An Open Letter To Nene
I was suppose to write to you earlier than now but each time I bring myself to write, I’m lost of what to say. This doesn’t mean I have nothing to say. Sure I do have alot but do not know exactly how to put it. If I keep searching till I get the perfect word or appropriate way to communicate my feelings, it might never come. My writing might be disjointed or unorganised; this will not matter if you understand what I am trying to say.
Ok, Well? Where do I start?
Sis Nene, as you were fondly called back in school. I don’t know if you remember me. I am Chizoba, Tina’s friend from Statistics department. Tina stays adjacent to your room at DV hostel while I stay off campus. I visit Tina frequently in the hostel and that is how I got to know you. We were in year four while you were in your second year at the university.
I won’t say we were friends, neither are we enemies. It was just the normal ‘good morning,’ ‘good afternoon’ or ‘how was lecture’ kinda greeting when ever our part crossed but nonetheless, you inspired and added meaning to my life unknowingly to you.
The first time I came in close contact with you was when you came to Tina’s room to invite her and her roommates to the December retreat, a yearly program organized by your church. And you also gave each of us two tract titled ‘Do You Truly Love God?’ and ‘Drawing Close To God.’ Wondering how I could still recall the title of those tracts? Although I didn’t get to attend the retreat but those tracts made me question my relationship with my heavenly father and my life as a Christian few weeks later.
Sis Nene, let me tell you something you don’t know, I drive the latest car, thanks to my Dad. I wear expensive clothes and shoes, people look up to me but deep within me, I was empty.
I admire you. There is this peace and joy that radiates around you, I don’t know exactly how to put it but there is this thing that always leaps in my heart each time I see you. Most times I wonder how you do it. You dress modest, no earrings, no attachment and you still look beautiful, always smiling. Me personally, if it were possible, I will switch to be you.
The episode that endeared me to you was when Titilayo poured her zobo drink to your face because you mistakenly stepped on her bedspread while coming down from the upper bunk. I remember asking Hanatu, your room mate what was your reaction and she said, you told her sorry, cleaned the Zobo drink that splashed on the floor, picked the empty cup of Zobo, rinsed it, changed into another cloth and left the room. Like, what the hell? Who does that on campus? Sis Nene, sure I was not expecting you to fight her or cuss her. I was expecting you to be angry, you know, tell her why should she go to that extreme knowingly fully well you didn’t do it intentional but no, you didn’t! In Hanatu’s voice,
‘Aaa Sis Nene is not from this planet Ooo. I no know the kind person wey that one be. Imagine, She even tell Titi sorry, come clean the cup and carpet on top. Chai! If na me ehhh, Hostel people go hear our matter.’
You see that attitude you displayed? That is very rare. Although, I wasn’t there when it happened, I believed Hanatu.
You see, I was born into a Christian home, my father is an elder while my mom is a Deaconess in one of this new generation church, I go to church every Sunday, I attend midweek service and I pray to God, lip service I guess. It was just a normal routine like taking your bath, brushing your teeth and eating your meal. I had no relationship with God. I profess to love God but I do not truly love Him because I was still leaving in sin. I am what people will generally refer to as a good girl, but I was a nominal Christian. I don’t steal, I don’t smoke and I don’t keep strings of boyfriends but I had just one, just one that our actions has taking me faraway from God. I planned to ask God to forgive us for fornicating when we eventually tie the knot was the excuse I kept giving. What if I had died in my sin?
I had written my exams and travelled back home to Nnewi for the holiday when I got to know I was pregnant. Saying I was devastated is an understatement. I take my contraceptive pills religiously, I can’t just tell what went wrong. How comes? My parent will be so disappointed, ahh… What about the people that look up to me? The most annoying part was that Tony my boyfriend said he is not ready to be a father but if I insist in keeping the baby then he will have nothing to do with me. I cried for days but crying didn’t solve the issue. I had no choice than to settle for an abortion, and if I have to go for an abortion I will have to quickly do it before my parent comes back. My dad was on official trip to Canada and my mom had traveled to United State of America to stay with my elder sister who just put to birth. My elder brother is in UK for his MSc, so I practically had the house to myself, I will recuperate before they are back and no one will suspect a thing, I thought to myself. That will be the second time I will be going for an abortion.
I was searching through my books to see if I will find some money so as to add it up to the one with me and go straight to see a doctor to book for a date when I came across the tract you gave me back at school. Sis Nene, those tracts broke me to pieces, I practically read them over and over again. My heart was shredded, for the first time in many years I poured my heart to God. Although I hardly miss going to church but I hardly commune with God, I only get to mumble some words out each time I pray. Deep within, I knew I was empty and I had no relationship with God. That day I cried for forgiveness, I poured my heart to God like never before and I resolved I was going to face the consequences of my action by keeping the baby. Sure, I wasn’t happy with my previous action but I felt peace. Peace unspeakable.
Having been bored and had nothing to do and tasting to know God more I decide to honour your invitation by attending the December Retreat here at Nnewi. Thanks to Google, it was easy locating the venue where the retreat will be holding in Nnewi as the flier you gave us had the address of the retreat camp ground at Sokoto.
December 24th 2015, a day I will never forget. I had prepared and was on my way to 84 Nnobi Road, Nnewi where the Retreat will be holding when I heard a loud thunderous enormous sound, which was all I remembered at that point.
In what will be to me a split of second, I saw myself standing. I felt lost.
I tried to recollect but my memory was blank. People were wailing, running helter skater. Across the road a little bit faraway, fire was razing down a building. Opposite the road, people were gathered around something. I went close to take a look, the sight I saw was disheartening. Excluding the chest area that house the breast and a little part of her head where you can see her hair was plated in box braid, you can hardly tell if the person lying down was a he or she. She was burnt beyond recognition.
‘Oga, wetyn happen?’ I asked the man standing by my right, arms akimbo.’
Seems he didn’t hear me.
‘Oga, wetyn happen?’ I repeated.
Now, some people were trying to lift her up to into the back of the pick up that had been packed in front of a beer parlous just along the road to where we were standing. He didn’t even took note of me, it is either he didn’t want to talk or he is over whelmed by the sight of the woman that is why he refused to answer me, I thought to myself.
‘Chineke! Kedi udi uwa di ihe?’ A woman exclaimed.
‘Uwa bu pawpaw.’ The man I had asked the question earlier responded.
‘Ha siri nor Gas Plant Chicason kpara nwanyi a oku?’ An elderly woman said, asking no one in particular.
‘Nwanne mu Nwanyi, okwa ya o.’ Another replied and went on to explain.
That was when I knew what had happened. There was a gas explosion. Chicason gas plant was the building on fire.
‘My bag! Where is the keke driver I chartered? He was supposed to take me to the retreat venue. This is not the cloth I wore when I left home.’ I said to myself.
I was wearing a white robe. Immediately, something just pricked me from within and I asked myself,
‘Am I dead?’
I heard someone call from behind.
I turned back and beheld a sight. Sis Nene, this is where words will fail me. Growing up I had a mental picture in my head of what Jesus should look like, tall, fair, long hair parted from the center and falling down his shoulder, thanks to the movies and story books about Jesus I have read. The figure I saw was different from the Jesus of my imagination. The Jesus standing right in front of me was very, extremely very different from the Jesus of my imagination. There is nothing to be compared with Him, there is a distinct and very obvious difference between the two. Is just like taking white to be black.
I could not say a word, all I had was tears running down my cheeks. He didn’t say a word to me, he only beckoned to me by stretching forth his hand. I looked at His palm, the sign showing where he was nailed was there, I took two steps and placed my right hand in His left palm and before I could wonder about the tenderness of his palm, I saw myself at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi.
While walking into the building, some people were wailing, some were in a state of shock, people trooping in and out of the hospital to check for their families and friends. Most of the people brought in were taking straight to the mortuary. As we approach the hospital door I heard a man trying to explain to people what to do in case of a gas explosion.
‘You don’t run during gas explosion’ he said.
‘What you need to do is lie on the floor and roll away because when you run, the friction attracts the air which has the gas element to you.’ He continued.
‘Story, even if you’re right, who will think of lying on the floor to roll away, the instincts of man in most cases is to run.’ A young lady replied.
Inside the hospital doctors and nurses were all in haste trying to save the life of the people that were still breathing with drips hanging here and there.
There was a particular man; his burns were severe that when his legs were cut to work on him there was no blood coming out. Those that were brought into the hospital that didn’t make it were taking out to give space for others.
I looked at the face of Jesus, he had tears from his eyes, and this is not the water-like tears. His was blood. Blood were falling down His cheeks in place of tears. I was terrified. Ever since I placed my hand in His palm, he didn’t let go of it.
A little girl of about 12 years was crying and shouting trying to ward off the doctors and nurses from taking her mummy away. The mother’s case was that of a motor accident and she was pronounced dead on arrival.
‘Chineke bi n’eligwe biko kpote rem mummy Ooo.’ She wailed.
So ya k’anyi nwere n’uwa. Chineke biko, Chineke biko, e kponitere Lazarus, biko kponitere mummy mu.
‘God who lives in heaven please wake my mummy, she is all we’ve got in this world. God please, God please, You woke Lazarus, please wake my mummy.’
Sis Nene, the way the little girl’s cry pierced through my heart ehh…
Jesus without letting go of my hands, walk over to where they were, placed His hands on the mums heart for about 3 seconds, the mum sneezed. The doctors and nurses looked with surprise writing all over their face and then starts attending to her.
We walked toward a bed at the extreme end of the hospital and stopped. I saw me lying on the bed breathing with the aid of oxygen. I had minor burn on my left hand and two legs. A female doctor, she should be in her late twenties trying to see if she can revive me. As I looked up to look at the face of Jesus, he was staring back at me. His expression was blank. He was neither smiling nor looking angry. The blood-like tears on his face were gone. I felt Him gentle holding my hand tighter as we ascend to heaven and within a twinkle of an eye we were at heaven’s gate.
People of all colour, race, tribe, blacks, white, old and young alike were all standing. What I kept hearing was depart! Depart! Depart!
Sis Nene, you see that word depart? Depart is the worst word or can I say most awful word for someone to be told at that gate. If there is anything worst than awful, I guess that will be the right word. It tells of the beginning of your doom, the beginning of your suffering for eternity, eternity with no break from the pains he/she will experience.
Sis Nene, we do cry of suffering and pain while on earth but I tell you the regret and screams from the voice of people as they hear that word been read to them, the pain, the pain in their voice as they descend to hell will fill you with fear, go hunger for weeks and have sleepless night. Their facial expression and the sound of the cries still linger in my sub consciousness.
Depart, you see that word depart? Depart in eternity is not what one will wish his/her worst enemy while on earth. I don’t know how long I stood at the heavenly gate watching the fate of people and their response, I wish I can erase what I saw.
As I stood watching and was also wondering what my fate will be, an angel tapped my shoulder and in the most gentle and soft tone said to me.
‘It is time for you to go back.’
That was when I realised Jesus was not with me since I came to heaven’s gate. Apart from when He called me by my name once, he never said a word to me. I had things I wanted to ask Jesus. Things like why the blood-like tears and so on. I also had things I wanted to tell Him. I wanted to tell Him that I’m sorry for nailing Him to the cross over and over again. I wanted to tell Him I am sorry for not living for the purpose he sent me on earth to do. I wanted to tell Him that I’m sorry for not going out to evangelize, for been a hypocritical Christian. I had so many things on my heart to say.
‘The King of Kings knows. ‘There is no time. You have to hurry and make up for the time you’ve wasted. Souls have gone to hell for your negligence. Can you change that?’ The angel said to me.
The answer was obvious. At that point fresh hot tears, very hot tears dripped down my cheeks.
As I was about cleaning my teary eyes, I felt a gentle touch on my lap. I turned and beheld a lovely child of about 4 years. She was smiling at me. I tried to blink away the tears and smile back but my teary face betrayed me. There was something about this little girl that connects me to her, there is this bond I can’t really explicitly explain. I managed to smiled and murmured some words in between sobs as I asked.
‘What is your name dear?’
‘You didn’t give me a name.’ She replied.
At that point, I froze. I looked intently into her eyes. The answered I needed was there. The lovely little girl standing in front of me was the foetus I aborted 5 years ago.
I was in my final year in secondary school, to prepare for my WAEC and JAMB. My parent enrolled me in an after school extra moral lesson. I got entangle with a boy in the lesson, got pregnant and had to abort the baby. This was my deepest secret and no one knew of it except Ekene my teenage crush who is the father of the baby and the doctor who performed the act. I never said a word about it to anyone living or dead.
At this point, I felt my tears, catarrh from my nose and silent sobs suffocating me. I had one million and one question to ask. Who am I that the Lord should be mindful of me? I didn’t deserve mercy.
‘Look!’ The angel said.
A TV screen appeared in front of me and who did I see? Nene! It was you Nene, alone, inside your room. You laid your hands on those tracts and prayed with all your heart. You prayed to God to give you souls. You prayed God to convict all those you will give the tracts to and draw them closer to Himself. You spent quality time praying for those that will come in contact with the tract and it didn’t end there, when you came back from your evangelism. You still knelt down and prayed for those you gave the tracts. I was one of those that God used to answer your prayers.
Nene, God used you to save me from eternal damnation, I was meant to be at the queue on that day and that word ‘Depart!’ was waiting eagerly for me at the gate.
Dearest Nene, you were my saving grace. Nene, you fulfilled a purpose in my life by saving me while I failed. I didn’t just fail, I failed woefully. Can I turn back the hands of time and bring back to life those people already condemned due to my negligence? Certainly not!
I could not stand anymore, my legs were felling me. I knelt on my knees. The little girl held my chins with both hands, kissed me on both cheeks, and hugged me as she whispered to my ears.
‘I have forgiven you a long time ago.’
I woke up in the ICU of the department; my mom said I was in coma for sixteen days. My elder brother’s friend who is a doctor recognised me, called my brother to inform him. My mother had to return back to Nigeria immediately she heard the news to nurse me. My mother’s cousin who resides at the United State of America had to stand in for my mother for the ‘omugwo’ since it was my sister’s first baby. My dad joined her later two days later. I lost the pregnancy. They were aware of my pregnancy before I regained consciousness. I came out clean and explained everything to them. They forgave me and accept me with open hands.
Dear Nene, is been four years since that event happened. Today I am a better Christian, I can boldly say my relationship with my creator is that of a lovely father and His daughter because you interceded for me, you stood in the gap. God used you to save me from eternal destruction without you even knowing it.
Dear Nene, I lack words to express my gratitude. Thank God for you, thank God for been a vessel of honour used by God for His Glory. You are a true Christian.
I have to stop here, my eyes are wet not because of sadness but because each time I relinquish all this I’m always overwhelmed with God’s Love and mercy upon my life and a particularly verse keeps ringing in my head over and over again.
‘3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?’
Dear Nene, thank you for all you have done for me without knowing, thank you for being you and staying true to your purpose on earth.
So long a letter I guess.
Thanks once more for everything.
Your unknown convert,
This is a fictional story.
To all the Nenes’ all over the world, thank you for been the light that we need to pass through the darkness that has engulfed this world. Thank you for been the light with which we use to light up our candles that have been blown off by craves for earthly perishable wants. Thank you for been the knife with which we use to sharpen our blunt knife. Thank you for never giving up on us even when we make caricature of your steadfastness, spirituality and your love for the things of God. Thank you for always depriving yourself of food and always getting down on your knees to fast and pray for us even when we don’t deserve it. Thank you for standing in the gap. Thank you for living your life as an open Bible for us to read and emulate. Thank you for scribbling those words on your blog, Facebook wall and etc that makes us question if we actually have a relationship with our creator and hence directs us back to Our Heavenly Father. Thank you for ministering to us with your words and songs. Thank you!
Keep pushing, someday when you’ve been crowned with the golden crown, you’ll wonder how comes the many stars on your crown, then Jesus will smile and say to you,
‘It was your labour for souls,
‘All this?’ You will ask.
“Souls you won for me without knowing inclusive.’ He will reply.
As true Christians, we all need to be a Nene.
Are you a Nene? This is for you!
Do you know of any Nene? Share and tag those people and say just two words, ‘Thank you!’
Read also: No One Is Indispensable