When I got home, uncle Chike informed me that uncle and auntie had gone for a condolence visit from there they were going for church meetings. I was happy because it gave me enough time to talk with Emeka for two hours while he drove home. I quickly called my parents to let them know I had arrived. I was about to call Chiamaka when Emeka’s call came through.
“Hello, beautiful. I miss you already. Have you gotten home now?”
“Yes, I am home”
“Do you miss me?” I was quiet. I was shy. He had something on me; a hold on me.
“Let’s change the subject. When will your WAEC examinations start?”
“April. The timetable isn’t out yet”
“When will it end?”
“of June. We should round up by June”
“Perfect. I will come back in June so I don’t distract you while you write your examinations. I will stay for a month before I go back. I want to spend time with you. What would you want me to get you?”
“Anything” I replied.
“Just give me your list and I will get everything for you”
“I won’t give you a list. Whatever God lays in your heart to give I will accept with joy”
“Are you serious? Sometimes I believe your good girl moves is a charade; how can someone in this age and time be this good?”
“I was taught to appreciate what I am given and never make demands”
“My father spoke highly of your family. Anyway, when I get back, I will spoil you silly. I hope your father would allow me to take you out without a chaperone. You need to let him know you have accepted me as a fiancé”
“But I haven’t”
“Then why are you talking to me? Didn’t you look forward to this call? I am going to take care of you beyond your imagination because I love you. You will never want for anything in life. I promise you”
It sounded like he was genuine and serious. I was even more confused after speaking with him until he got to his home. We continued talking even when he was home until uncle and auntie returned.
I had to tell auntie and uncle about the proposal especially now I had a phone. I went downstairs to welcome them and we talked for a while.
“I heard the village was fun for you. So, what happened there?” uncle Emma asked.
I thought he was just being his jovial self so I said “Nothing much uncle”
“You mean having a suitor isn’t a big deal to share will us?”
I was amazed father had informed them. Why would he do so if he hadn’t decided yet? I was still in thoughts when auntie Nneoma added, “Tell us about the guy”
I told them about Emeka. Apparently, auntie Nneoma knew his father very well. “Nda Antho’s son? Is it the first son that attended university of Port-Harcout? He studied Petroleum engineering and came out with a first-class. He was recruited by an overseas company when he finished. Is he the one?”
“His name is Emeka. I’m not sure if he is the first son; I didn’t ask. He lives and works in Spain”
“He is the one. He is a very handsome young man. He has the looks and the brains. Has he proposed?”
“He claims he wants to marry me. Father said we will discuss further after my examination. He is serious. I am worried about going to school. I would have preferred to graduate and even serve before getting married”
“How old will you be when you graduate? 25 or 26? You would have passed your prime. What is wrong with getting married to a serious suitor while still in school? He is based abroad and would not distract you”
“I have to agree with your auntie. In as much as I desire for you to be a doctor, you must also know a woman without a ‘head’ wouldn’t be appreciated compared to a woman with a ‘head’. We will ensure he allows you to graduate”
I listened to them. This was the Igbo way. They always wanted their girls to marry early. But I felt 18 years was too young for me to get married. I intended to discuss with father about this issue after my WAEC examinations.
I showed auntie and uncle my new phone. They were impressed.
“When will we meet our in-law?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t agreed yet”. They both laughed at me.
Emeka called me much later in the night. We talked for over two hours. He told me more about himself. He was the first son. He had two older sisters who were married, he had two younger brothers and then a baby sister. They were six children.
He asked me the university I would like to attend and I said UNN. He told me his sister was a first-year student at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. We will be good friends. I shrugged when he said it. I had very few friends and I wasn’t someone who goes all out to make friends. My friends in the village were there so I don’t get bored as they relay the latest gist. Also, I was told Medical students didn’t have time for anything else except their books. I was already a bookworm and I knew I could blend in easily.
We talked for a long time before we both said good night and slept. This became our daily routine. We spoke at least two hours a day apart from texting and even longer on weekends. I shared my school time table with him as he requested. We also prepared a reading timetable. During my chores and reading times, he doesn’t call. We scheduled our calls. For the first time, I felt I was involved with something great. Someone helped me organize my life. He made a first class in university (he confirmed that) and understood how much I had to work to succeed.
On a Saturday morning, I woke up and went about my chores at home. Then I faced the kitchen, I was peeling yam for uncle Emma’s mmiri oku oji (Yam peppersoup) when auntie Nneoma entered the kitchen. She asked me to add extra yam as they were expecting visitors. She then brought out the chicken stock we had prepared, she added extra stockfish and dry fish to it. It was a generous amount and I wondered who was visiting. I also observed auntie Nneoma was in high spirit.
I was upstairs when I heard auntie Nneoma call out to me. I had just come out of the bathroom so I informed her. As I was dressing up, she came into my bedroom. Dress well, wear your jeans and that lace top I bought for you. Use perfume. “Our guests have arrived and I want to give them a good impression. Hurry up”
I got ready and raced downstairs. I expected to serve very important guests and all. Auntie Nneoma sent me back to wear perfume. I used body mist but she sent me back. I used it and came back. I set the dining table and arranged the dishes and plates. Auntie Nneoma called me into the sitting room. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Emeka was sitting in the sitting room with another guy that looked like him. I was dumbfounded. We spoke the night before and he never mentioned coming to Enugu. Was he the person auntie was preparing for as though an important personality was coming? They were treating Emeka like an in-law already before I had the opportunity to agree or disagree. I wasn’t happy. It showed on my face.
They came to the dining table to eat. Uncle Emma asked me to join them. I never join them on the dining table because I don’t what to be seen as eavesdropping on their conversation although I did sometimes. I grabbed a seat. Emeka was looking at me. I looked different. School had resumed and I had my hair woven to the back. I wasn’t looking like the girl he met in the village.
After breakfast, Uncle Emma and auntie Nneoma excused us to talk. “You can take him to your room. He is Nda Antho’s son and I believe he took after his father; he will not disrespect me in my home” auntie Nneoma added.
I took Emeka to my room. He liked it. I turned on the air conditioner. He relaxed on the bed while I sat on my reading chair.
“Your auntie made you very comfortable here. I love your room. See your wardrobe, you even have a shoe rack. You must be having a great time here”
“I am. I’m happy here”
“I was given the impression you were serving your auntie. They told me you were her maid as she couldn’t keep anyone”
“Well, they can decide to say what they want. Did you pass a big secondary by the road when you were driving in? It is close to the estate gate?”
“Yes, it is a big and beautiful school”
“That’s my secondary school” she brought out her note and showed him the name of the school. “Housemaids don’t go to school. My aunt treats me like her daughter and in turn, I serve her willingly”
“Why do you keep doing this?”
“Making me fall more in love with you”
I chuckled at his comment. He didn’t sound serious to me. And I had questions to ask. He looked at me seriously now. He was amazed I found it funny.
“Why did you come here? How did you know this place?”
“I asked your father if I could see you before I go back. I will be travelling back on Tuesday. He said I had to ask your auntie first. She agreed. she is such a nice bubbly person. I can see she treats you well”
“She does. You are going back on Tuesday?” I asked quite disappointed.
“Yes, I have. Duty calls. Would you miss me?””
“I will miss the calls and you making me laugh”
“Is that all? You are still. I have told you I love you many times and you have never said it back to me”
“I can’t say what I am not sure I feel so I don’t mislead you. I enjoy your company but I am not sure if my heart will yearn for you”
“It sure will” he stood up, dragged me off the chair and said, “come and show me your town”
“Unfortunately, I don’t really know places”
“We will drive around until we find where to have ice cream, burger, and any other thing you might like”
“My auntie will not like us going out unaccompanied”
“We are going out unaccompanied. I won’t do anything to you. Have I told you you look so young and angelic?”
“I love your look now. You look so natural. My brother was ogling over you”
I laughed. I knew I looked simple and decent. He only paid me compliments. I called auntie out and asked if we could go for a ride and she agreed. I was surprised. Emeka’s brother stayed back to watch a match.
I introduced Emeka to uncle Chike and he dashed him some money. Since that day, Emeka could do no wrong.
We went for a drive around town. We stopped at an ice cream parlour; I had never been there before. I surprised to see some of my schoolmates and three classmates at the parlour. I wasn’t happy about them seeing me with Emeka; it will be the talk of the school. Emeka didn’t seem to care.
“What do you want?” he asked me.
I didn’t know much of the flavours so I asked him to choose for me while I said hello to my friends.
“Akwaugo is not our level, she dates older guys”
“Not just older guys but older fine guys”
“Akwaugo, please give us the link now”
“If you want him, you can have him. he is a family friend”
“Are you serious? Please introduce us”
“I am sorry I can’t. You can approach him yourself”
After Chiamaka case I had made up my mind never to do any link up or receive anything for anybody. I let them know in school and I was giving them a free hand to try their luck. Probably I was testing Emeka’s love for me. While I was talking to them, I noticed Emeka was taking pictures of us. I quickly took my ice cream and popcorn. He had ordered shawarma at the other wing. We went there to get them. What he ordered was too much. I let him know they were but he asked me to keep away. We drove around a bit more before finally going back to the house. AKWAUGO