The New Man by Taiwo Bello

Josie stood in front of the three bedroom bungalow and listened to the screams of his foster parents. The usual disagreement had escalated over the week. Josie kept the tears from rolling down his face when he dialed his best friend's number. Nathan soon arrived in an old pickup van. He jumped into the van and they drove off. 

The New Man by Taiwo Bello

“You’re good?” Nathan asked few minutes into the drive. 

“I will be fine. They’re at it again.” Josie replied and sighed. He adjusted the seat a little backwards, resting his back. 

“What’s made it worse?” Nathan asked. 

“He slapped her this time. He's never laid his hands on her until today.” Josie said and shut his  eyes. Nathan remained silent, he knew his friend was in no mood to talk. He wasn’t going to disturb him,  he drove to his parents house and announced their arrival. 

“Get down, Jo. We’re home.” He said and Josie opened his eyes. He got down and walked towards the  door, Nathan's mother was already waiting for them. She pulled Josie into a hug and invited him inside  the house. 

“Thank you Mrs Paul. “ Josie said and tried to smile.
“Why don’t you boys go into Nathan's room to wait till the food is ready?” She said and smiled at him. “Where are the girls?” Nathan asked.
“They followed you father to Church. He has a meeting with Deaconess Gloria. You know the girls have  choir practice, today is Saturday.” She said and walked into the kitchen. Josie and Nathan got into his  room and closed the door. 

“You don’t have to talk about it, you can just sleep till dinner is ready.” Nathan said and picked up his  clothes from the bed to create some space for Josie to sleep. Josie went to use the toilet and came  back, he picked a dart and threw it.  

“Mother took the funds they've been saving to send me overseas for my tech career, she put the  money in an investment without telling father. The investment crashed and father got to know. He was  angry and demanded her to return the money at all cost, which it's not even possible. Where would she  find 10million naira? Nat, they've been saving up since the month I was adopted!” he exclaimed and  threw another set of darts. 

“You didn’t tell me about this savings scheme.” Nathan said. 

“I also didn’t know till early this year when I was preparing to write JAMB. They both called me into their  room and said I was going to write JAMB and TOEFL and some other foreign exams. I didn’t want to tell  you cause I wasn’t sure of the probability of my acceptance into the university in UK.” He explained and  sat on the bed. 

“That’s serious, Josie. Can’t your mum collect the capital from the investors? The profit does not matter  at this moment.” Nathan said.

“It was a scam investment! The organizers are fraudsters and they've suddenly cut off all means of  communication with everyone that gave them money. The painful thing is that, mother didn’t only take  my college funds, she also went ahead to sell the only real estate assets we have. Two plots of land in  Aboderin Estate. “ Josie said. Nathan began to understand the gravity of Josie’s mother decisions.
“Your father must be really angry.” Nathan commented.
“He is extremely mad, he slapped her. They’ve never seen eye to eye on issues but this is the worst  incident.” Nathan was silent for awhile then he spoke.
“You know you can pray about this.” Nathan said. Josie stood and began screaming.
“Don’t even go there Nat! You keep telling me to pray and I haven’t had a time I could say was a good  time in my life. Where was this God when my family got burnt in that oil spill accident? Why was I the  only one who survived to carry these ugly scars around?” He said and rubbed his face which was  patched by grafted skins to cover the burnt area. Tears rolled down Josie’s face.
“And why did he allow the Johnson's family to adopt me? I've been traumatized by lack of peace and  love in that home! The only thing that gave me hope at the beginning of this year was the opportunity to  school overseas. And that one too has been taken away from me!” he continued shouting till a soft  knock sounded on the door. Mrs Paul entered and looked at the two boys, she knew what was going on  cause she had been standing at the door for some minutes. She decided to step in when things were  getting intense.
“Come downstairs for your food.” She said walked away. The two boys stared at each other and left  without speaking a word. Nathan went to the kitchen while Josie sat at the dining table. Mr Paul just  arrived with the girls and he began talking with Josie at the dining table.
“Josie! How are you boy?” He asked and have him a friendly push.
“I am fine sir.” He responded. Mr Paul left him and went into the kitchen. The happy laughter coming  from the kitchen made Josie felt left out. The whole family soon joined him at the table and they settled  to a eat a meal of rice, ponmo, fish and moi-moi. Josie didn’t know he was that hungry till he began to  eat. He soon finished his meal and Nathan's mother poured more food into his plate.
“Thank you ma.” Josie said and dug into the food.  
“Josie, take. That's an invitation to our annual youth cohort. I invited you last year but you didn’t show  up. This year, it’s a must cause I will come to your house to drag you out.” Ayobami, Nathan's  immediate younger sister said. Josie looked through the invitation card and saw that the event was  supposed to hold the following week at Abuja. He thought about it and knew that any opportunity to be  away from home was a big yes for him.
Moreover, they were on summer holiday. Nathan and he just graduated from secondary school and they  were both preparing to write POST UTME into the University Of Ibadan. Josie applied for computer  science while Nathan applied to study Dentistry.
“ It will be a great time to spend some time with Nathan before you resume into your various studies  next year. And an opportunity for you to meet new friends.” Mrs Paul explained. Josie heart ached when  he heard her mention “studies” . Even if he gained admission into the prestigious university, where  would he get the money to fund his studies?
“We will like to check on your parents, you can stay here tonight.” Mr Paul said and got up. The sound of  their car driving out of the parking lot was heard and Josie heaved a sigh of relief.  
“I hope they get there in time before he kills her.” Josie said to Nathan as they were washing the dishes  and cleaning up the kitchen.
“Will you go to the cohort with us?” Nathan asked.
“Yes.” He replied and Nathan hugged him, soaking him in soapy water.
The following week came and Josie found himself in Mr Paul's car, on his way to Abuja. They drove  through Lagos-Ibadan expressway, got to Lagos and lodged in a guest house. They were supposed to get  on a flight to Abuja the next day. Apparently, the Paul’s were able to get to Josie’s house the previous  week befire much injuries were inflicted on Mrs Johnson. Mrs Johnson insisted she didn’t want to press  charges for assault, she packed her belongings and left the house to live in her elder sister's house. The  journey from Ibadan to Lagos must have stressed everyone out cause they woke up late the following  day. They rushed to the airport and were lucky not to miss the flight. They soon landed in Abuja and  drove to the accommodation given to every participants, by the church.  
The events were supposed to last for a week, a training program for different things was the last event.  Josie was surprised to see an opportunity to apply for a tech workshop which was going to hold online  and it would run for 3months. At the opening of the last event, part of the things that stuck with Josie  was one of the preachers word. The woman talked extensively on “BURNING BRIDGES“ You are the light  of the world, through you, people should be able to come to Christ. In Christ, there's completeness! Our  goal is to serve as an instrument to increase the fire burning in you. The fire shall not be put out! That  has been promised in Leviticus 6:12. Your heart is burdened with something? Is it guilt eating you up?  Lay down your cross today, stop trying to solve the problems when it has already been solved. Yours is  to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” The preacher said and stepped down from the  podium. Tears welled up in Josie’s eyes, the intensity of and the truth in the message hit him. People  began to file out to collect various application forms for different projects, he stood and went to register  for cyber security workshop.  
Nathan was really happy at the sudden change in Josie’s demeanor. They were told they would receive  an email concerning the status of their application after one week. Selected candidates would be given  links to register for the classes which were to hold for three months.
The old Josie would have been worried about his application status, but the new Josie was at peace with  everything. He went back to living with his father though his mother hadn’t come back home. He prayed  Every time for the restoration of the family and hoped that one day things will be okay. The email came and Josie wasn’t selected. He wasn’t angry neither was he jealous of Nathan, who was accepted for  photography workshop. Nathan felt really bad but Josie assured him that he wasn’t feeling bad about it. 

The date for the feared POST UTME arrived and their preparations were doubled. During the  preparation, Josie was battling the pressure from his parents divorce battle. He still prayed for them and  never stopped yearning for the word of God. Josie Johnson and Nathan Paul were given admissions to study their preferred courses. It wasn’t a smooth ride for Josie, but he received multiple scholarships  while schooling and that helped him in overcoming a lot of financial problems. He went ahead to get a  masters degree in cyber security at Buckinghamshire New University, UK. He graduated and started a  start-up tech business.  

Josie stood in front the over ten thousand college students at Oxford University in a Christian Tech  Conference fifteen years later and began his speech.
“Leviticus 6:12 changed my life…..” He began and smiled.  


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