Who loves fiction? I’m a huge fan. One of things I plan to do every Christmas besides binging on Christmas movies is reading lots of fiction – novels, short stories, just name it. I just want my mind to rest and I want to live in a bit of fantasy even if it’s for a few days. So I love to read books …
…or maybe just a good fiction story.
Today I’m sharing with you the gift of Tope Akinbode.
She’s one of the amazing writers that make up the award winning duo of Writer’s Ink.
Tope and her business partner Diche
Have movies like WHEN LOVE HAPPENS 1&2 , HIRE A MAN, JUNE, LUNCHTIME HEROES and series like Jenifa’s diary, The Johnson’s and many others under their belt.
Tope writes the most amazing short stories. Here’s her Christmas gift to you.
Rose’s teeth chattered as she wrapped her arms around her body in a bid to shield herself from the raging cold even though she had on two trousers and two tops under the winter jacket, gloves and head warmer she wore. Every breath she took wheezed cold air out of her mouth and nostrils and her feet were heavy thanks to the winter boots she’d put on when she decided she wanted to embark on this crazy adventure. She should be seated in the warmth of her aunt’s house with her cousins and other Naija folks who lived in the neighborhood but Rose had wanted to come out.
At first, her aunt had refused. It was getting dark and they had guests coming over but Rose had pleaded. It was her first time in the United States and she wanted to drink in the sights and sounds. She’d dreamt of coming to this land for so long, now that it was a reality, she didn’t want to miss any moment. Standing outside the picket fence of her aunt’s suburban house with the snow falling softly on her while “Jingle Bells” played somewhere down the street and two huge Christmas trees flanked her on both sides thanks to her aunt’s neighbors . She was having a moment and a very memorable one too.
She was a small town girl who grew up and schooled in Benin but had moved to Lagos when she got a job at a manufacturing firm. In a series of events she still found unbelievable, she had bagged a position way above her qualification in a multinational company and everything had changed. Her new salary was ten times her old one and she was offered the choice to do a post-graduate course in any university of her choosing. While she was still reveling in this, she was told she had allowances for housing, transportation and vacation. Since Christmas was around the corner, she’d decided she would take a trip out of the country. She had two weeks and it was an all expense paid trip so she’d gone to Paris first, made a stop at Dubai and then decided she would spend Christmas in America. She’d made America her last stop because of this moment right now.
A smile curved her lips as she lifted her face to the sky and let the snow wash over her. If anyone had told her she would be spending Christmas in the States three months ago, she would have laughed the person to scorn. If she was a believer, maybe she would attribute her change of fortune to the divine presence up there but she’d stopped believing in God for a long time.
“Rose, how far naa? Which one be this one wey you dey do?”
Rose is startled into reality, a pen in her hand and an exercise book on her laps, her body folded into the chair her aunt sat on to receive fresh air whenever there was no light and the house was too hot; like it was this evening.
“You don dey write again?” Her cousin queried as she peered at the book on her laps.
Rose groaned inwardly, upset that the make believe world she was creating had been intruded on. She’d been lost in that world, happy to disappear from a life that constantly threatened to choke her hope and fill her with despair.
“Tega, what is it? Please leave me alone,” she snapped turning away from the medium height, plump lady who eyed her in exasperation.
“Maale dey call you o, this one wey you dey do like say something dey touch your head,” she hissed and walked into the house.
Rose scowled in annoyance, wondering why her aunt had sent for her. She didn’t want to leave the world she was creating and thought about some of the similarities between it and her reality. She truly was raised in Benin, had come to work for a manufacturing company in Lagos, which was why she was staying with her aunt but three months into getting the job, the company had packed up, the Indians had left and everyone had been left in limbo. Now, she was jobless, broke and not the least bit excited about the coming Christmas.
Growing up, Christmas had been fun. It came with new clothes and shoes, an hairstyle you would not have otherwise dared to make all through the year and most importantly for her, receiving of gifts. It was how she’d gotten most of her toys as a child. Toys had become books as she grew older and then things had started to get tough. Her parent weren’t as liquid anymore, the economy became hard and Christmas was reduced to just rice and chicken. There had even been some Christmases they had to rely on their neighbors to eat.
Rose had started hating Christmas then. In fact, she’d started hating the God that her parents called upon everyday. Why couldn’t He step in and turn things around? after all, He was the present help in time of need. Yet, no help had come. She didn’t understand why her mother still believed; why she called on this God who didn’t show up. She heaved a sigh and got to her feet, only to run into her aunt who was speaking into the phone.
“She dey here, make I give am,” her aunt said into the phone and handed it to her, smiling.
Rose gave her a puzzled look and wondered at her amusement, but only briefly as she put the phone to her ear. “Hello”
Her mother’s voice filled her ears. “Wetin do your phone?”
“Light no dey, e don off,” she replied. “Wetin happen?” She asked, not paying any particular attention to the excitement in her mother’s voice. Her mother was always happy irrespective of what was going on. Rose didn’t know how she did it. She claimed it was the joy of the Lord. Rose would usually turn up her nose at the statement and her mother would scold her, warning her not to disrespect the God she served. Serving God couldn’t be reduced to what you got from Him but who He was, she would preach. Rose thought serving God too should come with some benefits and if it didn’t, what was the point? She veered her thoughts away from these arguments and focused on what her mother was saying.
“David don get work oooo!!!” Her mother exclaimed in excitement.
David was her twin brother and had been looking for a job same as she has. He was another reason she was angry with God. He’d studied engineering and graduated with a First Class yet, not a single company he’d submitted his CV to had called him back for an interview. To hear that he just got a job was worthy of her excitement.
“He got his letter today. Heyyyy Rose!!!!! This God is sooooogooood”
“Maale, give me the phone let me talk to her,” she heard her brother’s voice in the background. “Hello,” he stated while she heard her mother praising God.
“Is it true? Where? What’s the pay like?”
“It’s true,” David replied, smiling into the phone. “It’s with an oil company and it’s sixty thousand pounds a year.”
She gasped in shock, quickly doing the maths in her head.
“That’s basic salary,” David continued. “There are allowances for everything: house, car, vacation., working overseas…’”
“Oh my God!!” Rose exclaimed unable to help herself. It seemed the make believe world she had been creating earlier was becoming a reality, except not for her. And she didn’t mind. David deserved this! He was a good brother and son and unlike her, still kept the faith and refused to give up on God. Where other men would have considered alternate means of making money, he’d insisted that God would show up.
“When?” She’d queried him angrily whenever he started on the God would show up nonsense.
“God doesn’t live in time, Rose,” he’d respond softly. “Whenever He shows up is perfect. In the meantime, I’m just going to be happy,” he‘d say to her, silently prodding her to do the same.
She had been unable to but it seemed that now, his patience was paying off. He had more things to share.
“I also get to go for a training in France then Dubai and finally America.” Rose was too stunned to speak. David continued. “ it would be around Christmas by the time I land in America and since I don’t want to spend Christmas alone in a strange land, I had a leading to ask my boss if I could arrange for you and them mumsy and popsy to come meet me and he said yes. We are spending Christmas in America!!!”
Rose’s eyes welled with tears. How? How could her fantasy translate to reality and be so apt?
Because I am the God who puts desires in your heart and brings them to pass!!!
Rose turned sharply, wondering where the voice had come from. It had been so clear, she thought the person was standing right behind her.
“Wetin happen? You dey okay?” Her aunty queried, peering at her in the darkness that had now blanketed the sky. “You still dey follow David talk?” She asked as she collected the phone from her. “Choi!!! E don die!!! Make this NEPA people bring light oooo!!!!” She lamented then beamed at Rose. “As God don do David own, God sef go do your own in Jesus name!!”
“Amen.” Rose murmured, suddenly subdued as her aunty walked off.
She however stayed rooted to the spot, thinking of the voice she’d heard. Who was that that just spoke to her?
She looked around but didn’t see anyone. She was alone but wasn’t really alone. With sudden clarity and trembling reverence, she knew it was God who was talking to her. Why? She thought. She’d ignored him for so long, what did He want with her?
“Because you are mine!”The voice said again, answering the question in her heart. “I see you, I hear you and I love you.”
Rose burst out crying, suddenly experiencing an overwhelming feeling of love, she couldn’t explain it. For so long, she’d lost her path, discarded her faith and believed this God didn’t care for her. Yet, through her gift of writing and her brother’s testimony, he’d restored her hope and brought her back into his arms. He’d shown and given her the greatest gift ever – the gift of His love. There was no better Christmas gift than that.
Hope you enjoyed that.
May you experience the love of God in this season.