A woman's dilemma - Episode 3
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"I thought you said Amy just left to answer a call." Frances says once the party was over. People were already moving out even though the music hasn't died down yet. I can already feel a slight throbbing in my head at the noise. I wish the DJ would just stop.
"She's been gone for two hours and counting." Frances continues and I nod. I was already getting pretty worried.
"I've been calling her but there's no answer from her end." I say.
"You think she's hurt or something? She could be around the premises somewhere, bleeding to death." The distraught look on Frances' face just makes me feel more agitated and tired.
"Listen, don't let your mind get ahead of you
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. She's probably with Chuks and they're most likely having a good time somewhere."
"You mean that Chuks?" I follow Frances' finger to the young man walking towards us.
"Beautiful wedding Frances." He said when he got to us and places a quick peck on her cheek. I try not to laugh when I see Frances wince. She surely doesn't want her make up ruined even at the end of her wedding.
"Where's my friend?" Frances asks as soon as she was free.
"I was just about to ask you that. Haven't seen her in forever." Chuks says.
"What do you mean you haven't seen her in forever?! You are her date! The least you could do was watch her!" I snap at him
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. He looks a little hurt by my outburst and as usual gets defensive. He's cute and all but I just find him too boyish. Too nice. Not good enough for my friend but who is? I don't even like Francis either.
"Don't snap at him, Claudia. We still have find Amy." Frances butts in. I release a long breath and nod.
"You are right. That's more important for now. Where should we start?" I look to Chuks who shrugs.
"She's a grown woman. Why should we start looking for her like she's five?" I glare at the wimp.
"Claudia, leave him be. Come on, I think we should check outside."
"I have a bad feeling about this. Amy isn't one to disappear." I mumble and make for the hall's exit with Frances.
"I know right?" Chuks puts in as he follows behind us. I roll my eyes in exasperation.
"You should check the restrooms. Call me if you find her." I stop to instruct him.
"You're right." He turns on his heels and head for the restroom.
"Of course I'm right." I mutter snidely then continue on my way out.
"Give the guy a break, Claudia. He's so scared of you." Frances chuckles behind me.
"It's not fault that he's a wimp. He has to grow some balls you know?"
"Like Francis?" She asks. Of course. She just can't stop seeking my approval for her husband.
"Francis has enough balls and youâ€‹ know that."
"Of course I do. I know first hand how big his balls are?" Frances giggle as we push out the doors.
"That's disgusting." I bite the corners of my cheeks to stop from laughing.
"Spoilsport. Sometimes I think youâ€‹ hate men. Do youâ€‹ like women by chance?" The silly girl put both hands up to shield herself and I chuckle.
"If I like girls, I'm sure I'll go for someone who isn't rail thin like you." I comment drily which only serve to amuse her. I find myself laughing along with her.
"Francesca! There you are. It's time to leave for our honeymoon if we don't want to miss the flight." Francis intercept our way. Frances' face visibly falls. She looks from me to her husband, visibly torn.
"You should go, honey. I'll find her." I put her out of her misery and she smile broadly at me.
"Fine. Let's go." Francis take her hand and start to pull her away.
"You're a sweetheart. Call me when you find her!" She calls from behind her shoulder. Yeah, I will. I sigh at being left alone and return to my task of finding Amy. She sure is going to get it from me when I find her. We are supposed to go back to Ilorin together. Did she leave without me? That's not something Amy would do. Maybe there was an emergency at home and that's what the call was for. This is what I decide on after searching all over the hotel for Amy. It was already pretty late so I abandon my search for her and hurry to catch a cab to take me to the park.
Few weeks later
"Mom that's enough." I sob from behind my wailing mother. My three brothers sit behind us and watch the drama unfolding.
"Amara! It's over for us. Hey! Your father left us to suffer in the hands of his family." My mom wails louder.
"Shut up, woman!" One of my uncles snap at my mother.
"Mazi Emeka, you can't possibly be serious. My mother worked for that money just as hard as my father did. You can't take it away from us." I try to keep my voice steady and be strong for my family who are counting on me.
"Now, you want to insult your elders okwaya? Your mother raised a useless child!" Mazi Emeka shoots at me.
"I am not trying to insult anyone sir. All I'm saying is look at us and have pity. Four children and a mother. You can't throw us out into the street like this. Please have pity." My lips quiver and I bite down on it to stop it from shaking.
"My brother did not marry your mother properly so that gives us the right. Even the court has ruled that we should settle this in the family seeing as there was no will and it is a matter of tradition." Uncle Donatus says with a little pity.
"Of course the court would rule in our favour! When our brother married this woman, did she ever think to ask about his family?" Mazi Emeka puts in.
"No!" The two wrinkly old men in the room chorus. I bite down my remark. How did my life turn into this. I just miss my father.
"My husband told me he didn't have a family. He took the customary palm wine to my father's house in the village and married me properly." My mother manages to say.
"kpuchie á»ná»¥!" Mazi Emeka shoots at my mother in Igbo.
"And you little girl. Keep your mouth shut. A girl doesn't speak in the midst of elders." He fires at me.
"The wife we know is the one we married for your father before he left for the city to hustle. He has made the money and now his wife must enjoy that wealth. Have I spoken your minds my brothers?"
"Yes oo" they all chorus. My mother only get more hysterical.
"You can't be serious! That wealth was made on the sweat of my husband and I! My life savings before marriage was used as capital to start all these businesses you want to take from me. It's mine and my children's!" My mother cries and slam her body against the floor.
"A woman does not own anything after she marries a man. It belongs to that man after marriage." One of the old men says. I thought they said my mother wasn't married properly?
"No! You can't do this to me! It's all mine. I'm the wife!" My mom bawl out.
"Mommy!!" My junior brothers join in the wail. I want so bad to slump and join them but I tell my self to be strong. My family is counting on me now. What would Claudia do? I ask myself. She'll probably scratch out the eyes of these greedy men, who my father never told us existed. As soon as his death was announced on the weeks ago, they appeared. With a woman they called my father's real wife. Who would have thought my father had a wife in his village?
"My elders. Please, we are also your brother's family. Temper justice with mercy. I'm two years into the University with three years to go. My brothers are still in senior secondary! How are we supposed to survive?" I ask.
"There's only one way out of this." Mazi Emeka says after a while and my hopes spike up. Maybe this cruel man finally found his conscience.
"What is it, Uncle?" He eyes my mother up and down and I feel more anxious.
"Your mother has to be married properly into the family." He says and I release a calming breath. That's easy.
"Let's do that then. Would it cost money? What does it entail?" I ask.
"She has to choose which of us she will marry. Then and only then would she be part of the family."
"Ewo!!!" My mother screams before the words fully hit me. What the hell! I look at the old faces of the five men sitting in our living room.
"We have said our own. If you don't choose which of us you'll marry, you have to pack your things and go back to your father's house. I will give you a week to think.
Read " Stolen innocence " by the same author ( Ameh juliet )
. My brothers let's go." Mazi Emeka says these final words before grabbing his walking stick and marching out of the room. The rest of them follow behind him.
"Amarachi o! Our enemies have succeeded in bringing us down! Ewo o! Chinedu your father has killed me!" My mother clutch unto my immediate younger brother who just looks confused and scared. I pry the teenager away from my mother's hold and hug her instead.
"Don't speak like that, mom." I cry into her hair. Who does this in this modern day?! They can't possibly take everything right?
"Your father has killed me! He had a wife all these time and a family. A cruel family to match and he had no shame in lying to my face for 23 years. Women have it worse in this life! Cheii Oh my God!" My mom exclaims and slumps to the ground. Her teeth clench hard as she convulse violently on the ground.
"Mother!" I shake her profusely while my brothers cry around me. I'm tempted to faint as well. Get a grip, Amy!
"Call an ambulance!" I scream to my brothers. Thankfully Adrian, one of the twins grabs my mother's phone and calls the emergency number.
Personally, I think ignorance to our rights is what makes women victims in cases like this. But can the law protect Amy's mother when a whole family of men is against her? I'm curious about what the law can do for a woman in this case.
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