The Wow Factor Man

What other love story does a girl desire to tell, other than the one that happened on a Sunday morning of a raining season in August. My favorite season of the year. This very week it rained every day from Monday to the weekend. It was a cozy Sunday morning, with a very heavy downpour in the early hours of the morning. A few drops of water that splashed on my face from my open window woke me up way before the 4 am alarm I’d labeled “I must be in church by 6 am” rang.

Whoop whoop! I made it super early to church before the media unit 6:10 call time. Hyper to create images, I set up my gear ready to shoot. Service started at 7 am and I fully intended to provide the social media team a creative image with a wow factor that would be the talk of the day. Geared up, I walked to the front row seats in church when the perfect opportunity presented itself. I saw a tall, light-skinned, grey-haired elderly man wearing a white kaftan lifting his holy hands in worship. With the image already in my head, I tried to frame a rule of thirds to show his teary face and his well-stretched hands to heaven. Using a zoom 70–200 lens, it was impossible to take the picture without cutting off his upper hands due to the close distance to him. I decided to take a few steps backward and that was when the event that forever changed my life occurred.

The first step, second step, then the third, I bumped into someone. The back of my head hit his jaw, I lost my balance and was almost about to crash into the floor. I saw my entire life flash before my eyes in just a second. OMG! What I’d always feared is happening today, falling in a church as big as mine had always been one of my biggest fears. Different thoughts rushing through my head, my hands uncontrollably flying into the air, mouth wide open, my legs spread in a comic position, with zero hope of survival whatsoever, I was ready for the big fall. I closed my eyes, when I opened it, behold, I was in his arms. “Do not worry, I got you”, was all he said. I looked at him, looked at the floor, then back at him with a smile about to say thank you when it hit me and all I could utter was, “Where is my camera?” Oh-no! the scene of my excitement the day my camera was delivered to me flashed before my eyes. The amount on the receipt flashed also before my eyes. “This can not be happening to me”, I mumbled with my hand on my face. That was the moment I felt the brightest sunshine as he said: “No fear, I got your camera too.”

With me in his right hand and my camera in his left hand, he was on one bended knee and as I looked around, I realized that all eyes were on us. Quickly, he helped me to my feet, handed my camera to me and asked if I was okay, I responded that I was, and then added with a big smile that my camera and I were grateful for his superhero skills. The blush he immediately wore on his face could probably be noticed from blocks away. He smiled back and said, “You and your camera are very much welcome”, and walked away to sit down and at that moment it felt like a part of me had left me.

Did I get the ‘wow factor’ image that was my number one priority that morning, of course, I did not. My focus had changed, I couldn’t concentrate throughout the service. My eyes couldn’t leave the corner he was sitting in church. All the pictures I took during the service were blurry and time went by so fast that service ended in no time. I was with some friends in the media room when I was told that a ‘Mr’ is asking to see me outside. Curious to find out who it was, I dashed out to see my superhero, my knight in shining armor standing tall, dark, not handsome in a pretty boy way but good looking with swag and an attractive carriage. He speaks with confidence like someone who knows he is the smartest person in the room, quite intimidating but sexy. We analyzed the incident, I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt and our conversation ended with both of us agreeing to meet that evening for dinner. Staring at me, he said, “My name is Nathan by the way, may I have your number and what should it be saved as?”. Heading home with so much excitement thinking of what to wear, I started analyzing my day in church. No wow, factor image was created that day but I got my wow factor man.

During our dinner date at Jabi Boat Club that Sunday evening, I asked Nathan how his jaw was, he said that it wasn’t bad but that I could treat his jaw dislocated by my big beautiful head with one kiss every day for a week. The sound of that was bursting my brain like we were still on our first date and he already could not wait for another. I felt the same way too. It felt like we’d known each other for years. We felt glued together, not just physically and emotionally but psychologically, socially and spiritually. Nathan asked who my ideal man could be. I told him that I want a leader; someone that can lead me. His deal maker was honesty and his deal-breaker was laziness. Honesty has been one of my core values and I was very pleased to know this part of him. Our discussion was backed-up with Bible reference from Proverbs 13:6, 26:28. Dinner went well, now fast forward to December.

Oh wow, I never knew falling in love could be this easy. With this one, there’s no goodbye. I would follow you to forever land. This is all I’ve ever wanted: I go where you go and as long as you feel the same, I will follow you into the flames, I told him. I like me better when I’m with you. I knew from the first time, we would stay for a long time, I told him. Every touch from you is special. Music to my ears, you are my melody. Late-night feeling sick, you are my remedy, I told him. I don’t want to keep playing games, can we make you and I a tradition? I told him. Your peaceful, gentle, assuring, and loving kisses make all my doubts go away. This is evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, I told him. I think I have turned into an addict even though I don’t get high. When I look in your eyes, I’m lifted, I told him. I promise that with you the butterflies in my stomach are always active, I told him. I love you, I told Nathan. Cheers to the Christmas celebrations, we shared a kiss.

January 1st, I was bored from the vexation of how much life sucks so I decided to Netflix and chill in my room all by myself. After previewing over fifteen movie thrillers, I couldn’t decide on which movie to watch, mostly because the high budget movies with good resolutions were all romance. I mean, past December was one of the best times in my entire existence; filled with beautiful memories with Nathan. From game nights at our friend’s house to late-night movies at the cinema, then the hikes that I would so prepare for and end up being carried halfway to the hilltop by Nathan. Every moment we spent together was magical, an experience anyone would wish for, I would ask for a replay. But Nathan’s sudden decision to leave Abuja on the 31st of December to spend the new year with his family in Gombe is what I still don’t understand. We had mapped out fun activities together for January before work resumes: friends to visit, a new restaurant in town, even to attend the same crossover night, holding hands and counting down to the new year as lovers. Sadly, here I am on new year’s day bored, alone and feeling useless because I had canceled all other plans with my friends to be with Nathan. Now you see why I’m not about to make matters worse for myself with those romantic movies, I‘m already dealing with mixed feelings over Nathan’s absence which has led to my irritation all day. Netflix website should be burned down I screamed into my pillow as I flipped my Mac closed and picked a book titled More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger to read. The foreword of the book written by Bob Goff was making sense and I was about to begin chapter one when I heard my dad shouting my name.

I ran downstairs to answer my dad, my cousin told me that my dad said I should meet him outside the estate gate. I wanted to blow up but I calmed down, besides its a new year and I don’t want to be mad for the rest of the year. As I walked towards the gate, I saw my dad smiling sheepishly and in my head, I was like what is wrong with this one now. Oh well, I kept walking towards the gate, the shock of who I saw standing by a brand new BMW M850i made my legs numb. Busy Bee (my pet name for Nathan), what are you doing here? I screamed. Even before completing the sentence, I ran to Nathan, threw myself on him so hard we both staggered, swaying about to fall. “Happy new year Shugar, this is for you”, he said pointing at the BMW. I ran to the car door, flung it open then my eyes glanced at a small box neatly tied with a red ribbon. “Somebody hold me, I’m about to faint”, I shouted. “Nathan, is this what I think it is?” I couldn’t hold back the river of tears that came running down on my face. “Open it, babes!”, Nathan said. I started tearing the tiny box apart curious to see if he got my dream engagement ring.

OMG! Nathan played me big time, the cutely wrapped box had the car keys inside not a proposal ring as expected. I rushed towards Nathan to give him a slap LOL but he ran behind my dad for protection. “Let’s go for a test drive, just the two of us.”, said my dad, so we left Nathan at the gate. Almost 15 minutes into the drive, I told my dad that I was tired and want to head back home to meet Nathan. Approaching the estate gate I noticed he was not there, he must have gone to the house to eat mom’s new year rice. That guy and food though, I lamented to my dad who laughed loudly. When we drove in my dad started a long unending congratulatory speech about how he is very proud of me and happy that I’m with a good man like Nathan. Overwhelmed, I thanked him with a peck. About to dash out of the car, my dad held my hands. “Where are you rushing to, don’t ruin this special father and daughter bonding time for me”, he said. “Dad, but I need to go”, I replied and he let out a forceful laugh and asked that I spend some time in the car with him. My dad kept glancing at his phone as though he was expecting a call from someone. “Why are you acting weird dad?,” I asked. “Do you remember when you were just five years old and your auntie came visiting?”. “Oh no dad, not again, not today, not that childhood story of me again”, I cried out. He forces another fake laugh while staring at his phone and at that point, I suspected that something was up. “Talk to me dad, is everything okay?”. He said yes everything is fine except that he is worried I now find him too old and boring to hang out with. I burst out laughing, about to counter his accusation when I noticed a beep on his phone, he smiled at me then quickly said, “We can go inside the house now.”

At the entrance my mom opened the door smiling strangely, I stepped inside the house and it was total darkness. Before I could ask my mom what was up, the lights came back up. People started popping out from every corner of our sitting room shouting “Surprise!”. I saw Nathan standing in the middle of rose petals spelling out with “Will You Marry Me?”. He waved at my little brother who handed a red tiny box to him. At this point, my hands were on my mouth trying to stop myself from screaming while hopping left and right like a little girl. Nathan went down on one knee, looking straight into my eyes, he said the first two words — Will You… just then NEPA decided it was the perfect time to take the light.

Did I mention earlier that there were candles lit up in all the corners of the sitting room when I entered? Hmm, my busy body didn’t allow me to notice them at first. With the electricity out and just the candles as the main source of light in the room, everything looked better and more magical. “My Onyaole, will you marry me?”, Nathan asked. I went down on my knees too and shouted the loudest yes ever, louder than when I was a child and my mom would ask me if I wanted Chocomilo.

Two years after, I’m now a mother of four kids. Yes, you read right, four kids! Okay, keep calm, close your mouth and wipe that surprise off your face. They’re quadruplets, two boys with a nose like their daddy’s and two light skin girls like me. You remember the story of Moses in the Bible, how he was tending his father-in-law the priest of Midian, Jethro’s flock and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and arrived at Horeb, the mountain of God where Moses saw the burning bush and was commissioned by the Lord to manage the biggest project of all time. Well, I believe building capacity and being at the right place at the right time like Moses tending the flock, who although was raised in the palace, could please God to bless anyone far above what they can ask or imagine. Especially this my very long story that is based on my most recent fantasy on how I will meet Mr. Right while serving in my local church :)

About the Writer

Mabel Onyaole Echewune is a documentary photographer that specializes in education projects focused on telling stories that change the negative narrative to inspire community development and stakeholders involved in improving the poor state of public education in Nigeria. She is sometimes a very quiet lady who uses the images she creates to express herself, but most importantly, she is a fantasy addict.

PS. Thanks to the talented Visual and Adio Artist Mariam Atta for the Midas touch to this piece of writing and Maaruf Saidu for the amazing images.

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