It was the screaming that woke her. Yet, she clung to sleep, desperate for rest after putting in a full day at her two jobs. But, the screaming wouldn’t stop. Desperate screams rent the air and finally yanked her all the way to alertness. What she saw galvanized her into action. Red, hungry flames licked at their precious furniture; greedily consuming everything in sight. Thank God everyone is okay, she thought after she and her brother escaped the gutted apartment. As they stood outside in the cool, night air, the blaze lit up the sky in glorious colors; the fire majestic, even as it fed on all their worldly goods. Relief at their miraculous escape was clouded by the realization that she would have to start all over again. “Lord, help me.”
Unoma Nwankwor is the co-owner of KevStel Group, a Christian entertainment company, specializing in movie productions, book publications and hosting events. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance & Banking and a Masters of Business Administration degree in Global Management. She terms herself a “numbers person” whom God bestowed the gift of writing and storytelling. She writes Christian fiction and articles aimed at sharing faith, hope and love. When she is not working, writing or running the operations of her company, she spends her time with her husband and two kids. Born in Akron, Ohio to Nigerian parents, Unoma spent her childhood and early adulthood years in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria. She now resides in Atlanta which she has called home for fifteen years.
A self-admitted numbers person, Unoma discovered her passion for stories at an early age, and she always knew she would become a writer one day. She finally seized the opportunity after an incident that occurred in 2012. She knew then that she could not – would not wait any longer to fully express the gift God had given her. In her own words, Unoma describes what keeps her going in the face of challenges like the devastating apartment fire she and her brothers experienced:
"Apart from the unconditional love of God, the one thing that keeps me going is my family. Without their love and support I wouldn’t have done half the things I’ve done or think I can do the things I hope to do. I listen to gospel a lot, so anytime I’m down, I put on my earphones and get lost in good gospel music. It has a soothing effect and reminds me of how blessed I am even though the outlook might be bleak. Unoma has achieved a milestone with the debut of her first book, ‘An Unexpected Blessing’, and she is hard at work on her next project."
When asked how she would want to be remembered, she responded in her usual straightforward manner:
"Wow that’s a tough one. You know it’s hard to think of your own mortality some times. But if I am to answer this question, I want to be remembered as one who impacted her generation. Who kept pressing to the very end, so that when I meet my Maker, He’ll tell me “Well done.”
Excerpt: an Unexpected Blessing
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Feranmi weaved in and out of traffic as she headed up 400 North to Alpharetta.
“Before we get to that, can we resume the discussion where you tell me how happy you are that I’m getting married?” Kayla quipped on the other end of the phone.
Feranmi wanted to kick herself for not being more excited for Kayla. Kayla was her girl. She was genuinely happy that she’d found love with a good man and was getting married. But try as she might to be over the moon about it all her own pathetic situation was throwing shade. “Forgive me. I’m thrilled. Tell me all about the proposal.”
Kayla didn’t wait a second to do so. The details were painfully romantic and so representative of the Kofi Kayla had been describing over the months. Fancy dinner, horse drawn carriage ride around the city, roses in the park; down on one knee…it was all divine. The joy Feranmi should have been feeling had finally made its way to her heart. “That sounds like something out of a fairytale.”
“It was and the ring is to die for. I’m going to take a pic and send it to you.”
“You do that. Right after you explain how Alex Montgomery knew you were engaged before I did.” Feranmi’s tone wagged the finger she couldn’t make Kayla see. “Make sure you start at the part of the story where you explain how you and Kofi are even involved with Alex.”
“Okay,” Kayla said the word with a lilt of caution. “I told you Kofi and I ran into Alex a year ago at this networking thing.”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Kofi and Alex hit it off. They did some business together. They play basketball and golf. Girl, I don’t know. I think they like best friends or something.”
“I tried to bring Alex up to you a few times and what? What did you do?”
Feranmi was steaming. Sure, she’s banned the name of Alex Montgomery from their conversations, but if he and Kofi were friends…
“Fera, don’t get angry. I didn’t really know how cool they were until a few months ago. I also didn’t know at the time that Kofi and I would be getting married, so… I tried to spare your feelings. I know how you feel about Alex.”
“I don’t feel anything about Alex.”
“Yeah, that’s why we’re having this conversation about him right?”
“I just didn’t like being taken by surprise like that. I didn’t expect it. You know I don’t like surprises.”
“Yeah, well let me get it out now then so you won’t be surprised. He’s in the wedding.”
“You’ll survive,” Kayla said. “You should try to holler. He’s getting finer with age.”
“Holler, see that’s what I’m talking about. American women pursuing men who should be pursuing them.”
“Don’t start that American, Nigerian stuff. You know I’m not trying to hear that. No culture is perfect, so stop being pious about American men.”
“I know it’s not all of them.”
“It’s not most of them. Besides Nigerian men aren’t all perfect. If they were you’d marry Bayo. Ouch.” Kayla teased.
Feranmi wanted to ring Kayla’s neck for bring up Bayo.
“I have to go. We’re calling Kofi’s parents before it gets too late over there. Wish us grace.”
Feranmi’s heat cooled. “Grace, Sis. I love you. Tell Kofi I said congratulations.”
They ended the call just as Feranmi pulled into her driveway. She stepped out of the car. From her approach she could see a long Federal Express box on the front stoop. She had no idea what it could be as she hadn’t ordered anything online lately that required shipping. She opened the door, put her things inside the foyer and scooped up the long, rectangular shaped box. She made her way into the kitchen. Pulled out scissors to slice it open and was shocked at what her eyes were looking at. Red roses. A dozen of them. She searched inside the box for the card. She had no idea who on the earth could or would have sent her flower. They weren’t from her brother because he only sent them for her birthday.
She removed it and read:
Feranmi – It was wonderful running into you today. I hope you’ll bend your rules and call me for that dinner. – Enjoy, Alex.
(c) 2013 Unoma Nwankwor
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