Auntie invited Emeka to join us for dinner. We ate rice and ofe akwu made with fresh fish. Emeka enjoyed the meal. I cleared the table with the help of the new girl who my mother got for auntie Nneoma. Her father was deceased and her mother needed all the help she could get. She begged mother to take her daughter while she managed with her younger son. Mother gave her to auntie Nneoma. She was just thirteen years and still malleable. I spent a week with her teaching her the
ropes. Auntie opened another room upstairs for her to stay. She was comfortable and happy. Auntie still had trust issues so she put the girl in a school closer to our house. It was a Catholic school and affordable. I knew when I leave she will find it difficult to cope but she had to.
After cleaning up the kitchen, I came back out. I joined Emeka in the sitting room.
then he said to uncle and auntie.
“I have taken permission from her biological father and mother but I haven’t received a go ahead from you. Akwaugo once told me any decision concerning her in Enugu, even if her parents say yes but you say no, she is doing what you said because you are her parents here and she is answerable to you. That made me realise the kind of person she is. She appreciates little and much. She loves you both very much. That is why I want to do this in your presence” he went on his knees, brought out the ring box and then said to us, Uncle Emma, auntie Nneoma would you allow Akwaugo your daughter marry me?”
I was shocked. Uncle Emma couldn’t help himself; a few drops of tears rolled down his cheek. Auntie Nneoma allowed hers flow. “My son, thank you for recognizing us. Akwaugo is my daughter; our daughter. As I told you before, if there is any form of maltreatment, I will take her back from you because she is an angel; she has never disappointed us. Yes, you can marry her; she’s all yours” auntie Nneoma nodded in response.
Emeka placed the ring on my finger, he stood up and gave me a hug in their presence. I tried to wriggle out but it made both of them laugh. I saw him off to the car. He gave uncle Chike a packet of juice and told him we were engaged. He jubilated. He pecked me on my cheek before he got into the car and left.
The next morning, he picked me up early. Auntie Nneoma arranged another car to follow us. She had bought some foodstuff and provisions for the house I was to stay in and she packed mine separately. The vehicle followed us as we drove down to the Nsukka. The journey was an hour thirty minutes. Finally, we arrived at the home of his sister, Jacinta Maduka. She was the wife of Dr Maduka who was a lecturer of Microbiology. I was to stay with them in their house on campus. Emeka sister was cute. She looked like Emeka but I observed she was quite snobbish. She
was the only one home as at the time we got there. Emeka helped offload the items auntie Nneoma sent down.
“What are all these?”
“Her city mother sent these to you for accommodating her”
“Really? She didn’t have to”
“Well she did”
She turned to me and said, “Welcome. What is that your name again?”
“Her name is Akwaugo. I have told you her name severally”
“It is not enough for us to fight. Is she mute? Can’t she talk?”
I didn’t like her. I didn’t want to stay there. My countenance changed. I didn’t reply to her.
Emeka could sense I was uncomfortable so he decided to change the subject. “Where is food? Won’t you entertain us?”
“Let her go into the kitchen and prepare something for you to eat. You are staying the night right?”
“Yes, I am. I can’t wait for anything to be prepared. Akwaugo let us go and look for somewhere to eat; your mother insisted we eat at your home but I thought my sister would have prepared something to welcome. Let’s go”
“Let me join you. I won’t mind a meal myself”
“Who will pay?”
“Who is paying for her food?”
“I am her husband so I am paying for her food. Wait for your husband to pay for yours” he dragged me out of the house.
I could see he was angry. He was fuming. I didn’t say a word. How would he want me to stay with someone like that? She was rude and obnoxious. I didn’t want to go back to the house.
He took me to a nice restaurant where we had something to eat. Then we went on campus to my department. I was told I would move to Enugu campus from my second year; that was good news.
We drove around. We went to the hostel. I saw I had been given accommodation.
Emeka took me to pay for it and then suggested I sell it and keep the money.
“Then where will I say?” I asked him
“With my sister of course”
“I can’t stay with your sister; you saw how she treated me in your presence and you could do nothing. I wouldn’t want to be where I would not have peace of mind. If they have a boys’ quarters then I can stay there; I don’t want to stay in the house with her”
“Baby, she is doing it deliberately because she asked me to get her something and I refused. She is taking it out on you. when her husband comes back, you will see what will happen”
“I still don’t think I want to stay ….”
“Trust me, she will not try what she tried before when her husband is back and I will definitely tell him when he comes in”
We looked for a buyer together. Emeka dropped his phone number for those you were interested in buying the accommodation. He took me to the bank so I can open an account. Once we concluded, we drove around the school. I fell in love with the scenery and ambience of the place. I was happy. He stopped at a spot for us to take pictures. I felt wonderful.
It was towards the evening we went back to his sister’s. There was another car parked in front of the house. We walked in together. I saw his sister’s husband, Dr Maduka. He was excited to see Emeka.
“Is she the one?” he asked Emeka.
“Yes. She is the one that captured my heart” Emeka replied which made me shy.
“She is a fine babe. Anyway, I wouldn’t have expected less. To crown it all she is from a good home. Where is Ugonna? She didn’t come back with you?”
“She said she will come back next week. My baby is a fresher and you know how excited they can get”
His sister came out of the kitchen and announced so cheerfully, “Food is ready”.
Her husband asked us to go ahead to the dining table but Emeka refused saying, “we had enough to eat outside and we are ok. Jacinta, swallow your food alone”
“Jacinta, you have started, right? Of what use are you? I gave you money to buy foodstuff and cook for Emeka and his wife but no, you will not. Eat your food; I am not also eating. My in-law let us go to the staff club, take pepper soup and break some bottles”
“Baby would you want to go?” Emeka asked me.
“No, thank you. I am tired, I will like to rest”
“Ok, let me take you inside. Doc, let me freshen up and join you”
“I will do same”
Emeka led me into the bedroom. He asked if I was ok and I said yes. “Come with us now?” he pleaded.
“I want to talk to my parents both in Enugu and the village before they sleep. Come back early, I will wait up for you”
He went in to take a shower. I excused him from the room to the parlour. I was alone there. He came out to meet me there. Dr Maduka joined him too and they both left for the staff club. I went back to the room to make the phone calls. I wasn’t happy but I didn’t want to bother anyone. It was Chiamaka I was able to confide in.
“Tell him you don’t want to stay in her house”
“I’ve told him; he is forcing me to sell my accommodation”
“I don’t know what you are afraid of, he hasn’t paid your bride price yet. Tell him you can’t stay with his sister. She has shown her true colours and he is being unreasonable”
“I will discuss further with him when he comes back”
“Please do. You don’t want to be in school and be very miserable. It will be terrible. I told you I wasn’t sure about this guy”
“He is not bad but I suspect he has been hurt in the past that’s why he is insisting”
“Are you the one that hurt him? Please stop defending him. You haven’t entered the house you are already making excuses for him”
“I am not. I don’t even mind moving into their boys’ quarters. The lady is not nice at all. She pretends only when she sees her husband”
“That’s sisters-in-law for you. They showed my mother pepper when she married my father who is an only son. He refused to work claiming he was called by God. The luck he has is that his father’s company is still run by his uncles and he gets paid from there. It covers only school fees. Also, the house we lived in belonged to his father. Mother had to work and care for him. When they heard I was pregnant, they came to fight her. That was the last straw. She told them off. They had spoilt father. He made her go for the course but couldn’t take care of the children. He
kept deceiving her that all was well. She packed and left him. She left the two boys with him as he had rejected me. She was no more giving him income so he depended on his sisters. Those ones have gotten tired and are now begging my mother to come back. she has refused and I don’t blame her. Shine your eyes well”
“I’ve heard you; I will bring it up again”
I had a bath and prepared for the night. I had on my nightgown and a housecoat but I still covered myself with a wrapper. I came out to the parlour to watch television and I had planned on spending the night there.
Emeka came in at almost midnight. He was tipsy when they came back. he went into the room, took off his clothes while I excused him and he laid on the bed. As I was leaving he asked,
“Where are you going?”
“I can’t share a bed with you when we are not legally married”
“You are kidding right?” he asked again.
“Good night” was my only reply.
I laid down on the love chair in the parlour, it was quite comfortable. I slept well as the parlour was spacious and very airy.