Friday, 21 June 2013

HARD-PRESSED, YET NOT CRUSHED (A story)


“Aderemi, if you step out of this house, don’t even think of coming back today.” Mrs. Adara said angrily.
“But Mummy I have to go for fellowship this evening. You know I don’t always want to miss it, moreover Mr. Adeyemi would be very angry at me if I do so.” Aderemi replied.
Aderemi and Olumide were mentored by Mr. Adeyemi, their Youth Pastor.
“Exactly, that fellowship has been your problem. You go to Church like a Church Rat and we don’t see any change in your life.”
“This is your fifth year at home writing Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination every year like you are a stakeholder in their organization. Very soon JAMB will change the name they use as example on every exam question paper to your name. You better don’t step out of this house, if you intend to sleep in this house tonight.” Mrs. Adara raised her voice.

Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination is the qualifying examination written to gain admission into Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria.
“Mummy I’m sorry but sitting at home will not make me pass the exams either. Please I want to go.”
Aderemi walked out of the house with his Bible and jotter in his hands.
Mrs. Adara was furious at Aderemi her first child and son. He had passed out of the secondary school about five years now, although he passed his O’level examinations, he has been struggling with the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. He tried to apply for the Pre-degree programme severally, but he was not granted admission.

Mrs. Adara could not really explain his fanaticism for Church. Mrs. Adara, a widow and mother of two attended the same Church with her son. Aderemi was a committed steward at the youth arm of the God of miracle Church, the youth arm was called Mount Olives Youth Fellowship.

Mrs. Adara understood the fact that Aderemi needed to serve God, but she could not explain what her son’s obsession was all about. Aderemi’s younger brother was in his second year in the University, because he gained admission right after his secondary school education. He particularly did not have so much regard for God like Aderemi his brother.

Aderemi on the other hand was devoted to God, a calm and neat guy. He was not glad that he wrote the examination repeatedly, but he had to continue trying until he gained admission. His mother had suggested he take the short cut each year. She advised him to register with examination centres far away where he could be assisted in the examination hall, but he had refused profusely and explained that his faith was enough to make him scale through. This was why Mrs. Adara felt he was a stubborn-headed stagnant child.

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“Mummy please open the gate” Aderemi said aloud from the gate.

His Mother had shut the gate intentionally because of him. Aderemi returned from the fellowship around 8pm. He banged the gate severally, but Mrs. Adara who was the only one at home with Titilayo, their house-help, would not open the gate. She had instructed their house-help not to answer him when he knocked. She wanted him to return to wherever he was coming from, although it was late in the night.

Aderemi sat behind the flowers planted beautifully around the fence. He wandered away in his thought for hours until he slept off.
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“Olumide you wouldn’t believe what Mummy Deremi did to me yesterday.”  Aderemi was referring to his mother.
“What happened this time?” Olumide inquired.
“She made me sleep under the flower beds outside the gate last night.” Aderemi answered.
“You don’t mean it.”
“I am serious Olumide, She had warned me not to go to Church earlier but I insisted I was going to go. And I guess that was the punishment due.” Aderemi said on.
“I’m so sorry.” Olumide sympathized.
“Oh no problem, I was even glad it happened, at least I was counted worthy to suffer for the cause of Christ who died so that I can have life.” Aderemi adjusted in the chair he sat in the Afolabi’s house.
“You call that affliction? Remi”
Olumide giggled.
“Then what is it, if not affliction, such attitude from a mother? Aderemi remarked.
“I bet you don’t want to see afflictions. Go and ask Paul, Peter, Stephen and the likes what afflictions means.” Olumide gestured.”
Oh, you mean that? At least this is affliction at my own level. Moreover is it not better than yours. You don’t face any Jury before you go to Church or anywhere.”  Aderemi said.
“Anyway, there are different strokes for different folks.”
“What of Toba? I mean have you heard from him since he returned to school?” Olumide asked. Toba was their third friend.
“Toba is a big boy now. Once he gets to school, he forgets everyone else. You know he’s very lucky to gain admission before us.” Aderemi replied.
Olumide added, “He is very fortunate, you know. It’s just that he has refused to give his life to Christ.”
“Exactly, that is the only part of his life that saddens me, but Mummy Deremi would not stop referring to him, as an example of somebody I should follow simply because he has gained admission.” Remi said.
“Why does your mother think that way? Why does She think gaining admission, is all that life is about.”  Olumide continued.
“For me life lessons are not learnt inside the four walls of the University. If Toba doesn’t give his life to Christ, he would only end up a successful failure."

Aderemi said quickly, “Don’t even try to say that around Mummy Deremi, once you haven’t gained admission, you are nowhere in life."
Aderemi, Olumide and Toba attended Citadel Boys Grammar School in Shagamu, Ogun State Nigeria. They were friends all through their senior secondary days. They were all intimate friends, and also unbelievers until some group of corps members came to preach in their school. They were advised to keep themselves busy in a bible based Church.

It’s been five years since they graduated from Citadel Boys Grammar School; the trio wore the same attire on their valedictory service. When Olumide and Aderemi gave their life to Christ back then in school, Toba did not.

One day when the three of them were not yet born-again back then in school; they trio went to fellowship one faithful Thursday for prayer meeting in the evening. They attended a boarding school. During prayers that evening, Toba, Olumide, and Deremi dozed on their feet.
The prayers were over but they were still on their feet, dozing.
The person that led the prayers announced if there was anybody that wanted to give his life to Christ, some people did stand up. The Ushers were asked to help them to the altar. Since Toba, Olumide, Aderemi were still on their feet, they were ushered forward that day. They had to give their life to Christ compulsorily. They hurried out of the fellowship immediately they were told to go their seat.
Toba always referred to that day as the day he gave his life to Christ, each time his two friends implored him to become a believer. He would say he was already born-again, and did not see any reason why he should be born-again twice.
They persuaded him all the time, but he wouldn’t comply. To make the matter worse he gained admission before the seemingly two spiritual ones. Why should I give my life Christ, to lose my admission? This was the question he posed at them each time they preached to him.
He studied Pharmacy in the University. Toba’s parents were quite rich, as well as Olumide’s. Olumide was luckier because his parents made his spiritual work easier. Although he had not gained admission also, his parents did not hold him back from serving God. He was released at home whenever he wanted unlike Aderemi Adara, his best friend who was always prepared for a fight each time he wanted to go to Church.
Mrs. Adara brought up her two sons in a three-bedroom apartment in Shagamu. She taught Biology in a Secondary School there in Shagamu. A strict woman to the core.
Although she loved her sons dearly, she was always nagging at Aderemi her first son, because of the delay in his academics, she ridiculed him before his younger brother always.

Aderemi did not enjoy it each time his mother started the drama, but he knew it was a phase that would pass. Serving God has become his hubby.

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“Where exactly are you coming from young man?”

Mrs. Adara raised her voice as she removed her glasses and turned away from the television towards the door, where Aderemi stood.
“I am coming from Olumide’s house Ma.” Aderemi replied.
Aderemi’s timing that afternoon was imperfect; he was supposed to return to the house before 2:30 pm, when his mum returned from work.
He used to go visiting during her school hours, and return, just before Mrs. Adara walked in, today was an exception as he arrived home 2:45pm.
“You mean the same Olumide who has always encouraged you to be lazy right? Your best friend in failure! I hope you remember your exams would be coming up next month?” She fired on.
“Yes Mummy.”
“And you still go around visiting like you are in the follow-up unit in church.”
“I promise you, this is the last time I would pay for your UTME form. If you do not gain admission this year, then you are left to yourself. At least by then you should be receiving an award from JAMB, as the most consistent customer they’ve got. Because I don’t know why you should always let JAMB use your money to plant flowers.
“But Mummy…it is not like I watch football like every other guy does, neither do I drink nor go clubbing.” Aderemi defended himself.
“Is that what you have to say? Don’t worry, go ahead and watch football, don’t even watch it alone, come and open a viewing centre in front of your mother’s house.”
Mrs. Adara hissed as she returned to watch her soap opera.

Aderemi walked to his room quietly and imagined how on earth his father managed to cope with this woman. He imagined if there was any time his father lost his job and how his mother would have reacted to such a situation.
…………………………………………,.…………………………
It was few months after the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. Aderemi and Olumide both passed the examination, but Aderemi failed his Post-UTME. It appeared tougher by the year, this time there were about 50,000 candidates present for the examination and the University Admission Unit could only grant about 4,000 candidates  a place in the University.
Olumide on the other hand was lucky; he passed all his exams and was given admission to study medicine, his course of choice in the University.
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“Yes come in.”
 Mrs. Adara answered from the living room where she sat in a chair and crossed her legs on the table before her, watching the television as usual.
“Good afternoon Ma.” Sister Toluwanimi said.
Mrs. Adara recognized Toluwanimi from their Church, but she didn’t know understand what she was doing in their house that afternoon.
“Good afternoon dear.” She answered, still wondering why she was here. Mrs. Adara did not enjoy receiving visitors most of the time.
The fact that she lost her husband quite early in their marriage, left her with a scar, she had buried her joy in loneliness. This influenced the way she brought her children up. There was no joy in their home. It was always quiet in there. They were not allowed to bring in friends, or visit one. They have been in their world ever since they lost their father in a ghastly motor accident.
“Have your seat.”
Sister Toluwanimi settled in one of the chairs.
“I am here to see Brother Deremi.” She said.
“Hope there is no problem?” Mrs. Adara asked.
“Not at all Ma, I just decided to check on him.” Sister Toluwanimi said courteously.
“OK. Aderemi! Aderemi! She beckoned on her son.”
“Yes Mummy.” Aderemi ran to the sitting room right away.
“Toluwanimi here said she came to visit you." Mrs. Adara said mischievously.
“Ok Ma. Sister Tolu good afternoon.”
Deremi said, as he tried to sit down close to her in the living room.
“Are you trying to sit down in this living room with me? You dare bring a visitor to this house when you have not gained admission.” Mrs. Adara screamed.

She had turned herself to a bitter woman ever since, and she had shared her bitterness with her sons, although they rejected it. Deremi could not wait to leave that house for school; he wanted to leave more than his mother wanted him. He believed their father’s death was nobody’s fault, not even his company that asked him to go and represent them at a conference in Abuja on that faithful day he died in the terrible accident.
Sister Toluwanimi quickly spoke in his defense. “I’m sorry Ma, but he didn’t invite me over, I just decided to check on him, because I didn’t see him in fellowship last evening.”
Mrs. Adara wouldn’t take that excuse.
“I see… so it was in Church you stayed all the time and you gained admission and even graduated with a second class upper division right?
“But Ma, the measure of a man’s life is not his certificate.” Tolu said
Probably she didn’t know Mrs. Adara well enough except in Church where everyone is dressed well, polite and lift up holy hands unto the Lord.
“You dare come to my house and preach to me. Get up!”
Mrs. Adara did not care if she was a member of her Church or not.

Toluwanimi jerked. She felt since Mrs. Adara was a member of their Church, She should be able to speak before her. Moreover she is a woman and should be more approachable.
Aderemi who was already on his feet, stood their quietly.
Aderemi managed to see Toluwanimi off. Toluwanimi expressed her surprise to Deremi as they walked out of their compound. Deremi told her she should have waited till next Sunday when he would automatically come to Church. He also apologized for His mother’s mean behaviour.

…………………………To be continued…………………………….