Her father was celebrating his 50th birthday
Everybody in the estate was invited
They came in droves
Dressed in wealth and status
And then he showed up
Dressed in a neat but very old and faded Ankara native attire
Who invited him? What was the urchin looking for?
He wanted to come into the gate
She told the bouncers to stop him
She got some food items
Put them in a polythene bag
Handed them over to their house girl
“Go and give this to the man in native”
Her friend saw it all
“What are you doing?” her friend asked
“This party is not for the likes of him” she replied
After a few minutes he saw her friend
“I need to see Mr. So and So at the party, he asked me to come and see him here!”
Her friend explained to him that he should either wait at the gate or see the person some other time
He shook his head in utter embarrassment
But he did not collect the food
“Good riddance” she said
She looked away and quickened her step as she walked into the party hall
How could she associate with such a guy?
Though his family lived in their estate
They were the poorest people in the estate by a mile
His father didn’t complete his house in the estate before he died
They moved in and covered all the windows with tattered clothes
For God’s sake!
How much would they pay a carpenter to at least make them wooden windows and doors?
How much would it cost them to buy decent clothes?
Even a car!
They lived in a millionaire’s estate for Christ’s sake!
And how could she ever be caught entertaining such a church rat!
Few minutes later, her friend returned into the hall
“What is wrong with you? He was invited”
She: So what? I don’t greet poverty and I will have nothing to do with such a miscreant
How could you even stand him!
I don’t understand you and please next time, make sure I am far away before you go on your mother Theresa mode
Her friend couldn’t believe it
The guy had done nothing to deserve such a cold shoulder
He was a neighbor and a very nice guy
The guy saw her attitude but what could he do?
Some people simply hate you because you don’t fit into their mold of what human dignity is
He had learnt to deal with that reality a long time ago
He was only fatherless
Life did that to him
Threw him a curved ball
He was learning to deal!
He held his head high and walked tall
He was the one who volunteered to stay with his mother on the estate
Right after his father died, his father’s family offered his mother the option of marrying his father’s younger brother
His mother declined
The family offered to help train the three children
His siblings jumped at the opportunity but he understood his mother
Keeping the house, though in an uncompleted state was of grave importance to his mother
His father had told his mother that some of his family members may covet the house in the estate and lure her out of it so that they can sell or even keep it for themselves
His mother had hidden the certificate of ownership for the house and was determined to protect her children’s property
He elected to stay with his mother because he understood the significance of the house to his mother
Weeks later she returned to school and put away all the thoughts of the guy away from her heart
He was a non-issue
She was studying medicine at a prestigious university
Her life was all roses without the thorns
He was the last thing on her mind
Her friend was also studying medicine at another university
Their parents had been friends since their secondary school days
She and her friend gained admission into the university at the age of 17
Their parents had worked very hard to ensure that her future would be golden
He left the estate for another city to live with his father’s younger brother
The very year she graduated, he wrote JAMB and gained admission to a state university
He was aged 24
All he had were a few clothes and his brain
He studied engineering
She started working in a government owned hospital
Her friend traveled abroad for her masters
They kept in touch and life kept moving
He graduated at the age of 30
He got a job immediately at an oil service firm
The pay was good
His immediate younger brother also graduated from a state university
His brother also studied engineering
Together they started an engineering firm
Within two years he was set to get married
By this time they had both completed their father’s house and furnished it to taste
He got a contract from the government to supply an equipment
He traveled abroad
He bought and shipped the equipment home
The company he bought the equipment from invited him to dinner
He attended for the sake of relationship
At the dinner the Managing Director of the company (a citizen of his country) told him about his younger sister who was practicing medicine back at home. The MD assured him the lady wass beautiful, godly, well behaved and would make a good wife
The man sold the lady all night until he caved in and collected her phone number with a promise to call
When he got home he called her
She sounded pleasant
Though they both live in different states, their discussion held a bit of promise
The following weekend he went to see the lady
They had a date for 8 pm at a very popular restaurant
He got to the restaurant early
As he sat in a corner perusing his phone and trying to make sure he memorized the lady’s face in order to recognize her once she arrived
He saw her!
The snob, walking into the restaurant all by herself
He wanted to ignore her at first
But he was no longer the poor guy she treated with derision
He wanted her to see that
He walked up to her
She didn’t recognize him
He turned on the charm
Told her he knew her at so and so estate
She acknowledged the fact that they must have met but still didn’t recognize him
He asked if they could dine together
She said yes
They sat down and talked
(His date sent her apologies an hour later
She had to be in the theater for a surgery)
By the end of the night they were really flowing
They exchanged numbers
The next day she called him to say thank you
He asked her out again
They talked at length
At the end of the night she invited him into her flat
She had told him she had some old James Bond movie collections and he would really like see them
He saw the collections
He also saw the hope in her eyes
He thought about it
He decided the hope was worth it
He pulled her closer
Was it the wine?
He kissed her
She kissed him
She turned her head
He turned his head
Doves became pigeons
Like a magician’s trick
Clothes lost their owners
Slow and steady, the object of derision met her as equals
He stayed there all night
The dance continued for a week
She called her friend and told her about the guy
“He said he used to live in the estate but I can’t recollect ever meeting him”
Her friend got curious
Invite him over for the weekend, let’s meet him
Weekend came, her friend recognized him immediately
They hugged each other
Her friend reminded her of the meeting they had where she snubbed him
It dawned on her
She didn’t know what to do
Was he serious with her or just taking his revenge?
She didn’t know what to do!
Her attitude changed
She braced herself to be dumped
She got scared!
What if she said yes and he laughed her to scorn?
What if she said no and his intentions were pure?
She loved him dearly
She asked him if he remembered the incident
He said yes
“Why didn’t you say something?’’ She said
“Will you marry me” he countered
She went on her knees, “I am sorry for my childish behavior. I was 17 and I was very conceited. I didn’t know how life worked. Please forgive me”
He said he forgave her
She said yes
They got married a year later!
PS: She said she was afraid he was proposing to her just so that he can dump her!
He said he didn’t see her childish behavior as anything but what it was, since they had been together as adults she had been very well behaved
Their marriage is 9 years old
They have 3 children