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Thursday, 7 April 2016

FINDING HUBBY - EPISODE 7



I stood there, jaw dropped all the way to the ground. Even with all the racing of my imagination, this scenario had not occurred once. I had imagined rushing into the room and throwing a huge tantrum and even throwing the girl out in her underwear. I had imagined pulling her hair. Scratching her face. Slapping her silly. I had imagined doing many other things to her. But this was not a her. It was a he, the he I had been trying to hook my best friend with just a few hours ago. For about five more minutes, they didn’t notice anyone had come in, lost in their perverted bliss. Then he opened his eyes and saw me. I expected to see fear, to see alarm that he had been discovered, but instead I saw a calm that sent a chill down my spine.

He calmly disentangled himself from Adamu and stood before me. I still couldn’t utter a word. Still naked, he sat in his office chair. Adamu could not be bothered by my presence. He just lay there, a content and satisfied look on his face.

“So you have found out my little secret a little earlier than I intended. You were supposed to discover this after we were through with the wedding, but since you have found out now, I might as well lay all the cards on the table”. He spoke like we were in his office for a business meeting, not like I had two naked men in there. I screamed “Yomi! Little secret? How could you do this to me? How?” I broke down crying loudly as I crumpled to the ground. My legs simply gave way beneath me.

“You need to stop the hysterics and listen to me with the rational part of your mind and then carefully consider what I’m about to say before you make a decision.” My crying pattered down to sobs and I looked to him to hear what he was gonna say. My angel of light had just transformed into the darkest demon from the pit of hell. And he was so calm.

“I’m gay, bisexual or homo, worreva you want to call it, as you have discovered. I discovered my sexuality since secondary school but knowing my family, I’ve kept it hidden from most people. But my family has become suspicious of this fact. And considering this society and the kind of fortune I stand to lose if I have any issues in my relationship with my family, I had to come up with a plan. My plan was to find someone who was eager to marry, and bring her home to my family. My chance overhearing of your conversation with your friend at the airport told me I’d found the right candidate. I have not been wrong so far. Once we are married, all suspicions about my sexual orientation would be ruled out, especially if we have a child quickly. Are you with me?”

I kept quiet, and he took that as a sign that he should continue.

“I still want us to get married, in spite of your discovery. The deal is this – I give you the marriage that you’ve always wanted, so you can leave the spinster’s club, and get a new surname and the respect that you crave at being addressed as a married woman. And of course, to get your mum off your back. You give me legitimacy and face saving with my family, and critically, continued access to the family wealth. The marriage will be very open, you can date whoever you want to, and I’ll carry on my own affairs but we’ll both need to be discreet and project the image of a happy couple to the public and our families. You’ll of course have your own share of the wealth, to use as you please. You’d really not have to work again. And you could live on any continent, in any kind of housing you like, away from prying eyes in Naija. You can date anyone you like. You don’t even have to see me except for important family functions. You’ll have what you always wanted, a husband and a new surname, plus very plenty freebies, and I’ll have what I need. That is the deal.”

I sat on the floor dumbfounded by what he was saying. How could this guy just sit there and spew such arrant nonsense. Adamu got up from the table and went over me like I wasn’t there to get a drink.

Yomi continued “I don’t expect you to make a decision immediately. But you do have to come back to me within three days so I can know if the wedding is happening or not.”

He stood up and left the room with Adamu.

For minutes, I just sobbed quietly on the floor, you know, those quiet kinds of sobs that draw from the deepest depths of the heart. My picture perfect relationship had been shattered with exactly one week to my wedding.

The rational thinking part of me screamed that I should call it all off. Call the relationship off. Call the wedding off. Cut every contact with Yomi and his ilk. I really felt like slitting my wrists and just letting it all out. But a more basal part of me spoke into my mind, telling me it was not such a bad deal, that I’d be getting all I could get and that many girls would pounce on such a deal. I tried to drown these thoughts with my sobs, but they kept tearing back to the surface on my mind.

I am confused and ashamed that I’m confused about this choice. If I was ten years younger, I would walk away without looking back. But I’m approaching 36, with a very public relationship and all. Yomi is evil, I could see that now. He knew this would happen, and that I would feel trapped.

I sped dialed Toke. “Please come and pick me at Yomi’s house”. She tried to ask me what the issue was but I had cut the call.

In the wildest of my imaginations, I never imagined I would be at this kind of crossroads. It’s day 2 of Yomi’s ultimatum for a feedback and I am utterly confused. First I do not talk to either Gloria or Ossy any longer. Ossy was very mean to me. From the day he met me at the airport, he had known all about Yomi. Yomi had been his senior in secondary school. So he knew. That’s why he smiled that smile when I told him Yomi hadn’t touched me. That was why he spoke so sarcastically. Jealousy had blinded him so much that he didn’t bother to rescue his friend from this dilemma. A word from him would have alerted me to the danger I was in and saved me all this trouble.

But in my moments of reflection, I knew even if he had spoken out then, I would not have taken him seriously. I would have interpreted it as the angry ranting of a scorned man.

Now I was torn between calling of my well publicized and much anticipated wedding at my age or going into a life that I knew I couldn’t be happy living. If I took the first option, I would be the ridicule of the town, tagged as a woman who cannot just settle down. People would assume that the man had discovered something that all the other men before him had discovered that made them call the wedding off. People would assume he was being a gentleman by not revealing what he had discovered. In our culture, for such things, it’s the woman that would be blamed, be scorned and be ridiculed. I would be cannon fodder for soft sells and bloggers.

If I took the second option, that would not be the life of bliss with my husband I had always dreamt about. I would be comfortable and free, yes, but at a huge cost. And something in my heart told me that as such things go, at some point in future, it would come to light and then I would be publicly disgraced as a money hungry woman who didn’t mind marrying someone who was gay to help him cover it up for financial gain.

The conversation with my mum went something like this

“En, kini oju o ri ri? (What’s new under the sun?). At least he isn’t a wife beater or ritualist or armed robber. You better do now and marry, and don’t bring shame to this family’s name”.

Toke says I should not be stupid and throw away what I had found on a small issue like that. She was of the opinion that the deal I was being served was what many girls would kill to have. “You have a husband; can date anyone you want and truckloads of money, plus a hold on your husband to request anything and he would not be able to refuse. Don’t be foolish my dear”. But when I told her Adamu might be interested in having the same arrangement with her, she began to stammer. That told me what she really thought of the arrangement. It was good for me but not for her.

Hot Pastor expressly told me in firm terms that I shouldn’t go ahead in spite of the pressure. He sermonized and all, but also made plenty sense. What if someone better was just around the corner and Yomi was the devil’s temptation to shortchange me from getting that?

Everywhere I went, everyone was greeting me and congratulating me on the soon to come wedding. My new name in their mouths was Iyawo, the bride and so on. Each time they called me so, I cringed. I decided to go away from everyone to think. There just seemed to be too much interference from all of them.

The next day, I switched off all my phones and left home. My mum had called me at least 20times that morning to keep reminding me that I should not throw away this opportunity to settle down. I checked into a room in Penisula Resort, Ajah, away from everybody to think. I knew I had but a few hours to make the call to Yomi. I needed to be sure I said the right thing when I made it. I’ve seen all your comments and (strong) opinions. But trust me, when you are in the shoes, you’ll find it’s not that easy to do any of these things.

As I lay there, I began to imagine what he would be doing now. Probably curled up somewhere with Adamu, somewhere I should be. Lord! This was going to be all what my life would be if I married Yomi. Well, two can play the game. I decided to practice what my life would look like if I went ahead with the marriage.

I turned my private number on and dialed Kalu’s number from memory. The moment I turned it on, three text messages from mumsy came in. That woman can like to leave me alone now! After the second try, Kalu’s phone rang. The cow was so full of himself, the caller tune was one of those you recorded by yourself. Here’s what it went like “Welcome to Kalu’s Phone. Hang on to speak with the hottest and flyest of them all.” Arrrrrgh! I almost hung up, this guy was so childish at 38. Men, I thought I was through with the likes of him. Anyways, he picked up and spoke with a hint of surprise and amusement.

Kalu: The Lagos big girl calls lowly us. To remind us to attend her wedding abi?

Me: it’s because of this your goatiness that I could never be serious with you. Where are you sha?

Kalu: Where you left me noni. You? (He hadn’t lost his touch. He was already coding what I wanted)

Me: Somewhere in Ajah, personal getaway before the wedding. All alone (this felt real silly)

Kalu: Really? Call the boo to come around now (Kalu can like to make everything hard. If I could call the boo, shay I will be calling him abi?)

Me: You know it’s bad luck for the groom to see his bride before the wedding. So boo stays put. You won’t come and say hi to your friend before she finally becomes a Mrs. abi?

Kalu: Ping me the details, I’m coming.

I ended the call. It’s funny how you can say a lot, without actually saying the specifics. I had just booty-called (yes men get booty-called) Kalu without any mention of it. But unlike the old days when I would phone select with no qualms, there was a knot in my tummy. This just didn’t feel right. And this was what I was meant to do for the rest of my life. I do something silly that I should confess here. If you tell me now two people are dating, I unconsciously imagine them together in bed. If the picture in my head gels, then I immediately support the relationship. If e no gel, well, I believe the relationship will likewise not gel. Hence I can never do an aristo. The picture won’t just gel. 

I closed my eyes to imagine being with Kalu… bad picture. I turned my phone off again. Kalu wasn’t getting any pings from me.

I began to wander sort of aimlessly around the grounds. If someone was watching me, I probably looked like I was looking for some suicide spot. Eventually, I got to a stone bench beside a beautiful stone arch running over a small spring of water and I sat on it, eyes closed, lost in thought as I watched the water run over those smooth white pebbles at the bottom of the pool.

Reminiscent of when we met for the first time on the plane, it was the voice that drew me out of my reverie. I opened my eyes and sure enough, Yomi was seated on the stone bench right beside me. How he had found me, I couldn’t phantom. God, I loved him. Even knowing what I knew, with him seating just a few inches from me, I wanted to do nothing more than reach out and hold him in my arms.

This heart en, I will never understand how it works. My head was saying all the right things to make me loathe him, that he deceived me, that he could never love me cos I was a woman, that I could never be happy with him and that I should hate him with all my being. My mind even brought up the repulsive picture of him and Adamu replayed like some picture by MopeBob, vivid and clear. But in spite of all my head was saying, my heart was steadfastly, stupidly refusing to listen. The moment I saw him, I melted like butter, sigh! (I see you rolling your eyes now, just don’t let it fall out).

“Yomi, how did you find me?”

“You always come here to run away. It didn’t take long to figure out where you were when you were unreachable and not at home.”

I had totally forgotten that Yomi and I used this place for getaways. All he needed to do was make a phone call and he woulda found me. But I didn’t think he would be looking for me.

“So why did you find me? I thought I was going to call you later”.

He placed a hand on mine and looked me in the eye. My heart did a flip (this my gymnast of a heart en).

“Oyin, we both know that whatever decision you are going to make is already made. So rather than wait for a call, I came to get it first hand from you now”.

My palms became sweaty “Yomi, I, I, I,” I stammered.

He moved closer, “You haven’t made one yet? Then make one now”, he cut in.

What kind of tactic is this? I looked into his eyes squarely. I knew what I was going to do. I decided to marry Yomi.

Yes, I decided to marry Yomi. After all, people knowingly marry people who decided to be drug pushers, thieving politicians and all the kinds of thieves and bad men within that wide range of bad-man-ism, and even help them keep the secret. My reasoning (which I came to conclusion of without mumsy in my head) was that I’d just be marrying a man who had made a choice to be something and help him cover up. Omerta. Really no different ba?

Once the decision had been made, everything went into full swing hyper crazy extra super drive and you can guess who the driver of all that was. We had four grades of Aso Ebi, and the cheapest was twenty five thousand. This was the bigz people’s wedding, and you can go and dye your hair green if you couldn’t afford our aso ebi. The most expensive one was one mint green and burnt orange Swiss Voile lace like that. It cost five hundred thousand.

Since I knew what was up, I decided to spend Yomi’s money wella, with two hands, on this wedding. I changed my gown to a Mai Atafo gown, all chosen specially and hand fitted by the bobo himself. My coral bead choker alone for the engagement cost a million Naira. And he didn’t hesitate to spend. He pulled all the stops, signed the cheques and went to town. His mum commented that she had never seen him that happy, ever. Of course no one else knew why he was that happy, everyone thought I was the source of his joy. Toke was of course my chief bridesmaid and Adamu was playing that role for Yomi. I tend to imagine him in my head as a bridesmaid and not the bestman. And I noticed Toke kept him at an arm’s length after what she knew. I chose not to be bothered.

The engagement was a blast. I remember the cows. They turned into a mini tourist attraction, so big that people were taking pictures with the cows and using them as DPs all over. They spawned all sorts of funny broadcasts; you know the kind that goes on for months until they’re no longer funny. Every major blog had photographers at the event. My official photographer was the hottest new one in town, the rave of the moment, Ogheneworo Akara.

The alaga was Madam Kofo herself. She keyed into the mood the families were, the spending mode, and made herself tons of money, milking Yomi and friends wella. Imagine, at some point, she even said that I was coming in a plane and that they had to drop fuel money and they know plane fuel is costlier than car fuel. So they dropped plenty money. Then when I was halfway out, she said the fuel finished and the plane was crashing. They had to drop even more money to save it from crashing and refueling the “plane” midair. 

I can give you all the juicy details but let me move forward, en. So the engagement was done and we went to our hotels. Everything was going smoothly with the event, and in a perfect world, I had just had the perfect engagement. But that night, I had to numb the fears I was having with generous doses of alcohol in order to sleep and go through with the next day.

Wedding day came and Toke woke me up as early as 5am. The entourage came into the room right after her and so began my roller coaster preparation to transform me from the mortal called Oyin to a goddess simply known as Bride. The whole operation took three hours of intensive work from the combined team of makeup lady, tailor and hair stylist. The small ringlets under my eyes from last night’s alcohol bout were gone.

As my uncle walked me down the aisle, I decided to immerse myself in the wedding, enjoy the moment and not think of the marriage after (I believe a good number of women do this). Wedding was going smoothly and my heart was at its gymnastic best, I was really going through with it. I was going to be Mrs. Oyin Kester-Jacobs.

The preacher asked the customary “Is there anyone here who has any reason why this couple may not be joined together? Speak now or forever hold your peace”, in a jocular manner. He was about to move to the next bit when a strong voice came from the back of the church auditorium “I do. These two should not be joined”. A hush ran over the congregation and all eyes turned in the direction from which the voice had come. Yomi spun around, a crazed look on his face as he saw who it was. I didn’t need to turn. I knew that voice as well as if I had looked at his face. It was a voice I knew too well. It was Ossy.

Haltingly, the pastor asked him what his reasons were.

“I will not allow my friend to go into this sham.” As he spoke, Yomi’s security details began to move towards him. But he was prepared. As they got to him, and were shutting him up, Gloria stood up as if they had rehearsed the scene and picked up where her husband stopped “Yomi is gay, and the marriage is just arrangy, a sham. I will not stand by and let Oyin make this mistake”. Everyone turned and stared at us, as if waiting for Yomi to say how silly all this was so the wedding could continue. It was like live Jerry Springer show.

I got the shock of my life. Yomi spoke up angrily, facing his mum as if all his anger was directed at her “and what if I’m gay? I’m tired of living trapped in the closet. I am gay and from today on, I will be proud of it and live in the open. I’m tired of all this.” People just sat where they were, as if transfixed. Then he said scornfully, “you can all go home now, there’ll be no Mrs. Kester-Jacobs today”. It was then I turned around and screamed.
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