Eager to escape the hypocrisy of the church and build her singing career, pop sensation, Ayanti “Yanni” Effiong enters and wins The Next World Star. Apart from fulfilling her dream, her move to America offers the perfect opportunity to help young female immigrants. A cause she pursues with a passion until fame takes over. Fifteen years later, broke, dumped and fresh out of jail, she begins to regret the lifestyle and name she created for herself.
Mensah Afortey is on the brink of losing the church he put his heart and soul into for the past seven years. This years’ Valentine Day gala is his last attempt to raise money for the church. Everything is set but they need a big name to pull in donations. Just as he is about to give up, in walks “Yanni.” When he agreed for Ayanti to serve community service under his church he didn’t know she was the same person as the embattled star.
While she pays her debt to society, the last thing she wants to do is perform on a day that left a bitter taste in her mouth. But there is no denying the instant attraction between them. Before he wins her heart, Mensah must win her soul. Over time and in fellowship with the church, Ayanti comes to realize that despite what man calls her, God has the ability to change her name.
The shrill ring of her phone brought her back to the present. She sat up against the headboard. Her heartbeat accelerated as she answered the phone. It was Debby.
“Please give me good news.”
“Hey, chica,” Debby responded. “I hope you’re doing better.”
Earlier, Ayanti had a breakdown. She had screamed and bawled her eyes out, wishing she was back in Calabar, the capital city of her home, Cross Rivers in Nigeria. It seemed like a lifetime ago she won that competition and left the country.
“Yes, I’m fine, but tell me I can be better.”
“Okay, here’s the deal. Charity for Homes had filled up with court ordered volunteers until next month…”
“I can’t wait that long!”
“Lemme finish, girlie. We were able to get you to volunteer with them not as an individual, but under a church group.”
“A church!” Ayanti wiped her hands across her face. She hadn’t been in one of those in years. Did Debby have any idea the kind of judgment that went on in that place? She’d take her chances with the mean police officer until next month.
“Hear me out. The church volunteers with Homes for Charity as a non-sponsor group. You can be part of those volunteers and when they are not volunteering, you can still make up some hours by working in the church. That way, you can get this thing over with faster. Now tell me that doesn’t beat picking up trash in the streets,” Debby finished.
“But those people would have known what I did. Why I’m there…”
“And? Which one of them there hasn’t done anything bad?” Debby asked. “Girl, think about it. Besides, you have nothing else to lose at this point.”
“I guess you’re right.” Ayanti contemplated the whole arrangement.
“Of course I am.” A beat of silence passed between them. “Now get some rest and I’ll see you tomorrow. Think about it and let me know what you want to do. You have until the end of the week.”
“What’s the name of the church?”
“Ummm…hold on.” The shuffling noise of paper could be heard in the background. “It’s called Calvary Is the Way. It’s on Auburn.”
Ayanti remained silent for a few minutes. After a while they disconnected. Ayanti switched off the television and turned to her side. Calvary Is the Way? She rolled her eyes. These new age churches and their names. What ever happened to churches with sensible names? Like Mount something…
© 2016 Unoma Nwankwor
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