I had heard so many "man-problem" and "confusion" stories this year and I've been struggling for a bit to find a way to pass on the moral of the stories without jeopardizing confidentiality and trust. I finally figured it was better to piece it all together in a single short story, taking a bit from everything I know.
To all my readers, I hope you find yourself or the person you're with in one of the characters and in the process, find inspiration to decipher whether you're choosing the right one...
*Contains Nigerian/Igbo slangs.
“What's up with the solemn faces, ladies?” Nne sashayed into the room to meet her 3 best friends.
“And what’s that smell?” she added almost in a hiss.
“Sit down abeg. Always trying to cause a ruckus. The smell is from my neighbors cooking their native food” Chi said shifting her balance on the couch. Her face weirdly still in a question mark.
“Hey Nne” Yinka said dryly as her fingers returned to dancing on her Blackberry.
Sandra didn’t say a word. She just looked up and gave Nne a half smile.
“Oya spill it! What’s going on? Who died?” Nne said as she placed her bag on the glass table in Chi’s parlor and gave everyone of her best friends a quick good-to-see-you hug.
“We’re in deliberation right now,” Yinka said without looking up.
Nne chuckled. “Please today is Saturday. Leave all the law talk for class on Monday”
“Seriously Nne stop playing. This is serious” Sandra finally spoke.
“Ok ok” Nne said mimicking a Blackberry emoticon straight face. “What’s up?”
“Is anyone going to...”?
“I’m in a dilemma ok!?” Sandra blurted out almost angrily, wrinkling her pretty face. Sandra had always been a head-turner since their high school days. And 8 years later in final year of law school, she still could not go out and not get asked for her number. Born to a German mother and an Igbo father, at about 5’5, she had a tanned half-caste skin, a roundish cute face with a small pointed nose and was proportionately endowed in the right places.
“Spill.” Nne said almost in a mimicky whisper.
“Chi tell her,” Sandra said
“So, Obinna proposed to her”
“OMG!” Nne said jumping up. Biko, Is that what you’re hiding and acting like someone died? It's great news! Where are we going to celebrate? Ashebi, here I come…Congratula..”
“Nne relax you haven’t even heard the end of story.”
“Listening”, Nne said sitting back down.
“Ok, so I haven’t responded to Tony’s proposal” Sandra said. “I’m so confused.”
“Ohhhh” Nne said suddenly realizing the root of her friend's confusion.
Sandra had been dating Obinna for about a year before she met Tony. Obinna was incredibly handsome. At 6’2, he looked like he just stepped out of a magazine cover and commanded attention from men and women alike. He had narrow eyes that looked like they could permeate your soul and chocolate skin that was clearer than a new mirror.
Obinna was from old money. His great-grandfather had been an oil tycoon in Nigeria starting an oil company shortly before his early death. His grandfather and granduncles, however, didn’t let the company die, expanding it to an international enterprise. While his uncle was the current CEO of the company, his father was deeply involved, balancing it with his duty as the current Minister of Petroleum in Nigeria.
Obinna couldn’t have it any better and when he expressed interest in Sandra, the news spread pretty fast, exciting her friends especially. When Sandra expressed her worry about his reputation as a “bad boy”, all her friends told her she’d be foolish to pass on him. Well, all her friends, except Chi.
She had said solemnly, “mmm Sandy I don’t know. Obinna is a big boy. Remember he dated Lucy from high school last year and dumped her before she knew what was happening. And he chased her harrddddd exactly this same way. Lucy disappeared from public eye for months just to deal with the heartbreak”, her eyes dimmed with concern.
“Please Chi stop being such a kill-joy. Obinna has said he has met his wife. Sandra is whom he wants to marry. He must’ve have changed for her sake” Nne said angrily. “Allow the girl to enjoy her luck. You and I need to find out if Obinna has cousins that look like him” she added beaming with her trademark naughty smile.
“Of course that’s what you’d say. Sandra, I’ve said my own. Just make sure this guy is for real. Make sure your heart is not one of his playing fields”. Chi hissed back.
While Sandra wasted time deciding whether to accept Obinna’s invitation to date, some girls she actually called friends had tried to throw themselves at him. But somehow, Obinna never relented in his chase. It seemed almost as if Sandra had become an highly-staked oil contract. He sent flowers, teddy bears and lovenotes to campus and dropped by in a different car every day of the week, just to take Sandra to class.
Three weeks of chasing had barely passed when Sandra gave in.
Yinka, Nne and Chi rarely saw Sandra and almost every time they saw her, she was with Obinna. Sandra seemed to be happy, so they let her be.
Eight months into the relationship, Sandra strolled into Obinna's house unexpectedly only to see another girl in his bed. He begged. She forgave.
One month later, Yinka spotted him in a party in London, while she was vacationing, making out with another girl. She called Nne and Chi to report the incident. Nne voted against telling Sandra. Chi was the one who called Sandra with the news.
Of course, Nne said in her usual boisterous manner “Biko its nothing. Men cheat. If you love him and he loves you, just set your mind to it. He will cheat but you’re the one he will marry. Hang in there.”
Chi disagreed. “This is a bad sign o. He has cheated twice. No wait, you have caught him only twice. God knows what or who else he has done that you don't know about.”
“Ok, well, just see what he has to say. That’s the least you can do”
Sandra listened to Nne. She listened to Obinna. He said, “baby you know I love you, I’m sorry. Girls just can’t keep their hands off me. There’s only so much I can do to resist but it was just sexual. You and I have the real deal.” Then he hugged and kissed her like only he could.
She forgave him. Again. Then, and 4 other times. For every transgression, he bought her a gift. She had gotten a brand new Toyota, an Iphone, at least 4 blackberry phones, one trip to London, one trip to Jamaica for her and 3 of her friends and several watches, clothes, shoes and purses. Sometimes, he’d just call a boutique and tell them his girl was coming to shop. She’d go and shop, and he’d pay later. But Obinna couldn’t resist the attention he got from the girls.
In fact, he didn’t want to.
One hot Sunday afternoon, Sandra received a call.
“Hello” the voice said in a whisper. It was a female voice.
“Yes, who’s this?”
“It doesn’t matter. I just called to tell you about your boyfriend Obinna. You don’t know me but I know you. I’ve seen you around campus and I hear you’re such a nice girl, that’s why I’m calling”
“What? So, who are you?”
“Just listen. I slept with Obinna yesterday. Two of my friends have also slept with him. The guy is a dog. He thinks because he has money he can sleep with anyone he wants. My only regret was that I'm now just a number in his books. I’m not proud of what I did but it was a dare. I hear its you he’s serious about but I just thought you should know what you’re getting yourself into.”
“I don’t believe you. You don’t know Obinna. You don't know me either.”
“I knew you’d doubt me. Does he have a black scar on his upper inner thigh? On the right one?”
“I thought as much.” The voice said, and then hung up.
Obinna did have a black scar in his inner right thigh.
It was on that day that Sandra met Tony. She had tried to call Obinna immediately but all 3 of his lines were busy. She then called Chi.
“Na wa o!” Chi said with concern as they settled under a canopy at Skyline Sports Club.
“Good afternoon Madam. What can I get for you?” a waiter asked. They hadn’t even noticed him following them to their seat.
“A malt and a meat pie” Chi said not taking her eyes away from Sandra.
“I’ll take a Smirnoff and a meat pie please,” Sandra said dismissing the waiter.
“How do you feel?” Chi asked
“I’m just so confused. When will Obinna stop doing this to me? Is it a crime to love someone?”
Chi bit her tongue, resisting the strong urge to shout, “Did I not tell you so?” Her best friend needed her now and she had to just be there for her.
Sandra continued, “I mean, how many apologies will he give? You know, the sad part of it is that when I look into his eyes, I believe him. This love is blind o. Eh, Chi, what should I do?”
“Well…I just think you deserve someone who loves you and treats you like the queen you are” Chi said solemnly
“But Obinna loves me. So does his mom and sister”
“If he loves you, why is he putting you through this? Let me tell you my dear, my mother always told me one thing ‘a man may love you and still cheat on you but if he respects you enough, he’d do everything to make sure his weakness does not make you a public spectacle or hurt you. Obviously Obinna is not doing that. He’s doing his thing shamelessly. He's sleeping with people who sit in the same class as you for Christ's sake. Sandy, you don’t deserve this but it’s always your choice. If you’re strong enough, you can deal with it. Me, I no fit”.
Sandy sighed and could only manage to sadly mutter “I hear you…I hear you.”
They ate in silence, each wondering what the other was thinking.
As they walked alongside the pool towards Chi's car, they noticed a black Toyota Camry that looked like it had seen better days, pull into the parking lot, parking right next to Chi’s car. Two young attractive men came out. The driver was about 5’11 with a body that looked like he lived on the soccer field but with a face that didn’t completely match it. The other one was shorter at about 5’9, was dark in complexion and took a resemblance to an older Davido.
As Chi and Sandra walked past the guys, they couldn’t have missed the eyes of the shorter guy burning through their bodies.
“Hey pretty ladies. Why are you so hot?” the Davido look-alike said in a high-pitched voice
“Hey”, they both said dryly and in unison
“Charles, let the pretty ladies go their way. You no dey take eye see woman” the driver said smiling.
“Boy relax, I’m sure they don’t mind” Charles said smiling.
The driver approached them just as the girls got to their car.
“Please pardon my friend’s excesses.” He said with a smile that seemed awfully familiar to Sandra.
“It's ok.” Chi said with a “thank-you-but-leave-us-alone” smile and grabbed Sandra’s hand.
Sandra obliged. They had walked barely 3 steps when she turned back. The men had just turned towards the entrance to the sports club.
“Please, what’s your name?” she said to the driver.
“Last name, please”
“Okehie. Tony Okehie”
“No way!” Sandra almost screamed, realizing where she knew him from.
“Didn’t you go to Babylon Primary School in Ikeja, Lagos?”
“Didn’t you finish in 1997? Isn’t your sister’s name Meso?”
“Yes and yes. What’s your name?” Tony said wondering where he knew this pretty face from.”
“I’m Sandra Ameni. We went to the same primary school and I was friends with Meso”
“Oh my!” Tony said suddenly recognizing her.
“How’s Meso? I’ve been trying to find that girl”
That’s how Tony and Sandra met. They exchanged numbers and started hanging out. Tony just graduated medical school and was looking for a visa because he wanted to move to the United States and pursue residency there. He was attractive in his own right. He had a long face with full lips and narrow eyes. Tony didn’t have a fulltime job yet and so he spent most of his days volunteering at the local health clinic.
Sandra told Tony of all the events in her life. Her parents had died in a ghastly motor accident during her final year of secondary school and her only brother had moved to London in search of a better life. She now stayed with her mom’s sister in town who, as an international reporter, was hardly home.
After primary school, Tony and Meso had moved to South Africa where his father was transferred. His father died during his first year in University and he had to move back with his family to Nigeria to complete University and medical school. Meso was in University of Ibadan studying architecture.
To Sandra, Tony was just a friend and she enjoyed catching up with him. She was so comfortable with him; she shared with him her biggest fears and hopes.
Tony made good company for Sandra and he helped her get through her continuous tough times with Obinna. Whenever Obinna cheated, he was there to lend his shoulder for her to cry on.
Nine months after they met, one Saturday afternoon, Tony called and asked her if she wanted to accompany him to meet up with some friends at the beach. He promised her some old friends from primary school would be in attendance. Sandra couldn’t control her excitement. Obinna had been in London for 3 weeks now and she hadn’t heard from him in 3 days. He claimed he was “busy” closing some deals for his dad’s company.
It was exciting to see so many old faces. Sandra loved hearing where they had gone after primary school and what they were doing now. Mid-way into the party, Tony invited Sandra to take a walk with him along the beach.
As they walked, on the sand, Sandra had gushing about their old friends for about 5 minutes, when she noticed Tony was silent.
“What’s wrong Tony?” she asked looking up at her friend.
“The question is what’s right Sandra” Tony said as he scooted in front of her stopping her in her tracks.
She still had a puzzled look on her face when he went down on one knee and said and he opened a small jewelry box to reveal a diamond ring, “Sandra, ever since I ran into you, my life has been going right. We’ve gotten to know each other for almost a year now and each moment I’m away from you, I can’t stop thinking about you. You have become a best friend to me and I couldn’t ask for anything better. My life is moving and I want you by my side for the ride. I want to grow with you, loving you each step of the way. I got accepted into a residency program in San Francisco, California and my visa just came through. Please marry me. Come with me and make me the happiest man alive. Be my wife, Sandra”.
Sandra wasn’t sure how her legs moved or why they carried her away from Tony when he was on his knees, a disappointed expression on his face. She hadn't even realized she could move that fast. She had run all the way to the main road and hailed a cab to Chi’s house.
“I didn’t know what to say. Why did he have to ruin our friendship like this? Doesn’t he know I have a boyfriend?” She had asked Chi.
That was a week ago. Tony had called 3 times a day since then and she hadn’t picked up his calls. When she went to let her aunty know she was staying at chi’s place for a couple of weeks, the gateman told her Tony had shown up numerous times asking for her.
Obinna finally came back two days prior. It was during their first dinner together since his return that Obinna pulled out a ring and set it on the table. While chowing down his fried rice, he said, “Darling, here’s your ring. We have to start planning this wedding. My mom doesn’t want me to hit 28 without a wife. It's necessary for me as her only son to carry on the family name.”
Sandra picked up the 3-carat diamond ring and stared at it with mixed feelings.
“Since you’re graduating in 6 months, we can plan the traditional wedding for around that time and then the white wedding in December so your brother can attend.”
She just managed to mutter “Okay” before taking a sip of her sprite to quench her sudden scorching thirst.
“Baby, please put the ring on. Everyone needs to know you’re my wife. That’s what you want abi? Besides we’re going to my parent’s house from here. I need them to see it on you” he said as he chewed and took a gulp of his beer, stopping only for a second to look at her.
“So, the question now is who should I marry?”, Sandra said jilting Nne from her thoughts.
“Yinka, you haven’t said anything. Ngwa contribute” Nne said almost ignoring Sandra’s question
“I would vote Tony. But Sandy that will mean you’d go and struggle in America. He has no money plus he’s just ok, looks-wise.” Yinka said. She was notorious for riding the gray area
“But that’s only for a short time. Tony is a good man. I hear residency is only 3 years or so, then he’ll start making money” Chi chimed in.
“Biko that’s too long. Sandy you know you’re now used to the nice things of life. How will you adjust? Besides Tony is not too much of a looker. How can you resist Obinna? The dude is hot! Don’t you know they call you guys the showstopper couple? Please don’t pass on that jor,” Nne blurted using hand gestures to illustrate her points.
“How can you even say that? Is that how shallow you are?” Chi said hissing and turning away.
“Chi please stop this holier than thou attitude. Shut up jor, if it was you who had the opportunity to marry a minister’s son would you resist? She’s even wearing Obinna’s ring.” Nne hissed back pointing to the ring on Sandra’s finger.
Yinka took Sandra’s hand to admire it one more time.
“Nne, I won’t even fight with you today. I’m just saying marriage is deeper than money and looks. You of all people should know that.” Chi blurted in anger.
She wanted to take the words back as soon as they came out. She was referring to the broken home, in which Nne had grown up. Her father had been a legislator with loads of cash to spend. Story around town was that her mother chased him down but when he wouldn’t settle down, she got pregnant just so he will marry her. He did but it didn’t last long. They were divorced by Nne’s third birthday.
The look on Nne’s face gave away her burning anger and just as she was about to say something, Sandra intervened.
“Stop it you guys!” Sandra said
“Chi you were wrong for saying that” Yinka contributed.
“I’m sorry Nne but I still stand by my opinion” Chi admitted.
And that was the debate. Yinka couldn’t pick a side. Chi stood her ground for team Tony and Nne kept trying to convince Sandra to choose Obinna.
At that point, Sandra knew she needed higher authority.
She carried on as Obinna’s fiancée for one week, even attending a dinner his mother threw in their honor at their mansion on the Island, while she waited for her aunty to come back from her trip to Canada.
Tony stopped calling or showing up. According to his Davido-look-alike friend, he was leaving for the States in two weeks. I’m sure he heard about her engagement to Obinna. Who hadn’t heard? A picture of Sandra and Obinna smiling and looking into each other's eyes was front page in the local magazine with the caption “Most Eligible Bachelor in Town Set to Tie the Knot to Law Student”.
When her aunty walked in the door, thirteen days later, Sandra could barely wait for her to settle down before she poured her heart out to her.
Sandra's aunty was about 47, still young and beautiful but single. She immersed herself in her work as a top international reporter.
Her aunt gave her a long hug and sat beside her. She said, “Let me tell you a story. Sandy, I was you 24 years ago. I married an 'Obinna' and dumped a Tony. It only lasted 10 years. He slept with our housemaid. He slept with 4 of my friends. He slept with anyone who would let him. I thought I could do it. I thought I could distract myself with the trips to Milan and Paris and the fleet of cars at my disposal. I thought the big house and the numerous designer clothes and shoes would be enough. It wasn’t. I was lonely. But I stayed. I loved the money, the prestige and the man I married. I hope he would change. He never did. The day I decided to leave was the day I walked in on him and my cousin. That day I woke up and I had spent 10 years of my life waiting for a man to change, and to realize I was enough for him.”
She stood up and as set her suitcase down to unpack, she solemnly said, “Don’t be me”
“What do you mean?” Sandy inquired.
“Choose the man who can’t live without you”. She said, almost in a tone designed for secrets.
Sandra nodded, gave her aunty a tight hug and whispered “thank you”, knowing then who her husband would be.
She had better hurry. He was leaving the next day.
***May be continued****
I'm curious to know what you think..... Team Obinna or Team Tony??? Comment away :-)
***May be continued****
I'm curious to know what you think..... Team Obinna or Team Tony??? Comment away :-)