I told her not to marry him but it was like talking to an electric train. Her mind was made up, my words were a waste.
I listened in disbelief as my twenty-one year old sister begged me to remember her “biological clock was ticking.”
I marvelled as she bade me to reconsider, because “all her mates were married.”
I gasped when she declared that I should get used to it, she was marrying Leo with or without my blessing. Kponkwem.
As I listened to her, lava coursed through my veins. I was angry, livid even, but I wasn’t sure who my ire was for.
Part of it was for a society that made Diana think marriage was a trophy; a 50 metre sprint where the fastest women got medals and flowers instead of a gruelling marathon-relay where your partner’s skill and commitment was as important as endurance, focus and having fun.
Another part of my anger was for myself, I should have seen this coming. I should have stopped this from coming.
Maybe if I had worked hard enough on getting that government health centre renovation contract, and had the cash at hand to pay her bit for the partial Masters scholarship she had won at Emory.
Maybe if I had moved to Abuja at the beginning of the year as I had earlier planned…
Maybe, the eternal twin of perpetual regret.
I told Nkoyo that Diana wanted to get married and she was quiet. She was so quiet that the silence formed a cloud around my ears and began to ring like a bell.
We had been dating for three years and four months. She was twenty-seven and I was thirty. I knew we would be having “The Talk” soon and I wasn’t ready.
It wasn’t the money or anything. As a site engineer for a telecom outfit, I could afford a family. What I couldn’t afford was my well ordered life spinning on its heels. I liked the single life. Change was inevitable, I knew but I wasn’t in a hurry.
Hadn’t been in a hurry, until now.
I called a colleague on vacation in the US and asked him to help bring the platinum ring I ordered.
I shouldn’t have bothered, Nkoyo left me four days later.
“I am sorry, Mon. I don’t think this is what I want anymore.”
I thought she was joking.
It took two weeks of failed reunion attempts for me to get it.
I had been dumped.
Diana and Leo’s wedding held three months later, Diana was glowing like a giant fire-fly while Leo was a frowning frog.
Mom was so happy, I thought she would burst.
I hid my frustration and smiled for the cameras. But inside I was drowning in a bog.
The conversation we had at the doors of the church before I walked her up the aisle lingers…
“Be happy for me, OK? Please?”
“Diana, you know– alright. Don’t look at me like that. Look, everyone is waiting.”
“Let them wait. I need your blessing Mon, please.”
“God be with you little sis.”
With that, she raised her head and straightened her back and we walked into the church. Behind her veil, tears shone in her eyes, and I began to wonder if it was real.
Could Leo be the love of Diana’s life?
Was I just being a miserable brother-in-law eating ogre?
After the wedding, Diana went back to her job teaching at a private university in Aba while Leo was in Calabar with me. He worked at a bank as a marketer, but we seldom met and never called.
A month later, Diana got a fabulous job in an international oil company in Port Harcourt. No matter how I teased she wouldn’t tell me how much she was earning.
“Mon, it is huge. Gosh! I can’t believe it.” She kept saying again and again.
Soon she called to say she was expecting. Twins. No, she didn’t know what sexes yet. Yes, she was fine. Very fine.
She had boys after ten hours of labour. Twinkle and Delight, Leo called them, like they were puppies or bear cubs. My dislike for him morphed into congealed contempt.
One weekend, I ran into him at a supermarket.
“Hey Mon, how are you doing?” Leo said.
“Good. Aren’t you supposed to be in
Port Harcourt with your family?
“I couldn’t make it man. I was tired, needed a rest.”
There was a pause. My sister was juggling twin boys, a new job, a strange town and this idiot was talking about rest?
Thoughts shifted in my head on cue, then all I saw was red, my fists burying themselves in his light skinned jowls, my knees kneading his balls in sharp succession, a tooth or two rolling on the cream tiles, and an immense sense of relief.
I smiled instead and walked away.
That weekend, I called in a few favours and by Monday, Leo was sacked.
When Diana called I sympathised. It was horrible, Leo being let off like that. Curse those horrid new generation banks.
The next time I saw her she was lying in a hospital bed with wires running out of every part of her.
“He didn’t mean to,” she croaked out of a broken jaw.
“Of course not, love. Shh don’t say a word.” I replied, crouched by her bed. That’s when everything became clear and I knew what had to be done.
The police booked it as a hit and run. Leo survived, making kids orphaned had never been my style. I was content to see him lose a leg. There wouldn’t be anymore beatings, or absenteeism.
Who knows? Maybe Diana would wake up someday and leave him. Yeah, I know, fat chance.