I am now back from church and secure in my warm home. The cold outside is a killer. I know it is okay to have harmattan in the first month of the year in Nigeria, but this one seems to just be out of hand. My lips are so dry that they are beginning to break. Of all people, I am certain this does not augur well for a lady who is in search of a husband. No sane man ever wants a woman with an eyesore of lips that make even kissing irritating. So, it is excusable if I apply just enough lipgloss to moisten my lips, and, more importantly, improve my look.
It is the saying of the elders that it is never a mean feat to take kernels away from palm fruits. Hence, I am aware that what I want is not coming without a price. On a normal day, I am not the kind of person who cares much about conventional norms and what the society holds to be ideal. Left to me, I do not see any cause why there should be so much worry about getting a husband. I am an independent lady in every wise one can think of. I work and so earn the money with which I foot my bills, take care of myself and even reach out to the needy. In no way do I understand why I should be said to be “incomplete”- whatever that means- until I am hooked to a man. But sadly, this is what the society maintains. And by God, it is rubbing off on me already!
For what other conclusion would be drawn if it should be said that I, Rebecca Omorewa, went to church all in an attempt to seek for divine help in getting a husband? For sure, the stupidity of my society is taking its toll on me. But yes, it is a stupidity I am now willing to succumb to. It is a shame that the Omorewa, whom boys, like bees, once swarmed around, should now become an object of ridicule for absence of a single man in her life.
Well, if one takes a closer look at it, the source of this problem may be linked to me. I have been told repeatedly and have even come to realise it that I am a beautiful lady. No, no, this is not bragging. The several awards, love letters and proposals I have received on account of this bear me witness. I was once “Miss. UNILAG” and twice “Miss. Akure”. So, it was not a surprise that guys were always after me in my undergraduate years. To keep them off, I had to imbibe some habits like snubbing and being indifferent to their suggestive gestures. Quite alright, I knew they saw that as annoying and felt I was arrogant, but I did not care two hoots. I was too busy with my academics to allow some ambitionless guys put my future in jeopardy. The problem now is that I have allowed these unbecoming habits to entrench themselves in my character for long such that I can hardly do away with them again. Perhaps my fervent prayers should have been channelled towards undoing this self-inflicted damage.
It has been eight weeks since the pastor prayed for the spinsters and bachelors now, and yet “the perfect will” has not shown up. In the course of the weeks, I have done a lot of amusing things. Oh, how cordial I have suddenly become! I greet every brother in church cheerfully now, even blessing the ones who bother to respond with radiant smiles. My comportment at the radio station has changed drastically too. I no longer snub fellow male workers, and I have also become humble overnight, genuflecting every time anyone addresses me. My Twitter followers are not left out; I now reply all my direct messages and mentions. Ah, what wouldn’t a woman do to get a husband and remove this shame? Bring me shit and I will eat. It has gotten that terrible, this cross that the society has thrust on me.
I am presently having my lunch at Chicken Republic in Akure. I have been visiting all the popular restaurants and tourist resorts in the state recently. I hear they are magical places where the baskets of love are easily woven. A young gentleman is approaching my table now, tray in hand. I begin to munch my fried rice slowly, as I carry my fork with my left hand to my mouth with more sophistication. I sit up and cross my legs to exude the graciousness of a cultured lady. I can feel the gentleman’s eyes over me. He stops at my table. I raise my eyes to meet his.
His baritone voice booms out like some melody, tickling my ears softly. I inhale deeply to calm my nerves.
“Hello,” I respond askant, not willing to appear excited.
“Hope you would not mind if my sweetheart and I shared this table with you?”
I look over his shoulders, and right there is a lady coming over to our side, beaming with smile. She is evidently the sweetheart he just mentioned, because she stops at my table too, searching my eyes for an answer to the question he asked. I swallow hard the bolus of masticated rice in my mouth. Bad luck, it seems. Sorrow and disappointment rent my soul.
“Oh, sure!” I respond, restraining the welled up tears in my eyes from dropping. I put down my fork and knife, pick my bag and walk out of the restaurant before I would make a fool of myself in the public. My steps echo despondency, as my feet go up and come down heavily on the tiled floor. The exit door suffers the brunt of my fury, for I yank the door open and slam it so hard the foundation of the building quivers.
Life is not fair; it has never been. The reservoir in my eyes bursts, and the tears therein gush out. They stream down my cheeks in rapid flow. I do not bother to stop or clean them. It is of no use.
“Rebecca! Rebecca!” I hear someone call my name. This cannot be, I shrug it off.
“Rebecca! Rebecca Omosewa!” The shouting persists. This time I halt dead in my tracks. I hear hurrying feet approach me. I turn back.
“It’s quite an age, Rebecca,” he says.
He is gasping for air. I look at his face. A flash of recognition strikes me. He is Segun Owode, one of my coursemates when I was an undergraduate.
He narrows his eyes on me, and observes my tears-streaked face.
“Aww, you are weeping. Princess, why?” He asks, loving concern written all over him.
He has not changed a bit, this Segun. He was one of the many boys who sought to date me back in the days. In fact, he was the most persistent of them all. He would send me flowers and love cards every week, following them up with soothing words and incessant calls. Several times, he paid my bills and transport fares despite my rejection. Yet I gave him no chance and ignored whatever efforts he made. It was not my cup of tea to wonder why he lavished so much care and money on me. Guys could be dumb, you know. The name “Princess” he just called me was his pet name for me then.
He steps closer to me and cuddles me warmly, stroking my hair and patting my back. I sob softly, not resisting his embrace. He is trying to console me, even though he is unaware of the cause of my sorrow. He leads me towards a car now, maybe his car. He opens a door of the car for me. I get in. He moves over to the other side and sits. I can see a plate of fried rice on the backseat. He must have bought it at the restaurant, probably with the aim of eating it later when he gets back to his office. Yes, he is working in an office. His dressing depicts that: a black suit, blue shirt, black tie and smart shoes.
“Princess, what is the matter?” He enquires for the umpteenth time. I am no longer sobbing, and my cheeks are no longer wet because he has cleaned them with his handkerchief.
I do not know what to tell him. Do I tell him that I was weeping because I want a man badly in my life? Ah, that would be foolish of me and make me look worthless. Do I tell him that spinsterhood has become a stigma on me; that people now look at me and shake their heads out of pity? Do I tell him that my parents no longer want to identify with me because, for all they care, I am a disgrace and humiliating failure to them? Do I tell him the worst part of it is that I have allowed myself to be deluded along with all of them; that I now allow other people to decide for me how I live my life? No. I would rather keep mute.
“Okay. Perhaps you are not in a good mood to tell me what is wrong now. Please put your phone number here,” he offers me his phone, “so I can call you later to know how you’re faring.” I take the handset and type my phone number.
He asks for where I am going. I tell him not to bother, assuring him I would be okay and find my way to my destination. He would not hear of that. He insists like he always did in our undergraduate years. I smile and give in.
“Adaba radio station,” I say.
To be continued.
Catch you next Friday!