DOZ Issue 34 August 2018 - Page 37

demonstrated the love of God to me so that I could now demonstrate that love to someone else.” He assured me he was going to prayerfully reconcile me back to every member of my family before he married me. I doubted that it would work, but he was confident that it would. Then he proceeded to speak to me about God’s love, and when he finally led me to Christ, I was crying so hard I could hardly say the words after him. That night I trusted Christ with my life and put the past behind me, and a new life began. The first thing Ray did was throw out all of my trash clothes, as he called them, then he took me shopping and bought me decent clothes. Next, he enrolled me for GCE and JAMB exams, saying he would not take me to the altar until I became an undergraduate. For the six months that followed, I studied hard to pass my exams, and unlike the first time, when the exam was over, this time I knew I had passed. When the result was released, it was exactly as I thought, and Ray was very pleased. I had chosen the University of Benin, following Ray’s advice, so I could be close to Asaba, since he intended to spend more time in Asaba after we were married. Once admitted, I moved to Benin, and Ray paid all my bills and ensured that I lacked nothing. All through this period, my love and respect for him grew with every passing day because he never made any sexual advancement toward me. I also grew spiritually because he was a good spiritual mentor, and between him and Jesus, I became emotionally whole. And I looked forward to the time when Ray would take me to meet my family as he promised. Finally, that day came in the first week of my second year in university. First, Ray formally asked me to marry him, and this time, I accepted without giving it a thought. I knew in my heart of hearts that he was the one for me. The following day, we drove from Benin to Illa to see my parents. Although I had lived in Benin for a year, thus far I had not met Ray’s parents because he didn’t want me to meet them until I had reconciled with my parents. When we drove into my father’s compound that early evening, he was seated in front of the house eating dinner with my mother, as was their custom. I fought to hold back tears when I saw them. It was the first time I had seen them in almost five years, and I had missed them terribly, more than I even realised. They looked up as Raymond brought his land cruiser to a halt just in front of the house. As we stepped out of the vehicle, I was a little uncomfortable, as I wasn’t sure what to expect. Raymond and I had prayed prior to setting out on the journey, asking the Lord to go ahead of us and favour us, and although I believed that He would answer our prayer and all would be well, I still felt just a tiny bit of discomfort, like a fish out of water. I had changed a lot since the last time they saw me, and with all the money Ray invested in my wardrobe, I realised I had come a long way from how I looked the last time they saw me. They had to take a second look to realise it was me. My mother was the first to react. “Nneka!” she screamed in disbelief, like someone who had seen a ghost and without washing her hands, she rushed at me and embraced me. I wasn’t expecting that. It certainly was a far cry from the reception I had received just before I left Agbor for Abuja, and I was so relieved and grateful to God, I knelt to the ground and began to sob. “I’m sorry, mama, I’m sorry,” I said over and over again. My mother said nothing. Rather, she knelt with me and held me in a tight embrace as she sang and praised God, saying in a loud voice that her daughter who she thought was dead was not dead but alive and well. She said, “My God, thank you, my Nneka is alive. I have seen her with my eyes, she is alive. I will see her get married, I will carry her children. God, I thank you.” And then she too began to cry. After what seemed like an eternity, my father who DOZ Magazine August 2018 37 «