In the age of special anniversaries, maybe it’s a huge mistake that I don’t have an annual day of remembrance for that letter. After all, it altered the trajectory of my life and possibly shaped the logic of my eternal journey. Yet, it was a simple enough letter, elegantly couched in unassailable moral logic. As Lagosians would say, I was the one who looked for ‘wahala.’ And what did I do wrong exactly?
It was in the mid 90s and I had resolved to get married. I was tired of bachelorhood but still unable to find the girl that would ‘take my breath away.’ I finally threw in the towel and decided to settle down with an elegant lady. She was nice and sweet and from a wonderful family.
Prof and Mrs. Anya accompanied me to the traditional wine carrying ceremony, along with my parents. There, it emerged that my bride was a divorcée. Of course I always knew, so what? I was liberal, avant garde and free thinking. The divorce thing simply didn’t matter to me. Apparently, it also didn’t matter to anyone else. But Mrs Anya bothered, and took action.
When I returned to Lagos, I got the letter from her. I still recall the contents; clearly itemized Bible passages dealing with the issue of marriage and divorce and then a simple concluding prayer… “may the Holy Spirit guide you in your decision.”
Of course, the Holy Spirit took away my peace until I bowed. How did this woman achieve such a monumental feat almost effortlessly? Today, over two decades after, my wife Betty says, “she didn’t do it, the Holy Spirit used her.” It’s the evidence of genuine faith!
Over the years I have increasingly admired her rock solid faith; her beautiful elegance and towering strength. She makes Christianity so awesome, without preachments; without judgement and without deceit. Three years ago, when I reeled under the weight of family challenges, she was the first person I ran to. Once again, she wrote another letter to me, quoting Bible passages of individuals in the the holy book: Joseph, David, Jephta, Gideon, etc, who faced similar challenges, but God stood by them. Her words gave me strength.
Through the years, she has remained pure gold. Her husband, the Prof treasures her. As he would often say, “whereas some people have their enemies outside, mine lives with me!” She is ever ready to nudge the great man to the path of simple and accurate rendition of facts anytime the flow of the narrative threatens to encroach on his fidelity.
The girl she eventually supported me to marry adores her as a worthy role model, especially of the faith. By the way, she has become my own in-house enemy.
A renowned educationist, Mrs. Anya is more importantly a connoisseur of fine literature and quality prose. Perhaps, understandably, with such an amazing husband and children; each of them, outstanding writers in their own right, especially that one who used to hang a stethoscope and was once outed by the mercurial intellectual, Ferdinand Agu, as a genius.
I recall one evening when I visited Prof as I used to do, and Mummy greeted me with sing song laughter. “Emeka, I have something to show you…” She gave me a piece of paper, an Oxford University honorary doctoral degree citation on Nelson Mandela. The entire citation was just a single paragraph and yet it captured fully the enchanting story of the icon.
I was awed. It’s easily the most exquisite prose I have ever read, perhaps only comparable to Prof Anya’s forward to Senator David Dafinone’s biography. It’s way beyond a master piece.
Mrs Anya loves good writing. Who knows? Maybe that’s why she married Prof and produced such intellectually gifted children.
Last week, this jewel turned 80. Sweet Jesus, thank you very much, for the gift of this wonderful woman; a daughter who has kept your name with honour.
Thank you very much, Lord for blessing us with her.
Happy Birthday to you Mummy!
Prince Emeka Obasi and the Clan.