TABERNACLE OF UNSEEN MARVELS

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The larger percentage of the community’s members was gathered at the extreme end of the village. The shore of the neighbouring sea was terribly trampled upon by soles – of men, women, young, old, even animals. The was a massive exodus from the market square of Umuchi Village to the seaside compound of the Ugochukwus. The chiefs and elders had arrived, to prepare a place for the soon-coming king. It was the first landing of a helicopter in the village. More so, it was accompanied by a number of Sports Utility Vehicles. For decades before the return of Tobechi, Umuchi did not experience a gathering of such magnitude.

*******

Tobechi had been shortlisted among many orphans and less-privileged children the Igwe of Umuchi handed over to Mr. Fafunwa, the zonal coordinator of HPH. The Ibadan-based Hispiration Potentials Home had displayed credibility and excellence in supporting orphans and children with disabilities across the nation, in its twenty-three years of remarkably outstanding service. Worst among other enlisted candidates, Tobechi wasn’t born with any spoon – talk less of a silver spoon.

******

No one in the shoes of Tobechi’s parents wouldn’t have probably taken the same step of “giving” her out, not only because of their extremely poor status, but also because of her seemingly low chances of survival. Whether or not Tobechi was dyslexic, her parents weren’t sure. But her long-sightedness and other frequent illnesses were too obvious for the blind to fail to notice. Tobechi was the only child her parents could conceive after many years of waiting. Two able people – one disabled child.

******

Funding Tobechi’s secondary education was not as easy for HPH as much as her primary education. However, Tobechi’s fast-increasing desire for learning brought her into competition with other geniuses of Livingston Model College and her brightness began to gain national attention when she represented Livingston JETS club in Abuja – where she met Collins. The stone which the builders rejected was posing as the chief cornerstone. However, her high academic intelligence couldn’t replace her low emotional intelligence when she lost her virginity in the fifth year in secondary school.

“You don’t seem to be committed to this relationship any longer.” She had queried.

“I’ve actually never been. If commitment is what you’re looking for, I’m sorry you’re on a wrong path.” Babatunde replied.

“Is this a joke or what?”

“Of course, it doesn’t sound like one. See, Tobe, I think it’s better to fall apart while it’s early”

“It’s not possible! Babatunde, you broke my hymen. I trusted you with pride and dignity.”

“So? What’s special about that? Come on, get out of that silly joke. Exams are kicking off tomorrow and I don’t have time to discuss trash.”

Her break-up with Babatunde on the eighth week of their relationship became a huge mountain of burden in Tobechi’s mind, so much so that she began to lose concentration in her studies. Before she could regain her balance, she’d failed her best subject – Mathematics. Tobechi exercised her lungs with a good cry.

*****

Fortunately for HPH and, especially for Tobechi, her outstanding O-level and A-level results earned her a full-scholarship to study Aeronautical Engineering at the Treasure University.

“Good afternoon. I was posted to Room 206.”

“Afternoon. You’re welcome. I’m Tolani. Agricultural Economics, two hundred level.”

“Tobechi is my name. I’m a fresh student of Aeronautical Engineering.”

“Really? A female engineer? You must be an erudite!” Tolani probed, a little smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

“It’s not about my gender. It’s about God’s agenda. By the way, how many of us are in this room?”

“Three of us. Stella will join us later in the night.”

“Later in the night? She must be an addicted reader” Tobechi said, expecting a response from Tolani. Tolani shrugged.

Stella had been withdrawn from medical school majorly because she couldn’t combine promiscuity with the heavy demands of Physiotherapy. Like Tobechi, Stella had found herself in Part one.  However, the last one session had been a great opportunity for Stella to influence Tolani’s views about issues of life, especially regarding sex and relationship.

*****

Prof(Mrs.) D. O Moringa, the Head of Aeronautical Engineering Department had just returned from her two-week trip to Middleton University, London, to speak on “The Influence of Gender Equality in Sustainable National Development”, when she sent for Tobechi.

“Yes! Come in.”

“Good afternoon ma.” Tobechi said dreadfully, being her first personal encounter with a female Professor.

“Yerima said you sent for me, ma.”

“Yes. I discovered you’re the only female in a class of seventy students. And I’ve ’ve taken my time to go through your bio-data. If I may ask, what’s your driving force in life?”

“Er… I’ll say it’s innovation. I love to see change. I’ve always loved to make an impact of social engineering and of global recognition.” Tobechi replied, stammering.

“That’s great!” she encouraged “But you see, everybody has a creative potential. And from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world. I hope you’ve started expressing your innovative potential”

“Arghh! No ma. There’s time for everything ma. I think I’m too small for that…”

“Too small for what? Dear, I was thirty-six when I became the youngest and first female professor of Aeronatical Engineering in UK. My dear, if you think you’re too small to make impact, try lying down beside an ant. Think about that when you return to your hostel. I need to prepare for a meeting now.”

“Okay ma!”

Tobechi began to meditate on the words of Prof. Moringa, especially her first question. As she approached the door, she turned.

“If you don’t mind ma, I’ll like to ask: What’s your driving force?”

“Hmmm! Tobechi, it’s my purpose. My purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. And I apply all my efforts to become the highest mountain of all by straining my potential until it cries for mercy.”

The encounter with Prof. Moringa kindled Tobechi’s self-confidence and passion for personal excellence. At that point, Tobechi found it inconvenient and unhelpful to keep dwelling under the same roof with Tolani, and especially, Stella. Upon returning to the hostel, Tobechi found Tolani weeping frenziedly. Kingsley had just broken up with her after duping her. Bearing in mind her secondary school experience with Babatunde, Tobechi stood by Tolani to encourage her. No matter how far one has travelled in the wrong direction, it’s never too late to turn around.

*****

After the successful completion of Tobechi’s first degree, Prof. D.O Moringa awarded her a scholarship to study for her Master’s Degree at Harvard University. There, again, she met Collins. They became friends, got engaged, and later got married in the United States. Tobechi’s response to Prof. Moringa’s first question kept reverberating in her neurons. She wanted change in her country, especially in Umuchi. Having read great works from people like Helen Keller, J.F Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, etc, she was determined not to allow anything delay her intended impact in her fatherland. Dr. & Engr. (Mrs.) Collins Thomson returned to their native soil.

*****

With her intellectual prowess and her special flair for reading and artistry works, Tobechi paved her way out of the danger zone into the comfort zone. However, she found it necessary to return to the danger zone of Umuchi to establish a world-class ICT center, an Agricultural Development Centre and a public library, all in her effort to improve the standard of living and to relinquish every iota of intellectual malnutrition in Umuchi land.

*****

Tobechi’s life and experience became a reference point of excellence to every youth of Umuchi. Like Oprah Winfrey, she didn’t allow her background to put her back on the ground. Like Helen Keller and Franklin Roosevelt, she demonstrated the ability in disability. She had learnt from Thomas Edison how best to handle past failures. She realized that the things that lay before her, and the things that lay ahead of her, were nothing compared to the things that lied inside her.

No one is a desert. Everyone has great ingenious potentials and abilities waiting for expression. Everyone is a tabernacle of unseen marvels.

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Adeniruju Adedapo-Treasure
A writer, wishful filmmaker and advocate who breathes and tweets via @TreasureNGA.

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