.

“Why did he send you packing?”

Bola was fed up and this time, she shouted. “He didn’t want to have anything to do with us anymore! Please stop asking questions and if we will be a liability to you too, please stop the car and let us get out.”

The silence in the car was deafening and all eyes were on Bola. Bola clasped a hand over her mouth, too ashamed of the foolish words that just fell out her mouth. Now, everyone would see how ungrateful and disrespectful she was.

“It’s okay.” Lola’s words were gentle and calm. “You have gone through a lot of stress today and are going through a lot of trauma right now. It is my fault. This isn’t the right time to bug you with questions.”

Bola stared at the woman’s eyes and tears filled hers. How could the woman still be kind to her after what she just did? “I… I am sorry. I did not mean to be rude.”

Lola smiled sweetly, patting the girl’s head. “It’s okay, dear. You were only acting out of strain. I am sure when we get to know each other better in the coming days, you will find I am just trying to help. And just to get this out between us, I do not see you or your brother as liabilities, okay?”

Bola could hardly respond and she fought to hold back the tears. She turned her head, facing the window before they could spill. Right now, she was very confused at the turn of events in her life. And as much as she tried to appreciate the kindness being shown to her, it seemed the bad side of her would always show up, that side that had grown to be selfish, suspicious and scared of any benevolence directed at her, as if there was a darkness within her, holding her from reaching out to the light that shone her way. Would she ever overcome that part of her?

Lola relaxed into the seat, her eyes closed. She had been slightly shaken when the girl had shouted back at her. Everyone had. She had enough problems of her own already, and now she had to take on another person’s problems? And the person happened to be a girl who would have none of her and did not appreciate her kind gesture. This would be worse than she thought. Obviously a very bad decision on her part.

I cannot do this, Lord. I just cannot. This is more than I can handle.

Why don’t you leave that to me and do your part.

Lola opened her eyes wide as she recognized that familiar Voice. What part is mine, Lord?

It’s so simple. Simply trust Me. Is anything too hard for Me?

Nothing is, Lord. Nothing is. Lola smiled within herself as she adjusted herself into a more cozy position as her breathing became more even and sleep she had been fighting finally took over.




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Saturday, 5th July 2014


Bola stood in front of the face-me-I-face-you house she had lived all her life in the Olosha area of Mushin, a lower-class area of Lagos known for its hostile and notorious lifestyle. Everyone lived for himself, whether old or young, male or female. It was like a battle ground where the fittest could only survive and the losers get trodden. This was where she had been lived all the seventeen years of her life trying to make sense of why she existed. Tomorrow, she would be eighteen and she still was yet to find the answer she craved. She sighed sadly as a familiar feeling overwhelmed her.

You are a failure, Bola. You have always been from the moment you were born.

No! I can make it through this.

Really? And how do you intend to do that? You can barely feed yourself and your brother. You had to resort to stealing. You are a complete embarrassment. Just look at how you disgraced yourself today. Now, the whole world knows you as a thief.

Shut up! Shut up! I will survive this.

Really? After seventeen years? You better do what you need to do. Your mother did it too. After all, that was how you came into the world. Laying on your back for some few minutes every day won’t hurt. You got to do what you got to do. Plus, it isn’t like it will be your first time any way.


“Aunty Bola. Are you okay? You look sick.” Seven year old Tomiwa held his half-sister’s hands, looking very bothered. He asked in fluent Yoruba. “Is it the headache again?”

Bola had not noticed her seven year old half-brother walk up to welcome her. She stroked his head. “I am fine, Tomiwa. Just need some rest.” She replied in the native tongue.

Tomiwa’s face lightened up and he grabbed the nylon in his sister’s hand. “Is that food? Where did you get it?” He placed the heavy bag on the floor and rummaged through its contents. “Yeeee! What is this?” He raised a bar of chocolate. “Is it sweet?”

Bola choked back the tears in her eyes. If life had smiled on them from the start, her little brother would not be so much in awe of a simply candy as he was now. He looked like he had seen something so magical. “Let’s go inside. We will share it together.” Then she hesitated. “Is Baba around?”

“No. He went out since morning and has not returned. I am hungry, Aunty. Baba did not give me money for food.”

“Don’t worry. I brought enough food for us. We just have to hide it away from Baba, so it will be enough for us for days, okay?”

Tomiwa nodded in agreement. At such a young age, he already knew life was not fair and was ready to make sure he survived as well, even if it meant hiding food away from his uncaring father. The siblings walked into their one room apartment that could boast of nothing except a tattered mattress on the floor and some plates and pots carefully arranged in a corner. The colourless wall was marked with cracks here and there and the only window to the room was covered with a net that had large holes.

“So where did you get this plenty food?” Tomiwa asked as he settled on the mattress with his sister, his eyes bulging with excitement.

“Well… I um… a kind woman bought them for me.”Bola replied, forcing a smile on her face. She had only been able to pick some candy she had stuffed underneath her cloth, but when her ‘godmother’ had come to her rescue, she had ended up leaving the mall with a full bag instead. The woman had added a lot of things to the stolen items and had paid for everything. That kind act had shaken Bola to the depth of her soul and had got her scared too. No one had ever been generous to her before and she had not known how to react. Instead of showing gratitude, her first instinct had been to be unthankful and to run away as fast as she could. Come to think of it, why would anyone want to show her kindness? In this life, she had learnt not to trust anyone. If someone did you good, be assured that it was because the person wanted something in return. Her father, whom they called ‘Baba’, had proven that over and over again. There was not a single day in that house that he did not mention how kind he was by giving her and her brother a roof over their heads. If not for him, they would be on the street, prostituting and penniless like their mothers. Instead, he had been an ‘honourable’ man and had taken custody of his children from ‘the ashewos’ from the moment they were born. But that was where it stopped. What they would eat was none of his business. So, Bola became responsible for bringing food into the house and feeding them, Baba inclusive. He had provided the house. She was to provide the food. From childhood, she had resorted to begging and doing petty jobs for people to make ends meet. When Tomiwa was brought into the house seven years ago when Bola was just ten, she knew she was not a child anymore. She was now a mother. Taking care of a baby was not something she had bargained for, but with help from older women around, she had succeeded in raising a strong boy. Anytime she looked at him, she felt the pride of a mother, but something still tugged at her heart. She needed to get him out of this violent neighbourhood if he ever could make meaning out of his life. She had been working on that that for seven years and yet, she had not succeeded. Was there something she was doing amiss?

“God bless her so much.” Tomiwa said, taking in a large chunk of the chocolate. “Did you remember to say ‘thank you’?

Deep guilt filled Bola’s heart. “I will when next I see her.” If I see her again.

“Okay. Please tell her I also said ‘thank you’, okay?”

“Eat your food, Tomiwa.” Bola cut him off gently before his next words would pierce her heart even more. The way he rushed the candy made her want to cry. “Eat as much as you can.” I don’t know when next we shall eat food as good as this.

When she had woken up that morning and discovered there was no food to eat in the house and no means of getting money for the weekend, she had resorted to doing one thing she had vowed she would never do again. Stealing. So, she had stood up before 6 am and pocketed the last N100 she had left before embarking on the journey to the Mall, which she had heard so much about. With the N100, she had hoped to get cheap transport that would take her half-way and she would walk the rest. A lot of petty thieves in the area had mentioned how lucrative ‘business’ was in the mall. Perhaps, if she was careful and smart enough, she would be lucky to steal as many things a poly bag could carry. By the time she completed the first lapse of the journey, she was totally exhausted and knew within her that she would not leave that place without getting what she had come for. Unfortunately, luck did not shine on her. She had faced the greatest embarrassment of her life. Thankfully, a kind-hearted woman had come to her rescue. When she walked through the door, Bola thought she had seen an angel, only that she didn’t have wings and when she had declared her a relative, Bola didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. When the guards had asked for her name, she had given a fake name. Tosin Ayoola. How the name jumped out of her lips still puzzled her. One thing she knew, she had been able to cover her tracks well. Anyone looking for a ‘Tosin Ayoola’ would never trace her to a ‘Bola Shotimiu’. One thing, though. She was grateful the woman had come just at the nick of time. Too bad she had not found the grace to say a simple ‘thank you’. Instead, she had been an ingrate. No doubt, the biggest ingrate that ever lived.

“What is this?” Tomiwa delved deeper into the nylon. He shouted excitedly. “See, it is money!” He waved the folded pieces in his hands. “Plenty money!”

Bola grabbed the money off his hands with trembling hands. Her eyes widened with shock as she counted one currency after the other. “N5000!” She jumped to her feet.

She had never held such big money all at once. The last time she held something close to that was when she had  lain under a man who had promised to pay her N4,000, but ended up tossing N2,500 at her, asking her to ‘manage’ it and to get the hell out of his room before his wife returned. She had never felt more miserable and as she shamefully picked up the money, she heard the man smirk at her. That was seven months ago when Tomiwa had fallen sick and desperately needed some drugs. Now, in her hands she held N5000? She could not believe the woman would further extend such kindness, after all Bola had put her through. “Maybe she forgot it in the nylon.”

“Maybe she just wanted to give you. And you did not say ‘thank you’ to her.” Tomiwa sounded very accusatory this time. He emptied all the content of the nylon and a paper flew out. He picked the paper and when he could not make out the content, he handed it over to his sister. “What is this?”

When Bola collected the paper and discovered what it was, the shock on her face turned into a frown. She was proven right again. No one in this world showed kindness without expecting something in return. She brought the business card closer to her face. On one side was a name and a phone number. Lola Williams. The name had a good ring to it, but Bola was not deceived. No doubt, the old woman wanted something in return; that was why she had left her card, so Bola could call her. If that was what she wanted, she would have to wait till eternity. Bola turned the paper and on the other side was a simple sentence. A question actually.

Have you got Jesus?

That question nearly made her laugh in disbelief. This rich woman was not only silly, she was also one of those Jesus freaks. No wonder she had been a little self-righteous. Bola flung the card across the room. She wanted nothing to do with people like that. She didn’t need their Jesus to take control of her life. After all, where was He all through the years of suffering? If there was anything she knew she needed to make it in this life, it would be perseverance, not some story about some Man who died thousands of years ago. She doubted if the story was real anyway, just a bunch of lies that were passed from one century to another. She brought out a packed plate of rice and ate hungrily. No, she didn’t need Jesus. What she needed was a regular plate of rice.




Pauline walked up the stairs to their two bedroom flat located in Opebi area of Lagos. Her heart pumped heavily with fear. She had been out of the house since morning and was just returning over eight hours later. She knew her husband would be extremely angry and would not hesitate, in hard terms, to let her know that, but coming back to the house was the last thing on her mind after she left the Mall, so she had decided to stop by her friend’s place in Ojodu-Berger. Ezinne, the only person in the world who knew what she was going through, had provided the kind of comfort she needed, but still that was not enough. She needed a lasting solution. Tonight, in the stillness of their home, she would ask her husband for divorce. Finally, she would take the step that had been inevitable for months now.

But nothing prepared her for what she discovered when she got to the doorstep of her home. At the entrance were different pairs of shoes, indicating her husband was not alone. Happy chatters from inside floated into her ears and her heart quickened more as she recognized one of the voices. Her mother-in-law’s. What was she doing here, uninvited and without formally letting her know she was coming beforehand? New rage boiled within her. This was totally uncalled for. Even her own mother would not have such audacity. Shaking with anger, she placed her hand on knob and tried to open the door, but it was locked from the inside. This was what her life had been degraded to. She had been shut out from the comfort and happiness the home she built should provide and left without in the dark to languish in loneliness. Outsiders were now the lords of her lair and she could only watch from afar as they destroyed what she had nurtured for years. Enough was enough! She banged hard on the door and was rewarded with a sudden silence. Seconds later, the door was unlocked and a lady peeped from inside. She was young, light-skinned and beautiful. Pauline had never seen her before and she wondered who she could be.

The lady frowned at her. “Why did you bang on the door like that?” She had a heavy igbo accent and one could tell she was not well educated.

Pauline resisted the urge to slap her. How dared this ‘small thing’ talk to her like that, challenging her in her own house? She hissed and tried to pass through the door.

The lady blocked the entrance. “Who you be sef?” She looked back into the house. “Mama, please come here. I don’t know who this woman is.”

Pauline’s mother-in-law, a short but dominating plump woman marched towards the door and when she saw Pauline, her smile turned into a deep frown. She hissed loudly, made a sign of the cross, and spoke to the young lady. “Allow her in. It is the Ogbanje.”

“Oh!” The lady stepped back, creating some space for Pauline to walk in, while assessing her in a strange and belittling way.

Pauline ignored her and when she stepped inside, she saw her husband sitting in front of the television and eating food she obviously did not cook. She greeted him, loud enough for him to hear, but if he did hear, he chose to ignore her, focusing more intently on the football match on the screen. She sighed sadly and walked into the kitchen. When she got there, she found the sink filled with unwashed utensils and the floor was stained with dirty water. Puddles from the soup had stained the wall and the gas cooker was filled with milky water. Who could have done this? She thought irritatingly. She dropped the groceries on the cupboard and dashed to the living room where the women had joined her husband, but what shocked her was how the young lady had cuddled into him as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

“Ermmm… sorry, excuse me…” She didn’t know how to begin. “The kitchen… it’s a mess. What happened there?” She looked from one person to the other.

“If you had come home early enough to cook food for your husband, you will not be asking such stupid question.” Her mother-in-law chided her.

Pauline shut her eyes and tried to hold back the retaliatory words at the tip of her tongue. She was not ready for this, had not expected it, did not want this. She was already physically and emotionally exhausted and having people remind her of her failure was the least thing she needed right now. She caught the scornful look on the girl’s face and watched as her husband gently stroked the girl’s hair. She did not need a soothsayer to know what was going on here. She was being mocked and right at her face.

“Who are you?” Pauline turned to the girl.

“This is the beautiful girl I have brought from the village that will give me a grandson.” Mother-in-law chipped in again. “Since your witchcraft has tied your womb, I can no longer watch my son suffer at your hands anymore. In my family, in all our generations, we always have children upon children and that will not stop with my only son.”

“But, mama, do you know what you are doing?” Pauline challenged her. “You are trying to break up your son’s marriage.” She glanced at her husband, expecting him to say a word, but he kept watching the TV as if she was not even there.

The old woman jumped on her knees. “Which marriage, eh? The one I did not support from the start? I told my son to marry from our tribe, but you bewitched him and he disobeyed me and married you. Now, I am glad he has seen I was right all along.” She pointed a finger at Pauline. “Soon, shame will make you pack your load and leave this house when my girl starts giving me grandchildren; strong boys that will feed at my breasts.”

Pauline turned to her husband. “George, you knew this all along and you did not even inform me?”

George ignored his wife and instead, picked up the remote control and increased the volume of the television. A ball of fury consumed Pauline and she moved to the socket where the television was connected and switched it off. How dared he treat her this way and in front of these people?

George cast her a very annoyed look. “Why did you do that?” He asked in a calm but irritated voice. “Or rather, how dare you do that?”

“I asked you a question, George, and you pretended not to hear me.”

George stood on his feet, his posture very intimidating. At 37, he was a successful banker with a progressing career and one who believed in keeping a united home-front, which was why he always threatened divorce, but would never actually carry it out. He believed it would not only damage his reputation, but would also undermine his authority as a man. “I didn’t answer you because I consider it a foolish question and you decide to disrupt my football? Are you mad? By the way, you told me you were going to the Mall since morning and you are just returning. I guess you went to see your manfriend, right?”

“I don’t have any manfriend.”

“Then where did you go?” He walked slowly towards his wife.

Pauline took some steps backwards. Right now, she did not know what to expect from her husband. One thing, though, he had never laid his hands on her before but from the way he fumed, she doubted he would not do that. “I was at the Mall and when I was returning, there was heavy traffic on the road.” She lied.

“Liar!” Mama shouted. “There was no traffic when we entered Lagos o! Everywhere was free.” She faced the girl. “Abi, Nneka?”

“Yes, mama. You are right.” Nneka replied, sitting more comfortably in the chair.

“Are you lying to me?” George asked his wife.

“No! I am not.” She pleaded with her eyes. “You and I are the ones that live in Lagos and you know how Lagos roads are. Plus today is Saturday. People have weddings and ceremonies. I swear, it was traffic.”

George’s eyes narrowed into slits. “Keep cheating. The day I will catch you will be your last day in this house.”

“Cheat?” Patience was exasperated. How dared he accuse her of an act he himself was guilty of? On so many occasions, she had secretly read through his phone and had seen many incriminating messages, which she had not had the courage to challenge him, and now he was flirting with one right before her eyes and he had the nerve to warn her about cheating? “We both know who is the cheat here, George and it is obviously not me.”

“Well, you cannot blame a man who hardly enjoys sex with his wife not to have something by the side. But as a respectable man, I have tried to be discreet, which is why Nneka is here. She will be living with us and taking over some of your roles. To others, she is a maid who has come in to assist us with our busy life, but among us in this house, she will be more than that.”

“Are you doing this to spite me, George? All these because I am yet to give you a child?”

“Which other reason is there? I am growing older and cannot keep waiting for your womb to be active. I want sons of my own and you should be grateful I will still allow you to stay under this roof and bear my name. At least, with that, you can still retain your respect.”

Pauline’s eyes were filled with tears. In her whole life, she never would have imagined this would be happening to her. She had heard tales of people going through hell in their marriages and had prayed she would never have such experience, and here she was going through the very thing she had feared most. “You should have at least discussed this with me before taking the action, George.” She said amidst tears. “At least, courtesy demanded that.”

“Well, I wanted to discuss it with you this morning, but you were so desperate to go and meet your manfriend.”

I have no manfriend! She wanted to shout at him again, but decided against it. No matter how hard she tried to convince him, he would never believe her. He had made up his mind on this and there was no use fighting a lost battle. Her marriage had failed. Her life was in shambles. Life had finally become empty. There was no need to ask for a divorce anymore. It had already happened. All that remained was to sign across a piece of paper.

She started crying uncontrollably and when her husband tried to move towards her, his mother blocked him. “No. Let her get used to this. Trust me, she will get over it.”

Pauline ran to her room and bolted the door. She flung herself on the bed, wailing like a bereaved widow. Actually, she was bereaved. Bereaved of love, of life, of her humanity.

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