CHAPTER TWENTY-SIXChike got a call from his uncle in the United Kingdom. The man wanted him to come over for his Industrial Training. His uncle believ
Chike got a call from his uncle in the United Kingdom. The man wanted him to come over for his Industrial Training. His uncle believed that it would pave a way for him by the time he graduated and he would be able to apply to any University in the U.K for his masters. When he called and spoke with His parents, they informed him that his papers had already been processed and he would be joining his uncle as soon as he completed his first semester examination. He was over-joyed. He had always wanted to travel abroad. Many of his course-mates do not even know where they would be taking their Industrial Training. Some have started lobbing to get into oil companies. He would have been part of these ones, but, God had other fantastic plans for him.
He checked the time on his phone. It was past six. Bukky would have started frying akara and her aunt would have put yam and plantain in the hot oil. He was hungry, but, he wasn’t sure if he was ready to see her. He had been avoiding her since the last time they spoke. It hurt that she belonged to someone else. He thought of how close he had gotten to almost dating her.
His Industrial Training in the U.K would give him the time he needed to kill his feelings for her. Six months was a long time. He might be able to get over her completely, before returning home in September for the new session at school. He just couldn’t fathom how he had fallen in love with someone he wasn’t even going out with. God help him.
He decided to make oatmeal and boiled eggs for breakfast before heading for school. He would have preferred bread and fried eggs, but, he ate the last loaf of bread two days ago.
Bukky stood at the gate of her new compound on the look-out for her boyfriend. He called some minutes ago that he had just returned home from school. It was a good thing that they were no longer living in the same house. It would have been hard to spend time with each other, especially with angry frowns from his family. The Phillips do not patronize them anymore and she and her aunt didn’t care. They had better customers. She broke into a smile when she saw a tall lanky dark figure in a red short-sleeve tee-shirt and brown khaki shorts, strolling towards her.
“Look at my pretty sweet heart.”
She blushed and her smile broadened.
“Na wa o, you have added weight again,” he seized her up.
He was right. She noticed some weeks ago that her clothes do not fit anymore. She had jumped from size 8 to 10.
“You look good,” desire welled up inside him.
“Thanks, but, you look thinner,” she looked him up and down.
“Don’t join my mother. She is also complaining.”
She took him by the hand and led him into the building, “Let’s go inside.”
“Is your aunt in?”
“No, she has gone to church.”
They went into the apartment. He looked around him and settled on the two settee.
“I hope to move my family into a place like this.”
She shook her head, “You need a better place.”
He grinned, “True.”
“What can I offer you?”
“Come and sit down first. I am not a visitor.”
“Okay,” she settled on the chair beside him, “We have soft drinks, Malt, melon soup, okro soup, meat and fish stew…”
“Okay, okay, I hear you. I will eat later,” he cupped her oval face in his palms, “I just want to look at you. I have really, really, really missed
She giggled, “Assuming you have a camera phone, I would have been able to send you pictures.”
He eyed her, “So, you bought yourself a camera phone and you didn’t get one for me.”
“It is not like that.”
He dropped his hands, “I hear you,” he leaned against the chair.
“This phone is a birthday gift,” she picked up the Nokia Express phone on the table.
He raised an eyebrow, “From whom?’
His brows came together in a frown, “This is a very expensive phone. Are you sure he doesn’t have a sinister motive.”
She started to laugh.
“This is not funny,” he eyed the phone.
“Relax, Chike is just a friend.”
He folded his arms across his chest, “Is he around?”
She shrugged, “I am not sure. I have not seen him in a long while. Maybe he travelled home for the Easter holiday.”
He felt relieved, “Good, I want you all to myself, no distractions.”
She started to laugh.
Gbemiga leaned forward and kissed her lightly, “I love you. Much more than the whole wide world combined.”
“I love you too,” her pretty dark eyes twinkled.
“You are the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. Once I am in my fourth year, I want us to have our introduction ceremony and
get married as soon as I am done with my service year.”
His plans sounded good to her ears.
“I will like to meet your family very soon.”
She sighed loudly, “Meeting my family is not the problem. Your family…”
“Don’t worry about my family,” he cut in quickly,“I am the first son. I am their only son. They have no choice but to want what I want.”
He held her hands, “Don’t be afraid. God is on our side.”
Her face lit up with a happy smile.
“When is your next examination?”
“Immediately after Easter. My centre have been attached to a Secondary School in Yaba by the Ministry of Education. You know the owner of the center has connections. We will be able to take both the Junior and Senior waec with ease.”
He nodded with excitement, “That’s good. When you pass the Junior waec, you will be one step away from completing the secondary school education.”
She beamed, “True. I believe God will see me through.”
“Do you know that you can get a job with your certificate?”
She shook her head.
“That’s the beauty of getting educated. I am glad that you did not give up.”
“You need to come to my school and see things for yourself,” he brushed a hand over her dark smooth face.
She laughed lightly.
“Have you thought of a course to study?”
“Yes. Business Administration.”
“Interesting, you like business,” he played with a strand of her braided hair.
“I am a business woman.”
“Of course, I know, cash madam.”
She started to laugh.
“Now, I am ready to eat.”
“What should I prepare?”
“Hmmm… Semolina with melon soup will be nice.”
He grinned and looked deep into her eyes. Since they re-started their relationship, they have not gone beyond kissing. He was determined not to touch her again, in other not to ruin the whole thing.No matter how much he yearned for her, he would rather burn than lose her again.
“The food will be ready in a jiffy,” she jumped to her feet and hurried into the kitchen.
He breathed out loudly. It would take God and all the angels in heaven for him to be able to control himself and refrain from touching her intimately. He placed a hand on his head. With God, all things are possible.
Kike came home with a man who she introduced to her niece as her fiancé. Bukky recognized him. he was one of the Assistant Pastors in the church they both attended. She now understood why her aunt was always going out. Her relationship with the man took all her time. Or rather, she gave all her time and attention to the relationship. No wonder they were now engaged. They informed her that the introduction, traditional and white wedding would be taking place that Summer. Bukky was very happy for her aunt who was in her late thirties.
The man shared his plans of opening a shop for her aunt in Yaba, so that she wouldn’t be too far from home. He lived in the area. That way, after marriage, she would be able to continue the fried yam and plantain business. Kike wanted her niece to join her. They made a very good team. Bukky was a bit worried about their customers in their present area, but, her aunt’s fiancé convinced her that they would have better and richer customers in Yaba. Their business would blow up if they put their heart to it.
Bukky promised to speak to their sales girls and find out if they would be willing to work with them in the new environment. When the man took his leave, Kike discussed the kind of Aso ebi she wanted for her wedding. Bukky volunteered to go to the market to make the enquires, so that the bride to be could focus on other things.
Kike called her elder sister and intimated her of her plans. Bukky’s mother was thrilled with the goodnews. She had been praying that God should give her younger sister a good man to marry and her prayer had been answered. She promised to notify the elders in the family and get back to her asap.
Bukky began to daydream of the day she and her boyfriend would also get married. It would be the happiest day in her life.
The day before Gbemiga returned to school, his girlfriend visited. She came along with foodstuff and cash. He thanked God for bringing a special girl his way. He let her into the room and closed the door.
“Where is everyone?” It was her first time in the Phillips’ room. Most times when she visited, she sit outside, but, that day, he invited her in.
“They went to celebrate with one of our church members who just moved into his own house.”
“God will do our own too.”
“Amen.” He switched on the big black box television on the wooden table.
Bukky looked around her. There was a big bed at a corner, and a bunk bed adjacent to it. A big wardrobe stood at the other side, and the sitting area took the remaining space. She had no idea how they lived in the cramped room with little or no ventilation.
“My family are looking up to me to move them out of this hell hole,” he noticed her scrutiny.
“It is well.”
“My father’s salary, in combination with what my mother and sisters earn at the paper factory is used to pay the rent, electrical, water, security and other bills. Feeding, clothing, etcetera, the money is swallowed up monthly with no room for saving.”
“I pray I get a good job when I graduate. They have suffered enough.”
“I believe that God will perfect all that concerns us with time.”
“I believe so too,” he tried to smile.
“Everything is going to work out for our good,” she encouraged him.
He nodded and drew her close, “I know. I wish I don’t have to go back to school.”
“I don’t like being away from you.”
“Me neither,” she looked up at him.
He dropped his head and kissed her. She placed her hands on his shoulders and responded. His lips trailed her neckline, sending shivers down her spine. She buried her face in his chest and tried to breathe steadily.
“I love you.”
“I love you too,” she whispered.
“I want you so much, but, I already promised you and God that I won’t sleep with you again until our wedding night.”
She raised her head and saw the desire in his eyes.
“I am willing to keep that promise.”
She smiled and sighed with relief.
He kissed her again. The door swung open. They pulled apart and saw his parents standing by the door, staring at them in shock. His sisters
stood behind them, seething.
“What is the meaning of this?” Baba thundered and marched into the room, “Do you mean that after we have warned you, you are still dating this girl and you have the guts to bring her into our home?” he glared at his son.
“You!” Remi approached her, “You don’t want to leave my son alone. Is it by force? Is he the only man on earth?”
“Instead of you to concentrate on your studies, you are wasting your time with this illiterate.Can’t you date someone else? At least, an educated girl from a reputable home.”
“Dad,” he stared at the man.
“Shut up!” the man shouted, “I don’t want to hear a single word from you.”
“Ashawo!” Remi clapped in her face, “Look here, if you get pregnant, you are on your own. We will not accept your b—–d. You better receive brain.”
Bukky stared at the woman. She didn’t understand why she didn’t like her.
“Eh! You!” Baba barked at her, “Get out of my house!”
Bukky looked back at him, then at her boyfriend. His face was saddened.
“I said out!” Baba approached her.
Bukky backed away, brushed past his sisters and fled.
“Gbemiga! Gbemiga! Gbemiga! Break up with this girl before trouble start to knock on your door,” his mother stood toe to toe with him.
“I love her,” he took some steps back, “And I am going to marry her.”
They all stared at him as if he had lost his marbles.
“Nobody can stop me,” he looked back at them, determined.
“You have gone mad! If you think we will allow you to marry that girl, then, you are dreaming,” Baba glared at him, frustrated by the boy’s
“Over my dead body! You can never marry her. We will never support you. No one in the Phillips family will support you, I will make sure of that,” Remi warned him.
Gbemiga stared at her with disgust. It became clear to him that his parents would go to any length to sabotage his plans.
“I don’t care if she has charmed you. You better receive sense and break up with her. The sooner, the better,” Baba settled on the long chair. He felt suddenly tired.
“Bukky is a good girl…”
“Shut up! What is good about her?” his mother hissed.
“I love her,” his voice wobbled with emotion.
His parents started to laugh.
“This boy will not kill me,” Remi joined her husband on the chair.
Gbemiga brushed past his angry looking sisters and walked out of the room. He went straight to the back of the house, and sat on the bare ground behind the kitchen. What was he going to do? Who would follow him to go and meet Bukky’s parents? His own parents were against their union. Maybe he could talk to his uncles. But, his mother had already threatened that no one in the Phillips family would support him. It became clear to him that they would never support the relationship. He placed his hands on his head. What was the assurance that they would change their minds when he graduated? Tears slipped down his dark face. How was he supposed to convince and assure Bukky that things would go according to their plans? He wasn’t prepared to let her go without a fight. There must be a way out of their situation.