HE SAID NO
Amifel switched off her phones because of her parents who might try to reach her once they discovered that she had left. Thankfully, neither of them knew Grace’s house or they might go looking for her there.
Her mum in p@rticular never liked Grace nor Blessing, she claimed that ‘Birds of the same feathers flock together and if you move with unmarried people, you wouldn’t be motivated to get married’.
Mrs. Robert practically disgraced them the last time they visited their place. She didn’t offer them a seat and when they asked of Amifel whom they called before coming, she said,
“She is not around,” the irritation in her voice was palpable.
“But we…” Blessing was about to say when she cut in.
“Will you shut up! So, ap@rt from your singleness, you also added disrespect to your portfolio, ehn? I said she is not at home or are you saying that a woman that is old enough to be your mother is lying,”
“No ma, we don’t mean it that way, “ Grace said coming to Blessing’s rescue.
“What way do you mean it? What way? See let me warn you, stay away from my daughter, don’t smear her with your ha-rd luck, let good men see my daughter!” she ranted.
Amifel who was inside the bathroom heard her mum shouting as soon as she got out, she wondered who her mum was shouting at but she thought that she was probably on a call.
Long story cut short, she had to go beg her friends profusely later that evening. Even after they accepted her apologies, they swore never to smell the four walls of her compound again.
Amifel la-id face up on Grace’s be-d as the picture of Blessing and George hvgging each other lovingly at the registry repla-yed in her memory. She was dumbfounded. Talk of Blessing pu-lling stunts, none of them personally hit her this much. If George had gotten married to someone else, it wouldn’t have hurt her so badly.
“That should have been me! I should have been the one getting married to George if you hadn’t bombarded me with those scary nightmares! I thought you said you won’t let me face temptations that are beyond what I can bear? Do you really think I can deal with this?” she asked in succession while b!tt!g her lowerl-ips as tears wo-bbled their way her fair silky skin.
“All my age mates are married with kids, the ones that are not are engaged and about to get married, Grace is engaged, Blessing just got married to the George you asked me to detach from, and as if that is not enough, you gifted me with ins-en-sitive parents!” she yelled as she paused for a while to catch her breath.
“Can’t you see that I am hurting? can’t you see that my strength has reached its max?” she vented on while tugging at her thick loos£ned hair which had scattered in different directions as she sobbing silently.
She hàd been feeling pressed for a couple of hours but as she cried,the pressure bec@m£ even more intense and she was f0rç£d to stand up to ease herself.
On her way, she unknowingly kicked at the teacu-p that she used in taking tea, earlier that morning, which she placed carelessly beneath the be-d because she felt too weak to go to the kitchen. The teacu-p was still almost half-full and its content had spilled on the blue rug. She had to ease herself off the pressure that had built up in her bladder before she got back to clean up her mess.
“Those that wait upon the Lord shall excel in strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint,” she heard in her heart as she dropped the teacu-p in the kitchen sink.
“If you want me to wait, then at least make it easy for me!” she yelled as she threw the sponge at the tiled p@rt of the kitchen wall.
Grace opened the door to her ap@rtment which she locked from outside at Amifel’s insistence before she left for work. She met Amifel slee-ping, she decided not to disturb her, she was such a pitiable sight to look at, she had not even taken off the trou-sers she wore since morning.
Now, for just one person, she had gone throu-gh too much all at once. She knew how mean her parents could be, especially her mum.
How did Amifel take the shocking news? She took it more calmly than she expected, she just returned her phone right after Grace showed her the marriage registry pictures of Blessing and George holding on to each other, after which she sat down on the be-d and asked for something to eat.
Grace had asked her multi-ple times if she was fine and she answered each time in the affirmative,
“I am fine Grace, I am fine.”
Grace knew that she wasn’t but she had to let her be, especially since she had no proof that Amifel was not.
She waited till she started eating the sliced bre-ad and tea that she served her before leaving for work.
“Lord uphold my friend in these times and comfort her on every side. Give me the right words to encourage her with.” Grace prayed silently as she placed the fish and vegetables she bought from the market in separate bowls which she kept in the kitchen.
She set to work, cutting the vegetables. She was ma-king one of Amifel’s favorite, poundo yam and vegetable soup.
She was done ma-king the soup and was almost done ma-king the poundo when Amifel woke up.
“Ami, how are you?” Grace asked as she mopped her hands with a kitchen napkin.
“When did you get back?” she asked, sitting up on the be-d.
“A couple of hours ago.” Grace answered, “How are you?”
“I am fine.” Amifel sighed as she la-id back on the be-d, s£nding a silent message that she does not want to be interviewed.
“Amifel, how are you?”
“Fine.” She answered again, her voice was slightly suppressed by her slee-ping posture. Grace knew better, after she dropped the napkin on the table, she fli-pped her slim b©dy over in a slightly harsh manner.
“Grace, plea-se st©p!” Amifel winced as she sat up f0rç£fully and rolled aside her blanket.
“Not until you tell me the truth.”
“How are you? Look into my eyes and tell me that you are fine!”
“Fine! I am not! If that is what you want to hear, I am not fine! “ Amifel yelled, she didn’t want to appear to Grace as weak but she could not help it as she resumed another crying session.
“What crime have I committed Grace? What have I done to deserve all of this? The man I loved is married to my friend in less than a year after we broke up!” she cried on expecting Grace to say something, ‘You won’t say anything?”
Grace, who was listening to Amifel with ra-pt attention just looked on with her right hand beneath her chin.
“I thought you said you were convinced that God wanted you to leave him, so why are you angry that he got married to someone else?”
“Not just someone else, Grace, my friend! I didn’t break up with George because we had a problem or because I don’t love him, on the contrary, I do, but I broke up with him because I felt that God did not approve of the union,”
“You felt? What happened to, you were convinced?”
“I am no longer sure if it was actually God that said this because the voice that told me to leave George is the same one that said he would bring a better man my way. Up until now, I have not even seen as much as a sign or snippet that any man is coming, don’t you think I am mixing things up?”
“I only think you are confusing yourself here. God warned you of the dangers of cons£nting to a union with George and he also confirmed this to you throu-gh other people like myself and your pastor’s wife, remember what your pastor’s wife said after your mum informed her that you had a fiancé?”
“She did not say anything straight, she only told me not to allow my parents to lead me, that It is God’s job.”
“Isn’t it obvious what she meant? Listen, God loves you and he only looking out for you. That he said George is not meant for you does not mean that he is not good for anyb©dy else. What Blessing did might look like betrayal or maybe it is betrayal but it doesn’t matter!” She emphasized, “George might be the one for her and she probably didn’t tell us because she knew that we wouldn’t smile at the idea. Maybe I’m wrong but let’s just accept it that way since she gave us no explanation.” Grace comforted as she held Amifel’s shoulders lovingly, looking straight into her eyes with pity.
“But God also told me that he would bring someone better but up till now, I have not…” Amifel sobbe-d.
“Shhh…” Grace hushed her, putting a f!nger to her mouth, “No buts dear. When God says he will do something, trust that he will. He surely will, they that put their trust in the Lord shall never be put to shame. God will bring a man that is a culmination of all that you have asked for and more. My life is a testimony, God is in your neighborhood. Dawn is near when the sky is at its darkest. I am just so sure that your prince charming is closer than you think.” Graced pinched her nose tenderly as Amifel’s face lit up with a smile, she felt comforted.
“I can’t wait to meet my Prince charming, ”
“Keep the hope alive baby, I am glad to see those beautiful dimples!” Grace tea-sed, “He will definitely come right on time, remember the chant of the psalmist, ‘God will help her and that right early!’ ”
“Yes, I remember, yes! plea-se could you pray with me?”
“Sure! Let’s pray.” She said excitedly as she held her hands lovingly.
HE SAID NO.
Mrs. Akinwale ushered Grace into her comfy sitting room, as she settled unto the red sofa, she looked around in awe, taking in the elegance of the décor.
“You have such a beautiful place, Mrs. Akinwale!”
“Thank you, Grace.” She smiled. “It’s so nice to finally have you around.”
“The plea-sure is mine.”
“What do I offer you? “
“Urgh, don’t worry. I’m fine.” Grace shrugged.
“You are kidding, I’ll be right back.” she chuckled.
Grace used the opportunity to further as-sess the whole place, it was an excellent combo of clas-s and grace. Her eyes were still dancing around when Tobi popped out of one of the rooms and ran towards her. She stood up just in time to catch him in a warm embr@ce.
He seemed happy to see her as he sat comfy on her fleshy l@ps.
“Tobi has always been asking of you, he would say ‘what of that tall yellow aunty?’ “Mrs. Akinwale remarked, as she walked back into the sitting room with a tray containing a carton of fruit jui-ce, a slanted glas-s cu-p, and a plate of peppered snail which she placed on a stool adjacent to where Grace was seated.
“I told you I was fine oh. You shouldn’t have bothered.” Grace snickered.
“You know I won’t answer you, and just so you know, this is just for refreshment. What should I prepare for you?”
“Ahn Ahn! After all of this? Sincerely, you have done enough.”
“Don’t do like this now. Allow me to cook for you this once, you know, you did not allow me to t©uçh the slightest onion while I was at your place. I made delicious vegetable stew, you would love it. Let me give you a nice treat now.” she dragged with pleading eyes.
“Maybe some other time, I am honestly fine but I will eat some of this because I love you.”
“Awwwwwwwn! I love you too!” Mrs. Akinwale chuckled while putting her arms around her che-st lovingly.
They started catching up on the things she had missed since the time they last saw as Grace feasted on the spiced snail, there was so much to talk about.
Mrs. Akinwale fed her full on how sporadically her husband had changed ever since he led him on to Christ.
“I have never seen him so happy. “ Her eyes lit up with hope as she recounted all that she had witnessed in the space of a short time. Unlike before, she now had the full cons£nt of her husband to work as she had always wanted to. Of a truth, a life that has encountered Jesus is a life that is changed forever. As they were talking about work and all, Grace beckoned on her that she also had something to say.
“I am getting married!” She announced as she flashed her ringed f!ngersat her, the glistering stones stuck on the surface of the ring glowed beautifully. Mrs. Akinwale wi-de-ned her eyes in shock as she stared at her right f!nger-like had just seen a ghost. She didn’t as much as notice until she said it. Maybe because she was used to seeing her without a ring.
“Oh my God!” she yelled as she fell on her in a pas-sionate hvg. “This is the best news of the century. I am so so happy to hear this!”
“Thank you.” Grace blu-shed.
“Congratulations to you!”
“Thank you, ma!”
While they were still relishing the good news, Mr. Akinwale walked in. Tobi ran towards him first, jumping on him in a superman fashion while clinging ti-ghtly to his n£¢k. Me Akinwale stylishly loos£ned his grip as he carried him and gave him a brief hvg.
“Welcome honey” She stood up to greet him.
“Thank you, sweetheart.” He replied as he planted a k!sson her forehead. He hvgged her with his free left arm as Tobi refused to let go of him.
Grace watched in wonder happy to see the scene repla-ying right in front of her, she had not witnessed a scene of them together but from what Mrs. Akinwale recounted, he wasn’t what one would call a sweet husband. But here was sweetness standing before her on two legs.
“Good evening sir, “She said, standing up to acknowledge his pres£nce.
“Sister Grace!” he smiled happily as moved closer to where she was seated, “It’s so nice to see you again, thank you for all the help you rendered while I was sick. My wife has told me so much about you and I am glad to meet you once again.” He was unconscious for almost half his stay at the hospital.
“I am glad to see you back on your feet sir.”
Mr. Akinwale’s life had completely turned around, and everyone could witness the same, all thanks to Jesus. Mr. Akinwale excused himself, retreating into his be-droom to give them some pri-vate time together, and he took Tobi along, his wife followed him briefly after which she c@m£ out to join Grace.
“He is even looking chubbier than the time I last saw him at the hospital.”
“Yes, he has grown fatter. I just thank God for changing my husband completely. He even agreed to follow me to the church I attended at Orile, my old house.”
“Wow! Wow! That is really amazing! God is great!”
“My sister, God really is great!”
“How about your place at Orile, what do you plan to do with it? Were you able to get a refund? “
“No, I just locked the place up. I have not been there for almost a month now and I have not decided on what I want to do with it,” she explained. “Moreso, I can’t leave my husband here to live elsewhere,” she chuckled while Grace made a face.
“Awwwwwn, so sweet!”
Mrs. Akinwale blu-shed and cackled, “Let it chill on there till I decide, at least I still have more than 6 months left.”
“It’s true though, “
“Hope you are hearing from Amifel?”
“Yeah, she is even staying at my place.”
“She moved into your place?”
Grace paused a bit contemplating whether to say no or yes. If she said no, that would be a lie, and if she said yes, it might give rise to more questions.
“Yes, “She answered regretting that she told her in the first place, Amifel won’t like anyone to know why she was staying at her place, and certainly not Grace. She still hadn’t trusted her to that extent. She could only hope that she would not ask any further questions but her hope seemed to be dashed.
“Ahn Ahn! Why? Hope there is no problem?” Mrs. Akinwale asked but she probably figured that Grace wasn’t comfortable with her probing and she swiftly changed the t©pic of discussion. “You people just like to be around yourselves sha!” she concluded, saving the day.
Grace was around for a couple of hours at Mrs. Akinwale’s insistence, as she kept answering questions upon questions on how she and Mike met and made it to engagement. She dropped her wedding invitation card before she left, everyone commented on how beautiful her invitation card was and Mrs. Akinwale was not an exception. Thanks to Amifel who linked her up with a clas-sy gra-phic designer that helped with the eye-appealing wedding cards.
She left with a bag full of groceries, and Mr. Akinwale who his wife called when she was about to leave, s£nt her some good money while thanking her profusely for coming.
“plea-se extend my greetings to Amifel,” Mrs. Akinwale added as she dropped at the junction in her husband’s jeep.
“I will, thank you for having me around.” Grace smiled, Mrs. Akinwale blew her pretty ksses as she reversed and made her way back home.
To be continued…