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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - ExxonMobil, from Port Harcourt to Lagos, cheque for one fifty thousand Naira, passport before I ring the police, Nigerian wife of yours, who dropped the engagement ring, a palatial building in Lekki, Mbaise, in Imo State, studying Law at Unilag, A Honda Pilot Jeep, brand new iPad, an iPhone.

“Mom and Dad, this is Onyinyechi. Onyii, these are my lovely parents,” Wale said sounding very lively. “It is a pleasure to meet you Onyinyechi. We have heard so much about you. It is good to finally meet you,” Wale’s mother, Funke said. “Yes, we have been very expectant. My son has spoken very highly of you,” Wale’s father Adeyemi added. “I am very pleased to meet you two, sir and ma,” Onyinyechi said. She bent down slightly as she spoke in a clear attempt to mimic the Yoruba accent. She was eager to make a good impression. Wale had treated her with love beyond measure over the last three years. She could not breathe without him. She adored him beyond words. Marriage was on the cards, so they had traveled from Port Harcourt to Lagos to meet Wale’s parents.

She met Wale through a friend whose boyfriend worked in the same office as Wale at ExxonMobil. She was studying public administration at University of Port Harcourt at the time. Given that she was from a very poor family, meeting Wale changed her life. She had lost her father when she was very young. Her mother worked tirelessly to provide for her and her sister and brother. Her older brother was studying Law at Unilag. Needless to say that Wale extinguished her economic dilemma throughout university. Before meeting Wale, she had to write SSCE and GCE for people to make extra money. She did anything that paid money in one form or another, just to make ends meet. “Wale is heaven-sent,” she would say to her best friend Gladys through whom she met him in the first place.

“You are just as charmingly beautiful as Wale had said. Please make yourself comfortable,” Funke said with a smile. Methodically, Onyinyechi sank into the couch behind and scanned the beautifully furnished living room. Wale’s parents were extremely wealthy. They owned a palatial building in Lekki. The weekend went much better than Onyinyechi could have imagined. Wale’s parents were extremely hospitable, kind and thoughtful. “Since you are not working from Monday through Thursday, I see no reason why you have to rush back to Port Harcourt,” Wale’s father pressed him. After some pressure, Wale and Onyinyechi decided to stay a few days more. Wale made a few calls and had their flight rescheduled.

A Honda Pilot Jeep rolled into the street. Slowly, it glided down the street as though the driver were in search of a particular house. The street was rundown. Either side of the street was dotted with battered-looking houses with old shutters, leaky roofs and worn out paint. Chukwuma peered through the tinted glass of his SUV in search of No. 15 Umunna Street Rumukwurushi, Port Harcourt, while his driver slowly covered the length of the street. “Sir, this is it,” his driver announced. “We have reached the end of the street,” he confirmed. “I see. Okay, turn around. I could not make out the numbers. Everything is so complicated here. We need to ask someone,” Chukwuma suggested. They had driven all the way from Mbaise, in Imo State. “Excuse me, please can I ask you a question?” Chukwuma asked a woman who was passing by. He had rolled down his window and his head was sticking out of the window. “Wetin you want? (What do you want?)”  The woman asked. 

“I dey find No. 15 for this street (I am looking for No. 15).” “If you drive go up there. You dey see that red building so? (Can you see the red building over there on driving up the street?)” “Yes.” “There is a small road beside it, which leads to a house behind. That house behind the red house na im be No. 15. (The house behind that is No. 15).”  “Thanks a lot.” “No wahala! (No problem)” They followed the woman’s direction which led them to a battered, partially completed building. The roof was peeling off in one section, while some sections had never been roofed. Chukwuma alighted and walked to the first door nearest to him. He knocked gently and a woman opened the door. The Jeep was already attracting attention on the street. People were peeping through their windows to see who the owner of the Jeep was looking for. Others who could not contain their curiosity came out and stared blatantly.

Chukwuma sported a pair of black jean, a pair of brown spotless leather scandals and a brown T-shirt. “Madam, please I dey find Mrs. Ibekaku (Madam, please I am looking for Mrs. Ibekaku)” he said to the woman at the door.  “Her apartment na the next two doors away (Her apartment is two doors away),” the woman replied. He knocked gently on the door, and a woman in her mid-fifties came out. She was smiling. “You must be Chukwuma?” Onyinyechi’s mother asked. “Yes, I am. You must be Mrs. Ibekaku.” “You are correct. I lola (welcome).” “Thank you.” “Please come inside.” “Thank you ma.” Onyinyechi’s older brother, Akobundu was inside. He had returned from Lagos at his mother’s request. “Welcome,” he said to Chukwuma.” “Please be seated.” “Thanks. You are Akobundu, right?” “Yes. I am.” After a prolonged exchange of pleasantries, Onyinyechi’s mother served lunch. “Thank you for you hospitality madam,” Chukwuma began after the meal. “I will go straight to the point. Since I returned from Italy, I have been trying to find a wife. Everyone in the entire Aboh Mbaise is convinced that Onyinyechi is the right one for me. I have heard so many good things about your daughter. I am convinced that you have done a good job of raising her.” “Thank you my son,” Mrs. Ibekaku replied.

“So, if you don’t mind, I would like to meet Onyinyechi, if it is fine by you. I think with your approval, I would like to get to know her better, and hopefully we can proceed towards marriage from there, if both of us feel the same way.” “Of course you have my blessing my son. Unfortunately, Onyinyechi is not around. She is in Lagos. By the time we got your message, she was already in Lagos. I have spoken to her on the phone and she will be here in two days.” “That is fine by me. I will come over in two days. I understand they will be on holidays in two weeks.” “That is correct,” Akobundu answered. “In that case, we have enough time to get to know each other. I am really looking forward to it based on everything my family and friends have said about Onyinyechi.” “We are grateful.” Akobundu replied. “I have to be leaving then. I will be staying in a hotel in town over the next few days. I will be back in two or three days. I will call you before then. Please manage this ma. And this is for you.” He handed Onyinyechi’s mother and brother envelopes, which contained forty and twenty thousand Naira, respectively. “God bless you,” they echoed happily.
“But mama, I am in love with someone else,” Onyinyechi protested when she returned. Her mother had told her everything about Chukwuma’s visit. “What do you know about love?” Her mother asked. “I am not going to be tutored on this. I am old enough to make my own choice.” “Is it that Yoruba guy?” Akobundu asked. “Yoru what?” Her mother queried. “My first daughter? You want to marry that far away from home? Is that why you were in Lagos? Over my dead body.” “Come on Ako, you are more aware than mama. You need to give me some support here. You have to tell mom that this guy is good. He has been there for me all these years in University. In fact, we went to Lagos to meet with his family and he proposed to me afterwards.” “And what did you say?” her mother asked apprehensively.

“Of course I said yes.” “Ishi mebiri gi!! A shim, ara chaga gi Onyinyechi!! (You have lost your mind!! I said, you have gone mad Onyinyechi!!)” her mother yelled. “This guy literally put me through school. How can I turn my back on him for someone else I don’t even know mama? Akobundu please you have to explain this to mama.” “Are you aware of this Ako?” Their mother asked. “Onyii, I think you have to reconsider this. Lagos state is too far away. I think Chukwuma will make you a good husband.” “Please don’t say that Ako. Is it because he lives abroad?” “No it is not. You know me too well. I have a good feeling about this guy. Lagos state is too far and the culture is way too different. This is for your own good,” Akobundu maintained.

Onyinyechi went to their single bedroom and cried bitterly. She peered at the engagement ring Wale had given her. She could no longer bear to wear it, and she would not take Wale’s calls either. The next day, Chukwuma visited. Onyinyechi gathered herself together to meet him. She managed to smile and laugh. Chukwuma took her to a posh restaurant in town. The next day, they flew to Calabar and spent two days at the Tinapa Resort. They also visited the popular and historic Obudu cattle Ranch. Chukwuma spent freely on her. “You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. I can’t wait to make you my wife. Look at those eyes…those lips,” Chukwuma showered unrestrained encomiums on Onyinyechi.  He gave her a brand new iPad, an iPhone, and numerous jewelry he had brought from Italy with him. By the time they returned to Port Harcourt, Onyinyechi’s had had been turned. She had one of Chukwuma’s Jeeps and a personal driver to chauffer her around town. Overnight, she had become what she could never have dreamed of just a few days ago.

Then, Chukwuma traveled to Mbaise to attend to some family matters, Onyinyechi quickly went over to see Wale. “I am sorry honey. I can no longer go through with the engagement,” she announced coldly to him.” “Tell me you are joking, please,” Wale replied with every ounce of seriousness in him. “I am sorry honey. Please forgive me. It is not as if I don’t love you but my family is seriously against it. I don’t want to break my poor mom’s heart.” “So you are serious? Onyinyechi, you know I worship you. I can’t live without you. I love you beyond words. Please don’t do this to me. Please tell me this is a joke.” Onyinyechi stood by the door. She shook her head negatively to indicate that it was over for real. “After all these years, you walk into my house like this and tell me it is over? You are heartless Onyinyechi,” Wale shouted. He felt a sharp pain rip through his heart. Tears stormed out of his eyes with force and his hands shook violently. To him, his world was unraveling before his very eyes, and there was nothing he could do about it. He managed to sink into his couch.

He took a deep breath and stared morosely at Onyinyechi who dropped the engagement ring he had given her just some days back on the table. “I am really sorry, Wale,” she said. “And I took you to my parents. I made a fool of myself. What is happening here? God please may this be a dream,” he said rhetorically.   “And you never thought of how far Yoruba land was and how different our cultures were all these years I have been catering for you like my own wife? Where was your mother when I was slaving for you Onyinyechi?” He asked. Tears were clouding his eyes by now. Onyinyechi’s image had turned into a blur as more tears streamed down. Quietly, Onyinyechi walked out and she never looked back. “You will never know peace,” Wale shouted at her as she left. “You will never find peace Onyinyechi,” he repeated, this time in a low rhetorical tone.

Some weeks later, Onyinyechi got married to Chukwuma. Things had progressed speedily. Chukwuma wanted their marriage completed before he returned to Italy, so he could begin to work on bringing her over. Wale, on the other hand began to drink and sleep around. He was crushed. Anger; sheer rage ruled his life. He spared no woman that he came across. He was particularly ruthless with Igbo girls. He got a girl from Anambra pregnant and denied it. He went on a violent rampage. Meanwhile, Onyinyechi took in shortly after the wedding. She managed to return to school to complete her last semester. In-between she took time to fly out to Lagos to bid Chukwuma good bye. “I can’t wait to see you again sweetheart,” she said to him at the airport. “I will see you soon love,” Chukwuma replied. They hugged and kissed passionately before he disappeared behind the security area.

“Who do you think you are?” Chiara asked Chukwuma on his return to Milan, Italy. Chiara was Chukwuma’s Italian wife. He had become an Italian citizen, which allowed him access to the entire European Union by virtue of his marriage to Chiara. They had been having problems of late. Chukwuma had deliberately slept with other women. He did it in such a manner that Chiara would find out. When she did, she filed for divorce. This was Chukwuma’s exit strategy. He had signed the divorce papers before flying to Nigeria to get married. Chiara had promised to sign them too, which would have officially terminated their marriage. While Chukwuma was in Nigeria, Esomo, a Benin girl with whom Chukwuma had slept found out through Chukwuma’s close friends that he had gone home to marry an Igbo girl. Esomo was under the impression that Chukwuma would marry her after divorcing Chiara. Enraged, she told Chiara all about Chukwuma’s new wife, just in time to stop her from signing the divorce papers. “I asked you Chukwuma, who do you think you are?”

“What do you mean Chiara?” Chukwuma asked. He had hoped that Chiara would allow him to move out of their shared apartment to start a new life of his own on returning to Italy. “You married a Nigerian wife from your tribe? All along, you have been playing me. You could not even wait for the divorce to be fully completed before dashing home to marry another woman. You have been using me all along Chukwuma. I cared for you. I looked after you. I helped you and gave you a life when you had nowhere to go. I fought for you even against my family. All along, you meant to play me and dump me like a piece of rag right? No way. Listen, and listen well,” she said angrily.

“I have not signed the divorce papers,” Chiara continued. “I have filed a suit in court informing the authorities that there may be fraud involved in our marriage. You know how serious the government views that. Besides, I have enough evidence of your drug dealings.  I have enough to put you away for life. Now, hand me your passport before I ring the police and give them all that evidence to put you away.” Fear crept into Chukwuma’s eyes. “You have this all wrong, darling. Let me explain Chiara,” he pleaded. “I don’t need your explanation,” she shouted. “Hand me your passport. And your residence card too.” Fearfully, he handed them to her. “I have people in government looking out for you. If you try to get a new passport or residence card, they will tell me. I will not waste time to expose you to the law. You live with me in this house. If you don’t, I will press further with the fraudulent marriage suit against you. If you try anything funny, I will tell the police about your drug business. You are mine from now on. You do what I say. That Nigerian wife of yours is not coming to Italy, okay. I own you for as long as I want.” Dense streaks of sweat sojourned across Chukwuma’s face as he handed everything to Chiara. It was like handing his whole life away. From that point, Chiara controlled almost everything he did.

“Honey, why can’t I come to Italy where you live?” Onyinyechi asked him on the phone. “I am planning to move to England honey. It is a better place for us and our children. I can get you there in a few months. Shortly after you arrive, I will join you there,” he lied. “Okay love. I trust you,” she answered. Chukwuma worked hard to find extra money from his drug deals to send Onyinyechi over to England before she delivered. Their son, Gabriel was born shortly after Onyinyechi arrived in London. “When are you coming over, honey?” She asked Chukwuma. “Soon, my love. I will be with you soon,” he replied with no idea how he was going to make it. He had thought he could get Chiara to give him a divorce, but she was bent on ruining his life. He had pulled out most of the money he had stashed away in a secret Swiss bank account. He offered Chiara three hundred and eighty thousand Euros to give him back his life. She took the money and refused to either give him a divorce or let go of the evidence she had against him. Chukwuma lived under the tight grip of Chiara while his wife labored alone in a strange land (London) with a newly born baby.

Onyinyechi would cry night and day, wondering what was wrong with her husband. He called on the phone and sent money, but he could not travel to be with them. He was running out of excuses. At night, he would lock himself in a room in the big house he shared with Chiara and cried. He prostrated before her and begged, but Chiara’s heart had been turned into granite. She would not budge. A few times, Chukwuma wanted to go to the Nigerian embassy to obtain a new passport, but fear impeded him. Chiara would strike fast if she found out, and that would land him in jail for life. He even considered suicide. A year after their child was born, he still had not been able to join them in London. Onyinyechi went from crying to sickness. She suffered serious depression. Eventually, she packed her things and headed back to Nigeria where she was met with shame. People made fun of her, and by so doing aggravating her depression. “Maybe I should have stayed back in London somehow,” she said to her mother one evening. “But your papers were expiring anyway and that idiot, Chukwuma could not help. You did the right thing my child. God knows why that had to happen.” Nonetheless, Onyinyechi could not stop crying. She blamed her mother and brother for pushing her to marry Chukwuma, and she blamed herself for not standing up for herself.

One afternoon, she ran into a familiar face at the hospital. Wale was with an elegant lady and a handsome boy. “Onyinyechi!” He shouted. “Wale,” she replied. She hung her face down. She could not look him in the eye. “Honey, please can you give me a minute,” Wale said to his wife, Ogechukwu. “Take your time honey. Come with me Vincent,” Ogechukwu said to their son. “Is that your wife?” “Yes. I heard you left the country, what are you doing here? Besides, you look so sickly. Are you okay?” Tears deluged her eyes. “What happened?” Wale asked again. She quickly narrated her ordeal to Wale. “I am very sorry Wale. No one has ever loved me like you did. I was supposed to marry you but…but I blew it. Please forgive me for the pains I caused you,” she implored him through tears. “I forgave you long back. I went mad after you left me. I returned the car I had pre-ordered for you for your graduation to the dealer. I slept around. I went ballistic, to be honest. Well, that was until I met Ogechukwu. God used her to change my life and I am so thankful that I married her. I am now a senior manager and life could not be more wonderful. I hope you find a way to forgive yourself and gather whatever is left of your life.”

“Nothing is left of it, Wale. Nothing!” She cried. “So you don’t know what kept your husband in Italy?” I have heard a lot of rumors, but I have no clear knowledge of what happened there. I never want to know. The pain is excruciating as it is. I don’t want to add to that.” “I am sincerely sorry, Onyinyechi. I will keep you in my prayers. I have to run now. Hold on to God and find a way to rediscover yourself. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.” He rummaged through his wallet and dug out his business card, which he handed her. He pulled out his cheque book from his jacket pocket and wrote her a cheque for one fifty thousand Naira. “I wish I could do more,” he said as he handed it to her. Tears streamed uncontrollably down her cheeks as she looked at the cheque. Through misty eyes, she watched Wale walk gently away towards his family.


Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - ExxonMobil, from Port Harcourt to Lagos, cheque for one fifty thousand Naira, passport before I ring the police, Nigerian wife of yours, who dropped the engagement ring, a palatial building in Lekki, Mbaise, in Imo State, studying Law at Unilag, A Honda Pilot Jeep, brand new iPad, an iPhone. An African Literary Blog
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