—Chapter 15—


Lord, where am I standing? Am I a step ahead of You? If I want You to lead me then I have to mark time in order to allow You take the lead. I don’t want to lead You into my whims; instead, lead me into Your will!

Almost Married at 20

   Fast backward: After failing to do well in Orero in 1982, I was at the verge of marrying at the beginning of 1983 and the lady was Hellen Apiyo. I was turning 20.
   While I was a student in Orero Secondary, I had met a lady in unusual circumstances. I had gone to Homa Bay for a short holiday (what we call “Half Term” in Kenya). As we were loitering at the bus terminus, Hannington, a friend of mine, spotted a lady across the road. He asked me to go and call the lady for him. I thought I saw the lady he was pointing at. I ran across the road and drew the lady’s attention that someone wanted to talk to her. She looked surprised because when I pointed at the man who was calling her, she seemed not to know him. I, however, insisted that she could just come with me and find out. When we came to Hannington, it was obvious that I had called the wrong person.
   As I stood in front of her apologising, our eyes caught—both of us transfixed. I wouldn’t graphically describe the young lady enough to give the reader the picture of the person I am talking about. There was a question that neither Hellen nor I asked aloud: Now, what next? Hannington interrupted. He could still see the lady he had wanted me to go and call. He tried one more time and pointed out. I went and this time called the right lady. When I came back Hellen was gone. I felt bad! I thought, Hanington is selfish and insensitive! How can he let go that good girl? At least I would have loved to bond with her in some way.
   One day, back in Orero, guess whom I saw—Hellen! She was related to the Deputy Headmaster’s wife. She had come to stay with them. I thought we were destined to partner for life. I managed against all odds to pass a letter to her, reminding her of how we first met in Homa Bay few months ago. We hooked up and agreed that when I finish my Form 4, we would get married. We were serious. During one of the weekends, when we were free to go out of school compound, I went and visited their home.
   Early 1983, I travelled from Mbita to Asumbi (their home place) to take her with me to our home. I didn’t find her. She had gone to visit her maternal grandmother some other place. I never saw her again. We tried to connect with letters but it didn’t just work.

Time to Identify a Life Partner

   Fast forward: Now at Moi University, six years later, I felt my time to get married was overdue. In fact, when Mutabaruka made the altar-call calling me to go get saved, one of the reasons for my determination to procrastinate committing myself was that I would marry first before getting saved.
   As I noted above, I feared that I could fall into fornication, the reason for which I had asked God to take me home before this could happen. Getting saved didn’t take away the feelings for the opposite sex. The only thing is that one has to control the feelings. However, the apostle Paul notes:

Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband…. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
—1 Corinthians 7:2,9.

   This means that getting saved doesn’t take away the burning, getting married does. The advice is therefore that one should get a spouse. Now that I was saved and wouldn’t run around with ladies, why couldn’t I just get my wife so that, among other reasons, I wouldn’t be exposed to the danger of falling into fornication, or better still, dying if I was at the verge of falling into the sin? I had been in salvation for one year and I thought that was enough time to have been celibate.
   There was one big problem though. At the university there were so many beautiful ladies—who would be who? Soon I realised that the search would be arduous after all. But since our closeness with Cate was airtight, I felt that there would perhaps be no need looking beyond her, but I had to be sure.
   Because we had started relating before I got saved, some people had thought that I was getting saved in order to get her. Others however considered the dramatic way in which I was saved and knew that it was not a fake thing schemed to win a lady. My love for her had increased and it was such a pure love. I didn’t care what people would say. I would ask her to marry me.
   But before I proposed to her I had to be sure that it was God’s will that we get married. I had narrowed my nominations to four ladies. I then took my time and prayed over the issue. I don’t know whether it was naïve to do it that way but in order to “choose right” an idea came to me one day: cast lot over the nominated ladies!
   I never did it once or twice or thrice but many times I lost the counting. It in fact became a pastime. I would write the names of these four ladies on pieces of paper, roll them up until one couldn’t tell which paper had which name. I would then pick. Believe me, Cate’s name came up in what I can approximate at 80% of the cases. Another thing used to happen that fortified my belief that it was Cate. During holidays, whenever I dreamt about her (by the way, I dream a lot) I would receive her letter.

I felt that I loved her enough to pay the price of her brothers’ disturbances—that is, if the dream was to come to pass.

   The day came to ask Cate what I believed she knew was coming. I asked her to marry me. Her answer didn’t look like I would lose her. At first, I thought that it was typical of African ladies who would sometimes say No even when they meant yes. She told me that I have been to her like a brother—blood brother. Marrying me would be like marrying a brother. I teased her that I was of course her brother—blood brother—the blood of Jesus!
   Determined to win her, I explained that to me that feeling of “blood relationship” was even better. No final word was in place. Later, it turned out that it wasn’t going to work. She almost gave in at one time but told me that she was going to talk to her parents about the matter. Cate was Daddy’s daughter and wasn’t about to disappoint her father when the old man refused to sign her away to a non-tribe. She was a Luhya tribe and I am a Luo.
   It was a shock, a painful one. Imagining life without Cate was one of the most difficult trials I was to go through. At one time, just after proposing to her, I had a dream where someone was advising me not to marry her because her brothers were going to disturb me a lot. That was just a dream! I declared in my heart. I felt that I loved her enough to pay the price of her brothers’ disturbances—that is, if the dream was to come to pass.
   I was thrown off-balance. I never went back lot-casting. It took me time to find new bearing. All the other three nominees just faded in the picture. I never stopped praying though.

A Large Snake and a Huge Wild Animal on a Mission

   For some people, getting someone to marry is a crisis. For me, as I will soon explain below, I had to engage a fervent spiritual gear.
   Just to show what a crisis it is, consider the following story. My friend Knut was teaching in a Bible school when he joked not knowing that to some of his students this was a serious matter. He thought his students would take it for what it was, a joke, but he was wrong. One of his students who considered the case very serious and who actually needed a wife failed to read a joke in the matter.
   Knut said that all those who were wondering on who to marry should come to him on a Tuesday morning at 5.30 in the morning. He “promised” to give each person who came the name of the person they should marry. He was surprised in the evening when one of his students sent a text message on his mobile, confirming that he would come and get the name of the spouse-to-be. I don’t know why he didn’t tell his student that he had only joked.
   Knut was actually meant to be in the church by 5:30 am. The reason for his being in the church was however not to give people the names of their potential spouses. He was there for the leadership prayer meeting. He was informed that some one had an appointment and was waiting at the door of his office. To cut the long story short, he didn’t have any name for anyone.

   It was increasingly becoming elusive identifying the lady to marry. I stepped up the tempo and fervour of my prayer. I would not just pray but combine it with fasting. On my fasting and prayer day, I used to retreat to the bush away from distractions by other students. On one of such missions, I had knelt down and engaged into the spirit.
   What followed was interesting. I grew up in a culture where prayer had to be accompanied by closing the eyes. It was unheard of to pray with open eyes. I had knelt and closed my eyes, talking to God about my need for a wife. I hadn’t said much when I heard a scaring sound—a snake was crawling on dry leaves coming towards me. I am aware that some of my readers don’t know what the sound of a snake crawling on dry leaves is like. It is one of the most discomforting sounds you can imagine. It is a sound you can’t put up with.
   As a man of innocent and fresh faith, I told God that I wasn’t going to open my eyes to look at the snake and probably get out of its way, or may be kill it. I also told Him that He was capable of taking care of that snake. I continued praying, I wouldn’t allow the snake to interrupt my time with God—but was I really praying? I would say a few words, then pay attention to the snake—was it still coming or had it disappeared? The more determined I was to ignore the snake, the closer it came.
   As the drama unfolded between me and the snake, I ended up praying asking God to take away the snake instead of asking Him for a wife. It didn’t help! It reached a time when I was now listening to the snake’s movement, I was transfixed—I wasn’t uttering any word. My eyes were still closed though but I was keenly gauging, trying to judge from the sound of the movement, how close the snake had come. It was still coming. By now, it was already late. The snake had reached me. It would take a miracle to escape unhurt.
   Well, God had chosen not to help—or did He? I had to open my eyes and “help myself”. When I opened my eyes I was ready to jump, just if by any means I might escape unhurt.
   Surprise! There was no snake, neither were there dry leaves around there. It took me a couple of minutes trying to figure out what was happening. I had to pinch myself several times to be sure that I was not sleeping and, therefore, dreaming.
   I closed my eyes once again and started praying. I didn’t say much. It was happening again. This time, it was a big animal in the category of an elephant or a rhinoceros. The animal was tearing through the bush coming towards me. The pace was faster than that of the snake.
   I was duped the first time, I was determined not to fall for it again. Soon my determination to ignore the sound proved to be no match against the determination of the animal to reach me. Again I was “stubborn” until it ought to have been too late. I had to open my eyes before I would be horned or trampled to death.
   I opened my eyes and,… you guess it! There was no elephant; no rhinoceros, or any other large animal for that matter. In fact, there was no bush of the nature through which a large animal could tear in the manner I heard when I closed my eyes. There were only some short shrubs and isolated trees around.
   It was around 2 in the afternoon, I was not hallucinating. This second time, there was a whisper from within: Why are you wasting time praying over something that God has answered? Pray for souls in Mfangano Island!

So God had already answered my prayers for a wife! That sounded reasonable.

Open Your Eyes I am Talking to You

   Talking about opening eyes reminds me of Mama Nora. At one time, she used to be a small scale fishmonger. She would wake up at dawn to go to the lake and buy fish. She would then travel to other places to sell the fish. She would come back in the evening. This meant that whenever she was leaving, she would wake me up to give instructions for the day: things that need be done in the course of the day; what was where; what to prepare for meals, etc.
   Mama Nora would not talk until I confirmed to her that I was awake. And being awake meant that I had to open my eyes. One of the words we translate to order someone to wake up is nen! This world literally means “be seeing” or “open your eyes”.
   If you wake me up, as long as you hear me responding, you can take it from that that I am awake. I may still be having my eyes closed though. You could then go ahead and speak. But this was not the case with Mama Nora. She would not talk until she was sure that I had opened my eyes. This brings me to what I believe God revealed to me about the case above—that is, being forced to open my eyes when I thought I was closing them to be focused on Him.
   It was after opening my eyes that a voice spoke to me questioning why I was wasting time praying over something that God had already answered.
   Some of the most limiting factors as far as hearing from God is concerned are our clinging to traditions, especially when they are well-meaning. The more well-meaning they are the more they would block us from hearing from God.
   Sometimes it takes breaking the tradition in order to position ourselves to listen to what God is saying. Another thing is that although we hear with our ears, sometimes it takes opening of the eyes to hear from someone.
   Did you know that hearing with the eyes is biblical? When Nehemiah interceded regarding the waywardness of the children of Israel, he asked God not only to be attentive by His ears but also to open His eyes and hear:

Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.
—Nehemiah 1:6, italics, my emphasis.

I Had Someone in Mind

   I indicated above that when I heard a whisper that God had already answered my prayers for a wife, it sounded reasonable. The reason for this was that though I was seeking God about a spouse-to-be, I already had someone in mind—I will call her Nelly. When the inner voice mentioned that God had answered my prayers, I took it that Nelly would be the one.
   This time round, I successfully closed my eyes and there were no snakes or elephants, etc. But before I closed my eyes again to pray for the mission to Mfangano Island, I thought it realistic to do a deal with God. I told God that if it was true that He had answered my prayers, straight from the bush I would go to the ladies’ hostels and visit Nelly. If I found her in her room, I wound know that she was the one. I would then propose to her or make arrangements to do so in the near future. If on the other hand she wasn’t in her room, I would conclude that she wasn’t the one. That was settled. I closed my eyes again and started praying for the souls in Mfangano Island. We, the saved students from Nyanza Province, had arranged for a mission to the island during forthcoming holidays. We had invited students from other parts of the country.
   Nelly was not among the earlier nominees. When I failed to win Cate despite the overwhelming predictions by casting of lots, my interest in the other three also waned. As I have already indicated I also became disillusioned with casting of lots.
   That is what I did. After prayers I went straight to her room. Lo and behold she was not in! Instead I found her roommate. I felt that I might have made a mistake. It was extremely difficult to switch her off my mind as a potential spouse. I had really settled for her. I told her roommate to tell her that I had passed by. Fighting dejection, I went to my room.

I had knelt and closed my eyes, talking to God about a wife-to-be. I hadn’t said much when I heard a scaring sound—a snake was crawling on dry leaves coming towards me.

   I hadn’t even sat down when she came knocking. She told me that when she came to her room, her roommate told her that I had been there to see her but that I had just left—in fact, in less than a minute. She didn’t sit. She decided to find out with me.
   There are remote senses in some of these things. Although we hadn’t been so close by any means, she had sensed that I wanted to “talk”. Because I had a deal with God, I refused to talk. I told her that I was just passing by, no major issue. I waited eagerly for God to show me “the answered prayer” but this was not to be soon as I had wanted.
   Several months later, noting that God had “failed” me and also thinking that I might have made a mistake by the deal I proposed, I reneged on the deal. I approached the lady and proposed to her. She told me that somebody had approached her. She hadn’t made up her mind though and, therefore, hadn’t given him an answer. I could read many things from the way she was talking. She was implicitly asking me why I didn’t talk when I had the chance. Although she hadn’t given her word she told me she was afraid she was getting so attached to the man. Of course I came to know immediately who the man was—a dear brother in the Lord.
   I realised that I was chasing after something God had told me was not mine. It was time for me to ease out. I told her not to let the whole thing tear her between the two of us—I would be fine with decision she would take. I also kept a warm relationship with the brother who was on course of “beating” me to her. In effect, I didn’t feel bad because that confirmed to me that I was going back to my words that I had given the Lord. I released her from my mind and stopped perceiving her as a potential spouse.

Hunting or Just Seeking a Spouse-to-Be?

   One day, we, a section of Christian Union members, had a retreat. We had withdrawn from the campus to a nearby waterfalls. One of the things we discussed was relationship. I was in my final year at the university.
   As we discussed about relationships, some brothers were of the impression that there was a spirit of hunting; that some brothers were desperate to get spouses so much so that they had reverted to hunting. The context and the tone of the hunting was extremely negative. One of the seasoned brothers asked our sisters in the Lord if someone or some people had “hunted” them. The sisters had started answering in turns, but it was apparent that they were uncomfortable with the question and its plotting, It then dawned on me that the question was ill-intentioned and equally so, inappropriately formulated.
   Because the whole question was plotted in a bad light, I realised that some of the ladies were cornered to talk about what sounded genuine moves by some brothers in a context that negated them. I interrupted and explained things and also disqualified the kind of question they had put to the ladies. They didn’t have to answer such questions.
   As someone who grew up at the countryside where hunting activities were common, I felt that it was my responsibility to put things into perspective. According to me, something I explained to the meeting, hunting was where one was indiscriminately chasing after all the huntable animals—sometimes not just one type of animal but different types at the same time. In seeking for partners, if you applied this, it meant that a man would ask a lady to marry him but before the lady could make up her mind, there he was chasing another one. Or “hunting” would give the impression that a man is hot on a lady’s heels that she doesn’t have time to decide. Cases where one asked a lady to marry him and waited for her to give an answer, if the answer is no, I didn’t see a reason why a man may not try his luck elsewhere. 
   The irony which we also pointed out was that the brother who came down so hard on others discouraging them from approaching ladies was himself engaged. We asked him how their engagement came about. Again, we would have loved to get practical suggestions on how to go about the issue.

With that, the “sanity” of discussing about relationships returned and we had a healthy discussion.

I Would Accuse Her for Stealing My Heart

   For me, before I got saved, following a woman with my eyes was as impulsive as breathing is compulsive. I have been struggling with the question why God had to wire us to admire women so much so that it becomes the natural thing to do. Why did He have to make them irresistibly beautiful and attractive?
   But when I got saved I realised that some of the things that I had thought impossible were possible. Together with the attitude: Don’t even think about it, I also adopted the attitude of: Don’t even look. Why not even look? There are some features in ladies that if you stay your eyes on, you may start imagining things and thinking thoughts.
   Since I got saved I had been doing so well, that is, not allowing my eyes to follow a lady or stray into the “wrong” features. This was until one afternoon when I incidentally met Laura along the road between Administration Block and Ngeria students’ hostels.
This was a very popular road. It was almost unthinkable that only two people would be walking along this road on an afternoon. The road between the Administration Block and Ngeria hostels was a straight stretch of a road. This means that when you are going to meet someone, you’d start seeing the person from a distance. She was going to the hostels while I was headed to the Administration Block.
   This of course was not the first time to see or to be close to her. As a matter of fact she was a roommate of one of the ladies I initially short-listed as potential spouse-to-be. We had sat together in the meetings; I had gone to their room a number of times. She was supposed to be very familiar. But on this day, as we walked towards each other, I had been forced to look at her longer than would otherwise have been normal. Her walking style was uniquely aesthetic—a good taste to the eye.
   Before the afternoon in question, she wasn’t completely out of the picture. I had noted that there was something irresistibly special with her but there were “different special things” with quite a number of ladies. This made it difficult to single out one of them.
   When we finally met, there was just the two of us in the middle of a university with a throng of students. This was something really strange I must repeat. We exchanged handshakes; as was custom with saved people in Kenya, we shared short testimonies which comprised basically pledging our loyalty to Christ. How I wished this to stretch longer! I just loved to be in the company of the person standing in front of me.
   As we were talking, her beauty was competing for my attention. My eyes ended up straying to a “wrong” place—her hair. How I felt awkward should she catch me staring at her hair! I had never been so fancy about ladies’ hairs but her hair did me in. First it was her walking; now it was her hair. And it didn’t end there: I liked her soft-spoken mien; her posture; her eyes; her balance; her… Oh! Let me stop there and summarise that I liked “everything she was”.
   The danger was at hand—or so I thought. When you start staring longer than a momentary look, you’ll begin thinking thoughts and imagining things—that is for sure, I have to repeat. The problem again here is that the “longer” I am talking about here can be as short as a few seconds. Imaginations and thoughts began crisscrossing my mind. Where was the control I had cultivated of late?

Think of this lady walking arm in arm with you! One thought went.
Think of that walking style in your sitting room and …well, bedroom! Another thought screamed.
Think of that hair. Think of staring at them without being rebuked!, yet another imagination flashed through my mind.

   There were other thoughts not descent for printing. Was I degenerating into infatuation and lust? I was afraid so. The boundary was getting thinner and thinner.
  Surely, she was too good to be my wife. How could something extremely good happen to me? I had to withstand the tickles regardless of how involuntary they were. If she wasn’t going to be my wife, the mesmerizing waves of passion she was injecting into my being were, to be blatant, dangerous. I was saved and wouldn’t allow any lady’s beauty hypnotise me the way it was turning out in her case. How could this lady that I had seen many times without any impious passions all of a sudden overwhelm me in a pace of less than two minutes?
   I finally managed to wrestle myself free—or so I thought. We finished our testimonies and lecture experiences. It was time each one of us proceeded her/his way.
   For a moment or two I continued imagining things and thinking thoughts: I found myself rehearsing how I would appreciate her beauty if I was to stand in front of her. I would tell her:

Madam, have you ever been accused of stealing something—anything!

   It wouldn’t matter what answer she would give. If she said Yes! I would tell her: You are at the verge of getting another accusation! If she said No, I would tell her: Then you are at the verge of getting the first accusation!

   If she asked me what I meant, I would tell her how she had stolen my heart, and how I was going away “heartless”.

As the drama unfolded between me and the snake, I ended up praying asking God to take away the snake instead of asking Him for a wife.

   Ultimately I thought I had everything under control until I found it natural to turn and look—not necessarily to stare at her. I did it impulsively. Surely the lady had stolen my heart. I had to look back and see where my heart was going.
   I turned and looked again. Relieved that she was not looking back, I got involuntarily hypnotised at the way she was walking, I stared—how long it took, I don’t know.
   Each time after turning I would promise not to look again but I found myself turning again and again—how many times? I lost the counting. What was happening? I had vowed not to let any lady unduly capture me. I had never behaved like that since I got saved nearly two years ago. I had stopped staring at ladies in the manner of the dictates of the flesh.
   The way I couldn’t resist turning multiple times to stare at her left me feeling condemned until a voice spoke from within: If you wouldn’t allow yourself to be attracted where will you get a wife—will one drop from heaven for you?
   She wasn’t making up her walking style—it was natural. Oh boy! Wasn’t the intention of her design meant for my attention? If there was a man who had seen what I was seeing in her, I had no chance. Some men were more prompt and courageous than I was. Somebody must have approached her. I tortured my emotions and promised to forget about her.
   Since that day, whenever I saw her, something would involuntarily tickle in me—an increased heartbeat; some micro-beads of sweat on my face; some kind of fear; whenever I stretched my hand to greet her, I would feel like my hand is wet with sweat.
   If I was to say something to her, I would attempt a rehearsal well enough in order to avoid making any mistakes in her presence. But this kind of preparation only caused me more anxiety. The way she could arrest my attention made me think that my old nature was creeping back on me. Any time I saw her coming or when I was approaching a place where she was, I would quickly check myself to make sure that I was alright. Too bad that men don’t walk with a mirror in the pocket—I would be checking myself in the mirror before meet her.
   All these were happening when I was finalising my studies. Soon I would be posted to teach in one of the secondary schools in the country. And that is what happened—I left the university without courting her or making any suggestions. I had intensely admired her but from a distance. She wasn’t aware of the passions she had stirred in me.

“Dan, Please Take Your Money!”

   Out in the field, I was getting disenchanted with ladies, not that I didn’t love them nor because I was bitter but because I was finding it difficult to get the reciprocation and the perfect timing. I had told God that I didn’t want to make any mistakes as far as marriage was concerned. This meant that I was also to seek God and not just move at my own whims. I strongly believed that if I didn’t involve God, I would have struck at the right time with Nelly and she might have accepted my proposal.
   After losing out on Cate (the first lady I genuinely had a pure love for); the deal that didn’t work in my favour in the case of Nelly and one more case I didn’t tell above, I felt that it was time to sober down and just wait. I knew I wouldn’t get a lady drop from heaven but at the same time, it was going to be extremely difficult for any lady to get my proposal. I just relaxed although the desire to know who was going to be my spouse was still alive and pressing.
   The case I didn’t tell above was about Muvea. After missing out on Cate and before Nelly caught my attention I was beginning to notice Muvea but hadn’t made any hard decision. All these relationship crisis spanned a period of two years.
   Muvea was a friend of Omego, a fiancée of my former roommate, An’giella. Because we were very free with Omego, I had wanted to find out through her some things about Muvea before I made any hard decisions and eventually any moves. Omego misunderstood my strategies. She went and told Muvea: “The fisherman wants to marry you!” Omego used to call me “The fisherman” being a man from the lake and actually having been fishing since I was a toddler except when I was in school.
   One day Omego came and excitedly informed me that she had told Muvea that I wanted her for marriage. I didn’t get mad at her but was at the same time not amused. I didn’t ask her to go propose for me. I didn’t know the impression this premature proposal had on Muvea, and how I hated messing a lady’s life with false alarms. So I decided to make a follow-up.
   It was true! Omego’s self-styled proxy proposal did a lot of destabilising in Muvea’s life. This was a very innocent young lady who got so scared when she had to do with a queue of proposals. She had been approached by a couple of guys. She didn’t know who to say yes to and she was getting pretty nervous—sometimes even thinking that the brethren lining up for her hand in marriage might get into a quarrel and their testimony, together with hers, ruined.
   When I talked with her, I told her that for me I was willing to withdraw my interest if it was adding to an already overstrained situation—except if she asked me not to. This was tactical. If she asked me not to, I would know that she was likely to accept me among the three that had shown interest.
   I was the last among the three to come to the scene. She was tending towards the early bird catches the worm. It was alright with me because if I actually knew that she had been proposed to I wouldn’t have mentioned anything to Omego.
   Out in the field, things were beginning to take their natural course as time went by. Slowly but steadily Pam had caught my attention. She became the second lady after Cate that I would say I dated. We used to be together most of the afternoons after work. We were very comfortable in the presence of each other. There was a feeling in the air that we were mutually drawn to each other and compatible in many ways.
   I had settled in my mind to ask her to marry me—and I was going to do so in days. It was that close.
   A break-up came in a very unusual way. There were some local missionaries who were coming to our town. Pam offered to host them. She took up the challenge not only to give the accommodation but also to cater for their subsistence while they were reaching out to souls in our town. It was a week-long engagement.
   I realised that the number of the missionaries was big and that there was definitely going to be a strain on her finances. Without her asking for any help, I decided to chip in some financial help. I told her that it was to help her with the guests. She delightfully and appreciably accepted the help. Things were alright.
   After some time, well after the guests had gone, I was surprised one day when Pam returned me the money. I asked why she was giving me back the money. She, however, had no explanation. She just insisted, “Please Dan, just take your money!” (She used to call me ‘Dan’—short form for Daniel).
   I refused to take the money and told her that it wasn’t a loan if I didn’t make it clear at the time I gave it to her. She attempted to put the money into my pocket but I drew back. She put it on the table in front of me. I pleaded with her to take the money but she was adamant and only kept on repeating, “Please just take your money!”
   At first I thought that there might have been some ill-talks about the money from some tittle-tattling quarters. But I soon realised after soul searching that I never told anybody about the little help I gave her. And again, we were alone when I gave it to her. Why was she all of a sudden behaving queerly? I wondered.
   I finally took back the money but that settled it. The fire of the relationship that had been glowing started gathering ash. To me that was enough gesture of rejection. I painfully withdrew from Pam. I didn’t want to risk being turned away again by someone I had invested my heart so much in. Whatever length it was going to take before I knew who would be my wife—leave alone getting married—I was willing to wait.

There are some features in ladies that if you stay your eyes on, you may start imagining things and thinking thoughts.

   What happened between Pam and I can be compared to what will happen to some people who pose to be in working relationship with Christ but have actually rejected Him.
   Later Pam even bemoaned what happened between us. She could only guess that she must have done something that made her lose out on me. The painful thing was that she never meant to hurt me, neither did she intend that her behaviour was to send a signal to me that my love wouldn’t be received. But I must confess, I didn’t understand what had gone into her head. If she also never realised that I was getting hurt by her insistence that I take back my money, then she must have been critically insensitive.
   When unconditional love is given, it returns to the owner when it isn’t received. However much people believe that Christ loves them—and of course He does—His love will only benefit those who receive it. The first step to accept Christ’s love is to accept that which He offers. This is what I learnt from the abortive love between me and Pam.

Asked Laura to Marry Me!

   I thought I had forgotten about Laura. It turned out that she had lodged somewhere in my heart which the distance that now separated us pushed into the subconscious.
   After realising that there was not going to be anything between Pam and I, I was willing to stay as long as it could take for things to clear up for me. Some months later after “breaking up” with Pam, I realised that my former university was offering some Masters courses. I decided to travel back there and lodge an application. I could have posted them but I had wanted to talk in person with some lecturers whom I wanted to be my referees.
   The journey was long enough, giving me ample time to think through things. I thought about Laura and wondered if she was now happily engaged. She was a first year when I was in third year. This means that she was still at the college. I would find out if she was in a relationship or not. There was a chance that I would kill two birds with one stone, that is, using the journey to apply for further studies and at the same time approaching a lady for a marriage.
   The thought of her brought with it some emotional agony. This is because the passionate impressions she had lodged in my being were so powerful I was not sure if I would manage them. If my heart went back to her only to find that she had been engaged, it would be devastating—I would be heartbroken. I had become apprehensively conscious of the fact that identifying the spouse-to-be had become exceptionally elusive. And God had answered my prayers!
   Just like Nelly where I was late, I felt that someone must have won Laura. I would try all the same. Because of this fear, when I finally gathered my courage to approach her, my first statement was: “I wouldn’t wish to cause any confusion, but I’d love to know if you’re available.”
   She told me that she had not committed herself to anybody but wasn’t going to allow me to be privy to details of whether she had been approached or not. That didn’t matter to me. I was relieved to hear that she was still available. I had a chance. Like Nelly, I believed she could have told me if she was already responding to someone else.
   I doubt if she had the remotest idea that I had been admiring her. The day I kept on looking at her when we met along the way, she never looked behind—otherwise she could have caught me looking. This might have given her a reason to suspect something. If she knew I had wanted her, then it was pure intuition.
   She told me that she had not seriously thought about relationship enough to make her know what to say. At 23 she thought she was still too young to bother her mind with thoughts of relationships. She wanted to concentrate on her studies which was at this point a priority. From the way she talked, I guessed that I must have been the first person to make a serious bid. Serious in the sense that my proposal must have challenged her innocence and called her to begin thinking seriously about the issue. If someone had “shaken” her with a genuine bid, she would have stopped thinking that she was still too young to think about those things.

All the same my proposal was out of the blue; she would think and pray about it.

I had to withstand the tickles regardless of how involuntary they were. If she wasn’t going to be my wife, the mesmerizing waves of passion she was injecting into my being were, to be blatant, dangerous.

   I travelled back to where I was working. I didn’t want to put her under pressure, but eagerly awaited her reply. It reached a point I thought it was time for her to have made up her mind. I wrote to her asking for her word on the matter. In reply she told me that she hadn’t pretty much thought about it. This implied that she hadn’t even prayed much over the matter. I felt bad! There I was, one day without her final word was like a year—anxiety was taking a good toll on me—yet she was not even thinking much about it! But I was willing to wait. I would only make another move if she turned me down.
    The second letter I wrote was over a year later; some months before I flew out of the country. I didn’t tell her that I was soon leaving the country but only told her that something was on the offing and it would be extremely important that I get her final word—whether it was a yes or a no. I never heard from her until I travelled.
   I was still hoping against all odds. An adage has it that silent means consent, but, certainly, this doesn’t apply in proposal for marriage matters.

Proceed to Chapters 16-18

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