AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
After the meal and hanging out with the family, Demian’s cousins were going into town to have some fun. They were going to a friend’s place who was having a housewarming party. Most of them didn’t want to go with their spouses but Demian told them he was coming with Nkem. He went into the room with her. He brought out a dress from his box for her to wear. It was a short black clingy dress that had details at the back. Nkem loved the dress. It looked expensive to wear to a housewarming.
“There is more where that came from. They will ask you who the designer is, look at the label and tell them.”
“I will tell them you got it for me. I am not throwing names I don’t know around to impress people who don’t know me. I feel this is too much though.”
“Let me call my sister so you can see what she and my cousins are wearing.” When they came, Nkem was silent. They were all gorgeously dressed. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t come with her expensive shoes. She went back into the room to get ready as Demian had dressed up and was keeping them company. She wore the black dress, then she saw the shoes and a purse. She sat down to apply light makeup on her face. She packed her hair beautifully and then adorned herself with jewellery. She didn’t know if she could catch up to this lifestyle. She felt gorgeous but it wasn’t her. At the same time, she liked it.
While she dressed up, Agnes had the opportunity to ask Demian questions about the relationship. “What’s going on? You seem more affectionate with Nkem than before, what changed? Don’t give me that look, I know you. The hugs, kisses and holding of hands in public, what’s all that about?”
“That’s how we have always been. It is because we are here it became obvious. We are good.”
“Is that so? Since when did you start bathing together?”
“I heard both of you in the bathroom and something was going on. No conversation, I only heard…”
“Shut up! I don’t want her to hear you. What did you come into my bedroom to do?”
“I came to call you guys. But you were both busy in the bathroom. Do you know how long it took you to come downstairs? I timed it. Will you tell me or I should let my imagination run wild?”
“What do you think was happening?”:
“She has given you what you always wanted.”
Demian was curious and asked her, “What is that?”
“She has accepted your marriage proposal.”
“That’s not it.”
“You have admitted there is something. Is she that good?”
Demian smiled and avoided eye contact. She knew what he didn’t want to say. They had talked about it before his trip. He had mentioned being celibate and how it made him reason differently. He was ok with Nkem’s policy until after marriage. She had given in to him before then. It was the reason he had changed completely. Her eyes opened widely. “You have done it with her?” she announced. “No wonder. She couldn’t wait until marriage anymore? Tell me about it.”
“There is nothing to tell.”
“There is something you are itching to tell me. I promise it is safe with me. Tell me.”
Agnes had always been his closest confidant among his siblings. She knew everything about him. He was still excited about the experience so he shared with her, “Agnes, she was a virgin. I can’t believe she was. I will love this girl until I die.”
“What? Are you telling the truth? A virgin? No wonder.”
“I’m her first and hopefully her only.”
“Why did she agree now?”
“She just felt it was time. She is coming over for her Masters.”
“She is nice and all but I am finding it difficult to believe she hasn’t been with any man before now. She is beautiful and I expect guys to flock around her. How did she keep herself for this long?”
“She has always been a good girl, always. We’ve been friends for years before we became more than friends. I never doubted her; she wasn’t promiscuous. She was very studious. We became serious after she graduated and she started working. I felt she had explored earlier but she hadn’t. So, she is all mine.”
Agnes was excited by the news. She knew her mother will be hurt by the news since she did not like Nkem. Demian would do anything for Nkem at this stage. She was happy for both of them.
Their outing was exciting and interesting. Most of the men stood up to get their food and drinks but Nkem served Demian. He was enjoying the attention she was giving him. He pulled her chair very close to him and held her closer to his body. She was embarrassed but he didn’t care. He wanted to show her off.
Later that night when they returned, Nkem made isi ewu and ugba with the goat head and parts she had kept earlier. She made it for the elders who didn’t join them. She served them herself. As they ate the delicacy at the obi in the company of the younger generation, the eldest of the family asked Nkem where she was from. Nkem explained to him her village and town. “Tell your people we want to come and see them.” All the men agreed with that.
Read – The smile that left my eyes episode 80 – 81
“Papa, shouldn’t that be Demian’s decision?” Nkem asked respectfully.
“If he is slow, we will move ahead of him.” Everyone laughed which made Nkem shy. Demian pulled her to him smiling. He was glad everyone loved her. They could see why he adored her. The feelings had been there from the moment he met her and they hadn’t changed now.
They went back to the bedroom that night, took a bath together and they talked.
The next day was New Year’s eve. Demian asked Nkem if she wanted to attend the New Year service with him and his family or her family. She would have loved to be with her family, she missed them. She had been in close contact with her mother and siblings. She intended to bring Uloma back with her so she could have the experience of being with rich people and aspire more. But with the craziness she and Demian had been up to, she didn’t think it was appropriate for her to witness it. She decided to celebrate with her family as she had always done and return very early in the morning to Demian’s home.
Nkem came out the following morning to assist in the cooking. Nne Ukwu did not allow Nkem anywhere near the kitchen. She asked her to enjoy her stay with Demian and join them when breakfast was ready. Nkem went back to Demian and they took a stroll around the village until Agnes called that breakfast was ready. Breakfast was Ukwa and spicy smoked fish. Nne Ukwu was in charge of the cooking with assistance from the other wives. It was delicious and everyone enjoyed it.
In the evening, Nkem told Demian’s mother she was going back home to return the next day.
“Why are you returning here? Why not stay back in your parents’ house? What are you doing here? Put some value on yourself” she asked.
Nkem didn’t appreciate the tone and the words Demian’s mother spoke with her. She wasn’t ready for the banter. She replied, “If you insist, I can stay back with my family. I can see I have overstayed my welcome. I enjoyed my stay here, thank you” and she walked away.
She went back to Demian’s flat where he was with Agnes waiting for Nkem to return. Nkem wore a smile but her eyes told him something was wrong. Nkem packed up her luggage to leave. Demian met her in the room and saw what she was doing. He asked her what happened but she said she changed her mind and would want to remain in her village until she goes back. He said ok. He also packed his luggage. Agnes came to meet them in the room. She asked what happened. Demian said Nkem wants to go back home and that he would stay there with her until they both go back to Abuja.
“Why would you do that?” she asked.
“Because I need to spend quality time with her which was why I wanted her to stay here with me but if she’s made to feel uncomfortable that she wants to go home, then I will go with her. I came back to be with her.”
“Nkem, what happened?”
“Don’t mind Demian. Nothing happened. I want to go back home. I miss my family, that’s all. He is being dramatic because I want to leave.”
“You are covering something up,” Agnes replied.
“Nothing. I promise you.”
Agnes left in search of her parents. She met them at the front of the house. She told them Demian was leaving with Nkem and they were not coming back. She asked her mother what she said to Nkem. She denied saying anything to her. “What did she say I said to her?”
“She didn’t say anything but I could see she was hurt. Someone hurt her and only one person would have done that and that is you. Remember what you asked me to find out? You were right, Demian is thrilled with her because she gave him her virginity. There is no separating him from her. I can see she genuinely loves him. Stay away from this relationship. Anyway, I trust Demian to deal with this.” Agnes left them.
Demian’s father was cross with his wife. He came towards his flat and saw them with luggage. He stopped them and asked where they were going. Then he told them to go back in, drop their luggage, go to church and come back so they could talk about the issues when they all returned. Demian told his father that Nkem wanted to crossover into the New Year with her mother and he wants to be with her while they do that. His father was fine with that but asked why they were taking all their luggage. He asked them to return their luggage and come back the next day for further discussion. Demian’s mother couldn’t believe her eyes and ears. Demian was willing to leave his family to be with Nkem. Over what? Why had he chosen her over his family? To her, there was nothing special about Nkem except for the eye service she did. Truly, she can cook but that was it.
Nkem’s mother was surprised to see them at her home. They told her they came to crossover into the New Year with her. She prayed for them and appreciated the gesture. They got ready for the church service which was to start by 9 pm. They wanted to get there early so they could have good seats. Nkem changed into a beautiful long purple sequin gown given to her by Demian. She tied a black scarf on her head. They sat together. Demian held her hands while in church. The gown was sleeveless so when it was cold, Demian took off his jacket and put it over Nkem. He was all over her. Everyone could see that.
They came out after the service to the screams and celebration of a New Year. Amidst the chaos and in front of her family, Demian handed his phone to Chidindu to video for him. He knelt on one knee and said, “I have had this ring from the moment you agreed to a relationship. I have kept it all these years believing that one day I will find the appropriate moment to ask you to be my wife. Nkem, my own, my heartbeat, my daily desire, that moment is now. Will you marry me?”
Seeing that something was happening, the noise died down and people gathered to witness this beautiful moment. Nkem was filled with emotions as tears streamed down her face. She nodded and he placed the ring on her finger. He stood up and they hugged each other. When they separated, she went to her mother and hugged her too. They both cried tears of joy together. She hugged her siblings too. Nkem was overjoyed.
They drove home. Her brothers and sister were not ready for bed. They wanted to join others in the festivities of fireworks. Nkem and Demian went into her bedroom. They hugged each other as they lay on her bed. He didn’t make any move on her. Their phones rang and they had to reply to people calling to wish them a happy New Year.
Funke and Zainab called Nkem. She told them the good news. They were happy for her. They tried calling Esther several times but she didn’t pick up. Nkem’s friends wanted to hear the details of the proposal. She shared them and also sent the video.
Meanwhile, Agnes had called Demian. Demian told her about the proposal. “It was the right time and she was with those she loved dearly. It was a beautiful proposal, I have a video.” He sent her the video. His phone rang for almost an hour. His cousins congratulated him on his engagement. They sounded genuinely happy for him. They also spoke with Nkem and thanked her for accepting the proposal.
Demian’s mother called him. She had heard about the proposal. “So you couldn’t call me and your father to share your joy with you. You have changed. Anyway, congratulations. I hope she is happy.”
“She wasn’t expecting it and I was scared she would reject my proposal because of what you did to her.”
“What did she tell you I did to her? I only advised her. She has poisoned your mind against me. Don’t you know me for you to believe her?”
“I know you that is why I know you said something to her to make her want to leave. You can deny it all you want but I know. She accepted my proposal and I am happy, that’s all that matters.”
“Why won’t she accept? She has seen the affluence and she wants to be a part of it. You can’t take the village from her though; imagine cooking with firewood, I was appalled.”
“I know, right? It is the village tendencies she has that drew me closer to her. It makes me love her more. We both know she is a good girl. I am making her my wife as soon as possible. I can’t wait.”