“I don’t think it is a good idea. I don’t know what your intentions are but if they were good, you wouldn’t stop me on the road, in the middle of the night and talk to me in the presence of others. It doesn’t speak well of me and my upbringing. The right thing to do is to find out who I am and then come and see my family; that is if your intention is good”
“You are a smart girl! I love you already. Fine, we will do it the way you like. Can I drop you off at home?”
“Well, there are nine of us here, my brothers and his group are coming too and I think they are about thirteen. Can we fit into your car?”
“I get the message loud and clear. I will see you soon. Paulo lets go”
As they drove past us, Emeka slowed down, smiled at me and drove off. After they had left, all hell was let loose.
“Akwaugo, why did you answer him like that? Don’t you know him?”
“I don’t but even if I did how was I to answer him?” I asked.
“He wanted to talk to you, you should have agreed on a date”
“Why? He will take me out without my parents’ consent? Why would I want to do that?”
“But Chiamaka will know and cover for you”
Chiamaka immediately replied, “Don’t drag me into this. If you go out to meet a man without father and mother’s consent, you might end up like me. There will be two Kosis in the house. I liked your response. If I had said same to Amanze, would I have a son now? But, then I won’t have such a lovely family too. I count my blessings and move on. Follow your heart”
Others wondered why it was only I the man saw to talk to. Many girls from the city came back to show off. Mother loved me dressing nicely but she refused me wearing anything too revealing. That night, I had on a blue knee-length wrap dress
with white birds on it. It had three-quarter sleeves. I wore a pair of maroon Greek sandals and I carried a maroon bag with contained my banger, missal, offering and other feminine things I might need. I was covered although the dress was lovely. I had my hair braided pick and drop with a special attachment at Auntie Nneoma’s salon. I don’t wear makeup. So, what could have attracted him?
I became conscious of myself after the encounter. I took my bath and looked at myself in the mirror. I was tall; Obinna and I were competing with our heights. I wasn’t 6 feet but I was tall. I had long slim legs and small hips. The only thing on my body which grew within the last year was my br**sts. I changed my bra every three months. It wasn’t extra large but it was large for my small frame. I looked like my father save for the nose. Luckily, I dodged their wide nose and had my mother’s almost pointed one. I wasn’t fair and I wasn’t dark, I was in-between. I didn’t think I was beautiful. My family never discussed physical beauty because it was vain. We talked more of character, positive interaction and being Christlike.
Chiamaka observed me looking at myself in the mirror. She smiled at me from behind and said, “Hello that guy said to you has turned your head. See how you are looking at yourself in the mirror”
“I was wondering why he spoke to me when you were there. Look at you, you are very beautiful with a lovely shape even after one but he talked to me; why?”
“Because girl you emit more than beauty. You are smart and bold. You walk confidently and always have a ready answer which will make people think. You do not look corrupt; you look innocent. It’s not just beauty sister; you have far more than that”
“I thought guys were only interested in beautiful and classy girls. That’s what I see in Enugu. I don’t allow anyone to approach me though but this calibre has never tried to approach me before”
“I know. Enugu spoilt boys go for girls they can display for their friends who will hail them. I was once that stupid. Don’t mind those ones. Go to university, you might meet someone who will love and appreciate you while there and you will grow together”
“That won’t be bad. Is that what you intend to do?”
“No, I want much more”
We didn’t go further that night as we prepared for bed. I didn’t know why I kept thinking of Emeka. Although I didn’t like his manner of approach he was also polite and didn’t try to embarrass me by insisting. I let it go. It was a new year.
We woke up to the aroma of delicious soup mother had cooked all by herself. We knew we had some work to do ourselves that day as we couldn’t leave mother to do everything. We took our bath and dressed up for our house chores. I wore jeans shorts and a tank top and tied a scarf stylishly on my head. Chiamaka wore her exercise tight and T-shirt with a hairnet on her head as she fixed weave on her hair. Ikenna killed the two chickens he gave us from his poultry so we de-feathered it, and made stew with them in case visitors came. We boiled rice and kept in a cooler.
As we were rounding up in the kitchen, father called me. I came out to answer him. I stopped in my tracks when I saw the people with him in the sitting room. Father beckoned to me to come forward and I did.
“Is this my daughter you were talking about?” father asked them.
“Yes, sir. Akwaugo”
“Good afternoon” I greeted. I never expected them to come. And I was in such a mess. Why did father call me out when I looked unkempt?
“Akwaugo, you can go back. I just wanted to be sure he was talking about you, not Chiamaka. Tell your mother we have guests; that aroma is tantalizing us” they all laughed as I went back into the kitchen. I pulled Chiamaka aside and told her the guests we had in the sitting room.