Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

Of bad mothers and husbands: Part 2

My maternal grandmother taught me what kindness means; to love with an unselfish love, and to never judge or condemn anyone. Since she died in 2013, I’ve always felt grandmother-less. Funny, or sad thing is, my paternal grandmother is alive and kicking, but when I think of her, I’m not overcome by any feeling of warmth, or affection. I just feel very indifferent towards her. Reason being, she’s the reason mom was never accepted by her in-laws; she was shunned the day dad took her home, because she was poor.

As if that was not enough, even after they got married in church, she’s always been trying to remove her from dad’s life; and as an extension of her unfounded hatred for mom, she’s always hated my sisters and I because we’re the progeny of a poor woman. She never took time to know us, but somehow she still detests our existence. How is that Christ-like?

Whenever I hear dad talking about her, I get the impression he yearns for his mother’s love. He’s always trying to get her validation, but somehow, it never comes. I pity him. Seeing as dad works out of town, mom went to visit him about a month ago, and she stayed there for two weeks. Normally I don’t trust mom to be in safe hands when she’s alone with dad, I mean, it’s one of the reasons I developed an anxiety disorder in my teenagehood when I was away in boarding school; I always feared he’d harm her.

Owing to that, I made a point of calling mom every day, just to check on her. On the days I was too busy to call, I’d ensure my small sister did. Most of the days she sounded happy, but on other days she’d be sounding so disgruntled, saying how dad was acting up. For instance, at night he’d be drinking with the music blaring so she couldn’t sleep.

However, one afternoon she told me of a heart-rending conversation she had with dad. Though she did not delve into the finer details of that conversation, she told me dad almost cried, while telling her how he was so sure his mom doesn’t love him. I know he’s right because out of him and his three siblings, two of whom are now deceased, his mom loved his two older siblings more. In case you’re wondering, she did not love them because she thought they were virtuous. Nope! She just loved them because of their fat bank accounts, and deep pockets.

In that regard, her second son, may he rest in peace, was her favourite. Weirdly though, he left very many baby mamas (‘wives’) and children, some of whom were being introduced to the family during the wakes. The mother encouraged his promiscuity, because if he was a bachelor, she would get to benefit financially, from his lack of obligations to any wife and kids.

It is no wonder, consequent to his death, she’s one of the aggrieved parties in an intestate succession case, claiming a share of his estate; not just a small percentage, but a huge chunk of it. When my dad was almost tearing up talking about his mother, mom comforted him, telling him God always finds a way to balance things because He gave him a loving wife and children, to make up for his mom’s shortcomings.

I silently wondered if dad would have turned out different if he’d accepted his mother’s preferential treatment of his siblings sooner. He’s been in denial pretty much all his life, until recently, when he couldn’t ignore it any longer. She was being too obvious about it.

Of bad mothers and husbands: Part 1

My maternal grams was a very kind woman, God rest her soul in eternal peace. I have very fond memories of her; whenever we visited her, she’d let me sleep in her bed because I was named after her. That’s not say she loved me more than she loved my sisters; on the contrary, she loved us equally. When she smiled, she had this warm, calming vibe, that was the epitome of sincerity and good heartedness. Even when she admonished someone occasionally for something wrong they’d done, it was never with malice, or to belittle them.

I know she was a wonderful woman because somehow she managed to see dad’s goodness. Even when he erred majorly, she treated him with so much love and warmth. To date, dad loves her. Every once in a while, he will say something nice about her. For instance, there was this day mom and I were watching this South Korean drama, and there was this dramatic scene, where a woman was about to slap her daughter because she’d just brought home the man she loved to meet her parents.

The woman’s main bone of contention was that her soon-to-be son-in-law was a webtoon artist; a profession that’s apparently considered lowly by the moneyed folks. Ergo, this woman just couldn’t bear the thought of having one for a son-in-law, because he would be the sole, painful reason she’s gossiped by her fellow rich women during social gatherings.

Dad, who was on his annual leave, was just seated there scrolling through his phone, and he just happened to look up when that part was playing. Seconds later the show ended, and I stood to leave. As I walked to the kitchen, I heard him tell mom, “Your mom never treated me like that. My mother, on the other hand, treats me like that to date. She’s a very materialistic woman”, he sighed dejectedly. It broke my heart to hear him say that because I understood where he was coming from.

He ran away from home when he was only a teenager, I think, because he could not bear to live with his overly strict mother. Being strict is not unheard of when it comes to parenting; I mean, mom has raised my sisters and I by instilling that fear of her wrath in us. Thankfully, I got to a point where I realised it wasn’t her wrath I should be afraid of, but God’s; and that’s been my guiding principle to date. With dad’s mom, it was cruelty masqueraded as strictness.

When she cooked meat, dad wouldn’t get his serving unless he said grace to her satisfaction. I know she grew up Catholic, but later on changed to Protestantism subsequent to her divorce, seeing as divorces are frowned upon, and the church doesn’t allow one to remarry, unless the marriage has been annulled, under Canon Law. When she got saved, she ditched her ‘party girl’ habits and adopted this strict religiousness, which I’ve always found problematic since I was a child; it’s hard for me to reconcile her ‘saved-ness’, with all the wicked things she does.

My understanding of getting ‘saved’, is that one accepts Jesus as their personal Saviour, and as such, they abide to live by the teachings prescribed in the Bible; New testament especially, where Jesus outlaws some teachings from the Old Testament, like the law of Moses encouraging ‘an eye for an eye’.

Being a Christian means to be a follower of Jesus Christ; to be guided by the precepts of Christ; to be Jesus-like. Tithing, fasting, attending church services and reciting prayers isn’t to be Christ-like. On the contrary, it is how we conduct ourselves when it comes to our treatment of other people, with respect to Jesus’ greatest commandment: to love God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbours. This is the hallmark of Christianity. Anything contrary to that is just hypocrisy on heels.

Children; who will protect them? Part 4

She went to great pains explaining to mom how she ran away from home because she felt her parents hated her. Upon mom’s enquiry as to when all that started, she said she started drinking excessively and dating girls when she was thirteen. That young age had the cogs in my head turning…

While some people may argue childhood is a social construct, depending on when different communities deem a person is no longer a child, I associate myself with the provisions of Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives the legal definition of a child as, a human being under the age of eighteen.

At thirteen this young lady was only a child, right in her first year of teenagehood. While she may have already formed her own perception of things generally, and her particular tastes and preferences defined, any parental guidance at that point in time would have, in my opinion, bore more fruits. Had anyone paid more attention to her, so much could have been resolved. Now at 27, whatever damage that could have been done is arguably done. Consequently, the only way forward is healing.

Her aunt told mom she had suggested her niece goes to rehab, but the niece had refused vehemently. I couldn’t blame her. While her alcoholism may be deemed an ill that requires fixing, to her it is a coping mechanism. Therefore, in my thinking, the particular problem that needs to be addressed is why she drinks. Chances are, when that problem is fixed, she will, hopefully, on her own volition quit drinking.

On that same note, I found it very inappropriate for the aunt to be suggesting ‘going for prayers’ as the solution to her niece’s problems. Granted, as a Christian I understand where she was coming from because most of the time I believe prayers will fix everything.

However, for someone going through an emotional crisis, prayers might not feel appealing at all. In any case, when someone is down in the dumps, struggling with a certain issue, the first thought going on in their mind is, ‘God has deserted me’. Truth is, it is really hard to pray when one’s faith has faltered.

Maybe the aunt thought prayers would turn her gay niece straight, but then again, that is also a wrong approach in my thinking. It is true, prayers bring about miracles; but in this case, the million dollar question is, is homosexuality a problem that needs fixing?

Children; who will protect them? Part 3

My story makes me slow to judge others. People look ‘normal’ on the outside, but deep down I know they could be battling serious issues, owing to traumatic pasts. There’s this niece of our neighbour I used to despise, until recently. She came off as arrogant, and it was with so much patience I barely managed to get through two seconds of rudimentary conversation with her.

They are next door neighbours, but interestingly, our engagement with them is purely business.  When Covid came, the whole ‘working-from-home’ arrangement disorganized things a lot; with teachers being some of the most affected, as they had to stay home until their respective schools came up with a feasible ‘online classes’ plan. In light of this, seeing as our neighbour is a teacher, she ended up getting into an eggs-supplying business pro tem; and that’s where we come in.

When we found out they were supplying eggs, we decided to be buying from them. Initially we’d deal with our neighbour, the teacher, or her husband; but when Covid restrictions were lifted and people went back to work, our neighbour’s niece was left in charge of the business; and boy, was the young missy rude!

At some point, we felt we couldn’t deal with her anymore, so we stopped buying from them. Problem was, their eggs are comparatively big, and they never go bad even when someone buys in bulk. See, one of the habits we acquired during Covid was to purchase things in bulk to avoid instances of them running out when there were lockdowns/movement restrictions. Given that eggs have a shelf-life of thirty days only, it soon dawned on us that our neighbours’ quality was second to none.

After a careful deliberation, we decided to go back to our neighbours’ shop, because when it comes to food, one can’t compromise on quality. Ergo, with regard to the mean girl, we decided to deal directly with the shop’s owners: the teacher and her husband. Mom would call her, then her husband would deliver them in the evening. We didn’t have to deal with their rude niece anymore.

Remember when I said in Part 2 of this post, that there’s usually more than meets the eye? Rude girl wasn’t an exception. In any case, her wounds run so deep, that it might take years for her to heal. I started off despising her, but once I became privy to ‘Her Truth’, my perception of her took a complete 180º turn. Now all I feel for her is pity.

About two months ago, mom passed by their shop and she found our neighbour and her niece. I’m thinking mom walked in on them having a spat, and our neighbour started complaining about her niece’s unruly behaviour. She told mom she’d been requesting the young lady to go to church and get prayed for, but she wouldn’t hear any of that.

Obviously mom got curious and needless to say, went ahead to ask what the problem was. Our neighbour told mom her niece is an alcoholic. In her defence, the young lady told mom she drinks to numb the pain of rejection by people she thought loved her. Turns out, they ostracized her when they learnt she’s gay.

Though I wasn’t there to see mom’s reaction, I bet she must have felt particularly uncomfortable with the subject, owing to the fact that when it comes to sexual orientation, she’s very ‘close-minded’ about it. I can’t blame her though; she grew up in a very religious setting. I mean, she was literally on her way to the convent to become a nun when dad waylaid her.

Furthermore, in her younger days, the internet, which plays a vital role in advocating for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community, was not as prominent as it is today. Ergo, matters revolving around homosexuality were practically taboo. I cringed, imagining the young lady’s plight; given her sensitive situation, then having mom and her religious aunt as her advisors? I’d imagine she was caught between a rock and a very hard place.

The God of Impossibilities: Part 2

The story of Sarah is a perfect example of how God is a God of impossibilities. In our finite minds we despair, when what we seek seems to take forever to be granted. Nonetheless, what we need to do from the aforementioned example is to pray with steadfast faith, because God listens. He may tell us ‘NO’, but that is only because in His infinite wisdom He knows whatever we’re asking for would bring us more harm than good.

In Luke 11: 1-13, Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray. In a nutshell, He teaches them how to say the “Our Father” prayer, which is a simple, but all inclusive prayer. Furthermore, He encourages the disciples to ‘Seek, Knock and Ask’, saying, “For everyone who asks will receive, and He who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks”.

Sometimes praying becomes monotonous, and we end up reciting prayers, instead of praying. Speaking from the perspective of a Catholic, most of our prayers are structured, such that there are specific prayers for varying issues. This, I have noticed over time, puts someone in a position where they are saying prayer, but not necessarily praying. There’s a clear distinction between those two.

From experience, I find the best way of praying is to meditate on those structured prayers, and where one finds difficulty in praying, they should just imagine they’re having a one-on-one conversation with God. Talk to Him like He’s seated right in front of you. That usually helps one find the motivation to pray.

CeCe Winans’ song, ‘Believe for it’, pumps me up with the need to wait on the Lord, because though we’re discouraged, feeling like our situation is just impossible to deal with, her words are a reminder that nothing is impossible to God; because ‘From the impossible, we’ll see a miracle’.

Here’s an excerpt of the song’s lyrics:

They say this mountain can’t be moved

They say these chains will never break

But they don’t know You like we do

There is power in Your name

We’ve heard that there is no way through

We’ve heard that the tide will never change

They haven’t seen what You can do

There is power in Your name

So much power in Your name

Move the immovable

Break the unbreakable

God, we believe for it

From the impossible

We’ll see a miracle

God, we believe

God we believe for it

In my understanding, God is infinitely wise, and kind. He grants us our requests, out of His infinite goodness. Sometimes we may get a ‘NO’ from Him, because our desires are not aligned with His good intentions for us; and sometimes, He tells us ‘WAIT’, because though He intends to grant us that which we desire, the timing might be off.

In light of this, we need to keep praying, because praying opens our eyes of faith. The more we pray, the more we realize what God’s intentions for us are. Furthermore, seeing as Jesus told us to seek, knock and ask, praying opens the doors of God’s mercy. That is why Jesus said, “For everyone who asks will receive, and He who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks”.

The God of Impossibilities: Part 1

“Why does God take forever to answer our prayers?” That’s a question most of us keep asking, especially when we immerse ourselves in incessant praying… and fasting… and alms giving…. To be honest, it gets really frustrating when one feels they’ve given it their all, and there is nothing to show for it.

Well, technically, God is always answering our prayers. In a previous post, ‘Why God will say NO’, I talked about the answers God gives us when we pray: it could be ‘YES’, ‘NO’, or ‘WAIT’. In my thinking, it’s the two latter responses that seem to trouble most of us, because it is hard to know when God is denying us our fervent requests, for reasons best known to Him; and when He’s telling us ‘Yes, but you’ll have to wait”.

From my own experience, I know it’s extremely hard to wait for something when it feels like one’s survival/happiness depends on whatever it is they’re waiting for. It is even worse, when one’s required to wait, not just for a couple of days or months, but for years!

For instance, I have read stories of married women, who waited for close to a decade or more, to receive their little bundles of joy. I’m just imagining how hard it is for someone to wait that long, when they have nagging in-laws, who think only a woman’s health issues could contribute to childlessness; or, those who erroneously tie a woman’s fertility to their ability to be a good wife.

Recently in church we read about the Biblical story of Sarah. In Genesis 18: 1-15, we’re told about how the Lord promised Abraham a son. God appeared to him in the form of three men (I’m assuming that was the Holy Trinity), and one of them told Abraham, “Nine months from now I will come back, and your wife Sarah will have a son”.

Sarah, who at the time was hiding behind their tent’s door overheard, and she laughed. I’m thinking she thought that was utterly ridiculous seeing as she and Abraham were very old, and she had even reached menopause. In Genesis 11: 27-29, the descendants of Terah, the father of Abraham (at the time called Abram) are listed; and in verse 30 it’s written, ‘Sarai (Sarah) was not able to have children’. In short, she’d already been written off as barren.

When the Lord heard Sarah laughing, He asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Can I really have a child when I’m so old’? Is anything too hard for the Lord? As I said, nine months from now I will return, and Sarah will have a son”. Sarah had thought getting a child in her old age was impossible, and arguably so; but just as the Lord had promised, she bore Abraham a son when he was one hundred years old.

After the birth of Isaac (Genesis 21: 1-8), Sarah laughed again; this time round not out of cynicism, but out of sheer joy. What she had thought was impossible, had come to pass! “Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me,” she said. “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have a borne him a son in his old age”.

Sarah’s initial scepticism isn’t hard to understand. She was old, and though someone might argue those were the Biblical years that had Methuselah (the oldest human being), living to nine hundred and sixty nine years, I’d like to point out that in Genesis 6:3 God had already capped man’s mortality at one hundred and twenty years.

To buttress the same, in Genesis 23: 1, Sarah died at the age of one hundred and twenty seven, whereas Abraham died ‘at the ripe old age’ of one hundred and seventy five (Genesis 25: 7-8). So yes, for the avoidance of doubt, Sarah and Abraham were very old when Isaac was born.

Sarah’s story is one of great encouragement. That no matter how much we feel the odds are stacked against us, we should not get discouraged; therefore we shouldn’t stop praying. We should remember that God’s power is limitless; He makes a way, where there is none; because He is a God of impossibilities.

The Price You Pay in Exchange for God’s Favour

God’s will, will not take you where His grace won’t sustain you!” This is the great message I got from New Year’s Mass.

On New Year’s Day, we were celebrating the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the Mother of God. Such a great title that one! As a Catholic, one of the biggest misconceptions I find people have about Mary, is that we worship her. Truth is, we revere her for the great role she played, in her immaculate conception of our Lord Jesus, and the untold suffering she went through as a mother, during the Passion of Christ.

This moment is accurately captured in the Pieta, a great chef-d’oeuvre by Michelangelo, which is a depiction of the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of her son Jesus. According to the Catholic Catechism, she was born without sin because God had already picked her to be the mother of His Son Jesus.

The Pieta by Michelangelo

Even when we recite the proverbial ‘Hail Mary’, we say, “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you amongst all women…” If you think about it, it is such an honour to be the Mother of God. However, the truth is, this title came with unmitigated hardship.

She wasn’t just relaxing at home, oblivious to everything, when her son was being crucified on the cross. On the contrary, she walked the entire journey with Him, and watched as He carried the heavy cross, and as He was mercilessly whipped and jeered by the crowds of people.

She watched as He was stripped naked and nailed to the cross; watched when He was stabbed with a spear on His side and disdainfully bedecked with a crown of thorns… she watched as He called out in pain, asking God why He had forsaken Him (Matthew 27: 46).

It must have been a harrowing experience for a mother to see her beloved son go through so much pain, and not be in a position to do anything about it, because that was His destiny. In light of this, it’s only right that she is venerated as the Mother of God, and the Queen of Heaven. She intercedes for us, given her close relationship with our Lord Jesus.

Mother Mary’s pain, is what the Priest focused on as he gave his homily on New Year’s Day. Other than the dazzling display of fireworks as the cross strikes midnight on December 31st, the other thing synonymous with New Year celebrations are the messages of hope shared. We all hope for better days, for God’s favour to be upon us.

However, there is the age old question… While we are so ready to receive the blessings, are we ready to accept God’s will in our lives? Mary acquired the title ‘Mother of God’, the instant she accepted God’s will in her life, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done to me according to Thy word”.

The priest was saying, sometimes God will make you a refugee in another country, before His favour is made manifest. Case in point was how Mary and Joseph had to flee with their son Jesus to Egypt, when they found out King Herod wanted to kill the child. For someone like Joseph, the son of Jacob, he was thrown in a pit by his brothers and sold off as a slave in Egypt (Genesis 37:2), before being promoted to administrator. That was the equivalent of a prime minister.

The priest was saying, “You pray for a job, and when you don’t get it you stop praying, and you stop going to church because you feel God has failed you. Little do you know, God saw your future and realised that job was going to kill you. You meet a person you like and you decide that’s the person you want to marry. But when you don’t get that person you stop praying and stop going to church. Again, God protected you from that person because He knew that person would kill you”.

Praying for God’s favour means trusting in Him, and accepting His will. He only has good intentions for us, but as it is in life, those blessings are usually preceded by difficulties and misery. Jesus, His own Son suffered. While He was praying at the garden of Gethsemane, He asked God the Father to take away the cup of suffering from Him… yet, He still asked for God’s will to be done (Luke 22: 42).

What this shows us is that sometimes, God’s blessings are preceded by hardship. Nonetheless, what we should focus on are the benefits; the triumph. What we need to remind ourselves is that God’s will, will not take us, where His grace is not sufficient; where His grace won’t sustain us (Psalms 91).

Therefore, as we pray and hope for a Happy and Prosperous New Year, we need to remember that if we want God’s favour we must be ready to submit ourselves to His will. It may not always be pleasant, but once we trust in Him, we will eventually rip the beautiful benefits like Mary, Jesus and Joseph above. Thus, accepting God’s will in our lives is the price we have to pay in exchange for His abundant favour.

Year 2021 is Almost Gone: Part 2

Seeing as dad has this deplorable habit of throwing us under the bus whenever he messes up and he’s subsequently called to account for his actions, mom just decided to be honest about it. “I’m sorry you have to hear this from me, but lately your brother has become a pathological liar,” she told him point blank.

Weirdly, he did not sound surprised, because he could relate with what mom was telling him. In any case, he told mom he and their sister had forbidden dad from calling them when drunk because he was just saying hurtful things. Before calling mom, he’d called dad to ask him why he never went to visit their mom as had been agreed, and that’s when dad had decided to flagrantly pin the blame on us.

By the time dad was showing up on Christmas day, we were all feeling betrayed by him, and given how he’d been avoiding us, we had not thought he would come. I can almost bet he gets riled up when he sees us happy because from the moment he set foot in the house, he was just saying offensive things, being all morbid and stuff.

He was literally doing the count down to the end of Christmas. Every time he’d be like, “It’s three hours to midnight, Christmas is almost over… let’s celebrate, because calamities are coming!” Up until now I’m trying to figure what he meant by that and it gives me the chills.

This year the Christmas Spirit was markedly elusive in my family. We didn’t put up the Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve… and even when we did, it felt like we were doing it out of obligation, as opposed to it being a cherished family tradition, where we do it with Christmas carols playing in the background.

Growing up, I’ve always loved the Christmas season, because even though our Christmases have always been marred by violence, there’s that joyful atmosphere that makes even sad moments feel less daunting… they scud away easily like dark clouds on a sunny day, so they don’t linger.

Nonetheless, it was different this year. The joyful feeling did not make an appearance, even pro tem. We enjoyed the scrumptious food that was eaten with dad’s sarcastic barbs reverberating across the room… He did all the talking while the rest of us listened painfully. We were trying to spend time together but he just couldn’t help sabotaging it.

At around 10.00pm in the evening mom had gotten tired of listening to his snide monologues, and when she asked him to give it a rest, he erupted… and so did she. Like it’s always been every Christmas, they ended up arguing. My sisters and I retired to our rooms, leaving them to shout their hearts out.

Unlike the younger version of me, who was scared of Christmas ending because that signified the end of the much awaited festivities, I was actually happy the day was over. That way I wouldn’t put myself under the pressure of pretending to be happy and purporting to celebrate, when I was awash with dejection.

Boxing Day was just another boring day in our house. There was nothing festive about it, other than the food, which wasn’t enough to conjure up the Christmas Spirit all on its own. We’re definitely thankful for the food, and for good health, which is a treasure… All I’m saying is, like last year, I’m still thinking Pentatonix must have been singing about my family when they sang, “Where are you Christmas?”

On 27th dad went back and even though Christmas is over, we’ve been trying to salvage the situation, listening to carols and enjoying the peace and quiet afforded to us by his absence. Now we’re staring at the last two days before we bid adieu to Year 2021, and usher in the New Year.

A couple of months ago, or so it feels, this year started. Most of us entered into it with so much trepidation, especially after being assaulted by the novel Corona virus in 2020. Very many activities had almost ground to a halt, and it was because of that intense fear of the unknown that this year was laced with so many uncertainties, for most of us at least.

As we do the countdown to the New Year, it’s good to look back and see what we’re grateful for so far. From experience, it’s hard to be happy when there’s so much sadness around you. Nonetheless, I usually encourage people to look at their circumstances, not through the eyes of happy and content people, but through the eyes of those in need.

It’s easy to disregard a plate of food, if you’ve never gone hungry… It’s easy to disregard a roof over your head, if you’ve never been homeless… Some people rarely get sick, so they don’t realise monetary wealth is nothing without good health. These are the simple things we need to be thankful for.

You may be feeling discouraged for unachieved resolutions… but counting the small blessings helps us realise how lucky we are… for tomorrow, and those unachieved dreams, I like to believe God’s got it all under control… Just put your trust beyond the sky…

As we wrap up the year, I wish you all a blessed end of year, and a very Happy & Prosperous New Year 2022!

After the Long Wait!

After seven long years of studying law, I finally got admitted to the bar last week Tuesday. I must admit, it still feels so surreal; that reality is yet to sink in. Funny thing is, the week before my admission was nerve-racking. I knew I was supposed to be feeling all kinds of excited, but somehow, the feeling I could clearly identify was anxiety.

I didn’t know how the day’s events would unfold, and that sort of put me on edge. It didn’t even help that when I told my dad I was getting admitted, he had just mumbled a nonchalant, “Ok!” There was no “Congratulations” or anything positive. His reaction was akin to that of someone who’d just heard something so ordinary like, “Hey dad, I’m stepping out to get some fresh air”.

Honestly, that was not the reaction I had expected. For two seconds I almost felt like crying. Then I took in a deep calming breath, and reminded myself he had been an absentee father all through. Since I got into law school, he had never asked to see my transcripts. To most students that would have been a delight, but to me it gave me the impression he did not give a rat’s arse.

What he was so concerned about was the money he was paying. The beginning of each semester was a nightmare. He would behave like he didn’t know there was tuition money to be paid, so my sisters, mom and I would sit him down to convince him to pay my school fees. Interestingly, he was always hoping someone would screw up, say getting knocked up, so he’d have the perfect excuse to bail.

I remember when I was in campus, I was just avoiding relationships like a plague, because I knew if I hooked up with some guy I was seeing and by sod’s law I ended up pregnant, my dad would have the perfect excuse to cut me off. I could almost see the triumph on his face.

Unfortunately for him, that never happened. In any case, I just got almost perfect grades, which he never got to see until I had graduated. Again, not because he asked to see them, but because I volunteered to show them to him so he could see his money’s worth.

The entire time I was studying, I never, even for a single second, felt like my dad was proud of me… and if I ever had any doubts in my mind, his reaction when I told him I was finally getting admitted to the bar was all the confirmation I needed. He couldn’t care less…

Then I thought to myself, why would he care? He wasn’t there when I came home tormented because some lecturer was sexually harassing me. I was my class’ president for four years and that had me interacting with lecturers a lot.

Sadly, some of them seemed to be under the misguided notion that a student in such a leadership position would have no qualms trading in sexual favours for good grades. Therefore it came as a surprise to them when I turned their advances down… and the bitter ones did not have the grace to accept rejection, so they just gave me bad grades to prove they had the power.

Nonetheless, I did not go begging for remarks… and the institution’s administration was so complacent about it, so there was no reprieve for aggrieved students like me. I went home, told my mom and sisters about it, and I’d still go on with my studies like everything was hunky dory.

Dad wasn’t aware of the hell I went through to get here; and for that, I won’t hold his nonchalance against him. As my admission day drew closer I was afraid he would deliberately screw my special day up, seeing as he’d been in a foul mood since he’d come home on leave about a week before then. Worst part was, I did not even know why he was all sulky.

His attitude notwithstanding, I reminded myself I had every reason to celebrate that day. All that matters is I got where I needed to be. I’m now certified to practice law. I can comfortably walk into a courtroom and seek the court’s audience. That’s all that matters to me really.

Best part is, I’m a human rights lawyer, and that makes me particularly happy because that equips me to fight for the issues close to people’s hearts. As I took my solemn oath to uphold the rule of law and administration of justice, all robed up and with my barrister’s wig on my head, I thanked God for granting me such a massive blessing.

In case you’re wondering, dad sort of came around on my admission day and gave me a congratulations hug right after the admission; and for a few hours he actually seemed happy about it. Then he got himself into a drunken stupor for the next two days, purporting to celebrate… made everyone miserable with his drunken rumblings… and after he sobered up he went back to his sulky state.

It’s taken me seven years to get here… Were it not for the Covid disruptions, this would have happened last year, but it’s better late than never. This milestone is a reminder that God answers prayers. If you’re going through something and that break through isn’t coming, don’t give up…

Recently I came through this motivational quote: “God’s plan is always the best. Sometimes the process is painful and hard, but don’t forget that when God is silent, He’s doing something for you”.

The Voice Within: Part 2

My friend gave me a detailed account of how her boyfriend had convinced her into skipping work for a week, and how she had her friends loan her money to facilitate their getaway. Consequently, her boss had been calling enquiring about her whereabouts and she was afraid she was going to get fired.

Furthermore, pretty much everything the boyfriend had told her about himself since they met was hot air. He was not even remotely an eighth of the established man he had misrepresented himself to be. He was impecunious, and unemployed.

Owing to this, she did not know how she was going to pay back all the money she had borrowed from friends; and all this, she found out from her parents, who had decided to go digging for information when their daughter went missing.

Worse still, her parents were furious at her for sneaking off with her boyfriend, who in their opinion was as irresponsible as they came. In their opinion, no responsible guy would let a woman he loved get into trouble with all her loved ones, and her employer. It was all so messy, and I felt sorry for my friend, for being caught up in such a quandary. Love had put her in this mess.

For five long hours we just talked on the phone. She cried, poured her heart out, and I interjected occasionally, comforting her. Honestly, heart breaking as her situation was, I was relieved it was not something that would put her in conflict with the law.

Like I said before, I had a feeling the relationship was doomed to fail. There were red signs at every turn, and as such, the writings were very clear on the wall. I just hoped the pain would be bearable for my friend, when the split finally happened.

When she told me how she had broken up with the manipulative boyfriend after finding out about all the lies he’d fed her since they met, I told her I had prayed for God to guide her. I feared she was in danger and love had blinded her, so she could not see the abyss she was walking into. In light of that, I told her I was of the opinion everything that was unfolding was God’s way of guiding her.

One thing I’m gradually learning as I go along, is that God’s Holy Spirit usually talks to us. Nonetheless, most of us usually ignore that voice within. Pope Francis, in his Pentecost Sunday homily on 23rd May 2021, said, “The Paraclete (Holy Spirit) is also the Advocate. In Jesus’ day, advocates did not do what they do today: rather than speaking in the place of defendants, they simply stood next to them and suggested arguments they could use in their defence.

That is what the Paraclete does, for he is ‘the Spirit of truth’. He does not take our place, but defends us from the deceits of evil by inspiring thoughts and feelings. He does so discreetly, without forcing us; He proposes but does not impose. The spirit of deceit, the evil one, does the opposite: he tries to force us; he wants to make us think that we must always yield to the allure and the promptings of the vice”.

In life, we need to listen to the voice within. The red signs we see when dealing with other people, our gut feeling warning us of imminent danger… I believe that’s the Holy Spirit guiding us; because like the Pope said, the Spirit of truth does not impose, He only proposes. Thus, the onus to choose how to proceed in any given situation is on us.