Tue. Feb 13th, 2024

PART 16

 

Emeka came to take me out two days later. Mother asked Chiamaka to join us. Emeka asked me to sit in front with him. I was reluctant. Chiamaka pushed me to the front to sit. I was sceptical about people seeing me in his vehicle. They would talk about it for a long time. He didn’t care neither did Chiamaka.

 

He took us to Abakiliki. We went to an eatery there. He bought some snacks for us as we claimed not to be hungry. We sat together at a table while Chiamaka took a

 

 

table a distance away. He tried to talk to me but I was uncomfortable being alone with a guy outside the security of my home.

 

He gave me a bag and asked me to open it. I did and there was a bottle of perfume inside. It looked very expensive.

 

“Is this for me?” I asked.

 

“Yes, it is. I promised to bring a bottle of perfume for you”

 

“Thank you”

 

“Akwaugo, don’t you like me?”

 

“We just met and we are still getting to know each other”

 

“You are cold toward me. Is there someone else?”

 

“I don’t understand”

 

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

 

“Boyfriend? No, I don’t”

 

“So why are you not warm and excited being with me?”

 

“We just met. I really don’t know you. I don’t know your intentions”

 

“We are trying to know each other. See, my father had got another girl for me to consider. I met her when I came back. She is in university, very beautiful and hardworking girl. But when I saw you; I lost my senses. I haven’t seen her since I met you. I told my father about you; his only problem is your age which I told him was perfect for me. I love you. I’m crazy about you. Just get to know me and you will love me too” I nodded in response as I honestly didn’t know what to say.

 

When I got home, I was more confused than before we went out. Chiamaka asked me to relax and get to know him; I might like him. She liked him because he was

 

 

pushful and didn’t ask for the things boys ask for after a date such as a kiss or a hug. She knew it would get to that but for now, he wasn’t pushing for it which would have scared me away.

 

I called mother and discussed my feelings with her. I explained to her my confusion. I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I liked him on the other I felt I wasn’t ready.

 

“Then tell him you want to take it slow. Both of you could talk on the phone but nothing more until you become comfortable. If you still don’t like him, then you let him know”

 

“I didn’t say I didn’t like him. I said I am confused. I will take your advice. But mother, if he wants marriage would he be able to wait until I finish university?”

 

“Now you know what to discuss with him. Discuss serious issues. Talk about things that will affect both of you. Don’t join the ‘I love you’ group of people. Be focused”

 

“Thank you ma”

 

Emeka came around two days later and took us, Chiamaka and I to the Amusement park in Abakiliki. It was fun. I genuinely had a good time. It was my first experience and I enjoyed it.

 

Afterwards, he took us to a restaurant to eat. I wasn’t hungry since we had ice cream, hotdogs and popcorn but he insisted on treating us and we ended up taking the food as takeaway home. Because we were always with Chiamaka, I wasn’t comfortable bringing up certain conversations. He loved to talk and I began to fall deeper in love with him because he was very nice and respectful to me.

 

I told Emeka I was going back to Enugu. He wanted to take me back but I told him my parents will never support him taking me back without a chaperone.

 

“Do you trust me?”

 

“To an extent I do. But, I can’t disobey my parents”

 

 

“I promise you this; I will take you to Enugu and I will not do anything to disrespect you. I promise you. We have so much to talk about and I want us to do it alone and freely. Please Akwaugo, consider it”

 

“Let me think about it”

 

I desired to travel with him to Enugu because I enjoyed his company but I was torn between doing the right thing and following my heart. It troubled me and gave me a restless night. Eventually, I decided to open up to Chiamaka.

 

“I would have said go with him but if you have doubts, talk to mother”

 

“I want to go with him but what if they find out and fight me?”

 

“I think both of you need to be alone and discuss. Your parents’ method is old school. You will only see the good side of him because you don’t see often and he will be going back soon. I will propose you travel with him and I pray nothing bad happens”

 

I decided to risk it.

 

Emeka came to visit me a day to the trip. When I told him my decision, he was visibly excited about it. He gave me a brand new phone. It looked expensive. I rejected it. He took the phone to father and told him he wanted to be able to communicate with me since he would be going back to Spain soon. He asked my father to give me. Father also rejected the phone but Emeka insisted. He told father it was for communication only. He was able to convince father to accept. When father accepted, Emeka said to him.

 

“In all my life, I have never seen a more upright man like you. Even my father says you are exceptional. I marvel at the way you have brought up your daughter; she doesn’t do anything without your authorization. It is amazing. I have seen young girls defy their parents outrightly in their presence and the parents could do nothing. But your children respect and obey you. I have realized that a good name and well brought up children are better than silver and gold. I want to marry your

 

 

daughter Akwaugo. I have made up my mind; she is the one. When I come back within the year, we will discuss further”

 

Everyone was quiet including father. We didn’t expect him to be this direct. I had planned we would have that conversation tomorrow on our way to Enugu before he dropped the bombshell.

 

Father recovered and said, “Emeka my son, don’t be in a haste. My daughter hasn’t finished secondary school. She will still go to university to study Medicine. That is how many years? Will you wait for her to graduate before you marry her? Can you wait that long?”

 

“Like I said sir when I come back during the year we will discuss further. I just want you to know my intentions are genuine and I will never disrespect your daughter who you have bestowed with amiable character. Her type is rare”

 

“Thank you, son”

 

The next day, Chiamaka and I joined the taxi driver with my luggage and some things mother packed for auntie Nneoma. We got to the park at Abakiliki. Emeka was parked by the roadside outside the park. We drove in and offloaded the taxi. Chiamaka hugged me and wished me a safe journey back. As they drove out of the park, Emeka drove into the park and picked me up.

 

We began our journey to Enugu. He played music in the car; it was fun listening to the songs. I hadn’t listened to music in a very long time before then; this was a welcome variation. Emeka lowered the volume after a few minutes and then we had a lengthy conversation.

 

“I like you and would want to marry you. I know I mentioned it to your father but I want you to tell me if you are interested in settling down with me. Do you like me enough to be my wife?”

 

I didn’t know what to respond. My heart was beating faster than I expected. I couldn’t give a contrary response to whatever my father would say so I kept quiet.

 

 

“I know you are being careful with what you commit to because of your parents. I respect that. But at least you can tell me if you like me as a person”

 

I nodded in response.

 

“We are making headway. I like you a lot. Tell me what you like? Talk to me about school, your friends and so on”

 

He tried to get me out of my shell. He asked questions and as I responded he dug further. Gradually, we were talking like friends. I had questions but I couldn’t ask them because I was shy.

 

“You’ve no asked me any questions madam. Ask me”

 

“I know you are the first son of your parents. I also know you live in Spain. Many men that live in European countries are usually married to whites over there to get their papers. Are you married over there?”

 

“Smart question. That’s why I like you; you are young but very smart. I was transferred to Spain by my company and I am there as a resident not as a citizen. I intend to move to another oil company soon after I finish my course”

 

“So, you are not married. Do you have a girlfriend there?”

 

Emeka laughed and looked at me. “Are you serious?” he asked me. I nodded. “I used to have a girlfriend but we’ve broken up. I can’t marry a European, I want to marry a Nigerian girl from my place. I have met her and I am ready to marry her” he added smiling at me.

 

I wanted to ask more intimate questions but I stopped myself. Instead, I said, “I will spend six years in the university to study Medicine and Surgery. Would you be able to wait for me to graduate before marriage?”

 

“And while you are in school another boy will be helping me keep you happy? No, thank you. I will not wait. We will get married and you will continue going to school and I will remain in Spain. I trust your father to keep you in check. If you

 

 

get pregnant and have a child, I will ensure you are comfortable and well taken care of”

 

“I can’t have a child immediately. I have to get to my third year before we get married”

 

“This sounds to me like a yes already”

 

“It is not!” I replied immediately.

 

“I love you, Akwaugo and you give me cause each day to love you more. This is between us, there is no one here with us. I am not playing with you; I want to marry you. I don’t want you to consider any other person because very soon they will come after you like flies. Biko nne, just commit to me let my heart be at rest. It is you or nobody”

 

His words to me did a number on me. I was mesmerized by his utterances. I was already carried away. Was this the way Amanze talked to the ladies and they dropped at his feet? I was falling for this guy; he said the right things. I knew I had committed an offence by travelling back with him without my parents’ knowledge now he wanted me to accept a marriage proposal behind my father’s back. I couldn’t commit two sins at the same time. In as much as I liked him, I didn’t think it was love yet. He occupied my thoughts and I yearned to be with him when he is not there. What could that be called? Defying my parents by going with him was it another suggestion I was in love? I was just seventeen going on eighteen. Wasn’t I too young? I didn’t want to hurry. But then I could miss out of being with someone so awesome.

 

“Baby, what’s your answer?” he asked while shaking me.

 

I had no answer. What would I say?

 

“Are you shy? Don’t be shy with me” he said holding my hand. A reflex action, I threw his hand out of mine and immediately, I was uncomfortable. I shifted closer to the door. Why would he touch me? He was amazed at my reaction. He said to me, “I didn’t want to do anything bad to you, I was just showing affection. I

 

 

promised you I will not do anything without your permission. I held your hand just to make you comfortable with me”

 

I didn’t reply. I watched him from the side of my eyes. The smile was gone and the excitement in the vehicle was lost for a while. Luckily, we entered Enugu at this time. He stopped at a restaurant for us to eat breakfast. I declined but he insisted. I went in. I felt out of place. I was more scared someone would recognize me and inform uncle or auntie. He bought food and a pack of juice for us. I was hungry. The aroma of the food in front of me awakened my taste buds. I devoured the food but did it with the home training I had. I finished the food. I ate rice with beans, plantain and catfish. It was my first time eating fresh catfish and it was very tasty. I enjoyed my meal.

 

When we left the restaurant, I wanted to buy biscuit and bread for uncle Chike. Emeka bought me bananas and groundnut in addition. I asked him to drop me off in a taxi park so I could take a taxi home. He wanted to drop me off at the house but I refused. He took me to the taxi park and charted a taxi for me.

 

“Thank you for bringing me back to Enugu, I appreciate it”

 

“Is that all I am getting? A thank you? I won’t get a hug or a peck?” he said with all seriousness.

 

He could see the panic on my face when he said those words in the presence of the taxi driver. I felt like sinking into the ground. He then burst out laughing at me. To me, it wasn’t funny. I got into the taxi.

 

“I will talk with you until I get home. You will keep me company as if you are on the rip with me”

 

“You will drive and hold your phone? It is not safe”

 

“I have a blue tooth in my car; don’t worry. You do care about me after all. Keep your phone close. I love you” Emeka said smiling at me while I blushed under my dark skin. He then paid the taxi driver to take me home. AKWAUGO

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