“There’s nothing there Sope. Don’t go please.”
Sope bit her lower lip and looked warily at her reflection in her dresser mirror. How was she going to convince him?
“Saeed, I’ve already taken my leave and sent the organization word that I’ll be arriving on Thursday.”
“Well you can call right back and tell them you changed your mind, right? I mean, you’re not God. You’re allowed to do that.”
She rubbed her temple with her fingertips. Please help him understand now. “Saeed I need to go. I want to. They need a lot of help in the region right now and – obviously – they’re getting very few volunteers from the medical field. There were more attacks just last weekend; I know some deaths are beyond anyone’s deterring but not all the people who are dying have to. I can’t just sit by and -.
“Why not?” Sope raised an eyebrow but remained silent, waiting for him to correct himself. “Okay, I didn’t mean that. My point is, you’re not just sitting by baby cakes. You’ve been sending those folks funds and relief materials steadily for the past two months. How many average Nigerians do you know who’d do that in these times? You’ve had me praying with you every Saturday evening on the same unrest and insurgency situation over there. Why isn’t that enough? I know how much you care about people Sope but please don’t play the heroine on this one. I lived there quite a bit while growing up, that region has nothing to offer. If you sign the contract, you’ll be stuck there whether or not they have crisis situations; as in, you’re pretty much putting your life on pause. Please, what you’ve been doing is enough okay?”
“Says you.” Sope said quietly, knowing his patience would soon be worn thin, but determined to give her best shot in explaining this to him. She stood up and walked to her bedroom window, leaning against the wall and staring at the different lights that freckled the blanket of darkness covering her city.
“I might have done enough by your standards Saeed, but there’s a lot more I could do by God’s and even mine.” She heard him take in breath to respond and rushed on. “You know I love you. I wouldn’t be doing this just to scare or worry you unnecessarily, even I have struggled with some misgivings before now; but I’ve determined to do as God has pressed upon my heart to. If I can’t give Him my service whenever He requires it, of what use are my claims of loyalty to Him and of what essence is-.”
“Would you please just leave God out of this matter?”
Sope blinked. What is that supposed to mean? “How do you expect me to do that Saeed? Why don’t you ask me to kick Him out of my life all together while we’re still on the subject?”
“Listen to me please.” The request was curt but she obliged. “You’re not the only one who loves Jesus or knows the voice of the Holy Spirit. I’m a Christian like you and he talks to me as well. But you cannot come and start pinning all these your emotional decisions on Him as if He is not also a God of wisdom and all knowledge. This your by force superwoman attempt is not wise my dear; because God has a lot of work for you to do, I refuse to believe He will now send you somewhere so you can quickly die or lose an arm and leg or get your face shot off. It doesn’t add up with the pattern of the God I know.”
“Well the wisdom of man is as foolishness unto God, right?” Sope heard him sigh in exasperation. “I know you have your doubts about the safety or reason behind this decision but I really need to go Saeed. I know there’s so much I can do. Like I said, I’ve struggled with this for awhile but I’m certain this is His will. His people mean more than our comfort love. I mean, beyond saving lives, think of the souls I can win!”
“Aunty have you finished leading all the people in your estate to Christ? This one that you want to go and run inside bush with a bunch of strange men who can hardly speak English and are probably brimming with more undiscovered or ignored disease parasites – not to mention those with festering injuries – as though theirs are the only souls in need of saving or bodies in need of healing.” He was getting to the point where he wouldn’t hear anything but the sound of his own anger and fear…and Sope could sense it.
“So you think I should just sit here and keep throwing money at them, is that it?”
“YES! Throw all the money you like, let’s pray Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays if it’ll make you happy. Look Shupps, babycakes, my precious – you have such an unbelievably epic lineup in your future; with a summa cum laude degree in medicine from Harvard that people could kill for! Your position in that hospital is one people have been hustling for for years but they weren’t competition because you had your sights on what you wanted and have been shooting for the kill all this time….”
She sighed and plopped on the beanbag underneath the sill. “Please don’t tell me my life history Saeed. I don’t like history.”
“Okay. My point is, now you’re merely inches from seizing the internationally recognized and vied for opportunity of a life time – is it communal clash and small scale terrorism that you want to allow to interfere with your dreams? Walahi I think you’ve been getting wrong influence or something because I cannot understand this.”
Sope narrowed her eyes at that last line. “Who is wrongly influencing me Saeed?”
“No see, don’t take it personal you’ve also teased about how your mom manages to make every interaction with a stranger that is over two minutes an evangelical outreach. Like, you two sometimes behave as though you’re the only ones who know Jesus died on the cross and rose again.”
“Well show me your faith without works and we’ll show you our faith by our works.” She rolled her eyes. “I might have teased but I make it very clear that she challenges me with how passionate she is about soul winning. When did the whole point of this race become great job opportunities and grand recognition for goodness’ sake!? You think I don’t see festering wounds at the hospital? You think all my patients speak good english? Are there no homeless and ‘bush’ people that come in begging for treatment sometimes? Sure that place may be dangerous but so is crossing the expressway and so are flights and so is taking a bath in a bathtub. Death is not so special – it can happen anywhere Saeed.”
“Sope, stay. Please stay. Stay and acquire the influence you can use to render long term benefit and aid to those people.”
“They need help now Saeed. They’re under attack now.”
Suddenly there was a loud noise on the other end of the line and her heart jumped. She was about to ask if robbers were attacking him when she realized the voice yelling was Saeed’s.
Did he just crash something? Was he yelling at…her?
“WHAT ARE YOU EVEN THINKING? You’ll be letting your mother control you kuo? See how bright your future is and you want to go and squander four whole months playing jungle woman right?! Are you even thinking about us? This selfishness that you claim is God inspired, where does it leave our relationship madam? Or will you quote Like 12:53 for me now?”
“Saeed, please understand-.”
“No leave it. It’s your cup of tea. You can do whatever you want; I just pray you’ll be safe. Please don’t start calling me to assist in one thing or the other because I’m totally not with you on this one. I don’t know which language I’ll use to tell you that this doesn’t make sense. THERE IS NOTHING THERE SOPE. NOTHING! There’s nothing there, I swear. You’re just wasting your time and putting your life at unnecessary risk. I’m done repeating myself uselessly. Enjoy.”
Sope opened her mouth to give her unchanging negation but the dial tone let her know how fed up with the subject matter her boyfriend was.
“But Saeed,” she whispered, dejectedly dropping the phone on the carpeted floor. “What would you call the people?”