Obviously all was not lost… yet.
Five minutes after Daniella left my room, a very loud scream was heard all over the house. A really loud and agonized scream. It sent almost everyone who was at the house that morning running helter skelter in the direction the scream had come from.
As the door of the guest room flew open, the very first person to burst in—my father—had found me on the floor, clutching the cream coloured wedding gown to my chest, wailing in obvious anguish.
“Ada, what happened?” My father cried out, bewildered. “Why are you on the floor crying?”
I wailed even louder, as if his question was whip against my skin.
The others soon trouped in. Aunty Stepmum, Daniella, Nmaa, Aunty Ngozi and her husband, Uncle John and some other over-sabi people.
Immediately I saw Aunty Stepmum I wailed even harder, rocking back and forth on the floor like a demon-possessed girl undergoing exorcism.
Aunty crossed over to me and knelt beside me. “Ada, what happened?” She asked gently. “Did you fall?”
“Ewo!” I cried dramatically, shaking my head from side to side. “I am finished o. Daddy will kill me o. Aunty please ooooo…”
From the side of my eyes I could see fear creep into her eyes and I spied the puzzlement in the others’.
“Ada, stand up. Give me the gown.” Aunty stretched her hand towards me.
“No, no, no.” I clutched the gown even closer to my chest. “You will kill me o… please don’t kill me o.”
“Ada, stand up from the floor and stop that wailing.” My father ordered, becoming irritated.
And without waiting for me to stand up, he stepped forward and dragged me up, but another loud scream was heard as I fell back on my bum, this time not just clutching the gown but also my right ankle.
“Take it easy, dear.” Aunty admonished him a little sternly. “It’s like she’s hurt.” Leaning towards me, she stretched her hand for the gown. “Ada, give me the gown, so we can look at your ankle. What happened? Did you fall and twist your leg?” Her gentle voice coaxed.
I nodded, sniffing and making low grunting sounds.
Daniella, miss good girl, rushed forward. “Oh Ada, sorry. Sorry, oh.”
But I still cried. “Aunty please… the gown… ah, the gown…” I bit my lips hard as tears rolled in quick succession down my face.
“What happened to the gown?” My father thundered.
“Igwe, take it easy.” Nmaa chided speaking for the first time. “Let the girl speak. Adaeze,” She called turning to look at me. “What happened to the wedding gown?”
I raised my head at Nmaa’s quiet question, but quickly brought it down again as her clear scrutinizing eyes watched me. I swear that old woman can see into one’s soul.
“Nmaa,” I began, my voice hitching and trembling, “I came in here to take Aunty’s wedding gown to her…” I sniffed noisily and tried to catch my hitching breath. I could feel the impatience and tension in the room. My father was already tapping his foot impatiently on the terrazzo floor. And the sound echoed like the drumbeat of a funeral drummer.
“After I took it out of the wardrobe,” I continued, secretly enjoying the drama and the attention, “in my excitement… and… hurry, I started rushing towards the door and…” I sniffed and coughed. “And… I don’t know how it happened o.” I succumbed to my wailing again.
“What happened?” Daniella asked.
I nearly forgot my act and slapped her. Stupid girl, who asked you to talk?
But of course I merely increased the tempo of my wailing.
Exasperated and totally out of patience, my father shouted. “AND WHAT HAPPENED?”
Neither Nmaa nor Aunty reprimanded him this time. This clearly told me they were all running out of patience with my little drama.
“I don’t know, daddy.” I hiccupped, sniffling. “I was just running towards the door… and the next thing I knew was that my leg had stepped on the gown and I landed on the floor.”
A shocked gasp escaped just about everyone, except Aunty.
While everyone stood in shock at my final revelation, she simply nodded, again and again. Then stretching forward her hand again, took hold of the gown and finally slipped it off my grasp.
With hands that were severely trembling, she raised the gown and shook it open. Then for the second time that Saturday morning, a loud scream was heard all over the house…
A loud knock on the door.
Only that stupid Ebere will knock on the door, I shook my head. Where did she think this place was, my bedroom? And what did she want me to do, ask her to please unlock the door? Idiot. Knocking on a door that you have the key to. Why are house maids so stupid for Christ’s sake?
The stupid girl finally opened the door and entered. She was carrying a tray of food.
Ebere is what you might consider my jailor. She brought my food and constantly checked on me.
“Aunty, good morning ma.” She greeted a bright smile on her stupid, ugly dark face.
I merely eyed her. Of course you don’t expect me to respond. Not only am I a prisoner in my own father’s house, I also had to have stupid servants interrupting my story. Nonsense!
She laid the tray on the rickety, dusty table in front of me. “Your breakfast, Aunty—fried plantain and egg.”
“Fried plantain? For breakfast? What happened to my usual toasts or pancakes?” I queried angrily.
“Ah, Aunty, this is what Oga asked us to serve you this morning.”
Chei! Adaeze Onuorah has suffered o. Can you people imagine? My own father has not only ordered me, his only daughter, to be locked up inside a home-based prison, now he was also deprived me of good food, and ordered them to serve me rubbish?
Infuriated and insulted, I grabbed the tray of food and tossed it against the door. Nonsense!
Ebere jumped and shrieked. “Ah Aunty!”
I glared at the stupid girl. She should be grateful I hadn’t thrown that tray of rubbish food on her stupid, dull head.
“Shut up and get out of my room!” I screamed at her.
Cringing in fear, Ebere bent and hastily gathered up the broken pieces of plates and the cutleries, put them on the tray and without another word left the room.
As the door clicked shut and I heard the sound of key turning in the lock, I let out a loud scream and pounded my fist against the dusty table.
But it was all an effort in futility. It profited me nothing—except dirtier and now throbbing hands.
Trudging back to the bed, I sank into it. If only I had succeeded in stopping that wedding I wouldn’t be here at all.
Well, I am tired, and much as I love to regale you all with the story of all the drama that followed Aunty Stepmum’s scream, suffice to say the wedding still took place.
As usual, millionaire daddy had been there with his big, fat wallet to save the day. Even as Aunty cried stupid, crocodile tears over her beautiful ruined wedding gown, daddy was already ordering the driver to get ready, it was operation buy another gown in less than one hour.
And what did he do what my sprained ankle? Merely asked Aunty Ngozi to put a cold compress on it and bandage.
And so, in spite of all my valiant efforts and my tightly bandaged ankle—I guess Aunty Ngozi had rightly deduced there had been nothing wrong with it—my father’s wedding to Aunty had held, albeit a little over an hour later than scheduled. But it still held. With the over-smiling Daniella as the only bridemaid and me sitting under the watchful eyes of Nmaa—she too hadn’t been fooled—the two lovebirds had exchanged their wedding vows.
And so, on that Black Saturday, as I always call it, I not only got foisted on me, a stepmother, but also an annoying over-smiling, goody-goody stepsister. And from that day onwards my life was never the same. And I mean that in a really bad way.
But did I give up and allow them to take over my territory?
Of course not! I may have failed in stopping the wedding but I could still destroy the marriage, abi?