One night, after returning from a date, Oscar asked Pablo to park the car on the street, a block away from Nene’s house and also told him to switch off the interior light and wait outside the car. Immediately, Pablo had stepped down and had closed the door, Oscar suddenly reached for Nene and began to kiss her against her will while he caressed and fondled her body. Nene was so uncomfortable with it that she placed a hand on his chest and told him to stop.
“What?” He asked, sounding a bit annoyed now at her reluctance.
“What are you doing?” Nene asked softly.
“What does it look like I’m doing? Making out with my girlfriend of course.” He answered.
“In a car? On my street? Just a block away from my house? What if my father walks in on us or somebody else sees us? Do you want to give me a bad name?”
“What’s the big deal?” He asked. “Abroad, people have sex in cars, Nene, so stop acting so naive already, you’re grown-up now.” He chided her.
“You were going to have sex with me in your car?!” Nene asked, appalled.
“See, stop acting like you don’t know what relationships entails. We have been dating for five months now. You barely let me kiss or touch you. You even refuse to pay me a visit in my house. Whenever I ask that we see, you always insist that it must be a public place. What exactly are you scared of? Sex? Don’t you know that sex is one of the most important symbols of love?”
“Well, not for me…I don’t believe in sex before marriage, Oscar and I’m not ready to break my principles to please you.” Nene answered.
“Meaning that I’m a virgin, Oscar and I want to keep it that way.” She boldly told him then angrily averted her gaze to look out her window.
She turned to look at him again then suddenly asked: “Where is this relationship even heading to anyway, Oscar? Why are we even dating? Is your aim just to sleep with me? You have not even for once mentioned any prospect of us ending up together. Is this just something you are only doing just to while away time before you are ready to return to Canada? Am I a sort of rebound?”
“I knew it’d get to this…and I do not like to be pressured, Nene.” Oscar angrily said.
“I’m not pressuring you for anything, Oscar, I only want to know where this relationship is heading to.”
“Very well then…” Oscar sighed, switched on the car’s roof light and pulled a small wrapped-gift from a compartment in the car and handed it to Nene. “For you.”
“What’s this?” Nene asked, puzzled as she examined the gift.
“Why don’t you open it and find out.” He answered and when Nene unwrapped the gift to reveal a small black box, he urged. “Go on, open it.”
Nene opened the box now and her eyes widened in surprise when she saw a diamond ring nestled within. “A proposal ring?” She uttered in surprise, placing her fingers across her mouth in awe.
“Yes… Will you marry me?” Oscar simply asked with a cocky smile.
“Yes!” Nene suddenly blurted before she could stop herself then leaned sideways to hug him.
“Put the ring on.” He told her now after they pulled apart from each other.
Nene looked up at him, puzzled now. “I thought you are supposed to do that for me.”
“Just put the ring on, Nene, and stop being such a drama queen. What’s the difference between if I do it and if you do it? It’s still going on your finger, isn’t it?”
Swallowing hard now, Nene hesitantly and involuntarily slipped the ring on her finger. “It’s beautiful.” She muttered now as she admired it on her finger, although she was not too happy that he had made her wear it herself.
“I’m glad it fits. And mind you, that ring cost me a lot of money, so I’ll advise that you handle it with care.” He told her then added: “And… I’ll make proper preparations with my folks to come see your father in order to let him officially know my intentions towards you.”
“Okay… Until then…” Nene simply said then opened the door of the car. “I’ve to go now. It’s very late already.”
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Oscar asked and when Nene paused and turned her head to look at him, he tapped his cheek with a finger and she leaned forward and gave him a peck on the cheek then started for her house while Pablo got back into the car and started it. He was not in a good mood because he had noticed how his boss had tried to take advantage of Nene in the car but he said nothing.
When Nene got to the house, she met her father sitting outside, waiting up for her, and his eyes unpleasantly followed Oscar’s car as it drove by.
“Papa, you are still awake?” Nene asked in concern.
“Where are you just coming from, Nene?” Okonkwo asked, a bit upset.
“Papa, Oscar and I went out on a date. He was even the one who dropped me off now.” Nene replied.
“Firstly, why does he not always drop you in front of the house? Is he ashamed of where you live? And secondly, what sort of reasonable and responsible man brings a girl back home at this ungodly hour, knowing fully well that her family would be worried and also knowing that she has to go to work the next day? What type of man does that? He intentionally makes you keep late nights these days and I don’t like it at all. What if something bad happens to you out there?”
“Papa… You worry too much…” Nene smiled. “But I understand your concerns. Don’t worry, I’ll tell him to start dropping me home early… And papa… Guess what?!” She grinned now and suddenly stretched her hand towards Okonkwo. “He proposed.”
“I see.” Okonkwo simply said with indifference.
Surprised at her father’s lack of enthusiasm towards the good news that she had just shared, Nene asked: “Papa, aren’t you happy that I’ll be getting married soon?
“To be frank with you, Nene, I don’t like that Oscar guy. Not even a bit. There’s just something unsettling about him which makes me so uncomfortable that I’m yet to find out about. For all I know, he doesn’t deserve you but since you like him and have already accepted his proposal, there’s nothing more I can do but to wish you well… I just hope that God will touch your mother’s and sister’s hearts to feel the same way.” He got up now and placed a hand on her upper back, guiding her into the house. “Let’s go in. You can show your mother and your sister the ring tomorrow morning when they wake up. I warmed your dinner for you. It’s in the kitchen.” Okonkwo said as he locked the main door. “Eat and go to bed. I’m going to now.” Okonkwo bid his daughter goodnight and retired to the bedroom which he shared with his wife who was already deeply asleep, less-concerned about Nene’s welfare.
Adanna had a boy of seven years old kneeling in front of the house with his hands raised above his head while he cried. She had a cane in her hand and would occasionally flog him.
“Shut up! Shut up!” Adanna snapped at the boy, placing a finger across her lips. “By the time I’m done with you, you’ll learn to do as you are told from now on!”
“I’m sorry, mummy. I’m sorry!” The boy pleaded in tears.
“Shut up!” Adanna let the cane down on his shoulder again and he dropped one of his hands to scratch at the spot in pain as he cried even more. “It’s is aunty Adanna to you, not mummy! You cannot be causing bad market for me after your stupid idiot of a father ditched me and ran away, leaving me to care for you alone! It’s aunty Adanna, you hear?! Aunty Adanna, you little rascal!”
Okonkwo who was just returning from visiting a friend, stopped when he saw the scene. “What’s going on here?!” He demanded and Adanna spun around to look at him with a sheepish look on her face
“Papa, good evening.” Adanna nervously greeted, trying to hide the cane behind her.
“Adanna, why are you beating Ikenna? What has he done?” Okonkwo asked with a stern look on his face.
“Papa, can you imagine that this little brat went bragging in school that I’m his mother! He was telling his friends, his classmates and whoever cared to listen that I am his biological mother!”
“Ehen?! And so?!” Okonkwo asked. “Are you not his mother? Or were you expecting him to lie?”
“But papa, I thought I have explained to you na… Nobody is really supposed to know that I’ve a child na… Don’t you know that most men don’t want to marry single mothers?” Adanna said with a frown.
“Then when you were busy doing the do without protection, why didn’t you think of that? So now you want to punish the innocent boy for something that he had no control over? Why should you deny him the joy of motherhood since his father has already vanished into thin air nine years ago?”
“Papa, you won’t understand. Ikenna here is supposed to act like a cousin living with us or claim that mama is his mother, not me. Haba! Not me, papa!” She grumbled.
“Something must be wrong with you. Bia, Ikenna, get up and go into the house.” Okonkwo ordered but when the boy dreadfully stared at his mother, Okonkwo impatiently snapped at him. “I said, get up and go in!”
Apprehensively, the boy stood up and walked into the house while Adanna turned to angrily vent.
“Papa, I don’t like this o… I don’t like this at all o? Why can’t you let me discipline him, after all, he’s my son!.”
“Who cares about what you like or not. All I know is that the next time you punish that boy for speaking the truth, you shall see the other side of me then.” Okonkwo warned and walked into the house while Adanna angrily stomped her foot and began to grumble bitterly.
Nene and her fiance, Oscar were at a popular Chinese restaurant where they had gone on a date. As they ate, Oscar began:
“So tell me, have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant before?”
“No, this is actually my first time.” Nene shyly answered as she looked around.
“Then you should feel lucky that you have someone like me because I’m going to take you places that you have never been and spoil you.” Oscar boasted then noticed her drink on the table. “Why are you still taking malt instead of an expensive wine?”
“Maltina is actually my favorite drink.” Nene replied.
“I see… Well, maltina is meant for the poor and I’m not poor. I want you to use, wear and drink expensive products from now on. You should know that you are now representing me and I don’t want my woman looking like a pauper. It’s not that you are paying for any of these things with your meagre salary, it’s my money, my money and I’m not complaining.”
“Oscar, I think that I’m fine with Maltina. It’s my favorite and I don’t think any other brand can replace it for me and as for using expensive things, I’m very contented with what I’ve, thanks.” Nene calmly said.
Oscar paused to look at her now. “I can see that you’ll be stubborn. Listen Nene, I like my women obedient and docile. I’m the man here and I don’t think I’d advise you to do anything that’s not for your own good. I like my women to simply say yes to everything I want, that way, we’d definitely have a happy home. Your total obedience and loyalty is the true definition of submission.”
“But Oscar, this is just a drink, I don’t think we should be making any issue out of it.” Nene tried to make him see reasons with her choice but he only gave her a look that made her uncomfortable.
“Anyway, that’s by the way.” He finally said after sipping some water. “I’m sure that once we are married, you’ll do away with this poverty mentality of yours. Now, to the topic I’ve been meaning to talk to you about…”
“What is it?” Nene asked.
“Once we are married, I want you to quit your job. In fact, two weeks before the wedding, I want you to tender your resignation letter to the hospital where you work.”
Nene almost choked on her food but she quickly flushed it down with a glass of water. After clearing her throat, she asked now, to be sure that she had heard him right the first time. “What did you just say?! That you want me to quit my job as a nurse?!”
“Yes.” He confidently answered. “Is there a problem?”
“Why would I do that?” Nene asked, flustered now.
“Because you’re going to be my wife and the duties of a woman is to pamper the husband, cook, give birth to children and take care of the home.”
“Really? If I wasn’t working, how do you think we would have met? In my father’s house?”
“You see, that’s the problem, Nene. I don’t want men having access to my wife anyhow all in the name of wanting treatment for one ailment or another. Or do you think that I don’t know that most nurses are loose? Hoes as a matter of fact! Nene, just quit the job and stay at home. I’m going to be your husband soon and you’re bound to obey me. If money is the problem, don’t worry, I have it, I’ll take care of your every need and that of your parents but I definitely do not want a career woman for a wife, not to talk of a loose nurse!”
“But Oscar, I’m an independent woman. I can’t be relying or waiting on you for my every need. I need to work and earn my own money too. I need to care for my father. He saw me through school and my ditching my certificates cuz of marriage is not part of what he bargained for.”
“Now you’re sounding like a feminist and I don’t like it. What else do you want? I said I’ll give you enough money? Why are you so desperate to suffer? How much are they even paying you in that hospital? I’ll double it! Just quit the damn job and stop making a mountain out of a mole hill!” He snapped.
“Oscar, I-” Nene started to speak again but he held up a palm, stopping her.
“Nene, don’t talk about it anymore. All I want to hear from you right now is that you’ll think about it. And when you are done thinking about it, I want a positive response from you.”
“Right…” Nene mumbled, suddenly losing her appetite. She could not eat anymore, so all she could do was fiddle with her food while she rested her jaw in her hand. She didn’t like Oscar’s way of thinking neither did she appreciate the fact that he wanted her to quit her job all because of marriage. She had worked so hard to get here, why would a man just come out of the blue and ask her to quit her dream just like that? In fact, she wanted to go home but she knew that she couldn’t get up and walk out on him because it would definitely annoy him, so she continued to fiddle with her food, hoping that the night would end soon.
To be continued…
© Angela Okoduwa