WITH STYLE, he sweeps me off my feet. He leads me on. And foolishly, blindly, wholeheartedly I follow him. I don’t know why but I am just following. I remember the singer’s words although I am not a graduate, he loves me still and I love him more. My parents have no idea of my frequent meet-ups with him at hidden areas. If they find out, they will stop giving Chief Uba high hopes of marrying me. They will beat me up for sure. They love me that much to protect my future but my feelings for one man covers it all. I think about him day and night. I sink inside love and yet I still follow. I can’t stop myself. Even now , I’m with him under a mango tree which is behind our village catholic church.
The evening is getting dark, his eyes much darker with unselfish love.
CHEKWUBEM promised to marry me. We dreamt of raising children , happy without care of what people will say. * We are fine together* At least , he said so and I believe him. He has told me of his love and said I am his medicine to cure heart ache. I don’t mind being compared to anything , so far as it is special to him.
‘Uju m. I want to be with you here, under this tree, until day break”
I vibrated at his words. My head got bigger with importance. Then I smiled.
OBVIOUSLY I want that too but Mama will get angry if I stay more than one hour. I am to buy ugu leaf from Mama Nkechi and go back through the tiny path to our humble home.
‘ I know you do’ I touch my soft cheek. I play with my blouse top. My eyes catches his own.
He is staring at me with joy.
‘I would like that too. But I can’t, you know how hard it is for me to come here.’
‘Whenever chief Uba visits us, ‘ I said’ I pretend to like him . And my mama does not know I’m acting drama’
Chekwubem frowned. He touched my shoulder.
I wondered what he thought about my reply.
‘ I love you Ujunwa . How long will you pretend_ How long do we have to hide? He was serious then he continued ‘ let me come and see your parents_ let me take care of you . We will grow old together.’
I SMILE for the fourth time in a row. My mind is blank and all I know is that this handsome man with a very good body, loves no other girl than me. I will love to marry him too. I will like to be his ‘Mrs’. I can’t wait anymore.
He travels to the city once in a while- we are childhood friends- and each time he comes back from his uncle’s place I am the first thing on his mind. He comes back to me, for me.
THIS NIGHT ended like others before it. I gave him a peck. He wanted more than that. I pushed him off ‘ I’m not yours, yet. I need to be sure’
He swore that no jupiter will separate our union. Only God can do so.
My heart melted and I embraced him. Then after, we path ways and promised to see again.
MAMA ALWAYS believes me when I tell her little lies. She did. Today she does not. She is screaming my head off with curse, beating me for time wasting. She drag the ugu from my hand.
I feel that she does not love me at all . Even now, I believe its the reason why she wants me to marry a man as old as my papa. She does not want me to finish school. I do not care though. As long as my Chekwubem is a University person, I prefer him to a big belly chief with three wives in his house. I wish papa will help my case but Mama seems to control his decisions. Sometimes I wonder if she has wash special ogiri and put in his soup.
MAMA DREW my ear, turned it’ Next time you behave like this, I will have your legs for pepper soup. I know you have started followin g these village boys. Soon you will–‘
She spoke Ibo. Her parents did not send her to school, so she does not know English. She once told me I am either seventeen or eighteen years old. She is not even sure. I wonder if she is even my Mama.
‘ Mama I–I’
‘ Keep quiet. Oya enter kitchen. Before I forget my hand on your face’
THIS NIGHT, papa enjoys the food. He will tell me stories after his meal and every time, I enjoy them too. I try to complain about how mama treats me but I am afraid. I smile instead and fall asleep where I am , on the parlour’s arm chair.
A slap wakes me up at 11pm. Mama is really a wicked person, if she is not my mama I want to call her ‘a witch’
‘ Oya enter room osiso( quickly). Old baby’