There are two phases in unmarried women’s lives, the first phase is when they’re run after by boys, making the girls feel like celebrities; choosy and proud. The second phase is when, having grown older, ripe for marriage but still single, they foray out in search of boys in whose hands they could craftily place themselves. Mothers, at this particular phase, pressurize their daughters on bringing men home, and sorry to break it to you, at this point, boys exploit the weakness, engage them sexually and run from marriage.
Bola was not an exception but the only reason why she had found herself in that group was because of her job. She drove in expensive cars, she was always busy, travelling in representation of her company, from place to place attending conferences and seminars. Whether men found her attractive or not, she was too busy to notice, and since no one had ever proposed to her, she just had to let it play out as worst as it could, after all, she was the one who said goodbye to Mathew with her own mouth. Every now and then she found men who she’d wished she could call her own, but she couldn’t just walk up to them and tell them so, could she? She wasn’t that wild. She feared men would exploit it.
She was lucky though; she had friends who were determined to match her up and on this, they would squeeze her through her compound schedules to attend parties where young men in different shades could be picked. They tried so hard to be noticed and she did meet men every now and then but most of them were either single and not willing to settle down or already married but only looking for auxiliary holes to dig whenever they felt like keeping their rings in their pockets for a night or two.
When Justina asked where she was on this very Saturday, she seemed bored.
“Where are you?” Justina had asked excitedly like she just won a raffle draw.
“I’m at the office, what’s up?” Bola had responded curiously.
“Office… office on Saturday?”
“Yes, it’s an oil company, J. Are you telling me you didn’t know we work all week through? It’s not a Bank or school?”
“Ah, that’s very bad.”
“Whatever. What’s up? Any gist?”
“Yes, do you remember this party we attended in May? The party at the National Theatre?”
“Huh… I can’t remember, we went to a lot of parties, J.”
“Not at the National Theatre! Well, guess what, someone saw the video and is particularly interested in you. They identified you as my friend and have called upon me to please arrange a meeting. A stressed please I must tell you!”
“Really?” she sighed. “So, who’s this stalker?”
“Stalker? Well, who cares, all men stalk to find their wives. And guess what, you’re not going to believe this.”
“That the person is Barrack Obama?”
“No, it’s Putin.” Justina giggled over the phone. “Jokes apart, he’s into oil business just like you. In fact, he has an oil block or something as I have gathered. He’s educated, rich, single and hoping to mingle.”
“Hope he’s a Christian and not a cannibal.”
“Of course! Would I ask you to come and marry Jack the Ripper?”
“Trust you. So, where are we meeting?”
“When will you be free?”
“Noted. Leave the venue to me, I’ll fill you in on that by nightfall. And Bola, this is an advice to you as a friend, don’t kill yourself on this job of yours o. Life is sweet.”
Bola didn’t wait to listen to the advice; she had ended the call.
On Sunday evening, she met the man at a brasserie and discussed the monkeyshines over sweets and drinks while Justina waited in Bola’s car outside, anxiously praying that Bola says yes.
About forty-five minutes later, Bola came out, marched briskly across the pavement and into the car she hopped, frowning and avoiding Justina’s face.
“How did it go?” Justina asked curiously. She cared like everything depended on Bola’s positive news.
“You didn’t tell me he’s an Ibo man!” Bola snapped, a statement most irritating to Justina.
“Ibo man?” Justina arched her brows. “And I guess you don’t like an Ibo man, do you?”
“And why’s that, if I may ask, Your Highness?”
“Start the car, let’s go.”
“Answer me first, what did Ibos do to you? Did they kill you in your first life?”
“Start the car.”
“What’s wrong with you? Do you know what I passed through to arrange this meeting? You’re now telling me he’s an Ibo man, what’s that supposed to mean?”
“See, J., it’s not that I don’t appreciate your efforts but… aside the fact that he’s an Ibo man, he’s too old for me J. He said he was married once but his wife died. He has a kid who’s probably as old as I am. You didn’t tell me any of these. And… he’s an Ibo man, I can’t marry an Ibo man, Ibos don’t like us. What if he has a witchy mother who’ll not let me rest in the house like we see in those Nollywood films?”
Justina gazed at her speechlessly and shook her head. Just then the man himself emerged from the brasserie and a black Range Rover reversed out of the row of parked cars to pick him.
“He’s limping!” Bola gasped, on seeing that the man limped. “You didn’t tell me he’s an handicap too?”
“How am I supposed to know? It’s not like I met him personally? I don’t think someone is an handicap if he limps though. Don’t call him that.”
“Oh-oh! Perfect! Just perfect! Start the engine.”
“I said start the car or give me my damn key. While all of you are marrying nice young men with six packs and bulging biceps, you want me to marry a limping old man from Imo State, huh? In fact, thank you very much, start the car and let’s go.” Her eyes were tearful and bloodshot then.
Justina started the engine and hit the road wordlessly. She felt bad. She was determined to abandon the spouse hunt for her. If she needed a muscular Yoruba young man whose mother is not a witch who’ll be disturbing her, she’ll have to go and look for him by herself.
The man she met, Charles, was an educated and wealthy man. He studied Offshore Engineering at an European university. His limping was in consequence to an accident he had had twelve years earlier at a job site. He was married but Margaret died when Dickson was just six years old. Dickson was also studying abroad and Charles, having been alone for so long had been naturally pestered to remarry. There was this party’s video he was watching when he spotted the beautiful young woman and he had found out about her, linked up with her friend and finally met her, but Bola was unwilling to mingle with him. After she got separated from Mathew, it’s been difficult for her to love another man. And once again, a certain truth raised its head, that aside social class, ethnicity, religion and doctrinal differences, physicality also influences choices of women in men for marriage and vice versa. When you see a girl with a pretty face and picks a race towards her, if you discover that she has a certain physical deformity before you reach her, what do you do? Most guys just ask for time if it’s too late to take a different route. You hear men say, she’s too dark, she’s too tall, she’s too short, she’s too fat, she’s too thin, she has k-legs, she has small boobs, she has small buttocks, she has big lips, she has bad dentition, etc. And girls would also say, he has big head, he has small head, he has bald head, his eyes are too big, his penis is too small, his personality is too girlish, he’s too fat, he’s too thin, he’s limping, he’s hunchbacked, he’s an albino, he’s flat-chested, etc. and here we are, agree or not, love is at the mercy of physical nature. And for this, some people, I fear, may be single forever, but this is not the end.
…to be continued.
-Lord eBay (and his random ruminations, 2017)