Once Upon a Time in Ife

“When I found you, I found somebody who cares”

Bebe Winans (I Found Love)

Where do we start from to tell the story of two persons who would have never imagined they’ll end up together? The story begins with a certain Jonah delivered from the fishes of the Atlantic Ocean and sent five hundred kilometres away to a land warmly called Great Ife. Two years later, a certain Anuoluwapo made a similar journey howbeit from a bubbling convergence point north of the Niger. These two persons would go on existing in the land of Oduduwa blissfully unaware of each other.

At this point, the only connection between these two were their commitment to activities within their respective campus fellowships. Then in 2013, Anuoluwapo was nominated by the Redeemed Christian Fellowship (RCF) to serve as Media Head of the University Joint Christian Mission (UJCM), plunging her into public viewership. Jonah, as former Technical Director of the Anglican Students’ Fellowship (ASF), was tasked by the UJCM Organising Secretary to head the power team while also liaising with the media unit. Before your mind goes on a misdirected journey, be assured both of them did not notice each other beyond collaborating on UJCM services. In retrospect, one picture they took together at this time seems to suggest that the future was pregnant with smiles.

2014: A veil?

Thanks to WhatsApp, they remained in touch, intermittently checking on each other after Jonah graduated in 2014. Then in 2015, Anu bowed out of the Obafemi Awolowo University. One day in August 2015, Jonah decided to check up on Anu via WhatsApp—a purely innocuous move. Her first reply was “How is your girlfriend?” This showed the kind of person Anu is—a lady respecting boundaries, who was unwillingly to come in-between others. Jonah then told her about his recent breakup and they just asked about each other and that was it. This day marked the start of what has metamorphosed into a wedding.

From that day in August 2015, during Jonah’s service year, the frequency of their chats began increasing. By 2016, they had started chatting almost every other day. In June 2016, Jonah worried they were getting too close. He had begun developing feelings for Anu but was not sure he was ready for a relationship, especially “so soon” after his 2015 breakup. Being a very unserious guy, he tried clarifying his stance by asking Anu what was going on. Her puzzled reply made him sense the feelings were one-sided. To avoid any citations of deception, he clarified the status of their friendship (aka “ordinary friends”). Since he was planning to travel to the UK for his master’s degree, he ran away from any visions or allusions to anything resembling a relationship.

Can a man run away from his shadow?

Unknown Wise Man

In September 2016, Jonah headed to the UK for his master’s programme. Anu had helped with some visa processing in Abuja, and he felt he had to take her out on her birthday. Was his intention innocuous? Only God can tell. On a visit to Anu’s office in Abuja, one of her colleagues asked her if Jonah was “her guy”. Her reply seemed to make any future together a forever impossibility. Her birthday outing turned out to be quite awkward. On one hand was a guy unsure of his feelings and maintaining a veneer of robotic masculinity. On the other hand was a lady totally sure of her lack of feelings but willing to spend time with a good friend about to leave the country.

2016: First date?

All through Jonah’s stay in the UK, both of them stayed in close communication and the lady’s mind began to reconsider its hitherto absolutism. When he showed her two results in which he scored 82%, she asked him to score 100% for her. He was shocked at her impossible request and protested at the impracticability of having a perfect score in any of his exams. However, something within him wanted to impress her, so he did it, attaining a perfect score in his last exam.

On 31 May 2017, he finally realised he had been foolish all along and summoned the courage to ask Anuoluwapo, five thousand kilometres away, to be his girlfriend. For a guy seemingly predisposed to needless displays of masculinity, asking Anu to date him seemed more difficult than punching a big bully. Two days later, on 2 June 2017, Anu gave him the response he feared he would never get. It was official. Anu gladly accepted Jonah’s request. However, it would take him another three months to finally open his mouth to tell his lady how much he loved her. That was part of her birthday gifts.

Like the biblical Zechariah, the day he attested his love for her unlocked the gates to a season of proclaimed love. Both of them could not wait for him to return to Nigeria. The night he returned, she stayed awake tracking his flight, unwilling to sleep while her man returned to a land without constant light. His return powered a series of dates in Abuja. After attending their first wedding event together in February 2018, Jonah had to leave for Lagos where he was to resume at a new job. Their next date would be in June, after four months that seemed too long. They just couldn’t wait for time to fly away.

On 2 June 2018, the anniversary of their kick-off, they went to Silverbird Cinemas in Abuja to mark the day. Whereas Anu was blissfully enjoying the movie, Jonah’s mind wondered how he would deliver the ring in his pocket. By a stroke of luck, or maybe celestial setup, they were alone in that cinema hall on that Saturday afternoon. Anu had always hinted she wanted a private but classy proposal and was lost for words when Jonah went down, not on a knee, but on both knees, to present a ring to his lady.

2 June 2018 | The Proposal

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