Pastor Matthias, his wife, Ibitam and Ronke were showed into Kola’s office at the stipulated time. It was going to be a battle of wits and wisdom, and Kola was prepared for them. After exchanging greetings, Pastor Matthias started with a short prayer.
“I want to thank Mr. Eiba for granting us this opportunity to come and see him despite his busy schedule. Let me establish here that we have not come to quarrel, we have come to agree and as we have invited God to take charge of this meeting, I believe all will be well in Jesus’ name,” Pastor said, and others mumbled “amen.”
Kola looked at Ronke then, and his heart went out to her. She looked gaunt and thin, and he wondered what she might have been through. For the first time in his life, he said a quiet prayer for God to soften her heart toward him.
“As we are all aware, this meeting is all about Ronke and Modele. We know you love your daughter and you want to provide for her but we appeal to you, to drop the lawsuit and let us reason together,” Pastor continued.
“I’m willing to drop the lawsuit,” Kola said briskly.
“Oh, thank you, sir,” Sis Rebecca said but Ronke and lbitam were not yet relaxed. Ronke clasped her hands in her lap and her back was straight. Ibitam’s eyes were bright and her lips pressed together.
“That means you will bring Modele back to her mother?” lbitam said.
He turned to her with such a defying stare lbitam looked away. “No. That means I will not pursue a case in court,” he said stiffly.
Sis Rebecca sat forward. “We appeal to you to bring Modele back to her mother. Ronke has suffered so much. Losing her daughter will destroy her completely. Look at her these past few weeks have been hell. She’s been sick throughout. Please, we are begging you.”
“Begging me for what?” Kola stood and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Is it wrong for me to care for my daughter? Is it wrong to be responsible? What exactly are you asking of me? Are you saying I should be so rich and allow my child and her mother to eat from hand to mouth?” He fixed his gaze on Pastor Matthias. “Have you been to Ronke’s house?” The pastor shook his head and Kola smirked. “Her living condition is deplorable. What does the bible tell you about such cases as this? I grew up in a ghetto, I will not live and see mine follow the same route.”
Ronke snapped. “My bible teaches me not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.”
“Who is an unbeliever?” he charged at her. “Why have you brought these people here to waste their time, and effort?” He turned to Pastor. “I asked Ronke to lead me to become born-again, she refused. Ask her if I’m lying!” he accused.
Pastor and Sis Rebecca gasped, and looked at Ronke, their disbelief obvious. Ibitam sighed.
“He was being spiteful. He only wanted it so I will agree to marry him. I told him to find a Pentecostal church, he refused,” Ronke said heatedly.
“How do you know that? Did you ever ask me again about it? Who is born-again, anyway? Someone who goes to your church? I believe in God, I reverence Him. That’s not enough for you?”
“We only ask that you allow Ronke to see Modele. We haven’t come here to argue or question your beliefs?” Ibitam said quietly.
“She can see Modele in my house if she wants,” he said flippantly.
Pastor sat forward. “If we get better accommodation for Ronke, will you allow Modele to move back with her?”
“I will get a better and decent place that suits my taste for her, if she will live in it, but my daughter stays with me.”
Ronke jumped to her feet. “Is she any less my daughter?”
“Yes!” Kola barked. “Because you can’t take care of her alone.”
“Where were you when she was born? Who took care of her the first five years of her life when you were nowhere to be found?”
“You did. And I am truly grateful to you for that,” his voice tempered, “but I am here now, and I am her father. There are two options before you, Ronke. Marry me, or forget you ever had a daughter!”