When he entered her life she thought the world of him. He had a self deprecating smile and liked to call himself a bush boy. He liked to remind her they were from very different worlds and it took all the guts he could summon to approach her.
Segun was a dapper dresser. His sharp clothes covered up for the inadequacies that plagued him. He had reinvented himself and learned the fine art of suave words and sleek apparel but deep inside he was still a man with deep rooted insecurities. He liked to date rich and spoilt ladies for what he could get out of them but knew he would never marry one. They were too bossy, too self assured and he could never relax in their company. He felt he would slip up and they would rat him out for what he really was.
No matter how many big girls he dated, he always had one girl of his own lowly status at home. With that one he could eat with his hands, lick his fingers noisily, pick his noise and fart loudly without feeling judged. Out of whatever money he got out of the women he used to support his ‘orente’. Sometimes he would use their cars to drive her around and on one occasion, one of his ladies had caught them together. It was his quick thinking that saved the day.
‘Come quickly greet your aunty, have you lost your manners?’ he said to her. The girl almost curtsied to the ground in greeting. ‘Oh baby, that’s my cousin, I saw her going to the market and I wanted to drop her off before meeting up with you’. And foolishly she believed and even gave his cousin money to buy a snack in the market. He was a master at the juggling game and had perfected his art before he met Adeola.
Her pool of hopefuls were thinning by the day. Each time she updated her list she would realise they were getting closer to her in age. The gap was closing up and if she wasn’t careful soon they would overtake her. Then she met Segun.
She knew he was a fraud, a fake when she met him. But there was an unmistakable sexual pull. She looked beyond those tiny telltale signs that gave him away. The way he evaded questions with questions of his own. The way he refused to say where he worked or what he did for a living. He even refused to say how he knew who she was. But he had quick compliments to shower on her. How beautiful she was and how he had watched her for a while before growing the courage to talk to her. His answers seemed too proper and glib to be true but she overlooked them all.
Adeola was slowly growing disillusioned. She was tired of attending weddings month in month out. She had taken to avoiding her mum for the incessant questions about marriage. She had even stopped visiting her married friends. There seemed a sort of reluctance to let her into their coveted circle. She understood it all too well. That unwritten and unspoken fear of single girls. She’d rather stay home alone than bear the thinly veiled resentment in their eyes.
When Segun came along she prayed he would be the last. Within two months of their relationship he had virtually taken over her car. With excuses of a faulty car, he took to dropping her off at work and picking her up. He would ask for a loan to fix his unseen car and ask for more because the car had to be fixed properly.
Sometimes he’d wear a long face and on inquiry he would talk about a sick parent and how he needed money to foot their bills. The lone time she suggested going to visit the sick mum with him, he had recoiled in horror. “No Deola, I will only take you home when we are getting married”. Those veiled references to marriage gave her hope but he was yet to ask her formally. At those times she would quickly give him what he asked for.
Any time she started having doubts, he would buy her a beautiful gift with money she strongly suspected he took from her. Deola knew she was being played but the sex was fantastic, he looked dashing and truth be said there was nobody else in her life.
One day she proposed opening up a business for him since he said his business was suffering. Although she didn’t have the faintest idea what his business was she had several plans to open businesses but time was tight for her. He snapped up the idea but balked when she insisted the business would be registered in her name. “That means you don’t trust me, you don’t even believe in our future”. “Okay register it as a couple, you know you are my wife” . I’m just waiting for things to pick up before I ask for your hand and go to see your parents”. And like a fool being led by rings in her nose, she signed away all rights to a company she had registered. She pushed business his way and before long, he was established enough to stand on his feet.
That was when she broached the topic of marriage. As ever he had a reason to push it forward. She couldn’t understand his excuses and threatened she was going to take back everything she had given to him.
Segun laughed derisively, took a long look at her and walked out of the house.
Three weeks later, a card dropped in her mail. It was Segun's wedding invitation!.
BY JANE OHAJI AKWANI