The Second Wife – Episode 10
© Onyinyechukwu Mbeledogu
‘Good morning, Double D,’ Priye told her big brother, hiding a yawn at the back of her hand.
Dienye was in the smaller sitting room watching an old premier league match. Well, he appeared to be watching the match but his mind clearly wasn’t there. However, he turned when his sister sprawled in an unladylike manner beside him on the couch.
‘Please tell me you at least had a good night’s sleep,’ Priye said to her brother, noting that he hadn’t shaved.
‘Yes, I did,’ Dienye responded.
‘What gives?’ she asked. ‘Thinking of your proposal to Soki?’
They had talked about it the previous day when she arrived at his home from school. Priye had been pleasantly surprised by the news. She knew her good friend had a crush on her eldest brother and had teased her so many times about it but she hadn’t seen this coming. When she had called Dienye on Thursday asking for his assistance, she hadn’t expected Dienye to give Soki the entire sum. She had believed that her brother would give Soki a cheque for a reasonable amount. The proposal was definitely unexpected.
The Daniel-Hart family had been worried about Dienye after Nengi passed on. Nengi had been his world. They had been friends long before Priye was born. Her death had affected Dienye so much that the family had actually feared that Dienye would grieve himself to an early grave, but that hadn’t happened. The only outward evidence of his grief was his refusal or failure to date. Well, there was also the case of his refusal to use the master bedroom he had shared with Nengi. His excuse had been that the room was too big and thus lonely for just one person. His home boasted of six en-suite bedrooms and he had been using one of them since then.
Two things got her worried when her brother told her he was getting married to Soki: (1) He was way older than Soki. Soki was only a few months older than Priye who, being the youngest of the Daniel-Hart siblings, had three sisters and a brother between herself and Dienye. (2) She couldn’t tell whether or not Dienye was really ready to start a new family. Perhaps if he had really grieved, this wouldn’t have been an issue. But Dienye hadn’t grieved properly. At least not in the open, considering what Nengi had meant to him.
Despite wanting to see her brother settle down once more, Priye had tried to persuade him to change his mind about marrying Soki, at least for now. The timing and intention were wrong. For now, she was the only one in the family who knew why Soki and Dienye were getting married. Her parents would be relieved that their oldest son hadn’t finally taken the path of a eunuch. Belema would be back soon and he definitely wouldn’t buy the story that Dienye had suddenly fallen in love with his young friend. It wouldn’t be long before he found out the true story and tried to talk his big brother out of making a mistake he and Soki would no doubt regret.
‘You know you aren’t ready to become emotionally attached again,’ Priye told her big brother.
‘Who said anything about being emotionally attached?’
‘Like you would spend the rest of your life with Soki without getting emotionally attached? You are drawn to her. Beneath the seemingly innocent flirtations is a man attracted to a young woman who obviously adores him. However, big bro, you need to properly grieve Nengi before you can allow another woman into your life. It wouldn’t be good for either of you.’
‘Soki and I are getting married,’ Dienye said stubbornly. ‘We would sort every other thing after the wedding.’
‘That’s a dangerous comment to make, big bro. You are my eldest brother and I love you very much. I believe that any woman who has you for a husband would be the luckiest woman alive. However, for your sake and Soki’s you need to rethink this. Even if you insist on getting married to her, please have an extended courtship. That should give you enough time to sort out your feelings and give you two enough time to grow on each other. Soki is my friend and I know she would keep her word to marry you if after the long courtship you still want to marry her, but please do not rush things.’
Dienye shook his head.
‘You do know that this is not really anyone’s business but Soki’s and I?’
‘I’m your sister and if I don’t worry about you, then who else will I worry about?’ Priye asked him.
Dienye took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He didn’t want an extended courtship. He was afraid that if he did he would change his mind about settling down with Soki. He still loved Nengi but that didn’t mean he wasn’t ready to remarry. He was still young enough to have a family of his own. He was wealthy and his wealth drew a lot of females to him. With Soki he was in no doubt as to why she was marrying him; he wouldn’t be falling into the trap of making the wrong decision and having to live with it for the rest of his life. He was old fashioned enough not to consider a divorce.
He reached out to pull his sister close, brushing a kiss across her forehead.
‘Your friend is in safe hands. You know I won’t hurt her.’
‘Not intentionally.’ Priye said. ‘You wouldn’t intend to, but I’m afraid you two might have problems if the issue of Nengi isn’t resolved.’
‘Soki is in safe hands.’ He repeated.
Housing Estate, Woji
Soki paced nervously in her bedroom. Her parents were in the master bedroom and she hadn’t seen them for hours. She knew better than to disturb them. Dienye was picking her up by 6:30pm and being a stickler for punctuality he would most likely arrive a minimum of five minutes to the time.
The doorbell rang but she barely noticed as she focused on getting ready for her date. Her heart was pounding against her chest. This was her first date and she was so nervous. There was a reason for every phase of one’s life and once you missed any phase, you never have the opportunity to get it back again. She should have dated before now as it would have given her an edge tonight. As it stood, she was a JJC – a Johnny Just Come.
She recalled one of the advices she had picked up from conversations with her roommates and course mates – always go out with ‘vex money’ whenever on a date, just in case the man tries to misbehave. Vex money meant a little money you had on your person to get you a ride back to school in case your date misbehaved. But vex money wasn’t going to work this time. She was broke. Besides, it wasn’t necessary since the man in question was her fiancé.
She had picked a gift with her last cash – a black leather wallet which she had JCI Logo engraved on it. It wasn’t much but she hoped he would appreciate it. He loved T-shirts but he also made a living producing them in massive quantities for clients within and outside the country. The favourable recommendations ensured that he was able to make millions in profit each year. And so getting him a T-shirt might not be the best thing to do. She would have to make do with the wallet. Next Valentines’ Day she would come up with something much better.
She took a deep breath and touched up her makeup.
* * * * *
In the sitting room of the Achebe home, Dienye was watching his parents-in-law-to-be who sat adjacent to him. He had arrived a few minutes earlier and called Soki but she hadn’t answered the call. He had also sent her a text before approaching the front door. He had been surprised when the door was opened by an elegant woman he suspected to be Soki’s mum. She had let him into the house watching him with curious eyes. When he introduced himself and informed her that he was there to take Soki out, she immediately offered him a seat and called her husband. And so there they were, watching each other in what was an awkward situation.
‘Nwasoka tells me I have you to thank for my release,’ Joshua Achebe told the young man in front of him.
‘Actually you have your daughter to thank for that. She only reached out to me in addition to others.’
‘She’s a very precious girl,’ Joshua said in praise of his daughter. ‘I still appreciate your contribution.’
‘We both do,’ Ezinne concurred, looking in her husband’s direction, gesturing with her eyes that this was the moment to say whatever it was that they had discussed earlier.
Dienye knew that they would have a lot of questions to ask. After all, he would react in the same way if he was in their shoes.
‘Like I said, I appreciate what you did for me. However, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, I would like to have an alternative arrangement with you other than the one you have with my daughter.’
Dienye was silent.
‘Nwasoka is precious to me and I wouldn’t want her to do anything that she might end up regretting because it is in her nature to adopt other people’s problems as hers. I am sure she must have told you that I would rather have remained locked up that have her pay for my sins.’
‘She did,’ Dienye responded quietly.
He knew where this was headed. They would have preferred an Onitsha man as Soki had informed him yesterday. Besides, they knew nothing about him. However, irrespective of the circumstances, he and Nwasoka would be getting married. He just had to find a way to ensure that he didn’t make an enemy out of his in-laws-to-be in the process.
‘I would feel more comfortable if I can have a payment plan for the money you paid on my behalf,’ Joshua told the younger man. ‘I want my daughter married to an Onitsha man. However, if she decides that she wants to marry from another tribe, I wouldn’t stop her or stand in her way just as long as I know she is doing it for LOVE. This clearly isn’t the situation here. As her father I cannot allow her to get married to satisfy a debt that wasn’t hers to pay in the first place.’
‘I appreciate your plight, Mr Achebe.’ Dienye told him. ‘However, this is out of either of our hands.’
‘Is it? You do not have to marry my daughter. I am certain you are not in love with her and therefore can give up this idea in exchange of me paying my debt to you. For it is my debt not my daughter’s.’
‘She will be in safe hands.’ Dienye assured them.
‘But you do not love her.’ Ezinne interjected.
‘No, I don’t.’ Dienye said in agreement, quickly adding: ‘but she is very dear to me.’
‘Love is very important in a marriage. Its role cannot be over emphasised. I – we do not want our daughter to be in a loveless marriage especially since her father and I have loved each other for almost thirty years,’ Ezinne told him.
‘I fully understand-’
‘I don’t think you do,’ Joshua countered. ‘Nwasoka is still in school and too young to be thinking of getting married. You are a lot older and more mature than she is.’
‘And she will be well taken care of.’
Joshua took his head.
‘I have no intention of stopping her education. She is free to pursue her education to any level of her choice.’
‘Good. But I still intend to work out a payment plan with you. If Nwasoka chooses to marry you, then I would prefer if it is because you love each other.’
Dienye fully understood their fears. His parents had been married for thirty-eight years. He had been married to Nengi for seven years and had they not been in love, they probably would have gone their separate ways. He had been so in love with her that he had stayed and worked around the challenges they had. Nengi had constantly experienced dyspareunia and as such hated sex because no matter how gentle he was with her, she always felt pain. They had visited a few gynaecologists with the same result –
she had primary vaginismus. And so they had settled for lengthy foreplays so that the main sexual encounter was as short as possible. And they would have spent the rest of their lives this way if she had survived. There had been nothing medically wrong with either of them that would have prevented them from having children. Like him, Nengi had loved children. After waiting for seven years to have one without success, they had decided to adopt. However, she had passed on and he didn’t bother completing the process.
Yes, love was very important but he was sure that he and Nwasoka would work something out. He didn’t believe in divorce unless domestic abuse was involved and he had been brought up to respect females. He had four younger sisters and had never raised his hand against any female. He wouldn’t start now.
‘About the payment plan…’ Joshua continued.
‘There will be no payment plan.’
Three heads turned in the direction of the voice. Soki had activated the silent sign on her phone earlier in order to avoid a few calls and had forgotten about it until she picked up her phone wondering why Dienye was late. That was when she had seen his name on the incoming call log and read his message too. She had quickly run out of her room with the intention of putting a stop to whatever it was that her parents would be discussing with Dienye in her absence.
‘There will be no payment plan, mum, dad,’ Soki repeated as she joined them there in the sitting room.
‘Nwasoka,’ Ezinne started.
‘No, mum,’ Soki interrupted. ‘I am getting married to Dienye. So forget about the payment plan.’
Dienye rose to his feet. Soki looked lovely in her red dress and light makeup. The difference between Soki and Nengi hit him. Nengi was very beautiful, tall and a size eight with full hips. Soki on the other hand was a size 12 or thereabout and a full foot shorter than he was and although not as beautiful as Nengi, was pretty in her own right. His attraction for her showed that he didn’t have a specific type when it came to women. He particular loved her full busts and eye catching backside. He smiled at the thought.
‘I’m sorry to have kept you waiting,’ Soki told Dienye. ‘My phone was placed on silent mode earlier and I forget to change the settings.’
‘No sweat, babe,’ he told her. ‘You look absolutely ravishing, my dear.’
‘Thank you.’ Nwasoka flushed at the compliment.
Her parents were immediately forgotten. Dienye also looked good in his light blue shirt tucked into black slacks. She figured that he would look good in whatever outfit he chose.
‘It was nice meeting you, Mr Achebe, Mrs Achebe,’ he told them as he took Soki’s left hand in his and led her out of the sitting room.
‘I’m really sorry for the delay,’ she apologised profusely as Dienye drove off. ‘It was not my intention to leave you to face my parents alone.’
‘I am an adult, babe,’ he laughed. ‘Besides, they were only worried about you and your future, which is quite normal considering the circumstances.’
Her gift from Dienye was a Motorola Phone, Motorazr V3 to replace the phone she moved around with. Soki felt bad about giving him such a small gift that for a moment she pretended she hadn’t bought anything. However, she soon changed her mind and gave him the wallet. His excited look wasn’t feigned. He thanked her saying that he had been procrastinating getting a new wallet for some time. He particularly loved the JCI Logo engraved on it. Right in front of her, he took out his wallet and showed it to Soki. It was really old, she thought and seriously in need of a change. She was glad to be the one to provide an alternative for him. She figured even wealthy guys could overlook a lot of things others took for granted.
Dienye quickly transferred the contents of the old wallet into the new and bigger one, smiling as he looked at it. Then he turned to her and kissed her lightly on the forehead, thanking her once more.
‘Even our thoughts are linked,’ he smiled. ‘So you see we are really meant to be together.’
The rest of the night went on perfectly.
To be continued