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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

WHEN LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH- EPISODE 1

That our society is one obsessed with marriage and relationships is stating the obvious. Most married women in this country wear the title 'Mrs' like a trophy, just as an Olympic gold medalist would wear his hard won medal with pride.

 Being single after a 'certain' age is seen as a 'curse' a misfortune of the worst kind, not something you would wish on your worst enemy.

 Thus, once a girl graduates from school, has reached 25 years and has not brought a suitor home to introduce to the family, the family will start wondering what could be causing the delay.

 "You know a woman's time is short. So, the earlier you bring someone home so we can assess him, the better," the mother or Aunty or other female family member will often say. 

 

 If the lady still delays and hits her late twenties/thirties with no suitor in sight, then the situation has officially reached a crisis level, which demands urgent solution.

 Special prayer sessions will be held for her in church to bring a suitor her way, she starts attending all manner of church crusades and special programmes for 'singles' just to hook a man. 

Some really desperate singles take it a step further by consulting spiritualists, prophets even native doctors for special 'man magnet' charms to enable them get a husband.

On her part, the mother is also active in this 'pursuit of a suitor.' 

 She drops the hint to her friends, colleagues (if she's working), business associates, church members and others (like one dropping a business card), that she has a grown up daughter who needs a husband in case any of them has a suitable male in their family.

 Any wonder that lots of our ladies end up marrying all kinds of men just to bear the title 'Mrs?' Men they had no business hooking up with in the first place but due to societal/family pressures had no choice? 

 And though many end up miserable in such unions, they can't get out because being a divorcee in our society is even a worse fate than that of a single lady.

 It was due to this same pressure to 'settle down' that made me get involved with Dani, a man I considered at the time my ideal man but who turned out to be something else...

  My name is Ama and here's my story:

  ***

 Two years ago, when I turned 27, my mother sent me a card. Not a birthday card as you might expect but the wedding invitation of my cousin, Matilda. It was my mother's not so-subtle way of reminding me that time was passing and it was time I settled down with a man.

 I got the message alright. But I did not need to be reminded about the issue.

 I had been thinking about it for some years especially as more and more of my school mates and friends got married.

 And it's not as if suitors had not been coming. I've had so many men proposing marriage to me that I've lost count. 

 The problem was most of them were not my type. I've had a certain type of man in mind as a future partner since I was a teenager in secondary school and most of the suitors I have had don't fit that picture.

 My 'ideal' man has to have a certain look (preferably tall and handsome), a type of personality as well as status in life.

 My Mum thinks my taste is too high, that I might have a hard time getting such a man.

 "Just accept one of these men who have proposed and settle down. The most important thing is a man who'll make you happy and fulfilled as a woman," she kept telling me.

 But I knew I could not be fully happy until I got a man who fit the criteria I was looking for in a life partner. So I continued the search.

 Sometime last year, a colleague at work suggested I try the Internet, that it was a great way of meeting people.

 "You can be lucky and meet someone really interesting," she had stated.

 I was sceptical at first. I had heard all kinds of nasty stories about on-line dating, how some people lie, giving false information about themselves just to deceive the unsuspecting person.

 ***

Later, I relented and joined an online dating service. I met some guys but the one that really caught my interest was Dani. 

 Tall, good looking with a charming smile, (from his photos) Dani said he was an engineer who worked for the UK branch of an international construction firm.

 Having left Nigeria for over ten years, Dani revealed he was tired of living abroad and was planning to relocate home soon to start his own business.

 We seemed to have a lot in common and we spent hours chatting online and exchanging mails. With time, we started speaking on phone and got to know each other better. 

 A few years older than me, Dani seemed to have all the qualities I had been looking for in a man

 So, when he suggested coming to Nigeria to see me so as to take the relationship to another level, I quickly agreed.

 About eight months after our meeting online, he arrived Nigeria. I was at the airport to pick him and he looked even more handsome in the flesh.

 He bought a lot of gifts for me and my mother who took a liking to him as well.

 "I've never seen you so excited about a man before like this, Ama," she remarked, a few days after Dani's arrival. 

 "He looks like a nice, young man so if he's the one you want, make sure he does the right thing like meeting your father for the marriage formalities before committing yourself fully," she added, already planning far ahead.

 Shortly after his arrival, Dani and I travelled to the village to see my father who had retired and relocated to our hometown in Rivers State.

 The introduction was done then with my father and a few of his relatives present as was the custom.

 The traditional marriage ceremony and wedding were fixed for later in the year.

  All my family seemed to like Dani. I was glad as he was all I ever wanted in a man and I couldn't wait to be his wife.

 I was happy with him. And how did he feel about me? He seemed besotted with me! He confessed I was the first lady he had met that he had felt like settling down with.

 "I never had the desire to marry until I met you, Ama," he said. We were on our way from a date. 

 "Where have you being all my life?" he queried.

 "Waiting patiently for you!" I replied, smiling.

 "You're right, Sweet," he said, leaning over to plant a quick kiss on my mouth.

 "Hey! Watch the road, Dani!" I warned.

  

 We had had a lovely day at Lekki beach then ended up at a popular cinema on Victoria Island. It was quite late and we were heading home.

 "Is he spending the night?" my flatmate Mandy whispered to me on our arrival home and Dani had gone to the bathroom.

 I shook my head.

 "No. I want to wait till after the wedding before we sleep together," I explained.

 "And he doesn't mind?" she asked.

 "I told him that's what I want. And he said it was ok with him, that he doesn't mind waiting."

 "Hmm. Be careful, anyway. So one of these 'sharp' Lagos girls doesn't snatch him from you. You know he's so fine. And he lives abroad as well; he's the kind of man many girls are looking for."

 "I'll kill any girl that tries such a thing!" I declared vehemently.

  "And who are you planning to kill?" Dani asked as he came into the kitchen. I was pouring wine into some glasses on a tray.

 "Nobody important, darling," I stated, giving him a hug.

  We sat in the living room drinking and chatting. At a point, after Mandy had gone to her room, Dani stretched on the couch, looking relaxed as if he was going to stay there the whole night.

 He emptied his wine glass, and after wiping his lips, gave me an amorous look.

 "Do you know you look really ravishing tonight, sweetheart?" he said, raising his hand to caress my cheek.

 "Hmm. The wine must be working seriously on you!" I said mockingly.

  "Forget the wine. You know you are one sexy lady," he said softly, turning my face towards him.

 

 Our eyes locked for a moment, then his face lowered, his mouth seeking mine. My arms slipped round his neck and I relaxed on the couch with him lying on top of me. 

 "I know I promised to wait. But it's been difficult 'cos you're so irresistible, Ama!" he said. 

  Being held in his arms felt so good, I almost regretted making that promise. 

  Just this night won't make any difference. Afterall, we're getting married, I thought. 

 My hand slipped inside his T shirt, feeling his chest, his taut stomach...

 I could feel his breathing increase, his hand round my waist, drawing me even deeper into his warm embrace...

  To be continued tomorrow 

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