In Love with a Church Boy

She fell in love with his voice first. They had never met. He had called her “one day after one of Ekpeme’s boring classes,” Theresa said. She was in no hurry to go back to the hostel room that she shared with about twelve others. In Amina hostel at Ahmadu Bello University, everyone had a “squatter” who was either unable to pay for accommodation or used the accommodation money to pay for some irrelevant faculty fees that kept increasing. In such a situation, students run to their friends, who, by some miracle, were able to secure a bed in the hostel and bunk with them—often throughout the semester.


Theresa opted to stroll to the sculpture garden. This is a quiet spot with different tall trees casting shade over both old and newly erected sculptures by final-year fine arts students eager to display their picture of everyday Nigeria. Two of the newer ones show a woman backing her child while carrying a basket of firewood on her head. The second one depicts an unpainted sculpture of a woman with her mouth open in silent wails; in her hands was the crashed Sosoliso plane; her legs bent low with the weight of the damaged plane, etched with the names of the one hundred and eighty victims, sixty of whom were students aged between twelve and sixteen.


The abrupt ring of her phone jolted Theresa out of the gloom caused by the sculpture. Her brother-in-law had been threatening to set her up with one of his friends, but she had always shot the offer down. Unbeknownst to her, he had given her contact information to his friend, James Abah. She didn’t have his contact information, and so when his call came in, she was reluctant to pick it up because, “Ha! How I want take know if na one of these scammers wey dey call people anyhow,” she said in pidgin.

After the second ring, she picked up, still thinking it was a scam, and replied, “Oya, say what you want to say and cut so I can have peace.” The next thing she heard was, “I am so sorry for bothering you; this is James, Obenta’s friend.”


Anyone who met James loved him. He is kind and always willing to help someone out, “which has gotten him into a lot of trouble,” Theresa added. “This husband of mine cannot just say no!” she exclaimed. “It can be frustrating,” she muttered, shaking her head. James was in his electronic shop in Yaba, Lagos State, when Obenta called him and told him he had found him a wife. James is the first of five children, the first son, and the only one yet to be married. He became the man of the house, responsible for the welfare of his aging mother and siblings after their father passed. This had always been an issue in his previous relationships; none of the ladies he’d dated could stand his overt commitment to his family. “My baggage was too much for them,” James said. So, when the opportunity came, James was willing to “try the whole relationship drama again,” he continued.


“His voice: Ene!” Theresa clapped, interrupting her husband. “It was just like that time we tested that freshly tapped palm wine that Oche gave us when we traveled to visit grandma-sweet,” she stressed. James has a soothing, “bassy,” mellifluous voice that at once puts you at ease. If it were another voice, Theresa would have cut the call, called Obenta, and cursed him for giving out her contact information without her consent. However, something about Jame’s voice made her want to hear more. She composed herself, forgetting her anger, and said, “Hello.” They continued to speak for two more hours and only had to cut the call because her friend Irene came with an offer of a free lunch. This made Theresa realize how hungry she was because she hadn’t eaten breakfast before heading to Ekpeme’s 7 a.m. class.


James called her back that night at 9 p.m., when she was already on her bunk that she shared with Irene, reading one of her many Harlequin romance novels. “As the smooth man that I am,” James said, winking at his wife. He wanted to come and visit her at school. She panicked when she asked him where he lived, and he said Lagos. Lagos to Zaria is a 10-hour, 50-minute drive, and she was not ready for him to make that kind of journey. What if the rest of him is not as beautiful as his voice? Somehow, holding on to the illusion of the image her mind had created seemed more attractive. She tried to dissuade him by saying they could meet in the village during the Christmas holiday. This was because they were both from the same village and would be heading home to visit family at that time. It would also give her enough time to assess her feelings since December was like ten months away. However, after a lot of back and forth, with both not quite remembering how they got there, she relented and agreed that he should come to school and see her.


James arrived in Kaduna State a week later and was in the city of Zaria the next morning, which was a Saturday. He was eager to meet the spitfire, who had warned him about not being in the market for toxic, masculine Nigerian men, full of bravado and with no sense. “She basically told me how she needed to be treated and that she would take nothing less than the best,” James said, with rapt attention on his wife. His expression was one of admiration, as if beholding something extraordinary.

“Meeting your sister was destined,” James said.

“Obebe!” Theresa exclaimed. “Okwanu church boy!” “He is a church boy,” she said in Igbo.


He wasn’t dressed like the James she had fantasized about at night in a need to distract herself from her noisy roommates. He had the look of a church boy. He was dressed in black tailored pants with a navy-blue shirt smartly tucked into his pants and finished off with black low-heeled lace-up shoes. He is more than six feet tall; he is not thin, but he has a fullness to him that just seemed right. However, the man of Theresa’s dreams wore jeans and a t-shirt, had a bad boy swagger, and was a “softy” whenever they were alone. At first, she found it difficult to reconcile her dream with her reality, but after minutes of talking, “James became everything my every sense could see,” Theresa said. The way he smelled made her want to crawl into his lap, and when he smiled, his crooked side teeth did nothing but enhance his handsomeness.


“My Goodness!” “Ene, you should interview us more often,” James said playfully.

“Nne!” “My dear,” said Theresa in Igbo, “it was like the man used juju on me; I was just mesmerized like an idiot.” She enthused, blushing as James laughed at her side while running his hands through her braids.

Eleven years of marriage and four kids later, Theresa is still grinding with her church boy.

2 thoughts on “In Love with a Church Boy

  • Theresa
    24 December 2023 at 07:49

    I love it!

  • Bosan
    9 January 2024 at 18:05

    Welldone. 😄😂
    You paint a vivid picture with words.

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