They sat outside the apartment eating from a plate of roasted corn and boiled pear. It was weekend and they had decided to stay at home, rather than go out. She enjoyed spending time with him, be it in the office, at home or anywhere else. Her wish would finally come through when he proposed to her and they got married. It would be the best day of her life. Her smile thinned into a frown when she noticed the person coming in through the gate. She turned to look at him and his excited expression made her feel worse. She hoped she wouldn’t have to compete for his attention when they tied the knot. Why was his best friend a girl? How many guys out there had girls as their closest friends?
“Hello lover birds,” Bina waved at them and settled on the long bench beside him.
“Look who the cat dragged out of the bin,” Tjay drawled.
She hit him on the shoulder.
“Ouch! Don’t you know it’s not lady-like to punch people?” he eyed her.
Bina rolled her eyes.
“I am serious,” he feigned been hurt.
“Guess what?” her coffee brown eyes sparkled in delight.
“What?” his full attention was directed at her.
She stretched out her left hand. The gold ring on the third finger glittered.
“Wow!” Adiza felt a pang of jealousy. If Tjay was wealthy, he would have been able to purchase a ring as lovely as Bina’s own, but, he wasn’t. Nevertheless, he was a hardworking young man who had a bright future.
Tjay pressed his lips together and stilled the anguish he felt within. It was high time he dealt with his feelings for her. Even if he had to relocate to another part of the country, he would do it.
“Eru proposed last night,” she bit at her bottom lip.
“Hmm… don’t you think you guys are rushing it?” he stared at the ring in contempt.
She hit him on the shoulder again.
“Hey! Stop that,” he rubbed his shoulder. If they were alone, he would have resorted into tickling Bina until she begged for mercy, but he doubted if his girlfriend would condone that kind of play. He would never understand why women see other women as threats.
Adiza tried to overlook their playful attitude, but couldn’t. Why wasn’t he as free with her as he was with his childhood friend? Maybe because he had known Bina for more than a decade, she reasoned.
“I am meeting his people this weekend,” Bina grinned from ear to ear.
“Nice,” he wanted to be happy for her, but, he couldn’t force it. His heart was bleeding that very moment. Was he really going to lose her? Why didn’t he open up to her sooner? He had been such a fool.
“Congratulations,” Adiza smiled at her.
“Thanks,” she beamed and got up, “I have to go; I have an errand to run.
“Okay, let me see you off,” he got up slowly.
“See you later,” Bina waved at Adiza and turned to leave.
“I will be right back,” he winked at his girlfriend and followed his childhood friend out of the compound.
Adiza sighed and folded her arms across her chest. The sooner Bina got married the better for them all. She didn’t like the idea of sharing her man with another woman.
Eru drove into the compound of his parents’ home in Ikorodu Township. He parked his car, killed the engine and glanced at his fiancée.
“Here we are.”
She stared back at him and tried to still her turmoil mind. It was the first time she would be meeting his parents. His younger sister and her husband were also going to be around. She didn’t know what to expect.
“Trust me; they are going to love you.”
She tried to smile and swallowed the spittle that gathered in her mouth.
“Let’s go,” he alighted from the vehicle.
She took a deep breath and got down from the car. The compound was large. The big bungalow was impressive.
The Ogheneochuko family were excited to meet their only son’s fiancée. She was beautiful, educated and from a well known family. They were glad that he had chosen well.
Bna was flattered by their attention. It was good to know that she would be getting married into a good family.
Eru was happy that his family had grown fond of his fiancee. They had dinner the night they arrived, talked about preparations for the wedding and turned in for the night.
Bina woke up early that Saturday morning and found her way to the kitchen. She made herself a mug of tea and toast. She ate, left the used cup, plate, toaster and cutleries in the kitchen and returned to her room.
Hours later, while they all had breakfast, Mrs. Ogheneochuko asked if she had been in the kitchen that morning and she admitted it.
Ejiro, Eru’s younger sister, the only girl in the family and also the last child of their parents, was around with her husband, Omoefe and her children.
Ejiro advised Bina, “Your maid or house help might not always be around to clean up after you. As a woman, you need to take charge of your home.”
“Exactly,” her mother added, “You need to be a good home maker.”
Her husband nodded in affirmative.
Eru felt very ashamed. All had gone well since they arrived. He hoped that his fiancée wouldn’t spoil the good rapport she had with his family with her carelessness.
Bina pushed her plate away and looked from mother to daughter, “Is it because I left that cup and plate in the sink?”
“That is how it always starts,” Ejiro waved a finger at her as if she was a naughty child.
“From a few dirty plates to a whole messed up kitchen,” Mrs. Ogheneochuko added.
Bina gave a shake of head; she felt that her fiance’s mother and sister had ganged up against her, “Wow… just one cup and one plate.”
“Will you just apologize and accept your mistake?” Eru was beginning to feel irritable.
She turned to him. She felt upset that he had taken sides with his family instead of supporting her and coming to her aid, “Apologize? For what now?”
Eru pushed his half-eaten plate of food away. His appetite had flown out of the window, “I want you to apologize for your behaviour this minute!” If she apologized, he believed that his family will forgive her and overlook what she had done.
They all stared at her like a disobedient child.
Bina hissed and clapped her hands together, “I have seen wonders in this life. Why are you making a mountain out of a mole hill?”
Ejiro hissed and directed her sad gaze at her brother, “Is this the kind of woman you want to marry? You are on a very long thing.”
His annoyance increased. He folded his arms across his chest. He would make her apologize to his family whether she liked it or not. He had thought that she could change, but, it seemed that she was beyond help.
“Someone who refuses to listen to you,” his father shook his head, “Major disrespect.”
Eru felt saddened that his father was also disappointed, he turned to his fiancée, “Bina, this is more than leaving a few plates in the kitchen.”
“It isn’t. Your mum and sister are just creating an unnecessary scene.”
Ejiro pushed her chair backwards and got up, “Look at this… this thing. How dare you speak to us this way? Don’t you have manners at all?”
Omoefe, her husband, squeezed her by the hand.
“Honey, let me put her in her place. She is all beauty and no brains. She lacks manners, decorum and etiquette,” Ejiro flared.
Bina started to laugh.
“I want you to apologize to my entire family this minute,” Eru glared at her. What he feared had eventually materialized.
She stared at him angrily, “I will do no such thing. I cannot believe that you are dancing to their tune.”
“If you won’t apologize to them, then you are not ready to get married,” he lashed out.
Her eyes widened in astonishment, “What do you mean?” she whispered.
“I don’t think I want to be married to someone who doesn’t listen to me. Someone who speaks to my family, people I have known all my life… anyhow. It is unacceptable,” his eyes turned red.
Ejro smiled and sat back on her chair. She was glad that her brother had taken control of the situation.
Bina shook her head and tried to hold back the tears threatening to spill all over her face.
“Please give me back my ring,” he stretched out his hand and avoided looking at her.
She opened her mouth and closed it. She looked at them all, then back at him. It was the seventh time someone she was planning to marry would break up with her. Was she cursed or something?
“Give me my ring,” he reached out for her left hand and slipped the gold ring off her finger, “You don’t deserve this,” he hissed.
Tears streamed all over her face. She staggered to her feet, walked out of the dining room and found her way back to the guest room. She packed her things and headed out. The security guard allowed her out of the compound. She stood at the gate and sighed. How was she going to get home?