Frustration, a debilitating roaring inferno engulfed my soul as I lingered in Starrling bank for my monthly stipend. I had been waiting for hours for seventy thousand naira while the official lazed away with apparent boredom as she awaited the confirmation from my office. It now absolutely made sense why the bank was a one client one. With the gross ineptitude of its staff, it would be impossible for them to handle more than that number of customers.
The last time they wasted my time this way, I rushed out of the bank with relief when I finally got my money but failed to count it in my hurry only to discover that the lady at the counter had given me the worst thousand naira notes ever. Seven thousand worth that even the CBN would never collect. The money disintegrated in one’s hand like ancient papyrus. The pain hurt like a gaping wound since deducting that amount of money from my meager salary was quite overwhelming. I just could not swallow it! For all it was worth, I went back to confront the manager of the branch but the banker who did me the great evil denied as glibly as Satan would have lied. In the past my company would not have come close to a leprous financial house like this but since it owed huge loans to its preferred banks, they were exerting pressure and refused to accord it anymore credit. Starrling Bank it was, unfortunately.
Waiting for my pay packet in such a lousy environment activated a chain reaction of gloom within. Everything inside me went black. With my Masters and ICAN certification, I expected that life would have been better than this but I keep getting a bad hand from the fates. Since my parents were not wealthy, most of my salary goes toward the sustenance and school fees of my six siblings (the story of Africa, it is amazing that a couple who could barely feed each other would take up the crusade of populating the world). I live in a BQ and at forty two I badly want to get married. I am tired of being single and not being surrounded by kids but I did not have the wherewithal to achieve my dreams. My fiancee left me for a guy living in the US who promised to send her to nursing school amongst other things. Not that the guy is more intelligent or better looking, he is just richer! Believe me, am not a pessimist by nature but I do not see any light at the end of this tunnel. To face life these days, I am continually on antidepressants. Recently, when I go to see the psychiatrist for my monthly refill, the nurses look at me funny. I can almost hear them whispering; “Here comes the nut”! Life is a bitch!
Hours later after leaving the bank, I saw Grace, one of the Olu twins as I stepped out of the mall where I get my monthly provisions. Surprisingly, her twin sister Mercy was not tagging along today. She said hello in her usual sunny way and tried to chat me up. Naturally, I mumbled something and shuffled away. Her friendliness always disconcerts me; one would expect someone from a privileged background like hers to be quite uppity. Her father is a great and terrible King, the “Olu” Of “Aiye” Kingdom, a stupendously wealthy Ruler who had lots of gold and silver mines all over the globe. He also had cattle on thousands of acres of land. I am way down the totem pole compared to her and I usually wonder why she gives me attention. Unfortunately my BQ belongs to a distant relative who lived on the same street with them; hence my path crossed hers often.
I saw her running towards me and stopped mid-stride. It hit me that it was the first time i was taking a proper look at her and instantly knew why she was named Grace. The most beautiful doe had nothing on this princess whose fawn like eyes mesmerized me no end.
“Hello” she said, breathlessly.
“Hi” I responded bashfully, still wondering why the lady would not let me be.
“We are neighbours and I do not know your name” she continued.
“Name is Wale” I mumbled.
She was warm, accommodating and real. Her unpretentious nature was mindboggling. Even in my wretchedness, she made me feel so adequate, complete and quite comfortable.
In record time we had become tight chums. We went to the movies together and had a couple of dinners. Grace was everything that would make a man’s life complete. I came to believe that behind every successful man there must be a woman like Grace. When she was around I was transformed and stopped seeing my inadequacies. Her presence made me feel 10 feet tall, strong and able.
Suffice it to say that I fell in love. I knew she loved me but I could not accept her love because it felt too good to be true to be accepted by someone with her kind of status. She was way out of my league but that did not prevent the lady from showing me that I could have her on a platter of gold if I dared ask.
One day, she invited me to a party in their house and I reluctantly agreed to attend. My jaws dropped at the sight of the house. It was astoundingly beautiful with an interior coated with all the colours of the rainbow. Beautifully dressed servants were tucked in every nook and cranny of the house. The floor was marble and golden. Such flagrant opulence took my breath away! All my life I had never seen such lavish display of wealth.
The living room was divided into three. There was an outer lobby where most of the guests lounged. Beyond this was an inner sitting room where the twins took only a few friends very dear to them. This place was cooler and quieter. I felt quite honoured to be one of the few deemed intimate enough to enter the room.
While sipping my drink I noticed that another passage led off to an inner room where the pure strains of some beautiful orchestra wafted down to where we were.
“What is that music and where is it coming from”, I asked incredulously.
“Oh, that is our Father’s innermost chamber where he receives his most honoured guests”. They answered.
A deep curiosity to see the “Olu” I had heard so much about coupled with the irresistible music made me do what I would not ordinarily have done as a shy person. Courage that I did not know I possessed suddenly banished my fear and misgivings and I walked boldly into the presence of the King. The beauty in the previous rooms seemed like horrific ugliness compared to the glory of this chamber. The whole place was made of glittering glass with reflections that hurt the eyes. The servants were liveried in dazzling white robes. Some served the twenty-four courtiers sitting before His Majesty, a few others were the ones making the music with instruments I had never seen. And the rest were guards flanking the Royal throne. The atmosphere of joy in the place was intense!
The throne was magnificent, studded with all manners of precious stones, sapphires, amethyst, topaz, and so on. When I finally saw Him, I was so impressed that I fell prostrate on the floor! His robe was fiery gold like He was clothed in fire; I understood why one of his titles is Alagbada Ina (He whose robe is made of fire). In total abandonment I bowed before the throne, started worshipping and calling his various titles in my native language for minutes on end. He was a sight to behold, emanating power and gentility like no one I had ever known.
“Wale, come and sit beside me” He offered.
I was surprised he knew my name. He looked at me with amusement in his eyes. “Before you came, I knew you son” He revealed smiling.
I accepted his request and we started fellow-shipping like age old friends. His knowledge was encyclopaedic. The King had answers for everything. I feasted to my fill on the buffet of pleasures that were offered at His table.
When it was finally time to leave even though I did not feel like, I asked him for Grace’s hand in marriage. The move was so sudden it amazed even me. I did not know I possessed such boldness.
The King smiled and said, “Most suitors that seek my daughter’s hands are just after the benefits that will accrue to them if they becoming my sons-in-law. You are so different my boy because you have sought my face and my friendship. Wale, you communed with me, formed a relationship and touched my heart. Therefore since you have asked for my Grace, I will grant you your desire. You can have her but beyond her hand, I will help you. Today you have become my son and I will back you with my throne, my kingdom, my name”, He swore. He called Grace and gave me her hand.
“Wale, also note that Mercy is deeply attached to her sister and her companionship would always be felt in your home too when she comes visiting which will be pretty often” He continued.
The Ruler gave me his complimentary card before I left and told me His name will open up doors for me anywhere in the world.
3 YRS LATER
I am married to Grace and we have the loveliest daughter in the world and my wife is pregnant with our second baby. Deus Regnum the flagship company of the “Olu” of “Aiye” now has me as their Chief Financial Officer. My sixth sibling is presently doing her masters in the UK without any stress. Through the favour of my Father-in-law, uncommon things have become common. We have great privileges all over the world. Getting married to Grace has empowered and transformed me. I can easily do what I could never do before. Now life is groovy!
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
© 2013 Ekpo Ezechinyere