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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Love (04/27/06)

TITLE: Still searching
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan
05/01/06


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The first man stole my money and dignity and left me with an unwanted baby.

The second drove all my friends away and turned me into a recluse.

The third…well, the third man put my daughter in the family way and made me an untimely grandmother.

I have stopped searching. What’s the big deal about love anyway? I am all of my thirty-three years and will not be fooled anymore.

How can a man whisper love to you, yet rob you and turn tail when your shared love produces a child? Or, how can a man profess love when he’s all consumed by jealousy and can’t bear to share you with others, even your family and friends. And how can you talk about love when a man seemingly heads over heels in love with you makes a baby with your fifteen-year-old daughter?

They tell me I’ve become a cynic. Overcautious, skeptical, too wrung out. I agree, but I’m not about to change. I’m not going to let down my guard.


****

“Hello mum.” Femi, my daughter bounds into the room with Bolu slung over her shoulder.
“Hi.” I return, reaching out automatically for my four-month-old granddaughter. It saddens me to think of the circumstances of her birth but I love her to pieces anyway. I love Femi too and we’ve spent the past one year weeping and growing together.
“I just finished feeding her. Would you mind holding her awhile? There’s a youth group meeting in church this afternoon.”

Femi has just gotten herself religion, the kind of which I have never seen before. Church on Sundays and two evenings a week. No more mini-skirts and see through tops. At age sixteen? I can’t for the life of me imagine how. Or why?

“You’re not studying anymore.” I chide her foolishly even though she made straight As in her last exams.
“That’s not true. And youth group makes me happy. I’m really learning a lot. Last time, our instructor talked about love.”
“Love?” I look up incredulously at Femi while burping Bolu.
“Yeah. How that one can only find true love in Jesus Christ. He said it is useless trying to find love in things or even in people. Things get destroyed and people change, he said, but only God’s love stays constant.”

“What?”
“I think it’s true, mum. If not, why did all your friends abandon us when I got pregnant for Uncle Dave? And my friends too? Why is it that the neighbors don’t greet us anymore? Why, if not for the simple reason that people only love you when you do good?”
“Hmn?” I am dumbfounded and cannot reply.

Femi went on unrelentingly, “If God didn’t love us, he would have killed me for what I did to you…”
“It wasn’t your fault,” I cut in for want of something to say, “Uncle Dave forced himself on you.”
“The first two times, mum. Afterwards, I gave in willingly. Perhaps it’s as the instructor said.”

“Sit down,” I say, “ and tell me more.”
She obliges, even though I know she’s running late, “He also said that it is only God that can put good people in your life who will love you despite anything. Faithful husbands, good mothers. Caring friends.”
“Aah?”
“I think I’m going to give God a trial. Sounds like a good bargain to me. I love him, he loves me and puts good people in my life. And why don’t you do the same. Then we could perhaps ask for a husband for you?”

“Femi?”
“You’re still young! Only thirty-four. You shouldn’t spend the rest of your life looking after me and Bolu.”
“I think you should go now. Or you’ll be late.”
“Okay mum, but promise me you’ll give it good thought. It’s going to be worth it.”
I hesitate to reply.
“Promise, mum.”
“Okay, I promise.” I say as I bounce Bolu on my knees.
My daughter has just told me to keep on searching for love. And in the most unexpected of places. After I have promised myself no more.

I will give it a trial.

For her sake. For Bolu’s sake.

For God’s sake.


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Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight05/05/06
Interesting take on the topic. It is true that there is only one everything else comes up short. I didn't connect well with the first person voice of the mother would of preferred the story being told from the daughter's POV but that may be just personal preference. I did however like the story line and the way you pointed to Jesus as the solution no matter how sticky of a situation.
Helen Paynter05/08/06
Good story. Strong beginning. I liked the daughter's voice, but felt that maybe the turnaround in the mother was a little too quick and easy...just my thoughts.
Rita Garcia05/10/06
Lots of food for thought. Heartfelt story. Good job.