Choices Chapter 14
Chapter 14 (Maya)
I was silent all the way home not because I didn’t have anything to say, but because I couldn’t anymore. So many jumbled thoughts took over my brain. Mixed emotions and erratic feelings kept my throat closed up as I tried to sort it all out. The one recurring thought that I couldn’t shake was a constant stream of “what have i done?!” This morning the one thing I thought could go wrong is the judge refuses our request or dad finds out before the wedding is over but the one thing my brain couldn’t even comprehend actually happened. Figures when it comes to my future the universe couldn’t help but screw me over. I didn’t realize the car has stopped until Uncle Muhammadu nudged me and opened his side to get out of the car. I placed my hand on the door latch but I couldn’t open it.
I tried to will myself to open it but my hands refused to cooperate. Uncle Muhammadu ducked back in to see what exactly is taking so long. “Are you not coming?” He asked and I answered “I can’t! I can’t face him not after what I did! Please don’t make me” I begged but he jumped slammed his door shut and moved around the car to open my door. He bent at the waist to come to eye level with me “I’m not trying to be cruel Maya but understand we both messed up and now it’s out of my hands so we have to face the music together. Don’t be scared we are all in this together”
“No we are not, this is a loose-loose situation for me, we go in there and tell them I ran away to marry the love of my life but I somehow got married to the wrong guy, but hey my new husband hates the sight of me and will divorce me so I can marry the man I actually ran away to marry! Easy peasy! And let’s not forget I have no where to go because he’s leaving the country tomorrow so can you please take me back until he comes back and we start our life together! How exactly do I say all that to Dad!”
I end my tirade on a breathless note but Uncle remains quiet so I look up to see why and there he was standing right next to Uncle, he was standing so still I could barely believe he was breathing, his expression went from shocked to dismay to the last one that sent a jolt to my heart disappointment. “Dad let me explain….. I started while getting out of the car and heading to him but he raises his hand up to stop me “you don’t need to explain! I believe you’ve said it all” he turned around and headed for the house and I dashed after him narrowly avoiding Nurrain’s car that just drove into the compound. “Dad please listen to me! Please! Dad wait!” I kept trying to get his attention but he didn’t stop until he reached the living room and sat on his favorite chair. All the kids stopped clamouring when they saw us. They’re all so little but they can tell something is wrong. Now that he was finally looking right at me and waiting for me to speak, my words left me.
I couldn’t get my mouth to open up, I had footsteps behind me alerting me that uncle and the rest are right behind me, I was blocking the entrance but I couldn’t move. Ummi must have realized it’s been quiet for too long as she came strolling out of the kitchen clutching a spatula she must have been using to make dinner. She looked from me to Dad to the people behind me and instantly knew something terrible has happened. She gave me a sympathetic look I couldn’t be angry at her for, because I just didn’t have any fighting spirit left in me, she herded out all the kids and sent them out to play through the backdoor before taking a seat next to Dad, when he didn’t acknowledge her presence she rubbed his knees slowly and asked him what’s wrong.
“My daughter apparently just got married without my knowledge” he told, breaking his silence as I slowly moved towards him “I wanted to tell you, I promise. It’s just things got out of hand and I didn’t know how to tell you” I fell to my knees next to him trying to catch his gaze. I know if he could just look at me he’ll see just how sorry I am for everything but he wasn’t looking my way rather his entire focus was on Nurrain who was standing shoulder to shoulder with Nurah at the door stoop. His face held a blank expression as he and Dad had their silent stare down.
Anyone that looks at him right now will see a guy who is well put together with zero tension what so ever but I could tell he was wond up tight like an arrow about to leave it’s quiver as he silently waits out my Dad.
I couldn’t take it anymore so I spoke up “Dad please listen to me once, I’ll explain everything to you”
“Explain what exactly, I think everything is perfectly clear. My daughter is all grown up and can make her own decisions now, she can pick out her own husband and damn her father to hell if he doesn’t agree so tell me Maya since you’re all grown up and you’ve gotten what you wanted, marrying the guy you want. What exactly are you doing in my house huh! I mean you clearly don’t need me anymore so why are you here!” I flinched in the face of his furry, his entire frame was shaking as he loomed over me clearly using all his will power from striking me as he wants to. I didn’t know what to say to that so Uncle Muhammadu intervened, he walked over to stand next to me and regarded my Dad “Yayah please, I know you are angry and you have every right to be but please listen to me. I know you thought you’re doing the right thing for Maya’s future when you proposed she marries Walid but we all know Maya doesn’t love him and our family might be a bit backward in terms of tradition, but we never force our children into a union they don’t want. Maya was going to end up doing something stupid to get out of this marriage, rather than watch her suffer I decided to help her out and get her married to the man she loves. I know I had no right to go behind your back like that but believe me I only did it because I believed he is a good man and he’ll take good care of Maya. I figured it’s better to hurt a little now and end up being happy forever than to watch her suffer in a loveless marriage for the rest of her life! But then there was a bit of a miscommunication and I ended up making the exact mistake you were about to make by getting her married to someone else rather than the man she loves. Yayah I know you’re angry with all of us but please you have to understand we did this with the best intentions” Dad looked from me to him, to them and said ” you all obviously know better than me what is right and what is wrong right? I’m just a stubborn old man who doesn’t know anything.” He looked straight at Uncle and said ” I raised you like a father for all these years, I never once let you feel the pain of being an orphan and today you stand before me and betray my trust like this! You are right about one thing Muhammadu you had no right to decide who my daughter should marry not when I’m still alive and well. Only I have the right to make that decision and I have decided my daughter will not be with this boy!” He pointed at Nurrain who finally stepped over the treshhold with Nurah in tow still wearing that impassive look and sat the floor next to my left before addressing my Dad “Alhaji I have no desire to marry your daughter either, all this has just been a big misunderstanding” he paused to let that sink In and it worked because Dad looked confused now.
He continued before dad could say anything “I was never dating your daughter rather it is my friend Nurah that has been in a relationship with her for years now. When we heard you wanted her to get married remember we tried to speak to you but you wouldn’t listen, everything was going in overdrive that we didn’t have time to go the proper route. We had no choice but to go with the unconventional option, Nurah doesn’t really have much family around so I helped him with all the arrangements since he is like a brother to me, he was supposed to marry Maya this afternoon and the two of them were going to start their new life together we figured that way when tempers are cool you’ll eventually get to know him and maybe even accept their union some day but unfortunately my Uncle and her Uncle misunderstood the situation and ended up getting me and her married. We all agree it was a big mistake and we realize what we did was reckless and irresponsible. We should have come to you and properly presented our intention even if you wouldn’t listen at least this mistake could have been avoided.
I am truly sorry for putting you through all this, it was selfish of us not to take your feelings into consideration but I promise you I will fix this. I will divorce her right now and leave, and I promise you I’ll not bother your family ever again. Nurah is a good man and he loves your daughter very much I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive our mistake and let the two of them marry one another like they want to” he kept quiet after that and Nurah spoke up for the first time. I was still angry with him for the stunt he pulled with the whole scholarship thing earlier but I still prayed that dad will let us be together. We can worry about our living arrangements later right now we just need to get through to Dad. He made a compelling case telling Dad about how much he loves and cares for me and how he promise to be the very best husband if he were given the chance and Dad listened without interruption, which I thought was a good sign until he started asking him questions and it all went downhill from there.
Dad started with “how old are you Nurah”
“I’m 25” he answered confidently. Dad grimaced at his answer “so you’re only a year older than Maya. What about a career, where do you work?”
I shared a look with Nurah who looks as terrified as I felt as we both know his answer will be the proverbial nail in the coffin of our relationship. He turned to Dad and answered “I’m not working yet since I just graduated but I am traveling to London tomorrow where I’ll be continuing my education. I got an all expenses paid scholarship at a university there”
“And how were you intending to support my daughter after marrying her, I’m sure a student such as yourself will need to focus on his studies to maintain his scholarship so what about my daughter then” he didn’t wait for Nurah to answer before he turned his attention to address me “tell Maya what was your grand plan, you wanted to marry him so badly and then what, you squat at his hostel and wait around for him while he is in class, in two years or so he will earn his master’s and what about you. What will you achieve in those two years with no school no family and no job. I know you think I’m a wrinkly old man who doesn’t know anything but I know one thing and it’s that love is never enough. If you had gone ahead with this wedding I assure you, you’ll end up resenting each other before a year is over”
“Dad i know our circumstances isn’t the best but I assure you nothing like that will happen to us. Nurah and I love each other and I will support him through his studies and once he is done and has a good job I’ll be able to go back and complete my studies so you see I won’t be sacrificing my future or anything” Dad just laughed, a dry laughter that had no humor in it. “I really thought I raised you to be smarter than that Maya but it appears I was wrong about that as well” he turned to Nurah ” young man I’m sure you are a good person but I’m sorry to say you’re not worthy of my daughter at least not yet so I advise you to focus on your studies, build your future first then find a nice girl to settle down with but Maya won’t be that girl”
“Dad! You can’t mean that!” I snapped at him and he snapped right back.
“Lower your tone when you’re talking to me girl! I am still your father and I am this close to washing my hands off you so don’t push me!” He thunders “now all of you listen to me carefully, Nurrain is going to divorce Maya and since the marriage was never consummated we are going to go ahead with her wedding to Walid as planned and we all are going to forget this drama ever happened, no one outside of this room is going to hear about this wedding am I clear!”
Nurah was quick to protest before I could “Alhaji please don’t do this! I agree I seem like a bad bet right now and no father will want me for his daughter but please don’t force Maya to marry someone she doesn’t like! If you could just hold off on Marrying her off until I can get on my feet and I am able to provide for her! Please don’t do this to us please!”
“Enough, I will not change my decision no matter how much you beg so don’t waste your time anymore and get out of my house right now before I loose my temper!”
“Dad stop it! I refuse to marry Walid even if you don’t want me to marry Nurah now I can wait until he is ready, it’s not like I’m in any rush but I will never marry Walid no matter what you do!” I told him with conviction and I was damn serious as well. I will never change my mind on this, nobody can force me to marry Walid. “It’s funny that you still think you have a choice” Dad said. He got up and went inside without a second look no matter how much we called out to him. “What are we going to do Nurah! I told you we shouldn’t have come back here but no one listened now look we are back to square one and he’s going to force me into a marriage I don’t want and will never consent to!”
“Maya please calm down! You Dad just wants the best for you….” Ummi said and I promptly put her in her place “nobody asked for your opinion! So stay out of my business!” I turned to Nurah and asked “what do we do now?”
“I don’t know but” he turned to Nurrain and they started a heated conversation in hushed tones. I couldn’t make out what they are saying and I’m tired of people trying to cut me out of decisions that concern my life “will you two speak up already! This concerns me as well you know!”
Dad came back in and handed Nurrain a piece of paper and a pen. He told Nurrain to take it and divorce me, he didn’t want him to just pronounce it but he wanted it written down as evidence ” I don’t want any complications later on so write it down as evidence” Nurrain took the paper and put the pen to the paper about to start writing when Nurah held his hand to stop him. “Nurrain please don’t do this! If you divorce her he’ll force her to marry that evil man please help us out here! Just this once! I promise I’ll never ask you for another favor again for as long as I live!” He begged Nurrain but he just sat there clutching the paper with so much force his hands poked holes into it. I can’t believe Nurah is raising this issue again after we both made it clear we want nothing to do with each other. “Nurah stop begging him we will find another way to be together we don’t need him! I refuse to have my name attached with his longer than necessary!”
“I’m sorry Nurah please don’t ask me to do this you know it’s not fair to me, ask for anything else just not this!” Nurrain said.
“Enough of the theatrics just write the divorce and be on your way!” Dad said thrusting a new paper at him.
“So it’s really true! Habu wasn’t talking nonsense this time around, you really went and married this girl behind our backs! How could you Nurrain!” Ammi’s words coming from the entrance had us all swiveling to face her as well as Baffa and the rest of his siblings.They all stood there wearing various degrees of shock on their faces. Nurrain moved towards them swiftly trying to get ahold of the situation before it got worse but it was too late. The minute they stepped into this house there was no going back.