Joyous Laughter episode 3

Part 3
©Franca Uwuigiaren

I was going through some documents I brought home from work when a colleague called me. She was reminding me of her birthday coming up the following day.

“I didn’t know it’s tomorrow, Temi.”

“Thank God I called. I don’t want you to come to work empty-handed.”

I laughed.

“When I celebrated mine last year, what did you buy for me?”

“I pecked your cheeks nah,” she said, giggling.

“Good, good. Tomorrow, expect the same from me.” I told her, laughing.

“No, nah! Don’t be a wicked big sister to me, nah.” She said.

“What do you want me to buy for you? Or do you want me to send you money? Okay, forward your account details to me?”

“Mmmh…there’s something I want to tell you.” She said. “Please, just listen…and I want it for my birthday. It’s either it or nothing.”

I could just visualize her with a pouted mouth.

“Aah, are you threatening me?”

“God forbid. Aah! I won’t use my hand to destroy my blessing. What I am asking is not too much, sef.” She said.

“If I tell you sey I no tire for you, you no go believe me.” I said in pidgin English.

“There’s one food you brought to work last week… and…”

“You mean starch and banga soup?”

“Yes, oo. Since I ate that food, my life has not remained the same. Please that’s what I want for my birthday tomorrow.”

I laughed hilariously.

“Yoruba lady has fallen in love with starch and banga soup oo. Maybe God will send an urhobo man to marry you. Anyway, since you want starch and banga soup, I can prepare that for you, na. I learnt it from a corper. Real Urhobo food.”

“Thank you in advance. It’s what I want for lunch tomorrow.” She told me.

“It’s alright! Is there anything else… tomorrow is your day.” I told her.

“You can add any other gift that comes to your mind.”

“It’s alright!”

We chatted for almost twenty minutes before she hung up.

I looked at the time and saw it was 2:13 pm. I had not rested since I returned from church, so I left what I was doing, locked the door, and went to the market.

As I walked through the market, I couldn’t help but think about my own life. I was approaching 41, still single, and feeling like I was lagging behind my peers. Quickly, I pushed the thought away and concentrated on what brought me to the market. I bought starch, palm kernel, and all I needed to prepare banga soup. I also used the opportunity to buy other things I needed. I got a pair of shoes and a handbag for Temi; she wears the same size as me.

After ensuring I had gotten all I needed, I headed home. By the time I got home, prepared the banga soup, and prepared dinner for myself, it was already getting late. I took my bath and went straight to bed but couldn’t sleep.

As I lay in bed, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of inadequacy that had settled in my heart. It took a long time for sleep to come, and when it did, it was fitful and unrefreshing. By the time I woke up again, it was 3:20 a.m.

I lay in bed staring at the rolling fan, feeling restless and uneasy. That’s when I remembered the Bible verses I had read earlier – 2 Samuel 6:14-16 and Exodus 15:20-21.

I sat up and grabbed my Bible from the table and read out loud, hoping to find some comfort in the words. David worshiped God with his body, soul, and might. He wasn’t ashamed. He danced with abandon, unpretentious and free. But then there was something that made David dance like that. His dance was a joyful celebration, an expression of happiness and gratitude to God.

Then I opened Exodus 15:20-21 and read out loud, “20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dancing. 21 And Miriam answered them, ‘Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea!’

Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses, led the women in a joyful celebration of music and dance, commemorating God’s mighty deliverance of Israel from the Egyptians at the Red Sea.

David and Miriam had danced and sung with joy and abandon, celebrating God’s victories in their lives. But what did I have to celebrate? What had God done for me?

Quickly, I rebuked that thought from my mind and asked myself why those two Bible verses came to my mind.

“Perhaps God want me to praise Him,” I said to myself.

I jumped out of bed and laughed.

“Father, I thank you. Indeed, you deserve my praise this morning. I am going to praise and dance before you this morning.” I said, laughing.

Suddenly, I heard a voice laughing. I looked around me, and I was the only one in the bedroom. Fear gripped me.

“You really want to praise Him this morning? Praise Him for what?” The voice asked harshly.

“What has He done for you to deserve your praise? Aisosa, go back to bed and sleep; He doesn’t deserve your praise.

For a moment, the voice stopped and just as I sighed, I heard, “Go to the mirror and look at yourself.”

Immediately, I went to stand before the mirror and I looked at my reflection.

“See how beautiful you are, but you have no man in your life. Do you know how old you are? Your mates have stopped giving birth, and you’re not even married. Your sisters have their kids now, and you’re still single.”

The voice laughed hilariously.

“How old are you, Aisosa?”

“40 plus.”

“At 40 plus, some women have started experiencing menopause, and you’re not married.”

Tears rolled down my cheeks.I thought of my friends and colleagues and my church members who have gotten married and have children. I know of some who are engaged. I began to cry louder.

“I heard you read out some Bible passages. Those people you read about danced because something worth celebrating was done for them.”

I sighed deeply.

“What has He done for you?” It was a question that left me shaken.

“Remember, that He is the reason you’re not married. He has the power to get a man for you, but He deliberately ignored you and made you go through emotional stress. Now you’re too old to get married. Which man will marry an old woman when young girls are out there? Do you see that He doesn’t deserve your praise? He is wicked. He is the reason bad things happen to people. He can’t even get you a husband, and very soon you won’t be able to have children. Ask those who are 40 already, and how difficult it is to get pregnant.”

For a very long time after I stopped hearing the voice, I stood before the mirror, processing all the voice has said to me.

I left the mirror and sat on the bed, thinking about my life. It was 4:44a.m. before I left the bedroom to the kitchen to cook. I prepared the starch and warmed the soup, then dished it in a warmer. Then I took my bath and prepared for work.

Temi was happy when she saw me. I sang a birthday song to her and presented my gift too. She was both excited and grateful. I got a Teddy-Bear from her.

All through the day at the office, I didn’t concentrate. I kept asking myself if there was anything worth praising God when I will soon turn 41.

It was during break time that I had the opportunity to be all alone. I began to retrace my life back to the time my parents died, how I got separated from my siblings and brought to Lagos, how I sponsored myself to school and reunited with my siblings. I thought about my siblings now doing well for themselves. What of the death ravaging the male members of the family that God stopped?

“Look at me, doing well for myself.” I whispered. “God, you have been so faithful to me. Yes, I am not married, but I am alive. My mates who are married and even 40 plus like me are already dead. Satan, you’re a liar. My God deserves all the praise, glory, and honour. He deserves my adoration. Satan I refuse to listen to you. Whether or not I get married, God is still the same. He has never changed or failed. Satan you’re a big liar. I will praise my God.”

I stood up and locked the door. I began to praise my God. All through the break period, I sang praises to God, and when I didn’t know what song to sing anymore, I listened to songs of praise to God from my phone. Right there in the office, I told God that in the next fourteen days, I will sing and dance to Him.

Every day, when I return from work, and after dinner, I will sing and dance for an hour, and before I prepare for work the following day, I will dance so much until I sweat.

I had not done even up to one week when I got a letter of promotion from the Head Office. How I screamed for joy! I got home, flung my handbag on the chair, and began to sing, “Darling Jesus, Darling Jesus, Oh my darling Jesus, you’re a wonderful Lord. I love you so much, darling Jesus, Oh my darling Jesus, you’re a wonderful Lord.”

“See the way you love me,
See the way you care for me,
You carry my matter for your head oo
Ineme obinasom.”

I couldn’t stop singing to my God. I persisted in my praises and dance to the King of kings, thanking Him for who He is in my life and family.

Few months after I ended the program, God answered my prayer. It was like a dream.

No wonder the Bible says in Psalm 126 verse 1-3, “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them; the Lord hath done great things for us; and we rejoiced.”

My mouth indeed was filled with joyous laughter. How can I explain how it happened? I cried unto the Lord and he heard and answered me in a wonderful way. He turned my mourning into dancing.

But I almost missed out on these blessings because I almost listened to the lies of Satan. He whispered to me that I was too old, too single, and too unwanted. He told me that God had forgotten about me and that I should give up on my dreams. But I refused to listen. I chose to trust in God’s plan and timing, and He proved Himself faithful. I learned that Satan’s lies are real, but God’s truth is more powerful. And I continued to praise and dance to my God, who has been faithful to me.

To be continued…

© Franca’s Pen ✍️ 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *