…The dreams had become a nightmare. They had shattered along the tedious path of my life like ancient Egyptian crockery. I had dreamed of ruling the world but instead I had become a jailbird. The coat of many colours had become the monochromatic garb of a convict.
As I worshipped Yahweh, dawn yawned languidly, the susurration of the Nile kissing its banks soothed my senses. At this time of the day, the voices of the other prisoners filled the air as they prayed to Ra, their sun God but I had learnt to shut out any distraction as I blessed the name of the one who made the sun and stars.
He had been my sole anchor, The One that had kept me going in the emotional desert I found myself in. There were times I had been thoroughly disappointed, almost bitter with Him for seemingly doing nothing while I languished away unjustly despite my unwavering devotion. However I know He is faithful despite everything. That was all that kept me from falling when my master’s wife came calling with the best kind of pleasure Egypt had to offer. As my senses drowned in her fragrance that day, I fled because I knew diving into her shallow pool of gratification would prevent me from plumbing the fathomless depths of Jehovah’s oceanic presence. I had lost a lot but losing His presence would have been the final straw. I would have lost everything. There is some kind of inexplicable warmth the Lord embraces me with that enables me withstand the harsh cold winds that buffeted my soul.
For a short while Potiphar’s wife would have given me everything but in the long run I would have become another statistic buried in the vast timeless sands of the land of the Pharaohs.
To make matters worse even the King’s butler whom I had helped had forgotten me. Immediately he was released from prison, he buried me along with the unpleasant experiences he had in the gaol. It was the way of man though and I was not surprised even though it hurt.
As I prayed, someone knocked on my cell and entered. When I saw my visitor I was taken aback, wondering what three of the palace guards were doing in my cell with the chief warden. Furthermore the deference which they accorded me was unsettling. Bowing, the Chief guard said “Pharaoh requests for your presence urgently!”
…As dawn lazily cast off the blankets of night, it found him sprawled on his bed drenched with sweat. There was power outage as usual and he did not even own the smallest of generators. The air was oppressive and hot. The miasma from the swamp beyond his windows was thick and cloying in the claustrophobic room. A lone mosquito not tired from a night of marauding whined irritatingly and persistently. It was a normal morning in the part of “Oworoshoki”, a suburb of Lagos, Nigeria where he lived.
The only difference was the groans coming from the innermost part of his being. Perspiration ran down his face and soaked up his bed as he labored in the delivery room of prayer. The fast going on in his church had ended but he had continued. Since he came back from church the night before, he had been praying. He had been so tired by the time he got home because he had stayed back to stack chairs on an empty stomach. Even when Hypnos tried to stitch his eyelids together with the thread of somnolence, Gbenga travailed all night long. He got up and started singing Hillsong’s “All I need is you”. When he got to the part of the lyrics that said “You hold the universe, You hold everyone on earth”, he was overwhelmed by the majesty of the One he was singing to. He collapsed in a prostrate heap and tears of passion ran down his face, reverential streams from the worship sodden clouds of his soul. He knew he lacked a lot of things in his life but if he could lay a hold on the Universe Maker then all would be well.
He stretched and got up from the table where he had been working on his architectural designs since daybreak. He placed his laptop in hibernation mode, put his covered aluminum plate in a nylon bag for his once a day visit to “Mama Risikat”, the food vendor who lived down the road. With two hundred naira, he would get two wraps of amala, ewedu and gbegiri accompanied by two pieces of offal. That would keep him until late evening when he would take garri and sugar soaked in water.
As he got to the door, his phone (a relic bound by rubber bands) rang. He picked without looking and when he heard who it was he stopped mid track.
It was his former boss. Gbenga had been unjustly fired from his former place of work for refusing to bend to the whims of his boss who wanted him to inflate some prices. The HR manager who was calling him now could not put in a word for him because the other was the Chairman’s brother.
What pained Gbenga the most was that two years when he was still gainfully employed, he had walked into the HR Managers office to submit a leave form when he noticed that the man had been crying.
“I hope there is no problem Sir?” He had asked.
The HR Manager tried to compose himself to no avail.
Gbenga had drawn a chair close and handed him tissue, “a problem shared is half solved Sir.”
“It’s my Dad, I just lost him but furthermore, I need a lot of money to bury him. It is a taboo in my village to bury someone who does not have a house. My father did not build a house before he passed on. I just finished paying the school fees of my four kids. My brother, right now I am tired of life.”
“Ah, ah, it is not that bad Sir.” Gbenga reassured him. “I will design the house for you and connect you to a close pal who is presently working on a project in your village, he is a building engineer. I am sure he would be able to help out and save you some considerable sum of money.
This was why Gbenga was so hurt when the HR manager could not stand up for him in his hour of need. “I wonder what he wants now he muttered.”
“Hello Sir, good day, how may I help you?” he answered in a very officious voice.
“I need to see you urgently, Mr. Ubong said with a breathless voice. Where do you live, I am coming right away!”
Gbenga described the way and went on his business wondering what the whole thing was about.
Mr. Ubong called an hour later. “How do I get to your place? These streets are not made for cars, he wheezed.
“Wait for me at the junction, I will come and meet you there.” Gbenga replied.
When he got there, Mr. Ubong was waiting impatiently, fingers drumming the roof of his car and looking with distaste at the surroundings. His face had a how do people live in this kind of hovels look.
Immediately he saw Gbenga he bundled him into the car and zoomed off oblivious to the look of utter bewilderment on his passengers face.
When they got to the third mainland bridge, he relaxed a little. “I have to stop somewhere to get you a new suit, shirt, tie and shoes; the Chairman of the multinational company I work for wants to see you and he is leaving the country in the next three hours.”
Gbenga was dumbfounded! He could only look at Mr. Ubong with undiluted amazement… “Your Chairman? How? Why?”
“You will soon find out,” the older man answered, tearing down the asphalt lined road….
“Who else can we find in whom the Spirit of God dwells like in you”, Pharaoh said.
This must be another of my many dreams. Dressed to the nines and smelling of the costliest Egyptian aftershave I could not believe what was happening. My life had been transformed within twenty four hours. I had been made a Prime Minister, given a wife and a brand new chariot.
Interpreting the King’s dream was easy pickings even when Egypt’s best astrologers and magicians could not unravel the dream. I had practiced so much by helping people and connecting to the Holy Spirit that I could have interpreted the dream with my eyes closed.
I named my two sons Manasseh and Ephraim. Manasseh, because God upgraded me and made me forget the sorrows of yesteryears. I named my second son Ephraim, because God made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.
..The new clothes boosted his confidence as he stood before the Mr. Boer, The Chairman of Dutch Consulting.
“Mr. Gbenga, we got a contract to construct a temple like citadel for a Greek university, something that would be reminiscent of Olympus for their history department. No one has been able to give me what I want not even Professors from the best architectural universities in my homeland. Thing is I do not even know what I am looking for but if I see it I would know. Mr. Ubong here thinks you might be the right man for the job. What say you? Are you the man?
Gbenga knew this was make or break, he had waited for this moment all his life. He got his groove on. Fortunately, he had his flash drive with him. “Please may I use your screen and a laptop to explain what I have in mind?
“Please be my guest” said the Chairman in a bored tone. As he puffed on his cheroot like a steam train, he wondered what the rookie was going to do when the best hands in the business had failed abysmally.
“Kindly note that for the building to have the feel of Olympus; it must be inundated with light. For it to be inundated with light, it must be constructed with glass especially the uppermost part. To represent Hades, the lowest part of the building would be made with Opaque material. The temple must have a lot of interplay between light and darkness.” The panes of glass must be of different densities to enhance the play of light. Gbenga went on and on…
When he stopped talking, a crease of a smile split the Chairman’s mouth showing off pearls of dazzling white teeth. “Hmm, I can see that you are a student of Greek mythology apart from being an exceptional architect. Your knowledge is quite a differentiating factor, impressive Gbenga, impressive! All through this project, I have not come across anyone with your depths, skills and manner of presentation. You absolutely seized the moment!”
“We are about recruiting a COO for our Nigeria Operations and I don’t think there’s any better person than you to take that offer. We house our managerial staff in the Protea Hotel until they get suitable accommodation befitting their status. You are also entitled to a chauffeur driven Prado Jeep as your official vehicle. Mr. Ubong here will draw up your letter if our terms are okay by you so that you can get cracking on those drawings right away. I have a plane to catch. I think congratulations would be in order, would it not?” The Chairman winked at a stunned Gbenga and left.
December 31st 2014
The guy on the talking drum was magnificent; the drum came alive in his hands as the worship leader sang in Yoruba…
Oti mu mi gbagbe ooo
Ibanuje igba kan.
Ase were nise Oluwa
Oba ti mo pe tio je
Ase were nise Oluwa
Oba ti mo pe tio je
Gbenga with his wife by his side danced with reckless abandon like a possessed man. The lyrics of the song were tailor made for him because God had made him forget the afflictions of yester-years in a hurry. In the same city where he was barren and suffered same, The Lord promoted him and made him fruitful. He never forgot and 2014 was the year he served God most all his life and the almighty did not forget his labour of love.
The Prophetic word spoken by his Pastor had come to pass, that it was his year of SUPERNATURAL UPGRADE…
ARISE SHINE FOR YOUR LIGHT HAS COME AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD IS RISEN UPON YOU….
© 2014 Ekpo Ezechinyere