The Appointment

Samuel Okopi on Loss

As a child, I longed to be baptised. I cannot remember a time while growing up as a Pentecostal Christian, that the opportunity to be baptised presented itself to me. Baptism felt like a watershed moment from which I would rise a complete Christian.

My secondary school didn’t provide for Pentecostal services so I attended Anglican services instead. One Sunday, our reverend father announced that students who desired to be baptised were to register and attend baptismal classes. These classes would run throughout the term.

I was elated. My golden opportunity had come.

Classes started soon enough. As a junior student in boarding school, time is an archenemy, and the threat of senior students commandeering your time for their selfish purposes always looms. Still, I managed to attend virtually all the classes and committed to memory, the cryptic questions and answers contained in the catechism we were given.

The long awaited day of baptism finally came. We were to assemble at the chapel by 4 p.m. for onward procession to the river bank. I was writing Junior WAEC exams and luckily, the only paper I had that day ended by 2 p.m.

Halfway into the exams, our fine art teacher came into the hall and announced that students must obtain poster colour sets from her, that afternoon, for the fine arts exam holding the next day. Art is my great passion and doing well at it mattered to me. I submitted my answer sheet long before others and dashed to the studio to get my colour set.

I met the studio door locked. The fine art teacher came an hour and thirty minutes later. By that time, the area around the studio was swarming with students. I spent the next two hours hustling to get my set.

The battle finally ended. As I walked back to the hostel with my colour set, all I could think of was having a bath.

4 p.m. Chapel. Baptism. My appointment with spiritual death and resurrection!

The time was already 5.30 p.m. I jumped into my white trouser and white shirt and raced to the chapel.

There was no one in white-and-white when I arrived and I didn’t know the location of the river. An old man I recognised as one of the cleaners, walked by and I asked him what direction the students in white-and-white had taken. He pointed at the way I had come. I didn’t wait to hear him begin his statement.

I kept running even though I wasn’t sure where I was headed. Soon, I spotted an array of white-and-white marching towards my direction. Before long, I had caught up with them.

I saw my close friend—with whom I had memorised the catechism over the last twelve weeks—and anxiously asked him about the baptism. There were tears in his eyes. At that moment, I received a divine revelation that abiding in his eyes were not tears but the holy water of rebirth.

I lost myself to deep reflection over what had just happened as I turned back and walked a lonely footpath leading to my hostel. I had lost an opportunity that had eluded me for seven years. At some point, I met with the ground, wishing I could go under. The dirt, the weeds, and their budding relationship with my white-and-white deepened as I thrashed about, seeking the kind of catharsis that can come from shedding the waters of sorrow.

A wise man, who may remain unknown, once said: “Hell is the knowledge of opportunity lost; the place where the man I am comes face to face with the man I might have been.”

Two years later, I got another chance to meet the man I looked forward to becoming. And this time, the pain of memory ensued I kept my appointment for the meeting by the river.

© Samuel Okopi 2017

Samuel Okopi loves to sing, design, and fantasize about the future. He believes there is no end to learning and so, for him, every tommorrow is pregnant with new opportunities to inch closer to perfection.

Photo Credit:


© Timi Yeseibo, 2017


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33 thoughts on “The Appointment

  1. Great story and what a lesson in priorities. As much as I love art, it would have been very frustrating to sacrifice one for the other. All things happen for a reason, Perhaps it was not your time then, perhaps it was the lesson you needed to learn. I’m sure you are a better person for it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @joliesattic: Sure, I am a better person for it. Many time’s, we underestimate the greatness of whatever consequences lie in the shadows of our weaknesses. Absentmindedness had long been a weakness. This episode and some others that were to come, where lessons not only in priorities, but on disciplined use of time as well.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this. I could feel the longing and disappointment.Sometimes it seems like that longing and waiting are part of the spiritual journey. I was baptized Catholic as a child. Then became angry with God when my father died. It’s scary to be angry with God, so it was easier to just not believe in God anymore. But I missed the meaning religion gave my life and began to seek. I took the introductory classes at various churches and read the Bible all the way through. When I read the bible it didn’t seem like any of the churches believed what it actually said. Some friends had a conversion experience and went to work for Campus Crusade for Christ. They led me to say a prayer, Jesus Christ, if you are who you claim to be, I want you as my Savior and Lord. Take my life and make me into what you want want me to be. I didn’t expect anything to happen, but within an hour I experienced so much joy I thought I would explode and I knew with both heart and mind that Jesus Christ was my Savior and God loved me even when i didn’t love Him. I wanted to sing something, but mostly only knew Latin songs, so I drove home singing “Jesus loves me” with tears of joy running down my face. I believed the bible miracles and expected them to happen and they did. I found an ecumenical women’s prayer group, but realized only one of the women seemed to be experiencing what I was. When I spoke to her about it, she said she was a Pentecost Presbyterian, and would I like for her to pray for me to be Baptized in the Spirit. I said yes, and she and another woman were going to come the next morning for me, but that night I got afraid I might be getting out of God’s will again, so I asked God for a sign that this was what He wanted for me. About three o’clock in the morning, the phone rang. I answered it, frightened that it was bad news. A voice asked, “Is this the Pentecost’s?” I stammered, “No, this is the Norman’s.” and they hung up. But I knew then it was Pentecost for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amazing experience @Eileen. I am glad you love this piece. I never knew the subject of baptism was one many are really emotional about, judging from the comments on this piece. I can imagine how the journey of life has been for you: an interesting one indeed.

      Thanks once again for reading and sharing your experience with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully written, I was reading fast because I felt the urgency of your appointment! Actually, you reminded me of a time in my life when I was obsessed with getting baptised, I figured it was the only way to save my soul. I was angry when my mom got the opportunity over me. Eventually, I let it go, too embarssed to do it and moving on to other obsessions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @lani. I smiled at “I was angry when my mom got the opportunity over me.” Reminded me of times in the past when I would secretly wish I had gotten or experienced something earlier than my siblings or parents.

      Thankh for reading. Glad you enjoyed this.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I enjoyed reading this and had a smile in my face throughout. I have actually been baptised as an infant because I was catholic but I look forward in excitement to an adult baptism with my new church.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad this brought a smile to your face, Jane. When I got my second chance, I was overjoyed I finally took part in something I had always longed for. I hope you find such joy when you eventually get baptised. 😀

      Thanks for reading, Jane! 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

    1. @TheNarrowGateway. Happy you enjoyed this. I like how you sum it all up…eternal priorities interjected by earthly ones. I guess this story is a microcosm of what obtains in the long run when the pursuit of gainful livelihood etches away at whatever impressions of eternity we have.

      This piece might seem quirky but you know what they say about facts that are stranger than fiction 😀.

      Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Michael, I see I reminded you very much about the guys who wanted to be baptised so bad. LOL. Happy to have brought back memories for you!

      I didn’t attend a Federal Government College but you know how it goes; all boarding schools have a binding thread of similarities.

      Thanks for reading and enjoying the story! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I was also baptized in the Anglican/Episcopal Church, but it was in a font… no rivers for us, and I was so young it is only a vague memory. And we didn’t have to study! Confirmation required a bit more work. Glad you finally had an opportunity for your dunking. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL @dunking 😁 . You didn’t have to go through the rigour we went through then…but then, now that you mention it, we were actually studting to be confirmed!

      Thanks for reading, Curt. Many thanks.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Patience. For reading and enjoying the story. What would we be without second chances? And that’s why the “Undo” button on our computers have grown to have such significance.

      Yes, thank God for second chances.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Marie. I was devastated that period. But now, I look back at it all and smile; the healing balm of time having done it’s magic.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m happy you got another shot at the meeting by the river, Samuel.

    Like Timi says. “Because life happens to all of us and sometimes we get a second chance.”

    This also reminded me of how little I miss boarding school. Junior Waec almost ruined me. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hehehehe. Junior WAEC is another story. I read hard for Integrated Science and fell ill a day to the paper. I suspect mosquitoes had something to do with my descent into such a terrible place. You know that feeling of knowing answers but not being able to write them down because you are too weak to do so? Yeah, it was that bad.

      Thanks for reading, Tomi!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. It can be disappointing when LIFE gets in the way of our expectations and plans. The more quickly we accept the “what is” (even if “IT” is not what we want “IT” to be) the faster we rebound.

    Glad you had another chance to meet your appointment with the river!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True @nrhatch. And sometimes “Life” is the misteps we make, and the consequences of such misteps. We sure must understand that life happens and we have to be open to second chances.

      Thanks for reading 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

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