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Mimi Adebayo

Forty and Counting Episode 6

The rest of that week, Imade could not get Lamide’s proposal out of her head. Every time she picked her phone to read or check her social media accounts, she found her thoughts straying to Lamide. They had resumed their daily chats on Whatsapp and she remembered what it was like to date him – the mischief, the way he made her laugh, the flirting and his unabashed honesty. She felt like a juvenile teenager on the brink of first love, she didn’t know whether it was a good or bad thing.  

Was this what retirement looked like? Long stretches of time unaccounted for? She was only one month in and she wasn’t coping.  

She and Yvonne had not spoken since their fallout last week and she had to admit she missed her but she didn’t want to seem pushy – Yvonne needed to reach out before they could sort things out. 

On Friday morning, when she was tired of ruminating over the proposal and letting Lamide live rent-free in her head, she reached out to Mena, the social butterfly. 

“Okay, I need to go out,” she said. “Are you free this evening?” 

“Always free for you, baby,” Mena chuckled over the phone. “My friend is having a dinner party this evening and I’m the planner, wanna come?” 

Imade laughed, for Mena, crashing an event was not a big deal because according to her that was how she got clients. 

“You know how many weddings I crashed before I began to build my client base?” she once told Imade. “See babe, in this Abuja eh, the violent take it by force. You can’t afford to be forming sisi upandan without anything in your bank account. The kind of life I want to live, I can’t wait for a man to finance it.” 

As she and Mena hung up after making plans to meet up later that evening, Imade pondered on the obvious difference between them. Where Mena believed men were overrated and didn’t care whether or not she ended up married, Imade loved love. And she had grown up in a home where she saw her father put her mother’s needs before his many times. She had watched her father defend her mother whenever his family member spoke ill of her; it didn’t matter if her mother had been the trigger of the incidence, her father was always ready to support her. At forty-two, her mother had decided to go back to school for another degree but her dad’s family had frowned at the idea. 

Imade was thirteen then, and had overheard the entire conversation when her aunty came visiting for Christmas. 

It was the calm in her father’s voice when he said – “I support whatever makes my wife happy, and really how I run my family is none of your business,” – that she would never forget.  

What was it like to be part of a love that cocooned you from the criticism of others? A love that cheered you on when others didn’t see the need for it? 

Yes, she wanted something like that. She wanted to love and be loved. Even better, she wanted the kind of love Christ had for the church, but was she foolish to expect that a man capable of such love existed? 

Ask and it shall be given. 

The words slipped into her heart unbidden where she sat on the cold tiled floor, a bowl of jollof rice in her hand after her phone call with Mena.  

But what did it mean? 

You do not have because you do not ask. 

Imade paused, mid-way chewing. What? 

What scripture was that? 

She reached for her phone and typed the phrase in Google. The citation popped up: James 4:2

She switched to her Bible app, scrolling to find a different version. She settled on The Passion Translation: 

You jealously want what others have so you begin to see yourself as better than others. You scheme with envy and harm others to selfishly obtain what you crave – that’s why you quarrel and fight. And all the time you don’t obtain what you want because you won’t ask God for it! 

“But have I not been asking, Lord?” Imade pondered. “I thought I spent all my life asking. You know I want this; I’ve always wanted this. How else am I supposed to ask for this?” 

“Do I become one of those women who go from one prayer house to the other looking for a solution? What happened to being content and joyful in the midst of an unfavourable situation?”  

“I don’t understand, Father. Help me understand, help me know what to do.” 

Dig deep, Imade. What you really think, is hindering you from receiving what you want, Imade. As a man thinketh… 

“But what do I think? I don’t understand.” 

You think good men are hard to find. You think there are no more good men like your father. You don’t think anyone is capable of loving you like Christ loves the church and so even when someone comes around, you disqualify them subconsciously, measuring them with a yardstick that is tainted by your mindset. 

“No! No, Lord, I do not do that. I mean, I think…I think good men are scarce. But that’s because all my attempts at dating have fallen flat. I end up with the men that have one issue or the other. I can’t even find good men in church. This is not about mindset, God. It is a fact.” 

Are you a good woman? 

“What? Really, God? You know, maybe this conversation should be over.” 

Imade, my daughter…are you a good woman? 

“Sigh, yes, Lord. I like to think I am.” 

What makes you good? What qualifies you to be good? 

“I…I don’t know. I don’t even understand this question, Lord.”  

When you know your answer to that, you will know better what you want. But let me tell you a truth: good men are not hard to find. Don’t let the world deceive you. I know the heart of man, and I know this for a fact. There are men that love like Christ loves. 

Imade sighed, pushed her almost-empty bowl away just at the same moment her phone pinged with a notification. 

She peeped at it. A Whatsapp message from Yvonne: 

Yvonne: Hey babe, can we meet, please? 

Me: Depends. I am going out this evening. 

Yvonne: I can come over now.  

Me: Okay. Sure. 

Yvonne: I’ll be coming with Olive. That okay? 

Me: Sure.  

Yvonne: See you. 

Me: Yeah. 

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