Originally published on sagbachronicles.com

So it’s Christmas day and I see a missed call from my aunt. (The same one who prayed for a wife for me in THE PRAYER) I had sent her some cash for Christmas earlier in the month and half expected her to call me to acknowledge receipt.

In fairness, I did try to answer the phone, but it only rang twice and stopped before I could pick up. This is not unusual among my people and is called ‘flashing’. This is a  type of call collect where the calling party  (e.g. someone from my village without enough phone credit, as is always the case) makes a call at the called party’s (someone living abroad or deemed to always have enough phone credit) expense.

And woe betide you if you don’t return the call within five minutes, especially if the call is from an elderly relative. You and anyone else who has ears to hear will learn about your insolence and how you have neglected said relative over the years.

So I call my aunt back. She picks up after four rings.

“Hello!! Who is it?” she says. (I assume this is for dramatic effect, because she just called me two minutes ago and my name must have shown up on her phone. But it’s Christmas, so I will keep an open mind).

“Aunty, it’s me Kere! Merry Christmas!”

“Ah Kere Dim!! Nwamu, My Son.  Ekene dili Chineke! Praise be to God.  Merry Christmas o! God bless you. You remembered me this Christmas. I got your gift o. God will bless you. He will replenish your pocket, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, In Jesus’ Name.”

“Amen, Aunty. Thank you. How are you?”

“I am fine o! Now that I have heard your voice.”

“Ah, that’s good. Good to hear your voice too,” I reply.

“How are you spending Christmas day?” she asks.

“A friend of mine is coming over soon with some food he prepared, and added to mine, we will eat and just watch relax and watch TV. It will be a quiet one.”

“Oh, ok.”

I can sense disappointment in her voice; it wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

“Are you not going to church?”

“No, I went yesterday, on Christmas Eve,” I lie. “The church is not open on Christmas day.” That part is true.

“That must be a UK Church you go to. Our Nigerian Churches have services on Christmas day. Why don’t you go to one of those ones? There are a lot of them in the UK.” And she promptly starts reeling off names of the churches. Nigerian Church google resource, this one.

“Ok Aunty, I will look into them for next year.”

“Come o, Kere, what about the thing you promised me last time we spoke?”

“What thing?” I reply skittishly. I know exactly what she means.

“Have you found a wife yet?” And she is in. No foreplay.

“Ah ah, Aunty, just like that? We talked about it in May and now it’s December. It’s not like that now. These things, these days, they take time.”

“Ok, but you must have someone in mind?”

“I am still looking.”

“Chei! No single sisters in your church? You see, if you went to a Nigerian Pentecostal church, by now you’d have found a wife.”

The pain in her voice almost brings tears to my eyes. I can’t tell her that I had attended a few Nigerian Pentecostal churches in the UK in the past and it wasn’t the single sisters that piqued my interest.

“Please, you need to find a Pentecostal church that is filled with the Holy Spirit and where healing abides. You need to find Jesus and a good wife! I will pray to God for you tonight, to lead you to faith-based Nigerian church where you can find Jesus. Only then will all other things be added on to you. Time is running out.”

When born-again Christian relatives start being tenacious about the right church to attend, I acquiesce, especially when I am paying for the long distance call.

“Ok, Aunty, my friend has arrived. I have to go and let him in. Thank you very much. Please keep me in your prayers, tonight and always. Happy Christmas.”

“Ok, bye, bye,” she replies and ends the call.

***

The next day, I am in the gym trying to work off the excess calories and fat amassed during the debauchery of numerous lunches, dinners and parties in the run up to Christmas day.

I am resting in between sets on the squat machine, and out of the corner of my eye, I see a guy striding over to me. He is around 5’10”, weighs about 80kg and looks Latin with wavy brown hair tied in a little ponytail at the back. He is a regular at the gym but I have never really said anything to him as he just comes in, does his intense gym routine and leaves.

He is quite muscular with little or no fat on him. You can tell junk food or Christmas dinners are not his thing. Everything is in the right proportion – his arms, legs, chest, back and especially his muscular butt. I had checked out that butt before and thought about what I would do to it if given half a chance.

“Hi, how many more sets do you have to go?” he asks in what I think is a Spanish accent.

“Hello. Two more,” I reply with a smile in what I know is an Igbo accent.

“Ok, please can you call me when you finish?”

“Sure. And what do I call you? My name is Kere,” I say putting out my hand.

“Hey-sus, pleased to meet you,” he replies with a smile while shaking my hand.

“How do you spell that?”

“J-E-S-U-S…”

I smile.

God is having a laugh again.

Maybe in answering my aunt’s prayers, He will send me Cary Argos from The Good Wife.

Written by Kere Dim

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