AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
Demian was serious. He stepped outside and talked to his father. He wanted the introduction and dowry payments done before they go back to Abuja. He had to agree with her on the white wedding. It had to be done before she travelled to stay with him. It was well planned in his head. He had been thinking about it and now he was making it possible.
Demian and Nkem had spent the night in Nkem’s room in each other’s arms not sleeping or talking but connecting on a higher realm. Nkem couldn’t believe she was officially engaged. Demian had this plan and was waiting for the right moment. She had never doubted his affection for her. This was a wonderful surprise and she was happy stepping into the new year with this.
Early the following morning, her uncles came to the compound. They had heard about the proposal and wanted more information about it. Mama Nkem attended to them. She told them the guy had just proposed to her and she would give them more information when they are ready. They saw Demian’s car in the compound and they asked if he was around. She said he wasn’t, he left the car for Nkem to use. They accepted and left the compound.
By noon, Demian and Nkem left for his village. Nkem couldn’t eat anything out of excitement. Demian ate breakfast before they left. When they arrived at his compound, most of his family were in the obi having breakfast. Nkem didn’t want to go there as she was shy but Demian said it would be disrespectful if she didn’t. He held her hand and they went to the obi. His cousins hailed the two of them. There were handshakes and hugs to celebrate the proposal. It looked like everyone was genuinely happy for them.
Demian’s uncle asked, “I am glad you listened to my advice. What’s next? When can we see her people? We can go there today for the first introduction.”
Demian laughed, “It can wait until tomorrow. I have told my father I want the rites concluded before I return to the US.”
“I was told she doesn’t have a father. Please give me her mother’s number so I can make the arrangement. We don’t know when next you are returning to Nigeria so it better we conclude everything now.”
Nkem felt she was dreaming. Later that night, while Demian slept, she called her friends. She shared the good news with Funke and Zainab. She couldn’t reach Esther. It wasn’t that late for Esther not to pick up.
Esther called her back just as she was about to fall asleep. She spoke in a low tone. Nkem asked if everything was ok, and she said she didn’t want to make noise.
“Where are you?” Nkem asked.
“I am in Kenya.”
“Esther, what are you doing in Kenya on New Year’s day? What of the children?”
“They are in Nigeria with my stepmother. I came to clear my head.”
“You travelled with Jake? This is a first. That’s nice.”
“Jake? Jake travelled before Christmas. I am here alone.”
“Esther, what is going on?” Nkem asked. She was suspicious.
“Nothing, I just needed the space. I was tired of Jake’s cheating and ill-treatment of me that I decided to take a breather.”
“Who are you with, Esther? Talk to me. What are you doing?” Nkem heard a male voice in the background. He talked to Esther. Esther answered and then moved away from the voice. “You have a man with you. Who is that? Did you pick a random guy to have sex with or what?”
“Stop Nkem, you make me sound irresponsible.”
“You left your children to travel to be with a man, Esther. This is the festive period when we should be with loved ones.”
“Nkem, you won’t understand. I didn’t just pick a random guy. Babes, it is a long story but it can wait until I get back. I will fly through Abuja so we can talk.”
“Don’t bother, I am in the village. You are charting a dangerous course. Leave Jake if you feel his cheating can’t be stopped instead of being this wayward woman picking up random men.”
“Nkem, I am not with a random man. If I tell you who I am with, you will blow off the roof. Just know I didn’t plan for this to happen. Jake pushed me into it and now I am stuck.”
“Who are you with?” Nkem asked curiously.
“Efe, I am with Efe.”
“What? Efe from the university? Why? He has seen you are a big shot and now wants to attach himself to you..”
“Stop it. Efe is doing very well for himself. Nkem, I love this guy; I have always loved him. I want to leave Jake for him. I needed this trip to make sure our feelings are real. I am ready to give up everything to be with him.”
“Including your children? You chose him over your children this holiday.”
“I spent Christmas with my family. He was with me in Lagos, I saw him every day. He wanted to give me a treat and he brought me here yesterday. It is beautiful. I don’t want to return to Nigeria; I want to be here with him forever.”
“This is the honeymoon phase. Isn’t he married?”
“Divorced. He divorced her after we reconnected although she had filed for divorce before then.”
“Why would she want to leave him if he was a saint? I don’t think you should throw away everything because of this guy. Just divorce Jake because he is a cheat but don’t rush into anything with Efe. He is encouraging you to cheat on your spouse. It is wrong. Consider what I have said. End it with Jake because he won’t stop cheating. Stop sleeping with Efe too; he is just using you or he wants your money. Anyway, Demian proposed and I accepted. I wanted to share the good news with you.”
“Congratulations, I am happy for you. I wish I could be like you. You kept this guy waiting for several years. He was patient because he knew what a gem you are. I know he will treat you right. I wish I hadn’t rushed into marriage when I did, I should have waited for Efe. Nkem, he came back for me when he was stable but I was already married. I don’t care what Jake does; we have stopped having sex altogether. I had to for my mental health. He doesn’t care because he travels with different girls. I will consider what you said and leave. But I must confess, what I feel for Efe is strong. I can’t let go just like that.”
“You have to. What you are doing will bring disrespect to you if you are caught. Our society doesn’t care if a man is unfaithful but they go ballistic if a woman is caught in adultery. Think about your children; the stigma that will come with it. Jake will make it messy and you know that. Think with your head and not your privates. I’ve got to go.”
Read – Out of the box episode 3
Demian had woken up as she spoke with Esther on the phone. He heard everything she said and he smiled to himself. He chose right, she was indeed a virtuous woman.
The following day, Nkem left for her home. Demian and his people came to see her people later that afternoon. Her uncles were surprisingly nice to them. They called them unukwu ogo (big in-laws) and it made Demian’s family happy.
Demian’s eldest uncle told Nkem’s family that they want the rites concluded within one week as Demian will be going back to the US and both of them will resume their jobs. Nkem’s uncles agreed. They promised to send the list to the family after they had done their research. Nkem’s mother had made refreshments of ugba and oha soup with fufu. The family ate and praised the meal.
When Nkem’s family saw the groom, her uncles screamed. They said they knew him; he had been a regular to their home. Chidindu mentioned he had been coming as a friend to the family for several years until he expressed his interest in his sister. The two families laughed and jested about everything.
Nkem introduced Demian’s mother to her mother. Mama Nkem thanked Demian’s mother for raising such a fine gentleman. She considered Demian a son because he had been friends with her children for so long, especially Nkem. She explained how he had been respectful and kind to her and her children. She also stated he appreciated the little things anyone does for him.
Demian’s mother wasn’t happy about the conversation. She believed her son had been used by Nkem and her family. Her siblings seemed to know him well and were quite close to him. She advised that Nkem stays back with her family until after the introductions. “Who goes for her wine carrying from her intended’s home?” she asked. Her husband told her to allow the young ones to do what they wanted. Demian would be going back soon and wanted to spend time with his wife-to-be. Once the dowry is paid, she is now his wife. Demian didn’t listen to her. He waited for Nkem to come out and join him.
“Your mother does not seem to like me,” Nkem said as they left the compound.
“She doesn’t know you enough to understand you.”
“She makes it sound as if I am desperate; I am not.”
“Everyone can see that I am the desperate one. My family loves you. They can see you are not from a wretched home. They have also investigated you the moment they met you and this is why they are interested in bringing you into the family. Don’t let my mother derail you; she is just being my mum.”
“Ok. But the marriage rites, isn’t it too soon? You can come back and do everything.”
Demian looked at her, “I will not be myself if I don’t make you my wife now. I cannot travel back without marrying you; even if it is just traditional marriage. No man can take you from me; I will never allow it.”
“They didn’t take me before we got officially engaged, how will they take me now? I am saying there shouldn’t be any rush, I am still here. When you come back…”
“I am doing it now unless you want to turn down my proposal. This discussion is over,” he said with finality.