TITLE: THREE GENERATIONS
WRITTEN BY: OGECHI ALABI
Wh£n th£ Chid!ndu came home for Christmas vacation, h£ felt disappo!nted because Paul wasn’t th£re to pick h¡m up. Nwanneka was not happy ab©vt th£ development. $h£ liked th£ idea of a fath£r figure but $h£ also wanted Chike’s memory to reside with h¡s sons j√$t like h£r moth£r did with h£r. $h£ knew who $h£ was, Ada Anozie. $h£ wanted Chid!ndu to know who h£ was too, Opara Chike. $h£ called h¡m that often and h£ was happy and excited to answer it until Paul came !nto th£ picture. Th£ excitement was no m©r£ th£re. $h£ worried ab©vt it.
Later that even!ng, Paul was !n th£ house. Th£ way Chid!ndu and Kasie ran to hug h¡m melted Nwanneka’s h£art. Th£y liked h¡m so much. h£ spent th£ night !n th£ house with th£ two boys. h£ had expla!ned to Chid!ndu h£ had to clear h¡s desk and attend to clients so h£ would be free to be with th£m for th£ wh0l£ week wh£n th£y travelled to Port-Harcourt.
That weekend was packed for th£m. Th£y went to watch a movie, went to an amusement park and went to th£ arena for cart rac!ng. On Sunday, th£y went to th£ beach, rode on horses and had an amaz!ng time.
Monday morn!ng, th£y left Lagos for Port-Harcourt. !n Port-Harcourt th£ bond!ng was amaz!ng. Kasie and Chid!ndu went with Paul to th£ gym togeth£r every morn!ng. Nwanneka was still at work !n Lagos while h£r lover and h£r sons bonded. Th£y ate togeth£r and went ©vt to buy some build!ng materials for Paul’s new Guesthouse !n Port-Harcourt.
Th£y worked togeth£r dur!ng th£ week. Paul took th£ boys for meet!ngs with clients and prospects which th£y enjoyed very much. Th£y had lunch togeth£r and had an !nterest!ng boys’ talk. All three of th£m had ice cream and pizza or sharwama which£ver th£y craved for that even!ng. Th£ maid didn’t stay with th£m; $h£ stayed with Nwakaego so th£ men could be togeth£r.
While spend!ng time with th£ children, Paul and Nwanneka [email protected] spent time alone togeth£r which Nwanneka also didn’t like. $h£ came !n a few days to Christmas and stayed with Paul and th£ boys. Th£y had to arrange to meet after th£ children had [email protected]||en deeply asleep and h£ could escape to be with h£r.
On th£ last day before th£y travelled to th£ village, Chid!ndu had a deep conversation with h¡s moth£r’s ‘friend’.
“Uncle Paul, do you love my moth£r?”
Paul was stunned at th£ question. h£ didn’t know how to answer except, to be honest. “Yes. I love h£r very much”
“I can see that. I had always wi$h£d mum would date so we could all be happy. My mum has always been sad s!nce my fath£r died. $h£ cried a lot and I knew $h£ was very lonely. $h£ didn’t say anyth!ng to us but you would see $h£ was a sad unhappy woman. Suddenly, $h£ became happy. $h£ began to take better ¢ar£ of h£rself and was travell!ng a lot. I felt $h£ had found someth!ng that excited h£r, I didn’t realise it was someone. I see th£ way you look at h£r and th£ smiles both of you share. Auntie Nwadiuto said you are a good man and you love my moth£r very much. $h£ told me it is because of me mum doesn’t want to get married to you. I like you and I will be happy if we can all live togeth£r. Kasie likes you too. I hope every day will be like th£ days we s£nt with you th¡s week”
“I have to be honest with you son, I am impressed. Your moth£r doesn’t know $h£ has a man on h£r [email protected]; $h£ still th!nks you are a small boy. I am ready to propose to your moth£r and be with h£r forever if $h£ agrees to marry me. But, every day wouldn’t be like th¡s week we spent togeth£r. Some days would and some days will be tough. Some days you will hate me and some days you will love me. I can be a pa!n !n th£ beh!nd if your grades drop; ask my kids. I expect certa!n behaviour from you and so far, I am impressed. I will love and treat you like my own, but with love comes s!ncerity. I wouldn’t allow you to make mistakes j√$t because I want to be !n your good books. If I love you, I will correct you and want you to be a better person. Remember we f!ni$h£d your midterm project, we wa$h£d and ironed your cloth£s, we shopped and packed your bags for th£ midterm resumption which surprised your moth£r. It shows you are responsible”
“I must confess, mum had to s¢r**m before I could get all th£se done. My project is usually f!ni$h£d on th£ day I am go!ng [email protected]¢k to school. You made me responsible. I have learnt a lot from you. I want to be an eng!neer too; you are so 0rg*nized”
“I th!nk it is a brilliant idea. We will agree on which arm of eng!neer!ng is worthwhile wh£n we get to that stage. !n th£ meantime, I want you to be a good boy and let your moth£r know I have been a positive !nfluence !n your life. I am not promis!ng you all will be rosy, but I am promis!ng you I will always be th£re for you wh£n you need me wh£th£r your moth£r marries me or not”
“I promise you that son”
‘Th£n, $h£ will marry you. I promise you”
That night, h£ discussed with Nikky. h£ asked h£r th£ next step !n th£ir relationship as th£y have met th£ children of th£ two families. $h£ didn’t have an answer or rath£r a def!nite answer.
“Marry me Nikky. That’s all I ask of you. I want to be !n your life and not j√$t be !n th£ picture wh£n it suits you”
“Why would you say that? I have tried for you to be a good part of my life even though I am not very happy ab©vt it”
“What are you not happy ab©vt?”
“Th£ boys are so !nto you and have forgotten I exist or would I say Chid!ndu has forgotten I exist”
“Stop be!ng jealous; h£ j√$t needed a man !n h¡s life”
“Really? h£ had a fath£r. You come on board and h£ is will!ng to forget h¡s fath£r?”
“h£ remembers h¡s fath£r very well. We talk ab©vt h¡m too. I told h¡m th£ th!ngs you said ab©vt h¡m and how h£ protected you from h¡s family even !n death”
Nwanneka cleaned h£r tears from h£r eyes and said to h¡m fath£r softly, “You did?”
“Yes, h£ is th£ first son of Chike and th£ best buddy of Paul. Why are you worried? h£ knows who h£ is and can’t forget it. You don’t know who you are. Your son knew wh£n you were sad and knew wh£n you became happy. What aga!n do you want? h£ asked me questions today. h£ asked me if I love you?”
“I don’t believe that”
‘Have I ever lied to you?”
“Yes. h£ also asked why I haven’t married you. Why haven’t you taken my offer Nikky? I might not be as f!nancially buoyant as you are but, I can ₱v|| my own weight and most importantly, make all of you happy with my pres£nce”
“It’s not that”
“My !n-laws. What will th£y th!nk? My family, what will th£y say?”
“Your fath£r-!n-law has agreed. h£ said you were too young and beautiful to rema!n s!ngle forever. Your uncle has given h¡s cons£nt”
“What are you say!ng? I don’t understand”
“I have spoken to both of th£m; your fath£r-!n-law and your uncle Onyedika and th£y both gave th£ir cons£nt. Your moth£r is !n too. So, what is your next reason?”
“You saw th£m? I can’t believe th¡s”
“Say yes and let us get th¡s over and done with. If you don’t I will approach your uncle !n th£ village and th£ elders !n your late husband’s family for cons£nt”
“Th£re are some th!ngs you don’t know ab©vt me. I would rath£r not tell you ab©vt th£m.”
“I know everyth!ng. Th£re is noth!ng I don’t know ab©vt you”
“Do you know I had Nwadiuto wh£n I was a teenager?”
“I am aware”
“How did you know?”
“I found ©vt many years ago.”
‘Do you know who h£r fath£r is?”
“I don’t want to know unless $h£ wants me to know th£n $h£ will tell me”
“Why should $h£ be th£ one to tell you?”
“$h£’s an adult. $h£ talks to me. If $h£ feels I need to know th£n $h£ will tell me. You can only tell me if you have agreed to marry me. That’s wh£n I can guard your secret jealously”
“And I can’t say no?”
“I don’t th!nk it is an option”
“Ok. It is go!ng to be a battle. My moth£r-!n-law is from h£ll. I don’t know how people will take me marry!ng aga!n but s!nce you !nsist; yes”
“S!nce I !nsist or because you love me?”
“Because I love you”
“That sounds better. Would you take off th£ oth£r r!ngs and wear my engagement r!ng?”
“You have a r!ng with you?”
“I bought it wh£n we were !n th£ US.” h£ slid th£ r!ng on h£r f!ng£r and th£y klzzed.
“I hope you will leave all those girls alone now I have said yes. That was anoth£r problem I had with you” Nwanneka said feign!ng annoyance.
“That girl you saw that day was th£ last girl I ever got !nvolved with. I don’t want anyone else but you”
“Anoth£r problem is that you live h£re and I live !n Lagos. How do we juggle it?”
“How have we been juggl!ng it? I will spend two weeks with you !n Lagos and work !n Port-Harcourt. We can have a spare weekend to ourselves wh£n you come to see me once a month”
“I th!nk it will work, although I wanted us to be a family and live togeth£r”
‘Wh£re will we live? Not !n your late husband’s house. If I have to relocate to Lagos we have to live somewh£re else or we live apart”
“Why? We have your house wh£re we can come to and we have th£ house !n Lagos.”
“Th£n we will live apart. But we shouldn’t argue ab©vt it now. We have some work to do before th£ children wake up. I missed you”
“I missed you too”
Dur!ng th£ Christmas holiday, Josh took Nwadiuto to see h¡s family !n Ben!n-city. Th£y had a big home !n th£ GRA area of Ben!n City very close to th£ High court. h¡s fath£r (stepfath£r actually but th£ man calls Josh h¡s son) was excited to see h£r. h¡s moth£r had gone ©vt wh£n th£y arrived.
h£ had two married sisters and a broth£r. Th£ broth£r away study!ng !n th£ UK while h¡s sisters lived !n Lagos and Ben!n. One was a medical doctor who lived !n Ben!n and th£ oth£r sister an Architect. h¡s broth£r was !n th£ UK for h¡s MBA. h¡s sisters had married b!ni men so th£y were @r0vnd to see Josh’s !ntended. Th£y had seen h£r pictures on social media but th£y weren’t much and also noth!ng posted ab©vt Josh. No picture, noth!ng.
Wh£n th£y came !n, th£y saw Nwadiuto.
“$h£’s not bad. Very shapey like you said. Not bad at all” th£ medical doctor said.
“Don’t m!nd h£r. Welcome to th£ family. I can’t believe an Igbo girl has stolen my broth£r’s h£art; h£ never liked Igbo girls” Nwadiuto was taken [email protected]¢k by th£ comment. Why did h£ hit on Ada if h£ didn’t like Igbo girls? So, who did h£ date?
“Wh£re will $h£ stay? You know mum wouldn’t allow both of you to share a room”
“$h£ doesn’t have a choice. It is eith£r h£re or a h°tel” Josh responded to h¡s sisters. “Wh£re did $h£ go?
“Church event. $h£ will soon be h£re” th£ architect replied.
Josh’s fath£r sat with Nwadiuto and asked h£r questions ab©vt h£r [email protected]¢kground. $h£ told h¡m everyth!ng $h£ believed h£ needed to know at that time. h£ knew someone from th£ir village whom h£ worked with. h£ had h¡s contact and said it would be easy to make h¡s enquiries.
Josh’s moth£r came [email protected]¢k from h£r event. Wh£n $h£ saw Nwadiuto $h£ looked at h£r closely. Nwadiuto had come th£re wear!ng a stretchy burgundy gown with a jeans jacket on top. $h£ had long braids on h£r hair and a pair of low h£el boots. Josh a$$ured h£r $h£ looked beautiful which made h£r comfortable. But h¡s moth£r looked at h£r like $h£ was almost [email protected]£d. Nwadiuto kept h£r composure and also an open m!nd.
“Joshua, is $h£ th£ one?” h¡s moth£r asked.
“Yes, mum. Welcome [email protected]¢k. h£r name is Nwadiuto”
“I can see why you are !nterested !n h£r”
“Mum, don’t start”
“$h£ has a beautiful b©dy now. Wh£n $h£ has children noth!ng will be left”
Nwadiuto didn’t utter a word. $h£ could see th£ game th£ woman was ₱|@y!ng and $h£ h£ld h£r cool. Josh’s fath£r asked h¡s sisters to take Nwadiuto to th£ oth£r sitt!ng area so th£y could discuss.
“Are you sure you want to spend th£ rest of your life with h£r? $h£ looks wild. I don’t know what you are th!nk!ng but I don’t see how you will be happy with h£r”
h¡s fath£r had to add, “You can see all th¡s from j√$t look!ng at h£r? I have been convers!ng with h£r and I can confidently say $h£ is very !ntelligent”
“Did I ask you? We have to do what is best for our son. I can see th£ attraction and noth!ng m©r£” h¡s moth£r replied.
“$h£ might not have anyth!ng to offer accord!ng to you but accord!ng to me, $h£ has so much to offer. I will marry h£r regardless of what anyone says”
“$h£ knows you are a branch manager that is why $h£ follow!ng you”
“Because of money? h£r grandmoth£r is a bus!ness mogul. h£r moth£r is almost a director !n NIMASA and also has a profitable shipp!ng and clear!ng company. $h£ received a brand new Honda Accord for graduat!ng top of h£r cla$$ from h£r grandmoth£r. You are j√$t look!ng at h£r figure and gett!ng !ntimidated. My woman is everyth!ng I want and m©r£. I th!nk I am th£ gold digger h£re”
“Your woman? I was a lecturer. Do you know how students slept @r0vnd with lecturers to get good grades?”
“How many of th£m graduated top of th£ir cla$$?”
“Imelda, h£ w!ns th¡s one. I like th£ girl. $h£ didn’t respond to you wh£n you started attack!ng h£r. Don’t you want Joshua to get married? Isn’t th¡s what you have been pray!ng for? h£ has brought a woman h£ loves and now you claim $h£ isn’t good enough for h¡m. All th£ girls you brought, h£ rejected th£m all. Allow h¡m to choose who h£ wants to be with”
“Joshua th!nk ab©vt th¡s very well. You cannot divorce h£r; $h£ is with you for life. $h£ doesn’t look like a girl that will stay !n one place. $h£ is f!ne and has a beautiful b©dy. Men will run after h£r because of it and $h£ can walk ©vt at any time. $h£ might not have slept with lecturers but what of oth£r men. Once th£y see h£r, th£y will want h£r. How many will you fight off? Wh£n h£r old lovers show up, what will you do?”
“I am h£r one and only lover; $h£ doesn’t have any old lovers and will never have new ones. $h£ looks s£×y; that’s what I love ab©vt h£r. I want h£r to be h£rself and $h£ is great fun wh£n $h£ is. $h£ can cook and [email protected] household chores effortlessly but $h£ has a ¢ar£er and so we have to work togeth£r as partners. Both of you need to know I love h£r and th£re is noth!ng you can say that will change my m!nd ab©vt h£r; noth!ng. I didn’t br!ng h£r for your approval; I j√$t wanted you to meet my wife. It is already sealed”
h¡s moth£r looked at h£r husband and looked [email protected]¢k at h£r son. $h£ could see h£ was very serious. h£ was truly !n love with th¡s girl. From what h£ had said ab©vt h£r, $h£ was from a comfortable home, $h£ was !ntelligent and not wayward. But look!ng at h£r and h£r boldness said someth!ng else. $h£ knew $h£ couldn’t fight Joshua. Whatever h£ says is always f!nal.
“No problem. I have prepared th£ guest for h£r to..”
“No moth£r, $h£ is shar!ng my room with me. We are hav!ng s£× so th£re is no need to pretend by stay!ng apart. We will respect you and not do it !n th¡s house but we will stay togeth£r”
“Whatever you desire Joshua.” $h£ walked to th£ oth£r sitt!ng area wh£re Nwadiuto was and said to h£r, “Nwadiuto, welcome to th£ family”
On Christmas day, Paul came to Nwanneka’s village to see h£r and th£ boys. Chike’s family members were @r0vnd. h£ went to greet Chike’s parents. h£ brought special gifts for th£m especially h£r moth£r-!n-law which $h£ received excitedly with©vt know!ng who h£ was.
Paul th£n asked Okey for a talk. Okey had built a house !n th£ village. h£ took Paul th£re for th£m to discuss. Immediately h£ h£ard h¡s !ntentions, h£ broke ©vt !n smiles.
“$h£ deserves to f!nd love aga!n. Chike’s death hit h£r [email protected] and I am happy $h£ wants to do th¡s. I give h£r my fvll support”
“How do I go ab©vt it?”
“Death has separated h£r and my broth£r. $h£ is h£re because of h£r sons. You have to go to h£r people to ask for h£r [email protected] !n marriage. We will give our cons£nt if asked. All I will appeal to you is to please allow h£r and th£ children to come h£re and let th£m see my fath£r. It will be sad los!ng h¡s son and th£n h¡s grandsons and daughter as h£ calls h£r”
“$h£ loves all of you; I can never separate h£r from th£ ones $h£ loves. Every Christmas holiday will be spent h£re until your parents go to be with th£ Lord !n many years to come”
“Thank you. May your marriage to Nwanneka be blessed. $h£ has been a bless!ng to th¡s family. My eldest sister is liv!ng !n America with h£r son. My oth£r sister happily remarried and has children. My fath£r is happy. My moth£r can be a pa!n but at least th£y have m©r£ than enough to live on. Is it th£ charity $h£ has done !n th¡s village? $h£ has s£nt so many children to school. h£r moth£r is a philanthropist; h£r daughter has towed th£ same l!ne. I am proud of h£r”
A day after Christmas, Nwanneka went to visit h£r soon-to-be !n-laws. Paul’s fath£r received th£m well. h¡s moth£r ru$h£d !nto th£ kitch£n to br!ng ©vt food for th£m to eat. Nwanneka couldn’t believe th£ beautiful treatment $h£ received from th£m.
Th£y discussed th£ marriage.
“We like what we see; we are ready to pay your dowry right away”
“You have to meet my people and tell th£m”
“Th£n do so quickly. Paul has decided to be responsible. Th£ first girl used pregnancy to trap h¡m. I asked h¡m wh£n you don’t want someb©dy why th£n do you sleep with h£r? Is your f|£$h so weak? Th£ girl had a plan. Today, h£ has done it th£ right way. h£ told us you are a widow and you have three children. h£ wanted to marry you years ago until that girl trapped h¡m. h£ is divorced and you are a widow. Fate has made it possible for both of you to be togeth£r aga!n. Please, don’t lose th¡s golden opportunity. Opportunity comes but once”
That visit to h£r !ntended !n-laws made Nwanneka realise truly it was anoth£r opportunity at love. $h£ was ready to hide it and enjoy it quietly but $h£ realized now, $h£ would never have been truly happy. Do!ng it right was th£ best th!ng for both of th£m. h£r moth£r was right after all.