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Monday, November 16, 2015

Sisters at war! - 'He was my man but she snatched him with 20 million Naira!' (3)

Our marriage plans went smoothly until one weekend when some relatives of ours came from the village and reminded my Dad about an old tradition of our family and community. The tradition was that first daughters must always marry before the younger ones and it was a custom that could not be broken under any circumstances.
"You are quite aware of this important custom of our people. It's been there for many, many years, since the days of our ancestors and it has not changed till today. Yet, here you are planning a wedding for your younger daughter when the oldest one is still single and living in your house! What kind of thing is that? As an elder in the community, you should know the consequences of your actions! We therefore advise you to desist from this foolish plan of yours or face the wrath of our people!" they warned before leaving.
You can image the confusion their visit caused in our family. No one knew what to do including my Dad who simply sat in deep thought, occasionally shaking his head.
He later confessed that though he was aware of the tradition, he had decided to overlook it because of the circumstances of our family with regards to my big Sister, Barbie.
"I did not want the chances of my two younger girls getting married sabotaged because of what I believe is a tradition that should have been done away with years ago. Circumstances have delayed Barbara getting a suitor. But should Emily and Ollie suffer because of that? What kind of tradition is that?" he asked rhetorically.
"So, what happens, Dad if anyone goes against the tradition?" Ollie, my younger sister asked.
"There's the belief that the oldest daughter as well as the parents will die," my Dad replied.
"What?" was the general shocked reaction of everyone to Dad's words.
"Not just that, all kinds of misfortunes and disasters will befall the family and community too," my Dad added. He explained the tradition began centuries before in the early days of the community.
 "What happened? Something must have occurred in those days that led to this strange tradition," my big sister Barbie remarked.
But my Dad shook his head, stating he was not in the mood for a lesson about the ancient history of his home town.
I sat staring glumly at the floor, my mind striving to absorb this new development and what it portended for Syl and I. What will happen to us, our relationship if the elders had their way? Will we have to break up or what? I shook my head, unwilling to think of such a terrible scenario...

The aftermath
But I could not bury my head in the sand forever and pretend all was well. At a point, Syl and I had to face the situation on the ground and it was not a pleasant thing at all to do. A big problem that could affect our future life together had reared its ugly head- what was the way forward?
 It was the main thought on my fiancé's mind and mine too when he came to see me at home some days later.
We sat in the gazebo in the garden sipping cold drinks.
"Daddy has gone to see his kinsmen in the village. He hopes to work out something," I stated.
"Are you sure he will succeed?" asked Syl, turning to me.
I shrugged, then said:
"Can't tell. You know how these villagers are- stuck in their ways, superstitious and resistant to change." I took his hand in mine and held onto it tightly, a sudden sense of foreboding coming over me.
My Dad returned with the sad news that the elders were adamant about retaining 'the tradition and custom of the community which cannot be changed for anybody no matter how highly placed.' 
"I did all I could but they were not ready to even listen to me," he said gloomily.
"But Dad, you could have tried harder! What do you expect me to do now? Break up with Syl? I won't o! He's my life; I can't do without him!" I said vehemently, getting really upset. I left them in the living room and marched up to my room.
That was just the beginning. Things got from bad to worse after that. Syl and I not only had to put our wedding plans on hold, we were uncertain when or if ever we would get married. As long as my big sister stayed single, there was no hope of our getting hitched as the tradition stipulated. At the moment, there were no suitors coming to ask for her hand in marriage and with each passing year, her chances grew slimmer. What was I to do? Grow old in my father's house just because of one 'crazy' tradition, I wondered bitterly.
"Maybe we should place an ad in the paper requesting for suitors for big Sis," Ollie stated jokingly one day some months later. 
 I did not find the joke funny and I told her to keep her mouth shut if she did not have anything better to say. How was I to know that what started as a joke would later become a reality?                             
Just when I was getting used to the thought of staying single longer than I expected, a miracle happened- Sister Barbie got engaged!
It was news that should have brought great joy to me; instead, it was sorrow, tears and pain it brought. For the mystery man that my sister got engaged to was my very own Syl, my fiancé! How did this happen, you might wonder?

 A tempting offer
It was all my Dad's fault or evil machinations as I would prefer to state it. In his bid to ensure Barbie got settled so as to pave way for myself and younger sister, my Dad went behind my back and made an offer to Syl. It was a very tempting offer, one that would be difficult for any ambitious young man to resist. He offered Syl millions in cash, a few properties and other assets to leave me and marry my elder sister!
"He had to do it for both your sake and hers. You know the tradition- as long as she remains in this house, you and Ollie have no hope of marrying too. You should understand why your father took such a decision," my mother tried to placate me when I raised strong objections to the bizarre arrangement.
"Understand what? Even if you have to pay or buy a husband for my sister, why should it be my own man, my Syl? He's mine and no one can take him away from me!" I stated furiously. 
As expected, the issue caused a big quarrel between my parents and I. My Dad's explanation that he chose Syl because he was a 'decent young man whom he wanted to retain in the family' did not wash with me.
"Can't you see it? If the situation continues, he might lose interest and move on to another lady whom he can marry without tradition acting as an obstacle. You will lose him. I want him as part of this family and if marrying Barbie will make it happen, so be it!" my Dad had stated with finality.
"I can see you all have ganged up against me, to deprive me of the one thing that makes me happy. But your evil plans will fail. Syl loves me and will never agree to your plans," I said.
I was so sure of my fiancé's love for me that I could have sworn that he would not be part of my parents' plans. How wrong I was. To my shock, Syl not only accepted to marry my sister but even justified it.
 "My marrying her doesn't mean I don't love you. I still do. I'm just trying to help your family out because of this tradition thing. Besides, maybe it's fate or destiny. See it as a sacrifice you have to make for your sister who is in her condition today because of what she did for you all those years ago..." 
I simply stared at him, unable to believe this was the same guy that had sworn to love me forever, that we would be together always, now singing a different tune! Just because of the N20m million cash, properties and other stuff my parents gave him, he had become something else. A million naira husband, bought and paid for by my scheming parents especially my Dad. Anyway, I was so mad at him and felt so betrayed that I angrily threw the engagement ring he had given me, at him and left his house in great anger.
As for Barbie, she pleaded with me to understand her situation, that she was against the arrangement, but our Dad was practically 'on her neck' and was even threatening to disown her if she refused to accept to marry Syl. 
 At that point, I did not care anymore, I just wanted to go far away from everybody particularly my erstwhile fiancé.
Luckily, my admission came through at that point and I jumped at the opportunity and left the country. So, it was in my absence that Syl and my big Sis got married. When I finished the programme, I stayed back in the U.K and decided to work for a while. 
All this while, my parents have been pleading with me to come home but I have ignored them. I have not forgiven them for what they did to me.
Anyway to cut my story short, I ran into my former fiancé Syl one day in the city where I lived. He had travelled there on a business trip. I had not seen him for about three years and he had not changed much. Meeting him again made me realize that I had not stopped loving him, despite the way he dumped me for my sister. From him, I found out that all was not well with their marriage. He told me she had a baby who died a few weeks after birth.
"She had a very difficult delivery, which affected her womb so she can't get pregnant again," he said. That day, he told me he still loved me and wanted me back, that he regretted leaving me in the first place.
"I will leave Nigeria and move over here and we can be together always, Emily love. As we planned to do from the beginning," said Syl.
To be honest, I'm really tempted by his offer. Though I had dated other men since we parted, I had never forgotten Syl. He remains my number one love, the one who will always have a special place in my heart. 
I want him back in my life. The only thing holding me back is my big Sis as I don't want to hurt her. That's my dilemma. Should I take Syl back and break up my sister's marriage or stay for   the rest of my days without the love of my life? I will like readers advice on this. Thank you.

The End!

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

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