I was called up by Dan Ekoko, the MC and my senior at Government College Ughelli to pray for the food and the drinks during the occasion of the 100th birthday celebration of Papa D. M. Ejoor a little over a year ago.
Memories came flooding to my mind. I told them that it was in one of the rooms in the “boys’ quarters”w of the house that I told my wife in 1981, 36 years ago, that I was going to marry her. She was 19 years old and I was 21 then.
Lessons Of Life
- I had prayed, even as a sinner who did not even go to church, before she came, that if this girl will not be a blessing to me she should not agree to my proposal. Thank God she agreed. 5 years later we got married.
Ironically, the former governor of Abia State, Commodore Temi Ejoor, said that I will pay him a token because that was his former room.
- The proposal was made in another person’s room but it was from my heart and I meant it. I kept my word and the marriage has lasted for more 32 years.
- My wife and I were the only members of the “gang” who married each other and have remained married. I thank God for that.
- I was squatting with the Akpomedaye household because I had no where to stay during holidays because my parents were in the village.
- I would wake up not knowing where the next meal would come from.
Olu Cheke, whose mother was so generous, was our sure bet most evenings. They did not know where I was from; the friends of her children were her children. There was no Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ijaws, Ibos, or Yorubas, then in Warri.
Kola’s father was Yoruba and used to vote for Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN. His mother was Ibo and she used to vote for Nigerian People’s Party, NPP, and there were no quarrels. Emisi was Ijaw and a member of the “gang”—what concerns one, concerns all. There was no cultism, but we stood up for each other. Where did we miss it in Nigeria and Delta State with extreme tribal prejudices and struggles?
- My wife knew, then, that I was a homeless stranger; I wore borrowed shoes and borrowed clothes and she was aware. Why did she agree to marry me?
- I even deceived her that I was a northerner, hence Apoki, but she did not bother. However, I remember I told her that I wanted somebody I would grow up with . . . The future, not sex, was uppermost in my mind.
- When she first met my parents before they moved to my village, Otokutu, they were living in a mud house at Okere, a ghetto with no electricity, pipe-borne water, toilets . . . There was literally nothing to excite today’s young girls. My father was a security man in Idama Hotel, then, and we used to go visit him in the gate house. Why was she not discouraged?
- I was not sophisticated and she was not sophisticated. She had not passed her secondary school certificate exams. In fact, I had to make her go back to school again and rewrite the exams. I wrote the application she took to the school of nursing in University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH.
- There was a day she had to give me her only 5 Naira from her account as a nursing student for me to be able to go back to Medical School. There was a day I lost the 10 Naira she squeezed out of her pocket money. We wept bitterly. This life!
When I was introduced as a medical doctor and international teacher and preacher at the ceremony and the people clapped, only my wife and I knew the details of my life as a homeless stranger.
That’s why I’m committed to this marriage. I have never committed adultery and I will not because no woman is worth it. There was a girl who risked everything to marry a homeless stranger. A nonentity who has become a known entity.
My God is faithful. Don’t write yourself off. Your future is greater than your present hardships.
Please pray for that girl that had faith in a homeless stranger, Pastor Mrs. Felicia Apoki, that she will live long to eat the fruits of her risk in marrying a rascal then.
God Bless You.