Gbemiga returned home for the Christmas holiday. Breaking up with Bukky had affected him badly. He loved the girl, but, he didn’t want to go against his family’s wishes. Moreover, his uncles and aunt were willing to sponsor his education. He couldn’t forego such opportunity. In the past, he had asked this same people for financial support, but they all turned him down. His parents were relying on him to take up the responsibility as the bread winner in the home. His sisters needed his support and everyone depended on him. If he had continued dating Bukky, it would have been seen as a selfish act and no one would be willing to understand his actions. He had to let her go. Maybe somewhere in the future, their paths might cross again and then, his family might be willing to accept her. He wondered how she was coping without him. he knew how hurt she had been when he left her. He had prayed to God to heal her heart quickly and help her to move on. He decided to visit her and see how she was doing. He wasn’t sure if she would be willing to speak with him. Nevertheless, he would try.
At half past seven, Gbemiga strolled to Bukky’s place. He heard her laughter before he got to her door. Who was she with? Maybe her aunt visited. When he got to the door, he heard a male voice. His tummy turned upside down. Who was she with? Instead of knocking, he went around the house and peeped through her window. He saw her seated on the bed, clad in a sleeveless pink top and a pair of brown black and white shorts. Anger brewed within him when he saw Chike seated beside her. What was he doing in her place at that time of the day? He wanted to speak with her. How was he going to get her so called friend out of the house? It would have been easy if they were still dating, but, he wasn’t her boyfriend anymore and he had no rights over her. He felt sad and angry at the same time.
He opened his mouth in surprise when Chike kissed Bukky. His blood began to boil. He marched towards the door, then halted. He thought they were just friends. That was what she kept saying whenever he stated his concerns about the guy. Did Bukky lie to him? Was she dating the both of them at the same time? He gave a shake of head. She wasn’t that kind of girl. Was it possible that they started dating after he broke up with her? Did she get over him that quickly? The thought made him to grit his teeth. He thought she really loved him. He thought it would take her ages to get over him, but, he was wrong. She had already moved on while he was still pinning for her.
He hissed and marched towards the gate. He wished both of them good luck.
On her parents’ wedding anniversary, Chike drove her to Ikorodu to celebrate with them. Her elder sister was also around. Her younger brothers were so happy to see her. The last time she saw them was at Kike’s wedding party. She introduced Chike to her family as the man she was going out with. While her father chatted with him in the sitting room to talk, Bukky, her elder sister and her mother talked in the kitchen.
“What happened to Gbemiga? I thought you two were inseparable” her sister teased her.
“He is a lost cause,” she didn’t want to talk about him.
Her mother paid attention to her, “What happened between the two of you?”
“He surrendered to the wills of his family and dumped me.”
Both women stared at her in disbelief. Bukky narrated the events that led to her break-up with her ex.
“Good riddance to bad rubbish,” her mother was upset.
“You should have told them that you now have a junior waec certificate. You are not an illiterate,” her sister was pissed.
“And the boy couldn’t defend you. The spineless he-goat,” her mother ranted.
Bukky opened her mouth and closed it.
“I hope this ibo boy is a serious somebody?”
She nodded quickly.
“He looks responsible. You said he will be graduating next year, abi?’ her sister asked her.
She nodded again.
“He is better than that… what is his name again?” her mother stared at her.
Her sister laughed, “Maami… see your red eyes.”
“I don’t like when people mistreat my children. If not for the situation of things, both of you should be graduates by now.”
“We know mum. It is well. All things will work out for our good.”
“Is he the owner of that car?’” her mother leaned forward.
“Yes. He bought it when he travelled abroad for his Industrial Training.”
“Eh-hen… better in-law. Not the likes of Gbemiga Phillips,” her mother hissed.
“He must have made quite a large sum,” her sister winked at her.
Bukky just smiled.
“Is He the one that bought the cake and drinks too?’
“Oya, oya, come and serve your husband food.”
She eyed her mother, “Which husband?’
“Chike of course,” her mother and sister chorused.
She eyed them, “Not until he pays my bride price. He is not my husband.”
“I hear you. Come and give him food. Hope he likes swallow.”
She met her mother’s questioning gaze, “That’s his favourite.”
Her mother dished a meal of pounded yam and melon soup in stainless plates, placed it on a tray and handled it over to her daughter who carried
it into the sitting room. She placed it on a stool in front of her boyfriend.
“Thank you,” he grinned at her.
She smiled at him and glanced at her father. He seemed happy. Whatever they discussed must have turned out well. She returned to the kitchen to meet her mother and her sister.
At past seven, they headed back to town. Chike parked in front of her house and discovered that she was sleeping. No wonder she had been quiet. He woke her up and helped her out of the car. He led her to her apartment, sat her down on the bed and pulled off her shoes. She climbed into the bed and started to doze off immediately her head hit the pillow.
“Bukky, I want to leave. Come and lock the door,” he tapped her on the shoulder.
“Use your spare key,” she turned on her side, backing him.
“We are travelling to Owerri on Christmans eve to spend time with my family.”
She opened her eyes.
“I told your father that I am interested in marrying you and he told me to bring my people whenever I am ready.”
Sleep left her eyes. She sat up quickly, “Unbelievable.”
“I want my family to meet you one on one. I have already told them about you.”
She opened her mouth and closed it.
“I am planning our introduction ceremony for a week before or after my convocation. My family will be in Lagos and we will be able to kill two bed with a stone.”
She eyed him, “You have not even proposed to me, you are already planning our wedding.”
“I will propose officially on your twenty first birthday. By then, I would have graduated and I will have all the time in the world to spoil you,” he winked at her.
She smiled back at him.
“I love you Bukky and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
“Say it, I want you to say it,” he eyed her.
She laughed quietly, “I love you too Chike and there is no one else I would rather spend the rest of my life with.”
“Perfect,” he learned forward and kissed her.
Chike and Bukky walked into the large compound, dragging their luggage. A man and a woman in their late fifties came out of the three-bedroom bungalow, stood at the entrance and waved at them smiling. She could tell that they were Chike’s parents. He had a slight resemblance with his mum, but, he was the younger version of his father.
“Dad, mum, evening,” he beamed at them, “I will like you to meet Oluwabukola Folorunsho, the woman I am going to spend the rest of my life with.”
Two pairs of eyes observed her. She felt like a specimen under a microscope.
“Good evening sir, ma,” she spoke politely.
“Evening dear, how are you doing?” his father smiled at her.
“I am fine sir,” she smiled back at him.
“She is so pretty,” she winked at her son and glanced at her, “You are welcome to Owerri.”
“Thank you ma,” their warm reception eased her troubled mind.
“Let’s go in. Your elder brother and his wife are around.”
They followed the elderly couple into the house.
“Where is this boy when you need him?’
Chike chuckled, he could discern that his father was looking for his younger brother. The boy came out of one of the rooms.
“Help your brother and his fiancée with their bags,” the man instructed his youngest son.
Chike and his younger brother shook hands, “Who are you competing with? You are just growing taller each time I see you.”
The boy laughed loudly, picked up the bags and dragged them out of the sitting room.
His younger sister came out of the kitchen and ran to him.
“I thought you were not coming home for Christmas,” she embraced him.
“I had to come, meet my heart beat, Bukky.”
She glanced at her elder brother’s fiancée. “Welcome to our humble home. When you are free, I will tell you all you need to know about my
brother, especially his little secrets.”
Chike eyed her, “Trouble maker.”
Bukky chuckled. She liked the girl. If she wasn’t mistaken, they were age mates.
“Please, come in, sit while I get you something to eat,” his mother led her to a chair.
She sat down and looked around her. The room was large, arranged with brown leather chairs, cream coloured rug, and brown and cream
curtains. A glass table was at the centre of the room, decorated with colourful flowers in a brown vase. A flat screen television was supported by a wooden divider close to the wall and the DVD player and DSTV decoder was placed in front of the television.
“Look who is here,” an older version of her fiancé came into the room, holding the hand of a pretty dark lady. Her baby bump was obvious in the cream short-sleeve feet-length dress.
“Eh bros…” Chike and his elder brother shook hands.
“The Lagos boy.”
“Pretty woman, hope he is taking care of you,” he winked at his brother’s wife.
She smiled, “Yes he is.”
“Come and meet my Queen,” he drew their attention to Bukky who was feeling a bit self-conscious.
“Ah-han, this boy carry eye go market o,” Chike’s elder brother seized her up.
Everyone started to laugh.
“Biko, come and give your brother and his fiancee food to eat,” she addressed her only daughter.
The girl followed her mother into the kitchen. Chike’s father settled on a chair in front of the T.V set.
“How are your parents?” his warm eyes settled on her calm ones.
“They are fine sir.”
Chike’s sister returned carrying a tray of food. His younger brother followed carrying a pack of juice, a bottle of water and two glass cups.
Chike and Bukky sat on a bench under the mango tree outside the bungalow. The moonlight illuminated the compound.
“My parents like you,” he turned to look at her.
She smiled at him, “I could tell.”
“They are ready to come with me to Lagos to meet your family.”
She sighed with relief.
“We will fix the introduction ceremony for the week of my convocation.”
She nodded in agreement, “Okay. I will convince my parents.”
“I hope they will agree. Nevertheless, I will accept whatever date they set.”
“Don’t worry, my parents will not stress us,” she assured him.
He sighed with relief, “Okay then.”
“I like your siblings.”
He grinned, “They like you too, especially my sister. I think she wants to be your friend, but, she is shy.”
“Oh really? I will like to be her friend too. I don’t really have female friends, aside from the girls I grew up with and some of the girls I met at the Adult Education Center.”
“I know you two will make good friends.”
“Tomorrow, I am taking you to see my dad’s siblings and my mum’s siblings. They will never forgive me if they hear that I came to Owerri with my wife and I didn’t bring her.”
She smiled, but, felt a bit uneasy. His family might have accepted her, but, she had no idea how his relatives would perceive her.
“Then, I want you to meet my childhood friends. None of them are married and they are going to be green with envy when they see you.”
She shook her head at him.
“What? They say ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it’,” he winked at her.
“So, you want to turn me into a trophy and carry me round the whole town ba?’”
He grinned from ear to ear, “Nothing wrong with that.”
“You are on your own.”
He laughed lightly, “I will also take you to all the fun spots in this town. My friends will bring their girlfriends along and we will all catch fun.”
“The thirty-first night in this time is crazy. You need to witness it first-hand,” excitement filled his voice.
“Hope there will be no knock-out wars. I have seen how quickly people get injured while playing around with these things.”
“Don’t worry, I will protect you.”
She eyed him, “That is not comforting.”
“Thank you for coming with me to Owerri,” he changed the subject.
She smiled back at him, “I am glad I came. You have a wonderful family.”
“So do you,” he moved closer and wrapped his arms around her.
Their gazes locked.
“Finally we are together. My waiting paid off.”
She laughed quietly, “Thank you for not giving up on me.”
“I didn’t have a choice. My heart chose you. It would have been impossible to love another woman.”
She felt thrilled by his words, “I want a sweet kiss right now.”
“Nice. One sweet kiss coming up,” he kissed her lightly on the lips.
She knotted her hands around his neck and kissed him back