“Honey, we are late.”
“I am coming! Give me five minutes.”
Emeka Obi smiled. He knew Anita better than any other person in the world. He could imagine her calmly going through the steps necessary to make herself appear elegant and presentable. That meant waiting for at least another ten minutes, and possibly more, before she was satisfied with her appearance. Women could waste a lot of time getting dressed.
He was not bothered. He would wait. He put on his black jacket and stepped out of the balcony of his two-storey mansion. At the age of thirty, he looked charming and fit; the perfect picture of the most eligible bachelor, his black afro hair neatly combed. Emeka was of average height, dark-complexioned, with flawless facial features. His artfully carved beard gave him an aristocratic appearance.
The early morning Saturday sun shone directly on his face. He walked faster to his car. His gate man, Yusuf, approached him and collected his briefcase to put in the car trunk. Emeka greeted him with a smile, showcasing his perfect set of white teeth.
The sound came from a young man in his late twenties, well past average height. Bob yawned as he walked out of the house. The November sun lunged at his face with its furious rays, making him to blink several times. Television weather forecasters were already saying that this year’s cold spell would be longer than usual, with lower temperatures. As his master’s driver, Bob was always ready to drive him to his destination. He was already dressed up, but sleep still lingered in his eyes. He approached his master.
“Which car are we using today, sir?”
Emeka had high taste for cars, with six vehicles in different corners around the huge compound—a black Cadillac jeep, a white 2015 Range Rover Sport, a Mercedes-Benz Gle SUV, a blue Infiniti Jeep, a red Lamborghini Aventador, and a black IVM innoson-G5 SUV. The whole compound was paved with marble, with a canopy of well-carved flowers situated at the centre to supply fresh air and add to the beauty of the villa.
“Don’t worry, Bob. Yusuf has already opened the Cadillac.”
Bob nodded and collected the car key from his boss. Emeka smiled. He looked powerfully built in his long, blue Ankara shirt and trousers. As the only child of his middle class parents who had both suffered to raise him up, his life journey had been tough. His father was now a retired secondary school principal, his mother a consultant nurse working in a private clinic at Enugu. She, too, had long retired from the government civil service.
There had been difficult times when his parents had had no money to pay for his school fees. Constant strikes by the labour union shrunk the meagre-pay of their government jobs to almost being insufficient. At one point, when Emeka’s school fees in the university skyrocketed, his father had almost given up. Somehow, his mother had managed to pay them so that he could remain in school. Back then, she’d been a senior nurse working at the university teaching hospital at Enugu.
After graduating with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Emeka had worked with a lot of construction companies before opening his own business. His father had proudly helped him to secure a loan from a micro-finance bank.
Now, almost everywhere he looked, he could see the result of his parents’ efforts in shaping his life. Emeka had started building a network of connections, welcoming new friendships. With his charming eyes and permanent smile, he was very persuasive and likable. To him, he felt his special gift had more to do with talent than effort.
His major breakthrough came when he secured a government contract to reconstruct the East-West Road. From then, it had been one success after another. At the age of twenty-five, he had begun to deal in import and export of building materials. Later that year, he’d opened his own paint manufacturing company.
Since then, he had been acquiring failing companies. He would buy them and refit them with experts, and before long, they would start generating money. The next thing he did was acquire a big advertising agency. He spent millions in advertising, and he generated even more profit.
Three years later, Emeka and Sons Group of Companies finally became a publicly traded company registered on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Now, it had become a big corporation with shareholders and board of directors, and at the head of this giant sat Emeka, the Chief Executive Officer.
His parents had been worried that he had shunned the idea of marriage. They’d accused him of refusing to marry. For the past seven years, Emeka had focused on his business—from one acquisition to another, from one deal to another. As if he were driving an unstoppable train … it had to stop temporary when he set his eyes on Anita, who eventually turned out to be the beautiful queen of his heart.
Today, he was travelling to Enugu with his fiancée to introduce her to his parents.
The sound of the horn interrupted his thoughts. He looked up and met her eyes. Anita looked beautiful in her blue Ankara gown. She was a tall, ebony beauty, an inch taller than him. Her eyes were filled with love as she smiled at him.
Emeka approached her, kissed her right hand, and led her to the car. They entered through the back door, and Bob drove the car out of the compound.
Their beautiful mansion was located at Peter Odili Road—a place reserved for the wealthy, part of the Trans Amadi industrial district and a few kilometres away from the Port Harcourt city centre. Port Harcourt, the city that never sleeps, was the capital of the oil-rich Rivers State. Romantics often referred to it as the ‘Garden City’ because of its flowery avenues and beautiful ornaments.
In less than thirty minutes, they were driving through Rumuola Road, known for its notorious traffic jam. Though still around nine in the morning, the heavy traffic slowed down their journey.
Rivers State government should do something about this hold-up.
Twenty minutes later, they were driving through Aba-Port-Harcourt expressway. They reached Enugu around one in the afternoon.
Located in South-Eastern Nigeria with a population of more than two million, Enugu actually meant ‘Hill top,’ denoting the city’s hilly geography. But yet, Enugu lay at the foot of an escarpment and not a hill. Known as the coal city, it was popular for its cool and serene environment and the coal mineral it had in abundance.
“Are we almost there?” Anita asked anxiously.
Emeka held her hand.
“Yes, get ready. Don’t worry, you will be fine. I’m with you,” he assured her.
Anita was panicking. A lot of things had been going on in her mind. Today was like a judgment day. Will they like me? What will they say?
A lot of questions were flowing through her mind, but only two things helped to calm her down and give her confidence: the love of her life sitting beside her, and the diamond ring on her finger.
She placed her hand with the ring on her chest and muttered silent prayers.
“They will soon be here,” she said.
“Yes, finally, a woman has captured his heart. I can’t wait to see her,” he said.
Rita Obi and her husband, Sir Matthew Obi, held hands together as they stepped out of the door of their gorgeous one-storey duplex. Emeka had bought the land at Trans-Ekulu housing estate and built the duplex for them, tastefully furnishing it to their taste. Beautiful trees and shrubs helped to give the compound exactly what they wanted—a quiet, peaceful atmosphere.
Known to her friends as the ‘Diamond Butterfly’, Rita Obi was a tall, mahogany-skinned woman with an imposing stature and a variable temperament; she could be very gentle and tender one moment, and roaring like a lioness the next. Her husband often joked that not only could she bite … she could bite very hard.
Because of her imposing physique, a lot of people who knew her now believed that nurses were wicked. But Rita knew she was not wicked. In a man’s world, a woman must either keep the men under her feet to gain their respect and admiration, or they would put her under their feet to serve as their tools and properties. She had been eating a lot of food lately, and her curvy, plump frame had made her maids in the house so fearful of her.
Sir Matthew Obi was exactly the opposite of his wife. To maintain balance in a family, there should always be the iron rod and the tender hand. He was the tender hand. A member of the Catholic Knights of St John, he was gentle but firm. Highly conservative and fair-skinned, he was a man of principles and a little above average height, five years older than his wife. At the age of sixty-five, the retired school principal was still ruggedly handsome with flecks of grey hair. He looked up as he heard the sound of a car horn.
“They are here,” he said as he smiled.
An elderly gateman opened the gate, and the Cadillac jeep cruised into the compound and stopped in front of the house.
“Stay in the car,” Emeka told Bob as he led his fiancée out of the vehicle.
Anita’s face beamed as her gown sparkled under the afternoon sun. Emeka maintained a smile on his face as he approached his parents. He had always been very close to his mother—he loved her so much. Since his childhood, her hands had left their marks in virtually every stage of his life. He hugged her tightly.
“Welcome, my son,” Rita said as her face lit up in a smile showing her white teeth.
Emeka shook hands with his father. Sir Matthew Obi turned and greeted the young girl.
Anita greeted back politely.
Emeka quickly introduced them. “Mama, Papa, this is Anita, the love of my life.”
Rita scanned the young woman’s face for a long moment, her heavy gaze was intense, making Anita feel uncomfortable.
Quickly, a smile crept back to her face. “Finally. So you are the one. Come and give me a hug.”
Anita’s discomfort quickly faded, and she became so excited. What a warm welcome. I can’t wait to be a member of this lovely family. She hugged her future mother-in-law in an earnest embrace, and they entered the house. Soon, they were climbing the tiled stairs. On their way up, she looked down stairs and saw two young teenage girls, probably maids. They were busy hurrying up and down, putting things in order.
At the dining room, expensive plates had already been set on the enormous mahogany round table. They were all served African salad with beef by one of the maids. The second course was pounded yam and vegetable soup with fresh fish, this one carefully served by Emeka’s mother.
As Anita observed the way Emeka was enjoying the pounded yam, she made a mental note to add it as one of his favourite foods. The whole family was so adorable. Father and mother sat close to each other as they ate and looked at their only son with eyes filled with love. The son sat facing his parents as he looked at them with eyes filled with devotion. Their faces all beamed with smiles as they cracked small jokes and laughed tenderly.
She was touched by the memorable moment she was witnessing. She wished she had parents like this. Everything was so perfect. Sometimes, the mother would feed the father and help him with a glass of water, and they would all smile. She was looking at a happy family with their golden son at the centre of their universe.
“Nne, which town are you from?” Matthew asked.
Emeka looked on as his fiancée answered. He had already finished eating. His mother was helping him with a bowl of water to wash his hands.
“I am a native of Ikwerre in Rivers State.”
“That’s wonderful,” Matthew exclaimed. “I worked there during my NYSC service year. Some of my friends are from your town. They are all wonderful. Ikwerre people are very welcoming and friendly. They made me feel at home. We are delighted to have you in our midst. You are highly welcome.”
Anita blushed. “Thank you, sir.”
Before long, they started throwing questions after questions at her, and she kept responding politely.
“When did you meet our son?” This question was asked by Emeka’s mother.
Surprised, Anita maintained her smile and answered. “Last year, ma’am.”
“Hmmm.” Rita looked at her with a renewed interest. “That was when our son was already a ready-made man. When our son was struggling, trying to put his two feet on the ground, no woman wanted anything to do with him.”
She paused for a moment, a thoughtful expression was on her face. “Nne, can you say that what attracted you to our son was not his money?”
Anita was overwhelmed by the sudden turn of events. “No, Ma. We met and we fell in love.”
There was a crack of laughter.
“Really? That’s a unique love story. All in less than a year,” Rita said.
Emeka was getting uncomfortable now.
“How long have you been in the city?” Matthew asked.
“I was born and brought up in the city,” Anita replied.
“In other words, you grew up in the city …” Rita left her statement hanging.
“Yes, Ma.” Anita was now uncomfortable.
“Hmm. Our son is lucky to have found himself a city girl,” Rita muttered quietly. “How many relationships have you been involved in before meeting our son?”
Anita’s eyes widened. Emeka quickly wiped the sweat off his forehead and put the handkerchief back inside his pocket. Then, he stopped every other thing he was doing.
Before Anita could answer the question, his mother hurled another question at her.
“Have you known a man before meeting our son?”
“What?” Anita asked in bewilderment.
Emeka’s blood boiled with every coming second. His breath had quickened, his mind trying to make sense of the sudden turn of events.
This is madness.
Rita smiled. “Who are you playing pastor’s daughter for? Loose it down, young lady. Don’t be all innocent on me.”
“Enough!” Emeka shouted as he stood up. “What is happening here? This is uncalled for,” he said as his parents stared at him, surprised.
“Go to the car. Wait for me. We are leaving now,” he whispered in Anita’s ear.
Anita rose up, fidgeting, and walked slowly out of the house.
“What is this? An interrogation?”
“Don’t shout at your mother, Emeka,” his father warned.
He glared at his parents and began to walk out of the dining room.
His mother’s voice always had a way of getting to him. He stopped in his tracks and looked back.
“We have decided,” she announced.
“Decided what?” he inquired angrily.
“Emeka, we are your parents. We want what is best for you and our family. You will not marry that girl into this family,” his father ordered.
Emeka was highly baffled at his father’s words. He had been so happy when he had seen Anita.
She had somehow imposed her decisions on father again.
“Anya ya emepego. Her eyes have opened,” his mother said. “She is a gold digger.”
This was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Emeka turned back and stormed out of the house.
“Darling, I don’t understand. What is happening?” Anita asked as he joined her in the car.
“She has done it again, but I won’t allow it this time,” he said.
He ignored her, not in the mood to answer any more questions. “Bob, start this car and drive us out of here.”
Bob started the car and drove it towards the exit. The elderly gateman opened the gate, and their car sped off into the hot afternoon sun. What started as a perfect day had turned into a nightmare.
The fate of a family hangs in the balance.
The Obi family live a charmed life, the picture of success and love. But when their only son Emeka marries a woman his parents deem unworthy, the ties that bind begin to unravel.
Wealthy, happy and successful, Emeka’s world changes when he sets his eyes on Anita, a beautiful teacher who captures his heart. Though his family disapproves, Emeka is determined to make her his wife. But after what was supposed to be a brief introductory ceremony, his perfect world begins to collapse around him.
Determined to build a happy life with his new bride, Emeka keeps his family at a distance. But he soon finds himself immersed in desperate schemes of his overbearing parents, which gets out of hand when he uncovers a secret that threatens to tear the family apart.
Now, the Obi family members are in danger of losing everything they hold dear. The unimaginable is happening and series of events have already begun to push them into the darkest tunnels of their lives. Will they be able to weather this storm or will they be swept away by the tide?
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