Sunday; her favourite day of the week. Eyram was always awake and ready, way before the alarm would go off. By 6.30 am she would be at the church premise. A mere church member yet she was always early as if she was the head usher. Her being early had an agenda; to sit at her favourite spot in the church, the last seat in the east wing of the building, where she could get a clear view of him, Brother Ferdinand.
Brother Ferdinand was the church organist doubling as Music Director of the choir. He was so full of the spirit, meek and kind but most importantly, he was very handsome. Each time the brother sat behind the piano he became a completely different person.
He played so smoothly, it was as if, the notes were being pulled out of the air and ushered straight into your heart. Again, you would have nothing but deep and profound truths being revealed whenever he stood behind the pulpit to preach the word of God.
The same thoughts ran through Eyram’s head anytime she became dazzled from watching him minister, “I want this. I need him to be this. Why can’t my Nhyira be like this?”
Kojo-Nhyira, Eyram’s boyfriend of six years, was alright. He liked hanging out with friends, going on road trips and being a workaholic; oh yes! Nhyira was crazy about his job, dedicated to it 16 out of 24 hours and constantly making an effort to make it better. He would go for his regular Sunday services (he never missed one) and be at peace with everyone.
Kojo loved her and she loved him. He would do anything for her; all she needed to do was to cough. Kojo-Nhyira was her Santa; Eyram needn’t wait till Christmas to be showered with gifts, she got them all the time. He was her alarm clock, he would have her up to get ready for work, school, everything. Being so much alike, people thought them to be siblings. They were happy with no problems but one, Kojo-Nhyira was not the “churchy” kind of person. With how much he loved Eyram, she did not have a cause to want anything else but, like Oliver Twist, she wanted more!
Eyram needed Kojo to want to pursue God more. She needed him to attend weekday services and maybe even think of being a preacher too. Honestly, she needed him to be a reincarnation of the brother. She tried hinting it to Kojo a couple of times and he told her bluntly, “Don’t push it.”
Worry flooded her mind. Eyram needed to figure out a way to get him to be the man she wanted. She needed a plan.
Soon, the young woman began attending Brother Ferdinand’s teaching and worship services. She even joined his team so she could get closer to him and through that, maybe, he and her Nhyira would become friends. Learning a thing or two from the man would not be a bad idea. He would probably teach her to play the keyboard too. She thought to herself.
Eyram invited Nhyira to her branch on a number of occasions just so she could get him to meet Brother Ferdinand and talk with him. Unfortunately, the brother was always surrounded by numerous admirers with their flatteries and gifts each time Nhyira came by.
Undeterred by the continuous disappointment, Eyram invited Nhyira to visit her branch one more time. “What is your deal anyway? Why are you hell bent on me getting to know this guy? If it has anything to do with your silly ideas of me being a pastor I told you not to push it Eyram!” Nhyira scolded her.
Instead of being reasonable and accepting her faults, She flared up in return and told him to stop overreacting like a baby.
It wasn’t long till Brother Ferdinand noticed Eyram and began giving her a lot of attention. He was waking her up for dawn prayers and bible study, calling to check up constantly and would even escort her to the hospital if and when she was not well. All this while, Nhyira was busy with work and travelling, seldom having time to speak with Eyram or see her but she not was bothered for two reasons; the fact that she had become caught up in her agenda of making Nhyira like Brother Ferdinand and the fact that someone was filling the empty space she was feeling.
It had been two long weeks; Kojo had not seen or heard from Eyram. Anytime he visited her at home or called, she was unavailable. He became alarmed because this behaviour was unusual. After confiding in his mother, she said to him, “How about the church? I remember you telling me she liked to spend a lot of time there. Go there.”
Kojo heeded his mother’s advice and drove to the church premise. Lo and behold, Eyram was indeed there, after 9 pm, when service was way over and just the security man at the gate, with this same Brother Ferdinand. It was upsetting to find Eyram at the church at that late hour.
Unfazed by her boyfriend’s mood, Eyram beckoned him to come say hello. Kojo-Nhyira kept a straight face, muttered a simple hi and left to wait in the car. On their way home, Eyram would not stop chattering about how kind, thoughtful and amazing a person Brother Ferdinand was. All this while, Kojo grabbed the steering wheel so tight it could actually break in four.
When he could no longer rein his agitation, “Eyram, are you okay? A person cannot reach his girlfriend for two weeks, two good weeks! I come looking for you because I am worried something may have happened to you only to find you alone with an unmarried man after 9 pm, 9 good pm!”
“He is not just any other man! He is Brother Ferdinand; the man of God young men want to be like! Someone even you could aspire to be like”
The car came to a screeching halt.
“Eyram Tsagli! This conversation ends right here, right now! I’m I so bad that you wish me to be someone else; someone like him? What is it about this guy that makes him so extraordinary anyway? What is it; that he is anointed, or is it the way he walks and talks, the way he plays the piano and is handsome?” Kojo shook his head in disbelief. “Well, from the little I have gathered, he seems to be someone with a lot of bitterness and anger inside of him. Do not let his ‘holy’ attitude sway you into believing he is ‘all that’. I do not want to hear anything of this Brother whatever till I drop you off at home.”
That night Eyram did not sleep. She tossed and turned, asking herself questions whiles she assessed the scolding Nhyira gave her:
Could it be true what Nhyira was saying? Was Brother Ferdinand really not “all that”? Come to think of it, the brother did seem to have issues with anger. She recalled a time when he hit a table so hard it punched a hole right through it and another day where he threw a sustain-pedal at the church drummer during rehearsal. But for the timely ducking of the poor guy, the pedal would have hit him square in the face.
Aside not being the churchy kind, she could not seem to point a finger at anything Nhyira did that she did not like. Yet she could not help but wonder, had she made the wrong choice in committing herself in a relationship with Nhyira?
Brother Ferdinand was the perfect kind of husband material for her. What if he was the bone of her bone? Then again, what if she run away from Nhyira and went to Brother Ferdinand only to discover all this was just a facade and would not be able to deal with his bad side? Would she run from him to the next available person? Was the brother so worth it to have to throw away something beautiful that had taken 6 years to build, for someone she barely knew?
Eyram resolved to take her time to observe carefully things for herself.
One fine Sunday morning, she arrived at church a little later than her usual time. Eyram found no one in sight, which was infrequent. Taking it upon herself to begin cleaning the church auditorium, she decided to find some cleaning materials. On her way to the vestry, she picked up two voices coming from there. Eyram paused to listen.
“I dislike that young man so much that whenever he mounts the pulpit to preach I feel like getting up there to drag him down. That boy lacks character. He thinks he will be made the head when the good Rev passes on so he talks down to us and treats everyone with gross disrespect. It is sad to see these young girls drooling all over him like that. Have they no shame?” one said
“Hmm my brother, you can say that again. Thank God I am not the Head Pastor, I would have kicked him out a long time ago….” The other added, “…I learnt he lost his parents at a tender age. He lived with an aunt whose husband molested him and sent him away to boarding school afterwards. He became embittered and closed off to people turning away anyone who tried befriending him. I even heard what caused the good Rev to adopt him was the fact that he was expelled for pushing his classmate off a two-storey building in anger leaving him crippled. Nothing baffles me than when I heard he laughed so hard at the news of his mate not being able to walk again, saying it served him right. That boy is the devil himself.”
No one needed to inform Eyram the person being discussed. Too shocked at the revelation, she quickly turned in fright to pick up her bag and walked out of the church. She did not sit at her favourite spot that day, it could wait forever.
Kojo-Nhyira had been right all along. There was something off about the brother but because she was smitten by how well he played and preached, she thought he was everything. She should have known better, she should have seen the signs. For even attempting to hit someone with a pedal out of anger for a simple mistake, for punching holes through tables, for yelling at the least disturbance… she should have known!
As the taxi she sat in neared Kojo-Nhyira’s branch, the memories hit her like a thunderbolt, everything, all the words, images, all the signs that she overlooked.
At that point, she realised, instead of pursuing the agenda of making Nhyira like someone else, she had to pursue another agenda; agenda 80%. Meaning, instead of focusing on the 20% of whatever bad side he had, she needed to focus on all his good sides and how her positivity in times when he could be super annoying could affect his character without forcing herself to change him at all cost.
Nhyira was not a bad person. He loved God, he loved people, and he loved her, what else did she need? In fact, what drew her to him was not his looks or the fact that he was a leader like her, it was the fact that she knew he wasn’t perfect and had his flaws like every human.
She realised she had to accept that we are all terrible at a point in time, sometimes circumstances cause us to totally lose our beautiful selves. That is why it all boils down to acceptance. She realised she had to wake up from her land of fantasies; she had to be real.
She needed to find her Kojo, her Nhyira. She needed to say she was sorry for everything, for being rude, for wanting him to be someone else.
“Eei Brother Ferdinand!” she could but scream.
© 2017 Naema
sustain pedal – It is