When time slept

I held a glass of water in my hand and sipped gently as Jide told his story at the youth gathering.

He had just come out of a bad breakup and didn’t know if or when he’d heal.

I looked at him from where I was seated and saw how the once surly Jide, had been beaten by this experience.  I marvelled… but still felt sorry for him. I prayed silently that this would not make a wreck of him.

I picked up my bag, heading to the door, when I heard someone call out to Jide from the other side of the room, saying; “take it, easy man.” I thought of also going over to encourage him, but nah!… Besides, what would I have said? It was just a breakup, and we never really said much to each other besides “hi” and “hello”.

I have lived alone for close to 5 years now since I got out of the University. I had bagged the degree I always wanted since I was a child. If I wasn’t chatting away, I was reading a gigantic documentary book or standing up for my friends or arguing with them. I knew I would grow up to be a good lawyer woman (that was how I referred to my future ambition as a child). Mum and Dad always had a good laugh each time I put it like that. They encouraged me too, every step of the way. I miss living with them. We talk at least 3 or 4 times a week now.

I enjoy my job as a legal counsel, it’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it. I often pat myself on the back saying; “you are living your dream girl.” Even when friends like Neka would ask (with that big sister voice), “Are you happy?. My response was giving myself a double pat on the back and said even louder; “you are living your DREAM girl!” I earned a wholesome salary, combed a good living, and had made big lifetime financial investments. I knew when to take a break and just relax, plus my social life was well over 5 out of 10. I was doing just fine!

 

 

……………………………………………………………………………..

 

“No! Don’t tell me that! I need a response today please!”

“Do something please! Please! They are all I have.” I was telling the Inspector of Police… a respected man in the city, and a good friend of my father, IG Yemi Bakare.

 

Mum and Dad were both missing. Mrs Kelechi Maxwell who lived close to them for 14 years, whose family had also become friends of ours, called me early that morning. I looked at the small clock by my bedside, it was only 4 o’clock in the morning.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Kamsi… it’s Aunty Kelechi. Your Parents had left the house 4 days ago. They had informed me they would spend 2 nights at a resort in a nearby town.

“Yes, yes aunty, they went to celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary… what’s the matter?” by this time, I was out of bed and standing by the window, staring into the dark night.

“Ehn, I want you to handle this very well Kamsi. I wanted you to be the first person I called before calling the police…”

“The police?” I cut in immediately. “What happened aunty?’ I was already pacing up and down the room…

“Don’t panic Kamsi. Kamsi? Kamsi?” Aunty was calling out.

I was lost in thoughts… my mind racing, thinking of all the horrible things that might have happened to them.

“I’m here…” My breathing heavier by the second

“My dear, they haven’t returned. It’s been 4 days now. They said they would spend just two nights. I placed a call through to your mother. It rang severally, no response.”

“Alright aunty, I’ll call you later.”

 

I immediately began to call my Parents telephone line, I even called the house line… no response.

I then called the resort they had vacationed…

“Yes ma’am, Arc. & Mrs Nwachukwu dislodged 2 days ago.” The resort receptionist said.

My eyes widened, my hands were shaky. I have never been one to handle situations like this well. I would respond with angst outrage, tears, panics… Most of the time, I found out the situation wasn’t that big a deal… I pray this is one of those “NOT BIG A DEAL” circumstances.

“Thank you.” I ended the call.

By the time I was speaking to uncle Yemi, the IG of police, my voice was shaky, fighting tears.

“We will do our best Kamsi. Just relax and let us do our job ok?”

“Yes, sir. Thank you so much.”

 

I walked to the window, fixing my gaze sternly at the early morning dark sky. It seemed like the morning would never come. It was only 4:30am! C’mon morning, C’mon! I was saying in my heart. I couldn’t go back to bed. I just stood there, thinking of every single moment I was with my parents. I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore when I remembered the last time mom called and asked if I’d want to go on their trip with them…

“No mum! I’d be a romantic spoiler. It’s your day, you and dad should enjoy every bit of it.”

She laughed hard and then said, “I love you.” Thinking about it now, and as though her voice reverberated through my eardrums, her “I love you’s” always sounded like music. There was just a way only my mother said those words.

Oh mummy, daddy… please don’t leave me alone on this earth. I need you both. I was crying aloud, squeezing my night gown against my chest. Maybe I should have gone with them. We’d all be together now, wherever it is… wherever!

Oh God please, hear me in this time of trouble… Please God, bring my parents back…. I’m so sorry, please. I have been preoccupied with my busy life! Not noticing anyone, or anything… not spending time with my family or friends, or even You! Oh Dear God, please have mercy! Mercy!

My tears wouldn’t stop, and it still felt like the night wouldn’t give way to the morning….

It was the way I hurried up when my phone rang, that I realized I had fallen asleep.

“What! 9 o’clock! How could I have slept this long?”

My phone rang

“Kamsi, any news yet?” Aunty Kelechi asked with anxiety in her voice.

“No aunty, none yet. Let me hurry out. I’ll call you later.”

 

……………………………………………………………………………………

 

Three days after that night, my Parents hadn’t returned, and no one had a clue where they could be.

The police were still on the lookout and put announcements on radio and television.

“Arc. & Mrs Nwachukwu’s disappearance is a mysterious one, they were seen last on the 6th of September, and since then have…. The Lady’s voice on TV was going on and slowly fading off, I had zoned out.

I had officially become a wreck! I don’t remember if I had eaten anything since that day. I had driven straight to my Parents house that day. I looked at the pictures on the wall and in all the other corners of the house. Running my palm through each photograph, cherishing those captured moments even more. I sniffed on their clothes and put them on. I slept in their bed and cried my eyes sore. This is when I would have needed Neka’s “are you happy” call… but I wasn’t responding to calls, texts or voice notes at this time. I didn’t want anyone’s sympathy or worries added to mine. My Parents will be found. I knew it!

I went into dad’s study, looking through the last architectural design he had been working on. It was an edifice for the Federal capital of the Country. The government had given him that huge contract, many other architects had lobbied for. I remember when he got the contract, we had a sumptuous candlelit dinner at home, with family friends. Mum had made Dad’s favourite meal, pounded yam and onubu soup. We chatted, laughed and dined into the night.

Dad was a tremendous architect, he led a fine team of other sought after architects, young and old. He also owned one of the most prestigious architectural firms in the country. I only hoped his disappearance wasn’t some kind of political gang up?! My heart asking these angry questions. My Parents were such private, good and sincere people, I was always amazed at how my Father made friends even of his enemies… who would want to hurt them? Who?

I stood there looking and tracing the drawings with my fingers, my tears messing up his beautiful work. I was still staring blankly at the work when suddenly a strange breeze blew listlessly into the study. It felt like this breeze came with a message… a good one. It was refreshing but didn’t last long. It was like suddenly, I knew what I must do.

I went and put on my jacket, picked up my car keys and stepped out of the house. I drove miles and miles, this strange breeze was leading the way. I pulled over at a fuel station to get my tank filled up when I noticed a black land cruiser just in front of me, getting its tank filled too. It looked exactly like Dad’s. I was still examining the body of the car when my eyes caught the number plate. It was… it was Dad’s car! And it was driving off.

“Wait wait, stop filling… it’s ok. Take the money.” I told the gas attendant hastily and started off to meet up. Now I was on a mission. I was unafraid. It was unbelievable! All happening so fast. Could this be? Whatever lay ahead, I was going to get my parents back. I picked up my phone and dialled uncle Yemi, and told him my present location.

“Ok Kamsi. We will catch up with you. Just keep your phone close to you.”

“Yes, sir.” I dropped the phone quickly and continued on my chase. I was driving above the speed limit and I didn’t even care. Again, I was on a mission. I reminded myself. I got closer and closer and got in front of the car… close enough to cause a “near” accident. The land cruiser came to a halt, and the driver came down of the car and began to head towards me. As he came closer, I dialled uncle Yemi again and put the phone on speaker.

I opened the door of the car and ran out. I headed straight to the black land cruiser screaming “mom”, “dad”! I opened the door of the back seat and to my excitement and shock, Mum and Dad were seated there, their heads leaned against the seats lifeless. I screamed again, Mum, Dad! Dad steered sideways, his eyes slobby and then he responded with a whimper. I shook him hard, and just then, the driver came up behind, jabbed and dragged me to the ground.

I held onto one of his legs with my two hands, and won’t let go. I looked into his eyes, he was indignant, and he showed it letting out an angry grunt, as though displeased at this plan spoiler! I screamed at him and questioned; “Who are you?” “What do you want with my parents?” “Who do you work for?” While he struggled and kicked me furiously with his other leg, I held tight, this time my body was wrapped around his leg. He dragged me along as he tried to walk back to the driver’s seat. Thankfully, we had created a scene and other people got down from their cars to come to see what was going on. A few young men ran to my rescue, and the kidnapper was held down to the ground. Just then we heard sirens in the distance. I screamed, and shook my parents back to consciousness… to no avail.

“Kamsi, Kamsi, are you ok?” I rushed towards uncle Yemi, hugging, sobbing… “Help them please.”

Uncle Yemi immediately had his policemen arrest the kidnapper. He got into the driver’s seat of the land cruiser and asked me to get into the passenger’s seat immediately. “Let’s get them to the hospital.” He said. My car was driven by another policeman who drove directly behind us.

I was still in shock with all that had happened in just a few minutes, or was it hours? I didn’t even know. I turned around to look at my parents. They looked tired and still unconscious. I had never seen them so helpless in all my life.

“You’re going to be ok.” I reached out to touch them, my hands shaking uncontrollably.

“I want you to know, you are one courageous woman Kamsi. You are a hero… Uncle Yemi said. His voice was warm and firm at the same time. Your parents are safe because of you.” Just then, that strange breeze blew again into the car, and suddenly, I knew who did all this… it wasn’t me.

“It is God, uncle Yemi. It is Him who has kept my parents safe, and He led me to them.”

He nodded with certainty, as though he too had just realized a truth.

He kept driving. I leaned backwards, letting a sigh of relief from all this nightmare. I was exhausted, my body hurt from the kidnapper’s assault, I let my mind roam, imagine… where did that boldness and strength come from? I was grateful.

 

“ka..msi is that you?” Dad called out. I leaned backwards hurriedly to hold his hand. Leaning myself even closer so he’d catch a better glimpse of my image.

I’m right here Daddy. I’m right here. Holding tightly. Uncle Yemi and I are taking you and mummy to the hospital. You’re going to be alright.” I didn’t let go of their hands again until we got to the hospital.

 

………………………………………………………………………………………..

I stood on the podium at the Youth gathering, to tell my story. I titled it when time slept. My story was real, it had happened to me. I knew what it meant to be weak. I know what heartbreak feels like, and what life would look like if you lost the people you loved. I knew the smell of fear, and what it felt like when you weren’t sure the morning will ever come. I know exactly what it feels like to be alone.

As I told my story, I watched as they listened, their expressions and total silence telling me they sympathized with me. They prayed with me afterwards and I was laden with hugs and encouragement.

“I’m glad your parents are ok. And you are one brave woman.” Jide said with a kind smile on his face.

“Thank you. And it’s good to see you are doing so well Jide.” I responded with a warm smile. I hoped it revealed my sincere sympathy.

“Can I drop you off? That’s if you didn’t come with your car.” He offered.

“No, I didn’t. And yes you can. Thank you.” Giggling somewhere in my heart.

We walked out of the room together.

We talked all the way home, and the days, and weeks that followed.

 

I sense a second story coming soon… a happier one… *wink*

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THE PERFECTIONIST

/pəˈfɛkʃ(ə)nɪst/

A person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection.

 

Perfectionism

“I am a perfectionist!”

I hear folks make this acclaim of themselves often, I too used to make it at one time.

Recently, I began to ponder on the meaning of the word, and how it becomes an identity one chooses to wear.

Let me itemize the things I have gathered from my musings

  1. The Perfectionist demands perfection from all things and everyone, but can never himself be perfect.
  2. The Perfectionist is critical of herself and of others. Spotting every tiny flaw or fault, and making a big deal of it.
  3. The Perfectionist may never be able to see things through another’s eyes, believing that the way he sees things is best. Most times, even forcing others to accept his point of view.
  4. The Perfectionist cannot delegate duties to another. She does not trust others enough to do things the way she likes or would have done it
  5. The Perfectionist procrastinates on an assignment, a dream or a goal, because of their fear of failing.
  6. The Perfectionist doubts his ability, therefore failing to take steps to achieve the desired result
  7. The Perfectionist expects too much from himself and from others, therefore, is often times disappointed with life, for not delivering his expectations.
  8. The Perfectionist may never understand the rare gift of spontaneity and may never experience its sweet adventure. He will rather not change things, but leave them the way they are.
  9. The Perfectionist does not know how to handle disappointments. She beats herself over and over until she is satisfied in the punishment of self-pity, she has served.
  10. The Perfectionist often times needs affirmation and a reaffirmation of their own capabilities. She isn’t convinced until everyone else thinks so.
  11. The Perfectionist puts up a perfect “all things are well” front before everyone. He is all about impressing the bunch.
  12. The Perfectionist is STRESSED! I mean. Look at all he has to deal with! Also, most times he walks a lonely path because no one wants to be close to the critic, doubter, non-achiever etc.

perfectionism 2

 

Is God a Perfectionist?

The answer is NO! Our God has perfect standards, YES! But is never one to force Himself on any human, or demand His way. He also will never cast anyone away, let alone those who don’t meet up to his perfect standards. He is patient in His goodness, which eventually leads men to repentance. Romans 5:8 records that whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Also, Ephesians 1: 4, says; “Long ago, even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.” You see, when God sees us, He sees us without blame or fault. He isn’t critical of us or our actions, He has loved us and made us His choice. Psalm 103:14 says: For He understands how weak we are; He knows we are only dust.

Through the sacrificial death of Jesus, all of God’s wrath towards our sin has been satisfied. We could never please God or meet His perfect standards no matter how hard we tried, so Jesus the One who was and is without sin came and fulfilled God’s desire when He took our place on the cross. God is pleased forever with Jesus’ sacrifice because it has presented us to Him righteous, blameless, pure and holy.

 

So next time, before you think of demanding perfection from everything and everyone else, think about how much God loves you, and how he keeps putting up with your imperfection. Think about the blood of Jesus that keeps speaking mercy for you. Thank Jesus who has met God’s perfect standard, in your stead.

The world is not a perfect place, filled with imperfect people including you. Be patient with people, take life easy, don’t be too hard on your self- take it one day at a time. You will be fine

perfectionism 3

 

Lastly, Perfectionism is not a fruit of the Spirit, but a work of the flesh.

The Break Up

Some relationships are toxic, yet others so delightfully a blessing!

 

I used to be the kind of woman that stayed in a relationship even if it hurt. It was so obvious, that others saw for me, how detrimental it was to my well-being, yet I just couldn’t understand what they nagged about. As for me, I vowed to be loyal till the end.

Sadly, I never got back in return, the same level of commitment or loyalty, I gave. But I kept on.

What was it for me? Was it love or just sheer carelessness? Was it initially what I could gain, or just me being a natural loyalist? I didn’t even know, and I didn’t want to keep asking myself these questions. However, it could not be hid or denied, that these relationships did me no good.

On the other hand, those ones that were a blessing, ironically I never paid mind to. It sought my attention, my love, but I didn’t give it. For me, it was boring, unadventurous, and frankly, didn’t deserve my giving. I tried to be loyal, friendly… but it just didn’t work. Again, those who saw through me, would outrightly let me know that I was being a fool to let the good ones/things pass me by. Oh well, I won’t let their badgering compel me.

 

So I was in a deep commitment with this very tall chocolatey sweetness, Toblerone. I called him Toby for short. To me, Toby was a person. A companion, he was there when I needed him the most. When I was sad, happy, depressed or just every time. I will spend so much money just to go see him and have a taste of his enthralling personality. He showed me himself in several flavors. He caught my existence, my dentition, my taste buds, my consciousness, we were completely involved! Toby and I dated for 7 years straight. In all these years, it seemed like I existed for him, I gave my all. Every time spent with him seemed unsatisfying, so I always went for more… but Toby didn’t give back much. I guess he didn’t feel the same way about me.

I was the one spending the time, money, giving the most attention, and taking time to understand the different sides of him. In those seven years, I lost nine (9) of my teeth. Toby’s effect on me, ate into the core of my gum. He damaged my dentition. All those appointments at the dentist’s and the eventual operations, were the most painful and fearful days of my life. After the ninth operation, and losing my molar and premolars on the right side of my mouth, I reconsidered this relationship with Toby. Getting a replacement for that side of my mouth was very expensive, so I managed, mostly using the other side which was only surviving by fillings.

Toblerone Schokolade

toblerone 2
YUM!!!!

 

Toby showed no pity or concern. He wasn’t even there to pat my back or sympathize. Who was I kidding? He could never possibly be able to. He wasn’t human!

I waited this long to know this? This was just plain stupid! How could I have stooped so low for a chocolate bar? Was this even real life? Suddenly, I remembered how everyone tried to warn or help me, but I was recalcitrant, adamant and just plain silly. I gave myself to something, out of my own selfishness and lack of self-control, now I paid dearly for it. My unrealistic relationship and unfathomable, nonexistent commitment to Toblerone had wrecked me. My dentition will never recover, neither has my body weight. I have undertaken several exercise routines to come back to shape. It’s been four (4) years after, and I’m still paying for it… it was unprofitable, unhealthy and all the “un” prefixes one could think of.

For you, it might be some other unhealthy kind of relationship. Perhaps a person, or an even stranger kind of guilty pleasure or vice. My friend, if it has consumed you and taken over your sense of judgment or discipline, it is a dangerous relationship. It should be broken. It is slowly becoming a god, seeking your time, money, attention and loyalty. All of these, you could have given to something/someone more important and profitable. You know the relationship is toxic, it hurts, it doesn’t give back what you give, and it has no respect or regard for your time or commitment. Do you want to continue in this obvious harm, or you want to take a stand to break away today?

Breaking away from Toby wasn’t easy, sometimes all it took for me was an imagination that spurred an insatiable desire in me, and I just had to go for it. But it came time, when by myself I had to come to terms with the reality of what this relationship was doing to me. It was hurting me, it was damaging me and keeping me down. Breaking away and walking free, was my only resolve.

 

Same to you. You have to answer some hard questions, and then tell yourself the truth. Is this relationship healthy? Has it added to me; spirit, soul and body? How much have I given? Do I want anything in return, if yes, what do I want out of this relationship? Have I become a better person? Is this true love or just a selfish partnership? Am I in this for the long haul? What have I lost or gained? And many other questions you probably know to ask. Break away, if most of your answers are in the negative.

Seek now, for those healthy relationships that undeniably crave your attention and approval, and you have morbidly despised. Look again, they are still waiting, willing to give that which you have secretly sought for and desired. You will see how much better this new relationship feels. Maybe not as adventurous, but surely beneficial in every way.

I tell you this with all my heart, you can overcome anything unbecoming. God’s Spirit in you is not just there to abide, but to help. Romans 8:13 tells us that by the Spirit, we can put to death the deeds of the flesh. Ask Him to help you today, and when He provides a way of escape out of that temptation, please take it.

 

Love,

Paula Young.

 

 

 

Hurt

peace 2

 

Often times our hurts become our greatest event

Unplanned for is the occurrence

Expressed through bouts and vent,

Indescribable its deeds and consequence

 

Words spoken blindly

Razing feelings smoothly

Blurting and snarling

Shooting aimlessly, flesh and heart slowly gnarling

 

Choose wisely said the voice within

But oh no! spit and spill, the flesh must win

To recall the bullets shot if possible?

Sadly, the damage done incurable

 

To be strong or not to be

What you choose is up to thee

Should the words that have hurt also kill?

Or the love beneath thy veins stretch to heal?

 

Pray, let this not be the event that paralyzes

May it swallow up the dark as a new day arises

That it shall strengthen and teach a lesson

For tomorrow thou shalt be a blessing.

 

Paula Young

Monday, Oct. 23, 2017

4:00pm

Shut Up!

hush

That’s what I say to the noise around me

Distracting, telling lies and causing discord with mere assumptions.

Shut up is what I say, to doubt and fear crawling stealthily to steal confidence and birth shame

Voices all around, words carrying a spirit with them, such commotion!

My head stuck in the middle, my heart seeking to discern…

So I make it easy with just two words; “Shut up!”

 

If I heed to your constant perturbing, you will confuse me

If I am guided by your assumptions and “what ifs”, I’ll fall

If I meditate on your words for just a second, I’m never gonna try…

So shut up ye voices that mislead and words that belittle

Fear that shrinks, and doubts that hinder,

I am not your audience, and will never be.

 

The One living in me speaks, and I listen

He is my Shepherd, and only He will lead me

His words are peace and safety

Bringing wisdom, understanding, and clarity

I have His life, His love, His faith… I lack nothing

His voice is stronger, louder, and clearer

I live for an audience of One.

 

worship

 

Paula Young

March 26th, 2017

12:01am

 

 

Ihunanya Uri

Those beautiful eyes that watch me close

Day and night, not blinking cos’ You chose

It’s amazing that You watch me sleep

You don’t shut your eyes- like a Shepherd watches his sheep

I could describe every part of You

But hear me mention a few

 

Not resembling the macho guy girls drool over,

You are the shield and refuge that gives cover

I’m enthralled by Your strength

Your strong arm stretched towards life’s great length

Protecting, preserving, providing

Your people, Your begotten, Your very own defending

 

How do I know it’s Your voice on my heart beating?

Awakening desire, my ears meet with greeting

Unfolding mysteries, great things unseen

You tell me as I draw near to glean

Sweet echo as in the cool of the day

Your voice, Your sound, every word you say

 

Unlike changing seasons, friends who come and go

You are there, unchanging, remaining, Your word says so

You know me, No, You’ve known me before earth and space

You made me Yours through faith and grace

I love how You love me Abba

I await the day You’ll say “come to Papa!”

The Colleague

colleagues

Having colleagues is a beautiful thing.

I remember leaving school and fresh in the world, I didn’t quite understand a lot of things or how the world functioned. Getting a job and working with a bunch of people I hadn’t met before, I better understood the phrase; “welcome to the real world.”

Suffice it to say that I learn a new lesson every day. I see myself in a new way and I grow.

Today, I upset a colleague. I made a statement that wasn’t intended to spite, it was rather risible or so I thought. A cold war ensued and then I knew I had done something wrong. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time I was stepping on toes, and believe me, I was innocently stepping on toes. It is true we are all petty, sadly, one is petty where the other is not.

colleague-2

The cold war was going to lead to a catastrophic civil war, until I sent out an invitation for a peace talk. It didn’t go as I expected, but gladly the other party withdrew ammunition.

It pained me that I was getting into relational issues with my colleagues, but then I learnt. No one is like me, will ever behave the way I do, or see things entirely the way I do. Forget that cliché sentence intro that goes thus: “if I were you, I would’ve…” Instead, being me, I became patient with other people’s weaknesses, for I figured that their struggles were my victories, and their victories, my struggles.

colleague4

Being me, I became quick to forgive and move on. I was helping myself this way to stay healthy on the inside, and still see people with the eyes of love and respect I did when I first met them.

Being me, I have learnt to separate colleagues from friends- these are TWO different set of people, and should NEVER be mixed up. Never get it twisted.

Being me, I have seen that people like to be respected and may often times put their age before relating with me, so I respect the high and lowly, young and old equally. This has by far made me a better public relator, and improved my character.

Being me, I’m just going to keep growing and help others make their struggle a victory story.

colleague-3