Nnena was over the moon! She jumped in glee and screamed as she dropped the phone. It had been the call she'd been waiting for all her life! Finally, things are beginning to fall into place, she thought.
She had just three hours to make her appointment across town in Ikeja. But she should be fine, she thought, as that route is usually free at this time, so she would be going against traffic from Lekki. She would need to take Obi to her sister's place, as she hadn't yet gotten a nanny.
She'd been job hunting for ages now, and things had been looking bleak. She'd started doing a side business, following her passion in fashion design, but she needed a job to put food on the table. This was the opportunity she needed. The popular fashion magazine, Shakara, would place her where she could really become relevant in the industry! Of course, it was just an assistant job, but it was promising all the same!
After fixing up her make-up and packing Obi's bag with diapers and treats, she was set to go. Before she left, she stopped and said a quick prayer. "Oh, Lord, please bless this day for me. Please make my paths straight and cause me to have favour so that I can use my passion to your glory and provide for my home too. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Across town, in Maryland, Sade was sitting by the traffic lights, where she and her three children spend the day begging for change. Today wasn't looking like a good day. The traffic was moving very smoothly and they could barely get anyone to give them charity at each change of the light.
Her son, Olu, was armed with his bottle of soapy water ready to wash the windscreens of any willing car owner, but they were in such a hurry and he'd only made N50 all morning. Dami had collected N60 from begging in the last three hours. The youngest of the three, six-month old Ayo, was sucking at their mother's breast.
Sade looked up to see Olu crying. One of the drivers had shouted at him when he tried to wash his windscreen before the lights changed, and almost ran over his foot. Sade held him and comforted him. "Sorry, Olu. They're just in a hurry and don't understand", she said.
"I'm so hungry, Mama. I just wish it was easier. Nobody wants to help us!" he cried.
"It's going to be ok. I just know it. God always provides. He will provide today, just believe it, Olu." As she said it, she also struggled with unbelief. She couldn't see how the provision would come herself. Secretly, she prayed, "Lord, help my unbelief. Please turn this situation around for us."
Ahmed was doing his rounds by Palmgrove Bus stop, looking out for anyone he could catch out breaking the traffic laws. Things had been quiet today, and he thought he would close early. His wife was pregnant, and would appreciate him coming home early for a change. However, he couldn't go to her empty handed.
As he did on most Fridays, he lobbied the Bus drivers and other unsuspecting drivers for some change with his greeting "Happy Weekend, Sir" (or Madam). He had just N2000 from those who had given so that he wouldn't delay them. He said to himself, another N2000, and he'll stop.
Suddenly, two cars collided. Ahmed rushed to the scene to investigate. However, before he could get to them, the man, who was obviously in error, pulled out of the situation and sped off. "Yeh!" he exclaimed and ran to get his bike to follow the offender. "God, you don answer my prayer today, oh!" he rejoiced.
Nnena was on the Third Mainland Bridge at 2pm. Her appointment was for 3pm, so she still had plenty of time to get there. She was so happy and singing praises to God. She'd dropped Obi off with her sister, Amaka, at Ikoyi. Amaka, a stay at home mother of two, always liked having Obi around. He kept her two little ones company, while she settled to read a novel.
However things were about to change for all of them. A dump truck had broken down across from Ikeja GRA, on the way to a construction site. The traffic built up quickly and affected the major streets in Ikeja, Maryland and down Ikorodu road. Before long, there was gridlock even for those going to Oshodi through Gbagada.
As Nnena got down from the bridge, her heart sank, as she saw the slow movement of vehicles going to Ikeja via Maryland. She quickly turned on the radio to listen out for any traffic updates. "Oh no!" she groaned, as she tried to navigate the slow moving traffic. She looked at the time, just after two, and prayed that the traffic would clear up quickly so she wouldn't be late for her interview.
Meanwhile, Ahmed was catching up to the criminal, who had just run from an accident he had caused. Abel's heart was racing as he tried to dogde the growing traffic to avoid the persistent LASTMA official that was on his case. He slammed on his brakes when he almost ran into a bus that had pulled off in front of him, only to go nowhere. He shouted and pressed his horn angrily, spewing curses at the Bus driver.
The Bus driver looked back at him and hissed, "Oga, you no see? Traffic de. Se bi you wan fly?!"
In that instant, Ahmed was at Abel's car window. "WIND DOWN!!!" he shouted. "I don catch you now - you go pay!"
Back in Maryland, Sade and her children were happy! It seemed God had supernaturally answered their prayers. They were able to go to every single car at the lights, and beyond, begging or cleaning windscreens. Surprisingly, the drivers were charitable.
Some had noticed Sade's affection for her children, and could tell that they were genuinely needy. Of course, many wondered about Sade's husband. She told anyone who dared to ask about how she was a widow and had been thrown out of their family home with her kids, because her in-laws accused her of being a witch and causing the sudden illness of her husband.
As people observed the charity of others to this family, more and more people felt inclined to give. Dami met a woman while she was begging. The woman was concerned because she worked with street children, and asked Dami why she was on the streets. When she'd heard their story, she gave Dami her card to get in touch, as she knew another organization that helped widows.
Dami ran to her mother to tell her the good news, and handed her the N1000 note the woman had also given them. Sade went over and thanked the woman profusely, praying over her and her family and charity. The lady simply smiled and said, "it's God's doing!"
It was now 2:50pm, and Nnena had just gotten to Anthony Village, which was before Maryland. At the rate of the traffic, she wouldn't get to her destination at Allen Avenue before closing time at 5pm! Even if God performed a miracle now and cleared the traffic, she would still be about 20 minutes late.
A frustrated tear ran down her cheek, and she wiped it off. "Why, God? Why? Don't you want me to get this job?" she cried.
She called the lady who had called her for the appointment to tell her where she was and why she would be delayed. The lady was understanding, but said she couldn't change the appointment with the MD, who was travelling this evening and there were other people also waiting for interviews, so if she couldn't make it, then it was not meant to be.
Nnena sobbed as she hung up the phone. Suddenly it rang. It was her husband. "Nnena, I've been trying to call you. Did you make your appointment?"
"No, dear. There's horrible traffic leading to Ikeja. I've been in it for almost an hour!" Nnena replied.
"Oh, good!" he gasped.
"GOOD? How's that good? We need the extra money!"
Emeka laughed. "Yes I know... but something better is on offer, dear. I wanted to tell you not to take the job anyway."
"Uh, you what?" she asked, intrigued.
"You know that suit you designed for me? Well, I wore it to the Real Men Conference today and met the CEO of Soul Fashion, Reginald Johnson. He absolutely loved it!"
"What? That old thing? But Soul Fashion is like the leading designer brand in Nigeria!!! OMG!" Nnena exclaimed. "What did he say?"
"He wants to meet you this weekend. He says that you could join his team of designers!" Emeka replied and sighed. "Oh, honey, this is just the break we need. You know they pay designers in the millions, right?!!"
"Oh Lord, this is amazing! I can't believe it. Here I was thinking God didn't want me to work in Fashion, while He just had bigger plans for me! For us!! Thanks for believing in me, darling, you know you've always been my inspiration..." and with that, they exchanged "I love you"s and Nnena was on cloud nine as she continued on in traffic.
This story was inspired by a radio presenter on CITY 105.1fm, who encouraged his listeners to consider both sides of the coin when they are stuck in a Traffic Jam. Just like the rain, if it's not falling for your benefit, be sure that someone out there needs it. So smile and thank God, who works for the good of all of us. You also never know how He's using your obstacles to fulfill His grand purposes for your life. Trust Him and rejoice, even in a Traffic Jam!
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