THE SECOND WIFE
Read an excerpt of the book below:
Dienye stood in the hallway. He was at loss as to what to do about Soki’s predicament. He really wanted to help her, not just for his sister, but also because he really liked her. He was her last bus stop. He had done a lot by promising to give her N2, 000,000 which was not to be refunded. Well, he would give her N3, 000,000 but that was all. Some people would think him foolish for doing this for a woman he wasn’t in love with and who wasn’t in love with him, a woman he wasn’t even in any relationship with.
This wasn’t exactly a charity case per se. He usually had a budget every year set out for children and teenagers in need of surgery. This would be the first time he would be giving such an amount to someone who wasn’t directly involved in a problem. This was actually her father’s problem but Soki had taken it upon herself to raise the money. She had already missed school so close to the first semester examinations as a result. If he didn’t help her out, she would be compelled by her love and loyalty towards her father to accept her father’s boss’ indecent proposal. No one would blame him; after all he was giving her a whole lot of money, more money than any of her relatives had given her and asking for nothing in return.
He doubted if Priye, when sending her friend to him, had intended that she get the entire sum from him. Priye would be more than grateful for what he had done so far. What Soki did afterwards shouldn’t be his problem. However, could he allow her to leave, knowing that she would be sacrificing her happiness and her morals just so that her father could regain his freedom irrespective of how her father might feel about it? His three million naira would assist her but make no difference as Nze Maduabuchi would still have her in his bed for three years.
This really shouldn’t be my problem, he told himself. God knows I have tried. I care about that girl but I have tried my best. She has no collateral I can use for my investment and I have nothing to gain by losing the entire sum.
He rubbed at his temple. It was easier to sign cheques when it involved terminal illnesses faced by children or teenagers and as gifts to orphans and widows. However, this was a different case. What justification would he have for giving out N5, 870,000 to save a man from being prosecuted especially given the fact that he was actually an accessory after the fact?
‘She intends to work until she can pay you completely,’ a voice inside his head reminded him. ‘You should think about that.’
‘And I cannot employ her for years without paying her,’ he countered. ‘So that is completely out of the question.’
‘What if her father comes up with a payment plan?’
‘Do you seriously see him having a job waiting for him once he is out of police custody?’
‘You call her your babe and your sweetheart but you know that N3, 000,000 you intend to give to her isn’t going to change anything. She will still have no other choice but to give in to the man’s demands. You can afford to give her the entire sum but if you insist on a collateral for the extra N2, 870,000, then you might as well marry her and get it over with.’ the voice suggested.
‘I have no intention of-’ he paused before he could complete the sentence.
Marry her? Why should he? He wasn’t looking for a wife. He wasn’t in the market for a wife. So his family members didn’t hesitate anytime they had the opportunity to try to get him hitched with one of their friends or friend’s children, that didn’t mean he had to get hitched before he was ready. Even if he was ready, he and Soki didn’t know each other like that.
He was going to get married and have children but getting married to Soki was not an option. She was too young. He had at least fourteen years on her. The perfect man for her should still be in his mid-twenties. Besides, wouldn’t proposing to her amount to taking advantage of her situation? She would most likely accept given the fact that the other proposal she had was indecent. No, he would prefer the harmless flirtations they enjoyed every now and then.
‘And then you get to live with her being forced into the arms of a man thrice her age when you were in a position to avoid it,’ that voice continued.
‘Yes, it would be all on you. That girl adores you and you know it. If given the chance, she could easily fall in love with you. Not giving her the entire sum is the same as not giving her anything. If anything, it would be tantamount to giving her three million naira as an incentive to bear the old man’s touch for three year: One million naira for every year. You became responsible for her wellbeing the moment you agreed to help her. You know she has exhausted all her options. You cannot go to bed tonight without resolving this.’
Curse his damned conscience and kind heart! The voice was right. He certainly couldn’t sleep well knowing that she would be a sacrificial lamb to a man like Avreson’s boss. Had she not been an innocent it would have been easy to just give her a million and satisfy his conscience. But she was an innocent and he didn’t want her innocence being lost to a man like that. It was better for her to be with her husband than a man old enough to be her grandfather.
‘Look on the bright side, you would be getting your relatives off your back the moment they know you are getting married. No need to avoid family programmes anymore.’
He recalled his grandmother’s statement about his ‘equipment’ becoming rusty and useless and told himself that perhaps ending his celibate days was long overdue.
‘Let’s hope I know what I am doing.’