Mr. Adamu sat Ladi down the morning after she told them about her shocking decision and asked her what exactly she would like to do. Ladi said she had decided to learn the art of tailoring. She told him how she had gone round the town two days earlier in search of a tailoring shop. She had found one not too far from the weekly market area. She spoke with the madam who owned the shop, Madam Abigail about her intentions. Madam Abigail had told her that the shortest duration for learning is three years, especially since she is educated, if not she would spend about five years. They had agreed on the fee of fifty thousand naira that can be spread into three installments till she completes her learning. Mr. Adamu was impressed that Ladi had thought it through and done all the findings. Sometimes, he believes she acts more matured than her age. They ended the discussion with her uncle promising to visit madam Abigail’s and starting the process.
Two weeks later, Ladi started her tailoring apprenticeship and found out it was not as easy as she had envisaged. She was told as a beginner, she had to run personal errands for her madam, like going to the stream to fetch water for her water pot; helping with market runs and so forth. Ladi was shocked that after six weeks of learning, she was yet to neither handle the scissors nor even fix buttons on clothes. She began to think that maybe opting out of school was a bad idea entirely. Her only solace was in a friendship she had started with Chidiebere Obi, a fellow apprentice who had been there for about a year.
Chidiebere Obi is an only child. Her father is the community priest and her mum sells hand woven wool shawl at the weekly market. They are not a rich family but have learnt to be content with what they can afford. Her father also fishes and sells to earn extra income to support the family, since Umuleke is a small community and one cannot earn enough wages from the local assembly. He was posted to Umuleke five years earlier and he had come to love its serene nature. He had married his wife when he was twenty five and she was twenty. They had to wait for eighteen years before they had Chidiebere. She was a miracle that had long been awaited. People had insulted them and some advised that the delay in childbirth must have been as a result of witchcraft operations in his wife’s family. But Mr. Obi held unto his unwavering faith in God and always consoled himself with the story of Abraham in the bible. When Chidiebere finally came, everyone marveled and could only join them to give thanks to God. The Obi’s family is one filled with many trials and challenges but God had kept them through it all.
Chidiebere had started learning tailoring because she discovered that she always found it hard to understand her academics. The simplest subjects were like a mountain before her, very insurmountable. Her parents had gotten several tutors for her with a view to getting a solution to her problem, to no avail. All she loved to do was knit and fix any loose buttons on clothes. Her teachers then advised her parents to withdraw her from school and let her follow her passion, and to get trained in the fashion line.
It was then such a huge shock for Chidiebere to discover that Ladi wasn’t learning tailoring because she wasn’t brilliant but because they was no means to continue her education. Ladi’s warm heartedness had worn her over and they became inseparable. Every opportunity they had, they talked at length sharing stories of their childhood and families. It was on one of those days that Ladi learnt about Chidiebere’s mother. .One of the Obi’s many trials.
Mrs. Obi had woken up one day to discover she couldn’t move her right hand and leg. She had been rushed to the hospital and the doctor had told them her mother had suffered a stroke. Her father had been devastated. In a short time, her mother had become an invalid. They had to help her do everything, even bathe. The doctors had told them that her kind of stroke might be permanent. They took her to another teaching hospital and after three months, they were asked to take her home as they can’t help her anymore.
After two months that Mrs. Obi had been brought back home and after spending all their savings and the ones friends and church members helped them with; Mr. Obi suddenly realized that he had not yet exhausted all options. He was angry with himself for considering the options as the last resort. He turned to God. He told his wife about all the stories of great men in the bible had faith and how it worked for them. He reminded her of Naaman’s leprosy that was healed. Also about Lazarus who was raised from the dead. He spent a whole month working on his wife’s psyche. He needed her to believe that all things are possible to anyone who believes.
He started vigorous prayers and waiting on God. Chidiebere herself also had to join in the waiting. A month after they started the prayers, Mrs. Obi said she could feel a sensation on her toes; this was a sign that God had started the work. Exactly two months after the vigorous prayers, Mrs. Obi got her complete healing. She had regained the full use of her hand and leg and what doctors had written off, God did!! It was a moment of great joy and since then, her mother had had such unwavering faith in God. And so does Chidiebere!!
Ladi listened with rapt attention and was amazed at such miracle. It seemed to her as if she had never heard about God before. Chidiebere then told Ladi, that if she wanted to continue her education, she should simply have faith and trust that God will do the miracle. It was the most difficult words to believe, her question was “How on earth will God perform this miracle?” It seemed highly impossible. That night after the story, Ladi could not sleep. Her mind was agog with the thought of what God can do. She then decided to begin telling God to turn her situation around. There was no harm in trying she thought. She started exercising faith.
Six months into her tailoring training, one cool evening; two men were escorted by a policeman to the Adamu’s house. They were all seated outside taking in the fresh air when they saw the men approaching. When the men got to the porch, there was a grave silence, such that the sound of a needle dropping would have been heard. “Is this the house of Mr. Adamu?” asked the police officer. The sight of a policeman is not a pleasant one, especially if you live in Nigeria….Stuttering, Mr. Adamu replied with a shaky “yes, is there something I can do for you?”
“I am sergeant Usman from the zone 2 command and these men would like to have a word with you” replied the policeman. The two men then stepped forward and offered Mr. Adamu a handshake which he accepted. All the while, Mrs. Adamu and her kids, including Ladi and Tobe stared with trepidation. Mr. Adamu took them inside and after about forty five minutes, they all came out smiling and exchanging pleasantries. They left promising to return two days later with the documents.
After they had gone, everyone looked to Mr. Adamu to tell them what the meeting was about. He looked at them, smiled and said nothing. They all almost died of anxiety, not able to take the silence anymore, Mrs. Adamu gave the command…they all pounced on Mr. Adamu and tickled him so hard he begged to be set free. After he had calmed down, he sat them all down and explained what the two strange men had come to tell him.
The men work for Virgo airline. They had explained how sorry they were about the plane crash that had claimed the lives of Ladi’s parents. They had gone in search of the deceased’s relatives and had been told by neighbours that they had vacated the house and gone to live with their uncle. But no one was willing to tell them where the uncle stayed. After two attempts, they gave up. But four months ago, their MD remembered the case and made it a matter of compulsion to find the deceased’s children. Because of the resistance they got at first, they decided to get the help of the local police in the search, which led them to finding the Adamu’s.
Virgo Airline felt the need to pay compensation to the family of everyone affected by the crash; they had visited the Njoku’s and given them their entitlement. Now they have come to give Ladi and Tobe the compensation for their parent’s death. Virgo airline promises to see to the education of Ladi and Tobe till the University level and master’s degree. They would also support them with monthly allowance for the whole duration.
It was like a dream for Ladi. She didn’t know what to say at first. Tobe jumped up screaming excitedly, Ladi only wept for joy. In all her imagination, it never crossed her mind that her story will take this turn. She remembered what Chidiebere had said “That there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail….but at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant”.
The promise made by Virgo Airline is a flicker of hope, Ladi doesn’t know what the future holds but she trusts the one who owns the future. He had started it and she believes He will surely bring it to a glorious end.