THREE MONTHS LATER ‘I don’t really know where to start. That’s the truth.’ Joy said sitting on the edge of the soft chair. She could tell Sarah was as uncomfortable as she was. Joy and Sarah had been friends since their teenage years when they attended secondary school together. Since three months had gone without the two of them speaking in-depth to each other, Joy had initiated the meeting solely for the two friends to catch up. Apart from the monthly ‘Happy New Month’ messages they sent to each other every first day of the month, it was almost a total lack of communication between the two friends. ‘Errmm… I understand, I’m sorry’, Sarah managed to say after some moment. She already knew what Joy came to see her for. Ever since the day she heard Joy was posted to her state of residence for the National Youth Service, she knew their meeting would be only a matter of time. ‘But it’s not my fault’, Sarah wanted to say. There are many things she had wanted to say to Joy even before now, but where would she begin. A lot had happened since they last talked deeply. ‘Sarah, what is really going on? All my questions about how this marriage matter is going, you have not even answered one.’ ‘I stopped sending you messages on social media because you don’t reply my messages’, Joy added. ‘It has not been fair to me too. You know I quickly get worried. We have been friends since secondary school, if you can’t tell me things, how can we still say we are friends?’ The hurt could be heard in Joy’s voice. ‘Ehn…?’ She asked again. ‘It is not like that, I am sorry’ Sarah answered. She watched with regret as the ice cream they ordered thawed out; neither of them had been able to manage even a single scoop. ‘If you say it is not like that, I believe you. But how is it then? That is why I insisted on seeing you. What is really happening?

Tosin also complained that it seems you are shutting people out of your life deliberately’, Joy held her friend’s right hand and tried to encourage her to speak out. ‘You can’t live like that’, she added. ‘Please, let us in, or don’t you trust us? We are your friends for goodness sake!’ Sarah’s eyes were quickly becoming moist. ‘How can you talk like that?’ She sniffed. ‘I am sorry, I don’t mean to sound accusing’, Joy apologized. ‘It’s just that I am feeling you don’t trust me enough to tell me what is really going on. Even if the marriage has been canceled, just tell me. There is nothing coming from the sky the ground cannot take’, she assured. She looked into Sarah’s eyes and continued, ‘It’s not as if I don’t know Mike too. I have asked him and he is also not forthcoming with clarifications. I am even afraid to ask again because it seems a terrible thing happened that you two can’t talk about’. All the while, Sarah just sat there, wondering where to start. ‘No terrible thing happened’, she began. ‘You know how my dad kicked against the marriage and how we were able to resolve it. ‘If not for the Pastors who reasoned with him, it would have been another story. Last December I finally met with Mike’s parents and he met mine’, Sarah explained. ‘Praise the Looord!’ Joy could not help herself; she had been expecting some very bad news. ‘Finally! Ah! I am so happy for you. Congratulations!’ Sarah managed a smile and shook her head. ‘Allow me finish first before you congratulate me’, she said. ‘We officially started our courtship February 8 and everything was looking great. I even shared the testimony in the singles’ programme. ‘However, since the courtship started, we have not even seen each other physically; I don’t even understand him again. Imagine, the first thing he told me was if I was still sure he is right person for me to marry?’ ‘What?!’ Joy could not hide her shock. ‘How can such questions come at such point in the relationship?’ She asked. ‘After what you guys have passed through?’ ‘See ehn, Joy; that is not all. When he asked me that, I became angry and I asked him why he would ask me such question. He said it was because of the problems we have been facing since we started to talk about marriage. First, the genotype; then, my dad’. ‘He said he just wanted to know if these are not signs that we should not marry’, Sarah really couldn’t say more. Drops of tears flowed from her eyes as she recounted the painful conversation.

Joy’s face became worn and worried as she could see the disappointment in the words of her dear friend. She shook her head and sighed audibly. The silence between the two friends was comfortable as none of them was ready to talk. ‘Sorry ladies, can I help you?’ A male waiter interrupted. ‘No, thank you’; Joy answered him, grateful for the distraction. After about a minute in silence, Joy finally asked, ‘I am sorry, Sarah, but were you also convinced God wants you to marry him?’ ‘How can you ask me that?’ Sarah asked with a disappointed look. ‘It’s not like that, Sarah. I just want to know; just to get it out of the way’. Sarah shook her head before she responded, ‘Yes, I am absolutely sure God wants me to marry him. All these challenges have even served to convince me more and more’. ‘I really like your answer’, Joy said and smiled. She stretched out her right hand and placed it on Sarah’s left; ‘If you are sure, then everything is alright. Don’t worry’, she assured. ‘Thank you, Joy’. ‘It is not as if I am…’ Sarah’s words were cut short when her phone rang. She paused and continued speaking without opening her purse to look at the caller’s identity. ‘As I was saying, it is not as if I am cutting my friends away. I am just tired of…’ She stopped again as the phone resumed ringing. ‘Just pick the call abeg’ Joy told her.

Sarah opened the purse and picked the phone. ‘Ah! Joy, it is Mike!’ She couldn’t keep her voice down. ‘Pick it, Pick it’ Joy encouraged her with a broad smile. ‘But he hasn’t called me in two weeks’. ‘I said pick it; before it stops ringing’. Sarah took a deep breath and picked the phone call. ‘Hello, Mike’, Sarah spoke with a low voice. Joy sat there looking and straining her ear to get something out of the conversation but she couldn’t hear any of Mike’s words. ‘Okay. Sunday then’, Sarah said after a minute of listening. She ended the call, dropped the phone and sighed. ‘Yes…?’ Joy asked expectantly. ‘He said we should meet next Sunday’. ‘Why will he want to meet you all of a sudden?’ ‘I don’t know o, he didn’t say. He just pleaded with me to meet him next Sunday, that’s all’. ‘It is well, my dear friend. Don’t worry. Everything will turn out right’. Joy tried to encourage her friend. ‘Thanks, I believe too’. ‘Please by Sunday evening, I want to hear the full gist o’, Joy implored. Sarah smiled and joked; ‘I know you now, Journalist Joy, J.J’. They both laughed.


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