Hello my dear dear friends. Its been a while hasn’t it?! I know I know, living in lagos Nigeria is a full time shift but not to worry, I bring writings that would make it worth your while. Remember my good friend Banky? He has once again come to my rescue with another well written piece. Without too much story, I present to you ‘A Miracle Scorned’. Enjoy!
When news spread round the University campus that the final results had been pasted, you didn’t feel elated like everyone else. Instead, you rolled over on your three-and-a-half inches bed and whispered a silent prayer to the one God you trusted. Deep inside of you, you looked forward to nothing.
“Heavenly Father, let Your will be done.” With those words, you resigned yourself to His mercies and went back to bed.
Having spent most of the academic periods outside the lecture room, your cumulative grades had slumped from the 4.24 it was at the start of the third year, the year you were made the president of your campus fellowship. As soon as you were appointed, you got suddenly busy. Busy trying to keep the fellowship on a sound footing; busy counselling and aiding struggling believers; busy organising and presiding over one campus fellowship show or another; busy doing God’s work. And busy watching your grades crash like a badly-arranged tower of electronics at Alaba market.
Your HOD had called you to his office at the end of the third session to ask you what the problem was. By then, your CGPA had dropped to an astonishing 3.01 and he was concerned. He should be, you used to be his best student.
“Seun, what’s going on?” the HOD began on that bright Wednesday morning. The man, a very affable individual in his early 60s, short -almost stout- with an unusually round head that reminded you of high school circle geometry, sat across you in his office. You didn’t immediately answer for you didn’t want to offend him and betray the confidence and belief he so much reposed in you. Wasn’t he the one who once informed the class in 200Level that if anyone would break the department’s long-standing academic record of 4.48; you were the one?
“Sir, I …..” The words refused to flow. Mid-sentence, you sighed and went quiet.
“Is it about the fellowship?” he asked you, his usually calm voice swayed with concern.
You nodded so vigorously the agama lizard would have opened its mouth in a jealous awe. You played with your fingers as you bowed your head in reverence and respect for the ageing prof.
“Seun, I understand your love of God and determination to serve Him but,” the man paused just as you got the willpower to raise your head and meet his gaze, “God will be disappointed if you end up with a 2-2 or even an extra year.”
Extra year?! Those two words sank into your conscious mind and the implication stunned you like unanticipated thunder.
“This semester, you have carried three courses and you carried two from the first semester; at this rate, getting a 2-1 is out of it.” You heard him say. You stared at him as his words entered through your right ear and exited the left in a huff.
“His thoughts for me are thoughts of good and not of evil…” Jeremiah’s biblical words dropped into your heart and your spirit soared.
“My God is a God of possibilities sir,” you whispered, to the surprise of the seemingly-unshockable HOD.
You watched him relax in his seat as he eyed you with concern. Maybe he even thought you were crazy or on the less-travelled journey to a mental home.
“Sir, I will try my best. Really, I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.” You concluded with the words of the enigmatic St. Paul.
“Ok then.” The words came out of the venerable HOD’s mouth in a sigh. “But I do hope you know what you are doing.”
You told him you did and left the office. You didn’t go to your hostel to ruminate on the HOD’s words; you instead went to the chapel and prayed to the Almighty.
“Father, your will for me is to prosper as your soul prospereth; you promised I will be the head and not the tail; Father, I come against all spirits of failure. Extra year is not my portion in Jesus name…”
You prayed and prayed for hours.
The HOD never summoned you again even when you ended the session with four outstanding courses. It was your fourth and final year. Technically, that was an assured extra year, but you believed God’s will would be done. And indeed His will was done.
Tunde, your long-term roommate brought the wonderful news to you: You finished with a CGPA of 2.77. The outstanding courses were nowhere on the broad sheet. You were cleared for graduation.
“Ha, halleluyah,” the Michael W. Smith song crept into your mouth as dusk creeps in on day. For more than an hour, all you did was sing His praises. When you were done, you went and checked the results yourself. And behold, Tunde was right: 2.77 CGPA, no outstanding. You were a graduate! Everyone who knew your situation passed it off as a miracle.
National Youth Service was next and you were mobilised with the others. When posting came, you got Benue state.
“Benue?” you asked God in prayers, not wanting to believe. After all, you had prayed and fasted for Lagos, the famed home of the restless and abode of the desperate. And you thought Lagos was definitely going to be it for one of your spiritual fathers had promised you placement in his accounting firm. You were disappointed in Him but you did not show it. Behind closed doors, you sought answers in prayers. But the still small voice didn’t answer. You became desperate, even frantic, yet He didn’t budge. You resigned to fate and prepared for the trip, believing this to be yet His will.
They said the journey was approximately eleven hours from Lagos. “Well,” you thought, “His presence shall go before me.” And His presence did go ahead of you for you never made it to Benue.
Eye witness reports said the 14-seater bus you were travelling in burst a tyre at flying speed on the infamous Okene-Akungba Expressway. It somersaulted three times before it crashed into a rock. Nine passengers died before they could understand what happened. You were rushed to the hospital with the other survivors. The other four died over a seven day period while you slipped into coma with four broken ribs, a punctured lung and two multi-fractured legs. Everyone gave up on you. But He didn’t. While your mates were in the NYSC camp in Otukpo, you remained in coma at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital.
Many saw it a theatrical coincidence that you got out of coma the day camp was closed. But you knew better. There are no coincidences with God.
For five months, you remained in the hospital, recuperating, reading your bible and getting closer to Him. When you were discharged on a wheel chair, you rededicated yourself to Him and vowed to always allow Him have His way.
The NYSC reposted you to Lagos, two batches after the original one. When you went back to the university to collect your call-up letter, you dropped in on your HOD, a man who constantly checked on you as you recuperated.
“It’s good to see you again, Seun.” It was the venerable HOD, a sincere smile stretched across his ageing face.
“I bless God for His mercies sir, all glory to Him.” You answered and returned the smile. Both of you bantered for a while before he asked:
“So how is your therapy coming up, any hope for the legs?”
“Yeah, by God’s grace, there is hope. I trust God to perform His miracle, yet again.”
The prof nodded and regarded you with those blots of camera that passed as eyes on his wrinkled face. He definitely knew the Doctor’s report –you’ll never walk again- but he is not one to crucify a man until the individual gave in to crucifixion.
“You do believe in miracles, Seun?” He asked as he slowly removed his bifocals and placed it on the desk.
“I do sir. He has done it before, and who am I to say He won’t do it again?” you replied, wondering what the old man was driving at.
The HOD sat back in his chair, studied you and in a voice reminiscent of someone who had seen it all, he began:
“My boy, I love your faith and I admire your belief in the most High. Miracles, of course, are the fine garments that stand a Christian apart in a nude society. It is the torch that attracts others to Christianity in a dark world. It is the physical representation of divine grace and mercy.” He paused to clear his throat while you looked on.
“Seun, miracles cannot happen without faith; faith doesn’t work without an undying belief and every belief can only stand the test of time if it is attached to a timeless Being.”
“However,” he continued, “be careful of what you believe in for that can make or mar you. Also, be careful of the miracles you ask for, it might not be for your good.” He paused. “Have you ever wondered why you were able to graduate even with four sure outstanding courses? Oh! A miracle, right? Well, maybe; maybe not. But know this: I couldn’t stand you having an extra year. No. You were my best student until the 3rd year and I had high hopes in you. So when they brought me the results, because of you, I rejected them and asked all the lecturers concerned to upgrade the results. That was why you and a lot others were able to graduate.”
The prof sighed and glared at you as the import of his words settled in your befuddled brain.
“Sir, are…” a wave of his right hand stopped whatever you wanted to say.
“Forget about it Seun, it is a decision I still regret. You wouldn’t have graduated if I didn’t do that. If you hadn’t graduated then, you would never have been involved in the accident.”
You noticed the strain in his voice as he struggled with himself. You thought he was going to shed tears but no, he didn’t, but his last sentence brought the tears to your eyes.
“If I had assented to that first result, you would not be on a wheelchair.”
That was when you woke up.
Your pillow was soaked with tears and you still laid on the three-and-a-half inches bed. You looked around the room and saw you were alone. Scared and confused, you went into prayers.
Tunde’s excited voice cut short your prayers.
“Seun, you graduated man!” You watched as he jumped excitedly like a football supporter who had just witnessed his team score a golden goal. “This is an awesome miracle bro, worthy of testimony,” he added with the biggest grin you’d seen on his face.
A calmness enveloped you as you looked Tunde straight in the eye.
“No Tunde, this miracle must pass me by.” You answered dejectedly and continued praying. Your mind was made up.
BANJO Bankole is an anthologised, prize-winning short story writer. His short story, Aunty’s Chicken, won the Naijastories Christmas Nostalgia contest while another of his stories, The Writer’s Cinema, made the recently published Naijastories anthology, Of Tears and Kisses, Heroes and Villains. He works fulltime as a Copywriter at a Lagos-based marketing Communications Agency. You may follow him @banky_writes.