‘So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.’
-The Book of Isaiah
It took a while but eventually, it came to pass.
On the 15th of December, it was a Tuesday, my friend of over two decades, Jide called me after almost a month of silence.
It was in the evening, I guess he had to make sure his work wouldn’t interfere.
When my phone rang and I saw his name display on my phone, I readied myself for a very long and unpredictable talk.
Two days prior to the call, I had also spoken with Ruth at length and she had assured me Jide would call within the next fews days.
When I asked how she was able to convince and pacify him,
‘We are friends and we needed to get some things clear, which we did.’ She answered.
‘Get what things clear?’ I asked.
She laughed and said she knew I would ask before adding, ‘Jide will tell you when he calls.’
‘Okay o’ I simply agreed.
Over the past days and weeks, we had gotten closer and closer. Ruth and I had developed some level of trust for each other and understanding too.
I had already visited her home three more times and she came to my house once.
Again and again, I had already told her I ‘Like’ her- I couldn’t use ‘Love’ as the word was too heavy for me to utter just then. Besides, I often asked myself why bother declaring love when I wasn’t absolutely sure things would turn out as I wanted and end up in a serious relationship.
Though I saw a lot of signs that suggested Ruth would gladly accept marriage proposal from me if only I asked, I wasn’t prepared to jump into that conclusion just yet.
I had already learnt from experience never to assume to know how women think or conclude they had some feelings for me until they had declared the same with their mouth.
Thus, though we often chatted deep into late nights and sometimes, as late as 2am, and when we called, both of us often felt that yearn to hold on and keep talking; neither of us ever spoke about marriage or address the issue of the apparent attraction between us.
The situation with Jide also made me cautious.
Some of these thoughts were on my mind when Jide called.
‘Hello Victor’ came Jide’s suprisingly rich voice when I picked the call.
‘How far bros?’ I returned.
‘I dey alright o, how are you doing na?’
I answered and we asked about each other’s families and engagements.
‘I should have called since last week but I was too busy at work’ He explained.
‘Oh! Okay, workman’ I joked and he laughed.
I realised at that time that it would seem most guys seldom apologize verbally when an offence arises between friends; jokes and discussions usually override the need for apologies.
It was the same between Jide and I.
For close to two minutes, we talked about Football players and matches we had watched during the past weeks of break in communication.
But eventually, the discussion drifted to sisters and ultimately to Ruth.
I intended to ask him his plans for Ruth but he asked the same question before I could speak my mind.
‘How far, what’s happening between you and Ruth?’ He enquired.
‘Truth is, guy, I had intended to hands-off her and not allow the issue to cause a rift between the two of us. And that was what I wanted to tell you the last time we talked. But I never got the chance. And then, when I systematically asked Ruth if the two of you had anything going, she said there wasn’t really anything.’
‘Okay… Go on.’ Jide said coolly.
‘Well, like I told you that day, I have always liked her, from when we were all in Youth church, that’s about ten years.’
‘Yeah, you told me.’
‘But to really say the truth, guy; I was ready to let all that pass when you told me you and her were quite close and you had reasoned marriage with her before.’
I was sitting down when I picked the call but at this time in the conversation, I was standing and pacing.
I always did that when speaking seriously.
Jide seemed relaxed about the issue too and asked, ‘So why didn’t you walk away?’
It was a pertinent question and I had asked myself the same thing again and again.
So I had an already-prepared response.
‘Jide, see, both of us are Christians. And we both have it settled in our minds that we will depend on God’s direction to marry. God has to speak first. Right?’
‘Yeah, God has to speak. That’s true for me too.’ He agreed.
The conversation was going the way I hoped it would.
‘So can you tell me if God actually directed you, one way or another, to choose Ruth for marriage?’ I asked him pointedly.
By this time, the conversation was so serious that I had stopped my pacing and stood in a position in my room, waiting for an answer.
When Jide didn’t respond quickly, I asked him again, ‘Any testimony, besides the likeness and attraction, any sign you can point to and say it was God?’
‘Guy…!’ He started and laughed, ‘…this your question is stronger than the one my Pastor asked me when I told him about Ruth o.’
The mention of his ‘Pastor’ took me by surprise as I didn’t know he took Ruth as serious as that.
‘Wait! You have even seen Pastor? What did he say?’ I was eager to know more.
‘Well, it wasn’t me that went to see him o. Service ended one Sunday and he called me to see him. Then, he went ahead to ask him if I had prayed about marriage’ Jide spoke and I listened intently. ‘I gave him a superficial response but when he pressed me further, I had to tell him about Ruth.’
He cleared his throat and went on, ‘To cut the long story short, when he asked if I was convinced God wanted it to be so, I answered that I wasn’t sure. When he asked again if she matches the visions I have in life, to be frank, I told him she doesn’t, at least for now. And look Victor, I’m telling you this because you are a friend, I don’t think I can marry a Teacher. All the plans for my life will work better with a career woman, who is willing to climb that professional ladder and get to the top. A private-sector personality whom I can build a company with.’
I wanted to tell her he could eventually tailor Ruth to her taste but I remembered it is almost impossible to change people except they are willing, so I kept quiet and allowed him talk on.
Jide heaved and continued, ‘So that’s how it is. Even now, I’m still surprised to see how easily the feelings I had or thought I had has become so negligible that I am beginning to question myself. I think it is because of the silence and everything, but I can’t really say the love is still there. And I don’t want to nurture it since I don’t think I would marry her eventually.’
After his long talk, Jide heaved again and said ‘It is well’. I also answered and said the same thing to him before I decided to air my own views and tell him my mind.
‘Well…’ I began characteristically, ‘…the thing is, I am convinced she is the one for me. I have always been; but when you came along, a lot of doubts began to shake my confidence and faith in the words God gave me when I saw her in the Congress back when I was serving in 2013.’
I placed the call on Loudspeaker and continued, ‘But having spent the last few weeks and month with her, I began to realize it has always been her all along. I had always loved her, I had always hoped to spend the rest of my life with her and I have always been at peace anytime I think about marrying her. Even when I had doubts, the love was still there, no matter how hard I tried to shake it off.’
I was happy to finally be able to speak the words and I spoke further,
‘And most importantly, the words and leading of God Almighty I had was a strong ROOT that held me. And when that was shaken with doubts, the Love I had for her also kept me ROOTed and made me keep believing.’
‘That’s it bro. That’s just it.’ I shook my head and as I heard myself speak the words, I realized I was right.
It had always been Ruth. Always.
‘Wow!’ Jide said when I was done. ‘Wow, meeeeeen!’ He said again.
I smiled, pleased.
‘Your testimony is strong bro. This one is strong.’ Jide was evidently convinced.
I laughed and closed my eyes to offer some words of gratitude to God for making things turn out the way they did.
When Jide didn’t speak for a while, I knew he was challenged and still musing over my words, so I didn’t say anything too.
Eventually, when he spoke, all he could say was ‘God bless you bro’ before he added, ‘God help us.’
I said ‘Amen’ and we said our goodnights.
Two days later, when I called Ruth to plan another outing for just the two of us, she informed me that Jide had told her ‘everything’. The manner he stressed the word made me wonder.
‘Everything? How?’ I asked and laughed, hoping Jide didn’t go into too much details.
Ruth laughed and told me to ask Google. When I asked her again to ‘have mercy’ and tell me herself, she said,
‘Oga, relax, I’m not saying anything even if you sue me.’ She knew I didn’t like being put in suspence and she enjoyed my anxiety.
I laughed and told her ‘Nothing concern me’ but I knew she wasn’t deceived.
We planned to go out during the weekend and ended the conversation after a lot of tease from both ends.
‘I don’t love you. We will talk later.’ She said, still amidst laughter.
‘I don’t love you too, take care.’ I responded in kind.
Later that day, in the evening, when I was certain Jide would have returned from office, I picked my phone and called my bossom friend.
‘Hello bros, abeg, what did you tell Ruth?’ I went straight to the point.
He didn’t answer so I continued, ‘I hope you didn’t tell her I will soon ask her to marry me.’
I heard him laugh lightly over the phone before he answered, ‘Bro, I did o, just to help you out, I did.’
I didn’t know what to feel, betrayal of trust or gratitude to my friend. So I asked for further report instead,
‘What did she say when you told her?’ I asked.
I was impatient to hear her opinion and I rubbed the back of my neck, and then my jaws, and then my nose as I waited.
Jide was intent on keeping me in suspence and making me wait.
He danced around the answer before asking,
‘Guy! Let me call you after two days; I will tell you then.’
If not for my bridled tongue and sanctification, I would have uttered curses as my patience got exhausted and frustration slowly replaced it.
I muttered some words under my breath and regained my composure.
‘Bros, I beg you now, I beg, what did she say? Please, abeg’ I pleaded passionately.
Jide laughed tauntingly and made sure he savoured my mental agony.
I finally relaxed and feigned indifference, ‘Whatever! I will ask her myself’.
My friend laughed again and again,
‘Okay, let me tell you,’ he said. ‘When I told her you would soon take the appropriate steps and ask her to marry you, she laughed and said there are just two conditions.’
‘My Lord! Two conditions?!’ I was dipped in another aqua of doubts and questions.
‘He said you should get a job before you come and that I must be your best man.’ Jide laughed when he said the second part of the sentence.
‘Is that all?’ I was glad it wasn’t a more serious prerequisite.
‘She Laughed it off and said she was only joking afterwards but I made sure I told her she shouldn’t worry about me being the best man. It was a given.’
‘Bless you, brother!’ I was glad to hear it from him.
Jide claimed the prayer and with a tone of seriousness continued,’ I have forwarded the CV you sent to our Manager and he said it looked good.’
‘So job matter should be settled within the next two months’ He added.
I was glad for his assistance and promised to pay it back whenever he needed my help too.
‘So when will you initiate the process? When will you tell her about it?’ Jide asked as the call drew to a close.
I considered the matter and thought about it for a while,
‘I think I will also see my Pastor this week and ask him for counsel’ I told him.
Jide hailed me, ‘Nice one bro, let me also begin to spread my tentacles and pinpoint one fine sister with my prayers.’
I laughed and responded, ‘Ride on! The Lord is your strength’.
We said our goodbyes and for the subsequent moments after the call ended, I held my phone between my two palms and shook my legs in pleasure and joy.
I replayed the major points of the conversation in my mind and I smiled broadly,
‘At least, Ruth knows I am coming for her’, I spoke the cheerful words into the empty room.
‘Ruth, Ruth… Sweetheart, Love, the fountain of my joy, my one and only, Wife, Mrs Victor. Ruth, my love…’ I tested the words and they sounded much more sweeter and lovelier as I said them over and over again.
Text Copyright© Victor James Wahab (VJW™) 2017
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.