As Adaeze ate, she watched other people having fun on the beach. Edmund had joined them, after unsuccessfully trying to convince her to tag along. She needed some time to herself, she just got engaged.
Trying not to think about her mother’s warning, she quickly packed up and joined Edmund and their new acquaintances. This was going to serve as her engagement party.
Coming back to the present, Adaeze was happy that most of their guests were eating and there seemed to be food still remaining.
Her gaze went to the high table where her mother was seated, she didn’t look happy.
Her mind went again to her mother’s reaction after she introduced Edmund to the family. Her mother had said little, and smiled at every place she was expected to, welcoming Edmund, but Adaeze had known that her mother had her reservations, reservations which she made known immediately Adaeze came back from seeing Edmund off, only she didn’t say anything until Adaeze asked.
“Mummy, what’s on your mind?” she asked, steeling herself for what her mother might say.
“Nothing. He is a handsome man, and very intelligent,”
“But…” Adaeze urged, hoping she would not regret it.
“But he is not a good man, and he is definitely not for you,”
Giving a humorless laugh, Adaeze responded. “How can you know, when you just met him for the first time, today?”
“I might have met him for the first time today, but it’s definitely not the first time I am meeting the spirit which controls him. Have you asked him which church he attends?”
“Spirit detector!” Adaeze exclaimed with a false attempt to joke. “So it’s about the church now?” she asked, raising her voice and standing up. Pacing, she continued, “I knew it was your problem. Well he is a good man, church or not!”
“I can see that you association with him have already made you disrespectful,” her mother responded calmly. “The Spirit in a man controls everything he does, the same for a woman. He is not being moved by the Spirit of God, and in time you will see that his goodness is not genuine. I am not a party to your relationship with that man. You are old enough to make your decisions, and I can’t force you otherwise, but you have been warned.”
Her mother’s calmness blinded Adaeze in anger. “I will not make the mistake you made marrying a man like my father,” she shouted. “It was your mistake, and it was your foolishness that made us suffer, but don’t you dare think I will make the same mistake you made, as I am not as stupid and ignorant as you were.”
The look in her mother’s eyes made her realize her words. It was one of pain.
Her mother had, against her own mother’s advice, married her father who had made life a nightmare for them. Until the day he died in an auto accident, he beat her mother, her and her siblings mercilessly each night, after drinking. Some scars were still visible on their bodies, but the worst scars were those invisible ones on their hearts, and she knew her mother had more scars than she and her siblings have.
“I’m sorry!” she apologized, going down on her knees. “Mummy, it was a slip of tongue, please forgive me.”
“It was not a slip of tongue,” her mother said, not stopping her flowing tears.
“But I forgive you. You blame me for the abuse, and I accept the blame. But I want you to know that my mistake has earned me the qualification to recognize a bad man, and that is a bad man. Please close the door when you leave.”
Getting up from the sofa, she limped into the room. She had gotten the limp after their father broke her leg when she tried saving them from his alcohol-induced wrath one night
They never spoke about Edmund again, and she simply nodded and did what was expected of her as the mother of the bride, but nothing more.
Adaeze wished her mother could be as happy as she was at Onyinye’s wedding. It had worried her that her younger sister had married before her, but she had seen the happiness and love at the wedding, and had consoled herself that she would also experience similar happiness when it was her turn.
It hurt that she did not.
Adaeze looked away from her mother when her husband came to join her on the seat. He had stayed on the dance floor to greet some people while she came back to rest.
Banishing her thoughts to the back of her mind she faced him with a smile, and was surprised to see anger in his gaze.
Before she could ask him why he was angry, he told her with gnashed teeth, the hostility in his voice and words shocking her.
“Are you okay in the head? Why did you leave me there on the dance floor and come here to seat?”
Looking around and noticing that the few people around were brazenly looking at them with shock, Adaeze tried to alert him to the fact that he was making a scene by touching his thigh as she explained, whispering.
“I’m sorry. I got tired, and seeing that you were greeting your –”
“Get your filthy hands of me!” he interrupted, slapping away her hands and ignoring her hint to lower his voice. “You are showing off, right? You want to show people how beautiful you are and tell them that you are your own woman, isn’t it? Well, I’m your husband now, and if you don’t respect me, I’ll make sure you regret it,” he ended and turned to begin eating the food they were served, which she had not touched because she waited for him.
Deeply hurt by his words, but grateful that he had stopped shouting, she flashed a false smile to the people still gawking around and began eating with him.
She was starving. She had decided to fast today so she could bring God into her home officially. She had asked Edmund to join her, but he had bluntly refused, saying she should do it alone as she was the praying partner, while he was the realistic partner. He had intended it to be funny, but she hadn’t seen the humor in it, as her mother’s words flashed through her mind.
She didn’t take note of the taste of the food, as she focused all her strength in trying not to cry, but the tears fell when she noticed, from a side glance, that her mother was leaving without telling her. Pride stopped her from running after her and begging her to come and pray with her and Edmund, blessing their new home.
She had done that for Onyinye, why was her own different? Only Onyinye, who was heavily pregnant, and their only brother, Chukwudi, looked happy for her. Their mother had not revealed to them her disagreement with Edmund as a son in-law, and it only made Adaeze feel worse.
If Edmund noticed the tears in her eyes, he didn’t react. He ate and joked with his best man acting as if it was another day in a restaurant, and Adaeze wondered where the man she fell in love with was.
It appeared to her that the man she had by her side as her husband was definitely not the man she was happy to get married to.
She watched as their guests left one after the other and wondered what would happen when they were all gone.
She wondered what would happen when she was alone with this strange man, behind the closed doors of their new home.
She dreaded her wedding night.
The story continues…
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