TITLE: THREE GENERATIONS
WRITTEN BY: OGECHI ALABI
Th£ New Year celebration happened !n Anozie’s compound. Nwadiuto and Josh were th£re, Nwanneka and Paul were also pres£nt. Josh wanted to stay !n a h°tel !n town but Nwakaego stopped h¡m and offered h¡m a room !n Onyedika’s house. Paul stayed with Nwanneka; $h£ didn’t want h¡m ©vt of h£r sight. Th£ boys stayed with Nwakaego. Nwadiuto had h£r room.
Paul and Josh were officially !ntroduced. Paul recognized th£ face and wh£n Josh told h¡m wh£re th£y had met before h£ shook h¡s f!ng£r !n front of h¡m and said, “Bad boy!”
Th£ next day, Josh met with Nwakaego and Nwanneka to ask for Nwadiuto’s [email protected] !n marriage. Nwakaego wasn’t happy ab©vt it. $h£ had plans for h£r granddaughter which didn’t !nclude marry!ng an older non-Igbo man. $h£ knew Josh and liked h¡m but wasn’t aware a relationship had begun. Th¡s came to h£r as a shock. $h£ was disappo!nted !n Nwanneka for not stopp!ng th£ relationship wh£n it started.
“What should I have done? You know Nwadiuto has a m!nd of h£r own; $h£ wouldn’t listen to me. I share th£ same fears but from what I have seen th£y are very much !n love. Nwadiuto will not [email protected]¢k d©wΠ”
“But th£ man is older and also a B!ni man. After Isabella, I don’t trust B!ni people. I supported you marry!ng Paul because you already have two Igbo sons and Paul is half Igbo. And to be honest, it will be an !nj√$tice not to allow h¡m to marry you. I know how much h£ loves you. But Josh…”
Onyedika had entered th£ir mist quietly and !nterjected say!ng, “h£ h£lped h£r f!nd h£r fath£r. h£ is very much aware Nwadiuto is a child of !ncest. h£ has been h£r friend longer than th£y have had a relationship and you still feel h£ hasn’t proved h¡s loyalty to h£r? I like th£ young man. h£ might be from B!ni but h£ isn’t tribalistic and has proved h£ is a man who knows what h£ wants and goes for it. Does h£ love Nwadiuto? I believe h£ does. Why don’t you get to know h¡m first before say!ng anyth!ng negative ab©vt h¡m?”
“Th£n h£ shouldn’t be !n a hurry. Why is h£ rush!ng? Nwadiuto is still very young, $h£ can change h£r m!nd after $h£ gets married. Why not allow h£r mature a bit”?
“How old were you wh£n your husband married you? What was th£ age difference? Why didn’t you remarry after h¡s death? Nwadiuto is like you Nwakaego and also like Nwanneka but th£n $h£ is m©r£ modern and ©vtspoken compared to both of you. $h£ can’t stay away from Josh. Wh£re is $h£ right now? Th£y’ve gone ©vt. Do you know th£y slept togeth£r last night? Calm d©wΠ, I didn’t tell you so you will fight h£r. Th£y slept togeth£r !n th£ sitt!ng room. h£ h£ld h£r !n h¡s arms while th£y slept. Go and tell Uloma you are aga!nst th¡s marriage and see what will happen. Th£ guy is a nice guy. Get to know h¡m and give your daughter your bless!ngs. That’s all $h£ needs”
“I am will!ng to get to know h¡m. It might take a wh0l£ year to understand h¡m. Do you know what? h£ should give us time to know h¡m”
“Th£ young man is afraid Nwadiuto will be deceived !n Abuja so h£ wants to tie th£ knot quickly. I do agree you should get to know h¡m. I will approve for three months. But mama Nwanneka, keep an open m!nd and do not !ntroduce anyone to Nwadiuto dur!ng th¡s process. I know what you are capable of”
“Why would you say that, Onyedika? Have I ever done that?”
“Who manipulated nda Obi and I !nto tak!ng [email protected]¢k our wives? Don’t ₱|@y that game h£re; anyway, I trust Nwadiuto to put you !n your place f*st”
Th£ only proposal that was accepted was Paul’s proposal. Josh was asked to give Nwadiuto’s family some time to get to know h¡m and decide if th£y would want to have a B!ni !n-law as th£y had always desired an Igbo man for th£ir daughter. Nwadiuto had told h¡m what to expect. h£ knew it wouldn’t be a walk !n th£ park.
Nwanneka wanted a small wedd!ng s!nce both of th£m had been previously married. Paul agreed to it. It was to be simple and straightforward. Nwanneka opted for a sitt!ng room traditional wedd!ng and a court wedd!ng. Th£ bless!ng of th£ marriage would be on Sunday alongside thanksgiv!ng.
Paul’s family came for th£ !ntroduction th£ weekend follow!ng th£ New Year celebration while those that mattered were still !n th£ village. Th£y requested for th£ list and date to be set aside for th£ traditional marriage.
Nwanneka’s family !nformed th£m that Nwanneka is a widow and th£ family would like to carry h£r late husband’s family along !n accept!ng Paul and th£ traditional marriage. Th£y requested that th£ family gives th£m some time to sort th£mselves and th£n give th£m [email protected]¢k which th£y accepted.
Paul went with Nwanneka to formally !nform Chike’s family ab©vt th£ development. $h£ officially !ntroduced Chike as h£r fiancé. Chike’s moth£r almost had a h£art attack wh£n $h£ discovered who Paul was. $h£ was so upset that $h£ said nasty th!ngs to Nwanneka and Paul.
“You brought your lover to your late husband’s house. What k!nd of human be!ng are you? You desecrated your husband’s house. How many years have you been a widow that you already have a lover and you are rush!ng to get married? You cannot even hold yourself? See, let me tell you, you cannot remarry.” $h£ said to Nwanneka.
“Says who?” Nwanneka asked h£r boldly.
“Did I h£ar well? Did you j√$t ask me that stupid question?”
“I want to know wh£re it is said that a widow should not remarry. I don’t need your permission to remarry, I j√$t came to !nform you ©vt of courtesy. My relationship with Chike ended th£ moment h£ died. I have mourned h¡m long enough and I have an opportunity to be loved appropriately aga!n. I will not be like oth£r widows who jump from man to man j√$t to have a feel of be!ng loved neith£r will I keep a secret lover. I want to do th£ right th!ng by marry!ng h¡m. Papa, Okey, I will like to formally !nvite you to grace th£ occasion of our wedd!ng. Traditional wedd!ng will hold !n my village !n a sitt!ng room affair. Th£ court wedd!ng is wh£re I want you, papa, to give me away. I am your youngest daughter so it is j√$t right”
Papa Chike couldn’t hide h¡s emotions anym©r£. Tears flowed from h¡s eyes as h£ stood up to hug h¡s daughter-!n-law while Okey said with fvll confidence, “I will be th£re to support you. Only death will make it impossible”
Two weeks later Paul and Nwanneka were married !n a quiet traditional wedd!ng wh£re th£ dowry was paid. And th£n a court wedd!ng wh£re Chike’s fath£r gave h£r away !n marriage. h£r family members were excited ab©vt it. Chid!ndu gave a h£artfelt toast at th£ reception.
h£ said “S!nce my new fath£r came !nto my moth£r’s life, I have never seen h£r so happy. $h£ smiles and has come alive. I promised my new daddy that h£ will marry my moth£r and h£re we are h£re. My moth£r has been an amaz!ng parent. Paul is a good man; my best friend. With a comb!nation of both of th£m, my broth£r, sister and I will be happy forever. My new dad told me, “th£re will be difficult days and wonderful days. I wouldn’t fold my [email protected] and watch your grade drop or allow you to misbehave. Some decisions will be !n your best !nterest. If you believe your moth£r and I love you, you will trust our judgment. Even if it was wrong, it was from a place of love.” Th£se and many m©r£ I can’t disclose are some of th£ conversations I have with h¡m. Mum, do not be afraid; I will never forget th£ man who birth£d me. h£ was a good fath£r too. But, allow me to enjoy th£ man who is stepp!ng !n. I love both of th£m equally. And so do Kasiemobi and auntie Nwadiuto. Thank you, dad, for lov!ng us. To th£ bride and groom”
Everyone felt th£ love b£tweeΠ Paul and Chid!ndu as Paul came to meet h¡m and hugged h¡m while Nwanneka $h£d tears as $h£ saw th£m togeth£r.
Paul and Nwanneka rented a house off Allen Ikeja. Th£ entire family m©v£d !n th£re. Nwanneka wanted to buy ©vtrightly but Paul didn’t have th£ entire amount to buy th£ house. Nwanneka had agreed to contribute at least half, but Paul didn’t want to touch h£r money. h£ was will!ng to work and foot th£ major bills. h£ got th£ property from a friend and h£ rented directly from th£ landlord who was also !nterested !n sell!ng. It was a big family house.
Paul m©v£d from Port-Harcourt to Lagos. h£ l!nked up with some Oil companies and provided th£m with some services which h£ had been do!ng !n Port-Harcourt. Nwanneka asked h¡m to also look !nto h£r bus!ness which had been struggl!ng s!nce Ada left. It was based on th£ relationship some of th£ir clients rema!ned.
Paul took over. h£ comb!ned it with h¡s bus!ness while Nwanneka worked. With!n three months, th£ company was resurrected; Paul had th£ magic touch. h£ advised Nwadiuto to sell th£ build!ng th£y used and buy anoth£r one h£ had seen from a recovery agent. Nwadiuto was !nitially sceptical but eventually gave !n. Th£ new build!ng th£y bought was a three-storey build!ng. It was renovated and th£ company m©v£d !n occupy!ng th£ first floor. Th£ oth£r two floors were rented ©vt to oth£r bus!nesses. Th£ renovation and aesth£tics of th£ new office gave th£ bus!ness a new look and impression that th£re were new !nvestors !n it. It worked.
Paul with th£ h£lp of Josh was able to get m©r£ clients to patronize th£m. Th£y bonded very well as both of th£m were !n Apapa togeth£r. Th£y had lunch at least once a week. Josh was frustrated with th£ [email protected] !n th£ approval of h¡s marriage proposal. h£ had shared th¡s with Paul who advised h¡m to be patient.
“What did Nwadiuto tell you?” Paul asked.
“$h£ said h£r moth£r and grandmoth£r will give th£ir cons£nt wh£n $h£ is ready. $h£ isn’t ready yet and $h£ has refused to tell me why $h£ is not”
“Maybe you should ask h£r. Have you seen h£r grandmoth£r?”
“I have seen h£r five times. $h£ is pleasant to me but we don’t discuss Nwadiuto or th£ marriage proposal”
“$h£ will. What of Nikky?”
“$h£ said $h£ will go with whatever h£r moth£r decides as h£r moth£r has as much right over Nwadiuto as $h£ does”
“Really? $h£ didn’t say anyth!ng m©r£?”
“No. Did $h£ say anyth!ng to you?”
“No. You know what? Talk to Nwadiuto. Nwadiuto can h£lp th£m decide quickly if $h£ wants to. Someth!ng is hold!ng h£r [email protected]¢k”
“What can that th!ng be?”
“I don’t know but that’s all I can tell you”
Josh’s conversation with Paul caused h¡m to th!nk deeply. h£ decided not to ask Nwadiuto on th£ phone but rath£r visit h£r that weekend and th£y talk ab©vt it.
h£ arrived Abuja very late that even!ng. As h£ came ©vt of th£ arrivals and was walk!ng towards th£ car park to pick a taxi, h£ h£ard h¡s name. h£ turned to see who was call!ng h¡m, h£ saw it was Malik. Th£ exchanged pleasantries and th£n Malik offered to drop h¡m off at h¡s dest!nation. Josh !nitially refused but with some persuasion, h£ agreed to jo!n Malik and gave h¡m Nwadiuto’s address.
“So who did you come to see?” Malik asked.
“Wow! Congrats man. At last, you are settl!ng d©wΠ”
“Yeah. How ab©vt you? Wh£n are you settl!ng d©wΠ?”
“I like my life. I j√$t came [email protected]¢k from an !nternational trip sponsored by a woman. I was dropp!ng off anoth£r wh£n you saw me. I can’t be committed to one woman”
“I know my man. That’s what I told Naomi and Nwadiuto; you are only !nterested !n money not relationship”
“Talk!ng of Nwadiuto, I had a th!ng with h£r many months [email protected]¢k. I didn’t know th£ bitch was so silly. $h£ stopped me along th£ way after mak!ng h£r legs tremble and h£r lungs dry. $h£ was so childish, I gave up. But $h£ has a very s£×y b©dy, goddamn! Maybe I should hook up with h£r aga!n and complete what we started”
“You wouldn’t m!nd be!ng with h£r aga!n?”
“I wouldn’t. We are supposed to have fun at th£ penthouse of th£ Hilton. It’s still very possible. h£r b©dy is fresh and succulent. Th!nk!ng ab©vt it now is turn!ng me on”
Josh didn’t respond to h¡m. h£ believed Nwadiuto was m©r£ mature now and wouldn’t be caught dead with Malik. Th£ lousy way Malik spoke would discourage h£r or would it? h£ decided to take h¡s chances. h£ had discussed with Nwadiuto ab©vt th£ir s£× life and had appealed to h£r to tell h¡m if $h£ wasn’t [email protected]!$fied or was los!ng !nterest. $h£ had never compla!ned and th£y explored togeth£r. h£ remembered th£ th!ngs $h£ said Malik did to h£r; h£ !ntended to replicate th£m after th£ir discussion that night.
“A penny for your thoughts. I asked you a question. Wh£re is Nwadiuto now?”
“I could have sworn both of you were dat!ng !n secret”
“Wh£n $h£ was !nterested !n you? Never”
“Both of you were too close”
“$h£ is a good girl”
“$h£’s a bad bitch. You needed to have h£ard h£r …”
“Thanks for th£ !nfo; I don’t need it. I thought you don’t klzz and tell”
“$h£ is a kid I am ₱|@y!ng with. Th£ oth£rs are my clients and th£y deserve confidentiality.”
“And $h£ doesn’t? I hope $h£ will be happy to h£ar th¡s from you”
“You won’t tell, would you?”
Josh let that slide. Malik stopped !n front of Nwadiuto’s house. h£ quickly jo!ned Josh so h£ could be !ntroduced to h¡s fiancé. Wh£n Josh rang th£ bell, it was Nwadiuto that answered. Malik was shocked wh£n h£ saw h£r. Nwadiuto was also surprised to see both of th£m as Josh didn’t tell h£r h£ was com!ng. $h£ hugged and klzzed Josh while m©vth!ng h£r greet!ngs to a stunned Malik.
“You didn’t tell me you were com!ng and also with Malik”
“We met at th£ airport; I wanted to surprise you” Josh replied.
“It is a pleasant surprise. I missed you. Luckily I j√$t made rice and fish, Malik, would you like to jo!n us?”
“Yes. But what’s go!ng on h£re?” Malik asked.
“Josh, didn’t you tell h¡m?” Nwadiuto asked.
“$h£ is my fiancé.”
“Yes, I am” Nwadiuto said flaunt!ng h£r engagement r!ng. “Let me get th£ food” and $h£ left for th£ kitch£n.
“You should have told me. I said some not so nice th!ngs ab©vt h£r. You didn’t take offence. I wouldn’t have if I knew”
“I knew ab©vt it; $h£ told me everyth!ng that happened that night with you. $h£ tells me everyth!ng. Thanks to you, we were able to express our feel!ngs to each oth£r and th£ rest is h¡story.”
“I didn’t need to know that”
“That’s how I didn’t need to know what happened b£tweeΠ th£ two of you from you. I believed you would never klzz and tell. If I say I am disappo!nted I would be ly!ng, I am m©r£ than disappo!nted”
“I am sorry bro. I agree, that was disrespectful. I can’t believe you two are togeth£r now”
“Yeah. We are gett!ng married very soon. I will appreciate it if you keep your distance from h£r. And those thoughts you have ab©vt h£r; die th£m. Let’s respect boundaries”
“Th£y are dead. You and Nwadiuto? I never thought you could settle for someone like h£r; $h£ didn’t j√$t look your type”
“I know, right? I didn’t know I would [email protected]|| for h£r but I did. $h£’s a sweet girl”
Later that night wh£n th£y were togeth£r, Josh asked Nwadiuto to call h£r moth£r and grandmoth£r and tell th£m $h£ wanted to marry h¡m. h£ asked h£r to do it !n h¡s pres£nce. $h£ gave excuses why $h£ couldn’t !nterfere and agree to th£ir suggestions. Immediately, h£ realized what Paul had told h¡m. Someth!ng was wrong that was why $h£ wasn’t ₱ush!ng [email protected] enough.
“Nwadiuto, if you are very certa!n of th¡s marriage, we could wait until you are.”
“That’s not a bad idea”
“You should have j√$t told me you were not ready to get married than deceive me th£ way you did”
“How did I deceive you?”
“You have been tagg!ng me along. Your uncle said I should give your grandmoth£r time to get to know me. $h£’s not mak!ng such an attempt. I have compla!ned to you and you didn’t make any m©v£ to address that. Now, you can’t call your family to order and you are will!ng to wait until you are certa!n. Why have you changed your m!nd? I feel th£re is m©r£. Do you fancy anoth£r?”
“I don’t understand what you are talk!ng ab©vt. I can’t force my grandmoth£r to accept j√$t like that; you have to put !n th£ effort to make h£r like you. Th£ same with my moth£r. Th£y will come @r0vnd with time”
“Th¡s is not my Nwadiuto. My Nwadiuto ignored every warn!ng and went !n search of h£r fath£r with©vt tell!ng h£r family. Th£ Nwadiuto told h£r moth£r and grandmoth£r boldly that $h£ had found h£r fath£r. Th£ girl that everyone knows to be bold and strong-willed is tell!ng me to wait until h£r moth£r and grandmoth£r come @r0vnd. It is eith£r of th£se two, eith£r you have changed your m!nd ab©vt spend!ng th£ rest of your life with me with th£ excuses your family gave or you have committed an offence by [email protected]||!ng for anoth£r man”
“It is none of th£ above. I j√$t feel we should watch th£ relationship evolve naturally !nto what we want especially with my family”
“Do you need space? Do you need m©r£ time? Because I have no bus!ness with family; my bus!ness is with you”
“That’s th£ problem, family is important. Your family and my family are important. We need to get everyone !n our families to accept th£ union before we can m©v£ forward”
“You didn’t say all th¡s before I went to your family to ask for your [email protected] If I had an !ncl!nation that you had doubts, I wouldn’t have proposed or even gone to your family. I asked you if you were ready. That’s th£ hazard of deal!ng with young people; th£y can change th£ir m!nds at any time with©vt notice.”
“I would rath£r you didn’t say that; it is rath£r !nsult!ng. If I didn’t want to be with you, I would have told you wh£n you proposed. If I had a change of h£art, th£n I would have told you. I wouldn’t lead you on like. I j√$t said th£ family is important”
“You are speak!ng !n parables. Th¡s is a serious discussion so speak ©vt !n clear terms let me understand. Why do you keep emphasiz!ng family? We don’t quarrel; we discuss. Tell me how you feel ab©vt my family and I will tell you ab©vt yours which I have done many times”
Nwadiuto had avoided hav!ng th¡s discussion with Josh but $h£ could no longer hide th£ secret. $h£ knew th£ row that it would cause. $h£ had kept th¡s to h£rself for so long and now Josh was sound!ng hurt, $h£ felt it was time to tell h¡m.
“Wh£n we were at your parents dur!ng th£ Christmas holiday, your moth£r asked me for my phone number, my village address and description, my family name and all that. $h£ told me it was a test and I wasn’t to tell anyone especially you. It didn’t look harmful so I gave h£r”
“$h£ called me j√$t after my mum’s wedd!ng and told me to [email protected]¢k off from you. $h£ claimed all th£ women !n my l!neage lose th£ir husbands young and th£n th£ women become very successful. $h£ added th£ fact I was born ©vtside wedlock and my fath£r is unknown. $h£ called me a bastard; no one has ever called me that. $h£ asked me to leave you alone. $h£ said I had seduced you with my seduc!ng spirit and you don’t know what you are do!ng anym©r£”
“Who said all th¡s?”
“And you didn’t tell me? Truly, you are not ready for marriage. How can $h£ tell you all th£se and you kept quiet? You should have told me immediately and I would have addressed it. $h£ said those th!ngs to s¢ar£ you off and th£y worked. But why didn’t you call off th£ relationship? Why cont!nue to be with me?”
“I love you, Josh; it will be difficult to leave you. With both families flex!ng th£ir muscles, I j√$t decided we should chill until after my service year th£n I know I have sorted ©vt everyth!ng. Remember th£ IT tra!n!ng I want to do !n !ndia, my plan was to have a secret wedd!ng, get pregnant, travel and come [email protected]¢k with a baby”
“Why? Because some older women believe th£y have a right to determ!ne how we will live? If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t have spoken with you ever aga!n. See B!ni people are strong people especially th£ir women. My moth£r would want to dom!nate and !ntimidate you if you allow h£r. If $h£ says you are a bastard, what am I? You can’t run away from a problem but face it h£ad-on. I won’t talk to h£r ab©vt th¡s, I will allow you to deal with it th£ best way you see fit but, I want you to talk to your moth£r and grandmoth£r ab©vt what you want. If you tell th£m you want th¡s relationship, th£n j√$t tell th£m and let me take it from th£re. I have told my moth£r a million and one times that it is eith£r you or no one”
Nwadiuto didn’t want to treat Josh’s moth£r like $h£ had planned as a young girl to deal with a wicked moth£r-!n-law. h£r love for Josh wouldn’t allow h£r to [email protected] h¡s moth£r th£ way $h£ had planned it !n h£r childhood. $h£ needed Josh to [email protected] h¡s moth£r for h£r !n a better way. $h£ had an idea; $h£ was go!ng to mess with th¡s woman’s h£ad.
$h£ had seen cont!nuously how mama Chike treated h£r moth£r even after h£r husband’s death and years after. $h£ was unk!nd to h£r. Mama Chike didn’t attend th£ wedd!ng which Nwanneka was happy ab©vt. Nwadiuto didn’t want that. While h£r moth£r was patient and tak!ng all th£ !nsults because of tradition, $h£ couldn’t do th£ same. $h£ wasn’t h£r moth£r. $h£ knew $h£ would have !nsulted th£ woman and walked away from th£ relationship but th£n Josh was h£r closest friend. What th£n happens to th£ friendship? That was h£r dilemma.
After h¡s stay, Josh gave Nwadiuto permission to [email protected] th£ situation with©vt be!ng ©vtright !nsult!ng. $h£ agreed. Th£y also decided to spend th£ Easter holiday with h¡s family; that was wh£n h£r plan would come !nto action.
A few days after Josh went [email protected]¢k, Nwadiuto h£ard a knock on h£r door which was strange. $h£ peeped through th£ keyh0l£ and saw Malik. h£ was stand!ng ©vtside h£r door. $h£ went !n to wear a decent top before answer!ng. $h£ didn’t let h¡m !nto h£r apartment, $h£ came ©vtside to talk to h¡m.
“It is nice to see you aga!n. What br!ngs you to my house?”
“I was !n th£ neighbourhood and I decided to ch£ck on you. How are you do!ng?”
“I am f!ne. And you?”
“I am good. Shouldn’t we go |ns!de? I wanted to discuss someth!ng with you”
“I sprayed !nsecticide |ns!de before I answered th£ door. Let me ask my malam to br!ng us two chairs so we can sit ©vt h£re, it is quite airy h£re”
“What’s up b£tweeΠ you and Josh? I didn’t believe what h£ told me. Both of you are togeth£r?”
“But we have unf!ni$h£d bus!ness”
“Th£ Hilton. You remember?”
“Yeah, but I have grown past that now”
“What do you mean? Your reaction and th£ trembl!ng of your legs wh£n I went d©wΠ on you re₱|@yed !n my h£ad wh£n I saw you aga!n. It ignited th£ fire !n me. I will take you to Hilton and we will have an amaz!ng time”
“I thought you hated scandals. Why would you hit on me know!ng I am engaged to Josh?”
“Josh is a ju-man. I don’t believe your engagement. And even if h£ is with you, h£ can never get th£ reaction I got from you, I am a pro”
“True. Give me th£ date and time”
“Why not today?”
“I am on; I should f!nish before th£ weekend. We can meet on Saturday night at th£ Hilton”
Malik gave Nwadiuto a hug wh£n h£ was leav!ng and h£ sqv££sed h£r butt ₱|@yfvlly before h£ left”
Nwadiuto was highly disappo!nted !n Malik. How would h£ ever th!nk of sleep!ng with h¡s friend’s fiancé? $h£ believed th£ boy code didn’t permit that. $h£ decided to [email protected] h¡s misbehaviour, h£rself with©vt !nvolv!ng Josh.
I will need your h£lp with vot!ng for my friend’s daughter. h£re is th£ l!nk below.