I was released from this hellhole yesterday. And today, in a couple of hours, is Daniella and Chikezie’s wedding.
What else is there to tell you? What do you all want to hear? I have shared my story with you all and have been completely honest and open and yet, like always, I have received no sympathy. Not even the barest empathy.
You all think you would have acted differently if you were in my shoes. You think if intruders came into your home and snatched everything from you, without notice, you would have acted better than I did? Done things differently?
Yeah, it’s so easy to disparage and scorn when the toe-killing shoe isn’t on your foot, not so?
Well, I never care much what people think and can’t start now, so I will finish what I started.
I was lying on that hell-begotten bunk bed wondering if after tomorrow daddy would be merciful enough to order my release. I dearly hoped so. I’d been holed up in here for five weeks and some. God alone knew what the state of my boutique was right now. Had daddy ordered it to be shut down too?
No one had told me anything about that. And frankly, I hadn’t cared much. It wasn’t exactly my priority thought even now. I wanted out of here because I dearly needed a bath. A deep soak in a well-spiced bathtub.
Yes, I’d been allowed a once-a-day shower in a basin that had been left at the corner of the room. But what kind of wash does a woman get when she is forced to use a small bucket of water and stand inside a barely-big-enough basin, huh?
I wasn’t even allowed to use my bath gel, bath salts and oils. How wicked is that, for God’s sake? It’s like daddy wants my skin damaged before I leave here.
It was already damaged. I was horribly darker and had these ununiformed parches all over and I swear I’ve acquired this peculiar body smell.
I was thus painfully studying my poor skin when I heard the key in the lock. I scowled as I thought it was that stupid Ebere. I didn’t think it was dinner time yet, so why was she here?
The door opened and my mouth dropped open. Briefly.
I shut it and deepened my scowl as I stared at my entire family come to visit. Daddy led the troupe inside. He was followed closely by a dewy-eyed mummy.
I swear why that woman thought going all-damp-eyed made any difference to a situation is beyond me. Such an annoying, snivelling creature.
The last two to enter were Daniella and my little half-brother, Afam. He wasn’t so little anymore. Had added some good height and was less chubby… good for him. No girl, in her right mind, will care for a fat-faced not-so-handsome dude… except of course gold diggers who only had eyes on their meal ticket. Bitches!
“Daniella begged me to let you out today. She wants you at her wedding… only God knows why.” Daddy shook his head as he looked at me dispassionately.
I turned my eyes from Afam who was looking about the place with his nose wrinkled and in the air. “You are letting me out?” It wasn’t that I was stupefied. No, I wasn’t. I’d been unjustly treated and should be released from this dungeon. But I was momentarily shocked that that girl wanted me at her wedding.
“Yes dear. You have to be at the wedding tomorrow.” Mummy whimpered.
Well, she didn’t exactly whimper. But her voice trembled a little as she spoke and looked at me with watery eyes.
I looked at Daniella. She was looking back at me. Her eyes were calm and benign. “So, you want me at your wedding?” I asked. “Why? To show me how I failed?”
Daddy cussed out loud. “Did I not tell you all that this girl will still be unrepentant?” He growled. “What kind of a child are you? What kind of demon do you have stuck in that your head?”
I turned to my father. I swear to you all that man continues to break my heart. “I have no demon in my head, daddy.” I said quietly. “I am your daughter. Your only daughter and you have never truly loved me. You prefer another man’s child to me. You love another man’s daughter more than you can ever love me. Why, daddy?”
He was shocked and stared at me. I think he never expected such a speech from me. Then he came forward and stood just beside me. “Ada?” He called.
I looked up at him, said nothing. I couldn’t speak. Though my eyes were defiant, my throat was clogged with tears.
“Adaeze.” He called again. “You are indeed my only biological daughter. My own flesh and blood. The only part of your sweet mother I have left. And I love you.”
I think my eyes must have popped because he chuckled. “Yes, I have never said so. I am an African man and African men are not very expressive. And I, in particular, am not the over sentimental type. You know that.”
I made a sound. I wasn’t sure if it was in agreement or just in response. The fog behind my throat was becoming thicker.
“But whether or not I say it, I love you. That is a fact. But my problem with you is that you are too headstrong, too self-centred and too narrow-minded.”
So, now it’s back to insulting me, abi? So much for love!
“Ada, you are also unnecessarily competitive.” Daddy continued to speak gently. “Yes, you are. You have been competing with Daniella since the very moment she stepped into this house. And it has been a pointless competition. Simply because she herself never competed with you.”
Chai, so this man knows he wants to disgrace me in the name of father-and-daughter-heart-to-heart talk and he chose to do so with an audience. I spied a look at the others.
Trust mummy, she was already weeping. Nonsense. Daniella was still looking calm but her eyes were way softer now. As for Afam, he looked dead bored. Silly boy.
“Ada, Daniella and her mother are not your enemies. They are not here to usurp you. They have never stolen my affection for you from you. Stop fighting them. Stop with the competition. Learn to love them. To accept them, to see them as your mother and sister. Try to be my good little girl again.” Daddy gave me a pat on the back. That was his way of hugging. “Ada, I want to believe that your stay here should make a difference in the way you think and see things. It is time to let the hate go, Adaeze. It is time. Your sister wants to talk with you. After that, you are free to come back into your home.”
With that they all filed out except my sister, who came forward and sat on the bed beside me.
“Ada, I only wanted to say this right here in this room because I think that I it is here I started hating you.” Daniella began to speak. She was staring ahead. “When you pointed that torch into my face and I caught a glimpse of that gun I thought my life was over that night. But when you didn’t kill me and left with a promise to return to poison me, I just laid here and began to think what I’d ever done to deserve your hatred.”
She paused and bit her lower lips. Then drew in breath and continued. “All through the night I thought and thought and prayed and prayed. Before morning, I just started feeling this deep resentment against you. I was supposed to be preparing for my death but I was busy hating you. For the first time, since my mother married your father, I really felt hatred for you.”
She turned to me. There were tears in her eyes, but they didn’t fall. “I hated you and wished I never met you and that my mother never met your father.”
Something pinched behind my eyeballs. I blinked fast.
“After Ebere and Adamu found me and released me and you were locked up, I still hated you. As I planned my wedding and went on with my life, I still hated you. I forgot all about you and when I even did, I hated you. But mummy called me and Chikezie two days ago and talked to us. She talked about love, forgiveness and understanding. At first, I argued with her and then I started to resent her. She was always defending you. Every time I complained, over the years, she defended you and asked me to understand. It was only yesterday when I was about to sleep and I realised I hadn’t gone in to bid her and daddy goodnight as I usually did because I was still angry that I realised that I was acting like you did.”
She smiled a little. “And even though I don’t understand how it can come to murder, to killing me, I understand now that having all the people you love suddenly start loving me and always speaking well of me and kind of defending me must have been really tough for you.” She reached for my hand. “Ada, I understand and I am sorry. I did not come here to take your family and friends from you. I only wanted to share in your family and be a part of the joy that you enjoyed. I love you. You are my sister—whether you think so or not. And I want you at my wedding because you are my sister and part of my family.”
I looked down at our hands joined together. Well, hers over mine and as fair as an overripe pawpaw. I found myself smiling a little too. Suddenly I felt tired. Tired of the hatred and tired of the planning and failing. Tired of fighting this yeye girl.
Well, maybe she wasn’t so bad. I don’t know. I don’t trust all this true confessions things… they are not always so true.
But I was tired and I wanted my freedom in every way. In any case she was getting married and leaving the house. That will give me respite until I too leave for my own home.
“I wouldn’t have killed you, you know.” I said. “I won’t have had the heart to. I’m a coward.”
“No, you are not. You are just better than you give yourself credit for.” Daniella said earnestly, squeezing my hand.
You see what I mean? This is what I call foolish. I tell you I’m a coward and you argue that I am better than I think I am. Did I tell you I thought I was bad before? Mtcheew!
“Can we let bygones be bygones?” Daniella asked. “Can we be friends at least?”
I considered it. Friends kè? With my sienemy? Mbanu! “I think sisters would be best.” I smiled. Sisters because life tossed you at me without asking what I wanted and not friends because I chose not to be.
“Yes!” She grinned and yanked me into her arms for a hug.
So, I got out and so, I found mummy had bought a dress for me to wear to the wedding. Turned out to be a really lovely dress and I decided to wear it. Besides, since I learnt from her daughter that she was always defending me, I’ve decided to be a little friendlier with her.
It’s wedding day and the sun is up in the blue sky, shining mildly and beautifully. I had joined daddy and mummy with Afam to the church and we arrived just as the groom and his men were taking their places in front of the altar.
We hurried inside and sat down. I chose to sit at the groom’s side of the aisle. I wanted a little space jor, this together-in-God’s-family thingy was becoming suffocating. Haba!
Soon the bridesmaids strutted inside and then my father… our daddy walked Daniella down the aisle. I must confess that she looked like a fairytale Princess in her wedding gown.
Maybe I will allow mummy pick my wedding gown. She seemed to know a thing or two about dresses for a wedding.
As the Priest began his blah-blah-blah activities, I shifted my gaze wanting a good look-over of the church and my eyes locked on this tall, dark and utterly gorgeous male specimen sweeping in through the side aisle.
He seemed to debate a moment where to slide in and then chose my pew. The person at the edge moved his legs and he stepped past and sat right beside me.
“Gosh, I so nearly was late.” He said in a low, deep and I swear, sexy voice. “Traffic was horrible and I had an early morning call.”
“You haven’t missed anything important.” I assured in a whisper, beaming my brightest smile.
Choi, why in God’s name did I ever waste energy hating Daniella over those guys who weren’t even half as handsome as this Adonis, eh?
“I’m Dozie.” He introduced.
Dozie. I should have known. A true son of the soil. Daddy would be so proud when I present him as my groom-to-be. Princess Adaeze’s wedding loading.
“Adaeze.” I said. “Adaeze Onuorah. Daniella is my step… my sister.” I flashed a mile-wide smile.
“Oh, I see they have very beautiful ladies in the Onuorah family.” He whispered back, grinning. “I’m actually a colleague of hers. A doctor, actually.”
“Really?” So, he was a doctor. Getting better and better. The lady after me nudged me and made a shushing sound, I simply ignored her. Jealousy!
“I have to confess,” Dozie continued to talk in a hushed sexily deep tone. “I am actually one of those who fought for your beautiful sister’s attention. Frankly, I was crazy over her and really, really wanted her to be mine.” He chuckled. A low, deep sound. “But it was not to be. She didn’t feel the same and so gently and politely told me so.” He made another chuckling sound. It sounded rueful this time. “Oh well, I guess it was not meant to be. Chike is a lucky man. Anyway as they say, when the desirable is unavailable, the available becomes desirable, right?” He flashed me a wink.
I gaped. I knew my mouth hung open longer than it should but I couldn’t help it. I mean WHAT!!! It was happening all over again? She was getting married and yet my Prince Charming thought her to be the desirable???
And he dared think I would be his second best?
“Not always.” I said icily and yanked my gaze back at the altar.
Where our dear Cinderella was getting married to her Prince Charming. As I stared at her, smiling from ear-to-ear and glowing, I realised that Daniella wasn’t my enemy… she was my nemesis.
An enemy I could never conquer.
The End… jor.