DOZ Issue 39 January 2019 - Page 37

“You are a small child, what do you know? Was your father not a married man, married to me, when he married wife number two and proceeded to marry wife number three? My child, this is Africa, and it is part of our culture for a man to have more than one wife. He is your husband and don’t you ever think otherwise; hold onto him, he will marry you. Is it not only one wife? You will be number two; that will not stop you from having your own children.” She began to dance again. “So, Mama, you are not annoyed with me?” I asked. She stopped and turned to look at me. “Annoyed with you?” She asked. “What for? Did you steal? Did you kill anybody? Are you still a child? Are you not old enough to marry?” She continued dancing. “But Mama, I don’t want you to tell Papa, so that he will not beat me.” She stopped and looked at me angrily. “Beat you? Beat you for what? I am going to tell him the truth and let me assure you that he cannot touch you. If he is not tired of poverty, I am. If he was cursed with poverty, I refuse to partake of that curse any longer.” She came close and sat beside me on the bed, picking up the money and putting it under her arm as she did. “Rukevwe, you are not a child. You are old enough to marry and your father is not going to marry you. Today, I am giving you my word that nobody is going to scold you over this Emeka issue, let alone beat you. If they do, they will have me to contend with. My daughter, carry on, I am behind you. If you get pregnant, don’t abort it, have the baby. I will carry it for you. What am I here for?” I proceeded to tell her about my encounter with Uncle Akpo at the airport and how I feared that he may tell my father. “What is his business with your school? Did he write the exam that gave you admission to the school? He should leave you alone and go and advise his children. Thank God you don’t need the kobo-kobo he was giving to you any longer. Don’t mind him my daughter, he is only jealous because you are now entering aeroplane like him, but there is nothing he can do about it, God has blessed you and it is final.” That evening my mother told my father everything. Surprisingly, he also was as excited as she was, and praised me for being smart enough to hook a wealthy man like Emeka. We all agreed that we would not make my relationship with Emeka public for some time because of the envy it would generate from my stepmothers and halfsiblings. He brought the conversation to a close by asking me to tell Emeka that he was expecting to receive his own cash gift from him. With this ‘license’ from my parents, I threw myself fully into my relationship with Emeka, and by the time I was in my year three I was spending more of my time out of school than in school. Emeka and I were practically living together in his house in Lagos as man and wife. Even when he travelled to America to see his family, I had access to his house and could come and go as I pleased. I was only in school a month before my exams, and I rushed through my notes, which I had paid my fellow course mates to write for me. This meant that my grades dropped greatly, but I wasn’t bothered and neither were my parents, Emeka’s money was making a huge difference in their lives and they could only think of the day when he would pay my bride price. That was their main preoccupation. My 37 mother was so preoccupied with it that she began to suggest that I see a fetish priest to help me ‘tie’ Emeka. I didn’t think it was necessary and I told her as much, but she insisted so I went with her to Sapele to visit her younger sister’s daughter, Maureen, who was a woman very experienced in sourcing for fetish priests. When we got to Maureen’s house, my mother proceeded to tell her all about Emeka and how he had changed our lives and how they desperately wanted him to marry me. Maureen listened to my mother speak, after which she told us about a powerful ‘man of God’ in the Ikotun area of Lagos. Only a year ago, she had taken a paternal cousin of hers to see him. According to her, this cousin of hers was involved with a French expatriate working in Nigeria and he was dragging his feet about marrying her because he had a wife and children in his own country. She said after her cousin visited this ‘man of God’ and had a bath, things changed. Her boyfriend not only paid her bride price, he also gave her one of his houses in the UK and built a massive house for her parents in Sapele. After hearing this ‘testimony,’ my mother insisted that Maureen take us at once to Lagos to see the ‘man of God,’ and so the trip was planned. It was decided that we would leave for Lagos after two days and be there for a week, and I was not to visit Emeka or let him know I was in Lagos until our mission was completed. The day came and I chartered a taxi to convey the three of us from Sapele to the ‘man of God’s’ church in Lagos. When we arrived, there was a long queue of people waiting to see the ‘man of God.’ We learnt that some of them had been there as early as 5am to see him, as counselling with him was done on a first come first served basis. However, Maureen had DOZ Magazine | January 2019