“Prisca, please wake up. You can’t die now. I beg you, wake up.” It was that voice that woke me up. I opened my eyes and found myself on a hospital bed with my mother and four elder sisters. “What happened to me?” I asked. “You fainted,” said Judith my eldest sister. Then, I remembered what happened.
I am the youngest of five pretty young girls. My father, I was told, died three months after I was born, however, I and my siblings grew up in a comfortable home. My mother runs a big provision shop just a street away from our house and with this, she trained all of us.
As we grew older, my mother gathered all of us one Saturday evening. She told us she wants us to marry rich men so that we don’t end up suffering as she did. “My daughters, I want all of you to bring home rich men, I mean already made men as husbands to me. I suffered with your father all for the sake of love but what did he leave for me before his death? Absolutely, nothing. I had to really work hard to train you all. Just make ensure the man all of you will introduce to me is rich. Don’t worry, love will follow later,” she instructed us.
From that day, any man we bring home was well scrutinised by our mother. She would first of all size the man up from his clothes, brand of wristwatch down to his shoes. After that, she will peep through the window to see the brand of car he came in. If she smiles, it indicates that she is satisfied and there is hope that she may approve of the man. But if she is not satisfied with all these, then, she would ask you to see her immediately your visitor leaves.
Once he leaves, she would rain abuses on you and remind you of all she had told us. For my four elder sisters, they did not find it easy with my mother when they were ready to settle down. She bluntly refused all the men they brought home simply because they do not drive posh cars nor dress expensively according to her thirst. In fact, she added something new to the criteria later that shocked us. “In addition to what I said earlier, only bring men who live in a three-bedroom apartment, a bungalow, duplex or even a mansion in a high-brow area,” she demanded. “Mummy you cannot be serious. Love comes first before material things. The way you are going about it, none of us will get married,” said Judith. “You girls should try me and see. In fact, it is better for you girls to remain unmarried than marry paupers and suffer like me,” she threatened.
When our mother kept rejecting all the men my elder sisters introduced to her, at a point, they decided that she would not continue to dictate their lives for them. They reminded her that they have pleased her enough. When Judith introduced David to her, after scrutinising him as usual, she said, he was not wealthy enough, therefore, she cannot marry him. When all pleas fell on deaf ears, Judith went ahead and married him reminding our mother that she has toyed enough with her life and emotions, adding that she was not getting any younger. With Judith’s action, my other sisters followed suit, marrying men they loved, not minding my mother’s criteria anymore.
Just because I felt my sisters disobeyed my mother, I promised myself I will marry the man she only approves. Our mother did not fail to hide her disappointed with the choice of husbands my elder sisters made. Since I clocked 23 years till date that I am age 29, I have introduced over 12 men to my mother but she rejected them all, giving one excuse or the other. But, I decided to hold on until she approves a man for me to marry because I believed she meant well for me especially as her last child and I also wanted to make her happy.
One hot Sunday afternoon, on my way back from church, a jeep stopped right beside me. The occupant wound down the glass and asked, “Which way are you going, pretty?” “Just three streets away,” I answered. “That’s alright, then please come in. It will be my pleasure to take you home,” he stressed. Without thinking twice, I got into the jeep and we got talking. He told me his name is Victor; he is an engineer, the first child of three children and that his parents and siblings are based in the United States. I also introduced myself. “O my God, this guy is good-looking and he looks rich. This is the kind of man I want for a husband,” I thought to myself.
Fortunately, as we got to the front of our compound, my mother was outside talking with a friend. When she saw that I was the one who alighted from the jeep, she quickly dismissed her friend and came to meet me. Before I could introduce Victor to her, she said, “My son, you are welcome to our home, please come in.” She walked closely behind him just to assess him. She entertained him and made him feel at home. When Victor was leaving, he gave N10, 000 to my mother and N5, 000 to me as well. Immediately he left, my mother said, “This is what I am talking about. A man who is wealthy, well dressed and can take good care of you. Prisca, you must not let him go. You must do whatever you have to do to keep him,” she insisted.
To be continued.