TITLE: THREE GENERATIONS
WRITTEN BY: OGECHI ALABI
Th£ summer holiday was over. Th£ school was to resume !n two weeks. It was a Saturday morn!ng. Someone rang th£ bell. Th£ h£lp came ©vt to answer th£ gate at th£ same time Nwadiuto was com!ng [email protected]¢k home from h£r morn!ng run. $h£ met th£ man at th£ gate. Th£y exchanged pleasantries. $h£ asked th£ gateman to open th£ gate. Nwadiuto asked h¡m to come !n too.
h£ sat !n th£ sitt!ng room. Nwadiuto asked th£ maid to make coffee for h¡m while $h£ went upstairs to see h£r moth£r.
“You have a visitor” $h£ mentioned to h£r moth£r casually.
“So I was told. Who is it?”
“What? What is h£ do!ng h£re?”
“h£ came to see you”
“Why did you let h¡m !n?”
“Because I th!nk it is ab©vt time. Look good before you go d©wΠstairs. Take a bath and look h°t”
Nwadiuto left h£r moth£r and went to h£r broth£rs, Chid!ndu and Kasiemobi, room. $h£ told th£m th£re was someone th£y needed to meet. $h£ took th£m d©wΠstairs.
“h£llo, Paul. I hope it is ok I call you Paul for now or should it be uncle Paul?”
“I recognized you. Paul is f!ne. Who are th£se f!ne men?”
“My two broth£rs th¡s is Chid!ndu, h£ is thirteen years old and our baby Kasiemobi who is six. Th¡s is uncle Paul, mummy’s close friend”
Th£ children said h£llo. Nwadiuto expected a reaction from Chid!ndu who was always protective of h¡s moth£r but h£ was surpris!ngly calm. While Kasie stuck to Nwadiuto as usual.
Nwadiuto left th£m !n th£ sitt!ng room and went to th£ kitch£n to prepare breakf*st th£y would all have. Wh£n $h£ came [email protected]¢k to ch£ck on th£m, Paul was on th£ centre rug with Chid!ndu ₱|@y!ng h¡s ₱|@ystation. $h£ was shocked at how receptive Chid!ndu was of Paul. Kasiemobi jo!ned th£m and was watch!ng and laugh!ng.
Nwanneka came d©wΠ th£ stairs as $h£ h£ard guffaws and noise d©wΠstairs. $h£ couldn’t believe h£r eyes. Paul was sitt!ng with h£r two sons ₱|@y!ng video games. It looked like Chid!ndu b**t h¡m !n that round and h£ turned to tickle h¡m while Kasiemobi laugh£d at th£m.
$h£ cleared h£r throat. Kasiemobi stood up and ran to h£r for a hug. $h£ hugged h¡m and h£ went [email protected]¢k to h¡s position. Paul tried to stand up but Chid!ndu said, “We haven’t f!ni$h£d ₱|@y!ng”, h£ sat [email protected]¢k d©wΠ and faced th£ game.
!n th£ kitch£n, Nwadiuto said to h£r, “Surprised?”
“And you were worried. Your rival will be Chid!ndu because h£ is go!ng to stick to h¡m like super glue”
“I can’t believe h£ came h£re”
“h£ is gett!ng a fvlly loaded breakf*st for tak!ng th£ bull by th£ horn. Lady, you have met h¡s two children and you didn’t offer for h¡m to meet yours. If you lose th¡s guy, you have lost everyth!ng”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Are you look!ng at wealth? Are you consider!ng you are rich£r than h¡m? Is it because h£ is not Igbo? h£ is not a fashionista? Th¡s guy loves you and if you lose th¡s opportunity it will never come aga!n”
“How do you know h£ is not Igbo?”
“I can tell. h¡s moth£r might be Igbo that is why h£ speaks Igbo but h£ is not Igbo. Igbos don’t answer English names as surnames”
“h£ is Itsekiri”
“I guessed as much. h¡s moth£r must be Delta Igbo.”
“I’m tak!ng my time to sort everyth!ng ©vt”
“Well, I will tell h¡m what to do if h£ is serious to make you jumpstart th£ process”
“Don’t you dare!”
“Try and stop me,” Nwadiuto said as $h£ carried a tray of food to th£ d!n!ng table to set up for breakf*st.
After th£ meal, Nwadiuto excused h£rself. “I am go!ng to my boyfriend’s house to spend th£ weekend. I will be [email protected]¢k Monday even!ng”
Paul found that odd $h£ would be announc!ng that to all of th£m. h£ began to understand what h£r moth£r was talk!ng ab©vt. $h£ was dar!ng and bold. h£ loved those qualities !n h£r.
“Your number please” Nwadiuto gave Paul h£r phone to punch !n h¡s number. Paul looked at Nwanneka who lowered h£r h£ad while h£ punch£d !n th£ number. “Thank you. I will be call!ng you soon to tell you how to get th¡s concluded very f*st.” $h£ turned to Nwanneka, “mum, Chid!ndu and Kasiemobi are supposed to visit uncle Onyedika’s family th¡s weekend. Chigozie likes to ₱|@y games too so Chid!ndu will have a game partner while Kasiemobi will cuddle with auntie Uloma who loves hav!ng h¡m with h£r. So, th£y should leave for Ikeja after th£y have f!ni$h£d defeat!ng uncle Paul at th£ game. Right Chid!ndu?”
“Good. Excuse me”
Nwadiuto had cooked two bowls of soup and stew to take with h£r to Josh’s house. S!nce th£ir return from th£ Summer holiday, Naomi had been avoid!ng Nwadiuto. $h£ eith£r locked h£rself !n th£ room or left th£ house altogeth£r.
Nwadiuto felt sorry for h£r. Dave had disappeared from th£ scene. Apparently, Naomi had f!nanced th£ trip for th£m and Dave was stranded wh£n $h£ left and h£ had to spend anoth£r night. h£ couldn’t afford it. Josh paid for h¡m for that night and told h¡m to f!nd h¡s way [email protected]¢k to Nigeria. h£ hadn’t come to th£ house s!nce th£n.
Naomi had apologized to Josh ab©vt th£ wh0l£ mess $h£ created. Josh accepted h£r apology but asked h£r to stay away from h¡s relationship with Nwadiuto. h£ told h£r h£ was with Nwadiuto and wanted to be with h£r and that was it.
Naomi’s hurt was because Josh made h£r believe th£re was noth!ng b£tweeΠ h¡m and Nwadiuto only for everyth!ng to change !n such a short time. $h£ didn’t understand h¡m anym©r£ and th£ir friendship was dw!ndl!ng because of Nwadiuto’s constant visits to th£ house. $h£ was very much !nterested !n Josh and $h£ wanted h¡m but h£ had turned h£r d©wΠ too many times for h£r to get th£ message but $h£ still didn’t get it.
Nwadiuto was !n h£r man’s house. $h£ quickly made swallow for h¡m to eat. Both of th£m cleaned up th£ room. Josh had asked that th£y should go for tests for STDs and STIs. Nwadiuto had agreed but $h£ began to stall along th£ l!ne. h£ !nsisted dur!ng th£ week that $h£ did it.
That afternoon, Josh drove th£m to a laboratory to pick up th£ir results. All th£ results came ©vt that day.
“I hate ¢0nd0ms,” Josh said f!nally wh£n th£y found ©vt th£y were both clean.
“I don’t know what to compare it with but if you say so no problem. My ma!n issue is gett!ng pregnant. I don’t want to get pregnant”
“©vtside wedlock? I wouldn’t do that to my mum or grandmoth£r; th£y won’t forgive me”
“But if it is th£ only way th£y can accept me, would you do it?”
“Th£y know we are dat!ng so th£y have accepted you. What’s th£ issue?”
“Would th£y accept me if I came with a marriage proposal?”
“What are you say!ng, Josh?”
“I’ve found th£ one. I’m !n love with h£r and I want to make h£r permanently m!ne. I want to marry you. I want to spend th£ rest of my life like th¡s with you. You make me happy; you complete me. You are crazy, confident, fearless, smart, !ntelligent and beautiful; what m©r£ would I ask for? You believe !n me and listen to my advice and follow whatever I say. Wh£n we make love, I am transported to anoth£r world; we are so compatible. I want to be with you forever”
Nwadiuto stared !n disbelief. Tears flowed freely from h£r eyes as $h£ looked at h£r man tell!ng h£r h£ loved h£r enough to make h£r h¡s. “Wh£n did you decide th¡s?”
“That night wh£n you cried because you were s¢ar£d you will lose me. I knew I would never be th£ same if I lose you. I see how guys look at you and I get worried one young Igbo guy will snatch you away from me especially dur!ng your service year. I’m s¢ar£d and would I say, I want to protect my territory”
“Are you sure you want to do th¡s?”
“I want to marry you. I want to do th¡s. But, do you want to marry th¡s old man and spend th£ rest of your life with h¡m?”
“Yes, Josh, I will marry you” $h£ replied !n tears.
Nwanneka was f!nally able to be alone with Paul wh£n th£ children went upstairs to get ready for th£ir weekend trip.
‘Nwadiuto made up th¡s weekend getaway, right?” Paul asked.
“You are right”
“I like h£r a lot”
“$h£’s sharp. What are you do!ng h£re?”
“I came to see you. I wanted to meet your family too. I love th£m already”
“We didn’t agree you will visit”
“I stopped wait!ng for you to agree. It is time we did th£ right th!ng. Get ready, we will talk ab©vt th¡s at th£ h°tel”
“No need, my maid is go!ng with th£m because of Kasiemobi. Th£ cleaner has left. We can stay h£re”
“Nikky, you want me to stay !n your house with you?”
“You are h£re already. Noone will be home until Monday even!ng”
“F!ne. I will ch£ck ©vt. Are you sure you want to do th¡s?”
“Very sure. We will have th£ house to ourselves”
That weekend was th£ best weekend th£y had ever had. Th£y stayed !ndoors and talked most of th£ time. Nwanneka led Paul !nto h£r b£droom at night for th£m to watch a movie togeth£r and th£y made love. Sunday, th£y stayed ma!nly !n b£d. Nwanneka appreciated h¡m tak!ng a bold step and $h£ reciprocated by allow!ng h¡m to stay !n h£r house.
“We can’t do th¡s with th£ children at home” Josh mentioned !n pa$$!ng.
“Yeah. We can’t”
“But th£y need to know we are !n a relationship”
“I don’t know if I am ready”
“Chid!ndu asked me to take h¡m [email protected]¢k to school wh£n h£ resumes. h£ said h£ wanted me to meet h¡s friends. I was surprised”
“Chid!ndu said that?”
“h£ did. I th!nk I am th£ closest to a fath£r figure h£ has seen !n a while”
“What else did h£ say?”
“j√$t guys talk; noth!ng serious. O, h£ wanted me to speak with h¡s Math£matics teach£r for th£ new session. h£ was told th£ man didn’t like h¡m because h£ was bold. h£ didn’t want you talk!ng to h¡m, h£ wanted me to talk to h¡m, man to man”
“What’s happen!ng? Why is h£ talk!ng to you and not me?”
“That’s true. But you j√$t met, why is h£ talk!ng to you like you both have been friends forever”
“Do you remember wh£n we first met? We c|¡¢ked !nstantly. It’s th£ same with Chid!ndu. And of course Nwadiuto.”
“I don’t know what to say”
“Tell me you love me”
“I love you”
Nwadiuto came [email protected]¢k an engaged girl. $h£ hadn’t told anyone ab©vt th£ proposal and $h£ felt $h£ owed it to Ada to know first. At least ab©vt th£ relationship.
$h£ called Ada on th£ phone. Th£y chatted like th£y normally do. Nwadiuto asked ab©vt th£ pregnancy and all that
“I have a suitor for you. Th£ guy has been on my case. I told h¡m to wait until I have th£ baby th£n you would come to Asaba.”
“I am !n a relationship right now”
“Who are you !n a relationship with?”
“Josh? Th¡s is serious. h£ never mentioned it. Wh£n did th¡s happen?”
“A few months ago. I wanted to be sure before tell!ng you”
“That’s nice. Th£ problem is that h£ is not Igbo. You need to marry an Igbo man who will …….”
“h£ asked me to marry h¡m”
“Josh asked you to marry h¡m? Wh£n?”
“Today. h£ asked me to marry h¡m today”
“And what did you say?”
“Are you sure? That guy was older than me and clearly older than you with at least ten years. Why would you want to marry someone that old wh£n you are so young?”
“Because h£ knows how to love me. h£ knows me very well and has ₱|@yed a major part !n my life !n th£ past year. I wasn’t expect!ng a marriage offer yet. It came as a surprise and it feels so right”
“Edo guy! Your moth£r won’t agree. Grandma will fight you”
“Th£y won’t wh£n th£y see how happy h£ makes me”
“I am happy for you if you are happy”
“I am. You are th£ first to know; I haven’t told anyone of th£ proposal”
“Has h£ given you a r!ng yet?”
“Not yet. I don’t need one; h¡s word is m©r£ than enough for me”
“Truly, you are !n love. I am surprised at Josh. h£ never showed any signs h£ was !nterested !n you”
“It developed th£ m©r£ we !nteracted. h£ is a great guy and I love h¡m”
“Nwadiuto! You are talk!ng ab©vt love? Th¡s is serious th£n. I will call Josh”
Josh and Nwadiuto had agreed to get married dur!ng h£r service. Th£y agreed not to !nfluence h£r post!ng and allow h£r to explore a state !n Nigeria for a year serv!ng h£r nation. $h£ was posted to Abuja.
Josh was worried immediately h£ saw it. h£ didn’t want h£r to run !nto Malik who was such a sweet talker. h£ still remembered how $h£ describ£d what h£ did to h£r b©dy and h£ could see $h£ enjoyed it. Th£re was no way h£ was go!ng to come ©vt and state h¡s fear. h£ decided to ensure $h£ got good accommodation wh£re $h£ would be protected and also a well pay!ng job. h£ wanted h£r busy and ©vt of mischief. h£ trusted h£r but h£ didn’t trust men especially Malik.
h£r moth£r paid for h£r accommodation !n Abuja and uncle Onyedika got h£r a good job. It was obvious to Josh h£r family had h£r [email protected]¢k. Nwadiuto lacked noth!ng. h£r grandmoth£r bought h£r a brand new Honda Accord as promised h£r if $h£ was th£ best graduat!ng student and $h£ was. Even though young, Nwadiuto was undeniably a big girl.
Josh knew it would attract th£ wrong crowd. h£ didn’t want to be travell!ng to Abuja every week to see h£r as though h£ was !nsecure but !n all honesty; h£ was. For th£ first time, age mattered. $h£ was a ¢ar£free girl with a big personality. It was a h*g£ attraction to many guys. $h£ told h¡m how th£ guys rallied @r0vnd h£r dur!ng h£r two weeks camp. $h£ talked to h¡m as often as $h£ could which eased h¡s fear.
h£ went to Abuja to h£lp Nwadiuto settle d©wΠ. h£ stayed for a week. $h£ resumed work and h£r tales of what happened !n th£ office !ncreased h¡s fears. How would h£ express h¡s concerns with©vt sound!ng !nsecure and jealous? h£ loved h£r very much but th£n h£ now had stiff competition. Th£ only th!ng h£ can do is to legalise th£ union.
h£ ordered h£r r!ng. h£ visited h£r th£ next weekend and pres£nted h£r with it to make it official. $h£ was surprised. $h£ was also very happy and excited. $h£ wore it immediately and never rem©v£d it. Th£n h£ asked h£r if h£ could talk to h£r moth£r and grandmoth£r ab©vt h¡s proposal.
“Th£ person we need to talk to that will def!nitely h£lp !n th¡s situation is uncle Onyedika. I will arrange for you to meet with h¡m. h£ will take it from th£re”
“I am s¢ar£d to meet h¡m”
“h£ likes you, h£ will agree to th£ marriage. h£ has also been badger!ng me for a suitor. Th£ ball is !n your court”
“Are you ready for th¡s?”
“I can’t wait to be Mrs Josh-Osasogie!”
Uncle Onyedika had to deal with two suitors for h¡s niece and grandniece. Paul had come to see uncle Onyedika at Nwadiuto’s prompt!ng.
Nwadiuto had told Paul to make th£ m©v£ because h£r moth£r will never make th£ m©v£. Th£ two people $h£ adviced h¡m to see before go!ngfor with a proposal were Chike’s parents and uncle Onyedika. h£ already had support from grandma.
h£ had met Nwanneka’s fath£r-!n-law and h£ gave h¡s bless!ngs with©vt even a second thought. Th£ man called Nwanneka h¡s daughter and believed $h£ was too young not to have a companion. Paul couldn’t believe h¡s luck.
Uncle Onyedika was happy to meet h¡m. It was tough£r with uncle Onyedika because h£ asked many questions. Wh£n h£ was [email protected]!$fied with th£ answers, h£ gave h¡m th£ go ah£ad to propose to Nwanneka s!nce h£r fath£r-!n-law had agreed to th£ union. h£ would have preferred Nwanneka to marry an Igbo man but s!nce Paul’s moth£r was Igbo, and still !n h£r marital home, h£ gave h¡s cons£nt.
Paul hadn’t told Nwanneka anyth!ng ab©vt meet!ng th£ two most important men !n h£r life. h£ ₱|@yed along with Nwanneka while work!ng underground. h£ never missed any visit!ng day for Chid!ndu and also came @r0vnd dur!ng th£ mid-term break. Th£y had agreed to spend part of th£ir Christmas holiday with h¡m !n Port-Harcourt. Nwanneka was ©vtvoted and had to accept.
It was Josh’s turn to see uncle Onyedika. Uncle Onyedika was excited to meet h¡m. Th£y talked like old friends. Wh£n Josh stated th£ reason why h£ visited; uncle Onyedika said h£ knew.
“I have been wait!ng for you. Nwadiuto’s fear is that h£r moth£r and grandmoth£r will be aga!nst your union. Th£y will be. I want you to understand why. You are from Edo state; we as a family have had nasty experience with a lady from Edo state which caused th£ death of my niece, Ogo, My niece and h£r moth£r want Nwadiuto to marry a man from our place who knows th£ customs of our land. Secondly, th£y will be afraid you will use what you know ab©vt Nwadiuto aga!nst h£r. Will you !nform your parents of th£ cir¢vmstances of h£r birth? Will th£y accept? Thirdly, you are far older than Nwadiuto. $h£ is still a baby, $h£ hasn’t matured yet. I know it is good to marry early, but Nwadiuto is different. $h£ is bold and strong-willed. For an older man, you might j√$t be seek!ng respect but $h£ might not give it to you. Nwadiuto doesn’t cook or clean; $h£ spoilt. $h£ only does chores $h£ is comfortable do!ng. $h£’s not afraid of anyone. $h£ is a tough£r version of h£r moth£r. Your family members cannot !ntimidate h£r. h£r grandmoth£r and moth£r can meet h£r every need so $h£ doesn’t need your money. Can you cope with all that?”
“Nwadiuto can cook and also clean. $h£ cooks !n my house and cooks very well. $h£’s not spoilt !n my books. And say!ng $h£’s not afraid of anyb©dy is wrong sir; Nwadiuto is a$$**tive and would stand for what is right. $h£ says it as it is regardless of who you are. I agree $h£ might not be diplomatic but $h£ is malleable. $h£ has changed a great deal now. We’ve been friends for almost two years and started a relationship recently. I can tell you, $h£ is ready to settle d©wΠ. I promised h£r one th!ng; I will allow h£r to be h£rself. I was attracted to h£r personality and craz!ness as we call it and it paved well for th¡s beautiful relationship we have now. $h£’s !n Abuja with wolves and it worries me every day. But, $h£ accepted my r!ng and wants to marry me. I can wait if you feel $h£ needs m©r£ time. I am ready to marry h£r right now or next year or five years from now. I will wait for h£r until $h£’s ready or until you, h£r family are conv!nced $h£ is ready”
“You have spoken well. I know why $h£ s£nt you to me; because $h£ knows I like you. You have my support but it should be done right. $h£ should !nform h£r moth£r and grandmoth£r ab©vt your plans to get married. It will come to my table and I will speak my m!nd concern!ng it. If $h£ can conv!nce th£m, th£n it will go smoothly, if not, th£re isn’t much I can do now. Conv!nc!ng th£m might take a while so you should start now.”
“Thank you, sir. Once I have your support, I believe we can conquer th£ rest”
“Nwadiuto tutored you well. Thank you for lov!ng h£r th£ way $h£ deserves. Truly, I have seen a h*g£ difference !n h£r. Your friendship h£lped h£r self confidence. My fear now is wh£re $h£ will be given ©vt !n marriage. Are we go!ng to expose to th£ community h£r paternity? Anyway, we knew th¡s day will come”
“It will be sorted wh£n we get to that bridge”
“That’s right son, wh£n we get to that bridge”