When his arranged marriage went haywire, James has to juggle from being a father to his eleven months old son, keeping his job, finding love in the strangest place, maintaining a balance and peace between his family and that of his in-laws, who are lost in the battle of power and authority.
Ebube was so all over Queen like he would die should Queen say no to him. Fortunately, Queen accepted the proposal and Nnadi was happy that though his daughter’s flaws were so obvious, Ebube’s love would prevail. After the introduction, Ebube’s family took her home; as tradition demanded. Three weeks later, she was standing in front of her father’s compound with her bags, crying, like a bereaved widow.
“Again? What is it this time?” Nnadi had asked while trying to console her.
“I don’t know daddy,” her words were incoherent. “He just woke up this morning and asked me to leave, that his mother said I am too old and advanced for him.”
For the umpteenth time Nnadi puzzled over what his daughter’s problem was. He tried so many times to decode how any man would reject a relationship from such a wealthy family. He was rich, and to each suitor he read canticles of what he would gain as wedding present, a long and expensive list aimed at keeping the men. So why did they still leave? For a second, he considered the possibility of his daughter having a spiritual husband; a superstition his grandmother wholly believed in when she was alive. He figured out the belief might have come back to haunt her, since she was her incarnate, for it was not normal by any means that her suitors at some point would reject her without any sane cause.
When his head could not decode any definite answers, he called Ebube. He needed to at least hear from him whose love flowed like a dam why he decided to break up the engagement. Ebube told him with great diplomacy and maturity that his daughter was the most beautiful of all women he ever met.
“However, I’m afraid the marriage will no longer hold,” he concluded.
“Why?” Nnadi asked curiously. It was crucial that he knew why, if he was to help his daughter.
“I wish I know how to tell you this Mr. Nnadi. I honestly wish. But just make sure she gets more quality life, and who knows, someone might overlook everything and take her in. I am sorry I have to go now. And thank you for your love and support. My regards to Queen,” Ebube’s last words came, adorned with gentleness and love, deepening Nnadi’s distress.
He gathered everything Ebube told him, made it a resolution to observe his daughter closely. The observation revealed to him where the problem lied.
As a reputable businessman, his company topped his priority list. He could tell the capabilities of all his employees, yet did not know even the breakfast schedule of his children. The little time he did create for them was radically spent cosseting Queen, thereby turning her into a spoilt kid with no virtues. He unconsciously neglected the fact that a child, especially a girl child, needs a certain level of training, as through her, a nation would be made or ruined.
Smith and Ugonne, his other children were properly groomed with good virtues and morals, as though they were raised by another parent. He puzzled on how that could be and discerned that with an understanding of the kind of father he was, they must have worked on themselves with the help of few carefully selected friends, and broken loose from the effects of his irresponsible parenting. He sighed bitterly, realizing that he was the hook dragging his favourite daughter out of the water of responsibility, virtue and morality. He sobbed bitterly on grasping that Queen was morally decayed; totally lacking in character and the rudiments of being a lady, let alone a wife.
So he decided to help her retrace her steps. He started personally, with no external help, to tutor her on the moral and responsibility issues she was lacking in: things like how to cook, make a home, tolerate, respect and love others besides herself. The father-daughter moral therapy worked to such a satisfying degree that he was exultant when Osakwe informed him about James’ intention to get married. He saw in that an opportunity and a way to test his experiment; and knowing Osakwe would undoubtedly accept his proposal due to his outstanding help in resuscitating his business, he pushed for the union of his newly reformed daughter and Osakwe’s ever obedient son; a union he anticipated to see an unending relationship between the two families.
Queen protested that she did not love James; a man she has never seen. He convinced and confused her with the ‘growing in love’ advice.
“I was only fixing your damaged life,” Nnadi shouted at her as he returned from his flashback. “You were getting menopausal yet single, and I was not going to let that happen. I only gave you the life you wanted, a meaningful life. How is it my fault that you soiled all my efforts?”
Smith appeared at the gallery, hid behind a gracefully moulded pillar and eavesdropped, as his father and sister swept out their secrets from under the carpet.
Nnadi had told Smith that James was the one who proposed to Queen, and complained bitterly about his sister’s intention to reject the proposal, even when James in many ways expressed his interest and love. And he, knowing what his sister has been through, joined his father in convincing her to marry James.
“Everything was your entire fault daddy,” Queen roared. “You forced me into this because of your selfish interest, you wanted Osakwe under your clutches forever, and I was the only link to achieve that. You did everything only to help yourself, not me. God! I was only thirty-two. Many of my mates are still in their father’s house.”
“You are not any of your mates, Nnedimma!” Nnadi called again. “You were no angel. Men run away from you because your character stinks. You are morally decayed…”
“All thanks to you,” she cut in, hot tears produced by a devastated and crushed heart streamed down her cheeks. “You claimed I was your grandmother’s incarnate, so you pampered me into a useless girl who knows nothing about life, about associating with people or about marriage. You told me I could get anything I want with money, and that you would always be by my side to facilitate that.” The hot tears rolled into the mucus that crawled out of her nose. She wiped them with her left hand, leaving a disgusting line on her cheeks. Her lips shuddered in terror and her eyes became red. She was losing balance, but not the urge to bare her mind before her father on how he wrecked her life in the guise of building it. So she glued her feet to the floor, with a new strength fuelled by confidence.
“The help I needed was a good home training, which every kid deserves. You didn’t give me that because you already have a plan to use me as a complimentary card.”
“Oh! Nnedimma!” Nnadi’s voice gently muttered. He knew she was right, aside the complimentary card part. He knew he wrecked her life, though he thought he was building it. “But I did try to make up for my bad old days,” he said. “I took it upon myself to give you these trainings when I realised you had none. With my influence and help you got a home for some years before the ‘Queen’ in you started to manifest,” he paused with a deep breath. “But I am presently tired of your excesses,” the voice was no more gentle, it commanded authority. “And you shall no more bring shame and disgrace to me or this family. You must leave; go back to your husband and make things right. Be a mother to your son; he needs you,” he stopped, made for the stairs without looking at his daughter.
He needed to be strong and stringent; shutting out all emotions and sentiments so as to put her back on track, though she didn’t seem receptive to the idea.
Queen stood, feet still glued to the floor; accept it was not powered by confidence again, but shock. Her mouth agape and eyes wide open, she gawked as her father clambered the stairs.
E.C Michael, a graduate of Theater Arts, is a passionate writer who believes that stories should blend with education so as to help correct social vices in the world. His watchword is edutainment.
He writes screenplays, novels, short stories and essays. When not writing, he is blogging or watching Game of Thrones and Designated Survivor.