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I waited for him to say my name. Pastor Ishi waited. The whole congregation waited. But James just stood there and confirmed, to my horror, that he actually called Amaka’s name. I wanted to die! No, it wasn’t possible; it had to be a dream. Maybe people didn’t hear. Maybe James’ microphone had not really worked.
Then I heard people murmuring.
The microphone had worked. They heard and they were now talking about me, laughing at me, saying “shey she wants to marry?” They were already tweeting and updating their Facebook status. My social life was dead!
God! How could James do this to me? Why did they pin that stupid microphone to his suit? God, why did you even create that thing called Amaka?
Tears burned my eyes and I felt a fever coming. Before I could stop myself, I was hyperventilating and my hands were shaking my bouquet. I felt like throwing up.
Oh please biscuit and banana, stay down in my stomach. Please stay down. Don’t add to my shame.
“Uhm…” Pastor Ishi spoke up into his microphone, addressing the whole church as he adjusted his collar and prayer shawl. “Due to…” he sighed, adjusted his geek glasses. “Due to recent developments, the wedding’s been cancelled.”
A low murmuring of human voices spread around the church.
“Please, can I have absolute silence? Thank you. As I was saying, the reception is scheduled to hold at Four Points. If you’re up to it, you can still go there and enjoy the buffet. Having said that, on behalf of the Edafetanures and the Bakos, I sincerely apologize for any inconveniences. As you return to your various destinations, I pray the Lord grants you journey mercies in Jesus’ name. Thank you.”
God! So my wedding is over before it even started? Jesus, who swore for me?
My heart wanted to literally pop out of my chest with the way it was racing. All I kept saying in my head was “please, stay inside, banana and biscuit,” as I felt my breakfast coming to my mouth. Gratefully, my elder brother, Oyibo came to my rescue and whisked me out of the church through the nearest exit but before we got outside, I had puked all over my dazzling Kosibah gown.
“Gite!” I heard James call my name and I turned to see him coming behind me.
“You have the audacity to follow her?” Oyibo raged, advancing towards him. I stepped in-between them.
“Gite, I am sorry,” James said and I felt that involuntary movement rising from my pits again. “Can we go somewhere private and talk?”
Somewhere private? Is this guy insane?
“She is not going anywhere!” Oyibo tried to pull me away, but again it was too late. My mouth forced open and I puked on James.
It was supposed to feel good but it didn’t. A crowd had gathered to watch us but the church security, God bless them, quickly locked the doors. Oyibo took my hand and dragged me away from James to the parking lot.
As the car raced out of the church premises, Oyibo began shouting at me.
“I told you!” He hit the steering and honked at a commercial bike. “I told you but Onagite, God forbid that you should ever listen to me!”
Up to this moment, I had not shed a tear. All I wanted was James. I wanted to break down in his arms. I braced the long ride to Ikeja as Oyibo went on and on and on about how stupid I had been with James. He was right, he was harsh but I did not cry.
When we got to Oyibo’s house, he led me to the guest room. As he opened the windows to let in sunlight, I listened to the sounds of Lagos outside and was brought back to the reality of my situation. I wondered if James was thinking of me or facing the heat with Pastor Ishi. The latter had to be the case.
“He used to say all the beauties of the world put together paled in comparison to mine and that he wouldn’t give me up if all the riches on earth were given to him,” I said to Oyibo. “Do you think the whole time we were together, he was thinking of Amaka, just like he did in the church just now?”
“Of course!” Oyibo exclaimed.
“I know how easily guys can code stuff. Was Amaka a code name for me? Clearly, she’s a symbol of love to him, so it could mean that when he said her name, he was just trying to tell me how much he loved me.”
Oyibo could have bashed my head in with the way his eyes burned me but he simply headed towards the door. “I’m going back to get Susan and the boys from church.”
My phone rang, it was James. Oyibo turned and looked at me threateningly.
“Don’t you dare!” he growled.
I answered the call. “James?”
Then I broke down.
Facebook status update Tagged: James Haliru Bako
To set the record straight for all you bad belles running your mouths and poking your ugly noses in my relationship status, James did not call any Amaka’s name at the altar. He simply said ‘Max’ and Max does not in any way refer to Amaka. It’s a pet name for my massive onion tush. James and I are still together and hope to finish what we started. All you useless amebo old-timers, instead of using me to get more twitter followers, please get creative and use your spare time to find your own husbands.
I updated my status and flung my phone on the bed and waited for James. He pinged me about two minutes later.
—I tot u were done wit d internet wars
—Gite, so all d beggin I’ve bin doin 4 d past 5days is nt enuf
—u havnt yet scratchd d surface of ur knees dats y u stil hav mouth
—let me com n c u nau?
—k. wat els do u want?
I paused. Let me see…he apologized on Facebook and Twitter, apologized to the whole church, paid transport fares for my friends who came from outside Lagos, bought me a brand new car, a bigger and blingier engagement ring and finally made me signatory to one of his accounts. Hmmm…. What else do I want?
—court marriage ASAP!
—I tot we said we’d wait
—U stil luv d bitch! Fk u!
I flung my phone on my bed again and burst into tears. I had been crying like this for days, holed up in Oyibo’s guest room, not talking to anyone and appearing only for dinner. When my nephews and sister in-law, Susan, tried to make small talk with me, I just nodded or shook my head. I tried on a smile once but it came out grotesque and scared the boys. So I wore a long face throughout and listened to Cece Winans for comfort and Celine Dion for torture. Susan gave me a Kenneth Haggin book, How to Win Over Pain but I pushed it under my pillow and read romance stories off the web instead. At night I had nightmares of James trying to kill me. He would float into the room like a ghost and try to choke me to death. When his hands close in on my neck, I’d wake up screaming. Oyibo would run into the room and hold me while I cried myself senseless. Most times, he put me to sleep himself and slept beside me like we used to as kids.
On the sixth day, Susan brought a doctor friend who looked into my inability to keep any food down. I had lost 10kg and had all these spots on my face. The doctor ran some blood tests and promised to return the next day with results but she gave me vitamins which I flushed down the toilet. I didn’t want to get better unless James got back to me, but at the same time, I didn’t want him to see me the way I was and think he had power over me.
Growing up with my mother, she had all these rules about men but I remembered three in particular:
- Don’t ever shed a tear for any man.
- Don’t ever let a man control you.
- Don’t ever buy a car without a test drive.
When I asked her what the last one meant, her answer was simple: “stop asking me stupid questions!” Then she taught me all about ‘cars’ and how to change ‘gears’. I was only ten.
My mother single-handedly raised my brother and me. I would like to say that she worked really hard but all she ever did was either lie on her back or bend over. Oyibo hated her for what she did and I’m sure if he was in some foreign country, he would have become a serial killer whose obsession would be centered on prostitutes.
Me, I didn’t follow her way. At least, not in the beginning. Her money was enough to put us through secondary school but the moment we got into uni, we were on our own. While Oyibo did odd jobs to make ends meet, I dated the richest boys on campus and didn’t care if they had girlfriends. In my fourth year, I had mastered my art and dug my claws into some maga in Port Harcourt who had a wife and two kids that lived in France. When the relationship ended and he finally moved back to France, he left me with a lot of money. At this point, any sensible girl would count her blessings and remain stable but not Onagite. I loved ‘gears’ more than my mother did; Michael Schumacher had nothing on me. By the time I turned twenty-five, if you went to a bar and saw five guys sitting around a table, chances were, I had slept with at least three of them. As long as they were packing heat in their pockets and in their boxers, I was good to go. My philosophy was if you wan chop frog, kuku ma chop the one wey get belle.
Before I turned thirty I was engaged and jilted twice. The first engagement ended when mandatory pre-wedding blood tests confirmed that I was five weeks pregnant. The problem was my fiancé at that time had not slept with me. I was carrying another man’s child and didn’t even know it. The second engagement ended a month before the wedding when I got a call from London from my supposed fiancé who secretly packed and left without telling. He told me that he was living with a British girl who was pregnant for him and wasn’t ever coming back to Nigeria.
I was devastated and decided it was time to pack up shop. Destination: Lagos. But fate had plans for me as it put me in the same plane with Pastor Ishi who preached to me for the whole fifty-five minutes. By the time we arrived Lagos, I was a changed person. I had no desire to go back to my old life. I started attending church judiciously and there I met James. I knew when he started dating Amaka, thanks to the tatafo sisters in the church who had no job than to set serious P on fine, loaded guys. When James and Amaka broke up and James was in the market again, he wasted no time in zooming in on me. It was obvious I was his rebound crush but it felt good to finally have the man I had been secretly dying for. Before long, we started dating. But I had another man in my life. His name was Derrick. He was broke, struggling with his music career, cooked mean Calabar soups, was my best friend, younger than me, made me feel alive and did not hide the fact that he was crazy about me. While James kept a sexless relationship with me, Derrick and I were constantly tempted to take it beyond friendship.
During my eight months with James, he mentioned Amaka once only after I bugged him. He honestly told me he still had feelings for her but she was history. Still he kept a phone he carried around like a lifeline, a shrine dedicated to her with her pictures, videos and text messages; and one afternoon while he napped at my place, he was calling her name in his sleep. Did I confront him again? No. See, at my mature age of thirty-two, you learn to accept the things you cannot change.
On my birthday he took me to see a movie and started asking me about my past, about guys I had dated and how many I had slept with. The wheels in my head started spinning. I was scared. We had never really talked about our pasts and coming to have to face mine and knowing it could cost me the love of my life, I lied like I had never lied before and even put up a you-don’t-trust-me act with tears and all. He laid the case to rest. When he dropped me off at home later, he popped the question with a stunning diamond ring and I accepted. Maybe it was the sugar in the popcorn or all the hugging and excitement but we ended up making love that night.
The next morning before he left, he said we had to get married instantly and that I shouldn’t use any morning-after pill. His requests were strange, so I called Oyibo and shared with him what had happened and he advised me not to listen to James and take the pill and added that James’ motives for rushing into marriage and wanting me pregnant were suspect. That same afternoon, I drove a long distance to see Derrick. We talked all night and drank and the next morning while leaving, I told him I was getting married. He walked me out of his house and later deleted me from his BBM contacts, and blocked me on Facebook and Twitter.
Now, I wanted him. The doctor Susan had brought for me the day before stopped by and confirmed in very cheery voice that I was pregnant. After staring at her blankly for what seemed like forever, I told her to leave me alone. It turned out that when I went to tell Derrick the good news about my engagement, we didn’t only talk but drank a lot and ended up crossing the line from friends to friends with benefits. It was after the shameful act that I decided to heed Oyibo’s warning and I took the contraceptive which boasted of seventy-two hours post-sex coverage. Unfortunately, the pill did not work. Now, the question was whose baby was I carrying?
With my eyes, too gritty and sore from crying, I rested on my back and stared at the ceiling, going through all that happened. It still felt so unreal. I had James back but with the recent turn of events, I wasn’t so sure anymore. My life depicted someone who was lost in a jungle with no one to rescue her. Once in a while a helicopter came by and though I called and shouted and threw flares to be noticed, and though the helicopter came down so low it almost touched me, it would soar up again and disappear, leaving me stranded. Three times! Wow! Something was wrong. Surely I was cursed. Even if I was a victim of my own doing, it had to be someone that swore for me.
Keeping the baby wasn’t a matter for debate. I almost died at the last D & C; the doctor said it would be a miracle if I got pregnant again. I wondered: was it God’s mercy or the doing of a skilled jazzman? Was it punishment for cheating or have my sins of eleven abortions finally caught up with me in a perverse manner?
 Amebo – Gossip(s)
 Rich guy who spends on a lady for sex in return or just because he’s stupid
 Tatafo – Gossip(s)
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