My story begins when I got home after graduation. It was as though a discussion of my happily married life after graduation had been a topic for the roundtable. Just when I thought my life had begun, having acquired my first university degree as a lawyer and awaiting law school posting, then came the pressure from my family to get married, or at least introduce a fiancée before heading out for law school.
The issue of marriage was one thing I had never thought of until then. I didn’t even have a beard girlfriend. It was simply something that had curiously never existed on my mind until it came up at home. I was emotionally, psychologically and financially unprepared for it. I was simply not ready to get married. I doubt I ever will, considering the fact that I’m simply gay.
But the pressure was really coming down hard – from my family. And that set off a dilemma within me. I found myself constantly battling depression, quietly resenting my parents for the unfair pressure they were putting on me. Initially, I gave noncommittal responses to the queries, hoping my apparent nonchalance would discourage them. That didn’t work. So, I pleaded with my parents to hold off on demanding for my commitment, to at least give me time to finish law school before I’d have to focus on getting them a wife. I say ‘getting them a wife’ because it was obvious this intended marriage was for them and not me.
After I asked for time, for awhile, with no persistent queries, I figured my plea had been hearkened to. I was soon disabused of that thought, when I found out my parents had gotten an aunt of mine involved; they wanted her to help get a girl for me. It wasn’t bad enough that they wanted me to wed to a gender I didn’t want, they were now angling for an arranged marriage? The darkness brooding in my heart festered some more. I sank really deep psychologically, went really dark.
My aunt came down from Lagos and settled in. the day after her arrival, she asked me to accompany her to see a friend. I acquiesced. On our way, she kept going on and on about the goodness of her friend and this friend’s children, how beautiful and well-mannered the children are, and how I would love to associate with them. I was right next to her, nodding and saying nothing. Clearly, this was a shopping expedition, and the main item – the only item – on the list was a wife material.
We soon got to our destination. The friend, a slightly matronly woman, good looking for her age, welcomed us amidst ebullient pleasantries she exchanged with my aunt. The living room was tastefully furnished, with its upper middle class ambience, and it adjoined a dining room where I espied a boy eating at the table. My aunt’s friend (who I’ll call Mrs. Jones) soon asked the boy over to greet us. He left his meal for a moment to come out and say hi. He was really good looking and somewhat shy. From the exchange between my aunt and Mrs. Jones over him, I quickly gathered that he was his mother’s only son. He returned to his food and Mrs. Jones called out her three daughters, all of them beautiful, and introduced them to me. As they were paraded before me, their virtues extolled, it all felt surreal, almost like the parade of women that were displayed before the biblical King Xerxes when he decided he wanted a new wife after Queen Vashti disrespected him.
Because I didn’t think I was required to give any response while this charade was going on, I kept quiet and merely smiled and nodded every now and then. As our visit progressed, I began to develop the feeling of one being watched. I glanced quickly in the direction of the dining room in time to catch Mrs. Jones’s son (who I’ll call Bennett) turn to his food. He’d moved his head quickly, but not so quick that I didn’t know he’d been looking someplace else just seconds before and not at his food. I suspected he’d been looking at me, and confirmed this when moments later, I looked at him through my peripheral vision and saw him staring at me. He was intense about it. As long as I wasn’t looking in his direction, he kept his gaze on me. I soon began to get uncomfortable and excused myself from the company of the women, asking to go outside and stroll a bit. Of course my aunt suggested I be accompanied by one of Mrs. Jones’s daughters, a suggestion I quickly rejected, before escaping outside into the evening.
When I got outside, it wasn’t long before I heard footsteps following after me. I turned to see that Bennett had come out after me. We got talking, just casual talk, during which we exchanged contacts. After that, I went back inside. And then, my aunt was done with her visit and we were soon on our way back home. Along the way, she carried on and on about the Jones’s daughters and how even more beautiful they were than the last time she saw them, and all the while she was talking, I couldn’t help but wonder how it was that I’d made a connection with the unintended Jones child.
Then we got home and my aunt made an observation. “I noticed you didn’t ask for any of the girls’ numbers.”
I made a noncommittal grunt.
She went on, “That’s no matter. I collected Nkechi, the eldest daughter’s number for you. Here, her number is…” And she began reeling off digits that I reluctantly typed into my phone, a number I knew I was never going to call.
That evening, I got a WhatsApp message from Bennett. And we soon began chatting. Not long into our chatversation, he began to get upfront with his intentions. Apparently, he’d fallen in love with me the moment he saw me as I stepped into his house. He desired me and would like us to explore something between us. I didn’t mind his profusion but told him we had to take things slow. Our chat progressed as we got more and more acquainted.
Then the next morning, his sister Nkechi, who’d obviously been given my number, buzzed me on WhatsApp as well. I reluctantly responded to her, and in no time, during the course of our chat, she was calling me her ‘love’.
Both Joneses were very frank and dauntless in their profession of affection for me. And it soon began to feel like a race between brother and sister to win my heart. This was all too much weirdness for me.
However, the story, already complicated as it was, did not end there. It seemed as though my family had approved of Nkechi and her family as potential in-laws and began to fraternize with them. Social calls were exchanged and my mother and Mrs. Jones soon began best friends. I was asked to go on errands for the Joneses whenever Bennett wasn’t available to do them; basically, I was getting groomed to be the perfect son-in-law to the Joneses.
The day came when I was scheduled to drive Mrs. Jones to a wedding. In spite of the circumstances that brought us together, I truly found the woman to be a delightful person. And during the drive to the wedding, she rode shotgun and we were having a good time conversing and laughing.
During a period of silence when I was focused on navigating through some traffic, I felt a stir on my thigh. I looked down to see Mrs. Jones’s hand on my thigh, the beringed fingers moving slowly up and down my lap. I was so startled, I almost jammed my foot on the brake pedal. Instead, I froze right there on the seat, mechanically driving and mentally stupefied. I didn’t know what to do, to say. I couldn’t even look at her. I just stayed immobile, my heartbeat ratcheting up and up, feeling violated by the hand that was caressing my thigh. Then as I drove over the next bump on the road, in a move that coincided with the maneuver, I gently jerked my leg away. But then I leveled the car and continued driving, and her hand returned to my thigh.
I was shocked and angry and confused. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to feel. Some part of me, the part of me that simply couldn’t believe that this woman could possibly be a sexual predator, tried to explain away her touch as maternal. Perhaps she caressed her children on the thighs too.
I didn’t say another word to her until we got to the wedding. And right there, she began to act noticeably – to me, anyway – clingy, wanting me to be by her side at all times, and occasionally reaching for my hand. Still, I tried not to jump to any conclusions.
However, all my rationalizations went out the window the next day when her messages began pouring in on – where else? – WhatsApp. Messages that detailed how she wants us to be close, how she is capable of taking care of my needs if I can take care of hers, something she assured me wouldn’t be a problem, seeing as she was a bank manager.
I was confounded! This was a woman who was married with children in my peer group! A woman who, if our families had their way, would be my mother-in-law! A woman who was the mother of two people already gunning to get into my pants! This was unbelievable! I couldn’t believe this cosmic joke the universe seemed to be playing on me. I could just imagine the Devil and Angel Gabriel sharing a chuckle somewhere as they let this practical joke play on.
I was thoroughly disgusted. And promptly began to withdraw from the Joneses – every one of them, from the parents to the children, including Bennett and Nkechi. I couldn’t stand the mess that seemed to be brewing from my association with them. As I write this, I have come through from another one of Bennett’s desperate pleas over why I’d become distant from him. Even Nkechi is getting the message. Only their mother seems not to understand that no means no!
I’d like this all to end quietly and without fuss, but if the woman continues to push for a reciprocation of her intentions, there’s no telling what the aggrieved heart of a revolted young man will push him to do.
Written by Matrix