Yesterday I woke up with a profound sense of gratitude.
I was excited. Simply excited about life.
My last days at work, the beginning of a new journey. Back to student life.
Back to autumn, cold and winter.
Back to going home.
I was simply excited.
Yesterday, I had no needs. I felt no lack.
I had no prayer-points; nothing I wished for.
Nothing that should be different.
Surprisingly, I just felt content.
I looked back in time:
20 months in Lagos, 20 months in safety.
I remembered horror-stories told my others;
incidents and encounters I could not relate to;
for nothing had happened to me.
My sense of joy become more overwhelming as the day drew to a close.
I thought about the terror people faced on a daily basis.
Wars and rumours of war(s).
Homicide, suicide, genocide.
I thought about Israel, Gaza; about Iraq and Syria.
West-Africa and Ebola.
I felt sad.
Tonight, I had no personal needs.
All I cried out for was for the peace of nations.
Both without and within.
And most especially among.
I felt guilty.
And so, in my guilt, I remembered the blood.
Its working power.. and its need.
I thought about many others who did not understand it.
Could not call upon it, tap into its effective power and working strength.
I felt worried.
But there was hope.
And so, leaving church, I thought it wise to strengthen myself.
Nourish myself for the things that were to come.
I felt hungry.
And so, having checked my wallet and found it wanting, I decided to stop by the cash-point.
Having bought some food, it was time to head back home. I wound the window down half-way and carried on singing.
I noticed and randomly wondered why there no Mopols (mobile police officers) right in front of the Civic Centre.
It was a comfortable drive down Ozumba. What lane should I choose now? Left, middle or right?
No check-point tonight?
“Bring your money!” it came from my left.
Wrong choice. Wrong lane!
“Madam, bring your money!” it came again.
Huh? What? Was he asking? Begging?! Oh no! He was demanding..
“I’m telling you to bring your money out now! Give me your money. You act anyhow, I will do anyhow.
See, I have a gun in this my hand. Bring your money now, abi you wan make I show you?”
No, no. Panic spreading all over my being, I was quick to pull out the remaining NGN 3400 from my wallet.
“Please, what is this? Shey na joke?” He did not seem impressed.
“I said you should bring your money!”
I’m really sorry. This is all I have. I’m sorry, I don’t have any more.
“Bring your money now! Don’t make me use my gun. What will you give me to let you go?”
The terror on my face must have terrified him too. A panic-attack drawing closer by the second.
I really don’t have anything. Turning the music lower on my phone, I dreaded his next move.
“Your earrings. They are gold. Oya, bring am. Where you buy am?”
I handed over my Topshop-earrings quickly; blessing in disguise. Who would have thought?
Desperate for not having been able to acquire more, he attempted to get into my car.
“Where you dey go? Where is your house?”
At this point, every single fibre of my being hit the panic button.
Remembering a distant relative who had just recently been attacked on the roads of Victoria Island too, raped, driven all the way to Ikeja and then dumped by the roadside, I simply could not but beg him to spare me. Or rather, believe that God would intervene..
“Okay, okay. Keep quiet. Face front. Don’t alert anyone. my boys are down the road.
You do anyhow, they will act anyhow. We will hunt you down. You hear?”
I won’t do anything. I won’t say anything. Thank you! Thank you!
I thought of stopping the car for a second to catch my breath again; to stop crying, but fear wouldn’t let me.
I did not pause until I got to my street, felt relatively safe again. Could processes the night’s event and.. thank God again.
Whereas my thanksgiving in the morning was for sparing me, I now found that he had saved me.
Not the absence of troubles, but His protecting right in their midst.
There is always something to be thankful for.
What if I hadn’t had any money on me at all? That would have been sure to provoke him all the more.
What if I had- as I do on so many days- not worn any earrings? What if they – as they are on so many days- didn’t look expensive?
What if I had – as I do on so many days- challenged this supposed threat?
Well, I’ll never know, for not of these things were.
For that I am eternally grateful.
He sure knows how to keep His own.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust