We made ourselves comfortable at a table in the school cafeteria. I sipped my coke, making a mental note to start reducing my caffeine intake. I scrolled through The Living Bible app on my phone, searching for a scripture that would remind me of God’s presence within and around me.
“You’re always reading bible,” Chika chirped, her teeth digging into her meat pie. She sat across from me at the table.
I smiled. “While I feed my body, it’s equally important to feed my spirit. They both need food.”
“True,” she replied flippantly, chewing.
She stared into the thin air, turning invisible wheels in her head. I could tell there was something on her mind. She seemed to be all edgy and disturbed. I put my phone face down in front of me. Usually, I did that when I wanted to get into a serious conversation with someone.
“Okay, spill,” I said, nodding at her fingers which she was unconsciously drumming on the table.
She laughed. “This girl, you know me so well.”
My lips parted with a wide grin. “Something is on your mind. I want to hear it.”
Her chest heaved, welcoming the breath she inhaled deeply. “There’s this brother in church that I’ve always liked, you see.” She sucked a mouthful from the straw inside her can of chivita.
“Okay,” I said. Whomever this brother was, then he must be quite something to get Chika in such a melancholic mood. My mind immediately took count of a number of brothers who might have caught her fancy.
“So, last night, I finally mustered the courage to like, tell him something along that line. Not like I asked him out or anything. I just kind of, mentioned how much I admire him and all. So, I kind of casually asked if he’s taken already. I meant it as a joke.” Her slender throat moved upwards as she swallowed.
“He said yes.” She exhaled, looking so distraught. “Then he went on to add that he loves her very much and they’re already engaged.” Wrinkling her nose, she sniffed.
I put my hand on hers, sad for her. “It’s well dear. You’re a beautiful, godly woman. The Lord will bring your Prince in due time.”
She nodded, thoughtfully examining the meat pie in her other hand. “I don’t even understand it. The brother appears so single. I’ve never seen him with any sister. Maybe the girl is not in our church or maybe, Esther finally got him.”
Everything was becoming quite interesting. “Oh. Did he say she’s the one?”
“He didn’t say, but I’ve always seen her floating around him, always greeting him, asking if he needed anything and jumping to help everytime he needed assistance with a task. I even heard she once visited his office with gifts on his birthday.”
“Wow,” I said. Who was this brother that all the sisters were pursuing like this? “It’s well dear,” I started to reassure her. “Your own will come and he’ll be just as wonderful or even more.”
She nodded absentmindedly. “But he never even glances at sister Esther or any of the sisters for that matter. I’ve observed him carefully. So I’m thinking it’s either the sister is not in our church or there’s someone sitting silently in the background, forming wife material and grabbing his attention. What do you think?”
“I don’t know o,” I said. “I don’t even know the brother you’re talking about and yes, it could be anyone for him. But, just let go. God will bring your man.”
“It’s bro William.”
I froze. My hand went still on hers and my breathing dropped a notch.
“You know him na? That prayer band leader who is always serious.”
I couldn’t speak. I almost said no, that I’d never seen him in my entire life, because what exactly was going on here? My head bobbed in affirmation. I avoided her gaze.
“I even heard that Rita joined prayer band because of him. See Rita, forming intercessor. Rita who doesn’t even pray in the hostel. Hypocrite.” She smirked maliciously.
Now dumbfounded, I didn’t know what to say. If she hated the girls she suspected they were the one, what would she do to me? Why did I even give ear to her slander of other sisters? I should have admonished her immediately. Now I didn’t know what to say or how to say it.
I cleared my throat. “Well, I understand your frustrations, but I don’t think it’s nice of you to talk about your sisters in that manner,” I said gently.
She scoffed, indignant. “I know what I did for that brother. I worked harder than all of them put together. They can’t just walk in snatch him like that.”
“Hmmm. They were working for him?” I wondered what exactly they were doing.
“Not like working for him. As in, working to get him. Some took him birthday gifts, which I heard he’d ask his secretary to reject or take if the person insisted. Didn’t you notice that prayer band has more sisters than even the choir? Does that look normal to you?”
“Well, I was just thinking it’s the outbreak of revival and all. More sisters are arising to pray.”
Chika cackled loudly and hard, until tears started coming out of her eyes. Wiping her eyes, she hiccupped with more laughter. “My sister, I didn’t say it’s not revival o. Who am I? Please, it’s revival my dear. The revival that is meant only for sisters, who incidentally always show up for pray meetings with tactics on how to make a certain brother notice them.” She burst into another round of laughter.
“Hmmm,” I managed. It wasn’t as if I didn’t notice some of these things, but before bro William approached me, he was simply another face in church. Unfortunately, I didn’t belong to any unit in church. I’d just come on Sunday and return to the hostel, only to show up the next Sunday. I didn’t really know it had gotten to this extent.
Recently, William was bugging me to join the prayer band. Which prayer band abeg? This one where the sisters were falling over themselves to get his attention? I should come and enter the middle of it? No, it wasn’t me. I would join a unit, but definitely not prayer band. I didn’t need to be in the prayer band to be an intercessor.
“I’ve done more for him than any sister could imagine. I was even thinking it’d be me, because he seemed to truly appreciate my concern, care and everything.” She sounded so rueful that it was all I could do not to carry my school bag and disappear.
“Hmmm. Do tell me about it,” I muttered.
Life was about to get even more complicated. Just when I thought that I had only one battle to fight for our relationship, its siblings were showing up in their numbers. If not that I had a strong conviction about bro William, I for carry my slippers run. He was trouble on all levels, both physically and spiritually.
To be continued…