SWAMPED- 2

 

When the fellowship called you for the interview, you were not exactly surprised. Virtually every committed member was interviewed during the selection process for a new tenure of executives. You were a member of the Bible study unit; it was an easy fit. From your time with Mrs. Akerele, you had come to fall in love with the word of God. You feed voraciously on scriptures and studied Christian literature, with a particular liking for Tozer. You liked his complex sentence structures, his adept use of English, you liked how it kept your mind engaged and kept you close to the Merriam webster application on your phone. Speculations were floating around the fellowship like they did whenever handover was approaching and even though you always looked away when such conversations started, you knew almost everyone in the fellowship openly assumed you to be the next Bible study coordinator.

 

The speculations were not baseless. It was glaring in the way Bro Leke, the current Bible study coord assigned you to functions in the unit. In the way people threw their Bible questions to you on WhatsApp. You never dwelled on the thought, it felt inappropriate, reeked with ungodly ambition, this concept of nursing an agenda to own an office you had not yet been commissioned into. Yet, you silently accepted that you will be the next Bible study coord, an idea you’d have denied conceiving. But the slam of shock that hit your chest the moment the President announced sister Ashibuougwu Evelyn as the Bible study coordinator that day during the handover service, revealed your secret, tacit acceptance of the speculations of men.

 

When the president called you up as the prayer coordinator, you were stunned. You only joined the prayer unit two months earlier on the insistence of Sister Monica, a dear sister that was a level ahead of you. She made you join the prayer unit vigils, she sent you the weekly prayer burdens and later asked that the prayer coordinator add you to the group chat. You were a passive member. You were not one of those who regularly saw visions, you had never even led intercessory prayers in the church before. Of course, you knew the value of prayer. You loved prayer and had an admiration for people who had staying power in the place of prayer. You went through the motions of prayer but you never considered yourself a prayo material you saw yourself more as a word person.

 

The handover service whizzed in a blur of confusion and irritation. Everything irked you that day. The people who came to congratulate you, and those who came to say they were shocked by the announcement. News flash. How would I have known if you didn’t say this?

 

That night you knelt by your bed and decided to have an honest conversation with the Lord.

 

“God, prayo, really?” You chuckled. “I’m rejecting it oh. What kind of mistake is this?”

You heard nothing but you could discern the Lord’s disapproval.

 

“But God now… Why not put me where I can function?”

 

Where you are comfortable, you mean?

 

“Well, yes. Familiar territory.”

 

A quote you saw somewhere came to mind. Ships are safe in the harbor, but they were not designed for the harbor.

 

“The word is not a harbor. The word is life.” You said, defensive.

 

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.

 

“So, we’re shifting gears now?”

 

Welcome to a new phase in your training, baby.

 

You sighed. Why didn’t God tell you this before? You learned the lesson, next time you wouldn’t be so presumptuous. You were about to retire when you got an instruction to follow your predecessor, Bro Muyiwa closely.

 

The next day, you went to his room, it was reminiscent of you visiting Bro Pius back at AJ. You wondered for a fleeting moment about Bro Pius. Where was he now? Did he beat himself up for not sticking through with you? He shouldn’t. He was a good man that faltered at a moment of fear. You hoped he had forgiven himself. Bro Muyiwa was a reserved man with phoenix eyes. Initially, trying to get close to him felt stilted and forced, but in spite of this he had a welcoming manner that kept you from scuttling. He served you ‘concoction rice’ and asked you questions, some cutting and uncomfortable, some led to small talk. He had a way of making you do the talking while he did the listening, nodding, gauging. After about thirty minutes, he said he wanted to go the prayer ground.

 

Follow.

You followed him that day and many other days. It was amazing how he switched from the reserved man who picked his world to borderline violent, sputtering strings of consonant-rich tongues till he was out of breath, then he’ll suck air through his teeth and resume the rapid-fire tongues. You studied him a lot because you were easily distracted. How did he manage to not get tired? Wasn’t he bored? Why wasn’t he checking his watch every fifteen minutes, like you? Matter of fact, he never checked his watch. You found those prayer sessions extremely difficult at first.

 

Once you got to the prayer ground, Bro Muyiwa went to his corner and left you to pray on your own. He had a way of pressuring you without even trying. You were compelled to go with him by the leading of the Spirit and when you got to the prayer ground, you couldn’t leave until he was done. It just felt awkward to leave before him. The first day, you tried to pray intensely. You started with worship songs, Bro Pius style. No sooner had you started singing than you remembered your burgundy shirt. You hadn’t seen it in a while… Where did you put it? Was it in your box? No, you searched your box earlier that day and you didn’t see it. It wasn’t hung on the wooden rack either. When last did you wash it? About two weeks ago… Did you take it in after drying it? You couldn’t remember. Is the shirt gone? You wanted desperately to get back to your room so you could search for the shirt.

 

I’m meant to be praying…

 

“Unto the Lord, be the glory,

Great things he has done.

Unto the Lord, be the glory,

Great things he has do…”

 

Did the philosophy of logic lecturer give a new assignment? You had a hazy memory of seeing something like that on the group chat. Was it due the next day? Was that the assignment Favour was complaining about? If it was then it was really long… How would you finish the assignment before the next day?

 

I’m meant to be praying…

 

Your thoughts kept slicing into your prayer. It seemed everything you had to do had to pop into your mind then. It was frustrating. You looked at Bro Muyiwa. He was doubled over, hands clutching his knees, head bobbing to the rhythm of his tongues.

 

How am I even supposed to fill his shoes?

 

The next day, after struggling to pray for thirty minutes and feeling like you were plowing through a fallow ground, you decided it was pointless deceiving yourself. You left the prayer ground. That night, Bro Muyiwa came to your room.

 

“Do you know I used to reserve sleep for prayer time before?”

 

You looked at him. “When you were a child, right?”

 

Bro Muyiwa smiled. “Up till hundred level. When I first joined the fellowship and I saw people praying fervently, I couldn’t understand what was pushing them. But I desired it.”

 

“I desire it too… It’s probably just not my thing.”

 

“Now you have received, not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit who is from God, that you might know the things that have been freely given to you by God. The Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Scripture wouldn’t say things like pray without ceasing and men ought to pray and not to faint if prayer was for a select few.”

 

You sighed.

 

“You will never make progress in your prayer culture if you continue to believe that prayer is not your thing. If our high priest, Jesus, lives forever to make intercessions for us and he has called us kings and priests, how can you say prayer is not your thing?”

 

You pondered on that, as you did, Luke eleven verse one dropped in your heart.

 

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

 

As though reading your thoughts, Bro Muyiwa said. “You too can learn to pray. You can learn fervor and devotion in prayer. You can learn and cultivate perseverance in prayer. Bro Adakole, prayer is your thing.”

“Teach me.”

 

“First things first, one important principle in prayers is focus…”

 

He taught you to steer your thoughts back to your prayers as soon as you caught them wandering. He taught you to pray fervently even when you don’t feel up to it. He taught you about burdens, how to catch them, nurture them and see them through in the place of prayers. The difference, he said, between a lukewarm believer and a burning one is the understanding of the Lord’s burden.

 

You started learning, you started growing a prayer life and somewhere along the line, prayer stopped feeling a herculean task. It was around this time Mrs. Akerele called to ask if you had been praying about a life partner. You hadn’t. She said you should start praying about it. You grunted a reply because you felt a wife was the least of your concerns at that point. You had a new responsibility at the fellowship, you had school work, you had three-month teaching practice looming ahead. You had to send out applications and find a place. You definitely had weightier things to worry about to than finding a life partner.

 

The following week, she called to check on you and she asked if you had been praying concerning the issue she raised the last time. You hadn’t. She paused for awhile and you knew she wasn’t happy. You apologized.

 

“Why did you ignore the instruction? Did you forget?”

 

“Sincerely, I didn’t forget, I just feel like there are other things that are more pressing at the moment.”

 

“You think praying about a wife is less spiritual than other things, right?”

 

“Sort of.”

 

“There’s nothing as unspiritual as disobedience, Young man. If the Lord sends an instruction, yours is to obey.”

 

You smiled. “I stand corrected. I’m sorry.”

You saw why you needed to pray about your marital future as you started praying. There were strongholds lurking in your heart, unbeknownst to you. They came to fore every time you spoke to God about marriage.

 

Your parents had a failed marriage. You’ve never really had an example of a home. How will you lead a family?

 

You witnessed rape as a child… not once, not five times. You still see the scenes in your dreams… You are definitely going to be a brute if you marry.

 

Your first experience of sex was abusive. You can’t take that kind of stain to the honorable bed of matrimony.

 

Those thoughts drained you of hope. You called Mrs Akerele and opened up to her. She prayed with you and gave you scriptures on your new identity, with which you could fight off those thoughts. She also advised that when the lady finally came along, transparency and practical, honest premarital counselling will go a long way to help.

 

You continued praying and prophesying over the home God will give you, the woman he’ll give you, the children that will come through you. The more you prayed about them, the more tangibly real it became to you. You were going to have a home someday. The word that kept ringing in your heart was, ‘Elohim is for me.’ It was simple yet it weighed in your heart. No matter what seemed to be against you, the Lord was for you and nothing mattered more. Your heart came to a place of rest.

 

You knew Idoko from a distance. He was on the same hostel block as you and you knew him to be the president of one of the campus fellowships, but nothing drew you to him until you met her. You met her at the school gate, sweating and flustered. She was striking in her peach blouse and ponytail. She wanted directions, it was her first time in the school and she couldn’t get a hold of the person she came to see.

 

“His line isn’t going through.” She said, and you assumed ‘he’ had to be her boyfriend. She tried his line one more time and this time, he picked the call. Eventually, you helped her with a bag and on the way to Idoko’s room, you made small talk with her. You learned from the conversation that her name was Eloyi and Idoko was her brother.

 

****

You were the last of three children and the only girl. You were a quiet child. Quiet, broody and heavily laden with the weight of inquisitiveness. You were the child that probed every warning.

 

“Eloyi, don’t touch the face of the iron.”

 

“Why?” It was always your instinctive response.

 

“Stop questioning my instructions and just do as you’re told.” Your mother snapped. “the iron can burn you.”

 

Of course, you dared to touch the face of the iron and afterwards, you approached your mum with an impish smile. “It didn’t burn me.”

 

She looked at you in a way that made you know she was both tired of your adamant hunger for finding out and afraid of where it will land you eventually. Countless times, she’d call you aside and whisper with dramatic viciousness, “Only a fool measures the depth of a river with his height Eloyi. You don’t always have to see for yourself, you might not live to tell the story. There is safety in just taking the words of elders. The Bible says there is safety in the multitude of counsels.”

 

You had questions about the Bible too. Questions you secretly conceived and brooded on. You could never voice them in open. How could you, the only daughter of Pastor and Pastor Mrs. Agbanwu be heard questioning the authority of the Bible?

 

You were like your eldest brother, Onuche, in many ways. He too was a dare devil and in the sweet shroud of ineffable blasphemy, you shared your secret questions with him. He didn’t balk or spring a dramatic response like other church people would.

 

“Onuche, why should a book so old dictate how I should live my life?” You asked him one evening while you solved math problems from Ugo C. Ugo’s book in preparation for common entrance examination.

 

Onuche guffawed. “Daddy and mummy will cut your tongue if they hear you.”

 

You sniggered.

He ruffled your hair of spikes. “Eloyi, your life is yours. Never forget that. Don’t let anyone keep you tied down,” with a smile he added, “especially not to an old book.”

 

You leaned close to his bare chest, feeling safe in his company and in the space of shared ideology. Onuche felt more like a father to you than your ministry-obsessed Dad.

 

“Mark my work.” You pushed your exercise book into his lap. You were confident that you’ll get every problem right. You did and he gave you a fist bump.

 

“This is why I like you. You are smart and unstoppable.”

 

Onuche wasn’t a saint but you loved him. Onuche wasn’t a saint, that was why you loved him. Unlike Idoko, your immediate elder brother who hung on to every word spoken in church without objection or suspicion, Onuche had a sarcastic take on virtually everything religious. His jokes were funny, funnier because they were inappropriate; He didn’t treat you like you were a child. He told you of real issues that faced real people and even though his dumping on you felt like a burden, you liked that you were the closest to his heart, the only one in the family privy to his deepest, his darkest. You liked that with you, he felt no need to color the story, or feel shame. With you he could own his mess and not get judged.

 

When he had a pregnancy scare with his girlfriend as an SS3 student, he told you. He was wracked with fear and confusion. He prayed frantically, making promises to God that if he could make the pregnancy go away, he’d serve him for the rest of his life. A promise that became totally forgotten as soon as a blood test showed that she wasn’t pregnant.

 

He went to Kogi State University when you were in JSS2. The day he resumed; the whole family travelled from Otukpo to Anyigba to drop him. Onuche told you to stop crying, that you were breaking his heart on a happy day. You tried to snap out of the glum mood for his sake. He was happy to be get into the university world, eager to explore all he could. He had been talking about it for weeks, how he would take on the campus world, date the hottest girls, make cool friends. But he was leaving you and no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t help the feeling of bereavement that soused you.

 

After his first semester, he came home with a lot of riveting stories of the campus. You drank them in, longing for the day you too will be a university student. You couldn’t wait to grow out your hair, finally free from the secondary school policy that confined your desire to try new things with your hair to a crew cut. You couldn’t wait to dress up and hold books, visit the library and make friends that spoke smooth English, girls of class like corper Esther who taught seniors at your school Chemistry. He went back for the second semester and you didn’t feel too bad, you had hope to cheer you up. When he returned, he’ll come with more stories. They were worth waiting for.

 

The Onuche that came home after his first session in KSU, was a different person. He was testy, always asking to be left alone. He said he no story to share. He sat quiet at church, lost in thoughts. You knew something was off. Your curiosity set in. What could have happened to Onuche? What was tormenting him?

 

You started snooping around. You found a stump of weed on his toilet cistern, a stash of weed in his bedside drawer and then a bottle of pills in his wardrobe, hidden in a shoe. Your curiosity favored the pills. You had seen boys around the area smoke weed, but those pills in an unlabeled bottle held the fascination of something new and mysterious. You dropped two opioid pills into your palm and slid them into your pocket.

 

You knew you should never have searched his room; you shouldn’t have stolen the drug; you shouldn’t have used it but inquisitiveness is a plague that pleads and stalls but never relents.

 

After the first try, you went back for more pills. You wanted the fuzzy feeling the drug brought to your head. It didn’t take long for Onuche to realize that someone was pilfering from his stock. He came to confront you in the kitchen.

 

“Eloyi, are you taking my stuff?”

 

You shook your head, careful not to lift your head lest he sees your face and read your fear. You continued with the dishes.

 

“You’re not as smart as you think you are,” he leaned in low. “if you weren’t stealing it, you would have asked what stuff.”

 

You said nothing. You turned on the tap and rinsed a ceramic plate, taking more time than necessary to rub off the suds under the gush.

 

“What are you doing with it?”

 

You dropped the plate on the plate rack and started rinsing the another.

Onuche shook your shoulders. “Answer me. Please tell me you didn’t use it.”

 

“Now you want to talk to me, huh? I thought you said I was too small?”

 

“Eloyi, you can’t be taking it.”

 

“No be you go tell me wetin I go do.”

 

Onuche cursed and slapped the sink. Plates rattled causing you to jump.

 

“I never should have indulged your spoilt guts.”

 

Tears gathered in your eyes. What was wrong with Onuche? All you wanted was for things to go back to the way they were. You wanted your brother back.

 

“You taught me to fly, do you now want to clip my wings?”

 

“Yes… yes… Keep those stupid wings clipped, Eloyi. Listen to your parents. Listen to what they say in church. Eloyi please…”

 

You recoiled. Why was he sounding so desperate? Why was he trying to exclude you from his life? A drop of tear rolled down your cheek. Onuche sighed.

 

“If you leave those wings unrestrained, you will fly yourself to destruction.” With that, he left but your desire for the drug couldn’t be quenched. For the first time, you met something stronger than your curiosity, this compulsion to swallow the pills in your bathroom.

 

Onuche went back to school without leaving you some of the drug or even giving you its name even though you begged and threatened to rat him out. But you had to have those white pills. You felt like you’ll go mad if you didn’t lay your hands on them. You searched Onuche’s room frantically and found nothing. Eventually, you decided to try your luck with Razak. Razak was the youngest of the bunch that met at the corner of your street to toke on weed, laugh obscenely and play draft. When they were together, they were scary. You hated having to walk past them, you hated that they called you ‘Pastor pikin’. But when alone, Razak was approachable. He was a senior in your secondary school and if there was someone who could get you the drug, it would be Razak.

 

You described the drug to Razak until he got it.

 

“Oh, oh, na China girl be that na.”

 

You furrowed your brows. “China girl? Is that what it’s called?”

 

He nodded. “Ah ah, you be bad girl oh. That thing na big men package.”

 

You smiled, feeling flattered. “Abeg, I really need it.”

 

“Hmm… e go hard oh, but because I like you, I go try get am.”

 

“Razaki! I know say I fit count on you. Sure guy.” You said with forced enthusiasm, even though the way Razak looked you over made your skin crawl.

 

Two days later, Razak slipped six tablets into the pocket of your pinafore on the assembly ground; this he did the moment he ‘accidentally’ bumped into you. You spread your fingers over the imprints of the pills. It felt like the size you found in Onuche shoes. You could scarcely hold your grin. You dashed to the toilet and tried a pill. You let it melt on your tongue, savoring every moment. The effect kicked in almost immediately. Your eyes dilated, your pulse quickened, you swayed a bit and sniggered in excitement. You took another pill.

 

Eloyi, stop. You have to save some for later.

 

You finished all six pills before the next day and you needed more. Razak made you touch him before he gave you the next fix, a transaction that happened in an uncompleted building near the school. With each fix, Razak’s price hiked. From the cringeworthy but bearable touching to less palatable things and then he started asking for money. You had to steal from your Dad’s wallet, from the church treasury, from Sister Enobong. You knew Razak was cheating you but what choice did you have? China girl was a wicked lord. When she wanted you, she wanted you and at any cost.

 

You didn’t fully grasp what Onuche meant by unrestrained wings flying one to destruction, until he flew himself to his untimely death. He was in 300 level when his corpse was sent home. He had been a cultist and a rival cult group gunned him down. You were devastated and finally awakened. You could see that you were barreling down a slope headed for doom. You couldn’t stop the descent and you were terrified of where it led. You knew you needed help.

 

You couldn’t tell your parents, Idoko was all the way in Ondo and you didn’t think your drug addiction was an appropriate conversation to have over the phone. You were stuck. Idoko came home for Onuche’s wake keep. He spent more time in your room, pushing aside his grief to be there for you. You didn’t mind his companionable silence but the day he talked about how he envied your relationship with Onuche, your heart broke severely and at the same time your heart opened to him. You two talked late into the night. You told him everything, you even showed him the last few pills you had. You told him of how you secretly followed Razak to find out who his source was. You found out it was a lanky man with dreadlocks. You had started dealing directly with the man. You couldn’t go a day without China girl. You told him about Onuche’s theory on unrestrained wings. You cried and cried. He listened, like you always did when Onuche dumped on you.

 

Eventually, Idoko said, “Eloyi, God knows all these yet he loves you. God sees the mess you’re in, he sees the mess you are and he wants to save you…” In simple clear terms, he explained the good news of salvation to you. Hearing about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was not at all a new thing to someone like you who had been around church all her life, but it never made so much sense. It never felt so personal, so practical. You were lost, lost from birth by the sin of Adam. You inherited a sinful nature, no wonder you were so naturally inclined to rebel even from a tender age. Nothing you could do by yourself could save you, the best of your works will still fall miles below par. But salvation was available by grace. Idoko called it the finished work of Christ. Jesus came, the second Adam: the pioneer of a new lineage of mankind. He was the firstborn son, the firstborn from the dead. He was the sacrifice for the sin, he bore the burden of sins. He himself is the propitiation for your sins, Idoko said, if you will believe in him for salvation, you will become a child of God, sealed with his Spirit and empowered to live for him.

 

You sat still, listening to Idoko. Still under the shocking waves of hope that flowed over you.

 

“Are you ready to accept Jesus as your saviour and Lord?”

 

You remained still, thinking.

 

Eloyi, do you really want to become committed to this whole Christianity thing? You have your whole life ahead of you, surely, you can make this decision later. To accept Jesus now is to embrace a life of self-denial and strict obedience to biblical principles. Do you really want your freedom yanked from you?

 

“Eloyi,” Idoko urged you gently.

 

You shook your head. “I want to sleep.”

 

You saw your brother’s shoulders slump, but respecting your decision, he stood up and left your room. You felt hollow. You lay down and before long you were fast asleep. China girl awakened you at 2:35am with the same reckless pangs that had become a regular in your life. You decided to fight the urge, to exercise your will power. You couldn’t continue living as a slave to the drug. For how long could you continue as a junkie? You took the last few pills you had and washed them down the toilet bowl.

 

“Eloyi, it’s time to take charge of your life. Nothing can hold you down, remember?”

 

You went back to sleep. It was a struggle, but you eventually found sleep. For the rest of the day, you were not normal. You sweated profusely, had runny nose, your stomach cramped and your heart thumped. You just wanted to get the pills, but you couldn’t go anywhere. After Onuche’s death, your parents became twice as cautious, guarding you like an egg. It irked you because of how pointless it was, they were trying to guard what was already lost.

 

You couldn’t sleep the next night. Your eyes were wide and you were hyperventilating. Idoko said it was withdrawal symptom and you had to be taken to a hospital. You didn’t want to go to a hospital, you didn’t want your parents more worried than they already were. You lost your appetite and couldn’t keep anything down. Eventually, you were rushed to a hospital. Idoko promptly volunteered information on your drug usage. Your parents were delirious with shock.

 

The doctor said you couldn’t just abruptly discontinue the drug usage, he said stopping ‘cold turkey’ would bring about intense withdrawal symptoms. He suggested tapering or medical detox to your parents. Your parents opted for medical detox.

 

You lost an academic year to the battle with fentanyl addiction and recovery. In that period, Idoko remained close and was very instrumental in your recovery. He hammered Matthew eleven, twenty-eight to thirty into your mind. You had to choose whose yoke you wanted to carry for the rest of your life. Do you want the yoke of sin and the flesh? See how far China girl’s yoke brought you while you lived to serve your desires. See where the yoke of living for self landed Onuche. Yes, there was a yoke to carry in Christ, there was indeed a burden to bear, but it was light. It was light and delightful. Would you rather be a slave of sin unto death, or a slave of righteousness unto life eternal?

For three months, in person and over the phone, Idoko presented the facts of your options to you; he presented the hope of the gospel to you and with prayerful persistence, besought you till you accepted Jesus. After your salvation, he started raising you as a disciple of Christ.

 

You’ve grown to love and respect your brother. He was a man of rare, dogged convictions. His commitment to the teaching profession, despite the many discouragements in the country, was a proof of his convictions. He’d always say that God had called him to be a part of a generation’s making. Others saw a profession with bleak prospects, Idoko saw an honourable call, a medium to serve humanity. You learned diligence from him and now you were putting your brain to good use in the department of law in the University of Ibadan.

 

Ever since you gained admission, Idoko had been persuading you to come pay him a visit and you had been procrastinating. Finally, you’ve worked your schedule around this break and you are here now in Ondo to spend the Easter break with your brother. Like Saul seeking his donkey and meeting prophecy and ordination; you came seeking Idoko, but even before you saw your brother, you met Adakole. A man who would come to be a definite part of your life in the days to come.

 

He was handsome; tall, olive-skinned with a confident gait, but his looks weren’t what caught your attention. What did the trick was his name. It was such a rarity to find a person of your tribe in the west that when he told you his name, you excitedly burst into Idoma. He stared at you, clueless.

 

“I’ve lived all my life in the Southwest. Lagos, Oye-Ekiti, Abeokuta and now Ondo.”

 

“I see…” But you more than saw, your inquisitiveness was bubbling just beneath the surface. “you’ve scoured this side of Nigeria. Yours must be an interesting story.” It was too early to ask, but you wanted to know anyway. What made him perch from state to state in the South West? Why was an Idoma man moving from one Yoruba state to the other? You tried to guess. Could it be due to parental job transfers? Was it about education? Perhaps he was born in Lagos and he had his secondary school education in Ogun state… What about Ekiti?

 

Eloyi, stop. It’s none of your business.

 

Adakole chuckled and said nothing else. When next he spoke, he was talking about Idoko’s place. “Here we are. This is your brother’s room.”

 

He wasn’t ready to delve into his story. Fair enough.

 

“Thank you, Adakole.”

 

“Thank you. See you around.”

 

In a weird way, it pleased you that he was looking forward to seeing you again. But you snapped out of the silly thought almost immediately, it was just a polite response. You might never even see him again. You saw him the next day, and the next, and the next. Always loitering along the corridor, making your meeting seem coincidental but both of you knew that he’s hanging around was as intentional as your looking out the window for him.

 

“You’re making friends already, aren’t you?” Idoko remarked casually, while he pressed his shirt on the bed four days after you arrived.

 

“If you want to say something, you can say it directly, Idoko.”

 

Idoko laughed. “I know you think you’re a big girl but you’re still my baby sister…”

 

“And your baby sister won’t marry, bah?”

 

Idoko dropped the iron. “You are thinking of marrying him already?”

 

You laughed. “Firstly, you’re going to get your shirt burnt, secondly, rest. I just enjoy his company. What do you know about him?”

 

“Who?” Idoko frowned, feigning confusion.

 

You rolled your eyes. “Adakole.”

 

He shrugged. “I don’t know much about him, really. But I know he’s an exco in New Life Fellowship.” He looked at you askance and quickly added, “Don’t look so impressed, Eloyi. Being a fellowship executive doesn’t mean one is a good believer or a fit husband.”

 

Eloyi whistled and looked away, just to taunt Idoko.

 

“You can’t be falling in love with a guy you just met.”

 

“How long did it take you to fall in love with Julia?”

 

“That’s different.”

 

You goggled. “Oh, really?”

 

“I didn’t fall in love with her. In the kingdom, we walk in love.”

 

You chuckled. “So why is my own love walk a bother to you?”

 

Idoko shook his head and continued ironing his shirt. The next time you hung out with Adakole on the corridor, he mentioned something about your brother being a funny person. You asked what he meant but he changed the subject, you knew at once that Idoko had cornered him for an interrogation and that really ticked you off. No sooner had you entered Idoko’s apartment than you started with your string of questions.

 

“Did you ambush Adakole?”

 

“Ambush him?”

 

“Did you have a conversation with him?”

 

“Well, yeah, is there anything wrong in having a conversation with a brother who lives few doors away?”

 

“What did you guys discuss?”

 

He smiled and jocularly said, “guy’s stuff.”

 

But you were upset and his joke was fuel. “Idoko, I know you saved me from myself and substance abuse and I’m grateful. I really am. But please, you don’t always have to play Messiah for me. For God’s sake, I’m twenty-three. Can’t I make a friend without supervision? Do you monitor my every day activity in Ibadan? Why would you go to meet Adakole and refuse to tell me what you told him? Am I a child? You know what, I’m returning to Ibadan tomorrow.”

 

Idoko sat down on the bed and tapped a space on it, you didn’t budge. “Eloyi, you know I trust you.”

 

You rolled your eyes. He rolled his eyes back at you, you couldn’t suppress your laughter.

 

“Who taught you to roll eyes?”

 

“Julia.”

 

You went to sit beside him.

 

“Do I still have the duty of spiritual oversight with you?”

 

You got his point. “Even though,” you said with comical adamance, mimicking an internet GIF both of you knew well. “even though.”

 

He smiled. “He’s a decent guy and I wasn’t ambushing him or interrogating him. I just joined him at the cafeteria.”

 

“You went to eat in the cafeteria? Didn’t you eat before you left the house?”

 

“Well, I might have followed him or something like that,” Idoko said through his teeth.

 

Eloyi nudged his side with her elbow. “Stalker. Anyway, I know you’re looking out for me. So, you said he’s a decent guy… what did you see?”

 

Idoko stood up. “You should pray before you the web of your emotions get wild.”

 

“Duh,”

 

“Which one is duh again?”

 

“I’m praying.”

 

Idoko scowled. “You’re already praying about him… You really like this one. I don’t like this.”

 

You stuck your tongue out at him. “Get along with the program.”

 

****

 

It was silly, you knew, silly and sappy but when you referred back to the notes in your journal from your time of pressing concerning your future home, the barely legible scrawl of ‘Elohim is for me’ looked more like ‘Eloyi is for me’.

 

The two weeks she spent with Idoko were beautiful for you. The most remarkable of the days being the day Idoko told you to take her on a tour round the campus. Why hadn’t it occurred to you before? And there was a certain air nobility and acceptance around the elder brother giving you ideas on how to hang out with the lady.

 

But the two weeks elapsed and Eloyi had to return to Ibadan. She said a lot about UI and the warm, ancient city. Her words planted a hankering for Ibadan in you and you doubted that was coincidental. She wanted you to come around. The day Eloyi left Ondo, you thought of doing your teaching practice in Ibadan. You prayed about it and felt a go-ahead. Weeks later, Eloyi mentioned a primary school run by her roommate’s Aunt in Ibadan, she said she could put in a good word for you if you wanted the place. The name of the school was Prodigies’ Forte.

 

 

______________________

 

The perceptive reader would have suspected by that last line of the story that Too Young For That is coming into the picture. If that informed, perceptive reader is you, I’m glad to announce to you that you are correct. Swamped is being crossed over with Too Young For That, which simply means the plot of Swamped will be infused in the subsequent episodes of Too Young For That. It’s a good time to catch up on the previous episodes of Too Young For That and Swamped.

 

As we prepare for the new year, I pray that we will receive wisdom to maximize the prophecies, promises and instructions the Lord will be giving us for the year ahead.

 

HisGoodness is signing out for the year on the space. Thank you for your readership, comments and encouragements. Come 2022, we go again.

 

All my love.

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Wow…
    I enjoyed reading this, thank you for putting quality and excellence to this.

  2. This is such a beautiful story. The spiritual disciplines I extracted are just🔥!

    Thank you so much for being used of the Lord. God bless you.

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