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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rosie and the Chief (3)


Later in my room, I sat thinking about Chief's unexpected proposal. My first instinct was to turn it down. I mean, even with all his money, he was not my idea of what my groom should be. For one, there was the wide age gap; he was more of my Dad's age mate than mine. What will my father say if I brought Chief home as my husband-to-be?

Besides, there was Lucas, my boyfriend. We had been together for about a year and though there was nothing definite between us, he had been dropping hints that we could have a future together. How would he react when he heard I had become engaged to Chief, a man I had told him was just an older friend of mine?
It was all a bit confusing. So, I took Chief's advice and decided to give myself time before taking a decision...

Back in Nigeria, Helena was the first person I told about Chief's proposal. She did not seem too surprised stating:
"I told you that man was up to something but you did not believe me. Now he has proposed to you. So, what are you going to do?"
I shrugged and told her I was still thinking about it.
"Well, what is there to think about. It's either a yes or no! It's your life, you have to make up your mind what you want- whether to spend the rest of your life with Chief or lover boy Lucas," she said dryly.

That weekend, my mother came to visit from her base in another town. We are very close and I always tell her nearly everything related to my private life. So, after she had told me all the news about the family, especially my Dad who had just had an operation and was recovering, I discussed the proposal with her.
"Do you love him?" she asked when I had finished.
"I can't really say, Mum. I like him a lot. Infact, I think I'm fond of him," I replied.

  "That means you feel something."
"Yes, Mum. But it's the kind of feeling one has for an older brother or uncle not a lover," I stated.
"My dear, love grows with time. Don't mind all these movies where you see people falling in love the minute they set eyes on each other. Real life is not like that. From your description of this man, he seems like a good and decent person. And he obviously loves you and wants to take care of you. You know you are not getting younger; you will be thirty soon. You are at the right age to settle down. From all indications, no other man has proposed yet, including the young man you are seeing presently. I think you should give Chief a chance," she suggested.

When I pointed out that my father might not be happy about the age difference between Chief and I, she said:
"You are the one who will live with the man and not your father. Besides, who is he to judge? Afterall, his own father, your grandfather married his youngest wife when he was nearly 80 years old and she was 20 something. Leave your Dad to me. I'll handle him," she said.

Nuptial plans
  Speaking to my mother helped a lot in helping me make up my mind about the issue. A few days later, I called Chief, telling him I would marry him. 
"My dear, you don't know what you have done. You have made me one very happy man!" he said excitedly.
"There is a condition though," I said.
"Just tell me. Anything you want, I will do it for you," he said eagerly.

I told him I wanted to keep working after our marriage. You see, I did not want to be a 'trophy wife' like wives of some wealthy men in the society who seem to spend all their days shopping, indulging in endless beauty treatments, partying and more shopping.
"I don't have a problem with that. You can work in one of my companies as a director," he offered.
Before the call ended, Chief said:
  "Rosie dear, I'm glad you decided to be with me. I assure you, you won't regret this decision as I promise to make you really happy as long as we are together."

After that, I knew the next thing I had to do was break the news about my engagement to Chief to Lucas. I knew he would be upset so I put it off as much as possible.
Some days later, I went over to Chief's house to see him discussing with a lady whom he introduced to me.
"This is Sholly. She works in my office and she will be in charge of the wedding plans," he said.

After she had left, I confronted Chief.
"But Chief, the arrangements look so elaborate. Is it really necessary?" I queried.
"Why not? I've done this before, been married and all that. It's your first time. I want it to be special for you," he stated enthusiastically.
"I understand. But I'll prefer something small and intimate with just family and close friends and colleagues. Besides, we need to see my parents especially my Dad. He will have to accept you as a son-in-law first before we can do anything," I pointed out.

"You are right, my dear. It's just that I'm so excited that you accepted me. I thought I was going to spend the remaining part of my life alone. Now, here you are! I feel reborn, like a young man again," he said. I laughed and hugged him. The fact that I had brought so much joy into his life gave me some satisfaction, made me feel I was doing the right thing.
  We decided to visit my parents the following weekend so they could meet Chief. I felt a bit apprehensive because of my father. A retired school teacher, he was a very strict man whom I used to fear a lot as a child growing up. Age had mellowed him a bit though, and he was more approachable now than when my siblings and I were much younger.

Some days before the trip, I went to see Chief at home. I met Claire, his daughter, who was on her way out.
"Daddy's in the second parlour; he's with my cousin who just arrived from the States," she told me. Claire and I got on well and she had even congratulated me on my engagement to her Dad. "I think it's cool that I will be having a young stepmom. We will do so many things together," she had said.
I got inside the house and went to the kitchen to see the housekeeper, Mrs Anslem concerning some items Chief wanted. Later, I went to the living room but Chief was not there.

Standing by a wall, admiring a new painting that Chief had just acquired was the last person I expected to see there.
"Who am I seeing? J.B, is this really you?" I exclaimed.
  The man turned to face me, equally looking surprised at the sight of me. 
"Rose! My God! Quite an age! What are you doing here?" he queried coming up to me.
  Before I could reply, Chief came down the stairs and said:

  "I see you two have met. Rosie, dear, this is James, my nephew. He just came in today from his base in the U.S. He's on vacation. He will be spending some time with us," he said. When he introduced me as his wife-to-be, a look of astonishment and even shock came over J.B's face.
But he quickly composed himself and shook my hand formally. 
  We all sat chatting after that, or rather Chief and JB talked while I sat quietly listening to them in a half-hearted way. How could this be? That Chief, the man I want to marry is the uncle of JB, my first love, the guy who took away my innocence? It all happened long ago, as a young girl at the university. My mind drifted away to the days back in school when JB and I first met, our relationship, the arguments, fights and...

  "My dear, you seem so quiet. Are you alright? You look as if you are in pain or something? Let one of the maids get you something to drink for it then,"Chief interrupted my thoughts, gazing at me with obvious concern in his eyes.
I shook my head. 
"I'm ok, Chief. I guess I'm a bit tired, that's all," I said.
"That's alright," he said, then turning to his nephew, he stated:
"You came at the right time, James. You will be on my entourage when I visit Rosie's family this weekend. Your cousin, Harry says he will be busy and won't have the time to come. 
Imagine that! What's more important than meeting the parents of the lady who will soon be an important part of this family? I guess he's upset because I will be marrying a woman he says is 'even younger than he is.' So, should I go and marry a woman as old as I am just to please him? Silly boy! He's always been a spoilt, mummy's boy," he said with a smirk. Harry was Chief's third son. He had two older brothers who lived abroad.
"I'll be happy to accompany you, Uncle," said JB. But his eyes when he looked at me said something different...

JB's arrival on the scene beings a new twist to the story and complicates things for Rosie. Join us later today for the details.


To be continued... 
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.


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