A CALL

Making a life-time decision that would give her fulfillment was an enormous task for the young lady fondly called Carol. However, her modest extroversion did well in hiding the burden in her heart. She played and laughed pretty well and everyone in her world was welcomed into her benevolence. The beggars on the streets daily looked forward to her cheerful greeting. Neighbouring children often could not wait to listen to her morally instructing stories and games. Elders in need were always glad to find a willing help in her. And for others, her smile always made their day.

Secretly sad, she watched her parents struggle to feed the family and send all their seven children, at least, through secondary school. Her father was a civil servant with these many mouths to feed and gratify, while her mother was a petty trader with little to contribute. Three of her siblings were in the secondary school and the other three in the primary. She was seventeen and a secondary school leaver determined to study in the university and major in accountancy so that she would not only easily get a job [the position of an Accountant, being one of the most available positions for employment] but get a well-paying one.

It did not matter to her if her parents could afford to send her to the university or not, she would take the prerequisite examination anyway and cross that bridge if she passed. She did pass and her father gave her the little money he could squeeze out of his savings. She empathized with his self-pity over his inadequacy to provide enough. Luckily, she scaled the cut-off mark of her first-choice course and school which was within the city she resided with her natal family. But it was compulsory to spend the first year in the hostel. Her father and mother prayed for her and gave her admonishments in spite of themselves. This was because they had confidence in her good character which she acquired more from her inclination to the Church and its activities than from them. She had always been good and tended towards appropriateness.

She set out to the university with very little money and her innate ability to make friends; and she made quite a number even though many more avoided her pious influence. After a few months in school she was soon under pressure to feed herself and pay for most of her academic requirements.

This forced her to go ask her parents for more money and so her father was compelled to take a loan from his office to give her a hundred thousand naira to sort herself out. She knew it was a lot to cough out as this would take a toll on the family upkeep when the chunk of his salary was deducted monthly to offset the loan. She would put it into good use so that she would not burden her family any further, she resolved.

She strategized on how best to make the most of the net of this money and so started off a recharge card business because students always needed to make phone calls. This paid well until the banks decided to also take advantage of the same business by availing their clients with credits through request dials on phone. She got into other petty businesses in spite of the competitions that set in, and she never got to ask her parents for money again; instead she became the one assisting with her siblings’ needs alongside hers’.

In the university she was exposed to mates with different manner of behaviour: some who went clubbing and doing ‘runs’ for survival, cultists and dissidents who caused trouble every now and then, as well as school activists whose activities were incongruent with her ideals and often led to mayhem. She encountered lecherous lecturers with their schemes to get the female students to bed and to extort money from the male ones. She was not left out of the sadistic operations of the administrative and non-teaching staff who took advantage of their positions to make life a living hell for students who were not buoyant enough to grease their palms for the services these administrators were supposed to render. Somehow, Carol surmounted all these without harm to her self-esteem and principles. This was because she was focused on her studies, trades and, on God, for the goal she was pursuing. Therefore, she excelled in all her endeavours, attributing all her successes to God’s grace.

By the time of her graduation she already owned a thriving business centre with a variety of ventures, which she handed over to her siblings to manage when the time came to leave home for youth service in another State in the Northern part of the country. She was soon through after a year and had no problem getting a good job as an accountant in a multinational company. This job provided her enough fund to further finance and grow the businesses in her siblings’ care. She was glad that her siblings were upright and responsible in their management so far. She was indeed thankful to God that she could rely on them. Their parents had taught them the right way from cradle, and they had not departed from it; the way was God’s and she felt that His Spirit was abiding in them. She realized that her siblings also empathized with her effort towards a better life for the family. This better life she sought to accomplish before … ‘Umph!’ She sighed, as she remembered her true desire.

Life now seemed like a fanfare and a farewell to poverty or the fear of it. Her parents were happy with her and her progress in life which at the same time also upgraded their standard of living. Her siblings were progressing in their academics and she had a lover who had proposed marriage to her.

Jeff was good looking. He had a good job, a fine car, and he was from a very wealthy family. But most importantly to Carol, he was close to God. He doted on her and she loved him, somehow! He would make a dream husband, no doubt. They would have lovely children and she would love it all; she told herself, yet she could not bring herself to accept his proposal nor was she elated by all his grandeur. It was all too good to be true, even though she knew intuitively that Jeff was genuine.

She should be happy but instead, she felt empty within. There was something else she wanted most from life but had suppressed because she put her family and its need first. She knew this was the only thing that would give her the fulfillment she so craved. And so now, it disturbed her more than ever, to have to decide whether to accede or not to Jeff’s proposal and her family’s enthusiastic nudge to.

Skeptical, she worried: What if Jeff was the tempter’s way of keeping her away from her desired greater cause? What if she succumbed to marrying Jeff, would these blessings continue; or would all regress when she could not get out of a consummated holy matrimony? Would she be happy in the future with the coming of her own children and feel fulfilled by them? Did she want to bring children into this world of sin and strife even though she trusted in God’s protection over them? ‘Any woman would be happy in my shoes, why am I not!’ she blurted out frustrated, alone in her room. And she wept profusely. Then again, she thought, “What if God has blessed all my efforts in answer to my prayers so that I can now answer His? Jeff, was never my asking.”

Continues … in part 2
–    Mass – The Catholic Church daily ceremony in memory of the last supper as commanded by Christ.
Tempter – The devil.
Runs – escorts for rich lusty men.
Angelus – a prayer said at every 6 and 12 am and pm by Catholics
Written by IfeanyiChukwu Oluwafemi Chukwudi – Jan 06, 2011
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