Mon. Feb 12th, 2024

 

PART 20

 

On the 23rd of December, I was at the back of the house when I was called. A young man sitting with father. He came with two bodyguards. Father said he was a businessman and just came back from China. He was interested in marrying me. I declined instantly. I told father I can only settle down in eight years. The guy took offence

 

“What is wrong with you? Do you know who I am? Because I want to marry you? They recommend you to me that’s why I come. How can you ask me to wait eight years before we marry? If it is a joke, stop it o”

 

“I am studying Medicine and Surgery at the university. It will take me eight years to round up including housemanship and NYSC. What do you want me to do?”

 

“You don’t need to go to school, I will take care of you. Your own is to be chopping money. Nne, I like you. Many people say you are a good girl but very proud. You know book, it is good but it will not keep you in husband’s house”

 

 

Father stepped in. “I will talk to her. There is another man that has shown interest as I mentioned earlier, maybe she is considering him”

 

There was no way I would have considered the man. He came to the house wearing faded jeans, black T-shirt and coat. He had five heavy chains on his neck, three on his wrist and about three rings on his fingers. He tied something like a scarf on his head and then wore a hat. He looked like a fraudster; there was no way I would have anything with a one. What did he need bodyguards for?

 

My friends said I was crazy rejecting him based on the fact he wasn’t educated and he looked funny. They said it was money that was talking. I looked at them. In all these years they had known me they hadn’t noticed I wasn’t moved by money? I just smiled and listened to them.

 

This was now the routine. Suitors came to my house daily. Because they heard I had gained admission; they were referring suitors to me. I turned down all of them. Five of them came in one day. Two were businessmen, one was a civil servant and the other two came back from abroad. I rejected all.

 

On the 28th of December, Emeka came to the house with his family. I was shocked. Mother made me cook that day without telling me why. Father called some of his kinsmen to meet them. They came for the first knocking. Father accepted their proposal and gave them a date to come back for them to deliberate.

 

I saw Emeka’s family for the first time. His mother looked jovial and friendly. His brothers looked like him but they were quiet. His last sister, Ugonna, was just like her mother. She was chatty and jovial. I knew his father; I have seen him before at the church.

 

Mother didn’t allow me entertain the visitors. She had asked one of our cousins to help her out. Finally, I was asked to come out. Mother insisted I wore a native skirt and blouse I had. It was given to me by auntie Nneoma. It was an eight pieces skirt with a small ‘to my body’ top. I sprayed perfume and came out. I was praised. Emeka was just looking at me smiling. I was introduced to his family. Emeka didn’t take his eyes off me.

 

After everyone had left, father called us together; mother my brothers and I.

 

“I took a decision I believe is the best for us. I chose Emeka to marry Akwaugo. He has been consistent. He was not referred by anyone; he saw her and came after her. He has shown her utmost respect. He has assured me she will finish her education. The other men didn’t fit into what I wanted for my daughter. We also have to be careful. In order for it not to be said we are proud by rejecting suitors, I quickly chose Emeka” he allowed that sink. “I had a discussion with Emeka and his father. I made him understand your fears. He had already told his father it was you or nobody. I was happy to hear that. He will come to take you out tomorrow. I want you to tell him what you want. Keep in mind he cannot wait for too long. They have come knocking, so if you are seen alone with him, they know he is the chosen suitor. Or have I made a mistake?”

 

“No father”

 

“Is he your choice?”

 

“Yes father” I replied.

 

“Let us not relent in our prayers concerning this matter. We will continue to pray”

 

The next day, Emeka was in the house. I wore jeans, a multi colored tunic top and canvas. I carried a pursue where I kept my phone. Emeka wore a pair of shorts and a sleeveless top with a face cap. He grinned when he saw me. We left for the Golden Sand Beach at Afikpo. It was my first time there. It was a beauty. He paid for a place for us to seat. He went back and brought out a basket and cooler from his car; he came prepared.

 

“So, baby, what do you want us to talk about?” he asked after we had settled down.

 

“Well, I accept your proposal. I am worried about certain things though”

 

“What are the issues?”

 

“I don’t want to get married right away”

 

“Why?”

 

“I am not ready yet”

 

“What else?” he asked. The smile was fading away.

 

“I don’t want children immediately; they would come after three years. After my second MBBS which is in my third year”

 

“So why not have the babies in your first year and second year and then concentrate in your studies after then”

 

“I will just be entering the university. I have to acclimatize before conceiving. These are my fears”

 

“We will have a child in your second year. I want you to be mine and mine alone. I can’t share you with anyone; I am a very jealous person. I want the marriage now; you will get pregnant in your second year. Then we will have another in your fourth year. We will plan it well. Just two children are ok for me”

 

“Regardless of their s£x?”

 

“I don’t care about their s£x. What have we concluded baby?”

 

“Can I get married by the end of my first year?”

 

“Can I wait until then?”

 

“Wait how?”

 

“Are you naïve? I want you. I have been restraining myself from actually doing what’s on my mind. I know you are a decent girl from a decent home. Let’s do the traditional marriage then I will know you are mine”

 

“But you have a girlfriend in Spain. You are not losing anything”

 

 

“Since you came into the picture, I have dropped everyone; it’s just you. I am a patient man. But, onye ozo aga eri nri m (another person can’t eat my food)”

 

I understood; long distance relationship and trust don’t go hand in hand. He accepted to wait until the end of my first semester before we got married traditionally and the end of the year for the white wedding. We had agreed. he also said he would not want me to stay on campus but he would prefer I stayed with his immediate elder sister and husband on campus. It was free accommodation and she would also take care of me. A big sister at last I thought to myself.

 

For the first time, he became very affectionate towards me. He held my hand as we walked to the beachfront and ran away from the waves. He held me close to him which I found uncomfortable but didn’t he didn’t go further. He pulled me close to him from behind and wrapped his hands around my waist then he whispered into my ears, “I love you”. I smiled and he pulled me closer.

 

I discussed in details with my family what we had agreed. Emeka still came with his father and it was documented especially my finishing medical school. They insisted on the introduction being done now and the traditional wedding will be done during Easter. First semester wouldn’t have been rounded up by then but it was close. I agreed.

 

The introduction was done after the New Year celebration. We cooked for visitors; many trooped in. Uncle Emma sent the money for the entertainment saying we shouldn’t collect anything from Emeka. We could esily have afforded it but he insisted. We were grateful. There was enough to eat and drink. Father made it a point of duty to announce the merriment was courtesy of his sister’s husband who has taken me, Akwaugo, as his daughter.

 

Before resumption, I had to go back to Enugu to prepare. I informed auntie and uncle of Emeka’s decision for me to stay with his sister.

 

“I don’t like the idea. She might decide to maltreat you because you are her brother’s fiancé. What will happen then. Stay on your ownon campus. Why is Emeka giving too many conditions?”

 

 

“I don’t blame him. He wants someone to keep an eye on her there. He doesn’t want his food to be someone else’s food” uncle Emma answered.

 

“Exactly what he said” I said quite surprised uncle would say that.

 

“Men are the same. It won’t stop him from doing same” auntie Nneoma added.

 

“Meaning?” uncle Emma asked.

 

“Nothing” she answered.

 

I wasn’t in the mood to dabble into their argument so I left them to complete my packing for school resumption. I was very excited. I couldn’t wait to be in school.

 

Emeka came to see uncle and auntie. He informed them he would be taking me back to school the next day. They agreed. He came into the room to help me pack. He began,

 

“What of the big box I bought for you? it will pack all your things; use it instead of carrying so many bags. You only need one travelling bag or when you come back for weekends or holidays”

 

“You don’t need perfumes in school, you have to keep a low profile or you will attract negative attention to yourself”

 

“You can’t take very short clothes; you can only wear them when you are with me”

 

“I don’t like this bag; I will get you my bag from the hotel so you will use it as school bag”

 

“Is this the hair you are going back with? I don’t like it, we will go to the salon and have your hair done”

 

“I want you to always look smart in my sister’s house. You are my wife and you represent me. Be conscious of that always”

 

 

He took charge of everything. Auntie Nneoma had said I would make my hair that evening at her salon. Emeka went with me. He chose the braids I would make and then left for some time. He came back with ice-cream and shawarma. They girls stared at us as he sat close to me while I made my hair.

 

When my hair was done, he took me to his hotel. I was scared of going up to the room with him an he allayed my fears. I went up to the room with him. He emptied a bag and gave it to me. It had the name Neil Barrett on it. It was a small black very stylish knapsack but it had so much room in it. I loved it immediately I held it in my hand. He also gave me some casual jewellery.

 

“You can’t lose this bag or give it to anyone. It is a designer bag and it cost me a lot of money. Keep it well, I have a sentimental

 

attachment to it; it was the first expensive thing I ever bought for myself”

 

“Why are you giving it to me?” I asked.

 

“Because I love you more than the knapsack. Baby, I love you. I am not joking; I want to be with you forever. This is not a joke. The only

 

thing is, if you don’t want to kill me, don’t give my food to another to eat. That is all”

 

We went back home. I showed auntie the knapsack and the jewellery he gave me. She admired them. She saw my box packed and asked why I changed the box I wanted to use. I explained to her.

 

 

 

AKWAUGO

 

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