Linda’s blood was erupting through her veins like a violent volcano. She managed to keep a tight rein on her frayed nerves. She always respected her father, so she was not about to change the trend. She was resolutely unwilling nonetheless to give in to his suggestion.
Linda’s Dad: “What do you think my daughter?”
Linda: “Papa, it is very kind of him to have asked for my hand in marriage. However, right now, I am more concerned about graduating than getting married. I am going to have to say no to their request.” She did not want to mince words whatsoever.
Linda’s Dad: “You will not even think about it?”
Linda: “Papa, I wish there was anything to think about. I am not really in a mad rush to get married. Please let me graduate first.”
Linda’s Dad: “By the time you graduate, Ikeyina would have married someone else!”
Linda: “Then I will marry someone else Papa. That is not to say that I am suggesting he should wait for me though.”
Linda’s Dad: “So, whether now or in the future, you won’t marry him?”
Linda: “Right now my priority is to graduate. I am not interested in marriage yet.”
Linda’s Dad: “Don’t you have anything to say Mama Linda? You should persuade your daughter to get married to Ikeyina. He is the most eligible bachelor in town.” he look on Linda’s mother’s face had gone from a masked frown to a scary masquerade. She did not like the idea, but she was trying hard to be loyal to her husband.
Linda’s Mom: “Linda, why don’t you think about it for a few days?” She calmly persuaded her.
Linda: “Papa and Mama, I am not marrying now, and I haven’t got the slightest interest in marrying Ikeyina.”
Linda’s Dad: “University is messing your head Linda. This is a heaven-sent opportunity. You should think about it seriously!” He said authoritatively. Linda got to her feet and began to walk out. When she reached the door, she stopped and looked back at them.
Linda: “Papa, you always said you wanted the best for your children. If you truly believe that, then, you should let me marry when and who I want. I am sorry, I will never marry Ikeyina.”
She managed to stay calm. She entered her room, and locked herself in. She could not believe what had just happened. An hour later, she left the house to visit her best friend Chizoba. She wanted to talk to someone, besides; she needed to talk to Chukwudi, and she did not want to call him from home. Her
parents were still in the living room, where the phone was.
Chizoba: “You want to call Chukwudi from our land phone?” Chizoba asked.
Linda: “Please Chizoo; I need to talk to him.”
Chizoba: “My parents are not home, so that’s no problem.” She and Chizoba had been friends since kindergarten. They were more like sisters. Chizoba let her call Chukwudi, whose younger brother answered the phone.
Linda: “Uche! It is me Linda; please can I talk to Chukwudi?”
Uche: “Linda how are you?”
Linda: “I am fine thank you, and you?”
Uche: I am very good. Hold on, I will call him for you.”
About a minute later, she was on to Chukwudi. She was distraught as she narrated the situation to him.
Chukwudi: “Baby, you don’t have to let this stress you that much. If you stand your ground, there is never a day your Dad will force you into marriage.”
Linda: “I am going to stand firm. I don’t even know the guy. How can I marry someone I hardly know?”
Chukwudi: “That is not going to happen sweetheart. I will be in Onitsha tomorrow. Can we meet at the same shop?”
Linda: “Yes honey. I can’t wait to see you. I really need you here.”
The next morning Chukwudi left for Onitsha. They spent the whole day in town. She felt relieved and encouraged by the time he left for Enugu. At night, Linda was summoned again by her father.
Linda’s Father: “Linda, I have to go straight to the point. It is not just that Ikemba is a good friend of mine. The other aspect of this issue is that I am worried about you. Your behavior has changed since you went to University. Rather than watch you deteriorate to an irredeemable state, I think it is better for you to marry now when you have the chance.”
Linda: “Me deteriorate Papa? I have no idea what you are talking about.”
Linda’s Dad: “Okay, I will tell you. Here, have a look at this.” He tossed a letter at her. Linda’s mother could no longer hide her tears. They poured with the ferocity of mid-August heavy rain. Linda read the letter in real shock. Her hands shook as she went through it.
Linda: “This is not true Papa! It is not true! You cannot believe anything in this letter. I know who is behind this. You have to trust me Papa, not a letter from some faceless devil!”
Linda’s Mom: “Is it true my daughter?” Her mother asked hysterically. Linda kneeled down and begged them to believe her.
Linda: “Papa I am not anything that the letter describes, please you have to believe me. I am still the same Linda I was before I went off to University.”
Linda’s Dad: “So, we sent you to study, and all you did was to become a harlot in Enugu. The letter says you sleep with your lecturers, with your fellow students, and as if that were not ignoble enough, you walk the streets at night. So, you had an abortion too! You have tainted our family name,” her father said.
Linda: “It is not true!” Linda yelled. “If that were true, why would the writer not state their name?
It is Ugonna. Mama knows him, a boy I used to date. I broke up with him months back. There is no other person that I know from school who knows our address. He alone could have mailed this letter to you.
Linda: Mama you know Ugonna don’t you?”
Linda’s Mom: “So you are no longer seeing Ugonna?” Her mother asked. She wanted to hold to something…anything that would convince her that her daughter had not truly gone to Enugu to become a known prostitute.
Linda: “No Mama. I broke up with him. I am so sure he wrote this letter. That’s why he typed it. I would have recognized his hand writing.”
Linda’s Mom: “So, you don’t sleep with your lecturers for grades and classmates for academic help?”
Linda: “I would never do that Mama. You raised me better than that. I am really doing well at school, and it is all down to God and hard work.
Linda’s Mom: “I am still in shock Linda. I might develop a heart attack over this. I think you should marry Ikeyina while there is still time. I am sure you would not want your father to die of heart attack.”
Linda: “So, if I marry him, assuming I actually did what that letter says, then you’d no longer die of heart attack? If I did it, you would want to marry me off like that? This is the worst day of my life. I am not going to be blackmailed into marrying a man I don’t love!”
Linda’s Dad: “Love? Is that what they teach you in school? You know love yet you went to Enugu and began to run around with every Tom, Dick and Harry.” Linda sat on the floor. Her father’s words finally hit a delicate cord in her. She could no longer take the hurtful words. She sobbed until her tear glands could make no more tears.
Linda’s Mom: “Did you have an abortion?” Her mother asked in tears. Linda continued to sob without answering her question.
Linda’s Dad :“Did you do that Linda?” Her father repeated, this time in a raised tone.
Linda: “Mama, you’ve got to believe me. You’ve got to believe me. I will invite some of my classmates who live in Onitsha over so you can ask them. I am not prostituting in Enugu. I have a boyfriend and we love each other very well. Even if I had lost my morals entirely, I love him so much that I would do no such thing to hurt him.” She dragged her emotionally bruised body and soul off the floor and trudged painfully to her room. Her mother was severely touched.
Linda’s Mom: “Papa Linda, what if that letter is sheer blackmail?” She asked him.
Linda’s Dad: “What if it is true?” He shot back at her.
Linda’s Mom: “I choose to believe my daughter for now.” She could no longer watch her daughter cry in ‘agonizing pain’. She got up and headed for Linda’s room.
Linda’s Mom: “Everything will be alright ada m (my daughter),” she consoled her. She hugged her as she began to rain a fresh flood of tears.
Linda’s Mom: “Stop crying Linda. I believe you. Stop crying my dear daughter.”
Linda: “You really have to believe me Mom.”
Linda’s Mom: “I do. Trust me, I do.”
Linda: “But Papa no longer trusts me! How can he even consider that I would do a thing like that Mom?”
Linda’s Mom: “He will come to his senses at some point. I will talk to him when he calms down.”
Linda: “I want to be totally honest with you Mom. I did something that I regret every day. I still cry when I think of it. Yes, I did have an abortion last year, for Ugonna. I took in, and he said I had to get rid of it. I was terribly afraid and naïve. I did abort the baby with Ugonna’s direction. I am sorry Mama. I feel terrible, but I think it is time to let you know. You must not tell Papa. Apart from that, everything in that letter is fabricated. The letter tries to make it look like I went wild after men in Enugu, took in along the line and aborted it. I wish I never went through that Mom, but it was not in Enugu. I have a boyfriend and I amcompletely and absolutely faithful to him. Please forgive me, but you have to believe me.”
Linda’s Mom: “I believe you my daughter. I wish you had mentioned the pregnancy to me. I feel sad you got mixed up with such a thing, but it has already happened. From now on, you must avoid anything that would get you in such situation again!” She held her ear as she spoke to drive home the severity of her point.
Linda: “It will never happen again Mama.”
Linda’s Mom: “Wipe your tears my daughter. I will not tell your father about it, at least not at this time. I will see what I can do to convince him against marrying you off. It is okay my darling daughter.”
Linda: “Thank you very much Mama. Thank you so much!”
Linda’s Mom: “No problem. You are my daughter. It is my duty to stand up for you and help you navigate tough roads such as this one. Don’t keep things from me again.”
Linda: “I won’t Mama. I love you so much. Thanks for your understanding.”
… Stay tuned for Episode 8