When I was ten my mother took me to see an evangelist. She was having this recurring dreams where bad things happened to me, and when she told her brother, he directed her to this man of God.
‘Brother Jerome please I want you to pray for my son.’ She flashed him a smile, the plea in her voice and her eyes and in the way she held out both hands towards him.
‘Who? This asewo?’ he flicked his fingers in my direction without looking at me.
My mother gave a nervous chuckle and cold dread came over me. The rest of what they said was lost to me. I had been found out.
‘How did he know? Did he really have powers? Surely he must, or else how would he know about Angelina in school? Or Amaka from Legion? Or that girl in the choir?’
I went through my list of crushes, girls I was too shy to talk to. My heart raced and my body tensed for the sting of mom’s slap that was sure to follow his revelation.
The slap never came. If anything, it seemed mom did not take his words seriously. Or she was more interested in getting me the prayer I needed.
Eight years later, standing in the sacristy dressed in my vestments and waiting with the other Altar Servers to go out in procession, the officiating priest who was visiting my parish turned to us and asked me.
‘Have you ever considered the priesthood?’
I looked at Fr. O’Leary like he had sprung two heads.
‘Sorry Father, what?’
‘The priesthood,’ he repeated with a smile.
‘Ermm, no Father.’ I stuttered. ‘I mean, God has not called me, Father.’
‘What if I tell you that this is God calling you?’ his eyes never left my face.
I squirmed and looked around at the other Servers. They would not meet my eyes.
‘Father,’ I said, ‘God would have to talk to me personally. Whisper in my ears, Father.’
His smile faltered.
‘I take it you have many girlfriends then,’ he said and I heard the other boys giggle while my cheeks burned.
I did not have a girlfriend, let alone many girlfriends, but girls held a fascination for me and I already knew that my vocation was a fatherly one, just not a Reverend Fatherly vocation.
There were girls in school and at church that I could have dated, but I believed such relationships must end in marriage and I could not guarantee that so I went through Secondary School single.
I went on to university where I started dating, but found that I could never keep a girl for longer than two semesters. A pattern I continued for most of my life as a serial monogamist until I met Keme two years ago.
We had been together for two years – a personal record – and now, because I forgot to clear my chats, even that was over.
Hey Max, she just left me.
It was about 10pm and I was lying in bed listening to my friend on radio. Maxine and I have been friends for over ten years and she hosted a dating program on radio. When I could, I listened in.
I listened in for the music, and during the show I would send her messages to tell her what I thought, or take a trip down memory lane with her, trips inspired by the song she was playing at the time.
That night I was trying to wrap my head around how one could go from in a relationship to single again when she came on air. I listened for a bit before sending her that message, and then I waited.
What? Came her reply minutes later. How are you feeling?
Like crap. I sent her. There’s an emptiness here. I touched my stomach as if she could see me.
Aww, you poor dear. She replied. Hold on, I got an idea.
‘Guys, and by guys I mean ladies.’ I heard her saying on air. ‘I have this friend, let’s call him Bond. So my friend Bond recently became single and I’m looking to hook him up because that’s what I do…’