What qualifies a man for ”HUSBAND MATERIAL?”
Well, Kathleen’s story will not give you the answer but may give you an indication of what the answer could be…read on and enjoy!
‘’Well, your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the hallelujah…’’
The congregation would tell you about the best most respectable leading man of the Mountain Ministries, the pastor Rev Nordstrom. He was an exemplary man with a son in the church band _ amazing guitarists, a powerhouse for the very divine vineyard of the Lord. The congregation sang their praises, the pastor was the very reason some people actually went to church, he was a preacher to listen to, but guiltily a sight to behold, his looks gladdened the eye of the good and the hearts of the unkind fluttered. He was very personable.
His voice soothe aches and made brethren’s weep. His Journey had been torrential, plagued with disappointments and failure, he found himself sleeping on the streets of London years after battling with a wrong investment to build an engineering plant to take back to Africa as part of his PH.D project. His investment failed, his funds depleted and funding never came, days turned to years, he lost his house and many personal holdings, he was bent to succeed, but failure wasn’t done with him yet.
Ian Nordstrom had ended up homeless but made sure his singular suitcase had his books and every necessity that could sustain the work he was pursuing, should something come up, should a funder request a report or sample of his failed projects, he was hopeful.
One fine day he walked pass an open crusade on the streets of London when the praise and worship caught his eye /attention ~ He never ever looked back. It was as though the compass of life had pulled him towards the direction of the crusade for an ultimate-lifetime-calling and he had yielded.
To this day, he tells his story with so much pride and humour, but with a certain kind of hearty gratefulness that the Lord himself could smile for such a proud moment! His passion for God was unspeakable.
The weather was terrible; it was an all four-season in one sort of day… It rained, hailstones thundered and made music as they dropped, a little glimmer of sunshine in the horizon, through the clouds and at the same time very thick grey nimbus clouds announcing an onslaught of a storm that was predicted by the meteorologist earlier that morning…
Kathleen had been running around to shop for her vacation to Cameroon. She planned a trip to get her mind off her split from her long-time boyfriend and partner Denzel. It was simple, the longer they stayed together the more elusive Denzel had become so it didn’t come as a surprise when Kathleen made up her mind that she had had enough, they were either maturing with their 4 year relationship, though on and off, Denzel was literally depreciating in maturity _ it was so bad her didn’t want to do anything further than the degree they both had, she moved onto a masters and a PHD while he stuck to making excuses about bigger gigs in the media industry which never came. As a woman, a lot was at stake and Kathleen made the choice to move on, to her surprise Denzel didn’t fight to keep them together, more like a ‘good riddance to bad rubbish wash-up.
No other timing was as good as the December to spend time in Cameroon with friends and family, her preparation was easy, minimal shopping and more cash was always her policy, she had bought all she needed but was torn between a 60inch TV on sale in the electronic shop at the mall, to give her apartment the added touch she envisaged, her ‘Zen Anchor’ she had named her Cameroon home, a place where she went back to realign with her true self, her dreams goals and aspirations, her place of escape and tranquility whenever she visited home.
Kathleen really wanted the TV and was tempted to buy it based on the price reductions and the fact that it will attract a lot less custom duty if she carried it as part of her luggage as opposed to sending it in a container or air freighting it.
Her uncle, a known army general always picked her up from the airport whenever she visited to help her get through the security checks without customs making her life a misery. Every silent yet compulsory gesture of bribery on everything including personal effects like new clothing, makeup and underwear was the custom officers forte, their reputation was never dented_ they kept it up or pretty much and each year, they got better at squeezing anything they could get out of travellers.
Embarrassingly though on her last visit, they held her brand new vibrator hostage at the airport simply because she refused to pay a fine of 20,000CFA to the officer who spotted it. The officer actually looked like someone who needed one and was finding an excuse to keep hers. The officer looked so grumpy like she’d never seen an orgasm even in a movie. There was no letting go, they could take all her toiletries if they wanted to, but not her vibrator.
Telling her uncle what it was was the most embarrassing conversation she could ever have with him _ ever!
“So what was that all about missy”? he asked when they finally manage to get the tool.
“uncle it’s just a ladies toy” she had ventured, trying not to breathe and betray her panic and embarrassed state.
“ hummmmmmmm’’ was his cynical response , the longest, the most disapproving kind of hummm any elderly relative to a born-again mother of hers could manage. She knew or could only imagine what was running through his mind _ but she would do anything for her vibrator on a vacation, being horny in the hot weather and mostly in a bikini’s didn’t help with self-control _ not very much!
They drove through the airport towards the exit in complete awkward silence
With the support of her uncle she could pretty much bring anything and just worry about what extra luggage will cost her based on the airlines/carrier she flew with from the UK.
Standing at the electronics aisle of the COMET/CURRY’S shop looking at the TV, trying to make up her mind she was distracted by the afro of this guy with his rough sack, a plain stained jeans and white t-shirt… He looked pretty much in his early forties, but his beard’s didn’t help with that judgement, as they were greying with highlights of white and black-bearded perfection…Full circle cheek-to-cheek.
He looked like a copy of the latest-trendy-grey-beard metro type of man… But a little more mysterious ~ a bit permissive, a lot like a free spirited kind of person with an aura of intelligence and saviour-fair, unfortunately prepossessing. Her eyes followed him because by her nature she was a gawker _ she used her eyes a lot more than she used any other sensory organ of her body _ well at least of the five senses.
He walked past her, stopped at the TV next to her and looked at the object with a certain intense fascination and attention to detail that intrigued Kathleen. He then stooped down to read the display cards, took out his phone with some delicately long fingers and opened his camera to take a pic of the TV specifications … Kathleen was already learning something new from him, that she could collect as much information as possible and make a decision at a more convenient time with something to use as a comparison.
She continued to watch him intrigued… He was quite an eyeful, thoughts of what he may and who he may be crossed her mind ~ maybe a teacher or an architect… he was absorbed in his actions and her on him. He was a little too meticulous to be anything else, for now she concluded he must be in a knowledge-imparting field so she continued doing what she knew how to do best, follow him with her eyes.
As a child she remembers having the telling off of her life about staring at people – she was a looker an ‘ogler’ her mum will say, something about understanding people with her eyes was innate because long after they were gone her brain still churned their actions, interactions and even mannerisms as vivid as though they were alive in her presence.
Her sisters called her report card; because she spent a whole day watching people, machinating her reports and as soon as her parents walked into the house she’d hit the verbal replay button
“mum while you were away sister Abu took a piece of cake , and another and another and chichin and wrapped it in a plastic bag , and chewed it and chewed it and drank water and put the glass”
“Haba! Kath please just tell me what Abu did, I do not need all that information, did she steal snacks? “ her mum will question
“Yes mummy and she chewed it and chewed it….”
“Enough I heard you madam”
“ABUUUUUUUUUU” her mother will scream at the top of her voice while Kathleen stood there worrying if she had not been shut-up so early to explain that Abu actually gave her some of the loot.
It was imprinted in her nature – she was a detailed person and that made her an ogler. She made sure her mind captured every single event using her eyes as a memory device
A customer service assistant walked up and instantly moved over to Kathleen but his eyes were sort of darting back and forth her and the handsome stranger so she thought he was trying to weigh who was a potential buyer…
Kathleen knew the drill, as a student immigrant from Africa; she had been a customer service assistant in a very similar shop. She could clearly remember one of the early days of her job when she was sent to the shop floor after her one-week induction on the job. Everything seemed so strange, a new place, a new world and culture. She could barely understand the accents of her colleagues and that was mutual because every time she opened her mouth to speak she had to always do a replay because no one seemed to understand her without a little effort, some out rightly laughed, though in a colleague bonding sort of way, there was a particular manager who found humour in mimicking her accent every time he passed by, bottom-line he was ignorantly racist, that sucked!
One good sunny summer afternoon a customer came in and asked for a gazebo, one of her first customers of that day and she spent the remainder of the hour after that question turning around the warehouse afraid to pronounce the word because she felt the customer was speaking another language and nothing in English ever existed like a gazebo
_ well it did but in Cameroon it is called a canopy (bundled under same object as tent, canopy, gazebo), finally the customer could no longer wait so asked someone else who came back to the warehouse screaming to the truck guys , ‘hey hey Neal can I have a gazebo please’ that was such a relief as Kathleen definitely just learned a new word and also proved she wasn’t going crazy.
A lot happened while she worked in that shop but the customer orientation and the speed with which she learned and assimilated the language and culture could only come from that job_ no other Job could have graduated her from the cultural shock of one third world country job market to a developed buzzing economy and country, so she remembered those days with respect!
“Hello Ma’am how can I help you guys today, are you and (he pointed at the stranger and made the ‘’your partner’’ kind of face) looking for TV’s and what have you got in mind”? said the excited shop attendant in an obnoxious manner that irked Kathleen.
“Oh gosh _ no we are not together” came her direct response, I am looking to buy but maybe not today
“I’m so sorry ma’am sorry” said Mr pompous assuming she was necking the handsome stranger rather too quickly than anyone had ever accused her of in her capacity. It made the moment so awkward that she liked the way he scurried back to his hiding like a mice in the presence of footsteps and noise.
As she watched him disappear in the IPAD aisle, she turned around to Mr Professor-looking-like architect standing away from the TV’s and muttering under his breath but to her hearing
“ These are quite good value but remember they do not include any warranties in the prices you see here now, so negotiate for that when you are buying”
He turned to face her squarely and said “ hi I am Ian” with a hand stretched out for a grip
“I am Kathleen” she returned as they shook hands and both turned their attention to the Samsung 60 inch automatically like someone telepathically instructed them to do so.
The kind of friendship that kicked in with camaraderie/common desires ignited and both of them were looking at other TV’s, comparing and sharing notes as they walked back and forth the aisle.
Finally she made up her mind to settle on the Samsung and he strangely wanted the same TV, so they moved to the same sales assistant and placed their orders. You could tell the excitement on the salesman’s face from the way he jittered to scribble their demands and made suggestions to sell them accessories, cables and warranties which Kathleen clearly followed Ian’s lead and turned it all down. After all she was dead sure she would not need any of these things in Cameroon, so why succumb.
As they packaged and prepped their TV’s she dipped her hand into her purse and got out her phone to call a taxi, the dial tone came up and electronically connected to the taxi office and she listen as the machine quietly instructing please dial one to speak to an attendant or wait for your destination and dial two and the subsequent housekeeping with such calls, she shook her head in disappointment and muttered
‘’I am sure its the bloody weather, I can only get a taxi in another half an hour ‘’
“Whereabouts do you live, I could drop you off “ Ian stated matter-of-factly insisted
“Do you have to – it’s fine I do not want to impose” Kathleen tried to dissuade him
“Put both TV’s in my car please Chirag, he turned and addressed the salesman and gave Kathleen that look like are you coming? Or stay back and thanks for the TV.
The drive home was very easy and warm, his car heating was ready and waiting and the trip to the car was a scurry under the rain, she was drenched and her make-up was drooping_ he pushed open his pigeonhole and came out with tissues, handed them to her and she dabbed her face and neck dry and realised he just didn’t bother with the water running down his hair through his head, face and neck into his T-shirt…
Kathleen didn’t want to look in his direction or even bother to ask him any further questions, she kept her face straight-on, water caressing such a fine man In and enclosed area with such proximity was one of the conditions the doctors had warned her could result to a ‘heart-taker’. The doctors in her head and heart called hormones and pheromones.
She scorned her heart to behave and stay in her chest – because she could feel it trying to jump out and run…run… and never stop. She was unsure if this was a rebound or not but she was bent on ignoring it, one more glance to his left hand on the steering to clear he major worry – with a silent sigh of relief she leaned back and enjoyed the ride in the rain with an unmarried handsome stranger.
There wasn’t much ignoring, he tuned into radio_fm and probably the only channel he had left running and they listened to the songs and requests streaming in with very little conversation as the satellite navigation did the talking. Ian dropped her off and simply kicked his engines running with a wave and thank you from Kathleen.
They had exchange phone contacts and she had no time to save his number before he drove off, leaving her on the porch of her flat watching his taillights disappear into oncoming traffic – a real life Ian reappeared in her mind with the water caressing his nape, she sighed and for the first time cursed her photographic memory for unleashing him. In all his manly glory again!
Out of the blue a few days to her holidays, trip booked/ tickets confirmed and all nine yards set, he called her one evening for dinner. She thought her heart would develop legs. She just couldn’t still herself, her hands trembled and her body mistook the winter for summer _ she was having hot flushes over a simple dinner date.
At the phenomenal Shard Restaurant he had asked her to meet him, at the heart and height of London she sat waiting for over half and hour pushing the thought he may not show up way back in her head as she sipped her wine wondering how much it cost … Ian walked in almost half an hour late with an unapologetic smile on his face, after saying hello to a couple leaving the restaurant. The shocking part is he shook her hand so hard like a business meeting of hedge fund zombies concluding a deal, that was the most unromantic handshake any man had ever given her _ but wasn’t she judging him too quick?
The night ended in a steamy hook-up in his car, leaving her head spinning. Was it the wine or was it something else, whatever it was Kathleen never wanted it to stop; he tasted and smelled sooooooo goooooooooddddd.
He was such a fine kisser, she could kiss him forever but there was something unclear about his restraint, he just didn’t let go, Kathleen tried coaxing it out of him, she bathed his neck and earlobe with her warm tongue and breath, paroled and rigmarole her tongue in his mouth, climbed over his side of the car to straddle him but he slowly pushed her back to her seat with two words ‘’don’t rush it’’ make that three words.
***That was very deflating but a good start***
Some sort of barrier kept them far apart yet they were doing things lovers did. Over the course of 7 weeks they had practically become inseparable and she was humming her emotions to herself on the streets because her heart couldn’t stop dancing!! Not now not ever.
Kathleen had conveniently lied to her family in Cameroon and cancelled her trip claiming there was some sort of work emergency _ she spent most of evening cooking dinner for Ian and making sure that he had the most relaxed dates when he visited her. He had taken her on a weekend to Paris but because he lived outside London it was convenient to meet at her place instead or at his flat in West End, which was pretty much inhabited only when he was in London.
They settled for date nights with movies and dinner at her neck of the woods. That felt too good for Kathleen, even so waking up to him every morning on his side of the bed lying on his back glasses and Ipad on reading his bible.
A man with such attractive attributes, influential, good-looking well-mannered and career driven was all she needed, so being prayerful on top of all that was the icing on her cake, his knowledge of the good book was shocking, his quotes so accurate and his understanding and wisdom well and above average.
This was no rebound ~ she loved him and with each passing day she loved him even more. Yes, there was a significant age gap of 10 years but she had never felt this emotional connection with any other man. He came by her house three to four times a week, and it was only the start of a romance Kathleen was yet to digest!
She somehow found the courage to ring her mother and tell her she had finally met the one she was searching for, she was so excited her mother had no time to probe _ she contracted verbal diarrhoea on the phone
‘’Oh mum, I think he is the one, I am so sorry I had to cancel my holidays. I had to because it was the same time we started dating, mum you will love him, he is the Purfect husband material, he is intelligent, kind, and he prays mum – he prays! He wakes me up in the morning to pray with him, he prays. He has a stable career and loves to have children, oh mum I really love him and would like you two to meet soon”
She stood staring at the impeccable three storey building on a Sunday morning wondering if it was possible she wasn’t making a mistake. The name on the card was Ian’s but he never mentioned being a Reverend. If Ian had a brother, he will not be called Ian. She made up her mind and walked into the building with other people possibly attending service that morning. It was a massive theatre-like building with hostesses lining the entrance to guide the attendees. She sat way at the back, it was beautiful and the songs of praise and worship were visible to the congregation via a projector screen.
Kathleen held the complimentary card in her hand rolled it over and over again, it had dropped out of Ian’s belongings on one of the nights he slept over at her place, she had never asked him out rightly about his line of career but he spoke about his engineering projects picking up and reasons why he may be travelling to a couple of African countries soon. The card in her hand was giving her a kind of awry feeling, it read;
Rev Ian Nordstrom
22345 Inkhall Building
For over fifteen minutes she sat there just digesting the majesty of the place, her heart was doing a kind of flutter that almost shortened her breath; she tried to keep it together the best she could. The announcements began and there HE was, walked up to the pulpit looking everything like the man she just rolled in the sheets with a few days ago, he was very serene, he looked so composed and his church was so in love with him, they sang and worshipped and applauded as he took to the microphone and hummed to the tune of
‘’Grace grace Gods grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace grace God’s grace
Grace that is greater than all our sins’’
The church followed suit and a few minutes later, he thank the congregation for the amazing birthday wishes and his beautiful family at the front row for an amazing day.
Kathleen watched through teary eyes as he caressed and uplifted his congregation, it was a tectonic shift, she could feel her heart opening and giving way to pain, real and harsh pain, hundreds of people all drinking his words and submitting to his demands, just like she was doing right now except for the fact that her legs couldn’t let her run out of the service to her car or home to scream the pain so loud that it will leave her body forever.
Then his voice echoed throughout the hall, requesting for people with special needs and requests to come forward for a prayer of blessing as the service was rounding up. Kathleen stood up and followed the crowd, the ushers managed to usher them all the way to the front of the hall and arrange them in a line for the pastor to lay his hands and pray on them. Ushers were pairing up behind them for ministerial/spiritual emergencies.
Kathleen stood still, head bent and body shivering in sobs, she waited and could see him laying hands on a few people before her, intense, eyes shot and filled with a certain kind of aura and she was torn between leaving before it was her turn or waiting – time seemed to speed up before she could make up her mind, he was standing in front of her, stretching out his hand to lay on her head and she lifted her tear-filled eyes to meet his _ their eyes met and her sob became even more of a whimper than an actual cry _ Ian stood in front of her, with the most pained look on his face, he placed his hand on her head and another on her shoulder he said nothing, she didn’t bow, she stared him straight into the eyes and as if time stood still, with her eyes asking him WHY?
He was unresponsive and unshaken, on the contrary, he was confident and without much ado, he moved onto the person close to Kathleen and the prayers continued, the singing continued and the congregation continued to praise and worship while Kathleen couldn’t bare the pain in her heart any longer, her headache – dull and easy became harsh and pounding, her breathing erratic her heart shattered and her legs gave way –SHE BLACKED OUT. The last thing she remembered was Ian running towards her as the grip of the church ushers caught her from behind. It was too harsh a reality ~ TOO HARSH.
Years flew by so fast that Kathleen forgot how long ago she had fainted in church because she realised she had walked into a relationship blindfolded. Years they say, heals all wounds and time they say brings wisdom on the wings of a dove. Ian completely changed her life, the moment he walked into her home and introduced his son Dede _ Kathleen held Dede like a surreal dream, Dede was all Ian had , his life revolved around him and he made sure his son had the best. Years had flew by so fast that Dede was heading to university with a baby sister and brother and a stepmother who for the fact that the church knew their story, no one could ever tell Dede apart from Kathleen’s other two children, by somekind of stroke of fate they all turned out looking like daddy!
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