Her smell announced her presence. He was embarrassed she had met him cutting out faces from their pictures. He stared at her attire and his embarrassment gave way to anger. He burned.
Why had she come? To mock him?
He studied her well and took in every detail. To his disappointment, she wasn’t wearing a Hausa perfume. She smelt the same, like always; her regular “Body fantasy” that had called for his touch on several occasions, in this room, on this bed.
“Nina, why have you come?” he asked, still holding the scissors just to avoid holding her.
“I just wanted to see you…” she hesitated. “You promised to come for the wedding. You said you were happy for me.” He got angrier and wished he could slap her. He grabbed the duvet instead and squeezed it. “This is somebody’s wife.” He murmured to himself. He thought and realised he would never hit her, even though she chose a fool over him.
She went on, like a possesed fool.
“All of this is not my fault, you allowed this to happen”
“Shut up Nina” he managed. He wanted to say more. He wanted to tell her he was sorry for not trying to run away with her. He wanted to say he was sorry for not coming to destroy the wedding. He wanted to say he wished he proposed. He wanted to say sorry for being too weak. Instead, he realised she’s been standing and said “sit.”
She sat at the edge of the bed like she was avoiding the remaining part, as if it were infected by some powers that would make her lose her senses.
“Joseph, why didn’t you come?” She asked the dumb question again.
“I would kill him if I came!” He screamed.
She was startled.
She stared at him for a while and realised for the first time she entered the room that he looked unkempt and starved . His lips are twitching and his face looked pale.
Traces of dried tears laced his face. As if out of a trance, she began to realise his pains. Like a reprimanded child, she felt sorry. She felt sorry for being blind. But it wasn’t her fault.
Yes, it wasn’t her fault. She struggled not to blame herself. Suddenly, it dawned on her that she could have avoided this marriage by accident.
If she hadn’t used the postpill, she would be carrying Joseph’s child and the marriage wouldn’t have happened. Of course she would have disappointed her family but it would have been better that way. Yet, it is still not her fault.
If her family had been more fortunate, there wouldn’t be a need to solidify their relationship with Alhaji’s. Alhaji had helped her father during his business crisis, when his Igbo friends had denied him help. He’s done several succeful transactions with her father and he’s indeed a generous and nice man.
Alhaji has been her father’s favourite friend and a regular visitor in the house since he helped her father. They would sit for hours and discuss business. Sometimes they argue about women, children and the economy.
That day, she had returned from Joseph’s on time to prepare dinner. She had decided to finish a work she was editing for someone so she could demand for balance.
The men sat at their usual corner in the sitting room while she sat at another corner where she could hear their conversation. This time, they talked about women, Alhaji’s wives. Alhaji loved referring to his wives, according to their father’s names. “Adamu’s daughter,” he would start, “is expecting a baby soon. I hope this time, she’ll give me a boy.”
Sometimes, Nina wondered if he addresses them like that in their presence or he just calls them by number. She decided to pay less attention to their conversation until suddenly, she heard her name.
“Give her to me and this new deal, you take eighty percent, I take twenty”
“Haba Alhaji, she just graduated, I want her to do her masters and maybe a PhD”
“Kai, how can you talk like that? I’ll send her to Cambridge if you want, besides, won’t all the reading end up in bed”
“No, my daughter is more civilized. She’s not like your wives”
“That is why I want her. I want her to give me civilized babies, plenty book babies. Oga Pius, you’ve been a good man and your daughter deserves to be in good hands. Give her to me, I’ll keep her well.”
Nina stood up. She’s heard enough.
But her fate was sealed. That was it. Her father asked her to marry Alhaji and she refused. He called the other members of the family to interfere, went on and fixed her date and married her off.
Written by Idowu Sodoli