Guardian Angel

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…

“Monday”

“Yes, Diana”

“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.”

“Amen.”

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.

Family Finance: Who Should Pay The Bills?

Last week I read a tweet asking if a man was meant to foot all the bills for the home when the lady is also working and earning an income. What would the lady do with her money if the guys spends his on the home, he asked. Wasn’t it unfair to expect one party to bear the entire burden of the bills? What about being a helper? Helping with the money aspect?

The tweet made me think about the role of money in marriage. Communication, sex and money are said to be the biggest issues marriage maintenance. And money is said to involved in over 70% of family riffs.

Different models for family finance have been proposed and used in modern homes. They include:

The Not-A-Dime school who believes a man should provide everything including matches, salt and safety-pins.

The 50-50 group that advocates for bill sharing and equal contributions.

The Keep-Your-Money group where the woman will fund the entire family expense with the man doing little or nothing.

The Man-Provides-I-Support group let’s the man take responsibility for large bills like rent, fees, feeding etc while chipping in to provide extras and to tide the family over if the man runs into a rough spot.

What is your preferred model? Which has worked for you or your parents, siblings etc.? Please share below.

The Snake Child’s Wish

By Cece Bassey

Mommy and Daddy are fighting again. They would never say it but I know it’s my fault. I am seven years old but I can’t sit, can’t talk and can’t walk. All I do is eat, poo and cry. Not a pretty sight,  I know. Most of mothers friends have all left her, the few she still has don’t come home. One day Aunt Joy came but once she saw me she left, leaving her key-ring behind in a her haste. That was about four months ago. Another thing I do is watch a lot of television, sometimes I see children like me in foreign countries. They have doctors, nurses, teachers and parents that love them. I wish i could be like them. At least l have  Bisi and my toys .
Bisi is my nanny, my twelfth if I remember correctly. She is palm kernel brown, with a wide smile, and she smells  fresh and fruity, like shampoo . I like her ,but i am scared I will lose her, like I lost the others. She doesn’t call me ugly names like Mary and Tolu used to. She doesn’t twist my ears or spank me just to hear how hard I can cry when Mom or Dad upset her. She even has a pet name for me– D-girl. Sometimes she straps  me in my customised  wheel chair and races me round the palour. She sings to me too, happy songs about talking me round the world and me being her baby. The other day she was trying to teach me how to talk.
” Dami say A”
I gurgled.
“Beautiful!”
I got angry then and felt like hitting something. How can she say that was beautiful? But I smiled instead.

The voices are getting louder. If I hold my breath and strain my ears I can make out some of the words my parents are saying
“Sweetie, you can’t give up on life because our first child has challenges. Let’s try again, it will be different this time, I know it”
” Dayo,  there will be no trying again, if you want more kids we have to adopt them, I won’t take such a risk again. Ever!”
“Adopt? How can you even say such a thing, what is they have a curse from their homes or a disease”
“Disease? Is there anything worse than … worse than…”
A low wailing sound came followed by loud sobs. Mummy was crying.
“Oh baby, please don’t please please…”
The sounds faded out but I knew what they would be doing. 
Mum would be on Dads laps and he would be holding her and kissing her like he does after such fights.
Like he never holds or kisses me.
I don’t mind much though, so why am I crying?

Bisi has left. Her parents are scared she will pick up an infection from me that ll make her have a snake child. Mom tried to tell them that cerebral palsy is not contagious but they wouldn’t listen. She didn’t even hug me before she left. She just walked out of the door with her head down. I think that is when I died. Mom spends more time with me now, but it is mechanical and hurried. She took casual leave from her job at the Federal mortgage bank. Dad and  her are looking for another nanny. I wish I could tell them not to bother, I won’t be here that long.
I have tried to end my life many times. Mostly when my nannies taunt me calling me names like Devil Child, Worm and Snake child. I have been unsuccessful-obviously. Bisi made me stop for a while but now I have to do something that works. Holding my breath was a waste of time, as was licking rat poison. The latter just got me blue, the former gave me a running stomach and headaches, nothing the doctors couldn’t fix.
Now I know what to do.
The crime channel gave me a hint but I added my own ideas.
I will slit my wrists. I already have the old razor Dad tossed in a corner after nicking himself one day. All I have to do is take it to bed at night and when everyone is asleep, use it. I would have done so last week but I dreamt that Bisi found out and scolded me. Now I dream about snakes, worms and other creatures chasing me. And I scream but there are no sounds.
Inside I feel excited, this time it is going to work. Mom and Dad will stop fighting. Maybe Mom will even agree to have another child. A gorgoeus baby boy called Dare that will grow up to be a movie star, a pilot or a governor. Anything but a useless, smelly,stupid snake child like me.
When I die I won’t have anymore nightmares. I will give them to people instead. I will find Tolu and Mary and Aunt Joy first. Then I will wait till Dare is eighteen then I will come home and take Mom and Dad with me. At last we will be one happy family, and my parents will love me forever.

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