Three Generations

Three generations episode 76

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TITLE: THREE GENERATIONS

WRITTEN BY: OGECHI ALABI

CHAPTER 76

Th£ last battle to conquer was !n Ben!n-city. $h£ had worked on a strategy; it was j√$t left with execution. $h£ decided to go with th£ flow and do th£ work wh£n th£ opportunity pres£nted itself. $h£ shopped for th¡s particular trip. $h£ bought new cloth£s to look h°t and s£×y !n a decent way. $h£ wanted Josh to be proud of h£r.

Th£y were to spend five days with h¡s parents. h¡s moth£r didn’t have h£lp and Nwadiuto knew it would be a problem for h£r as $h£ didn’t want to be a maid while th£y were th£re. $h£ appealed to Josh to get th£m h£lp. h¡s moth£r didn’t want one but h¡s fath£r h£lped th£ situation by !nsist!ng. Th£y got h£lp which was a h*g£ relief.

Next was to plan for th£ trip. Nwadiuto asked h£r moth£r to h£lp h£r get dried fish, crayfish and oth£r food items from h£r grandmoth£r who wasn’t speak!ng to h£r. Th£y were purchased and s£nt ah£ad of h£r trip. $h£ also ordered some food items from th£ north and s£nt th£m d©wΠ to Ben!n.

Josh left Lagos very early !n th£ morn!ng on Good Friday and was !n Ben!n by 10 am. h£ picked Nwadiuto from th£ airport and h£ went to pick up th£ items Nwadiuto had s£nt to Ben!n. Th£y were so much that th£y had to hire a cab to br!ng th£m to th£ house.

Josh’s parents were home wh£n th£y arrived. Nwadiuto greeted both of th£m respectfvlly. h¡s moth£r m©vth£d a response while h¡s fath£r received h£r ch£erfvlly.

“What are all th£se, son? You didn’t have to” Josh’s moth£r said with joy !n h£r eyes.

“I didn’t get th£m, mum. Nwadiuto got th£m. I was also shocked wh£n I saw th£m. $h£ ©vtdid h£rself” Josh replied.

Josh’s moth£r’s expression changed and $h£ m©vth£d a thank you. Th¡s didn’t both£r Nwadiuto !n th£ slightest. $h£ had requested some special fish to make soup for th£m th£re. $h£ went to th£ kitch£n to supervise its storage.

Lunch was served. Nwadiuto sat d©wΠ to eat with everyone. $h£ took a few spoons of th£ food and thanked th£m for th£ meal.

“Why aren’t you eat!ng? Don’t you like th£ food?” Josh asked h£r.

“Th£ food is nice but I can’t seem to eat m©r£”

Josh’s moth£r added quickly, “I hope $h£’s not pregnant”

“$h£’s not; I am sure of that. Let me take h£r !nto th£ room to rest” Josh stood up and took h£r to th£ room.

It was th£ same th!ng Nwadiuto did on Saturday, $h£ [email protected] ate !n th£ house. h£r moth£r-!n-law wondered what $h£ was ₱|@y!ng at but because Josh was always with Nwadiuto, th£y didn’t have th£ opportunity to talk.

On Saturday even!ng, Nwadiuto offered to cook on Sunday and asked what th£y ate and didn’t eat.

“It is my kitch£n; I will cook what everyone will eat” Josh moth£r answered

“That’s ok. I will cook somewh£re else. Josh, I want to make native soup and pounded yam. What do you say?” Nwadiuto responded.

“F!ne. It will be a change from rice on Easter Sunday. Mum, allow h£r to cook h£re; it will be too stressful tak!ng h£r to uncle’s house to cook and th£n com!ng [email protected]¢k h£re. Uncle will gladly enjoy our company th£re”

“I will jo!n you at your uncle’s place,” Josh’s fath£r added. “That is if your moth£r stands h£r ground. Imelda allow h£r to cook now, what’s your problem? It will give you a break from th£ kitch£n”

“$h£ is not Josh’s wife; why will $h£ !nvade my kitch£n? Only Josh’s wife can cook !n th¡s kitch£n”

“$h£ is my wife. $h£ will cook h£re or we will m©v£ to uncle’s house. It is as simple as that. Why do you always try to create a scene? What has $h£ done to you? You call Mabel to cook for you but h£re is someone will!ng to do th£ cook!ng with©vt be!ng asked and you are mak!ng a fuss ©vt of it. I don’t know why I came h£re, $h£ wanted to spend m©r£ time with you but it looks like you are j√$t !nterested !n ferment!ng trouble”

“Are you talk!ng to me? Josh, is it me you are speak!ng to !n that manner because of th¡s girl? $h£ is noth!ng but trouble and will never be your wife”

“We will see ab©vt that. Nwadiuto, go and pack up, we are leav!ng” Josh announced.

“Why son? Th¡s is j√$t a misunderstand!ng. Imelda, behave yourself. $h£ will have th£ kitch£n tomorrow and whatever $h£ cooks we all will eat it” Josh fath£r said with f!nality.

“Th¡s one doesn’t look like $h£ can cook. $h£ is only good for whatever goes on !n that b£droom” Josh’s moth£r added.

“Imelda! Behave yourself before I lose my temper”

Nwadiuto smiled. $h£ had gotten what $h£ wanted. Imelda had been put !n h£r place for now and $h£ had th£ kitch£n to h£rself tomorrow. $h£ went ©vt with Josh to buy th£ th!ngs $h£ would cook with. Josh appealed to h£r to be patient with h¡s moth£r but $h£ laugh£d it off as noth!ng.

Th£ next morn!ng, Nwadiuto was up early. $h£ dragged Josh to 6 am Easter Ma$$ with h£r. Th£y left at 5:30 am. Th£y came [email protected]¢k after th£ir parents had returned with some dr!nks and freshly baked bread. Nwadiuto bought a multi-gra!n bread for th£ elderlies while $h£ boiled eggs, cut up th£ vegetables and made sandwich£s for th£m. It was delicious. Josh’s moth£r !nitially refused to eat until h£r husband threatened h£r. $h£ ate four half sandwich£s.

Nwadiuto went to work immediately. $h£ had h£lp from th£ maid and Josh. h¡s moth£r almost dragged h¡m ©vt of th£ kitch£n say!ng, “Why would a man follow a woman to th£ kitch£n? Don’t you have better th!ngs to do? What has th¡s girl given you that your s£nse isn’t complete?”

Nwadiuto found it funny and laugh£d ©vt loud as th£y left. $h£ concentrated on cook!ng h£r delicious soup which th£ aroma was all over th£ house. Wh£n th£ food was ready, Nwadiuto set th£ plates and !nvited everyone to eat.

Josh couldn’t ¢©Πtr0| h¡s excitement at how delicious th£ food tasted. h£ said, “Th¡s is how my house smells !n Lagos wh£n $h£’s @r0vnd, my neighbours that never said h£llo or hi to me before now come to my house to chill. $h£ will gladly give th£m food. One of th£m drops money for h£r to cook soups for h¡m wh£never $h£ is @r0vnd. Th¡s soup tastes even better than th£ oth£rs. Baby, you ©vtdid yourself”

Josh’s moth£r jumped at th£ opportunity by add!ng, “It’s obvious $h£ is a good cook. But it is not only food, what is h£r character like? What family does $h£ come from? What are th£ curses !n th£ family? We ch£ck for th!ngs like untimely death, madness, term!nal diseases and so on. Is it !n h£r family? That $h£ is good !n th£ kitch£n and on th£ b£d doesn’t make h£r a good wife”

“Th£y don’t have untimely death !n h£r family neith£r do th£y have madness nor term!nal diseases. $h£ is from a good home; very well respected family. h£r grandfath£r died young because h£ was !nvolved !n an accident. h£r fath£r died young; h£ had diabetes, high blood pressure and also a liver problem. I am not dy!ng young. I am eat!ng right and exercis!ng. And if I have only been granted a short life, I will rath£r spend it with whom I love and that’s Nwadiuto. Noth!ng will change my m!nd; I love h£r and I will marry h£r and no one else”

“h£r fath£r might be dead but not by illness. $h£ doesn’t know who h£r fath£r is. Or, $h£ knows but doesn’t want you to know. Aren’t you curious to know h£r family secret? How can you build a family with someone who isn’t s!ncere?”

Nwadiuto laugh£d while th£y talked which furth£r irritated Josh’s moth£r. Nwadioto acted completely unboth£red by h£r allegations. $h£ allowed h£r to cont!nue to build a web $h£ would eventually [email protected]|| |ns!de.

“h£r moth£r had h£r as a promiscuous teenager and has refused to say who th£ fath£r of h£r child is. Th£re is promiscuity !n th£ir family. $h£ will never be faithful to you. h£r moth£r couldn’t even mourn h£r husband before rush!ng !nto b£d with anoth£r. Yes, I met h£r moth£r-!n-law. h£r promiscuity killed h£r moth£r’s first husband j√$t like it killed h£r grandfath£r. How would you live with someone who has been with many oth£r men? $h£ is a big girl !n Abuja sleep!ng with men for money. I know who bought h£r th£ car; it wasn’t h£r grandmoth£r. I know th£ man that bought it and h£ confirmed”

Josh la$h£d ©vt at h¡s moth£r “What’s h¡s name and h¡s phone number? I want to know how h£ paid for th£ car. I went with Nwadiuto to pick ©vt th£ car and h£r grandmoth£r paid !n th£ pres£nce of h£r moth£r and uncle. I will leave th¡s house today if you do not give me th£ name and number of th£ man you claimed paid for h£r car. You have said a lot of negative th!ngs ab©vt h£r and still, $h£ has ignored you. Isn’t it ab©vt time you behave like th£ elder and have ¢©Πtr0| of your utterances?”

“Imelda, it is enough. All you have succeeded !n do!ng is make yourself look stupid. It is f!ne to !nvestigate th£ family your son wants to marry !nto but to dig up dirt to discourage h¡m is low. All you have said is h£arsay with©vt proof. Today is Easter Sunday and we are hav!ng an enjoyable meal togeth£r as a family. If you decide to cont!nue to hara$$ th¡s poor girl, we will all leave th£ house for you”

Nwadiuto at po!nt stepped !n. “No one is leav!ng th£ house. Whatever th£ problem is, we will resolve it as a family. I wish !nstead of throw!ng allegations you can sit and ask me questions. That way, I can answer honestly. What you are do!ng now to tantamount to call!ng a dog a bad name j√$t to hang it, but it isn’t work!ng”

Josh’s moth£r stared at Nwadiuto with anger. Nwadiuto knew h£r weak po!nt, h£r anger would always get th£ better of h£r.

That night, Josh and Nwadiuto sat !n th£ sitt!ng room watch!ng television wh£n th£y believed everyone had gone to b£d. As th£y watch£d togeth£r, th£y made ©vt. Josh’s moth£r came ©vt of h£r room and saw th£m klzz!ng. Josh wanted m©r£ but Nwadiuto was resist!ng. $h£ wanted to bounce on th£m but thought th£ better of it. !nstead, $h£ said ©vt loud, “Shame!” and entered h£r room. Th£y both laugh£d.

Th£ next day, Nwadiuto went [email protected]¢k to not eat!ng Josh’s moth£r’s food. $h£ only ate what $h£ cooked. Wh£n Josh’s fath£r asked h£r why $h£ said “I can’t eat from th£ pot of $h£ who hates me. Even if $h£ doesn’t poison th£ food, th£ hatred !n h£r h£art is poison already”

Josh’s moth£r couldn’t believe h£r ears. “Did Nwadiuto j√$t accuse h£r of poison!ng h£r?” $h£ pondered !nward. $h£ couldn’t let h£r get away with th¡s. “S!nce I want to poison you, I th!nk you should leave my house. You are a bad child for alleg!ng I want to poison you. What k!nd of home tra!n!ng do you have? Who are you that will make me separate myself from th£ Lord by do!ng you bodily harm…”

“Is $h£ wrong? $h£ said th£ hatred !n your h£art towards h£r is poison already. You have made h£r stay h£re extremely uncomfortable. $h£ doesn’t want to eat your food because it is not from a place of love” Josh replied.

“S!nce I am poison!ng you people !n th¡s house, th£n it is best I stop cook!ng until you leave. I will only cook my food and my husband’s food”

Josh’s fath£r jumped !n immediately and said, “No, cook only for yourself. I will like to eat someth!ng different too. Eith£r jo!n us and eat Nwadiuto food or you eat your food”

“You have turned even my husband aga!nst me. Let us see how long th¡s will last”

Josh’s moth£r went !nto h£r room and didn’t come ©vt until th£ next morn!ng.

Josh and h¡s fath£r went to visit h¡s uncle leav!ng th£ two women at home. Nwadiuto refused to go with Josh because h£r plan was work!ng ©vt j√$t as $h£ had !ntended.

After th£y had left, Nwadiuto h£ard a knock on th£ door. $h£ went to answer and met Josh’s moth£r. $h£ came ©vtside to answer h£r.

“Good morn!ng ma. How can I h£lp you?” Nwadiuto asked humbly.

“Pack your drama one side, who are you pretend!ng for? What nons£nse have you been up to? Are you ok? Imag!ne s£nd!ng me ©vt of my kitch£n. Josh who worships th£ ground I walk on now talks to me so disrespectfvlly. Th¡s is all because of you”

“Me? What did I do except to love your son? You are th£ problem. I didn’t do anyth!ng”

“Shut up! You are th£ daughter of a whore who killed h£r husband with promiscuity…”

“Same with Josh. Both of us are children of whores. Th£ only th!ng is your husband is still alive. I am wonder!ng how many times h£ has died from your promiscuity.”

Imelda was so angry that $h£ lifted h£r [email protected] to hit Nwadiuto but $h£ stopped h£r by [email protected]!ng th£ [email protected] before it landed with a warn!ng stare.

“You called me a whore?”

“That’s what you are. You said it yourself. Any woman that has a child ©vt of wedlock is a whore. You had Josh ©vt of wedlock and th£refore it proves you are a whore too”

“You called me a whore” $h£ repeated.

“I know your secret. Josh’s fath£r is a relative so h£ is a child of !ncest. I know everyth!ng. h£ is a m!nister of th£ Gospel now. Are you surprised I know? I know. Your husband doesn’t know. I and Josh are !n th£ same category and so we bonded very well. If you keep attack!ng me and my relationship with Josh th£n I might have to let your husband and family members know. I love Josh and will keep h¡s secret. h£ loves me and is will!ng to keep m!ne. h£ is my first and only lover and my best friend. I am not what you th!nk I am and I am tired of fight!ng for you to see I am th£ real deal. I love Josh. We have no curse !n my family, take me anywh£re to f!nd ©vt. Josh and I are have had similar experiences. We both love our moth£rs who are ¢©Πtr0|l!ng. Give your cons£nt because you found ©vt I love your son with all my h£art and not because I threatened you. Th£re is no go!ng [email protected]¢k from h¡m”

“Josh told you ab©vt h¡s fath£r? I can’t believe it.”

“h£ did. And h£ h£lped me f!nd m!ne j√$t like h£ found h¡s.”

“I don’t want th£ secret to get ©vt. I didn’t want anyone to know. Phil¡p accepted h¡m as h¡s son. Why would h£ go look!ng for h¡s fath£r?”

“That you will discuss with h¡m wh£n th£ time is right. Can we start over? Can we get to know each oth£r? I am not th£ enemy.”

Imelda left Nwadiuto and went [email protected]¢k !nto h£r room. $h£ didn’t come ©vt of h£r room for two days. Josh was worried and had a conversation with h¡s fath£r ab©vt h£r h£alth.

“$h£ is j√$t brood!ng and has refused to say what is wrong”

Nwadiuto appealed to Josh to have a h£art to h£art talk with h¡s moth£r. h£ went !nto th£ir b£droom and sat beside h¡s moth£r on th£ b£d. h£ h£ld h£r [email protected] and asked h£r what was wrong.

“Do you trust that girl?”

“Which girl?”

“Nwadiuto. Do you trust h£r?”

“I do. Why did you ask?”

“Why did you tell h£r ab©vt your fath£r? $h£ found ©vt your fath£r is a relative. $h£ knew everyth!ng. Why would you tell h£r?”

“$h£ is my wife; why wouldn’t I tell h£r? I know every damn th!ng ab©vt h£r so why shouldn’t $h£ know ab©vt me?”

“It is a secret that cannot be shared. Even your fath£r h£re doesn’t know”

“h£ deserves to know. It changes noth!ng”

“I am worried for you; $h£ knows too much”

“$h£ knows all ab©vt me j√$t like I know all ab©vt h£r”

“$h£ is also a child of !ncest”

“How did you know?”

“$h£ told me. You h£lped h£r f!nd h£r fath£r?”

“Yes, we found h¡m togeth£r”

“$h£ said you were h£r first and only. Is th¡s true?”

“Very true mum. I took h£r v!rg!nity and I want to be th£ only man that will enjoy h£r b©dy. And, $h£ is a good person, k!nd, considerate, lov!ng; I can’t be with anyone else mum”

“Both of you are children of !ncest. Why would you want to marry each oth£r? Th£ curses of our actions will follow you”

“I don’t believe !n that. You were born Muslim and some Muslims marry th£ir cous!ns. It is not taboo. But wh£re $h£ is from, it is considered to be. h£r moth£r cleansed th£ land j√$t to save h£r daughter. That is why it hurts h£r so much wh£n you !nsult and castigate h£r moth£r. Th£ woman made h*g£ sacrifices for h£r daughter. j√$t like you made for me. I owe a lot to you for preserv!ng my life.”

“Is h£r fath£r still alive?”

“Yes, h£ is a part of h£r life. It is still a secret but h£ is aware and th£y have a good relationship”

“Are you sure you want th¡s girl? $h£ is smart and way wiser than you. $h£ ©vtsmarted me and now I see why you fell !n love with h£r. $h£ knows how to [email protected] people”

“I get you, mum. Take your time to th!nk ab©vt it. But, stop brood!ng !n h£re and come ©vt. $h£ doesn’t hate you. $h£ is that wonderful a person. You are a wonderful person too. I love you mum. Always remember that”

“I thought you stopped lov!ng me because of h£r”

“Th£ love I have for both of you are different but at th£ same time unique. You occupy a very special place !n my h£art that doesn’t compete with wh£re $h£ occupies. I love you very much and you know I do. Don’t be jealous of Nwadiuto, $h£ is will!ng to share me with you”

“I love you too, son. You have spoken to me today th£ way I have always known you to speak to me. S!nce you brought h£r home, you have been disrespectful to me and I wondered why. That was why I went !nvestigat!ng. I didn’t like h£r because you seem to have changed s!nce you met h£r. You are consumed !n h£r world. But, know!ng what I know now, you were be!ng protective. Give me time to get to know h£r. I still don’t like h£r because $h£ is too bold and can be confrontational. I also fear $h£ is manipulative and mischievous. We need someone h£re who will gath£r us togeth£r and not scatter us. S..”

“Get to know h£r first. Rem©v£ th£ bias from your m!nd and ask your daughters what th£y like ab©vt h£r because th£y have a very good relationship with h£r. I am fight!ng for h£r because if I was th£ one be!ng antagonized by h£r family, $h£ will fight for me. $h£ is no longer speak!ng to h£r grandmoth£r j√$t because $h£ doesn’t support h£r marry!ng a non-Igbo. Th£ woman has asked me to see h£r because it ach£s h£r h£art that a child $h£ raised who is s£nsible and smart will abandon h£r for a boy. Th£re must be someth!ng special ab©vt th£ boy. That’s th£ same with you. Get to know h£r”

Imelda was speechless. h£r son, Josh, had always been reasonable. Why th£n did $h£ doubt h¡s choice? $h£ tried to recall th£ first day $h£ saw Nwadiuto. $h£ looked too confident for th£ age Josh had told h£r. Also, th£ way $h£ was dressed. $h£ wore a dress that ©vtl!ned h£r figure. $h£ didn’t expose any part of h£r b©dy but look!ng at h£r, $h£ looked too worldly and too s£×y. $h£ felt Josh was j√$t ab©vt h£r young b©dy and not ab©vt th£ person. $h£ was wrong. Josh loved th¡s girl genu!nely. $h£ was a threat to h£r and $h£ knew it. If Josh marries h£r, $h£ might never see h¡m aga!n. And $h£ loved h£r son.

Wh£n $h£ discovered $h£ was pregnant, $h£ refused to tell anyone who th£ fath£r of h£r child was. $h£ was s£nt away from home. Missionaries h£lped h£r. Th£y took ¢ar£ of h£r until $h£ had th£ baby. Th£n th£y s£nt h£r [email protected]¢k to school to furth£r h£r education. h£r family members never looked for h£r. $h£ converted to Christianity. Wh£n $h£ graduated from th£ university, $h£ met h£r husband, Phil¡p. h£ was a lecturer !n th£ university and h£ h£lped h£r get a job !n th£ same university. $h£ confided !n h¡m that $h£ had a child and h£ accepted h£r with h£r child whom h£ gave h¡s name. Phil¡p was married before but th£ wife died dur!ng childbirth of th£ir first child. Marry!ng a woman with a child wasn’t a big deal for h¡m. h£r family surpris!ngly accepted h¡m as h£r husband and h£r son whom th£y rejected earlier. $h£ had three children for Phil¡p. What Nwadiuto did not know was that Phil¡p was th£ only one who knew th£ real identity of Josh’s fath£r. Was h£ th£ one who told Josh? h£ has been a wonderful husband and an amaz!ng fath£r to all th£ children especially Josh.

Phil¡p had told h£r to allow Josh to marry who h£ desires. h£ told h£r h£ liked Nwadiuto and th£ bond th£y shared. Did h£ know m©r£ than h£ was disclos!ng to h£r? Was Josh confid!ng !n h¡m and not h£r? No wonder h£ took sides with Nwadiuto all th£ time. Even h£r daughters had formed a bond with th£ girl $h£ rejected.

$h£ decided to take Josh advice and f!nd ©vt why oth£r members of h£r family were drawn to Nwadiuto. Maybe $h£ missed some th!ngs ab©vt h£r. Remov!ng th£ bias will be difficult but $h£ would try. Th£ girl was from a very comfortable home but $h£ was domesticated. $h£ could cook well and $h£ cleaned up after h£rself. Th£ b£d !n th£ir room was always well made. Maybe $h£ was wrong. j√$t maybe….

Wh£n th£y both left Ben!n city for Lagos, th£y left with so much joy and happ!ness. Josh had settled h¡s differences with h¡s moth£r and $h£ wi$h£d Nwadiuto a safe trip [email protected]¢k which brought tears to Nwadiuto’s eyes. $h£ had succeeded to an extent to break th£ stone h£art.

Th£ trip [email protected]¢k to Lagos was bubbly. Th£y had conversations that lightened th£ mood. Everyth!ng was f!ne b£tweeΠ th£m. Nwadiuto spent th£ weekend with Josh. Th£y began to plan th£ wedd!ng. Th£y drew up a list and shared responsibilities of f!nd!ng ©vt th£ costs. Th£y chose th£ir dates, two weekends apart. Th£y agreed on th£ venue; th£y wanted a beach wedd!ng. Th£y were not !nterested !n a church wedd!ng but left it open !n case it becomes a problem.

“Th¡s will be our last weekend of mak!ng love before th£ wedd!ng. I want our wedd!ng night to be explosive for both of us. I am particular ab©vt th¡s. I love you and I want to be with you but a little distance will h£lp us for th£ rest of our lives.”

“We won’t see each oth£r aga!n? No, I wouldn’t agree to that. I agree to not mak!ng love but I must see you every fortnight. Or do you have plans? You could [email protected]|| !nto temptation but I would rath£r you [email protected]|| !nto it with me and not someone ©vtside”

“I have stayed clear from women even before we became a couple. I asked for th¡s because we need to be sure it is not j√$t th£ s£× that is b!nd!ng us. I know it is m©r£ than it but let’s see how we resolve issues wh£n th£ s£× isn’t !nvolved. It clouds our judgement; it clouds m!ne.”

“We won’t see each oth£r?”

“Nowh£re private”

“But I will be round!ng up my NYSC soon. I won’t see you th£n?”

“You will have a job and be too busy work!ng to see me. And once I see you, I will break my resolve. I am attracted to you and you know it. You wouldn’t be able to withstand me also”

“I will agree to th¡s because you want it. I will visit you !n th£ office only or we have lunch togeth£r. But we will talk every day, every hour like we have always. Please don’t take that away from me”

“We will talk. I love you. Let’s do th¡s so we can have normal quarrels like every couple. You know we [email protected] fight”

“We are too mature and so compatible to fight. Let’s try th¡s”

“!n th£ meantime, get your grandmoth£r to agree while I work on my mum”

“Let’s make th¡s date happen”

Th£y spent th£ weekend togeth£r and go!ng [email protected]¢k on Sunday even!ng was pa!nful for Nwadiuto. $h£ didn’t want th¡s separation but $h£ knew that $h£ could trust Josh’s !ntentions and th£y were good ones. Th£y had work to do putt!ng th¡s wedd!ng togeth£r. Before f!nal approvals, $h£ had to choose th£ bride’s maids and a little bride. $h£ also had to get h£r wedd!ng cloth£s and oth£r responsibilities. Th£y had agreed on a budget of N3,000,000 for both wedd!ngs. Th£y wanted a simple and elegant wedd!ng with j√$t close friends and family on th£ beach which was wh£re th£y first met.

Nwadiuto wanted Ada to be h£r chief bride’s maid. Ada was elated ab©vt it but decl!ned because $h£ was married and didn’t th!nk it was proper. $h£ believed only s!ngle ladies should be th£ Chief bride’s maid. Nwadiuto asked h£r sister, Deborah, and $h£ accepted excitedly.

$h£ chose colours for th£ day and s£nt th£m to Josh for h¡s approval. h£ approved. $h£ needed to make arrangements for th£ir traditional wedd!ng attires and choose a wedd!ng gown. Th£re was so much to do. $h£ shared th£ responsibility with those close to h£r and asked th£m to keep it a secret.

Josh received a ticket !n h¡s mail for h¡m to visit Port-Harcourt to see Nwakaego. Th¡s was th£ second time $h£ was do!ng th¡s and h£ didn’t like it. h£ could afford to buy h¡s ticket. But h£ still went and made plans to pay h£r [email protected]¢k wh£n h£ had th£ opportunity.

h¡s visit th¡s time was different. !n h£r usual character, $h£ was very enterta!n!ng. h£ realized Nwadiuto got th¡s from h£r. After th£ small talks, $h£ told h¡m to jo!n h£r for a ride. Th£y went togeth£r. h£ took h£r to th£ first house $h£ ever lived !n with Anozie. It was still th£ same. $h£ had j√$t bought it from th£ previous owner’s children and wasn’t ready to demolish it yet until $h£ did th¡s.

“Th¡s was th£ first house I lived !n with my husband wh£n h£ married me. Anozie was a good man. h£ took very good ¢ar£ of me and our child. I was th£ envy of many women. Let me show you somewh£re else”

Th£y drove to th£ house Anozie built before h£ died. “Th¡s was th£ house Anozie built before h£ died. It wasn’t like th¡s, Nwanneka, Nwadiuto’s moth£r, made it th¡s way. h£r children will !nh£rit j√$t like Anozie did. Anozie left a will. It was th£ will h£ left that saved th¡s house. I want to take you to th£ village. I want to expla!n some th!ngs to you.” Josh nodded !n agreement.

Th£y drove to th£ village while $h£ told Josh all $h£ went through !n th£ [email protected] of h£r !n-laws because th£y didn’t understand how a man would love a woman so much to th£ extent h£ would take risks j√$t to be with h£r. $h£ told h¡m ab©vt h£r son that died not long after $h£ had h¡m. h£ would have cont!nued with Anozie’s l!neage but th£n, it wasn’t God’s will.

“Nwanneka didn’t even know $h£ was pregnant for Nwadiuto. It was at th£ hospital we found ©vt. Th£ doctor recommended an abortion to hide our shame but th£re was no way I could go through with it. I had lost a child and even though I knew $h£ was conceived via !ncest; I didn’t want to lose h£r. $h£ still had Anozie’s blood !n h£r. I hid h£r conception and birth from th£ family and claimed $h£ was adopted. Wh£n it was exposed, $h£ was accepted. I love Nwadiuto even m©r£ than Nwanneka. $h£’s a wonderful girl with a m!nd of h£r own. $h£ knows what $h£ wants and how to get it. I don’t want h£r to marry someone who wouldn’t protect h£r. $h£ is not like Nwanneka and me, $h£ is rebellious. Any home $h£ enters; h£r moth£r-!n-law has to understand h£r. I had a boy !n m!nd for h£r to marry before $h£ brought you. Now we are h£re, th¡s is wh£re Anozie is buried. h£ stopped visit!ng me wh£n I became comfortable and could [email protected] th!ngs myself. Over h£re is wh£re Ogochukwu, Obi and Ch!nyere’s daughter is buried. An Edo girl who Obi got !nvolved !n caused h£r death. I hated all Edo people because of th¡s. $h£ was a young girl fvll of life. h£r death took h£r grandparents too. Th£y couldn’t bear th£ loss of such a young girl. Isabella took th£ lives of three people.”

Th£y walked to th£ obi and th£n Nwakaego asked Josh, “If you were !n my shoes, would you allow your daughter who you love m©r£ than life itself marry from a place that took three lives? Tell me what you would do?”

“Mama, I understand everyth!ng you’ve said and I have h£ard almost all th£ stories you shared. I don’t know Isabella and I th!nk $h£ is a despicable human be!ng to cause th£ death of three family members. I am a Nigerian before I can brag ab©vt be!ng an Edo man before we go d©wΠ to B!ni. If I were !n your shoes, I will be cautious of every woman regardless of th£ tribe because wickedness had no ethnicity; it cuts across.

“So, you are !ndifferent ab©vt th£ tribe?”

“Tribe never crossed my m!nd all th£ years I have been !n relationships. Wh£n I met Ada, I told h£r th£ same th!ng. Wh£n I began a relationship with Nwadiuto, $h£ didn’t ¢ar£ ab©vt my tribe. We had formed a bond !n a very close friendship that no day was ever complete if I don’t h£ar from h£r. We spoke a m!nimum of three times a day before we even began dat!ng. I didn’t ¢ar£ if $h£ was Igbo and/or a young girl. I liked h£r for who $h£ is. $h£ could have come from anywh£re and I will still [email protected]|| !n love with h£r and marry h£r”

“Now you talked ab©vt age. Aren’t you worried ab©vt th£ age difference? Know!ng what I know ab©vt youngsters, th£y have tested th£ waters before go!ng !nto th£ river and it gives th£m th£ basis for comparison. Women leave th£ir matrimonial homes to meet with oth£r men; I f!nd it disgust!ng that a married woman will do someth!ng so appall!ng. It is because th£y know what it is like with oth£r men. Nwadiuto is still young and vibrant. $h£ has tested th£ waters. Will $h£ be [email protected]!$fied with j√$t you know!ng you are older? And, men are known to be jealous of th£ir younger wives. Nwadiuto took h£r moth£r’s features and added to th£m. $h£ has an !ntimidat!ng statue that will be attractive to men. How will you cope wh£n th£y make pa$$es at h£r?”

“First, mama, age is noth!ng but a number. I am young and Nwadiuto and I will grow old togeth£r. Ab©vt test!ng th£ waters, I am th£ first man to have !ntimacy with Nwadiuto. $h£ ₱|@yed with oth£r guys but $h£ kept h£r v!rg!nity and gave it to th£ one $h£ loves; that will be me. I am h£r first true lover and hopefvlly h£r only. Nwadiuto is beautiful and attracts attention. I’m proud of h£r because I have seen how $h£ has [email protected] situations thus far. S!nce we have been togeth£r, I have never had cause to doubt h£r and I will never doubt h£r. We have an agreement. If $h£ loses !nterest !n th£ marriage, I will free h£r. We will take time off to see if we still want to be togeth£r. I will never ch£at on h£r and I know $h£ will never do th£ same to me. It’s also nice to watch men make fools of th£mselves over h£r not know!ng $h£ is with h£r man”

“What of your moth£r? What has $h£ decided?”

“$h£ will give h£r cons£nt. $h£ has discovered who Nwadiuto is and gradually th£y are talk!ng and plann!ng. Once I get your cons£nt and date, I will put our plans !nto action”

“Josh, promise me someth!ng”

“Anyth!ng mama”

“Promise me you will never hurt my Nwadiuto. Promise me you will never make h£r cry. Promise me I will never regret th¡s decision I am ab©vt to make.”

“I promise you ma. Your daughter will always be happy and joyful”

“Th£n, I give my cons£nt”

Josh was so happy h£ didn’t know wh£n h£ hugged Nwakaego and lifted h£r. Wh£n h£ put h£r d©wΠ, h£ said to h£r, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Thank you. Let me call Nwadiuto” h£ brought ©vt h¡s phone and called h£r.

Tbc

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