Lord Make us instruments of your peace,
where there is hatred
Let your love increase...
Tobi watched Brother Yemi play the Piano as the Legion of Mary Choir of St. Paul's Catholic church sung in melody and harmony. He was good at what he did; Brother Yemi. He was the leader of the choir. And he had charisma. He had class. He was the kind of man every sister who struggled to be at the front pew wanted in a man. He was the kind of man that Father Benjamin always encouraged the ladies in the youth group to pray for. Yes, Brother Yemi had style and finesse. He even received his holy communion with class. He always walked the aisle with a steady bounce, and he just had this behd way of receiving the broken bread and wine.
Tobi almost laughed as she watched her brother-in-law. Brother Yemi was actually her brother in law. He was married to her sister; her one and only sister, Lolade. Lolade had been one of the many girls in church that adored Brother Yemi, and she had done everything she could to get his attention. She had gone to him with spiritual problems and for career counselling, to mention a few. Tobi wondered how Brother Yemi, who had studied History, and worked with a bank, could rightly counsel Lolade who was a civil engineer. However, Tobi hadn't been the one wondering any more when Brother Yemi declared his intention to marry Lolade. The whole church had been so happy about it especially because their dad was a big member of the church and belonged to and headed many of their church societies . Lolade hadn't gone past the wedding without gathering enemies from the female congregation however, who only smiled at her for the sake of eye service.
It was about three years since their marriage and Lolade now had a baby. Things had changed. She had to quit her job with an oil company because Brother Yemi had just thought it wasn't exactly traditional of a good woman to work, especially a woman who had a husband and a son to take care of. So she'd had to give up the job that paid her 4.6 Million Naira per annum. The family now lived on Brother Yemi's 2.8 Million per annum. Brother Yemi's mother had been a stay at home wife...so it was only the right thing to do that Lolade also became a stay at home mom...
As the Legion of Mary Choir begun singing the Benediction hymn Thank you, for giving me the morning...with Brother Yemi's powerful talent working on the big Piano, Tobi felt her sister grip her hand. They were sitting together at Mass. The baby was with their mother.
"Are you okay?" Tobi asked, looking at Lolade.
She nodded, but Tobi could tell that there was something wrong.
"What is it?" Tobi asked again.
Lolade looked at the choir as they filed out after the Priests. Then her gaze went to her husband who was ending the notes of the final chorus of the hymn. The Mass was almost over, and it meant that they would be going back home soon.
"Is there a problem, Lola?" Tobi said, trying to follow her sister's gaze.
Lolade's eyes begun to fill up with tears. She looked away and hurried out of the building. Tobi ran after her.
"What is it?! You're scaring me!" She said.
"I don't want to go home, Tobi. I'm scared..."
"Scared of what? What are you talking about?"
Lolade shook her head.
"I can't...I know you're a journalist and you write about things like this...and I don't want to get him into any trouble..."
Tobi couldn't believe this.
"Oh my God! He hits you! Since when? What...how...when did this start?"
Tobi was shocked.
She was a journalist, columnist cum blogger on Feminism and Women Rights, and she had a strong social media campaign against Domestic Violence and Verbal Violence against women. Her campaign, #thestrongweakervessel was gaining heavy ground on facebook, twitter and Instagram. Her movement had even won the support of the United Nations and celebrities from the United States. She had been a strong partaker of the once upon a time #bringbackourgirls campaign, and even if it was fizzling out, she was determined to go on with fighting for the cause, even if the hashtag would change to #bringbackourwomen should incase the victimed girls were eventually rescued a million years after.
She was hurt. She was hurt that she was such an active personality against violence, and the very thing was happening to her own sister.
"It's been for some months now. Tobi I'm tired. He threatened me with a knife last night!" Lolade said, her voice shaky.
"Why? What was the fight about? Have you told anyone?"
Lolade shook her head.
"I told him I wanted to go back to work. I'm pregnant again, and we can't keep living on just his income. Our son is due to start school soon...and we have rent to pay and so many things lined up. It's not easy. I tried to ask daddy but he won't let me. And then he hit me for disrespecting him and from no where, he brought out a knife. I ran to the toilet when I saw the knife...he was almost going to stab me, Tobi!" She cried.
"This is..." Tobi said.
"Hi, Tobi. Hello, my dear wife..." They heard him say. It was Brother Yemi. He was now standing beside them. Tobi was irritated by his wolf-in-sheep-clothing smile.
Lolade looked from Tobi to her husband. She was scared.
"Let's go home. Where's the baby?" He said.
"He's with my mother." Tobi spoke for her sister.
Brother Yemi smiled again, then he held Lolade's arm, and pulled her lovingly away from that area so that they could get going.
"She's not going with you..." Tobi raised her voice.
"Because?" He said.
"It's fine...I'll go..." Lolade said. Tobi tried to argue but she calmed her down and started to follow her husband. Lolade looked back at Tobi, and Tobi didn't know what to do to save her sister...and all the other women who were out there in the cold grip of violence.
"Hello?" She said, picking the call. This was why she knew it was hightime she got herself a manager. She was no longer just anybody. She was fast becoming a reckonable force and celebrity...
Frequently, she had been receiving calls and emails to grant interviews and speak on issues relating to violence and women abuse.
"Good morning, this is Steven Alege from 95.4 Flourish FM." The person at the other end of the line said. She wasn't a frequent radio listener. Most times when she drove, she was calculating a thousand thoughts in her head.
"Oh, good morning..." She replied. It was 8.45 AM. She had a meeting for 9.30 AM at an African Women Association support fundraiser. She was already getting dressed in her usuals; a white shirt, black skirt, and a blazer, with black flat ballet pumps. Lolade always told her that one thing she needed to work on to get herself a husband, was her dress sense. Tobi didn't care. She just didn't think there was any point in going through all the trouble of wearing uncomfortable high heels and make up just to please a man who was most likely going to end up being violent or unfaithful.
"We tried to get your manager's number but..."
"I don't have one." She cut him short.
"Yeah, we figured..."
"Okay..." She was hurrying him up. She didn't want to be late for her meeting.
"Um...we want to know if you can make an appearance at the radio station for 10.30 AM on Thursday. It's our Real Issues segment and we would like for you to speak on domestic violence and your social media campaign..."
She paused. She was doing a brain check of her itinerary.
"Hello?" Mr. Stephen Alege said.
"I was trying to see my schedule. It's fine. Book me for it." She replied, then she ended the call.
The Real Issues segment at Flourish FM was usually hosted by Tonia but just that Thursday morning, she had called in sick. And the management had given the job to him to host. He knew Tonia too well. She had called in sick because she didn't want to face the guest that was coming. When Oga Stephen had told them it was Tobi Sander that was coming, the atmosphere changed. Everyone knew she was a rigid and overly serious person...not the kind that they usually had at the studio. Tonia always liked to crack jokes and flirt a little with the guests if they were male. If they were female, she just joked. But Tobi Sander. She wasn't the type to even giggle at the slightest tease.
"Oga Steve, this is just unfair...why me? Call Tonia to do this, please. I don't even take this segment! I take sports and song requests!" He complained.
Stephen Alege shrugged.
"She's going to be here any time from..."
She was wearing her signature white cotton shirt, an A-line black skirt, and a jacket. She walked in on them, looking at her wrist watch. It was 9.50 AM.
"Hello, good morning. I'm here for the Real Issues Talk today...it's already 9.50 AM. I guess the presenter is waiting for me already...I hope I'm not late..." She started, looking from Stephen to the guy.
He shrugged and sighed as Oga Stephen started to make conversation with the guest.
"I'm the presenter for the segment today. We should start in about thirty minutes." He said.
"Oh. Good. What's your name?" She asked.
"Tobi. But every one knows me as TMac." He replied.
She nodded. At least he was her name sake.
The show started in a few minutes.
"Good morning Lagos, Good morning Nigeria. The time is 10.30 AM from your ever representing radio station, 95.4 Flourish FM. My name is TMac. I'm sure you are all expecting Tonia to be here, but do not mind that pretty lass! She had to be somewhere very very urgently. I hope your morning is rolling out fine quite aaalright....No traffic stress, no horrible boss-stress at work...
So today on the Real Issues segment, we will be discussing a very important topic; Domestic Violence against women. I know this is a very sensitive and touchy issue and I really wish Tonia was here, but I believe I should be able to do some justice to this.
We hear about Domestic violence everyday. We see it happen all the time, under our very own noses sometimes. Even on the streets...we see someone drive a car drive slowly and we assume it's a woman. This issue had always been, and will always be. So we have decided to talk about it today. Share your thoughts, and share your comments.
With us in the studio is a woman who is making a name for herself on social media and on the global platform. She is a journalist, columnist, and a feminist blogger, and she's also a speaker...She's the strong and unique Miss Tobi Sander..."
Tobi smiled. She wondered why he had to include Miss. Did he mean to show the entire city and stress it that she was an unmarried feminist?
"Goodmorning Lagos! Thank you very much, TMac. For corrective purposes, I'm addressed plainly as Tobi Sander. There's no Miss or Mrs." She said.
TMac nodded, trying to think of what next to say.
"I'm very sorry. You see, that's why I call her unique! She is a living picture of her trade." He laughed.
She started to speak and talk, and then the calls started to come through. They were mostly women. They called in to tell stories of how their husbands molested and abused and disrespected them, and how they only stuck in the marriage for the sake of their kids.
Then the final caller came through.
"Hello, Flourish FM, good morning, what's your name and where are you calling from?" TMac said.
"Good morning. I'm Justin. I'm calling from Ikoyi."
"Hi Justin..." Tobi said in unison with TMac.
"I have a question for Miss Tobi." He said.
"Go ahead please..." Tobi replied, trying not to take offence at the Miss.
"Okay. First, you're not married. I see your photos. I read your articles. You're thirty two years old. Is this all there is to your life? When you give all your speeches and talks about women liberation, what happens next? Do you hook them up with the good and ideal man that ladies like you have in their heads? You don't know anything about marriage. You don't know how crazy it is when a woman nags you and provokes you..."
"I'm sorry we're going to have to go on a commercial break now. We will be right back. Stay tuned to your number one radio station!" TMac said and ended the call immediately. He knew that was unethical to do as an OAP, but he had to. He could tell how embarrassed Tobi Sander was getting.
"I'm really sorry about that, Tobi. You know how people are..." He apologized. Stephen also came to her in a few, apologizing and blaming himself for it.
"It's...It's fine. It comes with the job." She laughed.
That was the first time TMac saw her laugh. And that was the first time he noticed her perfect dentition and attractive dimple.
"You should laugh more often. You're beautiful." He said, shortly before they came back on air. She was going to reply him...of course negatively, but they were now back on air.
"Hello, this is going to be our last caller as the show is coming to an end now and we can only take one more call. We are still talking about domestic violence with Tobi Sander with me in the studio. Hello, this is Flourish FM, Real Issues segment, my name is TMac, who are you and where are you calling from?"
"Hello! Hi TMac, Hi Tobi. I'm Ginika." The caller said.
"Hello Ginika" Tobi and TMac replied.
"I want to ask Tobi. I hope you won't be offended...but are you a lesbian?"
They were only just back from a commercial break. Stephen didn't know what to do, as he listened and tried to think on his feet. Obviously, she was embarrassed. She was trying to think of something to say... TMac was also trying to be spontaneous. He didn't want to end the call.
"I'm sorry Ginika but we don't entertain questions of such nature on Flourish FM," He started, but Tobi cut him short.
"No, no it's fine. She wants to know if I like women." Tobi laughed.
"Yes, I love women, because I am a woman, and I believe in the rights of women as individuals. However, unfortunately, I am not sexually attracted to women. I hope you're not offended at that?"
Ginika ended the call.
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