I saw the clock from the corner of my eye as I pulled the duvet over my head. It was 10:10am. First service would have been over and second service would be almost halfway gone. I convinced myself I’d go next week Sunday. I owed myself some rest.
It was 4.30pm when I woke up. I already had nine missed calls. I don’t think I had slept that long in a really long while. I checked my call log to see who had called. My mum had called 5 times while Mr Smith had called four times and left me messages. I was alarmed. What could be wrong? Didn’t he get my mail? I sent in the final draft in the morning. While I was still wondering what could be wrong, his call came in again.
I picked up almost immediately.
“Hello sir.” I said with a rather concerned tone
“I’m sorry I missed your calls, I was asleep.”
“That’s fine.” He said in an unusual calm tone.. “I received your mail this morning and I have been going through the draft. Beautiful write up! If this one hits the market, we will make it big! He said with so much excitement.”
“But I have some concerns and I’d like to discuss them with you.” He continued. “That is why I’ve been calling you because I need you to fix them before I send them over to the print.”
My face contorted in a big frown.
“What concerns, sir?”
I quickly did a mental scan of every chapter in the book. I checked and checked and checked this morning before finally sending it to him. I even sent it to my editor to check through before I sent out the final draft. I was puzzled.
“Just a little changes here and there. It’s not
a big deal. Let’s meet at my office tomorrow by 2pm.”
As the call ended, I wondered what changes he was referring to but I concluded it must be things I omitted or didn’t pay attention to. I felt my insides dancing at the thought of finally becoming an author, my picture on the back cover with my biography written there.
I remembered the photo shoot I was to have later in the morning and I decided there that I would look much better in the outfit I had selected with a pair of glasses. Authors usually had this ‘look’ and the glasses would help with that effect. I smiled feeling content with myself. This was me finally coming out for the world to see. Mr Smith already said that the book launch would hold at Radisson Blu Hotels and many big shots would be there. Solape Bello to the world. I rose from the bed and struck a pose before my mirror. I strut back and forth and tried to rehearse how I would walk on that day. I smiled again.
“Oh my God!” I screamed suddenly as I remembered I hadn’t called my mom back. I ran to pick my phone as I dialed her number.
Solly baby!” she replied, and we both laughed.
“I have called you severally today o but you didn’t pick up. Were you still in church?” I swallowed hard.
“No mommy. I was asleep”.
“Ehen?” She replied in amazement. “That means you didn’t go to church o, because I have been calling you since around 11am.” “I wasn’t able to go church today ma. I had to rest”.
“And you didn’t go last week too.” I could sense displeasure in her voice. “I’ll go next week mom, I promise. I’m done with my book now”. “Ah, we thank God ooo. You are done? Now you can start eating well and doing other things. You looked too skinny on that your picture I saw on whatsapp, o ti poju. So when is the book launch?” “Next month ma.” I said with pride.
“Okay, that’s good. Did you see the video I sent to you on whatsapp? Don’t go out at night oo. This country is becoming unsafe by the day. My God will keep and protect you. He will preserve you and not allow any evil touch you.” “Amen ma.” I said as I tried to remember which of the videos she was referring to. She sends me so many that I have even lost track of them. Let’s not even talk about the broadcast messages and pictures. I kept saying ‘amen’ as she continued praying. I was grateful to God have such a prayer warrior as a mother. Not a call without blessings and prayers from her. “Take care of yourself dear”. She finally ended the prayers. “I’ll see you next week. You’re still coming right?” “Yes ma. See you soon.”
The sun was scorching on my way to Mr Smith’s office the following day. I wished Mr Smith’s office wasn’t so far from the entrance. I adjusted the collar of my shirt as I entered the door. I greeted his secretary and sat at the reception. She called him on the phone to inform him of my presence and afterwards told me I could go in to see him. He had his back to me when I came into his office. His small frame was bent as he searched frantically for something in his bag. He turned around sharply as he heard me come in and threw his arms open.
“Ha! The newest author. Welcome, welcome.”
I smiled sheepishly. He motioned for me to sit after we exchanged pleasantries. He turned his laptop screen to me while he took a seat beside me.
“Miss Solape,” he began, “I must commend the effort you put into this work and the finesse with which you wrote it. You’re a raw talent and we are so happy to work with you.”
I smiled again.
“However, we would like you to please adjust the message you’re passing across in your book, just a teeny tiny little bit”.
I shifted uneasily on my seat.
“You see the message of sexual purity which you’re trying to preach in your book is somewhat old-school.”
I thought I didn’t hear him well.
“And we don’t want to lose our audience. I mean we don’t want to force anything down their throat. Even psychologists recommend having sex as a way of being happy. You just need to be civil in the way you go about it. You know, do it the right way. Don’t have unprotected sex and you know you can be faithful to one partner.”
I blinked repeatedly.
“We don’t want our readers to feel like we’re unrealistic or we do not know that time has changed. No one does that ‘wait till marriage thing’ again. Even God understands that the demands of this time is much different. Sexual purity is hard and is not really the thing anymore.”
I felt like I had been slapped. This was the heart of my book, the very message I wanted to pass across.
“Miss Solape,” he said while returning to his swivel chair, “What you’re required to do will not in any way alter your book or its message. It is just to ensure that we can reach our audience in the reality of what goes on in the society today. Hitting too hard on sexual purity will mean we are judgemental and not empathetic. I hope you understand? It will only take you a few days to get it back in shape. I can tell the other guys working on the project to hold on a bit.”
“But sir, I can’t possibly tone down the main message of my book because I want to satisfy people.” I replied when I eventually found my tongue. He laughed.
“If people are not satisfied, how will we sell the book. It was written so people could read it, wasn’t it? So fine tune it for them. I’m not asking you to change it totally. You know how these things are. We can’t publish a book we are not sure a lot of people will buy and read.”
All my efforts to reason with him proved abortive. His stance was clear. Go his way or say bye bye to having my book published. He told me to get back to him once I was done. I knew I wouldn’t. I thanked him and left his office.
The night seemed long. I tossed and turned on my bed. The events of the day playing back over and over in mind. Mr Smith’s publishing company was the best. The very best. Most of the books they published got international recognition. They had connections in all the right places. But I knew couldn’t do this. I couldn’t water down what my book represented because I wanted to be popular. It seemed good but I knew it wasn’t godly.
was this how my dream of being a publisher with such a big company would go down the drain?
My mind went back to a place in scripture I had read sometimes back. I picked up my Bible for the first time in a long time and opened to
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’.
At that instance, I knew the answer to every of my questions was right before me.
Temitope is a newbie who just discovered her new found love for writing. She anchors her life on God’s unchanging love for her which propels her to follow Him. She is an unrepentant foodie who loves singing and dancing and hopes to learn how to swim soon. You can contact her on Facebook: Temitope Ewaoluwa Ojomuyide or on Instagram: @ewaoluwayimika.