They say love conquers all, but I ask myself, why is it that love for one religion, ideology, and nation has conquered the lives of many innocent civilians.
Though I grew up in a community filled with love, where everybody knows everybody, and your next-door neighbor, can come to your home to borrow salt, maggi, oil, and pepper at once, and you will be wondering how one day, someone can knock on your door and borrow your pot of soup, I won’t be surprised.
Well, as my mum will say, it’s blessed to give than to receive, God loves you that’s is why he provides for you, so we must reciprocate that love to our neighbor.
Yes, my mum is a very serious Christian, you know that serious type of Christian, that goes to church for Wednesday Bible class, Thursday women class, Friday prayer service, Saturday church cleaning/evangelism, and Sunday for service, sometimes I feel she should just carry her belongings and live in the church, but my mum is my hero.
My father left us for a slay old mama, I guess my dad wasn’t so built to feed from a pot all through his life, he loved the variety of life, and so he had several honeypots from where he could take a dip when he likes. He eventually got trapped in one of the cauldrons of honey and never return to my mother’s own pot again.
He eradicated every memory of us from his brain, God! I don’t know if I will be able to forgive him but for some weird and unknown reason, my mother still prays for him. Now, that is love.
I know I don’t have her supernatural nature but deep down I pray that one day, I will have it.
My name is Esther Okeke, I asked God for a sibling but he gave me two hard nuts to crack in my younger twin brothers, they were difficult of course, but the nuts proved useful in shielding me like a fragile flower many times as we grew. Their names are Michael and John Okeke. We all love each other so much and aspire to be great, if not for anything, then for our mother.
I currently work with a telco as their customer care representative, Michael settled in South Africa, he has a very big business there, and John joined the Nigeria Army. Though my mum was not happy with the decision, she eventually gave in after seriously fasting and prayer about it for seven days.
Fasting, praying, reading of the bible, and every Sunday going to church was mandatory for me even though I’m an “old woman ooo”. LOL. She still threatened me with a pestle any day I slept out.
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My brothers visited every December, where we “parte after parte”, until last year when John was sent for peacekeeping in Mali, my mum refused to let him. She said “the war has been there long before you joined the army how then will you return peace. They need Jesus! he is the prince of peace” she cried and prayed but he left.
It wasn’t easy for us but that is the nature of the job. He would call us once a day and Mum would constantly remind him not to roam at night, eat well, keep the Bible by his pillow and ensure he prays regularly. I always picture John’s face when she’s said all those.
Two days passed there was no call from John. my mum was getting scared, two days turned to a week. Then my mum visited his office inquire about John but the response she got was unsatisfactory.
My mum prayed, cried, and stared at her phone hoping John would call.
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One a beautiful Sunday morning while we were preparing for church, the doorbell rang, she ran and open the door and there were two military men standing right before me. My Mom joined us at the door.
They broke the devastating news that my brother was shot in a crossfire with his troops. I watched as my mom’s countenance changed. She suddenly grew old and the wrinkle on her forehead became pronounced. “you lie, my son is not dead he will come back to me because I know the God I serve” she said as tears wells up in her eyes.
It was a very bitter pill to swallow, the comedian of the house is gone. Days, months, years passed but my mum was still waiting for John. She will go to his room, dress his bed, fold his clothes, iron his uniforms and say “You will return, my son”
Michael kept in touch and visited three times a year. This time, he brought a very pretty girl home, she’s light skin, long hair, about 5.5 in height, with mind-blowing hips. Gosh! She is so pretty, Micheal introduced her as his fiancee and I fell in love with her immediately.
I want to have cute niece and nephews and they should just look like her, definitely, not Michael’s face. My mum was happy, she, however, asked her name.
“I’m Ella Freetown”
“That’s is a beautiful name my dear, where are you from,” My mom asked
“I am from Pretoria ma”
My mum smiled you’re welcome. “I can see you love my son” she nodded affirmatively.
“Good but do you know Jesus?” With that straight look
I was totally expecting that question.
“Yes, ma. He is my Lord and personal Savior, I’m even baptized” oh with that answer, she has gotten her blessings already, my mother hugged her so tight. In the next three months, they got married. I really wished John was around.
Two years later, Michael had a twin, two pretty girls, their names are Mary and Mercy Okeke. They’re so beautiful. Things were looking so good, at least that was what I thought, then the xenophobic attack in South Africa began, things were so difficult for him, his place of business was burnt to the ground, his car was damaged
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He called me and told me what was going on, I begged him to return home but he refused. Mom would pray God’s protection upon him day and night. I would occasionally join Mom during these prayers. I was not ready to loose another brother.
Things got worse. One day, Ella called, she was crying profusely when she broke the news. Micheal had died. He was burnt.
My mother fainted immediately she heard the news. I rallied for help and she was rushed to the hospital. Tears were simply not enough to express the pain I was feeling.
I could not believe I lost my brothers in the space of five years.
“Is this how you pay a woman that loves you?” I accused God. “You watched her husband left her, took her two sons. Is that the definition of your love to someone who loves and has faith in you? how can you sit and allow this to happen?” I demanded.
The next day, my mum was discharged. She still went to her room, knelt down, and gave a prayer of thanksgiving to God for everything. Days later, Ella came back with the children. This eased the tension and despair in the house.
The church organized wake keep for Micky the week that followed and his picture was used to bury him.
Two months later, we were all in the parlor, mum was reading her Bible, Mary and Mercy were busy being kids. I and Ella were watching Telenovela. Then all of a sudden “kpo! Kpo!kpo!” The sound of the door, I opened the door, Lo and behold it was John and Mr. Okereke.
I lost balance and almost fell. I could not believe my eyes.. my mum quickly came to the door and saw them, she smiled with tears gushing down from her eyes, then she said “what took you so long” he hugged John and my father. “Am I missing something?” I asked myself.
After we settled. narrated the story. “The night before the attack, our troop was divided. I fell into the troops that was assigned to rescue the people that were kidnapped by those bandits.
Unfortunately, it was as if we were rattled out. We were trapped, we fought with everything we got but we lost. Most of the men died and I was badly injured. I was taken as a hostage alongside some of my colleagues. We were severely punished and I thought I was going to die. For years, we were tortured.
Three months ago, I was freed by the daughter of one bandit’s leader, who grew affection for me. I could not leave because I had no visa, was broke and no means of identification.
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Badly injured, I ran into a hospital, and God being so kind, Dad was the doctor. He treated me and he apologized for his actions and told me he is now volunteering as a medical practitioner to war-torn countries. Who am I not to forgive when I have been saved from the clutches of death? I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) and was mandated to stay for three months at the hospital.
Dad made provision for us to return home. well, here we are.
Then my father went on his knees, with so much regret and tears in his eyes. Before he could utter a word, my mother carried him up and hugged him.
Ah, in my mind, I wanted to chase him, but I guess, my mum deserves to change some honey in her honeypot.
We broke the news of Michael’s death to them… John was broken, he hugged his wife and children.
Mum smiled and said “I anticipated for your return, your room is ready for you”
I smiled and in my heart, I said, “His ways are indeed Mysterious”.