Thorn Between

Thorn between episode 78




AUTHOR’s Note:

I was impressed when I went to his place. He stayed in a two-bedroom flat and it was well-furnished. He had cooked and he asked me to sit down and make myself comfortable. I dropped my bag and went to meet him in the kitchen. We served the food and ate together. I could see he was excited I was there. I got there after work and it was late. We talked about work and I sought his advice about a patient. I listened to him and wrote down his suggestions. It was fun. He ran me a bath by 9:30 pm and I had my bath and changed into my nightshirt. He bathed too and met me in the sitting room. I gave him the gift I brought from the US for him. He wasn’t expecting it and he appreciated it so much.

“Come to bed,” he said to me but I just couldn’t. “Are you shy? Just come to bed so we can sleep. We have work in the morning. Come on,” he dragged me up.

We went to bed and he just held me close. I could feel his heart beat but mine was racing. I didn’t know what to expect and I could see he was trying not to do anything to make me uncomfortable. He turned on the television in the room and we watched a movie until I dozed off. I woke up the next morning by 6:00 am. I was used to waking up early and I was a sucker for being prompt. Paschal was up before me.

We got ready and then we left for work together. He packed breakfast of plantain and eggs for me. I was impressed. He dropped me off at work and before I got down, he kissed me on my lips and asked, “It wasn’t bad right? I will spend the weekend with you then.”

We stayed at each other’s place for five months. When we were together at home, we didn’t kiss or indulge in anything sexual. I appreciated that and I enjoyed the company.

We had planned a surprise sixtieth birthday celebration for my father that Christmas in the village. Nda Njideka, Nda Flora and my mum were the planners of the event. I sent my measurements to my mother for our clothes. She asked me if Paschal would be attending, and I told her I wasn’t sure. I had to discuss it with him. Paschal asked for the date and told me he would be available.

The event was to be held on Boxing Day. I received flight tickets in my email from Uncle Tunde for Paschal and I. Paschal didn’t want to fly. He wanted us to take a road trip from the 24th to arrive on the 25th. It meant a change in plans. He didn’t have a car to the best of my knowledge, but he always picked me up with a car and he intended to travel with one. I had to ask for the owner of the car.

“My friend owns it. He relocated and he left the car with me. He said I could use it until he sees a buyer. That’s why I use it for you, he permitted me to. I want to buy a car because you are not used to jumping buses and taxis are too expensive.” He was serious about buying a car. He didn’t think his friend’s car was classy enough for me, so he had planned to buy a car I would be proud of. I laughed and told him I would enter a bus with him if I had to. The way he looked at me made me wonder what he thought of me. At school, I used bikes and buses, I didn’t have a car. My mother never subscribed to me showing off in school; none of us did.

We travelled to Owerri by air and a vehicle was waiting to pick us up from the airport. I could see work had been done in our compound. Uncle Peter and Paul had built houses individually. Chinemerem was around with her family, but they lodged in town. Dumebi and Mmesoma were around but they were also staying in town and had police escort to move with. They wanted us to stay in town but Paschal refused. He said he would stay in the village with one of the uncles if need be. He wanted to assist with preparations. My mother opened Thelma’s house for him to stay. She had cleaned the house, especially the Master’s bedroom and asked him to stay there comfortably.

Paschal had not proposed, and I didn’t know how to introduce him. I decided to let him hang out with Uncle Tunde while I greeted my relatives. He was meeting Mmesoma for the first time physically and they hit it off. Chinemerem arrived that evening at the village bearing gifts. She met Paschal too for the first time although they spoke on the phone. My immediate family were excited to meet Paschal and I was embarrassed. The twins were all over him. Chinemerem gave him a bag which he took into his apartment. We talked, ate and drank. The village was fun and interesting. My cousins were around with their families. Emelda also came home for the party but she was at Nda Flora’s house. I went to see her there. She was grown and she looked so happy. My cousin took very good care of her.

My mother gave me pepper soup to take to Paschal inside his apartment. It was late and I knew he wouldn’t eat but this was the only time we could be together alone all day. He was surprised and also happy to see me. I dropped the tray of food in the sitting room and he dragged me into the bedroom.

“Chinemerem is a wonderful person. See all she got for me. I was surprised when she handed me the bag and look at all this. Why is she so kind to me?” he asked me.

“I don’t know. Maybe because you like her sister.”

“I don’t just like her sister, I love her.”

“Really? This is the first time I am hearing this.”

“I express it through actions rather than words.”

“I would prefer to hear it though.”

“You are tempting me. You know I love you and I can show you how much but then we would be in serious trouble. I will not disrespect your parents by misbehaving in their home. So for now I have declared it. Hope it is fine.”

“Technically, this is Nma Ejima’s home so you are not misbehaving. And I would love to hear you say it to me more often.”

He shook his head as I laughed. I was impressed with Chinemerem, she made him so happy with the gifts. I left shortly after.

My father arrived in the village on the 26th in the afternoon. He was wondering why there was a tent in our compound. The driver drove to the house. My mother was there to receive him. She told him Peter and Paul were having a party for Nda Flora and they had to attend. He quickly got dressed in the outfit my mother dropped for him. She chose his shoes and even perfumes. She led him to the event. As he stepped into the tent everyone screamed, “Surprise!”. My father was shocked. We had people from all over the world present; family, friends. colleagues and acquaintances. His sons-in-law’s parents attended the party. It was a beautiful event.

I felt Paschal would feel out of place, but I was wrong. He blended in with my family and showed so much humility that amazed me. He brought a gift for my father too. We had contributed money to get him something as a family. My external family members saw Paschal and I together for the first time at the party. There was no way I could leave him to be with other people while I was there. Interestingly, no one asked questions then.

The party continued in our compound that night. All our relatives gathered there. There was a suya stand, chicken nkwobi, asun, and different drinks. Auntie Flora was present with her children and their families. Grandma also sat with us. She had complained of pains in her knees. My mother told Paschal she had arthritis. He asked to see her medication. He requested for more tests to be done and also gave her a better medication he had brought to help with the pain.

Grandpa’s brother was the first to mention Paschal. He started with, “I saw a handsome young man here, and I wondered who he was. I observed he stayed in Thelma’s house for the night and I had to ask who he was. But I was not given any concrete answer. So I have come to ask, who is the young man and what are his intentions?”

My father decided to answer for me. “Dr Paschal is a friend of the family who came to celebrate with us.”

“Friend of the family? Who brought him in because I saw him with a particular person and not the entire family.”

There was laughter and jesting. Some people supported him, while others asked him to allow sleeping dogs to lie. Paschal decided to introduce himself. He stood up and greeted everyone. “My name is Paschal Duru, I am a Medical Doctor from Ideato South. I work with LUTH and I am here to ask for Dr Urenna’s hand in marriage. I need her family’s permission to propose to her.”

I was shocked, and so was everyone. The only person not surprised by the proposal was Uncle Tunde.

Papa’s brother asked, “Is anyone against him proposing to her? I have to warn you; if you propose today, we start counting down for the wedding. We don’t do long courtship before we start hearing stories.” We all laughed because we knew things could easily go down while courting including pregnancy. It had happened before, although it was not openly discussed.

Paschal turned to me and knelt on one knee. He brought out a box. I almost sunk into the ground. I didn’t want this, I would have preferred a private proposal. “I can say a million words tonight but it would not express how I feel about you. You know I am a doer and not a talker, but I can tell you to everyone’s hearing, I liked you when I met you, I fell in love with you when we worked together and I know my life will be incomplete without you. Please marry me.”

Read – He’s Dating episode 21 – 24

There were tears in my eyes as I nodded. I wasn’t expecting the proposal. He put the ring on my finger and he stood up. He hugged me so tightly and then he kissed me on my lips. At that moment, no one else existed. We did not observe that we were being watched. It was Papa that made us stop by calling on us. I was embarrassed.

“I like this proposal, and they are not hiding what they do in secret. Is your family aware of this proposal and do they support it?” he asked Paschal.

“They are. They have met Urenna and they love her.”

“Good. We should fix a date for the introduction and so on. How many months should we give you?”

“We need to discuss this and get back to you tomorrow. I will be leaving in the evening tomorrow, I have to resume work. I stayed in the village to help out because I knew my stay would be short. Thank you all for having me here.”

Papa was impressed. “You are a good man. I saw both of you together and I wondered since when our girls openly flaunted their boyfriends. It is very unlike Urenna so it meant you were special. When no one protested, I knew he was accepted. This is a great family and you are lucky to marry into it. Urenna is her parents’ baby and I am sure you have seen the love and goodwill she enjoys. Urenna is an inquisitive child and she is also very loving. Once you play your part, you will enjoy the family.”

That night, after everyone had dispersed, I went into the house with Paschal. We entered the room and he hugged me. I couldn’t resist him because I was so happy. We kissed briefly and he said, “Stay the night, I am leaving tomorrow.”

“I can’t. My mother will not be happy about it.”

“Just try, I will wait up for you. I won’t be able to sleep if you aren’t here. Your family is amazing.”

I laughed and answered, “I need to take a bath and change out of this dress. You were amazing tonight, you made me very happy. Thank you for making me feel special.”

“You are special. I am serious about everything I said. I saw in you what I didn’t see in many girls, passion and undiluted love. We both have what it takes to make it in life. I want us to talk tonight before I meet with your folks tomorrow.”

“Ok. I will bathe and come back.” I kissed him on the lips and he shook his head. He loved how daring I was.

I took my bath and changed into my pyjamas. My brothers followed my mother everywhere she went, and it irritated my dad. I didn’t blame them, they didn’t fit in anywhere. Their cousins were much older and their children were too young. Their best friends were me and my mother. Unfortunately, I was occupied with my lover. My father asked them to make friends in other families rather than following my mother about. My mother didn’t mind, she indulged them. I quickly escaped when my parents were arguing about the boys.

Paschal suggested we have the introduction towards the end of January and have the traditional wedding in February. He was not interested in a church wedding but if I insisted, it had to be on St Valentine’s Day regardless of the day of the week it was. I was surprised he wanted it done quickly. I didn’t mind, it was getting difficult not to have sexual thoughts about him. I wanted to have a church wedding at our church in Port-Harcourt. It would give my mother the highest honour ever.

Paschal wanted a small wedding. He had a budget for the weddings. He admitted my people could throw it out of proportion, but he wanted them to understand we wanted an intimate wedding with only friends and family. I agreed with him. I knew it wouldn’t be possible and we would need to compromise, but then we needed to set a limit as soon as possible. There was no time. We went further into details. He had a book where he had written down everything needed for both weddings. Now we had to be more detailed. I was scared he would not be able to afford the wedding at such short notice but he asked me not to worry about it, he would ensure I was proud of him when the time came.

When we were through he wanted us to celebrate our proposal that night. It was the first time we kissed while we were in bed. I knew it was easy to get carried away, but he seemed to be in better control or rather overjoyed at the prospect of us being together forever. He asked me a funny question.

“What if I am impotent, what would you do?”

I was surprised at the question and I replied, “You are not impotent.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. You are aroused as we speak.”

Paschal pulled away from me and asked, “How do you know that?” I laughed at him without answering. “My colleagues who are aware of our relationship asked me how I was coping being with you and nothing was happening. I told them it wasn’t easy but I was managing it.”

“Why would they ask you that?”

“Because I have been acting out and being grouchy at work, especially after spending time with you.”

“Is there something I can do to help? “ I asked.

He looked at me suspiciously and then said, “There is but I do not want us to start what we can’t finish. After the traditional wedding, I will teach you many things and please learn so we can wow each other so these months of waiting will not be in vain.”

I loved how free we were with each other. We had gotten to the stage where we could talk with each other about anything and we won’t be offended. I had told him about my Medical Director (MD)buying me lunch. He assured me the man would make a pass at me and he did. I had to tell him I had a serious relationship. MD said and I quote, “If you do not have a ring then you are still available.” I told him he also had a ring which meant he was unavailable. When I mentioned it to Paschal, he loved my response and told me to be polite to the man regardless but never to wear a gown to work again. I wore trousers always so if he tried anything silly he wouldn’t succeed. I didn’t avoid MD or disrespect him. I gained my respect from him and I always included me in surgeries. He teased me about liking me and I not ‘liking him back.

We talked and held each other. Paschal reminded me that he loved me and I told him I loved him too. “You never say it.” he said to me and I replied, “It has to come from you first.” He laughed as drew me closer for a kiss and he said, “We can’t defile Nma Ejima’s house. It is late and you have to sneak back in early in the morning. Let us sleep.”

Early the following morning Paschal woke me up. I was still sleepy and struggled to stay awake. He made me stand up from the bedroom and escorted me to the front of my mother’s house. I was so tired but he insisted that I went inside after a hug and a quick kiss. I entered the house and tiptoed into my bedroom where I dropped on the bed and fell asleep.

I woke up late. After taking my bath, I met my mother in my bedroom waiting for me. “When did you get back?” she asked me.

“I stayed very late with Paschal, we were making plans.”

“Only plans? With what both of you displayed it must have been more than plans.”

“It is not what you think, we are not having sex. We just kissed.”

“And you slept with him last night. Urenna be careful. How long will it take for you to get married? Reserve all these things you are doing with him until after marriage. You did it in the presence of elders.”

“He is my fiance and he proposed to me. It was only natural we kissed. I have not chosen chastity because of you but rather for myself. He understands and will never defile me. Yes, I spent the night with him, but nothing happened. I love this guy and he loves me too. Allow me to enjoy myself with him within boundaries. I will not bring you shame, trust me.”

I stripped in her presence as I rubbed lotion on my body thinking she would leave, but she did not. She was inspecting my body with her eyes. I laughed and asked her to excuse me. She left.

I took breakfast to Paschal. He sat down to eat while I went back home to help my mother prepare to host my sisters and their families. I told my mother I was going to bring Emelda to the house to spend time with us. Her countenance changed.

“Your father won’t like that.”

“It doesn’t matter, she is his daughter and the baby of the house. It is wrong to keep her away from her family. Yes, Nda Judith has done a great job and taken her as her daughter, but she needs to know her real family. She has to interact with us.”

“Tell your father that, it has nothing to do with me.”

“Mum, you love Onyekachi and Onyedika, but you have never shown concern for Emelda. She doesn’t exist to you. I want to take her to see her mother just before she leaves back to the US, that’s the right thing to do.”

“Face your father and leave me alone.”

I walked with Paschal to Nda Flora’s house. Her children were there with their children. I introduced Paschal formally to my aunt. I let him know she is my favourite. She hugged and pecked me.

She said to me, “Since you are getting married, I will not bother about the car anymore. You have a rich husband.”

“Nda, Paschal is a medical doctor working in a government hospital not because he cannot travel out and be very rich but because he has a passion for helping people. So he is not rich, but I love all he does. He taught me that kindness cost nothing.”

“I was told he is a good man. I won’t buy the car, but I will give you the money for it. The car was for your academic excellence and being the first medical doctor of the family. You have done very well. Young man, you are welcome.”

I told my aunt and cousin I was taking Emelda for the afternoon get-together at my home, and her brothers would bring her back.

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