Thursday, 9 November 2017

Bukky Alakara Episode 14

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN
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.
xxxxxx
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 understand.”
“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.”
She chuckled.
“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
stubbornness.
“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.
Bukky lay on the bed and wept. It hurt that her boyfriend’s parents felt that he was too good for her because he was in the university and she wasn’t. She wished she had told them that she was no longer an illiterate. She now has her Junior waec certificate. Soon, she would be equal to every other person who graduated from the Senior Secondary school.
Did she make a mistake by giving Gbemiga a second chance? He was planning to marry her, but, his family were prepared to fight their union. What were they going to do? Maybe if they prayed and fasted, God might make a way for them, after all, the heart of Kings were in his hands.
She wished Chike was available. She needed a good friend to confide in. His door was always locked whenever she visited. Even his neighbours were not sure of his whereabouts. It scared her to think that he might have moved out. His phone lines were not even going through and his social media handles were static. No updates. She missed him.
If she confided in her aunt, she might advise her to give up on Gbemiga and move on. She didn’t want to lose faith. She was determined to be hopeful. She believed that God would turn their situation around for good.
xxxxxx
Kike and her niece moved to their new shop in Yaba market. It was sandwich between a provision store and a soft drink depot. The space was very tiny, but, convenient. They fried the akara, yam and plantain outside the shop under a canopy attached to the front of the shop, while seats and tables were arranged inside the shop so that people could sit and eat. They were patronized by different sets of people, aside from the traders in the market place, people going to work, students going to school, motor drivers and conductors queued at their shop to buy their wares.
Kike’s fiancé also had a shop in the same market. He repaired phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Whenever they were done for the day, she goes to her fiancé’s shop and stay there till he was ready to go home. That way, they were able to spend time with each other.
Bukky envied their relationship. She wished hers was trouble free. It had been three days since she spoke with her boyfriend via phone call. He was equally frustrated by his family’s unwavering stance. He was willing to pray and fast, hoping that God would turn and change their hearts towards his girlfriend.
She hasn’t heard from Chike. She remembered that he told her that he would be going for his Industrial training after the Easter period. Has he gone? She wondered if he had started working for his uncle in Owerri, or maybe he got a better offer in an oil company. Regardless of their disagreement, he should have honoured their friendship and not leave her out of his plans.
xxxxxx
A week before her twentieth birthday, Bukky’s aunt got married. She met her parents and siblings at the reception. They were all happy to see her. She was informed that her parents had been able to rent an apartment in Ikorodu and her younger brothers had moved in with them. The boys had also been enrolled into a Secondary school in the area. Her mother now sold fresh pepper and vegetables in the local market, while her father worked as a security guard in a Private school. Her elder sister was presently living with a friend on the island and was working in a Law firm as an Office Assistant. The pay was okay and she was able to enroll in a lecture centre in preparation for the G.C.E examinations. She was glad that every one of her siblings were getting the education they all deserved. No one would be able to bad mouth them and call them illiterates d any longer. She thanked God that each and every person in her family was doing well. God had indeed answered her prayers.
xxxxxx
Bukky returned home from the wedding party and met Gbemiga outside her apartment. She was surprised to see him, but, glad that he had returned home from school. He helped her with her bags filled with take-aways and souvenirs and they went into the apartment together.
“Should I dish some food for you? There is jollof and fried rice, yam porridge, semolina, pounded yam with vegetable soup and ogbonna soup.”
He shook his head and sat on the two settee.
She carried the polythene bags into the kitchen and came back to sit beside him. She noticed that he had a sad expression on his face.
“Is everything okay?”
He shook his head and stared at her, “My parents called a family meeting.”
She sighed heavily. She had a feeling that their relationship was the topic of discuss.
“They involved my aunties and uncles, even distant relatives.”
She dropped her jaw in amazement.
“My parents told them all that I am dating an illiterate, a common bean cake seller, a nobody.”
She closed her mouth. The words used to describe her made her feel angry and gloomy at the same time. She couldn’t understand his folks dislike for her. What did she ever do to warrant their hatred?
“One of my aunt has decided to sponsor my tertiary education till I graduate, on the condition that I break up with you.”
Her eyes widened in shock.
“Two of my uncles are ready to sponsor me whenever and wherever I want to do my Masters program.”
She swallowed hard and stared back at him. Where were they when her boyfriend was looking for money to pay his school fees? She had been the one supporting him financially.
“But, on one condition, I must break up with you.”
Suddenly, a chill crawled all over her, making her to shudder in anguish.
“I will graduate in less than two years, I am not even sure where or when I want to take my Masters program. It will be unfair for me to ask you to wait for me. I don’t know what the future holds for us. I am not sure if our relationship will survive this year, talk about next year.”
She blinked back the tears threatening to spill all over her face. She couldn’t believe that he was considering his relatives’ offer. She concluded that he didn’t try to defend their relationship during the meeting. His body language said it all.
“Bukky,” he reached out for her hands, but she pulled away immediately.
“I can’t believe that you are giving up on us so easily,” her voice shook. Her eyes brimmed with tears.
“No… no, I am not giving up on us,” he tried to convince her.
“I can’t believe that you are allowing them to bully you into… into breaking up with me,” she looked straight at him through blurred vision.
“No, they are not… I am not…”
“You can’t even stand on your words. You said things will be different for us this time around.”
“Yes, but…”
“Don’t you have a say in your own life? You are twenty-two for heaven’s sake. Are you going to allow your family to dictate the direction your life should go? I can’t believe this,” she placed a hand on her forehead.
“Look, it’s not like that,” the disappointment and hurt in her eyes made his chest to tighten in pain.
“Then how is it? Ehn? Explain,” she eyed him.
“Just imagine, my parents won’t need to bother about my education again. I am going to get sponsored.”
“I see. So, you are trading me for the educational sponsorship you are not even sure you are going to get?” a tear dropped from her eye.
“No… see… I can’t ask you to wait for me. I need to complete my education first. This is an opportunity I can’t just pass off. I will also be able to do my Masters. Just imagine, when I am done, I will get a wonderful job and give my family the life they deserve.”
“Where does that leave me?” she eyed him again.
“Em… if you are still single, we can get married then.”
“So, you want me to wait, for how long? While you date every Nkechi, Ibinabo and Hauwa?’
He sighed, exasperated.
“Do you even love me?” she directed her pale eyes at him,
“Bukky,” his pleading eyes observed her, “Of course I do.”
“Then why aren’t you fighting for that love? Why are you letting them to quench the flame of our love? Why are you letting them to split us, tear us apart? Why? Gbeniga why?” tears slipped down her dark oval face.
He remained quiet, lost for words. He had been thinking about the whole thing since the meeting ended. He thought he was taking the right decisions, but, it was clear she didn’t think so.
“Just go…”
“Bukky…”
“Go to them, go to your family. I believe they will end up choosing your wife too.”
“Bukky…”
“Go!” she screamed at him.
He got up slowly.
She covered her face with her hands and began to cry.
Gbemiga walked away, opened the door and stepped out. He closed the door behind him and leaned against it. What had he done? He closed his eyes momentarily, then opened it. He hoped she would be able to see reasons and forgive him in time. Maybe, just maybe, they might eventually end up together as man and wife. He was hopeful. He breathed out loudly, stepped away from the door and headed home.
.
To be continued..

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