Ogechukwu (god's Time)

A young lady learns how to handle pressure instead of making lifetime decisions out of pressure.

I set my alarm to wake at 6 am. I had a long day at work the previous day. I had to tidy up records of accounts for auditing. I was the Chief Accountant, so I had to do the bulk of the work. My boss was just uptight. He became like that ever since I gave his advances towards me a thoughtless dismissal. Other colleagues of mine had done their part and left the work premises. It was just my boss and I that were left in the entire building. It was already getting late. He didn't agree to my suggestion of taking the papers home to finish up what was left. He was just unreasonably mean. I guess it was just his way of making sure I was not out of his sight. He took advantage of his hierarchy to massage his bloated ego. It was already 9:58 pm by the time I was done. Commercial buses were fewer on the streets. My boss offered to give me a ride. I would have turned that offer down on a normal day, but I was almost out of options. I just had to swallow my pride. At least, I convinced myself that it was not going to choke me if I swallowed it.

Back at home, I dragged my tired frame into the kitchen. My boss was not a gentleman enough to think of buying me food when he dropped me off. Although, I didn't expect him to. I put some noodles on fire. That was the easiest thing I could prepare at that time of the day. That night, I appreciated the fact that I was single. I didn't have to explain to any all-variety-loving husband that my job was so demanding and that being a noodles-for-dinner wife was what it allowed me to be. I could also say that my job made me too busy that I forgot to fall in love. How could I have balanced such a busy schedule with giving my attention to a young man who is tired of being his mother's baby and has agreed to be my adopted baby? Maybe we would have defined roles in a way that is different from the conventional. We would give it a touch of flexibility and respond based on understanding. We won’t make it be about male or female roles. It would just be about allowing each other to be as much human as we are. 

I turned my noodles into a plate and began to eat. Tired as I was, I played with my noodles as I ate. You know how noodles were eaten in adverts. It was every child's dream to do the same. It reminded me of those good old days as a child. Those days we cared less about what people thought of us in public. But now, I have to pretend like I enjoy eating with a fork and a knife at business dinners. And what we call courtesy would demand that I chew my chicken cautiously. Since I was alone in my room, I had to catch that fun for the night. 

Morning came, and my alarm tone only served as a lullaby to me. It was 7 am when I jerked back to consciousness as though I had a nightmare. I had silenced my phone before I went to bed the previous day. I needed a night of uninterrupted sleep. I met 20 missed calls, and the 21st call that met me awake was not one I would love to pick at that moment. It was my mum calling. Who wouldn't want to hear from her mum? I guess a twenty-eight-year-old lady who has a job and a well-furnished apartment but is still single. Who does not want to be reminded that her younger sister is married with three kids while she is single and not engaged? Mum would suggest that I go for a deliverance meeting. She says that the ancestral history of my father's house was behind my being single at twenty-eight. I don't believe in all those stories. Even if they were true, a man in Christ has no past. I have been born into the family of God. So I have access to all that Christ has. I wonder why mothers are hell-bent on seeing their daughters get married as though that is the climax of a lady's life.

I rushed into the bathroom to have a warm bath, came out, and dressed up for work. Soon my phone began to ring. It was Ugo calling. Ugo is my boss. He must have wondered why I was not at work already. He already knows part of the reason. So, I picked up the call, told him I was on my way, dropped the call, and dashed out immediately into the busy street. It was time to face traffic. I didn't want to hear stories, so I flung a bike down, mounted it, and sped off.

At 7 .40 am, I hurriedly climbed the stairs that led to the conference room where the auditing exercise would be carried out. The exercise was to commence by 8 am. I had to be there before 8 am, if not for anything, to take a deep breath before the auditing proper. I would need that so desperately for the journey that was ahead of me. Right in front of the door to the conference room, I collided with a lanky, handsome young man. He looked familiar to me. The perfume he wore had greeted my nose some years back. His black-framed goggles together with his neatly ironed Italian navy blue suit, gave him a look that was too sumptuous to be neglected. He was slashingly slaying in appearance. He had a touch of class. He looked all nerdy and smart. While I bent to pick up his fallen handkerchief, he mentioned my name, Ogechukwu. He mentioned it in a manner that made me link dots faster. Then I knew for sure that this was Ikenna. He didn't change that much. I didn't expect that I would meet him again. I didn't know why I settled for such expectations, but we were told back then in my university days that we might never meet some of our coursemates after graduation. He made it to the list of those I didn't expect to meet again for some weird reason. Though I didn't write down names on paper, my mind made the selection.

Ikenna was my favorite coursemate. We would pass for what people referred to as "best friends." Although I did not like the idea behind the tag, that was what we were. We talked about anything and everything. We joked about sensitive matters to nobody's hurt. He was one of the few friends I could put a call across to for no reason. Of course, " just talking" is a reason, but you know what I mean. We communicated to such a depth with no strings attached. I made fun of his beards those days. They were just scanty and could make a good plot for a scatter diagram. 

I smiled at him and entered the conference room. The auditing exercise began. It was hassle-free. Ikenna was the Chief Auditor, and it made everything a lot less stressful. I couldn't wait for the exercise to come to an end. I knew we would have a lot of catching up to do. Shortly after the exercise, Ikenna and I talked for a while. Ugo was acting a bit restless. He came at intervals to ask Ikenna questions that were not urgent so he would distract our conversation. Since it was still working hours, we paused our conversation. We exchanged phone numbers, and to my shock, he lives three fences away from where I live. This is what you get for having a white-collar job. You never get to know your neighbors. The following day was Saturday, and we agreed to work out during the early hours. It was an awesome experience, not because I enjoyed doing sports but because of the company I had. Later in the day, we had lunch together in a restaurant. We had enough time to catch up on lost times. Ikenna didn't change that much. He has refused to put up some flesh. His sense of humor was now refined. His relationship with the Holy Spirit was still intact. Every tiny detail of his life was a prayer concern. While we talked, he told me about his plans to get married in a year. I didn't take him seriously though he appeared to be serious. In school, he had always fixed dates for his wedding and postponed them back then. He was surprised to learn that I was not married. In school, I had told him back then that I would attend his wedding with my first child. And here we are, sharing a reality different from what we bargained for. Apart from the fact that we were both single, though not odd but perceived to be so by our society, we had every other area of our lives working perfectly. We talked about our dealings with God at certain seasons of our lives and how they paid in the end. For the first time in a long while, I had a weekend that warmed my heart.

I got home that day, and to my surprise, my mum was standing right in front of my door. Ikenna dropped me off at my house. He insisted on greeting my mum even when I asked him not to bother. I had thought that weekend was finally going to be a heartwarming one after a long while. But I had to share the same roof with my mum. And you know what that means for a twenty-eight-year-old lady who has all the luxury and comfort of life but does not have a man in her life. That evening I couldn't escape the several taunting from my mum on the subject of marriage. Worst of all, she met Ikenna, and that was another subject for discussion on its own. A few minutes later, Ikenna called to let me know he was home. I had told him to let me know when he got home. He wanted to know what my mum said after he left, but I was not in the right frame of mind to have that conversation. At least, not while my mum was around. Mothers have a weird way of sensing suspicion. She noticed that it was Ikenna who called and asked me if he was her son-in-law to be. You know that look you get from a Nigerian mum when you tell her that you are just friends with a promising young man like Ikenna at age twenty-eight; I survived that evening.

A year had passed, and Ikenna and I kept in touch as friends. Ugo knew about us since our firm was affiliated with the auditing firm Ikenna worked for. Ugo threw several jokes at me from time to time as touching Ikenna. Soon everyone at my workplace became suspicious of our proximity. Ikenna always came around at my workplace for official duties. Though he could have delegated someone to do that, he seized that opportunity to see me more often.

One Friday morning, Ikenna called to know if I would be free to meet with him during the weekend. Why not! What else would I be doing at home if not staring at my flat TV screen all day? Besides, my subscription has expired, and the free channels available will not be worth my while. We agreed to meet on Sunday after the service. I went for the first service in my church, which lasted for two hours from 7 am.

Ikenna came to pick me up from my house shortly after I returned from church and had rested a bit. We chose that same restaurant we had visited before, and we sat at that exact spot we had sat a year ago. We made our order, and the waiter brought covered plates to our table. Unknown to me, my order was prearranged. I opened my plate and was overwhelmed with the surprise that greeted my eyes. It was a piece of jewelry. One that adorns the finger. A ring. A diamond ring. I had jokingly told Ikenna those days that I would love such a proposal. However, I didn’t say that to give him a clue. We were just talking. I began to link dots. Same restaurant. Same spot. My dream proposal ring. It was my spec all along; I had joked about these severally. It was now happening for real. He dropped to one knee and popped the million-dollar question. I was not carried away by the planned-out scene and the overwhelming emotion in the air. Of course, you know what my response was. But before it came, I screamed, "Mum!" really hard. It was a reflex action, I suppose. Tears began to trickle down my cheek. I couldn’t explain why tears dropped instead of an outburst of excitement. Indeed, God makes things beautiful in his time. You cannot crash when He sails your boat. To think that my name is Ogechukwu, meaning God’s time speaks volumes to me.

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