“Come and see me after your exams next Friday” this was a text message from my Uncle who didn't care much about my existence. Why does he want to see me? That was a question I didn't have answers to. I replied with “Ok Uncle, I will be coming to see you after church on Sunday.
This was hard because I already had a dinner date with Tammy, my boyfriend. Tammy was serving in Delta state and I was writing my final exams. He had been my best friend for 3years now so it just felt convenient for us to date. From my end, we didn't have the spark and chemistry and all the lightning we should have as young lovers but he didn't care much about that. But I did, not after reading Romantic novels and watching Kdramas.
I wanted a love that'd make my heart skip, one that will make me float upon the Nile, the type of love 2face felt for Annie when he sang African queen. Yeah that type of love. Tammy was boring but I had to date him anyway because it was convenient.
It was the last Sunday of April and it was a Thanksgiving service in my fellowship. Praise was usually over the moon but I had to skip it because of my appointment with my Uncle. His house was quite far from school and if I don't go on time I'd be forced to spend the night at his place and there was no way I was going to let that happen.
I got to his place at 12:35 pm quite early for a family that attends the Apostolic church, I knew I had to wait for over one hour before they'd be back from church, brought out my phone and started playing temple run, I was on level 24 and I wanted to cross that level, by all means, that day.
Well, time went by quickly and before I knew it I saw his car driving into the compound. He came out with a smile on his face, Zuri Zuri you're now a Woman, a beautiful one at that. Ahh, Your dad would be so proud of you, may God rest his soul, Amen I muttered.
Come inside, Gerald would be joining us shortly, he's the one I want you to see. Ok Sir, I responded even though I had no idea who Gerald was.
Let just say I have nothing to lose from this visit, I'm sure I won't go back empty-handed and as a final year student, I needed that cash he'd press into my hands for transport back to school. I know it won't be more than 10k but it will go along way into paying for my FYB dues and sewing my clothes for graduation dinner.
I was lost in thoughts and didn't notice when people walked in, the next thing I heard was “meet Zuri, my niece, and Zuri meet Francis and his friend Gerald “. They are based in the UK and just came home to visit family.
He went ahead and said something in my local dialect about how you can never forget where you are from. I said hi with a smile. PS; I've got the most beautiful smile in the world that they had to create an award category of “the most beautiful smile”.
I liked Francis, he was wearing Sauvage by Christian Dior and I love men with good scents and he was dark, tall, and had a slight resemblance with Morris Chestnut. I'm sure they are married, I said to myself cause they looked mid-thirties. Well, wetin concern me, shebi I get exams to write😂
My Uncle’s wife called for my attention and I had to head to the kitchen. In her words, “you better show them you're a good wife material”. I turned back to look and no one was behind me. Who is the woman talking to, and why do I have to prove to anyone I'm a good wife material. I smiled as courtesy demands and helped out with the dishes.
After dinner, my Uncle asked to see me privately and I went to see him at his lounge. I knocked and waited for him to ask me in, 30 seconds later he ushered me in and asked me to sit down. I sat and started itching my eyes, this is what I do whenever I'm in a tense environment. I could sense how serious the atmosphere was and whatever he had to say had to be very serious.
He cleared his throat and said, Zuri, you know you're going to be 22 this year and since your father died, your mother had tried her best to take care of you and your siblings. I know how things have been difficult and now is your time to help out. Well, I know you're wondering why I called you here at such short notice, you know as your uncle, I want the best for you and I'm doing what your Dad would have done if he was to be alive.
Ok, I said Uncle, thank you for all your support and playing the role as my Dad, even though I'm aware my Dad wouldn't bully me into getting married to a total stranger cause it's now obvious that's why he called. But I had to smile and do what courtesy demands.
He said Gerald is a nice guy from a good home and works with the U.S government as an engineer, and he's yet to be 30. But what he didn't tell me was that Gerald already had a son with a white woman, he skipped that part but ok, we will get to find out soon.
After the meeting at my Uncle’s house, Gerald had asked me for my IG and Facebook handle which I gave nonchalantly. He followed me immediately and commented on my profile pics. I smiled and said thanks. I liked how he was trying to force the Nigerian accent off his tongue and how he was trying to make me comfortable by cracking dry jokes. They were dry and boring but I am a thoughtful person so I appreciated his effort and gave him my number. He didn't ask but I felt it was nice of me to give it to him.
On my way back to school I got a text from Tammy saying I'm 20 minutes late already. Gosh! I didn't call him to cancel the dinner, I didn't text him, neither did I inform him that I was in town and still far from school. Well, it's Tammy, he would understand.
I opened my WhatsApp to reply to his message because I didn't have enough airtime to send SMS. Hi babe, I'm sorry I'm late but I'm not in school at the moment, I had to go see my mum because she wasn't feeling too well. I'm not sure of coming back tonight so let's see after my exams tomorrow.
I sent it to him, waited for it to deliver and turned off my data. I wasn't in the mood for his reply and as much as I just lied to Tammy, lying wasn't something I'm proud of, and I needed to rest after the long day I've had. Tammy won't understand that. He would question my love for him and how I've not been showing up lately to our arranged dates. I know I was hurting Tammy, but I wasn't comfortable with the fact that he was becoming too demanding of my time.
Exams were over and Tammy had returned back to Delta state where he was serving. I think we didn't get to settle, we are not quarreling but I know there was something off between us. He wasn't ready to talk about it and I'm not sure I was ready too. So we both kept it aside and continued with our relationship like nothing happened. We kept with our twice a day calls and random texting to check on each other.
Meanwhile, Gerald has been showering me with enough TLC, forget, Oyibo people sabi show love. We can talk for 3hours and MTN won't warn him. He sends me airtime without me asking, and the fun part was we could talk about everything and anything. It has just been two weeks of talking and I already know everything about him, (well so I thought) and he knows so much about me too.
Talking to him came with a lot of ease, and even though he had spent all his life in the UK he knew how to blend into a proper Naija gist. My friends were becoming familiar with him because he always insists on talking to them whenever they are around and he calls. Zainab didn't like him that much because she felt he was distracting me from Tammy and Tammy was her Gee, I mean our Gee.
The thing is after I had left my Uncle’s place, Gerald called me and we had our first conversation, he told me his intentions about marrying a Naija wife especially one from the same community and I happen to be the best he has seen so far. I told him I wasn't ready for marriage and I'm in a relationship. He said that's fine, that he wasn't in a hurry and it will be so bad of him to ask me to break up with my boyfriend so we agreed on being friends.
I guess that was where he got me. I liked the fact he was so understanding, he didn't have to be friends with me but I was pleased with the fact that he genuinely liked me and wasn't going to let go of me because of a relationship. In his words, he'd rather have me in his corner as his friend than not have me at all. I'm not going to lie, Man was a smooth talker, but beneath all those sweet words lies his sincerity. I could feel it, I knew I meant more to him and I was ready to see how that plays out.
It didn't take a while and Gerald started sending me money for upkeeps and other stuff. By now I've become total dependant on him financially, not that I was proud of but I had finish school and I was waiting for NYSC, I tried getting a job and none was forthcoming, he told me not to worry that I will get a better job after service and for now I should manage the 50k monthly allowance he was sending me which was approximately £200.
He was in Guam for an assignment and our time was 9hours apart but Gerald would wake up and send me videos, he made sure we talk daily and he was always updating me of his work schedule and when best for me to call. At this point, we've started saying I love you to each other but nothing solid yet.
I mean I was still dating Tammy and I didn't know how to tell him. Zainab felt Gerald was a player because everything about our “relationship” was too good to be true. He never got angry about the fact I was still with Tammy and he kept sending me money and reassuring me that I was going to be his wife.
Some nights, we will spend hours choosing wedding colors, country for honeymoon, and deciding if we are going to have the wedding in Nigeria or the UK. He told me I was good with finance so I'm going to manage our money while he work for the family. I'd smile sheepishly and bless God for bringing him to me.
Every emotion I felt for Gerald was real, and right now he was already the center of my life. There was nothing I'd say or do without seeking his permission. The time for service was close and he wanted me to serve in Lagos, he said it would be easier for us to see whenever he comes to visit Nigeria if I was to serve in Lagos.
Tammy had asked for my NYSC call up number so he can give it to his Brother to ensure I serve in Akwa Ibom state. He wanted me to serve there cause it was closer to home and he we can easily visit each other. I said I wanted Lagos and we had a big fight. At that point I felt it was the perfect time to break up with Tammy. That was the only opportunity I have so I had to use it wisely. Tammy kept insisting I serve in Akwa Ibom and at my refusal, he called me selfish. Well, that was all I needed. Verbal abuse as an excuse, yes, perfect!! The next morning I called Tammy and asked him of we could meet, he agreed and said yes, he came to my house as early as 8am.
In as much as I was prepared to break his heart, I wasn't expecting it to be that early, but I had to. I had rehearsed the lines to ensure it wasn't too dramatic. I wanted to make it very simple so I said “ I think we've outgrown each other. I liked how you used to be the first person I'd call whenever I was in trouble and the first person I wanted to share my best with. But right now we both want different things and I don't think it will be best for us to continue dating. We can still be friends but if we continue as lovers we are going to turn into enemies, and I don't want that for us”.
He sighed deeply and said if that will make me happy he's fine by it. I felt a sharp pain in my heart as I watched him leave, but I just had to let go cause at this point I was choosing between Tammy and Gerald and God knows I wanted Gerald. Aside from the fact I loved him, he was ready for a long time commitment and immediately after my service we were going to get married. But Tammy on the other hand wasn't ready, he was going to be ready in the next 6years and that would make me 29. Who had that time??
Service came and I was posted to Abuja instead of Lagos but Gerald was cool with it. He said he'd try and visit me once every 4 months and that was the best gift he could give me. Visiting every 4 months was going to be a lot of sacrifice but he didn't mind. Finally, I said to myself, Gerald was a better choice. It felt like I was always looking for a reason to justify my breakup with Tammy, so anytime Gerald did something extraordinary I'd say to myself you made a great choice and your children will be so proud of you because they are going to be a UK citizen.
Six months have passed and I've not seen Gerald, the last time I heard from was 3months ago. He wasn't taking my calls nor was he replying to any of my WhatsApp messages. There were days I'd catch him online and he still wouldn't reply me. There was no kind of message I didn't send to him just to get his attention but nothing from him. From claiming to fall sick, to being robbed, to be having issues at my workplace. I did all and sent all yet no reply. I was furious yet I couldn't share with my friends cause they'd laugh and said: “I told you so”. So I had to man up and swallow it despite how bitter it felt in my mouth.
I started praying about him, during Shiloh, 5NOG, at every church program I attended and I said “every spirit holding back my husband, released him by fire”.
It got out of hand that I became so reckless that I had to call his friends, the good thing was he had introduced me to them so I wasn't a stranger. I even told my Uncle about it and he assured me he'd call him. I think that was when I had lost my senses, and because I was too ashamed to share it with my friends I had no one to bring me back to my senses. Gift and Zainab were good when it comes to relationship advice but I was too ashamed of telling them. Whenever they asked me about him, I'd lie and say he's fine and he's just busy with work. I started browsing out states and cities within the UK so I could keep up with my lies. I'd brag and tell them he's at this city working and he's going to this city next. It became very exhausting but I wasn't ready to give up yet. Not when it was too embarrassing to admit.
It was the last month of my service year and I had just gotten a job with Access bank in Abuja, I had applied for the entry-level position and I got accepted with the help of Mohammed whose father was one of the big men in Abuja. Everything about Mohammed smell of old money but he was a Muslim and I wasn't ready to jumble my faith. I know I wasn't the best example of a Christian sister but I was a proud daughter of Zion and nothing was going to change that. Not even for the smell of old money.
Zainab was serving in Benue and she had told me she'd love to come and visit me in Abuja before our Passing out Parade. It sounds like the perfect idea and a good distraction. I was updating her on my new job position with Access bank when I got a text from Moneygram stating that I had just received the zoom of $500 from Gerald Bakar. I had this adrenaline rush all over my body. I wasn't excited for the money, I was just happy he reached out. I called his line immediately and he didn't pick, I tried for the next two days and he wasn't picking. I went ahead to cash the money and sent him a text on WhatsApp that I had cash the money. He replied and said he's sorry.
He ghosted me for 8months, and all he could say was he's sorry?? No explanation, no proper apology, nothing at all. But weirdly enough the sorry felt ok. I was ok with just sorry and ready to accept him back. I don't know why I had made that decision but reality was beginning to dawn on me. I'd finish service, working in a bank that drains me with little pay and Nigeria wasn't going to get better anytime soon. Boko Haram was moving mad and he was my only ticket out of the country. I had to accept the sorry. I had to…
Tammy reached out after a year we'd broken up and told me he just got a job with a big Gas plant, I knew he was going to do well for himself so I wasn't surprised at all. I congratulated him and pretended I was doing well for myself, I had to. I mean, I broke up with him just to be with Gerald and there was no way I was going to sound so sorry for myself. The only good thing was that I didn't let Tammy know Gerald was the reason we broke up, so you see, he still saw me as his friend and was reaching out from time to time. Tammy is a great guy but my pride won't let me beg my way back to his hands. I managed to ask him about his relationship status and he said he was still single.
Gerald kept calling me from time to time but not as often as he used to. I let him know that trust was broken and there's no way we could go back to how we were. He told me he understood perfectly and he's ready to take full responsibility. He kept saying he was sorry and we can still make it work.
3 months later and we were back to where we left like nothing had changed. We were having wedding discussions again, this time the force was stronger. They had sent someone to my house in the village to go and ask if I was single and ready for marriage. It's a traditional rite and still very necessary. My mum called and updated me that my inlaws had reached out, I told her about how he ghosted me for 8months and she said that was normal considering the barrier of long distance and that once we are married I won't have to experience such cause I will be with him. Well, that made sense so I became all jiggy and happy. My Oyibo husband was happening again and God has answered my prayers
While we were talking and preparing for our marriage I didn't know Gerald was planning a surprise visit, because just after our WhatsApp call I got a knock on my door and just like movies, my Prince Charming was standing before me. I was happy and scared at the same time. It was a mixed feeling, why did he come to visit without telling me. After the ghosting I had started to doubt his intentions but I was afraid of asking questions. After our hug and first real kiss, he knelt down on one knee and brought out a diamond ring. It was the most beautiful ring I've seen. It was an oval-shaped ring with a diamond stone on it. The body of the ring was mixed with gold and silver color, and the stone had a glittering effect. I gave him my hands in awe and shouted yes!!! He stood up and asked me to grab just my phone and follow him because he had all the night planned out.
Getting to Crest Hotel, I was so shocked to see my siblings, three of my friends and some faces I couldn't recognize holding the “ SHE SAID YES” card. In that moment I knew I had loved him more, and I was ready to do life with him. He held my hands and placed them on his chest, his eyes staring at mine and he said to me, Zuri, my life became whole the day you came into it and I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you and proving to you that I am the one for you. At this point I was already in tears, my siblings and friends were approaching us and we did a group hug with everyone chanting congratulations. This day would later become the most embarrassing day of my life but I didn't know so let's just say right now I was the happiest queen on earth.
We were back to our hotel room and I couldn't understand how I was feeling. I had just got engaged to the man of my dreams and I wasn't happy. There was this self doubt, feeling like I was about to make the biggest mistake of my life but I couldn't place it. I called Zainab who also was engaged to be married and share my worries with her, she said it was normal and I should shake it off. Gerald walked out of the bathroom and I wanted to tell him how I was feeling but I couldn't.
He drew me closer and said we needed to talk. He told me why he didn't call then and all he was dealing with and again for the umpteenth time telling me how sorry it was. I knew what he was saying was crazy and I remembered crying and him begging me and telling me how it doesn't change anything. And after a while I told him if my family should find out that the marriage would be over. And we promised each other not to let anyone know of this secret.
It's been six months since I was engaged to Gerald and two days to our court wedding and after trying to reach him for days to no avail, I woke up to this message on my phone with the read time 2:32am and it says “ You're a great person but I don't think you can be a great mom to my son. I look at your countenance each time I bring him up and it's not encouraging. He means the world to me now and I need to marry a wife that will be a perfect mom for him, and that I don't see in you.
Wiun!!! Hot air, I can't breathe, I'm about to die, somebody should please hold me. What the hell is the meaning of “ I'm not going to be a great mom to your son”? I'm yet to be married and he's already calling me a failed mom? Someone that cheated on me and had a Son with another woman, ghosted me for 8months, came back, and engaged me before telling me the truth? How am I supposed to deal with it? I already said yes and I wasn't ready to call off an engagement that wasn't up to a day old. A lot of women have been dealing with the issue of infidelity and I was about to do that's why I accepted it, I only begged him not to tell my family yet because it will be so embarrassing and now I'm the one not fit to be a wife and a mother??
I've been such a fool for love, for Gerald and myself.
Six years was too long for me to wait for Tammy but it's been seven years, I'm thirty, single, and still heartbroken and Tammy is engaged to be married to a woman that isn't half of the woman I was to him.
Zuri, you brought this to yourself.