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In a level 5 class of a Montessori school somewhere in Nigeria, were two friends: Jessica and Allen. They weren’t always friends, in fact, they hated each other. Their year group teacher Mrs Joan Felix made Allen sit behind Jessica and that meant him tugging on her hair ribbons and poking her with his pencil.
One day, a sad Jessica sat alone and quiet. She was never quiet, always talking and even though Allen was happy she was quiet, he knew something was wrong. He asked, but she wouldn’t say.
During break time, Allen was in the school cafeteria and Jessica wasn’t there. Even though he disliked her, he knew that she loved her food. He ran into Tobi and Esther, two of Jessica’s friends and they said she said she wasn’t hungry.
He left his lunch and went back to class, there she was, kneeling beside her seat, hands clutched together and a picture of a pretty older woman in front of her. She made a sign of the cross and sat back. She was shocked when she saw Allen staring.
“You are back early, no food at the café or you ate all of it?” she said to him.
“You didn’t go to eat, why?”
“Ah, because I am not hungry. Who died and made you cafeteria monitor?”
“You were awfully quiet today, you didn’t go to the cafeteria and now you are praying. What is going on Jess?”
“Nothing, I am fine.”
“No you are not…..Jess, I read one time that one girl died in the US, you know what killed her? Over thinking. She refused to share with anyone what her problem was and she died alone.”
“And your point is? You should be my safe haven? Why should I even tell you when I haven’t told my best friends Tobi and Esther?”
“Because I am here, now, talking to you and they are not.”
She was silent. She could see he made an effort.
“My grandmother…..” she took a deep breath to mask her tears. “….she is sick, very sick. They are on their way to India with my mum for surgery. I am so scared Allen, what do I do? I love her so much I don’t want her to die.” she was already crying.
A lot was going through his 9 year old mind but even at that, he knew it was a lot to bear. “I love my granddad too, I can’t imagine loosing him. Jess, do what you are already doing, pray and hope. She will come out stronger and better.” He said as he pulled a chair and sat next to her.
Soon enough, break was over.
In Primary science class, Allen passed Jessica a piece of paper, it read “My grandfather prays a lot. I will see him this weekend. Write your grandmother’s name down, he’ll help pray for her.” She passed it back with the name: “Rhoda J. Marcus.”
During the weekend at his grandfather’s, Allen’s great uncle Kwaku visited. The two brothers hardly saw eye to eye, as Allen’s grandfather was a conservative catholic, who during the time of the missionaries got a scholarship to study in the US for 4 years. His brother however, is a traditionalist who still has a standing shrine in his house. It was always an unpleasant meeting for this two; with Allen’s grandfather preaching the gospel to his brother, while the brother gave him a bunch of ‘prophecies’ from the ‘gods’ that Allen’s grandfather never believed.
He had just finished praying for Allen’s friend’s grandmother in his prayer room when his brother walked into the house.
“I have a message for you Joseph, the gods sent me here” Kwaku said to his brother.
“Oh please, spare me the boring gods’ tale.”
“I mean it Joseph, the gods say you will meet someone called Josephine, she will bring you everlasting peace.” great uncle Kwaku said.
“Grandpa Joe! Could you come please?” Allen called from the back yard.
‘Grandpa Joe’ was the name Allen’s grandfather picked for himself when his daughter-in-law told him she was expecting. He said it will make him forever young if his grandchildren called him ‘grandpa Joe.’ He wanted many grand children as he himself had just Allen’s father and another girl when his wife died, the girl- Annabel, named after his favourite American professor lived to be 17 when she also died.
“If the gods have nothing more to say, I will go now.” He said to his brother as he makes his way back into the house.
Having delivered the message, he drove his old Volkswagen beetle away.
On Monday in class – Jess who was living with her God mother until her mother and grandmother returned – was exceptionally happy. She told Allen that her grandmother was in recovery post op. and they’d be home after she had had a well deserved rest. She also thanked him for his prayers and support.
Soon enough, School will break up for easter. Allen invited Jess to his house for his 10th. It was going to be at his house during the holidays. She will definitely make it, her grandmother will be back by then.
School resumed mid April. The kids chatted and caught up on the happenings in each others lives.
“How is grandpa Joe?” Jess couldn’t wait to ask Allen about his really cool grandfather. He made sure everyone had a good time at his grandson’s 10th birthday.
“He is all right I guess, but I am sad.”
“Why if I may ask, he seemed like someone I will like to have around.”
“He is old and alone.” Allen said in a somber mode.
“Alone? Yes. Old? He is the youngest person I know, his soul is young.” Jess said on a lighter note.
“Don’t let that trick you, he is 66 in a few days. Speaking of, how is your grandmother’s health?”
“After the surgery, she is as good as new! Thank grandpa Joe for praying for her again.”
Math was first period and a tall K legged man walked in. Introduced himself as Mr Tamoore, the substitute teacher, Mrs Queenston-Perry their Math teacher gave birth during the easter break.
She turned and smiled at Allen, she knew he hated people with hyphenated names. “We’ll talk more later” he whispered and sat back.
It sounded like a good idea, wait, scratch that; it sounded like a perfect idea to her.
“When do you say we do it?”She asked him.
“This weekend.”
“Isn’t that too early?” she wasn’t sure if they had any plans for the weekend but she could try.
She told her mum about the development in school. The school calendar sought to include grandparents in children’s life as much as possible. Her mother liked the idea, after all, it meant she could use the times she spends in Jess’ school for manicures.
“So when is the grand parents’ open day Jess, I need to call your grandmother.” Jess’ mum said as she dumped the nail polish remover on the kitchen counter and picked her phone to call her mum.
“Saturday 1pm.” Jess replied “All grandparents will be there.”
Mrs Rhoda was delighted, anything to make her spend more time with her granddaughter was a welcome idea.
On Saturday, she had used her mum’s phone to call Allen to confirm the deal’s still on, it was.
At 12:00 noon, Mrs Rhoda pulled up to her daughter’s house. She made a cuppa and chit chatted with her daughter who was already dressed to go out with a friend.
Soon enough, they were on the highway off to school where the open day was being held. Mrs Rhoda kept telling her daughter how excited she was to meet ‘people with silver hair’ like herself. Blah blah blah, they got to the school, just one car was at the parking area.
“We are not too early, are we?” Her grandmother asked.
“No, I think they’ll do an ‘African time’ open day” Jess said as she hopped out of the car.
Mrs Rhoda quickly used the rare view mirror to touch up her makeup. She wore a burgundy dress, it was very long with a band under her bust, and an elastic at the end of her puffed-up long sleeves. She told her daughter as she sipped her tea earlier in the house that she wanted something that said ‘I am a grandmother but I am still young’ so she remembered she had a dress she got on her last visit to Dubai.
They walked, Jess led the way. They had agreed with Allen to meet at the entrance to the reception. They arrived there just when Grandpa Joe was telling Allen how rude his school management was to still have their doors shut even though it was time.
“Oh, some people are here” Grandpa Joe said.
“It’s Jess and her grandmother.” Allen said.
Grandpa Joe could not recognise her from afar.
Looking at the gentlemen, Jess said “Hi Allen, Hi Grandpa Joe. This is my widowed grandmother.”
Looking at her grandmother she said “This is Allen’s grandfather, the one I told you prayed for you while you were in India?”
They shook hands.
“Rhoda J. Marcus” she said.
Grandpa Joe noticed she had a firm grip with her handshake, it meant she was confident and he loved confident women.
“Joseph Arbakai.” Actually Joseph was not his given name. He embraced the name when he became a christian and was baptised by the missionaries. Only his brother Kwaku new his real name and he had since warned him to desist referring to him by such a traditional and diabolical name.
“Nice to meet you Mr Arbakai, Jess told me you prayed for me while in India. Thank you so much. Your act of kindness is greatly appreciated.”
“Oh, Joe is fine. It is indeed a pleasure meeting you, Allen speaks highly of his friend’s grandmother, glad I could finally meet you.” grandpa Joe said.
There was a few seconds of silence. The kids needed this to work, if it doesn’t, then they are screwed. Jess to the rescue….
“Happy birthday in advance grandpa Joe, Allen tells me your 66th is in a few days?”
“Thank you Jess, it is tomorrow actually.”
“Happy birthday’s in order then” Rhoda said.
He thanks her.
“You and your grandmother can stop by tomorrow Jess, we’ll be having dinner. Grandpa Joe’s cooking.” Allen said.
“You cook yourself? That’s impressive” Rhoda said.
Allen said “Impressive is an under statement, wait till you taste his cooking.”
Grandpa Joe was smiling, he was happy this charming ‘young’ widow was impressed he possessed some culinary skills.
It was beginning to go just the way they planned it. It was Jess’ turn to speak.
“Speaking of, I am starving, who else wants to go to eat-dot-com to get some food?”
Allen was supposed to say ‘me’ and pull grandpa Joe by the hand, while she does same to her grandmother, but he was carried away looking at these two grown ups smiling and staring at each other, like two teenagers with butterflies in their stomachs.
“Or we could all just go to my house and I’ll have an early birthday dinner. Sort of a pre birthday meal. What do you say Rhoda?”
She was smiling and blushing now. “I’m game.”
In the house, as they cooked in the kitchen together while the grandkids watched nickelodeon, great uncle Kwaku came visiting. That was twice in less than 3 months. It was more than he had visited in the last 3 years.
He met them in the kitchen.
“What is it again Kwaku, I told you I don’t know any Josephine.” grandpa Joe snapped.
“What is it about ‘Josephine’?” Rhoda asked.
Grandpa Joe said he will tell her later.
“I just stopped by to tell you I will be going to a convention in Ilorin for all traditionalists in the country.” Great uncle Kwaku said.
“If you’d just listen to me and buy a phone, you wouldn’t need to be here to tell me this. Safe journey.”
He asked if Grandpa Joe will stop by his house occasionally to check on his German shepherd. He will do no such thing with a shrine in the house. So uncle Kwaku will bring the dog before he leaves to Ilorin.
They had dinner – which was a lot tastier than she had expected. They hung around until 8pm, but that was just because Jess’ mum called. She was worried the open day took so long.
He walks them to the car.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” he asked.
“What do you think?” she winked at him.
Jess was already belted up in her seat and Rhoda wound down the glass and started the engine.
“Oh, what was it you were saying about not knowing any Josephine?” she asked through the window.
“Nothing serious, never mind.” he replied.
“Oh okay, because my baptism name is Josephine. Rhoda Josephine Marcus. Good night.”
She zooms off and into the night she went.

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  1. Good update

  2. Wow….nice story. Love is beautiful

  3. Ok

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