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Friday, 4 March 2016

Zahra stole my heart but my parents are against her (Final)


To find out who had sent thugs after Zahra, I decided to do my own quiet investigation, without the police involvement, in unraveling the mystery.

Some days later, I got a visit in my office from Angie, one of my mother's staff who worked in her boutique as a salesgirl.
 By the time she left some time later, I was no longer in a frame of mind to to do any reasonable work.

 I sat for a long time staring at the computer screen, Angie's words swirling round my head.
 Could she be speaking the truth? If she was to be believed, then my parents were behind the attack on Zahra. How could that be? When did they find out about our relationship?

Even if they wanted to break us up, why use such crude methods? I knew my father was ruthless when it came to business but to use violence on a poor, defenseless girl was inexcusable.

 What was her crime? She did not chase after me; I was the one who fell in love with her, pursued her.
 Like typical African parents, my father and mother felt it was their unquestionable right to dictate who I can or can't marry; they have to approve my bride before any ceremony can take place.

 But this was going too far...

 I recalled Angie's words clearly.

 "She said a few days before, she had gone to the living room upstairs to take something when she heard my parents talking outside on the balcony.
 "I heard Auntie Zahra's name and that's what drew my attention," she explained.

 My father, she said, had been asking my Mum about Zahra's condition.

 "I heard she's in a bad state."
 "Yes," agreed my Mum. "She's still at the hospital."

 "Those guys must have really dealt with her."
 "Serves her right. That will teach her a lesson for daring to lay her filthy hands on my son. Little gold-digger!" my Mum said with a hiss.

 "I feel sorry for Archie, though. He looks so worried. He must really love the girl," said my father.

 "Love? Does the fool know what love means? He's just infatuated! Maybe she used charm or 'juju' on him, making him lose his head over her. You can't tell with these people. After that beating, she has no choice but to leave him now. If she still continues to hang onto him, we might have to take a more drastic action next time," my mother stated ominously.

 Angie said she had decided to tell me because of the way Zahra had treated her while she was still working for my mother. "She was nice to me and treated me like her younger sister."

 That day, I did not return home but spent the night at Flo, my cousin's place. She was shocked when I recounted to her what Angie had told me, stating she could not believe my parents would do such a thing to Zahra, a girl they had practically raised like a daughter.

  There was one action I had to take immediately, protect Zahra from further attacks. I had to take her to where she would be safe. But where? And what should I do about my parents?

  Marrying Zahra
 With time, Zahra's health improved considerably and she was discharged.
 "She still needs lots of rest and should avoid lifting heavy objects with the injured hand," the doctor said on the day we left the hospital.

 For security reasons, she could not stay in her father's house or Flo's place.
 "Whose house is this?" she enquired on arrival at the new apartment I had rented for her in a secluded part of the city that would be difficult to trace.

 "Don't worry yourself about that. Just relax and take things easy. Doctor's orders!" I stated, wagging a finger at her.
 "Yes, sir!" she rejoined playfully.

 Later, her step mother and the baby, Michael joined her in the apartment to keep her company when I was away.

 About a month later, I began making plans to leave the country. It was actually, my friend, Dave who helped make up my mind. 

 He had called from his base abroad and when he heard what had happened to Zahra, he had been shocked.

 "That's terrible! What did she do to deserve that?"
 "Archie, you need to take her away from there if you don't want to lose her. Why don't you come back here? Our friends all miss you."

Once I had decided on leaving Nigeria, I began making plans. I did everything quietly so my parents would not know what I was up to. Besides, there was something I wanted to do before leaving for good, that would have caused more problems if they found out.

 "Marry?" Zahra exclaimed, looking surprised. I had just told her we should get married before travelling out. We were sitting on the verandah of the apartment, taking in the cool evening breeze.

 The sky was painted in bright orange as the sun made its homeward journey at the end of another day.

 "I want us to get married before leaving Nigeria. Or don't you want to marry me"? I asked her on noticing her cool reaction to my proposal.
 "It's not that. It's the suddenness. I was not expecting it, at least not now," she said. "I think we should wait."

 "What for?"

 "Till the issue with your parents is resolved. What do you think they will say or do when they find out we got married?" she said.

 "I don't care what they say. It's you I care about," I told her.

 "I know, Archie. Thing is, I don't want to be a source of conflict between you and your parents. So, I think the matter with them should be sorted out before we can do any other thing."

 I did not agree with her and this led to a major disagreement between us.

 "I don't want to take chances with your safety. That's the reason I want us to leave the country and as a married couple."

 "I still believe we should wait," she insisted.
"You know what, Zahra. I think your problem is you are not interested. Maybe you don't love or want me enough to want to marry me," I grumbled.

 She came to my seat, kneeling by my chair.
 "How can you say that, Archie?" she cried. "I love you! You've brought so much joy into my life. You gave me a reason to live again after what happened to me. If things were different, I would marry you tomorrow if that's your wish. But you know our situation is not normal so we need to be careful when taking any decision," she argued.

 I lifted her from the floor onto my lap. 

 "I understand that, Zahra. But I want you to trust me on this. Whatever I'm doing is for our own good, for our future together as a couple. The matter with my parents will be sorted out later. For now, let's focus on ourselves, on what will make us happy. And nothing will make me happier than for you to be my wife."

 She smiled and holding my face firmly in her soft hands, kissed me. I could never resist Zahra's smile or her caresses so I softened and kissed her back.

 After we had settled the matter, she said:

 "Sweetheart, aren't you forgetting something?"

 "What's that?" I asked curiously.
 For answer, she wriggled the fingers on her left hand in my face.
"You are supposed to put a ring on it. Or are you so stingy, you can't afford to buy me an engagement ring?" she said, feigning annoyance.

 I laughed.
 "Sorry, babe. I've been so preoccupied with our travel arrangements, I totally forgot. I promise to get you the most beautiful ring I can find. Trust me," I said, pinching her nose before carrying her inside the house to our bedroom...

Leaving Naija
 Shortly after, Zahra and I got married. It was a simple ceremony at Ikoyi registry with Flo and Tayo, a close friend of mine who also worked in my company, as witnesses. I didn't inform my parents because I knew they would have done all in their power to prevent it.

 After the ceremony, I stayed with my bride at the apartment for a few days.

 Back at my parents house, my mother wanted to know where I had been all the time. When I told her I had been with a friend, she studied me for a while then stated:

 "And what friend is that?"

 "Nobody you know, Mum," was my reply. I was heading for the staircase when her next words stopped me in my tracks.
 "Are you still seeing that girl?" she queried.

 I knew it was Zahra she was referring to but pretended otherwise.
  "Who?" I asked.

 "Oh, come off it, Archie! You know quite well who I'm referring to. Zahra. Whatever it is that you have with her must stop! She's not the one for you."

 Well, it's too late for that, I thought with satisfaction.

 "And who do you suppose is the right one for me?" I asked in a sarcastic tone.
 "Someone we'll be proud to have as a daughter-in-law and not one that's no better than a street girl,' said my father, who had quietly entered the room from the balcony.

 I greeted him and not wishing to be drawn into an argument with both of them, headed for my room but he called me back.

 "Look, my son," he said. "We are your parents and want the best for you. So, listen to your mother. Leave that girl and go for someone else. Like Ronnie that you dumped."

 "That's where both of you have got it wrong. This girl that you despise so much has brought so much joy into my life. She makes me happy. And as parents, you should be happy that I've found someone that does that. So, the best thing you can do for me is to leave us alone," I stated clearly.

 "That can't happen," said my Mum. "As long as you are still our son and you live under our roof, you'll do as we want!"

 "I'm a grown man, Mum. Old enough to make my own choices in life."

 "Not when it's such a bad choice," said my father angrily.

 "Good or bad, the choice is mine. Besides, what more can you both do after your thugs beat her up and nearly killed her the last time?" I said loudly, my anger rising.

 "Whatever we did, it was for your own good, to protect your interest as our son and heir," my father said.

 I was unmoved by his words. Infact, I was not interested in being anybody's heir; I just wanted my freedom. I was getting increasingly tired of their domineering ways and the manner in which they always sought to control every aspect of my life, including my love life.

 I had confidence in myself, my ability to make my own way in life. With Zahra by my side, I was ready to start a new life. Be my own man.

  I left them and quickly went upstairs to my room.
The following week, Zahra and I left the country without my parents' knowledge. We stopped over in a neighbouring country for our honeymoon which we couldn't take while in Nigeria. We planned to stay there for a few weeks but we have been having so much fun, we've decided to stay longer before moving on to Canada where we plan settling down eventually.

 It was while there that I learnt about my Dad's illness. I heard he collapsed on hearing I had married Zahra secretly and left Nigeria with her.
"The shock was too much for him and he had a mini stroke," Flo reported.
 Then, a few days ago, Flo sent me a mail, stating that my father wanted to see me and was even ready to accept my relationship with Zahra.

 "Whatever has happened, he's still your father," said Zahra when we discussed the matter.
 He needs you now. Perhaps, this will be an opportunity for you to settle your differences with both of them. Remember, they are like my parents as well as they helped bring me up. Please, do this for me, Sweet," she said beseechingly.

 Right now, I'm in two minds about the issue. On one hand, I want to be with my father at his hour of need but when I remember all that he and mother did to my wife, my heart hardens against him.

 So, what should I do? Return home or move on to Canada as originally planned?

 The End!

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