After waiting for almost an hour to get water from the general tap, I returned to my room to prepare for a bath. I needed to do things quickly if I was not going to be late for my first lecture at 8. It was 6.50am already. Suddenly, I remembered that my toilet soap had slipped off my hands to the bathroom floor the day before. Anyone who has used a bathroom in a general hostel in a federal Nigerian university knows that that kind of soap had completed its assignment with its owner. I looked in Toni’s direction. She was awake but was praying and I wouldn’t dare wake Omoyeni from her sleep as she only returned from a night class 45mins before.
Toni got up from her prayers, handed me an unused pack of Eva soap before returning to a jotter on which she scribbled some things. My attempt to thank her was dismissed with a smile and wave of the hand—she was not done with her prayers. I wondered why it always lasted so long. What was there to say to God for two whole hours?
Since we became roommates two weeks earlier, I always woke up to either find her praying or reading her Bible. It made me wonder that anyone as young as me would pray of their own volition. All my life, I had prayed only because mum said it was what to do each morning. Two weeks of waking up when I wanted and without having to look for a song to open the floor was ‘bliss’ for me. Yet I could not but wonder at Toni’s commitment to the very thing I thought burdensome.
I did not return to the room till about 5pm that day. Toni was already back. She seemed to be cooking something. I was not surprised that Omoyeni was not in. She hardly stayed in the room.
“Roomie, how are you?” I greeted Toni as I sat on my bed to take my sandals off.
“Look who is back. I’m fine but hungry jare. My rice seems to be taking forever to cook.” She said with her ever-bright eyes sparkling. She must have been really happy to have me back.
“Awww. Sorry” I could relate with how annoying the kerosene stove could be especially on days when one was starving or in a hurry.
“How na? Done with lectures for the day?” she broke the short silence
“Yes o. Lectures did not stress me so much today.” I paused “Toni, thanks for this morning. You’re a life saver”
She simply laughed and proceeded to the kitchen. After about 10 minutess, she returned with a pot of rice and asked if I didn’t mind some. I didn’t mind at all ooo. While I had been left alone in the room, her pot of stew did not take a one-second break from tormenting me with its aroma.
“How did you know I needed soap this morning cos I don’t remember asking you” I had finally let it out, three spoons into my meal.
She smiled. “Let’s just say I sensed a need”
“Just like that?” I asked with my eyes nearly pooping out of their sockets.
She nodded with her usual smile.
At that point, curiosity was eating deep into me. I wanted to know why she always prayed without being asked to. I also asked if she had become so accustomed to it because her family observed it.
“I never had a praying family” she started calmly “My mother died before I was a year old. She did not teach me to pray. The Holy Spirit did.”
“You people have come again o. Can you describe the Holy Spirit? How do you guys see him?”
“Relax. I’ll share something with you. Let’s finish the food before it gets cold” she seemed prepared for me. If anything, I admired her calmness and patience.