I was in my fifties now and felt like a sad, old lonely man. My 50th birthday celebration brought me little joy or fulfilment. My children could not be bothered to come talk less of Lola . So, it was a party of school friends, work colleagues and acquaintances. I had gotten a few girlfriends after Simone, but they did nothing for me, and I got bored of them pretty quickly. I was well aware of how shallow my life was.
I continued to stalk Salewa silently on Facebook and followed her through the years but never said anything on her post or sent any messages. I knew we were worlds apart.
One day I noticed that she had put up a post about her husband’s sudden death. It appeared he had died in a car crash. My heart went out to her. I knew I had to call her and speak to her. She agreed to meet me and seemed calm and composed enough when I went to her home to visit her. She talked about her husband and it was clear how much they loved each other. As she spoke, I felt a deep ache and longing in my heart. I had never had that experience with another person.
I continued to check on her occasionally through phone and text. I felt like we actually connected now because she also was lonely following her husband’s death. At the very least, I could offer her my friendship. I listened absentminded when she talked about her faith and how it was keeping her afloat. I was glad something worked for her even though I personally thought it was a hoax. I was mindful that she was grieving and vulnerable and in my younger years would have made a move, but now felt that I did not want to jeopardise our fledgling platonic relationship.
Tragedy struck a few months after Salewa’s husband’s demise. My chief operating officer who I had mentored and built a great working relationship to the point that I trusted him to be able to take over the company when I retired, had made away with a large amount of company funds. It made headline news and we were the subject of intense scrutiny and scandal. Thankfully, my name was eventually cleared. I could not understand his greed. He had seemed determined to wipe us out and had systematically siphoned money from the firm and clients over the years. It broke me. I had been good to him. Why on earth would he do this to me? I lost a lot of my assets apart from a few houses and had to lay low for a while. At this time, I became depressed. I couldn’t eat or sleep properly. I even tried to hide it from Salewa. But, she found out and would come to visit me and speak words of encouragement to me. They seemed like platitudes. However, I appreciated her concern.
One day, Salewa came to visit me, and we were discussing something from our childhoods when she said:
“Dare, I want to ask you for a favour.”
“Anything as long as its within my power,” I knew she was aware that I was not as financially buoyant as I used to be.
“I’m going for a praise program at church and I would like you to come with me. You will enjoy the music at least.”
I considered what she said but did not feel enthusiastic. But at this time, I felt like I owed her. She had been there for me. It would be an opportunity to spend time with her at least. And she was right, I did like music and good gospel music would probably appeal to me. I agreed to go.
It turned out to be the most momentous decision I would ever make in my life.