Ataturk Olympic stadium, Istanbul, Turkey. 25th may, 2005. It was a clear and goodnight for football. Liverpool FC was taking on AC Milan in the final of the champions league.
A game which could have affected the outcome of my life, as I was supposed to be revising for my exam when this game was being played, luckily am extremely clever so it didn’t matter in the end.
AC Milan were regarded as favorites before the match and took the lead within the first minute through Captain Paolo Maldini. Milan striker Hernan Crespo added two more goals before half-time to make it 3-0.
This was it, I just wasted 45 minutes of my life watching liverpool lose, when I could have been revising. Then they came out for the second half and launched a comeback. It was amazing, I couldn’t believe it. My dad was screaming, he couldn’t even chase me to go read my books. We sat together on the couch, he had his Heineken and I had my can coke.
Captain AWESOME “Steven Gerrard led the comeback, he scored a goal and team spirit was lifted, my dad was grinning from ear to ear, when captain Awesome scored. Then he turned to me and said “son, I don’t think they can do it though” before he could end his statement, Vladimir Smicer had added the second goal, 3-2, GAME ON!!!!
Now AC Milan were scared could this be happening? Three minutes later, that question was answered. The Spaniard, Xavi Alonso had squared things up. It was 3-3. My dad leaped so high. We couldn’t believe it. Liverpool had scored 3goals within six minutes. They went on to win the penalty shootout, winning the trophy. The fans held up a banner at the end that read “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
Most times in our daily lives, we give up easily. We throw-in the towel. We say “its over” without even trying. We don’t think we can make it after trying for sometime.
When things go sour, when we fail an exam, when we cant get that dream job, when we fall so ill, when we are betrayed, when our partner drifts away, when our parents don’t seem to understand us, turn to the story of the greatest comeback, they went in at half-time and came out with great spirits, I bet they said a prayer, and God heard.
Say a prayer, believe in your prayer, trust GOD, and You’ll Never Walk Alone.
While waiting to pick up a friend at the domestic airport in Lagos, I had one of those life-changing experiences that you hear other people talk about — the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away from me.
Straining to locate my friend among the passengers coming through the arrival walkway, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family.
First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!”
Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son’s face in his hands said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug.
While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, “Hi, baby girl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment.
After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed. “I love you so much!” They stared at each other’s eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands.
For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t possibly be. I puzzled about it for a moment then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?
“Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those.” he replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked. The man finally turned and looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile. “Two whole days!”
Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he’d been gone for at least several weeks – if not months. I know my expression betrayed me.
I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!”
The man suddenly stopped smiling.
He looked me straight in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope, friend… decide!” Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, “God bless!”
Decide you can make her happy, don’t hope, decide! And watch it happen.
I love my wife, yes I do. That is the only real truth I can tell a perfect stranger. My wife is everything I can think of, she is the air breath, she make my whole life complete, she could nag the hell out of me but I still love her crazy.
I met Nkechi (my wife) at a restaurant, infact no formings, I met her at Iya Sikirat’s buka, it was a hot sunny day in school, I was so hungry and headed there with a few friends. After our order was taken, Nkechi walked in, all at once I lost every touch with reality. Iya Sikirat’s buka had transformed, the wooden benches turned into sofas, the bike men turned to photographers, the horrible floor now had a red carpet on it and my dear Nkechi was was the centre of attention, a runway model with paparazzis shoving to take pictures. I was brought back to reality when the hot plate of hot soup I held in one hand droped on my laps. Anyway Nkechi and I got talking, started a relationship and things blossomed.
After school, I worked for a bank, the salary wasn’t much but it helped look after me and my wife. We usually ran late with paying bills but at the end, we eventually did pay.
August 12th, Maria was born, she was the second girl, she was the second girl I confessed my love to. I love her as much as her mum. She had her mum’s eyes, those kinda big intimidating sexy eyes. We took care of ourselves though the bank work was a little demanding but I still had time for quality family time. Every Friday was family night, we watched a movie with popcorns.
Next month maria would be 5, we had arranged to have a clown for her party, two big cakes, a bouncing castle and lots of candy for the kids. I was glad my little girl was gonna turn 5. She teased me that I would forget her birthday. I told her I’d have to die to forget her birthday.
It was a Sunday, after service, we decided we decided to go have a treat at an eatery close to the house, we sang on our day there. As we walked in I held maria’s hand. I looked down at her as she smiled and kept talking about the chicken she wanted me to buy.
There was abrupt silence, maria had stopped talking, in a second she hit the floor, I picked her up , she wasn’t breathing, we rushed her to the hospital, she got resuscitated. Doctor said she had a heart condition that led to the heart failure. We were shocked, our little girl was dying. She needed immediate surgery at India costing N6million. I had barely N600,000. My wife and I wrote letters to family, friends charity organizations, we even went on tv.
In 3weeks we had raised N1m, it was no where close to half the amount needed. Maria was hooked to a machine, she was dying, my Maria was dying. I knew I couldn’t sit and watch, I had to move fast.
I woke up the next morning, didn’t even shower, I was suppose to be at work that day but today I had another plan. I drove down to the alley, got down from my car and went in. he was dark, rugged and had a voice that could scare the shit out of you. Without hesitation I handed him the little bag and in return he gave me a brown paper bag envelop. I went straight to the car, opened it and ther it was, a revolver handgun with live ammunition. I was ready.
Parked beside the bank I work, I was sweaty and nervous. I had never held a gun, but here I was, ready to use one. I took out my rosary from my pocket, said a few hail marys, dropped it and came out of the car. I walked straight into the bank. Headed straight to the manager’s office whom I knew had the key to the vault. Opened the door, drew out my gun and pointed it straight at him saying ‘’ I need money from the vault’’ he walked with me to the vault without raising suspicion and I took out exactly N6m into my back-pack, tied him up and exited the bank. As I walked to my car, screams of ‘’thief thief. Ole ole’’ filled my ear, the bank manager had somehow freed himself and was unto me. I had to move, the road was jam with traffic, I abandoned the car and started my escape by foot. The mob was growing but all I could think of was getting the money to Maria’s doctor.
I was cut off by people in front and behind me, I had no escape. I took out my gun, I could never shoot my way out of this if I tried. This was it, I had failed Maria. I dropped the gun, knelt down, and awaited my brutal death. It didn’t take a second for a huge black man to run up to me with a large stick, he struck me so hard to the head, and I saw my own blood leave my head, he hit the second time and my body caved in. I fell to the ground, death was imminent, no escaping it. A teenager walked up to me with a bottle, he was smiling, raised it high, he brought the bottle down to my head, it shattered with fragments lodged to my head. Short of breadth and at the verge of expiring.
I felt my left leg vibrate, it was my phone, I wondered if it was Jesus calling at the hour of my death. I reached for it with every last bit of strength I had left. It was a message from my wife, it read:
‘’Darlyn, the lord has answered our prayers, an NGO has just paid for Maria’s treatment. Am so glad, please come over to the hospital, Maria is happy and cant wait to c u. i love u xoxo’’
With my last breadth I was gonna say I love u too when a large stone ended my very existence. The calendar read: August 12th, 2012. It was Maria’s birthday. I had forgotten, and I was dead.