Christmastide

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I checked the time; 2:30 pm. The market was bursting with people everywhere. This was not unexpected at this time in December. It was Christmas Eve. I tried meandering my way through the crowds, looking for stalls that housed the things I needed to buy.
“Mummy had better reward me handsomely for this last minute Christmas shopping she sent me on,” I muttered under my breath.
After about an hour and a half of moving about, haggling and finally settling on some things, I found myself at the bus stop struggling with other people to board available buses. The loads I was carrying also served as obstacles. Following much effort, I was able to get a bus.
I alighted at my destination after a bumpy ride, adjusted my clothes and trudged along the path that led home. As I was walking, I thought of calling Esther to come over to my place, so we could rehearse for our tomorrow’s Christmas carol rendition. I put my hands into my pocket and froze to the spot. My phone wasn’t there! Dread and panic gripped me as I searched frantically through my clothes and the two polybags I was carrying.
“Hei! I’m in trouble!!”
My mind raced as I tried to recollect the last time I saw my phone and the series of events that followed. I remembered I had called mummy when I was at the grocery store to inform her that I couldn’t find Bama Mayonnaise, asking if I should settle for salad cream. I had put my phone back into my pocket, I recalled vividly. At this point, I was close to tears, it was either someone cleverly stole the phone from my pocket or it fell from my pocket without my knowledge. I doubted the latter.
I continued my journey home, albeit sorrowfully. As I got home, I burst into tears and narrated my ordeal to everybody at home who cared to listen. It was a houseful as many of my relatives were around to celebrate the festive season. My elder brother, Daniel, who was busy decorating the Christmas tree turned to face me.
“Ahh! Have you tried calling it?”
I looked at him irritably. “With what phone will I use to call it!?”
Mummy also came out of the kitchen, concern written on her face.
“Ahh Faith, how did it happen? Hope they didn’t take the money?” She asked in Yoruba.
I could only reply with tears and hands raised in confusion. The money was inside my purse and I had kept it inside one of the polybags to avoid misplacing it. Why didn’t I put the phone there too! I shook my head regrettably. My cousins who were home had gathered around by that time, expressing shock and disbelief at my predicament while also trying to pacify me. My brother tried calling my number but it wasn’t reachable.
“O, God!” I placed my hands on my head. The phone was extremely important to me. All my contacts, my pictures, songs, applications, school notes and documents saved on it, and a host of other things that thinking about them made my stomach turn.
“Just calm down ehn, we’ll find it.” Daniel tried to pacify me. “Is your email open on the phone?” He asked.
Just like a lightning, a scene flashed across my mind; before calling mummy at the grocery store, I had been trying to send a picture to my friend. After the call, I had placed my phone on the shelf for better network coverage while trying to arrange the things I had bought and totally forgot it there!
“Mummy mummy, I just remembered! I think I left it at mummy Ayo’s place.”
“You this girl! How can you forget it there?”
“Are you sure?” Daniel asked.
I was very sure. A new surge of hope had emerged in my heart. One of my cousins suggested calling Mummy Ayo to be sure. Mummy dialed her number and spoke with her.
“She said she has closed for the day, that she didn’t notice if your phone was there. When she opens on Tuesday, she’ll help you check.”
” Why not tomorrow or Monday now!” I lamented.
“Tomorrow is Christmas and next tomorrow is Boxing day. You don’t expect her to go to the market just because of you. If your phone is there, nothing can happen to it. Just be praying it’s there and someone else has not taken it.”
I sighed. So this year’s Christmas is going to be a phoneless one. I thought about how I had planned to take pictures, make beautiful memories, eat and jingle away. Tears formed in my eyes as I walked back to my room amidst the consolings, hopes and prayers that was being passed to me.
I remembered Esther and our choir rendition the next day. I didn’t feel like singing anymore, the spirit of Christmas was gone, even though it wasn’t even Christmas yet. But I knew I couldn’t quit, I was among the lead singers and the choirmaster would be angry if I just left for no reason. Daddy was an elder in the church, and I was sure he wouldn’t approve as well. I cried more, wallowing in self-pity and hoped against hope that my phone was still safely where I left it.
The day passed as a blur for me. Christmas morning also didn’t feel like Christmas morning. I reluctantly dressed up for church and went earlier with daddy for rehearsals and arranging the church. Everyone was in a cheerful mood, wishing each other a Merry Christmas but my mind was heavy thinking about what would happen if I didn’t end up finding my phone. Daddy had told me to have faith, just like my name, after reprimanding me for my carelessness. My faith was overclouded by the unhappiness I felt at not having my phone with me. I thought of all the messages I must have received and the people I was supposed to send Christmas messages to. I tried to put in some cheer in my singing to convey the importance of Christmas and glorify Jesus, the reason for the season.
Back home, I also tried to appear cheerful while entertaining the guests and receiving gifts. As a kid, I always looked forward to Christmas and even at 17, it still remained my favorite time of the year. But I couldn’t wait for this Christmas to end. I didn’t join in taking pictures or recording videos, there was no phone to post and I just felt angry others were doing what I had also planned to do. The day finally came to an end bringing a big relief to me. Just a day to go. I planned on going to the market myself on Tuesday morning to meet mummy Ayo. I would also be able to search the place well.
Boxing day was always a continuation of Christmas for us, with church members coming to visit and partake in the celebration. My heart kept beating faster as the day came to an end. I prayed and prayed. “This is the only Christmas gift I want from you Lord. Please let my phone still be where I left it. Help me keep it safe.”
The holiday did finally come to an end, the longest Christmas ever. I had faith that New Year celebration would be different. Immediately after morning prayers,I hurried to have my bath and rushed out of the house to go and receive the Christmas gift I had hoped and prayed for.

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