The framed picture of the young man stared into the room with unblinking eyes. The room was sparse with a single window looking into a compound that had a gutter running through its middle. It was a Saturday morning and the normal hustle and bustle that announced a Lagos morning was somewhat muted. Beyond the walls, a dog howled forlornly and the groggy engine of a car revved itself to wakefulness.
Shade laid on the bed and stared at the picture that was being caressed lovingly by the teasing fingers of a wakening dawn. Her son, Ephraim, an untidy bundle of pyjamas and bed spread nestled in the crook of her arm, musically and intermittently released soft snores into the morning air. She drew him closer and pecked him on the forehead.
The arrival of dawn had not lightened the burden weighing down her soul. The advent of the rays of a new day increased the darkness in her heart and as much as she tried she could not just shrug it off. Her mind was a hive teeming with the termites of worry and presentiment. Gazing on the picture, a rueful smile crossed her face as the needles of nostalgia pricked some dead parts of her heart to life. The love they had had was almost fairy tale like, until death, like a marauding bandit had stolen Akinolu’s life on the Third mainland bridge a couple of years back.
Life had become unbearable following the incident. Her in-laws assisted death in completing its job, by carting away most of what was left of her life. She had lost her job in the bank during a re-engineering process and had not been able to get another. The dollar was scarce and had become as valuable as gold. Fuel price had gone up and every other thing in its wake. The value of tomatoes had risen sky high and her bank account was in the red. The last food in her cupboard was almost gone. The future was not brimming with possibilities anymore; instead, it was now a cul-de-sac, a dead end. Fear wrapped around her, crushing hope viciously with coils as thick as those of a boa constrictor. With heavy steps, she got up and went into the living room so as not to disturb her son.
Shade scrolled through the music library on her phone and soon, soft strains of “The Word is alive” by Casting Crowns filled the room. In her despondency, she picked up a book and settled down to read. As she read, she dove into an ancient well that existed well before springs burst into oceans and rivers kissed banks. Time congealed into a gel of the past, the present and the future……
She emerged in a place more than 4000yrs prior to her time and everything appeared to her like reflections in a crystal clear pool. She found herself standing at a broken down gate leading into an ancient city. The air of this place was dry and dust swirled in clouds of tumultuous restlessness. Trees were scanty and stunted; their emerald leafy crowns had been exchanged for rust coloured ones. All around, copper coloured brushes capitulated before elements that were innately harsh and relentless. She gasped in wonder as she saw a woman dressed in rags gathering firewood with a little boy trailing behind her. The stench of poverty cloaking the two was overpowering. Uncannily, the woman and her son were like mirror images of Shade and Ephraim.
Hefting the firewood onto her head, the woman was about to leave when a man with piercing blue eyes and thick white beard approached her for some water. She had some misgivings about this, with the lack of rain besieging the country; she just had some little muddy water for drinking left in the house. However, she had always being a generous so she decided to share with the eccentric looking man. Shade observed the whole proceedings with concentrated interest.
As the woman made to go get the water, the man now asked for some food and she almost laughed at the preposterousness of it all. She just had a handful of meal with some little oil in a container. She had thought the strange looking man was a prophet but that was doubtful now. If he were, he would have known that she was a widow and did not even have enough for two meals. Her plan was to make the last food and then scavenge and forage for scraps like a rat until she and her son died.
Even though she had a strong impression that feeding the man was the right thing to do, the spear of fear stabbed her heart and lodged within. With a catch in her voice, she uttered her objections but the man cut her short! He would not allow the negativity even in its reality, would not bear to hear it. He told her not to fear but to obey. With obedience, her meagre supplies would never run out until the famine was over. “There would be abundance, in the midst of the scarcity, you will thrive, he had said!”
She came out of the fog of her meditation with a light heart. The book she had picked was a worn copy of the bible. She had been doing a study on Kings and had flipped through until she got to I Kings 17, muttered a word of prayer and then delved in. Now in the midst of the billowing darkness, she could see pockets of light. The light of the word had penetrated the opacity of collapsed timelines and flooded her room with brilliant illumination. The revelation was stunning! That which was spoken even before her family tree existed was still relevant in the 21st century. She had read that passage hundreds of times, but this time was different. Logos had become Rhema. She faced the day, cleaning and washing, singing “The Word is alive”.
About 9am she had made akara from some of the bean flour and groundnut oil she had. What was remaining was not much and could last just a few more days but this time she was not troubled. As she set the table to eat, she heard a knock on the door. Her first thought was to pack away the food. The times were desperate, these are not days to zealously practice generosity but something held her back.
It was a neighbour who had come to say hello and they shared the meal with her. The lady went on and on about the akara, saying it was the best she had ever eaten. Before she left, she told Shade that her company was looking for vendors to provide breakfast for the staff. The company was big and the staff number considerably large.
Shade booked an appointment, made some akara and took to the company first thing Monday morning, the HR was hooked. They created a stall for her and her business took off. Suffice it to say that the rest was history. Her turnover became massive. Her brand, Divine Delights was everywhere. She opened outlets in different locations of Lagos and Ibadan, supplying, companies, schools, christening ceremonies and what have you.
The colourful word she received had banished the darkness of scarcity and created a reality of prosperity. On the major roads these days, and even the minor ones, if you are the observant type, you will notice her colourful buses everywhere donning a butterfly and emblazoned on them are these words….THE WORD IS ALIVE!!!
FOR THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING AND ACTIVE…..