Adaobi Nwoye Writes
Di bu Ndidi: A short story
Nkechi, 33 is a gainfully employed chattered accountant. She is the first of four children and only daughter of devout Catholic parents who are also knights of the church. She is,under intense pressure to settle down. She stops taking calls from her mother because of her constant nagging about her inability to choose a husband. Nkechi is intelligent and assertive with a pleasant personality. She's sociable too and a commited member of St. Vincent de paul. She has met a lot of suitors but wants to marry someone she considers a friend. That person is Kingsley. Kingsley,35 is a member of Dunamis Church. He's a graphic artist, though a graduate of computer science. He is smart, and extroverted with an incredible sense of humour. He is also a commited church worker.Nkechi looks foward to the times she spends with Kingsley. He's someone she's always at home with. He is so easy to talk to, indeed the first person she calls when she needs to talk to someone. Kingsley has a way of easing her burdens with his wise counsel and genius advice in handling official matters. Kingsley is a gentleman, above all he is godly.Then Kingsley proposes, Nkechi accepts and all hell is let loose. "How could you accept his proposal? He's not a catholic, He's not even from Anambra! imakwa ihe? Do you know your dad is a knight of the church? Do you know I'm the President of the CWO...blahblahblah...""Mum, Kingsley is the only man for me, we love each other, besides we are friends...""Oh just shut up, what do you know about marriage? Who are his parents? What does he do? Do you know who you are?"And the arguments go on for weeks, followed by a cold war. And then her mother mellows and applies a different tactic.On this particular evening she invites Nkechi over for a mum and daughter talk."...NK nwam, you know I will never mislead you. I know what's best for you. Why don't you reconsider Nnamdi. He's a very decent young man. He schooled abroad and is very exposed. He is from our town, He's a succesful engineer, from a very good catholic family. He's more befitting for you....""Mum I told you before that i have no feelings for Nnamdi. Besides we have nothing in common. And he's sort of arrogant....""Mbanu, don't say that, Nnamdi is a good boy, very respectful and charismatic. He really loves you. Just give him a chance, Nk, biko nwam... look at me, I'm the only one amongst my friends who has not gone for Omugwo when i have a very pretty and intelligent daughter. You know you're my only daughter...""But mum, what about my happiness? Have you stopped to consider that?""Nnamdi will make you happy, trust me, you will be the envy of all your friends...""Mum please let me marry the man of my choice.""That man can never marry my daughter, He's not a catholic, He's not employed, he's ...""Mum Kingsley is self employed. He's hardworking and has potential."It is on the tip of her mother's tongue to say at your age you have no sense, but instead she says," NK, trust me that boy doesn't have a steady job and is likely to live off you. Moreover, your father his sworn that he will never give you his conscent to marry anyone apart from Nnamdi. Give it another thought and make up your mind. Remember age is not on your side."Now exasperated Nkechi says, "Mum, ive told you I can't live with Nnamdi. We are not compatible. ""You will grow to love him, NK. Trust me, di bu Ndidi, marriage is all about patience. Learn to overlook his faults. You will see that you will be able to live hapilly with him.Long story short, Nkechi ends her relationship with Kingsley and marries Nnamdi in a flamboyant wedding where she has to force a smile all day.
It is the first day of their marriage. Nkechi wakes up before Nnamdi to prepare for their thanksgiving service. She's warming some of the left over rice when Nnamdi enters the kitchen."Hi dear," she says, smiling warmly, "you're up already.""What's the meaning of that?" He asks irritably. Nkechi looks lost, "i don't understand.""You must be very stupid for saying that. You see your husband in the morning and instead of saying good morning you are saying hi, let this not repeat itself."Nkechi is hurt and taken aback."But that's not a big deal, dear. Noted though. Good morning."
Later Nkechi serves breakfast. "What's this?" Nnamdi asks angrilly as he uncovers the food. "It's rice, the left over from our wedding yesterday.""What? You are serving me left overs? You couldn't even ask me what i wanted to eat? At your age you can't use your head?"Nkechi struggles to stay calm."Listen, Nnamdi. There's no need for this drama. You can just tell me politely that you don't want to eat rice...""Shut up, you fool. No wonder you were not married at this age , you have absolutely no sense..."
This is just the first of a series of endless avoidable arguments. To be continued.
There is no honeymoon. Nnamdi considers it an unneccesary waste of time and money. About eight days into the marriage, Nkechi is filing her nails in the living room when Nnamdi saunters in."Good evening," she says as she examines her nails."Have you not been paid?"This sounds unbelievable to Nkechi."I beg your pardon?""Are you deaf?" He roars."I'm not deaf, Nnamdi. Are you talking about my salary?""Yes. The month ended two days ago and i have not seen your salary."Nkechi stares at him, awestruck."Are you kidding me? I don't remember working for you...""How dare you speak to me in that manner? Are you crazy? Have you forgotten that i am the head of this family?" "I've heard that 85 times in the one week I've been married to you, Nnamdi so I've not forgotten. What i don't understand is your interest in my salary. The last time i checked you were a very succesful and wealthy engineer..."The slap is unexpected, neither is the sequel. It sends her nail file and cutter flying in different directions. "I warned you never to disrespect me."She holds unto her face in shock."You hit me, Nnamdi?""Yes, and I wil do it as many times as I have to till you learn some manners."No remorse!She gathers her tools and is on her way to her bedroom when he drags her."You dare to walk out on me?"Nkechi is incensed but tries to keep her cool, her mind spining violently.The words of Fr. Sam seep through her memory: there should be no third party in your marriage... don't let the sun go down on your anger... a woman should be submissive... Nnamdi you must always love and protect your wife..."She glances up at Nnamdi."What did i ever do to deserve this from you?""You are headstrong and not submissive. Where is your salary?""Where else will it be if not in my account?"His eyes are menacing."Let me pretend not to have heard that. I will foward my account details via text message. Transfer it to my account without delay," he says as he brushes her aside. She stares after him, dumbfounded.
Nkechi sits on her bed, her arms clasped between her thighs. She badly wants to talk to Kingsley. But she cannot not bring herself to do it. She recalls how she called off their relationship. Again she decides it was a big mistake. Her mother's words echo in her mind ... di bu ndidi.."It's barely one week into my marriage and i feel like I've been in hell for a decade," she blurts, smiling cynically.She hears the beep of her phone. It's a message, Nnamdi's account details.
"Why can't we discuss civilly? Why does this man see and treat me like a lifeless property? He has no regard for me or my views, talks down on me, practically rapes me, mum what have you done to me? No, what have I done to myself?"she wonders aloud. She looks at the message and hits the delete botton."It's about time i showed this man a bit of what I'm made of," she resolves.To be continued.
It is 7pm in the evening. Nkechi is sipping from a glass of smoothie while studying an official file. Nnamdi kerks the door of her room open."Is there something you want?""This is my house, I'm not answerable to you," he says. Nkechi shruggs. "If you say so. By the way your dinner is on the table.""I have not received the alert, why?" He demands.Silence ."Am i talking to myself?"Silence.Nnamdi is irked as he rushes towards her. She sees him comming and with all the strength she can muster deals him a heavy blow on his balls. He did not see that comming as he winces in pain, while holding on to his balls. But she is not done yet as she picks up her wedge sandals and dishes out generous disbursements all over his body."Nkechi, have you gone mad?" he yells, while carefully protecting his balls, unsure of her plans. "I have had enough of your shit, Nnamdi. Who do you think you are? I had a man i loved who worshipped the very ground I threaded, but I married you because my mum convinced me to. I regret my actions now. I never loved you but i was willing to try. In the one week I've been married I've come to the shocking realization that you are crazy. But let this be the last time you attempt to lay your hands on me. Now get out," she yells, as she holds out the door for him."Nkechi...""I said get out, " she barks. The uncertainty in his eyes does not escape her notice. But he glares at her as he walks away."You have not seen the last of me," he threatens weakly."We'll see about that. By the way," she says pointing to the black belt hanging on her wardrobe, "that belt is a reflection of the years i invested in karate. Remember that when next you think of hitting me."The information alters his gait and she smiles triuphantly as she locks the door after him.She enters the bathroom, washes her face and stares in the mirror. " At 33, I'm old enough to know what i do and do not want. I want a happy and peaceful life, i want to raise children in a decent happy family environment, i deserve to be treated with respect, i want to be able to share my views and contribute my quota in building a succesful home. If we cannot be friends at least we can be civil with each other. Marriage is not slavery and if we can't cohabit peacefully we should be free to go our separate ways."Her mother's words filter through her thoughts again. "Di bu ndidi my foot," she sneers.
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