My father seemed pretty sure that this Nigerian girl would sweep me off my feet. There was not a...
My father seemed pretty sure that this Nigerian girl would sweep me off my feet. There was not a chance that I would see her and not fall for her. “She is such a beauty too...Okafor’s daughter. She is like...like...a film (movie that you watch),” he exaggerated. “Daddy, I can’t go to the woman I love and tell her to wait around aimlessly while I browse around for another woman before deciding if the one I have known for the past few years is good enough for me. The devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know Dad.” “So you don’t care about our opinion then? Are you saying you moved abroad and changed?” He asked, pulling the usual parental emotional stuff. I could hear my Mom sniffing in the background. I wanted to make them happy, but I wanted to be happy too. This was a real dilemma. For me, the choice was clear, but I needed to find a way to prove it to them...to try to keep everyone happy - maybe just some people.
I thought of how to tell Daniella about this, but there was no way of discussing it without making her feel bad. At the same time, I did not want to run off behind her to check out another girl. In the end, I took the difficult high road. I spent two weeks convincing Daniella that just meeting this girl and having a chat with her was all I needed to convince my parents that she was not the one for me. “You mean I should let you do this?” She asked incredulously, and rightly so. I would have felt just as bad if I were in her shoes. “Do you trust me honey?” I asked. “Yes I do, but it is not about you.It is about how the whole thing makes me feel as a person...as a woman.” “I appreciate that darling, but I have to prove to my parents beyond reasonable doubt that you are not a maniac who will chase me around town with a gun tomorrow.” Her anger dissipated as soon as I said that. She burst into a raucous laughter. I was pleased to see her laugh again. Her face glistened with beauty as she laughed. I walked over to her and hugged her. “It is going to be alright honey. Unless you are planning to get a gun tomorrow.” She laughed even harder. “Okay love. See this girl if you must. In the end, I trust you and I know you will do the right thing unless you are not who I have come to believe you are...in which case I will be acquiring my first gun!” We both laughed that off.
A few weeks later I was on my way to see Chioma Okafor. At first she seemed too busy to make time for us to see each other. You know...typical Naija babe Shakara! When she finally found time, we met up in town for coffee. “Good to finally see you,” I said exuberantly. “Nice to see you too,” she said, scrutinizing me intensely. I could tell she was checking out my height, my accent, my outfit...all the usual suspects. “So I hear you teach at a University. Is it a well paying job?” Stunned!!! That does not even begin to describe how I felt. I was not expecting that. “I am an academic and I love what I do and I cannot complain one bit,” I answered, picking my words carefully. “So, your parents live in Owerri right? That’s what my Dad told me.” “Yes they do. Do they own a house in Owerri or are they renting?” She asked. This was another rude slap in my face. “You’d have to find out whenever we happen to be in Owerri together,” I said politely, keeping a tight rein over my emotions. “You mean you don’t know that about your parents?” “I mean that I wish not to divulge that information to you,” I said firmly. “Am I being intrusive?” She asked. A part of me wanted to yell, “Yes!!!” But I restrained that urge too.
“There are things I cannot necessarily discuss with you today,” I answered diplomatically. “That is okay,” she said. I tried to steer the discussion towards politics, current affairs, movies, books etc; things I was keen to find out about her personality, but every few minutes she found a way to steer the discussion back in the direction that was of the most interest to her. “I think your ability to grow and improve yourself is what will make you relevant in this economy. In the last recession a lot of people lost their jobs, while most kept theirs. I reckon that in some cases...not all cases though that the ones who kept their jobs were the most relevant to the companies they worked for,” I opined as we discussed the last recession. “I guess you are right. University jobs are more stable though. I hear professors get a decent wage, but that depends on the university, so how much does your university pay?” “I wish I could tell you that,” I answered with a smile that belied the frustration that was boiling venomously inside of me. “Why not?” She said touching me seductively in an effort to wheedle the answer out of me with her magic touch. “It is rude to ask people how much they earn the first time you meet them you know,” I answered, determined to put an end to this grilling bordering on finances.
“I was only joking,I did not mean it that way,” she lied. Soon, I suggested that we leave the restaurant. I was no longer comfortable being around her, but I did not want to be rude either. Soon the waitress asked if we wanted the bill split or rolled into one. Of course I was going to pay the bill, but before I could say a word, she told the waitress to send me the bill. I smirked at that. I took care of the bill and we left for the cinema. I began to regret making the plan. Coffee and/or food would have been enough. Now, we were stuck with each other for the rest of the evening as we walked to the cinema, which was a stone’s throw away. I tried to smile and chat her up. Thankfully, the aura between us calmed down. She was in front of me when we got to the cinema. As soon as the staff asked for money, she made a 180 degrees turn around and ran behind me. Smiling, I took care of the bill; it was such a small amount. I could not possibly let her pay, but a little decorum and self-carriage on her part would have painted a better picture of her values as a person. Afterwards, I walked her to a spot from where she could catch a taxi home.
“You don’t drive?” She asked me. “No I don’t,” I lied. A frown appeared on her face. I pretended I had not noticed. Then she asked, “Are you planning on buying a car any time soon?” “No. I like public transport.” “Don’t you think you need one?” “No. It is so much hassle. There is the tax that goes with it then you have to think of insurance and then maintenance and other things.” I was being accommodating now, just to get through the evening without committing murder. “But those don’t cost much actually,” she countered. “Do you drive?” I asked. “No.” “So, how do you know they don’t cost much?” “I know people who do. It is not much from what they tell me.” “I see.” “If we are going to become any serious, you need to be driving,” she warned me. I was so glad I had not brought my car with me that night. “In the winter you know, one cannot be using public transport,” she explained. Meanwhile, she did not own a car and I had fairly decent one sitting in my garage. “I have done it every winter from when I was a student in Europe and I am still alive.” “But…” She thought of another rationale that would justify her argument. “You can’t be trekking while your students drive to class.” “I am not defined by what I drive,” I explained. The frown on her face deepened. I had failed her test. I was not qualified to play in her league. Soon a taxi came by and I flagged it down. “How much is the trip?” I asked the driver after telling him where she was going. “I think it will cost about forty five dollars,” he conjectured. I gave him eighty dollars and bid her farewell.
We lied to each other as we parted. “Hope to see you soon. I had a good time,” she said faking a smile on her face. “Same here,” I said. I could feel my intestine tightening as I said that. I wished I could tell her that I was not looking forward to seeing her again. I smiled and waved her goodbye. I could not wait to tell Daniella all about my evening. I called her as soon as I could. She had been sitting by her phone, hovering and pacing like a president with a major decision to make in a cabinet meeting. She came to the line at the first ring. “Tell me all about it love. Everything,” she requested. “I will tell you everything when I get home. I have to catch a taxi now, so I will call you when I get to my apartment.” “How many minutes?” She asked. “I reckon twenty minutes honey.” “Okay...I am waiting.” When I got home, I rang her up and recounted the events of the evening to her. “Do you think things would have been different if you had taken your car?” She asked in the end. “I think so love, but I am so glad I did not.” “So?” “So what?” “Are you seeing her again?” “Unless I want to make you buy a gun,” I answered. She laughed and said, “I think taking your car with you when you see her again, would be at the top of your priority table now.”
“Dad, I have to tell you that I want nothing to do with Mazi Okafor’s daughter, please,” I said to my Dad the next day. I explained the events of the previous evening to him, and as I expected, he did understand with me. “No son….that is a warning sign. Your mother and I have talked and prayed about it too. Do what you want...what pleases your heart. In the end, you are the one getting married not us. We still have a some fears here and there about the rates of divorce over there and how you will raise your children, but I am sure God will work it all out with time.” “Thanks Dad.” “You are welcome.” “Is Mom home?” “No, she went to the market.” “Send her my love when she returns.” “I will son. Take care.” The next morning I drove to Daniela’s apartment to drop her off to work. She was surprised. I always went to work early in the morning, and only managed to see her in the evenings. She was pleased anyway...thoroughly pleased, as I was. By evening, I was waiting for her outside the building after work. She did not know I was coming to pick her. “What are you doing here?” She asked with that killer smile that sends pleasant shivers through my spine. “I thought I should surprise you again,” I replied. By the time she was about three feet from me, two of her colleagues appeared from the left with a placard that read, “Dear Daniella!!!” She looked at them and then at me. She was abundantly surprised...bemused. Then, three of her best friends appeared to the right bearing a different placard with the inscription, “Please, will you marry me?”
By now I was kneeling before her with a ring in hand, which I held towards her. People passing by stopped in awe. Some girls were teary eyes just as she was. She was delightfully shocked. She tried to fight back tears which stubbornly marched out of her eyes with unstoppable vigor. My heart was beating fast. I knew I loved her very deeply...I also knew that she loved me strongly, but I could not help but wonder that she might say no. I had gone to a great length to put this together. It was not the no that would hurt, but the fact that she and I might not be together. That was a scary thought; one that I did not want to entertain for long. I loved her far too much to imagine that scenario. I hung unto faith and flashed my entire 32 teeth as my hands shook. She was covering her mouth with her hand in utter surprise while tears invaded her entire face. That is a good sign, I thought. “Yes!!!” She said. “Yes, I will marry you with all my heart,” she declared, saving me from an impending high blood pressure. I placed the ringer on her finger and kissed her. We were wrapped up in each other’s hands for quite a while. That remains one of the happiest days of my life In case you are wondering, I never really did see Chioma Okafor again!!! And, thanks to God, I have been very happy ever since!!!
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