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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sisters at war!  - 'He was my man but she snatched him with 20 million naira!' (2)


"Give this to Lara when she returns from the bank. We are running out of these drugs," my sister said one evening at the pharmacy, handing me a piece of paper. Lara was the business manager cum account executive of the pharmacy who handled most of the purchases of items. I scanned the list, noting with the little knowledge of medicines I had acquired since my time at the pharmacy that a lot of the drugs were for cold, cartarrh and other respiratory conditions. 
Not surprising considering the weather. It rained nearly everyday and that evening, it had been pouring heavily when I arrived at the store. I put the piece of paper in my bag to give Lara later. 
"Good evening. Please I need a good cough syrup for a young boy. Can you recommend one for me?" said a customer a short while latter. My sister who usually made recommendations was at the little cubicle that served as her office at the back of the store. I went to give her the order and shortly after, I returned with a small bottle of cough syrup from a reputable drug company.

"He needs to take it with another drug which we don't have in stock at the moment. Check back this time tomorrow and it will be available," I told the man as I wrote out his bill for payment at the cashier.
"Ok. Thanks. Will stop by on my way from work tomorrow," the man said before leaving.
Some days later, on a Saturday morning, I was at the store when the same man came in with a little boy of about five in tow. The boy immediately headed towards the fridges by the entrance that were stocked full with cold beverages.

"I want a black berry juice," he stated, pointing towards a chilled canned drink.
"No, Benjy. It's too cold," the man said. Turning to me, he added: "He just recovered from the bad cold and cough he had recently and the first thing he wants is a cold drink!"
I smiled down at the boy and offered him some toffees.
"Thank you, Aunty!" he stated, popping one into his mouth.
"Your son is so cute and polite too," I said, patting him on the head.
The man smiled. 
"Don't be fooled by his angelic looks. He can be quite a handful!"
  
He made his purchases and before leaving, he stood chatting for a while. I found out his name was Syl and the little boy whom I assumed was his son was actually his nephew.
After that day, he became a regular customer at the pharmacy which also had a section for general goods like cosmetics, food, wines and other products. With time, I got to know more about him. An accountant, he had worked for one of the new generation banks for some years before the consolidation exercise a few years ago, that saw a lot of the banks going under. His bank had been among the unlucky ones and he had consequently lost his job. 
 After seeking employment for sometime without success, he had decided to go solo, strike out on his own.
 "I set up an accounting firm which I run with a former colleague of mine at the bank. It was tough at the beginning but it's getting better now as our client base has improved," he had told me. By this time, we had become quite friendly and would often chat on phone. I could see he liked me but at that stage, I just saw him as a friend and a customer.
Then about two months later, he asked me out. It was a house warming party of his partner's elder brother and he needed 'a date for the evening' as he put it.
"What about your girlfriend?" I asked.
"Don't have one," he stated.
I wondered why a guy like him, with good prospects, would be without a girlfriend and he said:
"It's a personal choice." It seemed he had had a nasty experience with the last lady he dated and he had decided to stay single till now.
"Meeting you has made me realize that not all women are bitches," he stated bluntly.
Before accepting to go on the outing with him, I discussed it with my big Sister, Barbie.
 She had seen him in the store a couple of times though I had not introduced them. Her only condition for accepting the offer was to formally meet him.

"I need to know the young man that is taking my baby sister out," she stated firmly. So, a few days later, when Syl stopped by at the store, I took him to my sister's little office and did the introductions.
"A pleasure meeting you. Your sister has told me so much about you," were his first words to her.
Big Sis smiled and replied:
"Good things, I hope."

"Yes. But she didn't tell me how beautiful you are. I thought she was pretty but you are simply stunning. I wish I had met you before her..." he said, eyeing my sister who was dressed in a doctor's white coat.
 "And what would have happened then?" my sister said a little coquettishly.
 He shrugged.
 "Anything!" he said.
 I turned and hit him playfully on the arm.
 "Syl!" I exclaimed, and both of them laughed. 
  I could tell that my sister liked and approved of him and that made me warm up to him more.
   An ancient tradition
After that first date, Syl and I began to see each other regularly. He was fun to be with and quite caring too. With time, I met other members of his family, such as Benjy's mother who lived with him in his apartment. She was separated from her husband, a violent man who used to beat her a lot especially after drinking, Syl had told me.
 "It's better she stays here where she's safe than be beaten to death by that beast of a husband," he had said when he was telling me the story of his younger sister's unhappy marriage.
 His sister, Peggy and I were about the same age and after the initial coolness between us the first day we met, we began to get along with each other. 
 Syl and I had been dating for some months when my Mum wondered when I was going to bring the 'young man who had been taking up all my spare time' home.
 I sighed at her words. I had not told my parents about Syl so it could only be one person who had done so: big Sis!

  "Yes,I did. And what's wrong with that? It's time they met him," she pointed out.
 "Ah, Sister. You know how our parents are. The moment they see him and like him, they will start planning our wedding! I'm not ready for all that stress yet," I stated.
 "Why not? I know you like him a lot, I can even tell you are in love with the look on your face whenever he comes looking for you," she pointed out. I could not deny that. I always felt this warm glow within me whenever I was with Syl; it was a long time I had had that feeling for any man. I felt secure with him and wanted him to be by my side always, to never leave me. 

  "But he has not proposed," I said.
 "Don't worry about that. From the way he looks at you, I see a proposal coming soon,"she said assuringly.
 It was nearly six months later that her words came to pass. Syl proposed to me one evening after we had gone out to see some friends of his. If I had known what would come after, I would never have accepted to marry him. For things began to happen to us that I never envisaged even in my wildest dream.
 While my Dad liked Syl and was in support of the engagement, my Mum preferred I got married to one of her friend's sons, a silver spoon kid with 'more money than sense' as my big Sis used to refer to him.
 "What matters is not the young man's pocket, it's his character we should consider. Syl seems a decent and hardworking man who will take care of our daughter. Afterall, when I married you all those years ago, we had nothing and were living in two rooms in a 'face-me-I face you' type building! But here we are today! Nobody knows what the future holds for him," my Dad had argued when my mother raised objections to Syl because he was not rich like us.
 After that, we began making plans for our future. Things went smoothly until one weekend when some relatives of ours came from the village and told my Dad about an old tradition of our family, a tradition that threatened our well laid out plans...
To be continued...

What is this ancient family tradition that may affect Emily's marriage plans? Log in tomorrow for the details! 

Names have been changed to protect the identity of Erica and other individuals in the story.


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