Gbemi wondered what it was that John wanted to talk to her about. The only things she could think about were either he wanted to encourage her concerning her father or he wanted to talk her into being more consistent and involved in the church activities. That, however, was no longer necessary. But there was still one more thing but it was so huge for her mind to conceive it. She tried not to think too much about it. ‘Tomorrow will definitely come’, she kept telling herself. But she couldn’t wait.
She prepared for the next day like one prepares for the first day at work. By 6 pm, her clothing was ironed and hung and her bag was packed. She literally counted down to 6 pm the next day. She managed to find appetite to eat the burnt offering she had prepared.
As the night drew closer, her level of excitement increased exponentially. Just before bed, she thanked God for the day and committed the night and the next day’s event unto God’s hand.
‘Holy Spirit, take over tomorrow’s outing in Jesus name’. Those were her last words before she slept off.
She was at work early the next morning. She had not seen Mr Kalejaye since they spilt up at the airport but trust me, he was the least of her concerns. She was her usual self and carried out her regular tasks. She didn’t give her boss any room to bring up the incident that happened when they traveled and although he himself didn’t seem like he was going to bring it up, she could sense that he still wanted to get back at her for turning down his advances. By 4:45 pm, 15 minutes to the official closing time, he called her into his office.
‘Take these files’, he pointed at a heap of documents, ‘they are the financial report of the projects we’ve carried out in the past two years. Go through them, cross check the income and expenditure and give me a detailed report of the company’s expenses within those two years.’
‘When is it due sir?’, Gbemi hoped he won’t say something ridiculous.
‘I need it before you leave today’, he said without looking up from his laptop.
‘But sir, its 4:45 pm already.’
‘Are you telling me I don’t know what time it is?’, he gave her a stern look.
She was upset. She couldn’t believe that he wanted her to such a voluminous work yet he waited to the close of work to give her, more so, Mr Magbagbeola was in charge of the company’s finances. ‘How could he be so inconsiderate?’ She knew he was doing it intentionally, but whatever his motive was, didn’t matter. She had plans for the evening and he was about to mess them up.
She took the documents and returned to her desk. She was fuming. The work given to her wasn’t a 15 minutes task, she knew it would take her another 45 minutes to 1 hour. ‘Should I call John and reschedule?’, she wondered as she picked her phone, contemplating dialing his number or not. ‘Let me start first, if I see I can’t make it in time then I’ll call him’, she concluded.
‘Lord, I ask for divine speed’, she prayed as she started. She went through the documents one after the other starting from the oldest to the most recent and to her amazement, by 5:25 pm, after just 40 minutes, she was done. She saved it in a flash and went straight to Mr Kalejaye.
‘Here it is sir’, she stretched out the flash drive to him.
‘Do you know what I asked you to do?’, he asked in amazement.
Gbemi had always been very efficient and Mr Kalejaye knew it. He just didn’t expect her to be done so soon.
‘Yes sir, I did what you asked’, she said without missing words ‘This man should take this thing and stop wasting my precious time’, she thought within her.
Mr Kalejaye collected it and inserted it into his laptop ‘let’s see what you said you have done’
Gbemi looked at the time, the longer she was held up at work, the more upset she became.
Mr Kalejaye took his time, looking at the document ‘I see’, he nodded. ‘What of that of… ok, it’s there’, he spent another two very long minutes looking through it. ‘Alright, you may leave.’
Gbemi was out of his office before he finished his sentence. She hurriedly packed her laptop and rushed out. On her way out, she checked the wall clock in the reception, it was 5: 40 pm, she couldn’t believe how late she was. ‘I definitely have to call John to explain to him that I’ll be a bit late. She dropped her laptop in the boot of the car, that was considered the safest place especially in a place like Lagos. She sat in the car and brought out her phone to dial his number. He didn’t pick up the first time.
‘Ooooh where did this guy throw his phone now?’ she dialed his number again and just as she was about losing hope, he picked.
‘Hi Gbemi’, he said with a loud voice, there was so much noise in the background.
‘Hi John, good evening’, she was happy to hear his voice. It seemed like forever since they last spoke. ‘I want to let you know that I’ll be a bit late, I was held up at work’, she explained.
‘Actually’, he went silent.
‘Actually what? What is the matter, John?’ Gbemi was beginning to get scared. ‘What’s going on?’, she thought.
‘I’m sorry Gbemi, I won’t be able to make it’, he sounded really sorry.
Gbemi was disappointed, to say the least. ‘Why did he have to wait until the last minute? What came up?’ she wondered. ‘Why? What happened?’, she asked.
‘You see…’, he paused ‘em…something came up.’
Gbemi was silent, waiting for him to explain himself.
He burst into laughter, ‘I was just kidding jo, I’m already on my way. I got you there didn’t I?’ he teased.
‘You are not serious John, 1 – 0. I will do my own back, you will see’, she was so relieved. She loved a number of things about him, one, in particular, was his amazing sense of humor.
‘So since I’ll be getting there first, do I place our orders before you arrive?’
‘Alright, that’s fine by me’
‘I dey hungry, but don’t worry, I’ll wait for you’, he joked.
‘Before? You don’t have a choice o. See you soon.’
‘Alright dear. Bye.’
‘Bye’. She dropped the phone in the console, beside the gear. ‘This guy is not serious sha’, she said aloud as she started the car.
‘I heard you o.’
Gbemi didn’t know the call had not ended. She picked it up ‘oh goodness. I thought you cut.’
‘God catch you’, he joked ‘so that’s how you’ll be talking about me, abi?’
‘Oya bye bye. I’m driving.’
‘Bye. See you soon.’
She ensured the call ended this time around before dropping the phone. It took her about 40 minutes to get to the restaurant. It was about 20 minutes past 6. She topped up her powder and applied her lip stick. She didn’t want to look stressed out.
As she entered the restaurant, the cool air conditioned atmosphere of the place together with the inviting smell of well-prepared food welcomed her. She looked around and spotted John. He was on the phone. As she walked towards him, he sighted her and immediately ended the call. He stood up and gave her a hug.
‘I’m so sorry for keeping you waiting.’
‘Nahhhh, it’s fine really, I got here about 10minutes ago, I decided to take my time after you called.’ He waited for her to take her seat before sitting down.
‘Oh thank God. It’s not my nature to keep people waiting.’
‘Just as we agreed, I placed the order. I decided to play safe so I asked for rice, I hope that’s fine by you.’
‘Absolutely. I hope it won’t take forever before they bring it’, she looked around to see if anyone was bringing the food.
‘See you, you can’t even form?’, he made fun of her.
‘Form ke? Because of what? Abeg o, man must eat na’
’’I feel you jare, don’t worry they’ll soon bring it. What’s your best food?’, he wanted to know.
‘Indomie’, she said plainly
John couldn’t believe it ‘you are joking right?’ he asked to clarify.
‘Of course, I am. I like rice, anything rice is fine by me. How about you?’
‘I don’t really have a best food, I like almost every food I’ve tasted’, he was very open and sincere.
‘I bet you haven’t eaten Gizdodo before.’
‘Nope, what’s that?’
‘It’s made of gizzard and fried plantain. You need to taste it, it is heavenly’, she closed her eyes to emphasize how amazing it is.
‘So when are you going to make it for me?’
‘Who said anything about me making it for you? You are on your own o.’
‘We’ll see about that. Anyway, enough talk about food, how was your day?’ he asked.
Gbemi went on and on telling him how her day went and how annoying her boss was. ‘How about you?’, she wanted to know more about this mystery dude. ‘What do you do?’
‘Well, I studied architecture in the university which was some 5 years ago. Presently, I work with a private firm here in Lagos. But somehow, I’m beginning to perceive that my time there is almost up.’
‘Up as in?’, she needed clarification. ‘Do you mean you are thinking of resigning?’
‘I’m not sure. I’ve learned to take things one step after another. Things will get clearer with time. You know it’s very important to know what God is saying per time and not just what He once said?’
‘Yeah that’s true’, she couldn’t agree more.
The food arrived. It looked really good, Gbemi secretly prayed it tasted as good. As they began to eat, she kept wondering at what point John was going to talk about the reason he wanted to see her.
‘I know you must be wondering why I called for this’, he took a sip of juice.
Gbemi smiled as she dug into the sumptuous looking meal before her.
‘I was really intrigued by what happened the other day in the hospital. I saw what transpired between you and your dad and I was moved.’
She listened attentively.
He dropped his cutlery and continued speaking as he gesticulated with his hand. ‘I don’t know the full story of what happened and frankly speaking I’ll understand if you don’t want to talk about it, but hearing you tell your father you forgive him was amazing. I’m certain, God Himself must have stood up to jubilate’, he smiled.
Gbemi chuckled. ‘It wasn’t easy, I must confess. It took the help of the Holy Spirit. These last few days, I’ve been through some emotional hitches and so when I say it was God, I mean it. With regards to talking about it, well I have realized that the moment I let go, it no longer had power over me. I had always bottled it up but now, it means little or nothing to me anymore.’
‘That’s amazing. I’m so glad to hear that.’ He smiled. ‘I, however, have a request’, he paused to hear what she’d say.
‘Okay… I’m listening’, at this point, she dropped her cutlery and paid full attention. She wondered what he wanted from her.
‘It’s not that serious’, he smiled as he pointed to her food ‘please keep eating.’
‘See you that is talking, why have you paused your eating?’
‘Okay see’, he picked his cutlery and took a spoon ‘see, I told you it wasn’t that serious.’
‘I hear you. Sha continue jo.’
‘Okay. So there is this Christian NGO I work with, it’s called Ray of Hope Foundation. We are a group of Christians that reach out to young girls who have either been hurt, abused or molested. We’ll be having a seminar soon and I’ll love it if you can be a part of it.’
Gbemi didn’t see that coming. ‘Me? How?’ She didn’t think she was capable. ‘A part of it in what sense?’ she needed to clarify.
‘There will be a session where we’ll want the girls to listen to someone who understands what they have or are still going through and perhaps someone who will share her own experience. And I am convinced without an iota of doubt that you are the best for that.’
Gbemi sighed. She knew there was truth in what he said but she didn’t know if she could. ‘I really appreciate all this but I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it’, her countenance fell.
‘Gbemi, look at me’ he was looking straight into her eyes. ‘You can do it. It was not a coincidence that of all the people that you could have asked to follow you to see your dad, it was me you chose. Think about what your story will do to those young girls who have bottled so much within them. You are the ray of hope they need, a reason for them to know that they have a bright future.’
Gbemi knew the truth and what John had just said was nothing but the truth. ‘So all I went through those years was for a purpose. God wants to use my experience to reach out to others’, she began to reason within herself.
She sighed again. ‘Please give me some time. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.’
‘No problem at all. Please take your time. No rush, no pressure.’
‘Thank you’. But first, you yourself don’t even know the full story?’
He chuckled and reclined in his chair, ‘You are right, I don’t. But I know that whatever it is, it was not your fault.’
Gbemi was speechless. Although she had been liberated from the yoke of her past, she never saw things in that light. ‘It wasn’t my fault and so I must never again blame myself.’
‘Thank you’, she said with a smile.
‘I don’t know what you are thanking me for but you are welcome. I’m good like that’, he laughed.
‘Who has been deceiving you?’ Gbemi joined him in laughter.
‘My fans and we both know who my number one fan is?’, he winked.
‘That waitress shey?’ she pointed to a lady serving food adjacent to them.
‘You are just in denial and you know it.’
‘It’s getting late. We better start going. You shouldn’t drive in the night’, John said with concern.
‘Yeah you are right’, Gbemi wasn’t sure if he had a car or came through public transport but she didn’t know how to ask. She had never seen him drive a car. ‘How are you getting back?’, she finally figured a way to coin the question.
‘I’ll find my way. Is it not this Lagos? I’ll be fine, thank you.’
They both stood up and left.
‘I enjoyed the meal’, Gbemi said as they stepped out of the restaurant.
‘I told you I was going to make it up to you. Anyway, I’m glad you did.
He walked her to her car and waited for her to get in, ‘So take your time to think and pray about what we discussed, I’ll be patiently waiting for your reply.’ Those were the same words any lady would have loved to hear after a marriage proposal from a guy she liked. Although that wasn’t the situation here, Gbemi had this sense of wholeness and didn’t feel like she needed a man to complete her, not because she hated men and intentionally shut them out like she previously did but because she knew her completeness was in God and God alone. Her life was gradually taking shape. She wasn’t going to run crazy if she didn’t have a guy in her life and she began to appreciate John as the true friend he was.
‘Alright, I will. Are you sure you don’t need a lift? I can take you to the closest bus stop’, she was willing to help.
‘That’s so thoughtful of you. I actually came with my car’, he pointed to a black Hyundai ‘but don’t worry, maybe some other time. You know, I enjoy riding with you. Take good care of yourself.’
‘You too. Bye.’
Gbemi got home pretty exhausted. She had had a long but fruitful day. She decided to place a call to John to find out if he had gotten home.
‘Hi John, how are you? Shey you have gotten home?’ Gbemi could hear music playing in the background.
‘Nah not yet, maybe in another 20 minutes sha.’
‘Ok, I got in some minutes ago. Thank you for today, I had a lovely time.’
‘Me too. I’m glad you did. Don’t forget what we discussed’, he didn’t want to put her under pressure but at the same time, he wanted her to think about it.
‘No problem, I won’t. Is that Fire Regalia by JayMikee?’ she loved that song.
‘Yes it sure is’, his response reflected he was smiling.
‘I’m a huge fan. I love that song’
‘Wow that makes two of us’
‘Interesting, so we have one thing in common’, she wondered if there were more things they had in common.
‘I bet it’s more than just one thing’
‘Oya na what again?’ she wanted to know if there was really more.
‘Ok, what’s your birthday?’
‘Feburay 15. You?’
‘October 24. That’s far from close. I’m sure there is something. You’ll see’
‘Ok o. Anyway, you shouldn’t be on the phone while driving’, she was concerned for his safety.
‘I’m using my ear piece. Plus, I’m stuck in traffic.’
‘Eeya pele (sorry). It is well. Anyway, I just called to say thanks.’
‘You are always welcome. Have a lovely night rest.’
‘You too’, she ended the call. She cast her mind back on how the evening was and started smiling unconsciously. Then she remembered John’s request and the smile immediately disappeared.
‘Oh Lord’, she prayed ‘I don’t think I’m up to the task. What will I say? I can’t do it’, she gave all manner of excuses. But as she went on and on with her lamentations, she remembered Mordecai’s words to Esther when she was reluctant to go before the king on behalf of the Jews. Mordecai told her point blank that help would arise from another source if she chose to remain silent and he made her understand that there was a possibility that she was in the palace for the purpose of being a voice for the Jews (Esther 4:14).
Gbemi sighed. She knew what that scripture meant; God Himself was telling her she was His voice to those young girls.
She could no longer utter any word of argument ‘Father, please just help me.’ She rested her case.
Immediately, she made the decision, she felt joy unspeakable. She was convinced she was in the center of God’s will.
‘I’ll wait till tomorrow to tell John my decision’, She decided, ‘before my calls become too frequent,’ she thought.
The next day, as she parked her car at work, she remembered the decision she made but decided not to call first. ‘The last thing I want is to appear forward. Whenever he calls, I’ll tell him’, she decided.
There was a unique glow on Gbemi that day. It had nothing to do with her physical appearance. She wore a sky blue three-quarter sleeved chiffon shirt tucked into a black skirt and put on a 3” black shoe. This, however, was nothing different from the usual. Even her coworkers testified to it. There was just something different.
‘Is there something you are not telling us, Miss Johnson. This one that you are just glowing. Has he proposed ni?’ Mrs Folorunsho, the receptionist asked. Was that the only thing that could make a lady happy?
Gbemi didn’t allow anyone burst her bubble by asking her if a guy proposed. ‘What’s with you people and guys about proposing? I’m happy because God made me happy.’ ‘Society itself was enough pressure for a young single lady’,’ she thought.
‘Hmmmm I envy this your happiness o’, Mrs Folorunsho, couldn’t keep it anymore.
‘It’s very simple. The secret is Jesus’, she smiled.
‘It is well o, have a lovely day.’
‘You too’, Gbemi opened the register and signed in. ‘Lord, let my light keep shining for You always’, she prayed as she went up stairs.
Around 9:30 am, her phone rang. It was Bola, her younger sister.
‘Sis Gbemi, good afternoon’, Bola always had respect for her sister.
‘Sisterly, how have you been?’
‘Been good. How about you?’
‘Same here jare’
‘I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said concerning dad. I’ve decided I’ll pay him a visit today. I called bro Femi, he said he’ll pick me up and we’ll go together.’
Gbemi was so happy with what she had just heard ‘that’s amazing’ she said. ‘I’m so glad to hear that.’
‘He’ll drop me at your place when we are done. I have a couple of things I also want to do in Lagos before I return to Ibadan tomorrow hopefully.’ She explained.
‘Ok that sounds cool. Around what time are we talking about, so I’ll know how to plan my day?’
‘What time is convenient for you?’ she did not want to inconvenience her.
‘I have a prayer meeting in church from 5:30 to 6:30 this evening after which I’ll head straight home, but if that will be too late then I guess I’ll forfeit it this week.’ Gbemi was always very sacrificial especially when it had to do with her baby sister.
‘No, sisterly you don’t have to. I can do the running around first then come much later since I’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning. How about that?’
‘Sounds great’, they finally came to a consensus.
‘Alright sis, see you later.’
‘Alright dear. Have a safe trip. Help me greet daddy, tell him I’ll plan to pay him a visit soon.’
‘Will do’, she ended the call.
‘Lord please give my siblings grace to face daddy and forgive him the way you helped me’, she prayed.
She continued working and hoped that Mr Kalejaye won’t try to mess up her plans today like he did the day before.
By 4:50 pm, she began to round off her work and by 5 pm on the dot, she went to Mr Kalejaye’s office to tell him she was set to leave.
He looked up from his laptop ‘have you sent the file I asked for?’
‘Yes sir, I’ve sent it to your email’, she had done everything he had asked her to do. ‘This man must not delay me today in Jesus name’ , she prayed within her.
‘He looked at her ‘It’s ok, you may go.’
‘Thank you sir’, she was so happy. She left before he could say another word.
She left work and headed straight for church. She didn’t want to be late for the prayer meeting. As she drove into the church compound, she spotted a black Hyundai that looked exactly like the one John pointed at the previous day.
‘Is the guy stalking me?’ she asked herself as she smiled and came down from the car. She checked her bag to confirm she had her bible and scarf. She knew those were not the prerequisite to come into the house of God but at the same time didn’t want to be seen as disobedient or rebellious as it was required for all women in that church to cover their hair.
As she entered the building which on the average, sat about 100 people, she saw a group of people seated at a corner. She wasn’t sure if it was the prayer band but as she walked closer, she sighted the leader and he stood up to welcome her.
‘Guys, we have a new member in our unit. Let’s welcome sis Gbemi.’
They were all so warm and homely, the ladies stood up to hug her ‘you are welcome sis’, they said one after the other and the guys gave her a hand shake, ‘we are happy to have you here.’
Gbemi felt so welcomed, ‘thank you’, she kept saying until the last person had greeted her.
‘You may have your seat’, the leader pointed to a free chair. They were seated in a circle. We are having Bible study. We usually spend this 1 hour studying the Word of God and afterwards pray together. We are studying Esther 4’, he handed her the Bible study outline.
‘Thank you’, Gbemi said as she collected it and brought out her Bible and journal from her bag.
The unit leader faced everyone and went on, ‘So as we read, Esther’s timely positioning in the palace at that time wasn’t coincidental, it was divinely ordained. She could have been anywhere at that time but God chose to position her in the palace.’ He explained with so much enthusiasm. ‘Why?’, he asked rhetorically and went on to answer, ‘because he wanted her to be His voice’
Gbemi froze in her seat. ‘What?!’ She couldn’t believe her ears. The exact same Word that dropped in her heart the day before, when she was praying concerning addressing the young girls. Gbemi was convinced it could only have been God.
People around her nodded rhythmically as their leader went on dividing the Word.
He went on, ‘God is intentional about the lives of His children. Nothing happens to us by chance. It may not make sense initially but keep holding on. God will make it beautiful in the end.’
Gbemi felt like he knew exactly what she had been through. The message was for her. She was stunned, too stunned to even pick up her pen to write. She just listened attentively, she didn’t notice when some two guys joined the meeting.
After the leader had finished talking, he asked everyone to stand up so they could pray together before bringing the meeting to a close. It was at the point, Gbemi noticed John standing opposite her.
He saw her and smiled.
She smiled back and quickly closed her eye. They were praying. After the prayer, the leader gave some announcements and afterwards, they shared the grace.
Immediately the meeting ended, a lady walked up to John and engaged him in a conversation. Gbemi definitely wanted to see him and so had to exercise patience. She sat back in her seat as she waited for him. She noticed he kept looking in her direction.
‘Only God knows if he is listening to what the lady is saying’, Gbemi thought. ‘listen-to-what-she-is-saying’ Gbemi said without vocalizing as she gesticulated with her hands holding her pinna to symbolize “listen” and pointing to the lady who was backing her.
John who was facing her smiled. He understood the gesture.
The unit leader came to sit beside her, he noticed she was sitting alone, ‘hope you enjoyed the meeting?’, he asked.
‘Yes I did. Very much’ Gbemi was so grateful she came.
‘I’m glad to hear that. So I’m I seeing you in our next meeting?’ he asked.
‘By God’s grace, I’ll try to be here for the prayer before service tomorrow’, she said.
‘Looking forward to seeing you then’
‘Are you waiting for someone?’ he asked out of concern wondering why she was still seated.
‘Yeah I’m waiting for him’, she pointed at John who was still kept engaged by the lady.
‘Alright then, take care’, he stood up, ‘see you tomorrow.’
After another long two minutes of sitting alone, she noticed John tried to end the conversation. She saw him pointing at her, perhaps telling the other lady that someone was waiting for him.
He soon walked towards her.
Gbemi stood up to greet him.
He hugged her.
‘I didn’t expect to see you here’, she expressed her surprise.
‘I’m here every Tuesday evening for Bible study coordinators’ meeting.’ Usually we finish around the same time with the prayer band but today, we finished earlier and as I was leaving, I just felt like joining the prayer band. I had no idea you were around’, he explained.
‘Oh really, that’s interesting’, she smiled.
‘You can say that again. Hope you enjoyed the meeting?’ he asked.
‘I did, I felt it was meant for me.’
‘Wow, that’s great.’
‘Let me see you off, you should get going so your sister doesn’t have to wait too long for you.’
‘That’s true. Can you imagine? I almost forget she was coming.’ She said as they walked towards the door.
After taking a few steps, Gbemi froze ‘how did you know my sister was coming?’ she didn’t remember telling him anything about that.
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 9 next week Sunday. Don’t miss it.