Mama Efe sat on a chair with tears in her eyes. Her children were fast asleep on the foam on the bare floor. She had sold almost everything in this house it was now almost completely empty. A lot was on her mind but the pressing issue right now was that tomorrow was Christmas yet she did not have food to feed her children. Rice had become the traditional food for Christmas in this country. The rice usually went with chicken but people who could not afford chicken did not mind using cow meat or fish or egg. Well mama Efe could not even afford soaking garri much more rice. Soaking garri was the Nigerian food when you did not have money. But some people claim they just like to soak garri not because of poverty. Those are the people who add milk and bournvita to their soaking garri just to prove that point. Mama Efe had lived like a widow for about a year now. It was on the 13th of January, 2020 that her husband left this house. His message was that he was travelling to America. That was the last she and her two children saw of him. Mama Efe had strongly rejected the name ‘widow.’ She always announced to whoever cared to listen that her husband was alive and he will surely come back hale and hearty. She proclaimed that her husband was coming very soon. So she had waited with patience and faithfulness as a true Christian waiting for the second coming of Christ.
Mama Efe had done different types of jobs to feed herself and her children. She saw some women carrying concrete at a building site and she joined them. She had never done it before but condition made her good at it almost immediately. Sometimes she fell sick and recovered. She had fried akara she had sold roasted yam and plantain, she had cleaned offices. The only thing she abstained from was anything against the law of the Lord or against the law of the land. Pastor Tosan was very pleased with her commitment in church. Her husband was a financial pillar at Graceland Ministry. Pastor Tosan never joked with him. Pastor Tosan was also aware of Papa Efe traveling to America. He prayed for him and blessed him. However after Papa Efe left his house on that Monday morning nobody heard from him again. Nobody. Not his wife, not Pastor Tosan. Pastor Tosan supported Mama Efe financially in the little way he and the church could afford. Sometimes Mama Efe thought if not for Pastor Tosan perhaps she would have fallen for Chief Umukoro’s temptation. Chief Umukoro wanted to sleep with her. He first pretended he wanted to help her because he was a friend of her husband’s. But Mama Efe suspected Chief Umukoro from the beginning, because while her husband was around, Chief Umukoro had not been that friendly with him. Her neighbour, Mama Rita, was Chief Umukoro’s accomplice. Mama Rita encouraged Mama Efe to sleep with Chief Umukoro and she would never suffer again, but Mama Efe stood her ground and shouted at both Chief Umukoro and Mama Rita reminding them that she was the wife of Mr. James Onoriode. Chief Umukoro laughed when she said that.
‘Your husband is not actually alive.’ Chief Umukoro said. ‘That is what is in the record in our company where we both worked. Because he never told the company he was traveling. I am sure he deceived you. He suddenly stopped work. You don’t even know what your husband was up to. Our company has recorded him dead.’
‘My husband is not dead. He is alive.’ Mama Efe screamed in tears.
‘Even if that man is alive.’ Mama Rita cut in, ‘is it your fault? How are you to survive?
Mama Efe cried for days but never slept with Chief Umukoro nor any man. From then her friendliness with Mama Rtia reduced seriously.
Pastor Tosan was pleased with Mama Efe when he heard what happened. He prayed with her. He always prayed for her even in his closet. He assured her that God would not shame her.
On the morning of Christmas Mummy brought a bowl of Rice to Mama Efe. Mummy referred to Pastor Tosan’s wife. That was what members of Graceland Ministry called her. It was a miracle to Mama Efe. She ate with her children, Efe and Sarah. She had warned her children not to go out. She did not want any form of trouble added to the ones she was already facing. And when the children were out they usually picked up children quarrels with other children, which led to issues that gave her more headache. They celebrated Christmas indoors with the bowl of rice Mummy brought.
At about 5pm in the evening Mama Efe was resting her head when shout outside startled her. she sat up, so did her children because the shout was coming towards her door. She was scared like her children. But as the shout got closer it sounded more like shout of celebration. When she opened her door lo and behold it was her husband. She and her children jumped on him. It was like a dream. Everyone filled the house. It was a great Christmas for the people of Ogboru Street because he who was lost had been found, he who was dead now lived. It was a miracle. He seemed to have some money because he bought drinks for everyone. Suddenly more people started bringing bowls of rice to Papa Efe’s house because this was where the real celebration was. Efe and Sarah’s joy knew no bounds. They had not seen their father for a year. That night Mama Efe wanted to hear his story but he was too tired to tell. It was on the next day he told her everything. It was Chief Umukoro who set him up. Chief Umukoro encouraged him to join some people who were going abroad on an illegal business transaction which promised to pay millions. Chief Umukoro promised to preserve his job for him at Telemil Tech where they both worked. Chief Umukoro helped him to get that job hence he trusted Chief. However Chief set him up and he was caught in America. Chief already ensured Papa Efe’s position in Telemil Tech had been filled with Chief’s son, Kevwe. Papa Efe told his wife that he was in prison for months abroad. And all he kept thinking about was his family. The people Chief used to set him up took his phone and luggage hence he was completely stranded. Thank God he did not die. He was released and repatriated to Nigeria in earlier in December. He arrived Lagos and had no means to come to Warri. He trekked in Lagos, begged to eat and later managed to locate an old time friend Timi. He had known Timi since childhood. They both attended Olodi Primary school together here in Warri. Timi was a big man in Lagos. When Papa Efe narrated his ordeal to Timi, Timi had much compassion on him. Timi gave him an offer to come work with him in his company in Lagos. It was an offer he could not reject. Timi gave him much money to take care of himself for the Christmas and come over to Lagos with his family by January.
Pastor Tosan told Papa Efe of the faithfulness of the latter’s wife. Papa Efe loved his wife more now than ever. His mind was a bit worried if he would meet his wife the way he had left her. Although she was looking poorly fed no thanks to him but the good thing was she had not gone with another man. Pastor Tosan told them that their story was an example of Isaiah 40:31
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.”
Pastor Tosan also advised Papa Efe not to bother about Chief Umukoro that God would repay him. Pastor also warned him to learn from this and never to get himself involved in anything illegal again, no matter who encourage him to do it. However Pastor Tosan also mentioned he was not happy to let go of such wonderful members of his church. Everyone laughed but Papa Efe promised never to forget him and Graceland ministry.
BIO OF AUTHOR
Name: Oghenero Ezaza