Lotanna kept staring at him across the dinner table. What had he said? This cannot happen to her again. Now, she has convinced herself that someone cursed her. If not, why would they all keep doing the same thing to her?
“Wha... what did you say?” she stammered.
“I'm so sorry,” Bolaji responded.
He felt sorry for her and appeared sorry for putting her through this misery. He had to choose his family. He saw reason in what they were saying. Maybe it was all for the best.
“I don’t understand,” she muttered. “I thought we did not care about the tribe thing.”
She stared into thin air for a brief moment.
“Babe, you know I love you, but I’m being honest with you; I wish none of us to loathe each other…”
“Don't patronize me, Bolaji; you’ve got it all figured out.”
“What would you have me do?" I’m in pain too, but marriage is something serious,” he paused and continued, “You know that in Africa, marriage is between families and not just the couple.”
The restaurant was reeling for her. The headache was real. She could pass out, she realized. “Babe, are you all right?” she heard before all went blank.
She opened her eyes; she was in a hospital. What had happened?
“You are awake,” Tosin, who had been sitting by her side, whispered and bolted out, calling the doctor. Moments later, the doctor and a nurse rushed into her room.
“What happened?” she purred, confused.
“You passed out on us four hours ago,” the doctor responded.
He checked her vital signs.
“Will she be alright?” a concerned Tosin asked.
“Sure,” the doctor responded, smiling.
Moments later, the doctor and nurse left the two friends alone with instructions for Tosin not to bother her for long.
“Babe, don’t give us a heart attack,” Tosin said.
“You want to kill yourself because of a man?”
Lotanna looked away. She recalled. They should have allowed her to die. Tosin would not understand. She was getting married to her sweetheart.
“You won’t understand,” she uttered.
“Bolaji leaving you is not the end of the world.”
“Tosin, how old am I?” she asked.
“Thirty-five,” Tosin responded, “And so?”
Lotanna smiled as Tosin picked up her phone, which had rung. Lotanna listened to her conversation for a while. The tailor making her wedding dress needed to see her. Her wedding was in a month, and Lotanna was to be her chief bridesmaid.
“Babe, I need to go,” Tosin said while getting up. “Will you be alright by yourself?”
“Go!” Lotanna smiled as Tosin blew her a kiss and left the room.
Lotanna took in her surroundings. She wondered who had taken her to the hospital. She learned why she had passed out; she remembered that her mother and entire family were expecting Bolaji this Christmas so that preparations could start for their wedding. It was just a month until Christmas, and Bolaji did this to her. She thought he was different. The tears escaped her eyes as she remembered.
Her first boyfriend, Austin, left her for her friend in their final year at the university after spending four years with him. She had pretended she was not hurt, but she went to the dark side of life and started sleeping around. The break-up affected her so much that she even slept with married men. From Awka, she travelled to Benin, Delta, Port Harcourt, and Abuja just to sleep with men. She didn’t care about the life she lived then. She tried so hard to fill the vacuum in her heart and look for solace. People thought she was having fun; they never understood.
While serving in Abeokuta during her NYSC program, she met a nice guy named Shola. Falling in love again scared her. She gave Shola a tough time, and when she gave in, she proposed they be friends with benefits — with no emotions attached. Shola, who really loved her, gave in, and the relationship started. Lotanna later fell in love with Shola, but for fear of being hurt, she hid it perfectly from him. Their relationship never stopped her from having flings on the side. She had a reputation among her friends, who hailed her boldness, and she enjoyed every bit of this reputation. She was the bad girl — the bold girl.
Bolu, her concerned friend, tried to hook her up with a single friend of hers who stays in Lagos and claimed to be looking for a serious relationship. Lotanna agreed and started dating Ikechukwu. This, however, did not stop her from seeing Shola. Her frequent visits to Lagos from Abeokuta seemed to bother Shola, but he did not complain; rather, he went with the flow.
One day, when Lotanna was in Ikechukwu’s house, she set up a meeting with Austin who had been bothering to meet her so he would be sure she had forgiven him. He had married Love — the lady he left Lotanna for. He wanted to see Lotanna. They met in a restaurant near Ikechukwu’s house.
Ikechukwu, who had been looking for a way to break the relationship with Lotanna as his wife would return to Lagos for good, capitalized on Austin’s visit to do so. He accused Lotanna of cheating on him with Austin. He broke the news to her, telling her not to leave any of her belongings in his house as his wife would soon be home.
Lotanna smiled, picked up her things, and left Lagos that same day. She did not cry, and she did not laugh. She bottled it all up. She had sworn after Austin that she would never cry over a man again. One month after Ikechukwu’s incident, she left Abeokuta for Lagos; after all, she was done with the NYSC program. After spending one month in Lagos, she later left for Enugu to start her postgraduate studies.
She had stayed off men for months until she met Edozie on social media. They had corresponded for three months before she visited him in Lagos. Their meeting was fun. He had just moved into a three-bedroom flat in Ogba. He was yet to furnish the accommodations. He gave her the liberty to furnish it to suit her taste. It excited her. She felt she was furnishing her future home.
She frequented Lagos often and was convinced that Edozie would pop the question soonest. All her friends were happy for her. She had furnished the kitchen to her taste. She had furnished the bedroom, helped in picking the furniture, supervised the painters, etc. When their relationship got to the ninth month, he started asking her if she was pregnant; she then learnt that he probably wanted her to get pregnant before he popped the big question. Eventually, he stopped picking up her calls, stopped chatting her up, stopped calling her, and picked up a fight with her one day, accusing her of a lot of things. She suppressed the tears and bottled it all up. She knew that ship had sailed. That was the end of the relationship with Edozie.
One month later, she met Nonso on social media too. She had hoped this was it; she visited him in Warri twice, and his excuse after the sexcapades with her was that he wanted someone whose eyes were like his mother’s. He missed his mum and wanted someone like her. He never refunded the three thousand Naira he borrowed from her.
Then she met Daniel. Daniel was fun, adventurous, and very generous. Even though he lived in Lagos, he frequented Port Harcourt monthly. She would always visit him from Enugu, and amidst the money and many gifts, he made her laugh. He loved her because she told him she wanted only sex. She was tired of relationships. She was tired of feeling cheated on every time. Daniel liked her for her openness. She suspected Daniel had a girlfriend but never verified.
She continued her relationship with Daniel even after she got a job in Lagos and left Enugu. Daniel would lodge her in hotels every Friday, and they always had good times together. This continued till one day, when she got a call from an unknown number. The mysterious caller kept calling her “Ashawo.” She threatened that if she did not leave her husband alone, she would die a shameful death.
She called back and engaged the caller in a conversation, only to discover that she was Daniel’s wife. So Daniel was married? She apologized to her, telling her that she never knew or suspected that he was married. She broke up with Daniel and continued sleeping around. She never knew she was in love with Daniel; she had somehow hoped that he would propose to her, and not to the girlfriend she had assumed he had.
After a year, Daniel lured her back with his generosity and they became more careful, hiding their relationship from Daniel’s wife. This continued till a colleague at work got interested in her. She had her reservations about him for she wondered how they would survive on their salary should the relationship get serious. Besides, she never believed him when he claimed he was neither married nor had a girlfriend. He tried to lure her to his bed. After frolicking with him one day, she distanced herself from him.
By this time, she was tired of men. She was tired of jumping from one man to the other. She just wanted to get herself a husband. Her mother and aunts were worried about her. Her inner circles of friends were all married. Her younger sister was married and now lives in Canada with her husband. She was tired.
She met Jack. They started dating. They dabbled into sex early and after two weeks, when she sensed that his behavior towards her had changed; she immediately broke up with him. This was two weeks into their relationship. She had told herself that no man will break up with her again. The same happened with Martins. She broke off the relationship one week into it. She also found the courage to end things with Daniel.
Then she took her relationship with God seriously. She re-dedicated her life to Christ. That was when she met Bolaji. They started as friends. Then he started voicing his feelings towards her. She had not taken him seriously initially. His friends were on her to accept him. They encouraged her to give him a chance. Lotanna was bothered about the tribe issue. Bolaji is Yoruba, and she is Igbo. As much as she needed a man, she would prefer one from the same tribe as her. She agreed to date him.
One day, he crossed the boundary and kissed her. Even though she gave in, she did not like it. She had told herself never to compromise again. She would never have sex with a man or frolic with one until after her wedding. She broke off the relationship after the kiss. He begged and begged. His friends also pleaded on his behalf. She eventually agreed; she had overcome the tribe thing in her mind.
She began to see herself as Bolaji’s wife. She liked the fact that they based the relationship on God’s principles except that she never took time to pray about it. She was told to pray about it, but no; she had a wonderful feeling about it. She had visited his family in Akure.
He proposed one day in Mega Chicken and she accepted. She was filled with joy. She called her friends and informed them the good news; she informed her parents that he would come to the east this December to formally ask for her hand in marriage. She was making her plans silently, and just out of the blues… he had wrecked her dreams.
Why did he do that? Why did he come into her life?
As she thought about all these, the pain in her heart increased. She needed to let it out — the suppressed pains and hurt. She wanted to let go.
She then started screaming — a heart wrenching scream it was — and it brought the nurses running towards her room…
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