The Second Wife – Episode 9
© Onyinyechukwu Mbeledogu
Housing Estate, Woji
The loud banging on Soki’s door had the dual effect of rousing her from the beautiful dream she was having, and knocking her right off the bed so that she landed unceremoniously on the carpeted floor. It was that unexpected! Cursing beneath her breath she picked herself up.
The banging continued.
‘I’m coming,’ she called out wondering what this was all about.
It was obviously not a medical emergency or whoever was at the door would have already come into the bedroom, after all, the door was open. She placed the back of her hand over her mouth in a yawn, pushing down her short night shirt as she walked to the door. She opened the door surprised to find her dad there and he didn’t look a bit happy at all.
She didn’t need a seer to know that her mum had told him the circumstances surrounding his release and he was clearly not happy about it. Here we go! Until this point, she had been hundred percent sure that she could deal with this herself but one look at her dad’s unsmiling face made her wonder if she had done the right thing by not accepting Dienye’s offer to be with her when her father was releases. Dienye had wanted to speak with her dad last night but she had dissuaded him from it, saying that she didn’t want to break the news so soon after her dad’s release.
‘Good morning daddy.’ she greeted.
For once her father didn’t answer her greeting.
‘What have you done?’ He asked without preamble.
‘I got you out of police custody, dad.’ she responded without bothering to pretend that she didn’t know what he was talking about.
Being in police custody had aged her Dad by ten years and she was happy he was no longer there. Had Dienye not come to her rescue her daddy would have been either handed over to the EFCC or kept in prison custody awaiting trial and for that she would always be grateful to him. She had visited the Bundu Prisons in her third year in school and she was shocked at what she had seen. The prison had inmates thrice its capacity with a majority of them awaiting trial. She couldn’t imagine her dad being one of the inmates in such a place.
She stood aside as her dad walked into her organised bedroom. There was nothing out of place except the unarranged bed. Soki was a stickler for neatness.
‘I wish you had let me deal with the problem like I told you,’ dad said as he sat on the edge of her bed, a spot used to him as they spent most times talking like friends in her room.
‘I know you specifically asked me restrict myself to reaching out to your friends and our family members and nothing more, but I am your daughter, daddy and there was no way I could just fold my arms without trying to raise the balance of the money.’
She sat next to him and he sighed deeply. She could tell this was weighing so much on him. He was angry more with himself than he was with her.
‘I am so sorry, Soki,’ he apologised. ‘I put you in this position by my actions.’
‘It’s alright daddy. At least you’re free. And that’s what’s important.’ she told him, sliding her hand through the crook of his arm and resting her head on his shoulder.
He kissed the top of her head.
‘At least I didn’t have to go around having sex with multiple partners to raise the money. I got one major donor.’
‘One you are now compelled to marry. I can’t let you marry a riverine man.’ Dad told her.
‘This has nothing to do with your dislike for the riverine man, dad.’ she responded. ‘Dienye is a good man. He came to my rescue when I needed him the most and he didn’t ask me for sex.’
‘He didn’t have to. Once he is married to you, he will have all the sex he wants from you. If he was as decent as you said, he wouldn’t have made marriage a requirement.’
‘If you were in his shoes, would you have given out that kind of money without some sort of collateral?’ she asked him. ‘I don’t think so. We didn’t have any landed property to use and the current worth of the cars couldn’t cover a fourth of the amount. It didn’t even help that the people who priced the cars were pricing them as though they were worth nothing. It was a better proposal than I received from some of your friends, daddy.’
She felt him go tense.
‘He is Belema and Priye’s eldest brother and I trust him.’
‘You don’t know him and you cannot base your trust based on his siblings’ opinion of him.’
‘I am not basing my opinion on those of his siblings. I know him, perhaps not as well as I should, but I know for a fact that he is trustworthy. He was ready to part with N3,
000,000.00 without asking me for anything in return.’
‘You wouldn’t know that now, would you, since you have already accepted his proposal?’
‘He paid the money into my account before I went to see him yesterday,’ she returned. ‘I was under no obligation to accept his proposal. I accepted his proposal because I couldn’t raise the rest of the money and I wanted you out of there. Besides, I have had a crush on the guy for two years so it isn’t as though this is a total stranger that we are talking about.’
Her dad shook his head.
‘No matter your view of him, I do not approve of you spending the rest of your life with a man who doesn’t love you. I will have to talk to him about a payment plan.’
She rose to her feet.
‘A payment plan! No way! I will not have you incurring additional debts after the sacrifice I have made to avoid same. It’s too late.’
‘I intend to do whatever it takes to get you out of this,’ he told her stubbornly.
Fortunately, she had inherited his stubborn nature.
‘It is completely out of your hands.’ she told him. ‘I have promised him that I am going to marry him and I will.’
Her dad looked at her.
‘That promise was extracted under duress. I am sure you know the legal implications of agreements made under duress.’
She was well aware of it but as far as she was concerned the issue didn’t arise in this case.
‘You wouldn’t be protesting this much if Dienye was an Onitsha man.’
‘That’s not the issue.’
‘It is, daddy. It is. It is unfortunate that I didn’t have an Onitsha man or by extension an
Anambra man make me the same offer Dienye did. I made a promise to a good man, one I have every intention of honouring. It was my decision to marry him.’
‘All because you felt you had no other choice.’
‘I didn’t have any. Besides I couldn’t accept your boss’ indecent proposal. I am sure mum told you about his proposal to have me as his mistress for three years in exchange for the money.’
‘Yes, she did. The nerve of the man!’ Dad cursed. ‘I hope he didn’t lay a hand on you.’
‘He wasn’t successful.’
Dad heaved a sigh of relief.
‘That’s why his proposal increased from eight months to three years. I don’t want to think about him.’
‘I still wish you had let me face whatever charges they would bring against me. For all you know, the suits would have been dismissed on technicalities.’
That was possible, but there was no way she was going to risk it.
‘I am just grateful to God for using Dienye to get you out of police custody and future problems with the law.’
‘I still don’t like this at all.’
‘Dienye is a good man,’ she insisted. ‘And he will most likely make a good son-in-law.’
Her Dad snorted in disbelief. He didn’t know Dienye was a widower and she intended to keep him in the dark until later.
‘I know you would want to meet Dienye behind my back and talk him out of marrying me, but I would advise you not to. I have every intention of marrying him and you can feel free to tell me ‘I told you so’ if I have any problems with him.’
‘I can always refuse to give my consent and my blessings,’ he told her.
‘And what exactly would you gain by doing that?’
‘I would have my daughter back. You might feel that we wouldn’t be having this conversation if I had been more cautious, but what has happened has happened and I can’t change it. However, that doesn’t mean that I will stand back and allow you make what I consider to be the worst mistake of your life.’
What she thought or didn’t think about what she was getting herself into wasn’t important right now. Was she making a mistake by getting involved with Dienye? Only time would tell.
‘I am twenty-one, daddy and legally an adult, able to make my own decisions. I will be spending the rest of my life with this man and it is up to you to decide whether or not want your daughter living with a man she isn’t married to.’
‘Is that a threat?’
‘No, daddy. I was just pointing out how important it is for me to keep my word. You taught me not to make promises unless I intend to keep same, remember.’
Her dad looked like he was going to argue further but she stopped him with her next words:
‘Dienye will be coming to pick me up this evening. I hope you would be nice to him.’
His eyes narrowed.
‘He’ll formally ask for my hands in marriage because he is a good man who would not take it for granted that having paid so much he now owns me.’
‘I don’t want a riverine son-in-law,’ her dad protested one last time.
‘But you are destined to have one.’
She hugged her dad, telling him that everything was going to be okay and begging him not to get involved in her dealings with Dienye. Achebe was a big family and it would be so easy to have them hold an emergency family meeting because of her at the instance of her dad. She wasn’t going to take the risk of finding out whether his detest of the riverine tribe would surpass his need to keep the reason for his arrest secret. So far, all they knew was that he had some problems that required a lot of cash which he would pay back once he was settled.
Her dad left but she knew this discussion was far from over. She just hoped her mum would have a way of distracting him, at least today. They should do whatever it was that they did on Valentine’s Day. Besides, this Valentine’s Day was different in that her dad had gone through semi hell and back and there was so much to be grateful for.
Soki shut the door behind him and went into the bathroom where she quickly brushed her teeth before heading for the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She had her first date with Dienye that evening and was really nervous about it. They were engaged and it was only right that she spend the day with him. The question right now was what kind of gift could she give to her mega rich fiancé especially considering the fact that she was literally broke?
To be continued