Gbemi decided to take Saturday off from every form of work. She stayed home to rest and prepare for the week ahead. She still had a hard time believing what had just happened; the joy she felt after forgiving her dad. She never knew it was going to be that easy once she allowed God to take over. She had dreaded seeing her father before then but now was looking forward to the next visit.
She got back home around 3pm. As she climbed the stairs that led to the floor she shared with Gbenga, she recalled all that had just happened. She remembered the smart stunt John pulled and smiled. She noticed she was smiling and quickly tried to compose herself.
‘What is wrong with me?’ she thought to herself. ‘Gbemi, you better behave yourself o’, she scolded herself playfully.
Just as she opened the door that led to her apartment, she heard the door leading to Gbenga’s flat open. She was backing it.
‘Gbemi’, she heard her name. She knew that voice.
She stood still, backing the door.
‘How are you doing?’ he tried to act like nothing ever happened.
Gbemi turned around and smiled. She initially intended for it to be a fake one but suddenly, she realized it was a genuine smile beyond her control.
‘Hi Gbenga, it’s been a while. How have you been?’
Gbenga was shocked to his bones. He could not hide it. His face gave him away. He didn’t expect her to respond the way she did. He was embarrassed because he knew he had played a fast one on her.
Gbemi was proud of the woman she had become by the help of the Holy Spirit.
‘I’m…I’m fine’, he stammered.
‘That’s great. Take care’, she opened the door and went in without waiting for another word from him.
He stood in the corridor speechless. ‘What has happened to her?’, he thought to himself. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He opened his door and went back into his apartment totally astonished.
Gbemi on the other hand had not gone far. She stood behind her door till she heard the sound of his door close then gave a sigh of relief. ‘Thank You Lord for boldness’, she said. ‘I cannot come and pack out because of him. I know I’ll keep seeing him but I must remain strong’, she thought. ‘Lord, please give me grace’, she prayed. The feelings she had for him had gone but she knew she was still in a vulnerable state.
She went in and dropped her bag on the centre table then went into her room to change into something light because the weather was quiet hot. When she returned to the sitting room, she turned on the TV and with a chilled drink, sat to watch it.
She picked her phone from her bag to call John and thank him for his support but instead what she saw made her rather upset. It was a whatsapp message from Gbenga;
“Hi Gbemi, I’ve missed you.”
‘Is this guy out of his mind?’, she asked angrily. ‘It was bad enough he made me fall for him and deceived me into thinking he was an unmarried man, now he is telling me this rubbish.’ She read it again and intentionally didn’t reply. She knew he would know she had read it.
She dialed John’s number but he didn’t pick it. She tried again but still with no response. She decided she’ll try again later. She believed that if a person didn’t pick after the second ring, there was no point trying a thousand times.
She remembered her conversation with her father about ensuring her siblings come to greet him so she decided to act fast. She sent a whatsapp message to her brother, Femi. She had a feeling he was at work. His job as a medical doctor almost always left him busy and mostly unavailable. She hardly called because he’d always reject her call and send a message that he was at work. Sometimes it could really be annoying and at such moments, Gbemi would complain and wonder if her brother wanted to get married to his profession; she however tried to remain understanding.
“Hi bro Femi, how are you?”
She didn’t bother waiting for his reply. ‘He’ll probably reply tomorrow’ she assured herself. But she was so wrong, after about 5 mins, his reply came in;
“Hey Gbemi, how na? I’m okay. I’m at work at the moment but I’ll call you as soon as I can. Trust you are good?”
He didn’t disappoint.
“Yes I am, just don’t forget to call.”
She was already used to his busy schedule but she hoped he’ll find a wife and not just any wife but one that would be understanding and willing to pay the necessary sacrifices. She knew it was not a child’s play. She pitied those that got married for the wrong reasons such as titles or the positions their spouses held. She understood that marriage is much more than that. ‘Anyway what do I know, I’m not married’, she told herself and waved the thought off her mind.
She decided to call her sister who was more readily available. She picked after the first ring.
‘Hi sister Gbemi, what’s up?’, she was happy to hear her sister’s voice.
‘I’m fine o, how are you?’
‘I’m okay, I’m trying not to allow this wedding plans stress me out.’
‘Awwww sorry dear. I can imagine. It’s getting closer true true o. Just…’ she counted her fingers, ‘five months to go.’
‘Abi o. it’s not easy.’
‘You know I’ve told you to carry me along. Whatever you need me to do, I’ll clear my schedule for you.’
‘I kuku know, I’ve not just wanted to stress you.’
‘Please stress me o. How many sisters do you have?’, she smiled.
‘Only one o’, she chuckled. ‘Thank you. So I was hoping I could put you in charge of the asoebi (uniformed traditional attire). My friends will contact you and get it from you. What do you think?’
Gbemi’s head suddenly felt faint at the mention of that word ‘Aso what?! Did she just put me in charge of asoebi? Ha! Me sef, I don’t plan to do asoebi for my wedding. Which kind wahala is this now?’, she thought.
‘Hello sisterly’, that was the pet name they used for each other. ‘Are you there?’
‘Yeah sure’, Gbemi had gotten carried away in her thoughts. ‘No problem.’ She said it not because there was really no problem but because she loved her sister and so was willing to pay the sacrifice. ‘When will I get the asoebi?’
‘Sometime next week. I’ll send Kola’s driver.’ Kola, Bola’s fiancé, also lived in Lagos where she planned to buy the asoebi even though she herself lived in Ibadan.
‘Alright o but hope you know that my own will be free o. I don’t want to hear stories’, she tried to play smart.
‘You that you are meant to buy for people sef’, she always knew how to get back at her sister.
‘You and who? Maybe I’m plucking money on the tree ni, you will tell me. Anyway the reason I called was because of daddy’, she paused and waited for her sister’s response.
‘Daddy?’ there was disgust in her voice. ‘What about him? What does that man what in our lives, now of all times?’
‘He is sick’, she paused and added ‘very sick’ for emphasis.
‘Wait o sisterly, why are you now sounding so concerned for him?’
‘He is our father, Bola’, she said softly. ‘We have to forgive him. It was really hard for me but with God’s help, I was able to.’
Bola was silent.
A thought crossed Gbemi’s mind ‘If anyone told me I’ll be the peacemaker between my father and my siblings, I would have argued but now, I believe it can only be God.’ ‘Bola, please allow Jesus heal you like He did me. I went to visit him today and he desperately wants to see you and bro Femi.’
Bola sighed deeply ‘Sis Gbemi, what you are asking is hard and you know it.’
‘Yes dear, I do but didn’t we ask for more when Jesus forgave us? It’s not easy but trust me, it is so worth it. When next you are in Lagos, please try to see him. The sooner the better.’
‘Ok I will’, she said reluctantly.
‘Pele dear, it is well. My regards to Kola.’
‘Alright sis. Take care.’
Gbemi felt fulfilled. There was this sense of accomplishment that brought her joy. ‘One down, one to go’, she shouted aloud.
She checked her message notifications and saw more messages from Gbenga;
“Gbemi, why are you not replying me?
We can make this work.
Please I desperately need to see you.
I’m only a stone throw away.”
Gbemi could not take it anymore. She had had enough of his mess. She decided to call him and end the annoying influx of his messages.
As she waited for him to pick, she sensed God calming her down. She decided that although she was going to be firm, she wasn’t going to say anything that won’t reflect Christ.
‘Hello Gbenga’, she said with a stern voice.
‘Hi Gbemi, I’ve been trying to…’
Gbemi cut in sharply, ‘This call is not for you to explain yourself or try to fix anything. It’s to warn you to stay away. I don’t want to have anything to do with you or your family. Let this be the last time you send such a message.’
She hung up.
‘Guys are just wicked sha’, she remembered John and then changed it to ‘some guys’, she smiled at the possibility of John being an exception. He wasn’t the typical tall, dark and handsome fellow. He was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, fair complexion and if one was to compare him with Gbenga in terms of looks, Gbenga had the build and more handsome look. But that was not what Gbemi was after, she knew there was much more to a man than just his physical appearance. In as much as the looks were important, she sought for more. ‘Does he know God? Does he love God? Does he have a passion for the things of God? Is he going to help her grow and love God more?’ These and many others were her criteria and Gbenga, despite his good looks, failed woefully. But with John, she saw so much potentials, she however decided to take it a step at a time.
She remembered the next day was Sunday; thanksgiving Sunday for that matter. She scanned her wardrobe in her mind trying to figure out what outfit would be best. Somewhere behind her mind, she took into cognisance the fact that John was going to be in church. She stood up and went to the room to check out for herself what she would wear.
She had a whole lot of clothes to pick from, many of which she sewed herself. As she perused her hung clothes, one in particular caught her gaze. It was a yellow lace which she recently used to sew a flowing gown. It had a V neck with pearls beautifully hand sewn to the bust, it was a mermaid gown that brought out her hips. She wore it with a royal blue headtie and accessories.
She brought it out and hung it, it really didn’t need ironing so she decided to go ahead and get her accessories ready. It was just 7pm yet she prepared for church which was not until another 13 hours as if she was about to leave. She was not usually this enthusiastic. She loved God and the gathering of believers, no doubt about that but this time around, she really looked forward to being in church. Did it have anything to do with the fact John was going to be there too? The truth is he had always been there, she just had not paid attention.
After all the running around in preparation for church the next day, she decided to have a shower. She went into the kitchen and prepared pancake with a cup of milo then went back to the sitting room. The TV was tuned to Mount Zion TV and was showing House of Fire, one of their recent movies. She sat glued to it until she was interrupted by a phone call. She checked the caller ID. It was John.
‘Hi Gbemi, how are you? Sorry I missed your call. I was in a meeting when you called’, he explained.
‘Eeya, no problem. You mean you had a meeting this afternoon yet you agreed to follow me to see my dad in the morning?’, Gbemi was rather impressed.
‘Well yeah but em…it’s nothing really’, he didn’t want her to feel like a burden.
‘I really appreciate it. That was so thoughtful of you. I’m so grateful.’
‘You are welcome. So how was your day?’
‘It was good. Didn’t do much though. I’ve been indoor since I returned. How about you? What time did you get home?’
‘Some minutes ago. I’m pretty exhausted’, one could tell from his voice.
‘Awww sorry about that. You should get something to eat and then rest.’
‘Yeah I will. Thank you.’
‘Goodnight. See you tomorrow’, she added.
The next day, Gbemi got up a bit late and immediately jumped out of bed. She was thankful she had prepared for church the previous day. The time was 6:50am and service was 8am. She knew with the traffic, it would take her an average of 40 minutes to get to church so she really didn’t have time on her hand. She said a short prayer and jumped into the bathroom. She got dressed as fast as she could. By 7:25am, she was dressed and ready to leave. She got to church a few minutes past eight and quickly sat where the usher directed her. The service began with a 30 minutes prayer session after which a chorister stepped forward to lead worship. As the worship went on, Gbemi began to see a need to be more active in church. She needed to join a unit and the unit she felt persuaded to join was the prayer band. She made a mental note to see the prayer coordinator after service.
She kept looking back and stylishly checking if John was around. The worship session ended by 9am and she had still not sighted him. She was beginning to wonder if he was still going to make it. She also recalled that when she said ‘see you tomorrow’ the previous day, he didn’t reply her. She realized she was beginning to get distracted and decided to take her mind off it. Occasionally, she still looked back hoping he had come. It wasn’t a big church; the population was an average of hundred people so spotting a member wasn’t meant to be such a big deal. She could feel disappointment setting in when she realized he was nowhere to be found. She began to think of possible reasons why he wasn’t around. ‘Could he have slept off after the long day he had yesterday? Was he held up in traffic? Did he change his mind about going to church?’, she concluded that whatever the case was, she’ll call him after church to find out but in the main time had to focus on the service.
As the service went on, she got more engrossed and was having a great time in God’s presence. Just before time for the sermon, she saw an usher carrying the minister’s bible and usher him to the front. She looked away and immediately looked back to take a closer look at the minister. She didn’t believe her eyes. It was John. Yes, the same John that dressed casually the previous day and followed her to see her dad. He wore a grey suit with a baby pink shirt and black tie. He looked really good and well groomed. Gbemi needed special grace to focus on what he had to say and not the person talking.
The message lasted for an hour but to her, it seemed like just 10 minutes. She loved how he divided the scriptures in such a practical way as he gave example of personal experiences and linked them to his sermon. He was so well grounded in the Word yet so elementary in his approach that the least mature believer could understand and the unbeliever wouldn’t feel lost or out of place. He shared about ‘Standing Tall in the Face of Storms’.
He started by stating that storms are bound to come. ‘Even our Lord Jesus faced storms. Dying for you and I wasn’t an easy task, but in the face of it all, He received grace from the Father to pull through with it.’ He went on to remind the church about the scripture that states that ‘…when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned and the flames shall not consume you. Isa 43:2’. ‘The Bible didn’t say “if”, it clearly said “when” which means the fire experience is bound to happen but we must be of good cheer, for God will be right there with us just as he was with the three Hebrew boys in Daniel 3:24-25.’
He went on to tell them a story ‘I remember when I was in the university and cultist came to my hall to attack us, I was in year two then. It was my first and thankfully my last experiences with cultist. They came right into my room. Brethren trust me, that was a fire experience for me. I must have wet in my pant’, the church burst into laughter. ‘It wasn’t funny then o. As I lay on the floor, I immediately remembered the scripture we just read and started praying under my breath. Long story cut short, God saw me through it, I was unharmed.’
Gbemi was intrigued by the story. She never knew that about him. Actually, there were so many things about him she didn’t know and she realized there was a deep longing to know more. She could perfectly relate with his experience because it reminded her of her unpleasant experience in SA.
He concluded by telling the church that no matter how terrible the experience you find yourself, God assures us three things; one, you aren’t the first person to go through it. Two, God will not bring your way an experience beyond your control and three, there would always be a way of escape as recorded in 1 Cor 10:13.
He made an altar call to the unbelievers and six people came out to give their lives to Christ. He led them in prayer and prayed for them.
After service, Gbemi went straight to meet the prayer band leader as she had initially planned and made her intentions to join the unit known to him. He was pleased and briefed her about their meeting days which was every Tuesday evening and an hour before each service. She planned to attend subsequent meetings. She gave him her number and he promised to add her to the whatsapp group page.
Speaking of whatsapp, did I tell you that her brother Femi didn’t get back to her? We’ll still get to that later.
As the prayer secretary walked away, Gbemi tried to make up her mind to either say hi to John or leave without a word. Her excuse would have been that there were a number of people who wanted to see him and he definitely had meetings he had to attend. Before she could decide what to do next, she heard someone call her name from behind and tap her shoulder, she turned and saw it was John. Despite his busy schedule and long list of people waiting to see him, he had squeezed out time to say hi to her even if it was going to be for just a minute. Gbemi was really impressed.
‘I had no idea you were the one preaching today’, she confessed.
‘Well that makes two of us.’
‘What?! You didn’t know?’ she exclaimed.
‘No not that. Off course I knew. I just didn’t know you didn’t know. It was announced on Wednesday, after Bible study’
‘Oh, I wasn’t around. I was still in SA.’
‘That’s true. So hope you enjoyed the sermon?’
‘Every bit of it. Trust me I could relate. I was so blessed’, Gbemi felt excitement well up within her, she couldn’t explain why.
‘I’m glad you did’, he smiled. ‘We definitely have a lot of…’ a church member tapped him and whispered to him that pastor was calling him. ‘I’m sorry Gbemi, I have to leave now. We’ll pick up from where we stopped.’
‘Ok no problem’, Gbemi understood he had to go but notwithstanding, she was unhappy, she was left in suspense ‘a lot of what now o? What was he going to say? She wondered.
Gbemi turned to leave and hoped John won’t delay in calling her.
She got home in good time, thanked God for a wonderful time and church and silently prayed John would call. She went in to change her cloth and as she did, she wondered if John even noticed her exceptional appearance. She waved the thought off her mind and went into the kitchen to prepare lunch. She didn’t have breakfast that morning as it was her culture every Sunday to go to church fasting and break with lunch. She brought out a bowl of stew from the freezer and placed it in the microwave then boiled rice and fried plantain.
Shortly after she placed the rice on fire, she heard her phone ring, she rushed out to pick it hoping it was John. Alas it wasn’t. It was her brother, Femi. She loved him quite alright but at that moment was more eager to speak to John than anyone else. She picked the call.
‘Hello bro Femi, how are you? I’m guessing you were too busy to call back yesterday’
‘I got back really late and decided it’d be better I call you after church. So how are you?’
‘I’m alright. You? Were you able to go to church?
‘I was o, I literally dragged myself to church this morning but I’m thankful I did. It was so worth it. I felt so refreshed in my spirit.’
‘I’m so glad to her that’ Gbemi was happy for him.
‘So what was it you wanted to tell me yesterday?’
‘Daddy is in the hospital. It appears he is terminally ill and wants to see us before…’ she couldn’t complete it.
‘Are you serious? When did you get to know about this? He was shocked to hear the sad news. As a medical doctor, all sort of diagnosis ran through his mind and he wondered how long his father had left. He obviously wasn’t close to his father while growing up but wasn’t as hurt as Gbemi was.
‘Mummy told me on Friday.’
‘Have you gone to see him?’
‘It was a tough choice but I finally did.’
‘That’s serious o,please send me the address of the hospital. I should check on him after work tomorrow’.
‘Alright will do. He is really looking forward to seeing you.’
‘Hmmm it is well. Anyway, thank you.’
‘You welcome. Hope you find time to call mummy?’
‘That woman’ he chuckled. ‘You know if I don’t call her, she will definitely call me?’
‘True but that’s not an excuse not to call her o’, Gbemi was already beginning to sound like a mother herself.
‘I know, I’ll call her. Anything else?’, he joked.
‘Nothing for now. Take care of yourself o, find time to rest else you’ll be the one needing a doctor if care is not taken.’
‘Yes ma. You are fast becoming like your mother’, he told her the truth.
‘Is you that knows. Thank you.’
‘Alright dear. Be good.’
‘Bye’ she hung up and went to check the rice she was boiling.
The water had dried but it was still hard so she added more water.
She heard a message notification tone. She checked it and realized it was John. She felt joy and excitement and didn’t waste time in replying.
‘Are you busy?”
“Not at all”
‘‘Ok’? Is that all he has to say?’ she thought to herself. Before she could finish asking, her phone rang. It was john.
‘Hello’ he said ‘I wasn’t sure if now was an appropriate time to call.’
‘It’s absolutely fine.’
‘That’s fine. You looked amazing today, I must confess.’
That complement made her day, she was glad he noticed ‘thank you, you looked really good too.’
‘Thank you. So we were saying something before I got called by pastor. I can’t remember again sef’, he tried hard to remember.
Gbemi could remember but didn’t want to appear too forward so she decided not to say anything.
‘Well, I guess that one has gone but there is something important I’ll like to say however not over the phone. What’s your tomorrow like? Can we meet tomorrow?’
Gbemi didn’t even bother to do shakara ‘I’ll be leaving work around 6pm tomorrow.’
‘If you won’t be too tired, I’ll like us to see.’
‘No problem. When and where should we meet?’
They agreed on the place, a restaurant not too far from her house. He didn’t want her out late.
Gbemi began to smell something odd. She couldn’t place it. She kept talking with John and then the smell became familiar. It was the smell of burning rice!
‘Oh Goodness my food is burning’ she exclaimed and ran to the kitchen.
‘Oh I’m so sorry….I really am’ John apologised repeatedly. ‘It’s all my fault’
Gbemi turned off the fire ‘no it’s not. I should have been more sensitive and alert. It wasn’t that bad.’
‘Eeya, sorry about it. I’ll make it up to you tomorrow’ he smiled.
‘Okay o, I’ll be looking forward to it.’
‘Alright then, tomorrow it is. Let me allow you rest’
‘Ok. Thank you. See you tomorrow.’
To be continued…
What do you think happens next? Drop a comment and let’s know. What do you think about the story so far, any lessons?
Thanks for reading
Watch Out For Gbemi Part 8 next week Sunday. Don’t miss it.