Valley of Decisions
“I hope when mum and I are there, we’ll be receiving some good
news from you, Laila.”
“Sure, dad. I always have good news.” I tried to sound upbeat through
My dad sighed. “You know what I mean. It’s about time we meet this
mystery man of yours. We have heard too much about him and we
are beginning to question his seriousness about you.”
My parents would be here in two weeks. Instead of feeling excited,
“Daddy! He is serious about me. We are serious about each other. We
love each other. Trust me when I say you will meet him this time.”
My dad chuckled. “As what? A fiancé or a friend?”
I began to pout over the phone. “Come on dad. Give me a break. This
isn’t easy for me.”
“I know,” he said. “I keep telling you that you deserve so much better.
In fact, I’ve told you this for too long, Laila. I feel as if you’re forcing
this relationship. Mum and I have never put pressure on you.”
“I know. Thanks, dad.” I said. “You and mum have been so
understanding. I am sure of what I am doing and you both will love
Ben when you meet him.”
Dad took a deep breath. “If you say so, Laila. We are praying for you
all the same. We want you to make the best decision according to
God’s will.” He paused. “Listen, Mum says she would call you back.
She is on the phone with your sister.”
“Okay dad. Talk to you soon. I love you.”
“Love you too, Laila.”
I hung up the phone and shut my eyes tightly. Talking to them gets
much harder these days. Each time I pray, I get the signal to break it
off with Ben. I know Kiki is right; I’m afraid of being single. I’ve been
acting as if singleness is a disease or something.
I dialled Kiki’s number. She picked up after the first ring. “Hello, sis.
How are you? We were just talking about you,” she said.
“We? Who is we?” I asked surprised.
Kiki laughed. “Tim and I of course.”
These two have been inseparable from the day he came to church
with her. Even though she refused to let me meet him, I kept my
eyes on them during the service and as they walked out of the
building, I popped out of nowhere, much to her dismay. He, on the
other hand, found it very funny. We chatted for a bit and I was so
impressed by him. In fact, I loved him for her a whole lot more when
I met them for lunch the next day. I leaned over and told her, “Sis, I
give him an 8/10.” She was shocked and looked at me worried. I said,
“You know there is always room for improvement, right?” That made
“We’re at MIDAS and I was telling him about some shoes I’m sure
you’d love to have,” Kiki said, bringing me back to the moment.
I laughed. “Please buy them for me as a token of your love.”
She laughed harder. “Girl, get out of here. How are you doing?”
“I’m good, just finished talking to my dad. It was draining as usual.
They are anxious about coming down and not meeting Ben… again,” I
Her voice got louder than it needed to be. “Laila, listen to me well.
Please do whatever must be done to get him to see them. Tie him up
and keep him bound in your condo if you need to. I mean, if it were
up to me, he’d be history by now but since you’re so bent on hanging
I could hear Timothy’s laughter and I was embarrassed. “Ugh, you
don’t need to let your boyfriend know my business, Kiki! I already
know I’m desperate. No need to announce it.”
Kiki sighed and lowered her voice. “I’m sorry, Laila! It breaks my
heart to hear you talk like that though. You’re not desperate. I think
you need to see how amazing you are then you’d know that a guy
like Ben is not worthy of you. I feel like I’ve done everything I can to
show you that this is not worth it.”
I chuckled. “I know. I know. I need help at this point. But I need God
to send me a word. Show me a sign. Something. Anything to let me
know what to do, you know?”
I knew Kiki was frustrated with me at this point.
“Girl, remember He also gives us choice and it’s our decisions that
determine our experience to a great extent.”
She paused. “I won’t say I told you so but it was obvious from the
beginning. You chose, Laila. You chose to stay there and let Ben
trample over you. Right now, I need you to make the decision to get
out of it.”
I felt the tears drop from my eyes. “Kiki, you’re out,” I said. “I’m sorry.
Call me back when you’re alone.”
“Laila, I am always here for you and I’ll come over tonight, okay?”
Kiki said. “Do you need anything?” she asked.
I suddenly giggled. “Well, it’ll be nice if I get a pair of shoes as a gift.
I’m sure I’ll feel a little better.”
Kiki laughed loudly. “You, my friend, are something else.”
I chuckled through my tears. “Well, you asked. Say hi to Timothy for
I hung up before she could respond.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
I opened my eyes and noticed that it was 3 am.
“Who in the world is banging on my door at 3 am in the morning?” I
asked myself as I glanced at my bedside clock.
“Laila! Laila! Laila.” I heard someone screaming my name and
recognized the voice.
“Kiki?” I jumped out of bed, ran down the hallway and swung the
Sure enough there she was with a wide grin.
“Kiki! What is wrong with you? Why are you yelling out here like an
insane woman at this early hour?” I asked.
She walked past me dragging some bags. “Do you know how long I’ve
been ringing your bell and knocking on this door? I told you I would
come over, didn’t I?” She looked at me confused. “Why in the world
are you dressed like this to sleep?”
I looked at my outfit and realized I was in my fitness clothes
including my trainers.
“I planned on going to the gym but I dozed off,” I answered. “Why are
you so hyper at this time, Kiki?”
“Well, I went home and then remembered that I was supposed to
check on you,” she said as she made her way to the guest room.
“Since it’s Saturday, I decided to just come over and spend the
weekend with you. Yay!”
She stopped midway and did a little dance.
Though I was still grumpy, I had to laugh. I was glad she came. I
needed my best friend. “Thanks, sis. You are simply the best of the
best,” I said as I followed her.
“I know,” Kiki yelled from the bedroom. “Come, let’s talk.”
“Talk about what?” I asked. “Ben and I had a huge fight before I dozed
off. I called him back to apologize and…” She threw the bags on the
bed and spun around.
“What? Laila! That’s enough. I will break up with that loser for you if
you don’t do it yourself. Look at you! You are beautiful, you are
accomplished, and you are phenomenal! Why are you doing this to
yourself?” Kiki looked like she was fuming.
I sat down on the bed, sulking as I took off my trainers.
“Who’d want me again Kiki? There are so many 40-plus single
women out there and many of them became like that because they
let go of what they had.”
Kiki opened one bag and began to pull out her clothes. I could tell she
was frustrated with me. “So tell me, my friend; is it better to be
married and miserable or single and full of life and satisfied and
fulfilled and joyful and just plain enjoying your life?” she asked.
married, Kiki. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be left out.”
Kiki stood behind me and put her hands on my shoulders. “Laila. You
have to stop looking down on yourself. It’s not healthy. Obviously
Ben really did a bad job with your self-esteem.”
I spun around angrily and raised my voice higher than needed. “How
can someone who doesn’t even know God, help my esteem, Kiki? I
can’t believe it has taken me 7 years to realize some things. How
stupid could I be?”
Kiki took a step back and put both hands up like she was
surrendering. “Okay, first of all, calm down. Secondly, you, my friend
are not stupid. It happens to the best of us. Better late than never,
right?” She held my hands. “Besides, what does our Rev Israel always
say? ‘It doesn’t matter how long you may have been on the wrong
path; what matters is that you make a U-turn and get on the right
path’.” She pulled me close and gave me a hug. “Now it’s time to make
I furrowed my eyebrows. “I don’t remember that but then again, I
haven’t really been paying attention in church lately.”
“Or attending! I was told,” She said as she lightly shoved me and
walked towards the closet.
I crossed my arms. “What? Why in the world would they tell you?”
Kiki laughed. “Well Miss Ocheng, everyone’s been looking for you
and asked me.”
I slowly walked to the bed and sat down. “I guess I felt spiritually
drained and embarrassed. Kiki, I really just wanted Ben to change.”
Kiki began to hang some clothes in the closet. “That never happens!
Besides if a person changes because of you, that change is not
genuine or permanent. Come on, you know that!”
I sat there quietly staring at my best friend as she hummed a tune
and put her belongings together. “You always know what to say. I’m
sorry for snapping at you,” I said.
She laughed and waved it off. “No big deal. Your emotions are
everywhere. You’re forgiven but don’t you dare make it a habit, girl.”
I laughed. “Yes, ma’am.” Kiki changed into her pyjamas and playfully
jumped on the bed. I almost fell off!
“You know what I’m thinking Laila?” she said as she leaned on me.
“After you break up with Ben, you need to be single on purpose for a
little while. Get to really know God’s love for you. Get to know
yourself better. Become content just being on your own with God.
You have relied way too much on Mr Benjamin to the point that you
have to have him in your life to feel validated. But you know that is
a big lie.”
I didn’t want to hurriedly accept her words so I dryly said, “you’re
Kiki positioned herself next to me and put her hand on my shoulder,
giving me a side hug. “I’ll tell you one thing; I’m happy you haven’t
slept with him. I don’t know how you’ve done it but I’m glad you
never gave in.”
I smiled. “Yeah me too. Well, the fact that you were always in my
business about it didn’t help either, missy.” Kiki burst out laughing.
“Yeah I was too nosey but it’s paid off, right? Look at you, you’re
intact!” she said as she gave me a standing ovation and sat down.
I rolled my eyes. “Intact? Really, Kiki?”
“Yes, intact. Or would you prefer whole? Undefiled? Unmarked?
Unbroken? Take your pick,” she said as she giggled.
I looked at her in disgust. “Ugh,” I said.
She shoved me lightly. “I’m serious Laila.” Hello! I’m not a virgin,
remember? Do you remember how I was so full of regret and
shame? And how I cried for several weeks back in school?” She
laughed. “You did everything you could to make me feel better but I
literally felt like my life was over. I felt God wanted nothing to do
with me because I messed up.” She chuckled. “It was knowing and
receiving His forgiveness that helped me get over every feeling of
guilt. I guess that’s why I was really determined to help you stay on
I elbowed her. “How could I forget? It was such a tough time for you.
That’s when you really got serious about God and dragged me along,”
I said laughing. “I remember exactly where we were when
everything changed for you. It was at Bible study, remember?” She
looked at me keenly as I continued. “When Shawn and Linda talked
about the forgiveness of God. They said if we confess our sins, God is
faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all
unrighteousness. They said we literally become brand new.” I
clapped my hands excitedly. “Oh remember they said God is not
interested in condemning us but in correcting us and that He doesn’t
abandon us when we need him the most? I think that’s what got to
Kiki burst out laughing.
“I’m serious Kiki,” I said. “After that statement, you leaned over and
told me, ‘That was for me, Laila. No more feeling condemned’.” I took
her hand in mine. “I remain thankful for that day, Kiki,” I said.
She looked at me wide-eyed. “Laila Ocheng! You remember all that?
“Of course I do, Kiki. It was a very important time in your life. And
you’re a very important person in my life. I’m glad you’ve been here
to help me through everything. I mean, I know I’m still a work in
progress but you’ve been a great influence.” I smirked. “Frankly, I
think I may have slept with Ben a long time ago if you weren’t such a
“Hey!” She yelled as she shoved me. “If that’s your way of saying
‘thank you’, you’re welcome.”
We smiled at each other and hugged tightly. I stood up and pulled
her up. “Okay enough about my drama. Let’s go get some ice cream
while you give me the scoop on you and Timothy. You guys have
been hanging out so much. This is serious. Go Kiki,” I teased. Kiki
blushed and started to do a little dance as she twirled out of the
bedroom. “Wow, Laila. It has been fantastic. He is just wonderful and
I love the fact that he is all about God; just what I need. Any man
that genuinely loves God will never have a problem loving me freely.
Plus we have both prayed and are convinced this is it.”
“I’m so happy for you, sis. You really deserve it,” I said as I brought
out some bowls and spoons from the dishwasher. “Truth be told, I
used to wonder how you were so happy being single for so long. I
guess all that was preparing you for such a time as this.”
She grinned widely. “You got that right. In fact, I feel like Queen
Esther” she said as she handed me the tub of ice cream.
We both began to laugh uncontrollably.
“So, Queen Esther, what’s the plan now?” I asked as I scooped some
“We’d love to get married soon, Laila,” she said as she sat on the
barstool. “There’s really no point in putting it off. I would be lying if I
say God has not been good to me… to us.” She put a spoonful of ice
cream in her mouth. “I mean, we’re actually talking about so many
things that we naturally would have left until later.”
I could feel her excitement. “I am excited for you. As your chief
bridesmaid, keep me informed,” I said, as I sat down next to her.
Kiki rolled her eyes. “Really? Couldn’t you even wait for me to ask?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Why ask when I already know? Anyway,
this thing about Ben, where do I go from here?” I asked.
Kiki walked over to the living room and sat down on the
sofa. “Listen, Laila,” she said. “I’ve learnt that anytime I feel a
reservation in my heart about anything… or anyone, I need to get
away from that thing or person as fast as I can.” She sighed as she
picked up the remote control. “Sis, you know that word you have
been asking God about? I think it came somewhere in our chitchat
this morning. You, know exactly what to do and I’m praying that you
do it sooner rather than later.”
I remained silent as Kiki flipped through the channels. It’s strange
but I actually felt lighter. Like some heavy load had been lifted off
my shoulders. I thought back on what she said about being single on
purpose. As much as I hate to admit it, she was right.