Uturu

The feel of the breeze against my skin was amazing. The air was clean and fresh and oh, the way it seemed to sieve through strands of my hair brought back memories of standing beneath the shower vigorously washing the mud off my calloused palms as cold water trickled from my scalp to my feet.
Besides the occasional interruptions of the cluttered trumpet sound of the passenger’s farts, the journey to Welta State had been a quiet and refreshing one. I missed having my Nokia torchlight phone – a personal buddy, we had done several of these journeys together: it shone for me to thumb through the pages of hamlet, Americanah and things fall apart as the engine of the long coaster bus coughed while negotiating pot holes and the stuffed luggage gradually edged me out of seat. Papa always said, a cow doesn’t know the use of its tail until it is cut off!
Tona Oil and Gas Services was everyone’s dream employer, In fact I remember like yesterday how papa’s steady rapt voice went on, the night before I left for the wider world, ‘Nnenna! You need to burn the midnight oil and cultivate the habit of reading’. I will not be there to look over your shoulders and keep you from joining the bad wagon but you need to make use of all the wisdom and knowledge we have poured into you Nnem’ He would pause and clear his and reach for the glass of water knowing I always had one ready. Then he would go on to say, I remember in 1956, when The Ohaleta’s first son Uzo graduated top performance in his class, Tona Oil and Gas offered him a job immediately and brought him home in the company vehicle just to carry a lean sack of old clothing and say good bye to his family. Uzo had been since been relocated to France by his company but his feat and praise never ceased from my father’s motivational tales.
When I received the call from Engr. Joaquin Loo, the recruitment specialist for Tona Oil and Gas informing me of being shortlisted for the final stage of the interview for the Graduate Entry Role, The celebration at our house was boundless. Papa had ordered that ofe-okazi and fufu, my favorite meal be prepared immediately. We sat together around the table and ate as my father sang my praises; He punctuated every sentence with ‘Nnem, I always knew you would bring our family to limelight in Ebenebe’.
I could barely eat; I could feel my intestines move one against the other like the shuffling feet of the maidens at the atilogwu dance festivals. My siblings took turns recounting my parents initial displeasure at my refusal to study medicine and bring them the glory of birthing the first doctor in Ebenebe. There was a traffic jam in my mind, diverse thoughts of how we would raise funds for my trip to Uturu in Welta State for the interview, and how sad my parents would be if I didn’t pass the final screening stage of the interview. I had already done several job interviews and examination and had passed excellently. In one instance, I had received a call requesting I travel to Lagos for medical fitness examination. Having emptied our coffers and made the journey, 7 months later, I had heard nothing from the company. It would really hurt my parents if this towed the same line. I did the sign of the cross and hoped that God wouldn’t let that happen.
The stream of lights and sound of gun shots woke all the other passengers immediately. Our bus driver immediately attempted to reverse but one of the robbers quickly shot the windscreen. The driver immediately shut off the engine, jumped down and lay flat on the floor shouting ‘Abeg oh, No kill me oh, Na mistake’. All the passengers scuttled to the rear seat hoping that it would delay our encounter with the robbers. In no time, the bus was surrounded by the gun men shouting ‘Oya make una come down or we go shoot’. Terrified, we trooped out in a cluster hands raised and faces facing downwards. Every one kept bumping into the other. The one of them howled ‘Flat! all of you lie down flat on the floor and do not look up’.
I could hear their foot-steps everywhere around us, interrupted occasionally by the thud of one trunk thrown out from the bus for ransacking. I heard several shouts coming from passengers around me ‘I no get money oh’, ‘Abeg oh’. I wondered what the robbers were up to when I felt the hand reach into the back pocket of my jeans and I screamed. In fear, I reached for the envelope containing my credentials which I had taken from my luggage. I don’t know if it was the sound I heard first or the pain as it shot through my legs. I squeezed my lids tightly shut as I cried papa! Papa! I felt the robber snatch the envelope from my hands. The fight had gone out of me already, after ruffling through them a bit, I vaguely heard him say ‘No be money, na paper’ and throw my credentials at me. I remember the thud to my head and nothing else.
‘Doctor, I think she’s awake’. I quickly shut my eyes again. Paint shot through my brain as the high beam of light hit my eyes. I didn’t recognize the voice I had just heard. Oh, maybe the robbers had decided to take hostages. I cried aloud. Doctor, she’s awake and she’s crying. I think she may be in pain.
How could I have missed that, she had said Doctor – that meant, I was in a hospital. I wanted to open my eyes to affirm that I was awake but weakness won.

The night was quiet and it was so cold. I wished one of the nurses would come in so I could ask that the Air-Conditioning be put off. It felt the same as that night in the bus, when I snuggled against my sweater to keep warm. Why had God let this happen to me? How would I contact Papa and Mama? Had they been trying to reach me already? Where was my phone? I had many questions and there was no one to answer them. The doctor had said, my legs were healing quickly but I would need to use clutches for a while. The nurse who gave me a bath had asked that I rest well. She said I was going to have a special visitor the next day. Who could it be?
‘Hello Nnenna’ the voice broke through my solitude. I knew I had heard that voice before, but where?
‘I am Joaquin Loo, Recruitment advisor for Tona Oil and Gas’. A smile broke out across my lips and he smiled too. He sat beside me and spoke very gently. He mentioned that the company had been contacted from the details I had alongside my credentials. He empathized with me about all that had happened. Papa and Mama had been contacted already. In fact, a company vehicle had been sent to convey them to Welta state to spend some time with me while I recovered. I was so eager to tell him how thankful I was, but I couldn’t speak. The shock from the incident had resulted in my inability to speak, but the doctor had commented that I would regain my speech with time and encouragement. I had since learned to nod, smile to say yes or sway my head from right to left in disagreement. My fingers and hand muscles worked but writing hurt a bit.
Houston is an amazing place, the wide stretch of lands on both sides of the highway were an intriguing site. I would have mama and papa travel with me on vacation here. It would be great to share this sight with them. We had gone to a Rodeo game the day before and the tour around Jeremy’s ranch today promised to be an exciting one. Jeremy has an eye for aesthetic beauty and loves sport. I have never known one person who embodied intelligence, fun and with so much ease. He could go from giving a high-tech Oil exploration lecture one minute to describing the petals of the flowers at Ugwuta Lake. I couldn’t have wished for a better mentor.
Three years after my employment in Tona Oil and Gas services, I have gone on to become the best well design engineer in the eastern hemisphere and a spokesperson for the company on Equal opportunity, employment, Diversity and inclusion. Papa was right; working with the company had proven to be heaven on earth. Through the hard phases of re-learning to walk, regaining my speech, learning the operations of the life cycle of an oil well and the interludes of travelling to the backsides of Africa, where education is not the norm for the girl child and the giving speeches in the industry in Germany, I have not been successful at detangling my trip to Uturu from my opening remark. I would often see people reach for their tissues, or shed a tear without shame as they made the journey with me again. It wouldn’t be any different today at the international Diversity Conference for women in Engineering holding in Dallas Forthworth, Texas.
The visitor’s bell chimed its soft tune as I put the second stud on my earing. It had to be Jeremy.

Exempted from harm…

​Enomma, di bo unam…and I’d totter across the room my mouth open from the start..in came a big piece of meat. Meat from my grandma’s stew was like a slice of heaven. I sat patiently chewing and dragging with my left and right hand as cutleries.. By the time I was done, I half of my face and a portion of my Christmas dress could attest to the taste of the stew.. It didn’t matter that my siblings observed longingly while I ate my meat, I offered no one – gifts from grandma are personal you know..
Memories of ekamba mma filled my head…The tears flowed uncontrollably… We had just laid her to rest having passed on in her sleep five months ago. Many had different views of her…some said she was a troublesome woman, others said she was difficult to please. Those descriptors didn’t make it into the biography.
Grandma was an interesting part of childhood for me…whenever she visited, we knew ekpangkukwo was coming into the menu and many nameless but very tasty native dishes..she was the meaning of variety. 
“Back seat make una pass your money come front..this bus don full oh.. ” passengers begun asking each other if he was the conductor of the bus as we were all seeing him for the first time. He had not been a part of the different faces energetically gesticulating almost dragging passengers into the bus.
Where my money? Came the drivers  rumbling voice… As all passengers had refused to pay the conductor. How much is the fare ? 

Which kind question be that one madam? 

You never sabi sey na 1000 for uyo to calabar?

Ah but na 600 I pay from calabar come uyo oh.

I had barely completed my sentence when the driver threw out my bag. Oya come down from my bus na. I no wan Carry you sef.
Other Passengers came to my rescue – charging at the driver and threatening to get off the bus. One even offered to pay the difference. But the driver said he couldn’t have me on his bus..

Amidst the shouting and arguments, I quietly got off the bus and boarded the next one. I handed the driver his one thousand naira before getting in. And put my head down on the backrest of the front row seats reflecting on what had just happened.

Screams of Jesus! Sai! Iyammi oh! Woke me up…our driver had slowed down to clear off at the side of the road.

The bus I had been thrown out of was in a terrible accident…i saw the right hand of the man who had offered to pay the balance for me very close to the road covered with a part of the green agbada he wore, the rest of his body no where in sight. People were terribly dismembered and none survived. I sighted the lady who boarded the bus to replace me so the bus could leave being brought out of the Bush lifeless…

I cried through the rest of the journey.. Knowing I could’ve been a part of those who had just passed on but for the mercies of God. My peace is in his promises.. Whatever you’re pain is, keep in mind…God’s got you!

John 16:33 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace andconfidence. In the world you have tribulationand trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Just one more

JmadReflects

There are some movies you see and you literally forget it’s a movie – suspension of disbelief. You know that moment you suddenly feel your eyes getting wet and it’s not a vicious cry, it’s just that gentle stream of tears  that run down your cheeks. Unlike other tears you just let this one run down gradually cos’ you love the movie and at the same time it’s affecting your emotions in some way.

So a friend and I were discussing such movies that open the flood gates of tears and he suggested I saw “Hacksaw Ridge” directed by Mel Gibson. Of course I cried, it’s Mel Gibson – how can you see The Passion of the Christ and not say the sinners prayer over again. He now decides to move a notch higher with this true-life story of courage and faith. If you haven’t seen hacksaw ridge, I advise…

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Looking to Jesus

It a week today since I had a myomectomy. At about 7:30am on the 27th of May, the theatre nurse came and asked me to dress up in the gown I’d been given the night before. My fiancée excused me, so I could change up.

I had to gather it up behind me…if you’ve worn one, you know how they are loose and without fitting, no flowered patterns or pockets to make a stance with… Just plain! And the back, it bare with a couple two ropes to tie on – not much of a decent covering so I had to to gather the back with both hands while I walked off… I smiled at my fiancee and mom and said gleefully …”see you”.

I and my fiancee had been studying psalm 34 together. Oh, it had been an awesome time spent together in the hospital a week before the surgery. Praising God together, waking up at night to pee and then some gist would come up and then We’d go on to have a praise and dance session to our God.

Some mornings, we’d have chingtok ministering in the background as we just prayed in the spirit. If you dunno music minister chingtok please find him, I know you’ll be blessed.

I had been given spinal anaesthesia so I was awake throughout. Amidst singing of God’s faithfulness to myself and praying in the spirit, the 5th verse of the 34th psalm kept ringing in my mind.

“Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”Psalm 34:5 NLT.
I had peace in my heart, I couldn’t find fear, I knew that the Lord was with me. In my mind’s eye, I saw that as in the 7th verse the Angel of the Lord had surrounded me.
True to his words, I didn’t see shame, no not the shame of reports of bleeding, or damage to my uterus, or complications or death! It’s one week today and hallelujah! My face is still radiant with Joy! God is faithful.

Dunno who’s battling shame maybe masked as depression, regret, divorce, some ailment, failure, inward confusion, whatever mask your shame is wearing, behold the word of the Lord my friends.

Look to Jesus! 

Psalm 34:4 AMP “I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalm 34:5NLT “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”

Didi

The Gift

Accept the gift!

Dainty M

Photo Credit: www.thisoldhouse.com Photo Credit: http://www.thisoldhouse.com

I stepped out the door. The air’s crisper than the crease in Donald Trump’s pants. The cold air can’t keep my spirits down – I’m bouncing up and down like a kid who has to use the bathroom. Except I’m excited, not desperate.

I finally found the perfect present and I can’t wait to get home, wrap it, and ship it to my sister. The odds of finding a suitable present for Gail are as good as finding leftover dessert at a Baptist potluck. You could say Gail’s difficult to buy for. But that would be like saying my dog likes week-old garbage. It just doesn’t get across the depth of feeling.

You see, Gail’s got phobias. Lots of phobias. She’s scared of smells – and if you sniff hard, everything smells!

The DVD player we bought her a few years ago … well, she returned it…

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Daily Prompt: Scent

via Daily Prompt: Scent

I stretched and twisted feeling the sheets snug up with every move. Light struck my eyes as my lids swing open…finally, I could now see the light often spoken of in reference to death.

Dead? Dreaming?

It’s like a high jump but it feels like gravity has it’s full course. The clouds around me are so dark, I can almost touch the darkness. Softly but sweetly, I hear the tunes of the organ. it’s laced with the voice of some choir of thousands. I never heard Amazing grace sung so sweetly.

“Break fast is served my honeyberry” His raspy voice, the aroma of fried plantain and eggs tainted with the scent of fresh flowers interrupted my sway to the beautiful hymn.

My eyes open up to his grin… It’s my first morning as Mrs PM!

 

 

Moses and Scrabble; lessons learnt along the way

Believers listen continually. Listening is not a one time event. Our attention is continually fixated on the master …he guides is with his eyes… Keep watching saints.

JmadReflects

I have a couple of fond memories as a kid but I think one of my fondest was playing Scrabble with my dad and sister. He was obviously better than the two of us but he would always give us an additional fifty (50) points at the beginning of the game to place us ahead of him. But I guess you know who always won… yes you were right – My Dad. Regardless of the numerous losses as a kid, he increased my capacity to know lots of word. I would often and still do it now, try to form words from a word I see from bill boards, to car stickers (the thought just makes me smile). I can say some sort of confidence was built over time in playing Scrabble. I took that confidence to the National Youth Service Corps  (NYSC) orientation camp. Initially I was really humble…

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Integrity: Don’t Leave Home Without It

It seems with each passing day we are sinking a little deeper into the quicksand of cultural collapse. For those of us who, like Daniel, seek to live in the world but not of the world, what is the single most important attribute we need as we strive to influence the culture in a positivea href=’http://www.faithgateway.com/integrity-dont-leave-without-it-2/’ title=’Read more’ …/a

Source: Integrity: Don’t Leave Home Without It

The show must go on

No one shunts God’s show!

JmadReflects

If you are a frequent reader you’ll remember I was posted to Iran a few years ago you can read it up here. Well I’m back and I encountered most of the concerns I had. Incidentally the experience I had isn’t peculiar to just me. I had a conversation with a dear friend a few days ago and it was the crux of our conversation. In her words the resident pastor of her Church was stepping down from pastoring the Church and she was heartbroken, thankfully she wasn’t in Church the day the announcement was made. I had been away from my local Church for almost two years and mid-way I found out one of my “favorite” pastors was leaving and I was equally heartbroken.

Now you see two of us had every reason to be heartbroken, these Pastors dropped the Word like it was hot, we admired the…

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