Miko Spills the Beans

2D3A8881_v4-455x600“Mom, Aunt Nasiche asked me to give you this.  It looks very interesting.  She can’t go because she has to cover for another nurse who called in sick, but I hope you go.”

Ife took the flyer from her daughter and looked at it.  It was a women’s conference and luncheon held at the Hall on Sunday afternoon.  One of the speakers was a Japanese woman.  Her heart leaped in her chest when she saw the name, Miko Kobayashi.

Who was she?  She had the same last name as Toshiro.  Was that a coincidence or was she his wife?  Seven months had passed since they parted ways on the beach.  It was possible that he could have met Miko, fallen in love with her and married her.   Maybe she was the reason why he cut her loose from their arrangement.  Ife felt sick and blinking back tears, she dropped the flyer on the sofa and went into the kitchen to get dinner ready.

She did end up going and it was purely out of curiosity.  She had to meet the woman who could be Toshiro’s wife.  She hardly paid attention to what was being said.  All sorts of thoughts went through her mind and she was anxious for the program to be over so that she could meet Miko Kobayashi.  The time seemed to drag but finally, it was over and the first opportunity, she got, she went over to her and introduced herself.

To Ife’s surprise, a look of recognition came over the other woman’s face before she extended her hand and said, “Ife, it’s a pleasure to meet you.  My brother has told me about you.”

“Toshiro is your brother?”  Ife exclaimed as they shook hands.

“Yes.”

Relief washed over Ife.  “I thought you were his wife.”

Miko smiled.  “No, I’m his younger sister.  Toshiro isn’t married.”

“Is he dating anyone?”

“Well, he was dating Asuka but he broke up with her last year after he returned from Kampala.  They had been dating for five years.  Everyone thought they were going to get married.”

“Was he in love with her?”

Miko shook her head.  “No, but she was in love with him, poor girl.”

“How is he?”

“Busy as usual.  He doesn’t have much time for a social life.  I try to encourage him to go out more but he’s a hopeless workaholic.”

“Do you know if he’s going to come back to Kampala?”

“No, I don’t.  I told him that I was coming but he didn’t say anything.”

“So, he told you about me.”

“Yes, he told me everything.  He’s very cut up about what he did to you.”

“I think that’s why he broke up with me.”

“I think he did it for two reasons.  It was the right thing to do and because he’s in love with you.”

Ife’s eyes widened.  “He’s in love with me?”

“Yes.  He admitted it to me.  It started as just sex for him but he ended up falling in love with you.”

Ife looked dazed.  “I had hoped…”

Miko put her arm around her shoulders.  “Come, let’s go and have something to eat.  And socialize.  Afterwards, we can go back to my hotel and talk some more in the lobby.”

Ife nodded and followed her across the room to join the buffet line.  A few hours later, they went to the lobby of Miko’s hotel and they spent the rest of the afternoon talking about Toshiro.

Toshiro

Toshiro was lying in bed when the doorbell rang.  He really wasn’t in the mood to see anyone so he ignored it.  Then, the phone rang.  Muttering under his breath, he answered it.  ”

It was Miko.  “I’m standing outside of your door.  Will you please let me in?”

“Miko, I’m not in the mood for company right now.”

“I want to talk to you about Ife.”

He sat up at once.  “Ife?  Did you see her?”

“Yes.”

He hung up the phone and scrambled out of the bed.  He sprinted to the front door and flung it open.  He caught Miko by the arm and pulled her inside.  “Now, tell me everything.”

“You look terrible,” Miko exclaimed.

Toshiro’s mouth tightened.  “Thanks a lot,” he said dryly.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t say it to be mean.  It’s just that you look like you haven’t slept in weeks and you’ve lost weight.”

“Never mind how I look,” he muttered irritably.  “Just tell me about Ife.  How is she?  Did she know that you’re my sister?  Did she ask about me?  Is she dating anyone?”

“Okay.  Let me answer you one question at a time.  She’s fine, I guess.  She thought that I was your wife and was very relieved when I told her that I was your sister.  Yes, she asked about you.  She asked if you were dating anyone.  I mentioned that you had a girlfriend but you broke up with her.  She asked if you were in love with Asuka and I told her that you weren’t.”

“Is Ife dating anyone?” he asked again, his expression tense.

“No!  She’s in love with you, Toshiro.”

“She is?  How do you know that?”

“I asked her.”

“Tell me exactly what was said.”

“Okay.  I asked her ‘how do you feel about my brother?’  And she said, ‘I’m in love with him.'”

Toshiro expelled a shaky breath as he dragged his fingers through his hair.  “So, there’s hope for me.”

“Yes.  She’s a remarkable woman.”

“Yes.  She’s one of a kind.  That’s why I’m so madly in love with her.”

“She asked me if you would ever go back to Kampala.”

“Yes,” he said, nodding his head.  His eyes were bright and there was color in his face.  “I have reason to go back now.”

 

Next up is Toshiro Returns to Kampala.

Toshiro Cuts Ife Loose

20180427_05062375_MIt had been months since she last saw him.  He left in November and now they were in the middle of March.  It was the wet season.  It rained last night and today the place felt nice and fresh.  It was a Friday afternoon.  Her shift had ended but before going straight home, she decided to come to the beach for a while.  Miremba said that she would be at the mall with her friends so there was no need to rush home.

Ife stared out at the sea.  It had been a long time since she came here.  It was within walking distance of the hotel where she worked.  She remembered Mr. Kobayashi telling her that he came here sometimes when he finished his business early before heading back to the hotel.  Was she here now because she hoped to see him?

Yet, she couldn’t believe that he would be here in Kampala.  They would have seen each other by now.  No, he had to be in Tokyo.  She wondered when he would return to Kampala.  She missed him.  Her mind went back to the last time they were together before he left.  It was a Friday and it was raining cats and dogs.  She was beginning to wonder what was keeping him when she heard the front door close.

She was inside the bathroom cleaning when he opened the door.   She turned to find him leaning against the frame, in his wet shirt and trousers. “You’re soaking wet,” she exclaimed. “You should get out of those clothes.”

“I’m going to take a shower,” he said.

“All right,” she said, moving away from the wash basin. “I’ll wait in the bedroom until you’re done.”

“No,” he said. “I want you to join me.” He removed his shirt and the rest of his clothes, his eyes never leaving her face.  He stood there naked, his desire for her obvious.

Heart racing, she nodded and got undressed. He closed the bathroom door and taking her by the hand, led her to the shower. They stepped inside and he slid the door shut. After turning on the water, he turned to face her.

Without saying a word, he pulled her into his arms and began to kiss her. His kisses deepened when she responded and soon he was pressing her against the tiles while his lips plundered hers, the water beating down on his back. They made love in the shower and afterwards, he ordered room service.

Ife sighed.  She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice him.

62_0318b9a0-9dce-48f6-a55e-47f72173ee34Toshiro watched her from a distance.  He positioned himself in such a way that she couldn’t see him.  He had followed her from the hotel.  He had been about go into the hotel and to leave a message at the front desk for her  when he saw her coming out of the entrance.  His heart ached when he saw her.  And his resolve began to weaken but he had to do what he came to Kampala to do.

“Hello, Ife.”

She swung around.  “Mr. Kobayashi,” she exclaimed, looking startled to see him.  “What are you doing here?”

“I followed you.”

“Did you just arrive in Kampala this morning?”

“No.  I arrived on Wednesday.”

“But that’s two days ago.  How come we didn’t see each other?”

“I’m staying at a different hotel.”

“But why?”

“I thought it would be best.”

“Do you want me to come to this other hotel to see you?”

He shook his head.  “No, Ife.  I came back to Kampala to tell you that it’s over between us. ”

“Why are you doing this?  Is it because you’re married?”

“No, I’m not married.  I’m doing this because it’s the decent and right thing to do, Ife.  I took advantage of you because I wanted you so much I couldn’t think straight.  I have never once imagined that I would resort to blackmailing a woman into sleeping with me but that’s what I did.  I’m disgusted with myself.”

“Mr. Kobayashi—”

“You’re free of me, Ife.  After today, you will never see me again.  I hope that one day you will be able to forgive me for what I have done to you.”

“Toshiro…”

That was the first time that he ever heard her say his name.   It made his heart stop and his stomach flip-flop.  His eyes darkened on her face as he pulled her roughly against him.   His head swooped down and his mouth found hers.  He kissed her passionately and she eagerly responded.  For several minutes, they stood there on the deserted beach, kissing wildly.

“Watashi wa, anata o aishiteimasu, Ife,” he moaned against her lips before he abruptly pulled away.  “Goodbye, Ife,” he muttered tightly before releasing her and walking briskly away.

Ife watched him go until she couldn’t see him anymore.  Then, she collapsed on to the sand and sobbed.

Next up is Miko Explains Things.

Farida’s Story

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles – Psalm 34:6, NKJV

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I was 13 when my parents married me off to a 36 year old rich Arab man.  He was the second man who wanted me to be his wife.  The other man was a neighbor and he knew me since I was a baby.  He was in his 60s.  He offered 40 cows but the Arab offered money.  My parents accepted the money.

I had no choice.  I left my village and went with him.  Before we got married, I had to spend 15 days with his family.  I hated it there.  They didn’t like me because I was African and dark-skinned.  It didn’t matter that I was a Muslim like them and that I spoke Arabic.  They would have preferred if he had married an Arab woman.  I think they had a problem with my age.  I overheard his mother ask him why did he agreed to marry someone so young?  His response was that I was very pretty and he wanted me.  I think it was because he was controlling and believed that a younger wife would be more obedient.

My life before marriage was a nightmare.  At night he would ravage me and the following morning at 7am, his mother woke me up to pray and do housework.  I felt like a slave.  I felt so alone and helpless.  Things continued and got progressively worse after we got married.  We moved into his home.  I continued to do the housework, cook and pamper him.  I was forced to have sex every night even when he knew that I was very upset or tired, he didn’t care.  He went ahead and had his pleasure and fell asleep afterwards while I lay there beside him in the bed, in the dark, crying.

My marriage wasn’t anything like my parents’.  I never saw my father mistreat my mother and she seemed to enjoy taking care of him.  It wasn’t like that for me.  I didn’t want to be married.  I wanted to be in school, getting an education.  I was hoping to be a doctor but that dream was squashed by a marriage forced on me by my parents.  My mother even said to me, “This marriage proposal is a gift from Allah, his way of keeping you out of trouble. If you say no, you will be showing your lack of faith in him, and you will be punished.  This man’s rich and he will provide well for you.  All you have to do is be a good wife to him.”

How could she expect a teenage girl to be a wife?  She didn’t even get married until she had finished school.  And she married for love.  Why couldn’t I marry for love too and when I was ready?  It seemed so unfair.  I came to the conclusion that my parents didn’t love me.  If they did, they wouldn’t have married me off to a man almost three times my age.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I imagined that my husband being so much older than me would take care of me.  He would be like a father to me.

arab-arab-culture-arab-man-arabart-757307I soon learned that a husband is never a father.  He expected me to be a wife, despite my age.  I was more like a slave.  He took great pleasure in telling me that he used to have hired help but dismissed them after he married me.  He expected me to keep a house which was very big with a lot of rooms.  I was exhausted by the time I finished cleaning it.  Then, I had to do the cooking, laundry and ironing.  I was exhausted by the end of the day but I still had to satisfy him in the bedroom.

I hated my marriage, I hated him and I hated my life.  I wished that I could run away but I knew that it would be pointless.  He told me once that if I did, he would find me because he had people watching the house when he wasn’t there.  And that life would be a thousand times worse for me.  I believed him.

Night after night, I prayed to God to help me.   I knew that what my husband was doing to me was against our religion. Islam prohibits all forms of oppression and injustice yet he felt that it was his right to beat me if I were disobedient to him such as refusing to have sex with him when he wanted it.  The Qur’an clearly teaches the sexual relationship between a husband and wife should be mutually satisfying but it was never like that for us.  As his wife, he demanded sex from me and whenever I refused him I was beaten and then raped.  He told me that God got angry with disobedient wives but I remember a friend once told me that when obeying a husband involves behavior that is hurtful or destructive to oneself or others, a Muslim wife must remember that her primary obedience is to God.

I wanted God to help me.  I wanted out of this nightmare.  I couldn’t continue living like this.  I felt like I was caught in a trap and nothing or no one could get me out of it except God.  For 25 years I was trapped in an abusive marriage and then my husband died.  He left nothing in my name and his family denied me everything, including the dowry I was entitled to.  He and I didn’t have any children together and that was why they were able to rob me of my inheritance.  I had wasted 25 years of my life.

I’m 38 now and a part of the ActionAid supported women’s group working to advocate against FGM and child marriage.  I don’t want anyone to go through what I did.  A girl should have the right to decide when and whom she wants to marry.  Education should come first.  Marriage should be a healthy, happy and safe choice for us.  Islam teaches that each person has been given freedom of choice and is accountable for his/her own life.  Today, I am pushing for girls to be independent and to choose their own future.

I don’t know if I would ever get married again.  I had such a horrible experience.  I’m just thankful to God that I’m no longer living in an abusive marriage and that I can focus on empowering girls to understand and live out their rights, including saying no to child marriage.

This story is fiction but child marriage is a disturbing reality.  I was inspired to write this story after reading Aleyna’s* story in an email sent to me by Equality Now.  She was 13 year old Lebanese girl and forced to marry a 36 year old man who abused her for 40 years before he died, leaving her nothing.  Equality Now’s partner in Lebanon, LECORVAW (The Lebanese Council to Resist Violence Against Women) is working with women like Aleyna who need legal support to access the justice they deserve.  Aleya says that, “I have a lawyer who works for LECORVAW, she is defending me in court and that is very important. LECORVAW is giving me psychological and legal support. I feel so much better thanks to them as before I was struggling to cope.”

Child marriage is an evil practice which has to be eradicated from society.  Girls should be allowed to finish their education and to decide when they want to get married.  Marriage is for adult men and women NOT adult men and children/girls.  We need laws to protect girls from child marriage.  Let’s raise awareness and support the organizations which are working to end child marriage.

 

Sources:  Religion Unplugged; Faith Trust Institution; ActionAid

 

Too Young

“What’s wrong, Ken?” Roxanne asked him as they stood on the hill overlooking the river one Sunday afternoon.  He had been very quiet and she could tell from his expression that something was troubling him.

D85D2-D8D4-CD1C-38CF-A053EA3522F5“You’re too young for me,” He insisted.  “I’m almost twice your age.”

“What does age matter when two people love each other?” Roxanne demanded.  “Are you sure that our age difference is the only reason you’re having second thoughts about us?”

He frowned, his blue eyes narrowing behind the sunglasses.  “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Well, you’re white and I’m black–”

“If I had a problem with your color, we wouldn’t be together.” He ran his fingers through his auburn hair.  “Frankly, I’m astonished that you would even think so.”

“I’m sorry,” she apologized, looking very contrite.  “Ken, please don’t let our age difference come between us.”

“I don’t want to but you should be with someone your age not someone who has been married before and is now divorced.  You have your life ahead of you.”

“It doesn’t matter that you were married and are now divorced.  I don’t care about that.”

“I’m old enough to be your father.  You should be with someone much younger, Roxanne.”

“I don’t want to be with anyone but you, Ken.  I love you.  I thought you loved me too…”

older man at windowHe ripped off the sunglasses and tossed them on the grass before taking her by the shoulders.  His eyes were troubled when they met her wide ones.  “I love you,” he muttered tightly.  “I love you so very much.”

She put her arms around his waist.  “Then, stop finding excuses not to be with me,” she cried.  “I know you’ve been through a bad marriage with a woman who didn’t deserve you but I’m not at all like her.  I love you more than life itself and I know that I can make you happy if you would just let me.”

Releasing her shoulders, he cupped her face between his hands.  “You win,” he said simply before he lowered his head to kiss her.  Above them, the sun emerged from behind the clouds and below the river flowed, unabated.

This is my last post for 2019.  Happy New Year, Everyone!

Home For Christmas

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“What do we really know about this girl, except that he met her in Namibia?” Margaret Whitmore asked her husband, Charles as she stood at the window of the drawing-room looking out at the snow covered grounds of the estate.  Winter had come early, promising a white Christmas which was a couple of days away.  her step-son, Clive had come home for the holidays and had brought a friend with him.

Charles glanced up from his newspaper, removed his pipe and replied,  “Clive wrote to me about her.  They met last year at a mutual friend’s engagement party.”

Margaret turned to face him.  “He wrote to you about her?”

“Yes.  As a matter of fact, I feel as if I know her very well.  I think it’s serious.”

“Why do you say that?”

He looked surprised.  “Haven’t you noticed the way he looks at her?”

Margaret turned and walked over to the fireplace.  She stood with her back turned towards him.  “No, I hadn’t noticed.  I’m not sure I approve, Charles.”

“Why on earth not?” he asked.

“I just don’t think she’s suitable for him.”

“Is it because she’s African?”

Margaret swung around.  “Of course not!” she replied, irritably.  “I’m not prejudiced, you know.”

“Then, what is your objection?”

“I’m sure she’s a nice girl but–”

“You don’t think she’s right for Clive.”

“No.”

“I seem to recall us having this same conversation before.  Do you remember when he brought home Emma Fennimore a couple of years ago?  You didn’t approve of her either although she was a lovely girl.  And then, there was Charlotte–”

“Oh, don’t mock me, Charles.”

“I’m not mocking you.”

“I just want what’s best for Clive.”

“So do I but Clive is an adult, capable of making his own decisions and choosing whom he want to be with.  And if you don’t want to get in his bad books, don’t interfere in his love life.”  He put the pipe back in his mouth and resumed reading his paper.

Margaret looked at him, was about to say something but changed her mind.  She turned back to stare at the flames as they licked the logs.  She heard voices and then Clive walked in.  The girl was behind him.  She glanced at her first and then at him.  His face was flushed from being outdoors.  He acknowledged her and his father, “It’s cold out there,” he announced as he warmed his hands.  “but, it’s beautiful with the fresh snow on the ground.  Come and warm your hands, Ndeshi.”

Ndeshi joined him and held her hands over the fire.  She was thankful to be in the nice, warm room again.  “I’m not used to the cold,” she said.

Clive smiled and took her hands.  “Here, let me warm them for you.”

Charles gave Margaret a knowing look.  Margaret turned away.  Just then, Reginald went in to inform him that he had a call.  Charles set his paper aside and stood up.  “Thanks, Reginald.  I’ll take it in the study.  Excuse me, everyone.”  He left the room.

Reginald said to Margaret, “Lunch is ready.”

“Thank you, Reginald.”  After he was gone, she said to Ndeshi, “Why don’t you go ahead?  Clive and I will join you shortly.”

Ndeshi smiled.  “All right.”

567423Clive released her hands and watched her go.  He turned to Margaret.  “You wanted to talk to me about something?”

She wrung her hands. “You haven’t said much to me since you arrived.”

“What is there to say?”

“Why did you have to bring her?”

“I didn’t want to spend the holidays without her.”

“But, it’s the first time you’ve come home for Christmas since…”

“I know.  And I’m only here because of Dad.”

“Why do you always bring a girl with you when you visit?  Are you doing it to hurt me?”

“My life world doesn’t revolve around you anymore, Margaret.”

“Your father thinks it’s serious between you and that girl.  Is he right?” she asked, her eyes filled with pain and jealousy.

“Yes,” he replied.  “Is that all?  May I go now?”

Color suffused her face.  “Why are you being like this?”

“How am I being?”

“Cold and distant.  I remember there was a time when you were so passionate.”

“That was a long time ago.”

“Does she know about us?”

“There is no us.  What we had ended the day I came home after graduating from Oxford and found out that you married my father.”

“Is that why you packed up and moved to Namibia?”

“Yes.  I was hurt and angry.”

She reached out to touch his arm and he flinched.  “Clive…”

“Lunch is ready and I’m hungry.  Excuse me.”  He turned and abruptly walked away.

She watched him leave, her heart aching.  It was his first Christmas home and she had hoped that it would be just the three of them.  Why did he have to bring that girl?  Was it to spite her?  Seeing them together was like a knife turning in her stomach.  How on earth was she going to get through the holidays?

The Christmas Sweater

il_1588xN.1617920774_tfc8.jpgMarva stood there at the cash register, wishing she could take off the sweater.  She had gotten some dirty looks.  One man grumbled, “Another feminist.” Another asked her, “Are you saying that Santa should be a woman?”  “Are you pushing that gender equality stuff?” Parents glared at her.  One mother shook her head and hustled her kids to another cashier.  Others didn’t seem bothered about it at all while others thought it was silly.  “Everyone knows that Santa is based on St. Nicholas.  If you want to wear such a sweater, go for it.  I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“It’s a bit silly, if you ask me,” a woman standing in the other line remarked.  “Everyone knows that Santa is a white bearded man in a red suit and there’s Mrs. Claus.” Another woman said, “She’s just trying to get attention.  Just ignore her.”

All day she was subjected to unkind remarks and unsavory looks although there were a few smiles and  chuckles.  She couldn’t wait for her shift to be over.  And when it was, she rushed to get her coat and put it on.  Her supervisor, Anne looked apologetically at her.  “I’m sorry you had to go through that,” she said.  “If you weren’t married, I would have let you wear one of the other sweaters.”

“You mean nobody else wanted to wear it.”

“That too.  Well, at least we know now that the sweater’s not popular with most shoppers which means that the sales, if any, will be very low.  I will have to get in touch with the account manager and let her know that the product isn’t selling and to discontinue it.  Thanks again for helping with the promotion.”

“I think I made some enemies.”

“Don’t worry.  Tomorrow, our busiest day before Christmas will be featured on the local news at noon and Wendy will let them know that this was a promotion of our latest Christmas wear and she will talk about them at length.  Everyone will see that you were wearing it not by personal but for professional reasons.  You did well today.  Go home and rest up for tomorrow which will be like a zoo.  And you wear what you want–as long as it’s red or green–to get people into the Christmas spirit.”

Marva smiled.  “I can do with a nice warm bath,” she said.  “I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and early.  Have a good evening.”  She turned and walked away.  As she was heading towards the doors leading into the shopping mall, a young woman intercepted her.

“I just wanted to say, it’s your sweater, it’s your thoughts…so, it’s your business.  Ignore the haters.”

Marva smiled.  “Thank you.”  She didn’t bother to say that it wasn’t her sweater and those weren’t her thoughts.  And her reason for wearing it was strictly business.  “Have a Merry Christmas.”  She popped into Moore’s to get a couple of shirts for Adrien and then headed to their luxury condo facing the CN Tower and within walking distance from the waterfront.  He should be home by now.

_MG_9919-Recovered.jpgWhen she let herself into the spacious unit, a tantalizingly delicious smell wafted into the foyer and she quickly removed her boots and coat.  She scurried to the bedroom to hide the bag with his shirts in her side of the closet and then, hurried into the kitchen. Adrien was standing in front of the stove and turned when he heard her.  He froze when he saw her sweater.  He placed his hands on top of his head.  “You wore that to work?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  It was part of a promotional event.  You have no idea how badly I wanted to take it off.  I got nasty looks and people made all sorts of remarks.”

“I’m not surprised.  People love Santa.  They act as if he’s real.  Sometimes, it seems like Christmas is more about him than about Jesus.”  He went over to her and kissed her on the lips before hugging her.  “By the sounds of it, you had a really rough day.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Why don’t you go and get undressed while I draw you a warm bath.  By the time you’re done, dinner will be ready.”

She smiled and rumpled his hair.  “You read my mind,” she said.  “Thank you, Baby.”

“Anything for you.”  He released her and taking her by the hand, he led her to the master bedroom and while she got undressed, he got the bath ready for her.  It felt so good being submerged in the warm, sudsy water and so relaxing too.  She rested her head against the side of the tub and closed her eyes.

Twenty minutes, dressed in red silk pajamas, she emerged from the bedroom and went into the dining-room where a candlelit dinner awaited her.  Adrien held the chair for her to sit down.  He leaned over and kissed her on the nape of her neck before he went to the head of the table and sat down.  “Did you enjoy your bath?” he asked as he unfolded his napkin.

Marva nodded.  “Yes, I did.  Thank you.  Dinner looks and smells amazing.”

He smiled then they bowed their heads as he said a prayer.  “Bon appetit.”

She eagerly tucked into the Sole Meunière with perfectly golden roast potatoes and salad.  He was a much better cook than she which was why he did most of the cooking.  “This is delicious,” she said.  “You should have been a chef.”  He was a

“I love cooking, yes but I love my job as a Construction Manager even more.  Besides, you are a fantastic cook too.  It’s one of the reasons why I married you.”

She laughed.  “What are the other reasons?”

“You’re beautiful, sexy and I’m crazy about you.”

“I like those reasons.”

“When we met five years ago, I didn’t think you would be interested in me.”

“Why because you’re Jewish and I’m Christian?”

“Yes.  And I’m not Jamaican.”

“I’m a couple of years older than you but none of these things matter when two people love each other.  I admit that when you took me to meet your family, I was very nervous because I wasn’t sure if they would approve of you marrying a black Christian woman but they welcomed me and treated me like I was a part of the family.”

“My family knows what it’s like to be discriminated against and that’s why they make it a policy to love Jews and non-Jews alike.”

“That’s how it should be.  In both religions, we are taught to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

“Yes.  My parents arrived in Toronto yesterday.  They will be staying with Anouk and Michel.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing them and celebrating Hanukkah with them.”

“And I look forward to celebrating Christmas with you, especially the part where we get to kiss under the mistletoe.”

Marva laughed.  “Is that why you hang one in every room?”

He smiled.  “Yes.  Would you like dessert?”

“Sure.  What’s the dessert this time?”

“Your favorite.”

Ten minutes later, they were lounging in the living room having Rugelach while watching a couple of their favorite Christmas movie classics.  It was after mid-night when they finally decided to turn in.  When they were snuggled under the covers, he turned on his side to face her.  “I hope our evening together made up for your rotten day at work.”

Marva was lying on her back.  She turned her head towards him as she placed her hand on his thigh.  “It did, Honey.  Thank you.”

He smiled.  “I’m happy to hear that and you’re welcome.”

“I learned a very valuable lesson wearing that Christmas sweater.  People judged me unfairly because of what I was wearing.  They made all sorts of assumptions about me.  It was no different from how I’m treated because of my color and my accent.  I had a choice not to wear the sweater but I wore it because my manager asked me to.  It reminds me of the times when God asked me to do something I didn’t want to do or wanted to get out of like Moses did when He asked him to go to Pharaoh and ask him to let His people go.  During those times, I had to lay aside my feelings and doubts and misgivings and just trust God.  Wearing that sweater has given me an idea for my own line of clothing.  You know I’ve always wanted to get into designing my own clothes but was too afraid to go for it.  Now, I think that I will do it.”

Adrien leaned over and kissed her on the mouth.  “I think that’s a fantastic idea.”

“You do?”

“Yes.  I’ve seen your sketches, remember?  Maybe now’s the time for you to do this.”

“Maybe.  It would be nice to start my own business.”

“Speaking of business, how about you and I getting down to our own business right now…”

Marva giggled as he disappeared under the covers.

Sources:  Trade Schools; Bon Appetit;

Toshiro Consoles Ife

Polo-Ralph-Lauren-Pre-Fall-2019-Campaign03“What’s the matter, Ife?” Toshiro asked.  He could tell that something was wrong.

“I found out yesterday that Damba, my ex-husband was killed in a road accident.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Ife.  Is there anything I can do for you?”

She shook her head.  “No, there isn’t.”

“When is the funeral?”

“It’s on Friday.  My manager gave me the entire day off.”

“That was very thoughtful.”

“Yes.  I’m very grateful to him.”

“How is Miremba doing?”

“She’s devastated.  He was her Dad and she loved him.”

“What about you?  How are you holding up?”

“It’s hard.  We knew each other from childhood and were married for ten years.  I can’t believe that he’s gone.”

“How old was he?”

“Thirty-five.”

“The same age as me.  Did you love him?”

Ife shook her head.  “No, I didn’t love him but I cared about him.  We got married because I was pregnant.”

“You know I would understand if you want to go home and be with Miremba now.”

She got up from the chair and walked over to the window.  “No, I don’t have to leave right now.  Miremba is with her uncle and his family.  It helps her to be with her cousins right now.”  hC64MrmM_o

Toshiro went up behind her and pulled her against him.  “I know this is hard for you, Ife.  Although you didn’t love him, he was still a big part of your life.”

Ife relaxed in his arms as she stared out the window.  “Yes, he was.”

He turned her around to face him, his eyes searching hers.  “We don’t have to do anything, you know.  We could just talk if you like.”

Ife shook her head.  “No, I don’t want to talk right now.  Maybe later.”  She moved away from him and walked towards the bedroom.

He followed her and after closing the door behind him, he went over to where she stood beside the bed.  His heated gaze met hers before he took her in his arms.

“You can stay here for as long as you like,” he told her some time later as she lay on her side with her head resting on his chest.  He had his arm around her, holding her close.

“Thank you,” she mumbled.  She wished they could remain like this forever.

“I wish I could come to funeral just to give you my support but, unfortunately, I have a very important meeting.”

“I understand,” Ife replied.  She was really touched that he wanted to go to the funeral for her sake.  It sparked hope inside her that he was developing feelings for her.

“Although I will be absent from you in body, I will be present with you in spirit.”

“I know.”

“Where’s the funeral going to be held?”

“At my church.”

“What time is the service?”

“It’s at 11 after the viewing which is at the funeral home and it ends around noon.    After the graveside service and burial, there is a repast at the church.”

“I’ll understand if you would rather be with your family instead of coming here.”

“No, I’m still going to come–at the usual time.”

“When you come, we can just talk if you like.”

“All right.”

“I would like to send flowers to the funeral home.  Before you leave, could you give me the address?”

“Yes, I will.  That’s very kind of you to want to send flowers.”

Toshiro closed his eyes in despair.  He wanted to tell her that it had nothing to do with kindness but would she believe him?

Next up is The Conflict.

Source:  Bible Hub