THE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR series
[continued from WELD-LOCK (3)]
I found my misery to be such a mystery. In the few weeks I really got engaged in the business of praying about the ‘future wife’ palaver, just as stipulated by Pastor Victor, I was already expecting the tell-tale signs of some dreamy encounter, or an audible voice to whisper the ‘chosen one’s’ name, just as we’d always heard off pulpit.(Pastor Victor did in fact tell me he as at then already knew his missing rib, having had it confirmed through a revelation of the lady in three consecutive dreams).
Hearing a voice wasn’t much of a feasible option for me though. I didn’t just think it real to try play the Samuel-Father Eli thing. And Pastor Victor had strongly opined God would more likely communicate me via dreams, as was commonplace. I never even had any dreams of any lady whatsoever. My dreams had only continued to be as weird as ever. If I wasn’t playing street football somewhere back home, it would be my usual of being treated to a sumptuous meal of bread and beans, my favorite dish in real life. And really I would often wake to a full stomach.
It became a big issue when I had talked my experience over with a couple of friends in the prayer unit. They had taken it very personal, and had me instantaneously diagnosed of some strange, oppressive invasion from the ubiquitous, densely melaninated dark powers of paternal origin. Prayer sessions were prescribed. I held my peace. In the following weeks of unsuccessful exorcism, they had let me be, with my coven of ‘obstinate demons’.
Now the problem for me at this point wasn’t me not getting an answer to my prayers. But a pulsating spring of emotions I labeled ‘vile’, emanating from somewhere within I had suspected to be the pungent carnal sewers of my past. I was having affections for Funke, again!
I found it way too devastating to discover the ‘old’ was still much around with me. I did confide in my mentor on this struggle. He called it the ‘very root of evil’, and had encouraged me to pray it out. We even had a couple of prayer meetings together on the critical matter. My misery continued unabated. But, while it was true the feelings I had for Funke were coming back all over again, it was quite real and peaceful this time. A deep, quiet restful feel. My desperate annihilating efforts weren’t working. I did finally give up on it, tucked it under, and left it the way it was- a little harmless old flame.
About six months to my final professional exams in medical school, I got an invite from my Class’ reunion committee, my class back in high school, to come give a health talk at our biennial get together that December. It was the third of such coming up. I hadn’t made previous editions for obvious reasons. I had a better chance of making it that time, but was a bit reluctant. For one, my exams were fast approaching, and then this phobia I had of meeting old faces. The fear of what they might have turned into was there.
But Frank, my very good friend back then in high school was chairman, and he was too convincing. He was then studying pure and applied mathematics at the Ladoke Akintola University in Ogbomoso, and was in my school at the time for a conference of his department’s national student body. He had taken the opportunity to try mobilize myself and some other old boys and girls in O.A.U as well. I did oblige and made the trip. I was already home two days before the event.
The meeting was well attended, against all odds. The organizers had secured a medium-sized hall in town, and we got it all filled. Expectedly there were so many old boys and girls to catch up with. The better part of the meeting was all ‘mushy mushy’- blowing kisses and exchanging hugs. We had good laughs and relieved the good old days.
Well, I shoved the conservative in me aside for the day, having to respond to the girls flinging their ageing womanly bosoms at me in reckless abandon. I was scared initially. These were looking more like some persons’ wives, and some kids’ mothers. They were no girls.
Some faces were helplessly screaming for discovery, from beneath so great a suffocating load of makeup. So that I often had to ask around to confirm who I just hugged. I was latter to find out none among us had married as at then though, save Jibike who got pregnant for an Alhaji, a couple of years we left high school. It was the fruit of delayed admission. When she did gain admission eventually, Alhaji took full responsibility to sponsor her through the Polytechnic . It was the least he could do for his seventh wife among several other mistresses.
The ‘girls’ all claimed to be looking for ‘husband’. It was written all over their suggestive body language and gestures. I wondered who they were thinking to fill the gap. Me? Definitely not. With the scores of Sisters we had back in school fellowship, earnestly looking up to God, and looking around as well, so they might ‘finish their course’ with ‘joy’ and the ‘testimony’ of a full package- a brother with brilliant prospects, laced with some spirituality. I was a ‘full package’.
And then the ageing girls in my class back in school, who medical school had ensured would be having their youth service with folks about the age of their kid siblings. Those were eyeing some of us in class already.
And then this? Suicide!
It was soon time for my talk, and a loud ovation greeted me. I was introduced as doctor. Doctor was big deal. I was one of just 2 in my set. The other guy, Andrew our then best student was out of the country. I had gotten myself into something simple -my favorite outfit of short sleeved shirt and a bow tie.
I started out quite brilliantly. It was expected. Talk was my business of many years. Midway into my presentation, as I was establishing eye contact with members of the audience, my eye caught something strikingly familiar. A face very much familiar. Funke! I almost lost it up stage. I had to make frantic efforts to get myself composed. There she was, ravishing. She had light make-up, a perfecting touch to lit up her face of Adonis. She had developed fairly succulent cheeks too. Her face outline was still intact, and more now beautifully well-defined. It was so much I could see, lest I fumbled on stage. But I wasn’t same any more. Couldn’t take my eyes off the direction.
Our gazes locked at some point, like those days back in high school . Then we were kids, and would look away. This time she stayed her gaze and smiled. I was already looking out for space to faint. I looked up to the heavens for help. It was a conspiracy. Heaven was silent. I managed to scale through the presentation to a standing ovation from my colleagues.
But I was distracted already, through the rest of the program. And just after the event when we all busied ourselves with group photographs and tête-a-tete, I was on the lookout. Just then I felt a tap on my shoulder from behind. I turned round. Funke. My heart was already making some dangerous prison-break ventures against my ribcage. We exchanged pleasantries, a warm prolonged handshake.
It was my firrst time of standing to talk to my crush of many years. She had turned out to be softspoken , with this pretty diction . Her glossy lips seldomly parted wide enough to show her immaculately white dentition, still very much intact, without braces. She had grown into this well rounded cute young lady, her shape of ‘8’ enhanced by her beautiful blue silk gown.
We talked a while, over bottles of coke, seated under a shed around. There wasn’t the Dad to whisk her way this time. She was an adult. She was half way through her service year by then, serving in Osogbo, Osun state, about one hour drive from Ife.
She was the first to accost me, for not replying her last letter, and breaking off abruptly. Was about doing same. I was stupefied. It was obvious my love letter never got to her. NIPOST happened. It was lost in transit. She had wondered what went wrong all through, and that had broken up our budding friendship. We had a lovely conversation, and never knew we had crossed the three hour mark already. We did eventually had to let go of each other, and exchanged addresses, promising to catch up sometime soon. I left for Ile-Ife a fulfilled man, but with a lot of atonement to make. I had desecrated the brotherhood.
I was a surprise visitor at Funke’s, a couple of times at the Corper’s lodge. The last was immediately after my professional exams. The results were released in less than a week after the exams, and I had done myself proud. In fact I had traveled to Osogbo drunk in the euphoria. She was way too happy for me, and had me locked me up in one hug so passionate. It was one moment I would relive for several weeks on.
She returned my visit a couple of weeks later. It was about 4 days to her passing out parade. By then we apparently had some chemistry, which just couldn’t communicate in English. I was still hanging around in school then, awaiting induction. I had taken her out, and treated her to a delectable lunch in a comfy food outlet just off campus.
It was over a plate of rice, angry-looking beef and cold juice. The setting was chilled. Jazz music was playing softly in the background. The atmosphere was just right. I needed to play the man. To call a spade a spade, and not a big spoon. The mission was clear, the courage was there, and with the sufficiency of God’s grace laid bare, I popped the question… (to be continued)