Udoh and Uduak dashed into the two-bedroom apartment in haste. They met their father in the sitting room, dozing off on a chair whilst the television was on the TBN channel.
“Go and get mum. She should be in the kitchen,” Udoh nudged his brother on the shoulder.
“Okay.” Uduak ran off and returned with their mother.
“What is going on?” Edidiong stared at both young men, holding one of her cooking spoons. She hoped everything was all right.
She wondered what they were doing back home so early.
“Mama, please sit down,” Udoh motioned to the seat their father was dozing on.
She wanted to protest, but, thought against it and sat beside her husband, hoping that whatever they had to say wasn’t bad news.
She didn’t like the way her younger sons were acting and she was already getting apprehensive.
Etim’s eyes flickered. He opened them, yawned and then stretched his aching body.
“What are you two doing back so early from work?” he looked from one to the other. He was surprised to see them in the house by that time. They usually arrive home before seven in the evening every day, but, it was barely six and they were already in the house.
Udoh and Uduak took a seat opposite the elderly couple, then exchanges glances.
“What is it? I am making dinner,” Edidiong eyed them, wondering what was so important that they had to drag her out of the kitchen.
“One of our colleagues at the factory knows brother’s fiancée,” Udoh began, weighing his words carefully.
Etim and Edidiong looked at one another.
“So?” she eyed both boys.
Uduak scratched a spot on his head, “Mama, Edua isn’t who she says she is,” he had a pained look in his eyes.
“In fact, she is nothing but an over-priced high class prostitute,”
Udoh added in annoyance.
“Shut your mouth!” Etim shouted at them. He didn’t like the path the conversation was deviating to.
“Daddy, it is the truth,” Uduak backed up what his brother had said.
“What is true? Look at these children that were born yesterday,” she glanced at her husband. He was equally upset.
“One of our colleagues at work saw her at a party he attended with his uncle. His uncle’s driver was sick. He drove his uncle to the party that day,” Udoh began to explain.
“So? What has the party got to do with your brother’s fiancée?” she eyed him. Hoping against hope that their colleague’s claims turns out unfounded.
“He saw her at the party. He said she danced with several men and gave them lap dance,” Uduak added quickly.
“Lap dance?” Edidiong looked at her husband. She was very sure her sons were uttering nonsense.
“We took a picture with brother and his fiancée when they visited that day. Our colleague saw the picture and he recognized her.
He claimed that she settled in one of the rooms in the hotel and many men took turns to see her,” Udoh spat out.
Etim and his wife gapped at each other. They were finding it hard to believe their sons. The story sounded cooked up.
“Although, he says that she looks different, but, he was sure that she was the same person,” Uduak chimed in.
“You see! She is probably a look-a-like,” Edidiong shouted in relief. She was ready to hold unto any form of hope.
“She is definitely not the same person your colleague saw at the party,” Etim addressed his sons.
Udoh and Uduak began to shake their heads. They were very sure that their colleague knew exactly what he was talking about.
“Dad, Mama, this boy knows Edua. We are very sure of it,” Udoh tried to convince his parents.
“I will give your brother a call this evening. I will tell him to come over,” Etim leaned against the chair, lost in thought. He hoped that what he was hearing wasn’t true.
“Good, brother needs to know the kind of woman he is about to get married to,” Uduak got up from the chair and began to pace the room. He had been greatly disappointed when their colleague narrated what transpired at the party.
“This is unbelievable,” Edidiong sighed heavily. She had already started planning for the arrival of her grand-children. She prayed against everything that could truncate her well laid out plans.
“Tell that your colleague to come over this evening. He must use his own mouth to confirm everything you have said,” Etim glanced up at Uduak.
“No, problem. I will call him now,” Uduak left the room.
“Are you both sure of what you are saying?” Etim looked at Udoh eye to eye.
“We are papa,” Udoh assured his father.
Edidiong placed both hands on her chest. “Eeeeh! God deliver us!”
The lady her son brought to them was kind, gentle and God fearing. She was far from the party girl her sons’ colleague described. But, if there was any iota of truth in what they have said about her, she was definitely not welcome in their home. She must have deceived her son into thinking that she was a saint. No wonder she looked like a goddess. Her fair skin was so buttery smooth; it must cost a fortune to keep it that way. The girl claimed that she was job-hunting, but, Edidiong concluded that she must be prostituting on the side. She shook her head in disgust and prayed to God to deliver her son from the fangs of strange corruptible women.
Edet came out of the bathroom dripping wet. He walked to the wardrobe and picked out a short sleeve black Hacket tee-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. He got a call from his father, while he was at work that day. The man wanted to see him urgently. He had a feeling that it must be about the wedding plans. He was supposed to take Edua out that same evening, but, he figured he could dash to his parents’ home, then head to Dolphin Estate afterwards. He had already called his fiancée and explained to her that he would be running late. He got dressed quickly, switched off all the light bulbs and electrical appliances in the apartment and headed out.
He turned when he heard a familiar voice. It was Kaosara. He groaned inwardly and locked his door.
“Are you going out?” Kaosara came to stand by the closed door. She was clad in a very short tight fitting blue skirt and a sleeveless round neck white blouse which exposed her cleavage which was covered up with stretch marks.
“Yes, I am.”
She scratched a spot on her upper arm. “I wanted to collect small maggi, salt, curry, thyme and vegetable oil from you.”
He hissed irritably.
“Please, can you kindly give me what I need before you leave,” she grinned at him, opening her set of brown teeth.
“No,” Edet started to walk away.
“Ah! Oga Edet,” she ran after him. “Please now. I promise you, I will not disturb you again for the next one week.”
“Kaosara, abeg, free me. Am I the only one living in this compound?” he glared at her.
“Ehn… but, you know you are the only one who respond to me. Everyone else have abandoned me,” she caught up with him.
“You need to plan and strategize how you spend and manage your salary. You cannot keep collecting things and borrowing things from me,” he complained.
“I know, I know,” she paled, walking beside him, “I will change.”
“That was what you said last year,” he eyed her.
“Ehn… I am trying. I will change completely. Just keep praying for me.”
He hissed again and walked briskly out of the compound. She followed him and stood by him, on the side walk. Edet looked around for a bike.
“Kaosara, I will see you when I come back.”
“When are you coming back?” she looked up at him, hoping he wouldn’t stay out late that day.
He sighed heavily. “I don’t know,” he stopped a bike man driving past.
“Kaosara, I will be back,” he got on the bike and directed the driver.
His neighbor folded her arms across her heavy bosom and watched the bike speed away.
Uduak opened the door and allowed his elder brother to come in.
Edet greeted his parents and settled on an empty seat. He noticed someone else in the sitting room. The dark skinned, average height young man was seated beside his younger brother, Udoh.
“Have you eaten?” Edidiong asked her first son.
“No, I came immediately after I closed from the shop,” Edet responded. He was beginning to feel hungry.
“I made vegetable soup. I can make garri for you, so that you can eat,” she got up immediately.
“Don’t bother. I am headed to Edua’s place when I leave here.”
Edidiong glanced at her husband, then sat back beside him.
Etim cleared his throat. “It is good you came immediately.
Something came up and you need to hear it with your own ears.”
Edet nodded, looking at his father. “Okay.”
“Kasali, speak up,” he faced his younger sons’ colleague.
Everyone looked at the dark skinned young man.
Kasali cleared his throat and leaned forward. “About two, three years ago, I drove my uncle to a party on the island. His driver was very sick and I offered to take him to the party.”
Edet folded his arms across his chest and listened to the young man.
“At the party, there was a very pretty young lady, seductively dressed, dancing with every man at the party. After a while, she settled in a hotel room and my uncle and several other men took turns to visit her.”
Edet frowned. He could discern where the conversation was leading to.
“Uduak and Udoh showed me a picture of a beautiful woman today at work. I recognized her immediately. She looked a bit different, but, I can swear on my mother’s grave that she was the same girl I saw at that party,” Kasali coughed thrice.
Edet glanced at his younger brothers. They were both staring at him too.
“They told me that she is your fiancée and I told them about the party,” Kasali looked directly at Edet.
“Thank you Kasali, you may go,” Edet addressed the young man.
“Thanks sir,” the dark skinned man jumped to his feet and dashed out of the house as if he was chased by a thousand demons.
Edet looked from his parents to his younger brothers. They were all staring at him, waiting for him to respond.
“Edua Imasogie is now a born-again Christian. Her past is past,” he informed them.
Edidiong dropped her jaw in shock.
Etim blinked several times and stared at his son. “Are you saying that you knew?”
“Yes, I know everything about the past of the woman I am going to spend the rest of my life with,” he looked back at his perplexed father.
“Jesus Christ! Edet has killed me o!” Edidiong began to wail. She could hardly believe that the story was actually true. It baffled her that her first son knew that his fiancée was a prostitute and he was still willing to marry her.
“What are you saying young man?” Etim faced his son. He was finding it hard to believe that his son knew about the girl’s past and he was still willing to tie the knot with her.
“Look, Edua has changed. She was forced into that terrible lifestyle. She came out of it and she is a different person now. You all saw her during the weekend, does she look like a slut to you?” he looked from one person to the other.
“No, no, no, brother,” Uduak got up and challenged his elder brother. “What are you saying? You want to marry a cheap prostitute. Have you really thought of the stigma, the kinds of diseases and bad luck she can bring to your life?”
Edet eyed his younger brother. He knew the boy wouldn’t understand.
“You cannot marry that girl, brother. It is not possible. Do you know what people will say? By tomorrow, everyone in the factory will know that our brother wants to marry a common whore,” Udoh got up and stood beside Uduak.
“Did I tell you to go and advertise my fiancée at your place of work?” Edet eyed his younger brothers.
“You cannot be serious,” Etim looked him up and down. The boy’s determination unnerved him.
Edet glanced at his father. “Dad, I love Edua. She is the woman I am going to spend the rest of my life with.”
The man began to shake his head. “I do not think you have thought this through.”
“I have dad,” he tried to assure him.
“No, I don’t believe you. I don’t think you know what you are getting yourself into.”
“Yes, I do dad.”
“No, you don’t,” Etim snapped, feeling exasperated.
“What rubbish are you spilling out of your mouth?!” his mother lashed out at him.
Edet leaned against the chair, completely overwhelmed by his family’s disposition towards his fiancée.
“Over my dead body. No son of mine will get married to a slut,” she scowled at her first son.
“I have already made up my mind,” he met her glare.
“You better change your mind Edet,” Etim pointed an angry finger at him. “You better start thinking straight. This your wedding is officially cancelled.”
Edet looked from one parent to the other. He could see that they were not going to compromise, neither was he ready to back down.
“You cannot cancel my wedding. I am going to get married to Edua,” he informed them all to their dismay.
“It seems as if she has already given you something to eat,” Edidiong got to her feet, “You better vomit it now. We are not going to sit here and allow you to make the biggest mistake of your life.”
“You cannot marry that girl. My decision is final!” Etim frowned at his first son.
“You cannot take that kind of decision father,” he tried to speak calmly.
“Yes, I can! I have taken it and nothing can change it!” Etim began to boil with anger.
“Brother, you better receive brain,” Uduak eyed his elder brother.
“Dad and mum has spoken. You cannot marry that first class prostitute,” Udoh added quickly.
“Yes, I can. I am going to marry Edua,” he glanced at his younger brothers.
“You are joking! Look here young man, you can never marry that girl,” Edidiong screamed at her son.
“No son of mine will bring shame to this family. I will not allow you to drag our family’s name in the mud. If you dare me, I will disown you!” Etim jumped to his feet.
“Fine, disown me. I am going to marry her and nobody can stop me,” Edet got up and walked out of the house.
Uduak and Udoh watched him leave. Shocked and pained by his stubbornness.
“Eeeeeeh! This boy has killed me o! Who will come to my aid o! Who is going to deliver him from that witch of a girl? Jesus o! Holy Ghost fire!” Edidiong collapsed on the floor and started to weep. It dawned on her that her son was bent on marrying the girl and it would be impossible to deter him from his love quest.
Etim sat back on the chair, visibly shaken. He was disappointed at his first son’s attitude and decision to have his way, despite their adamant refusal.
He realized that nothing was going to change the young man’s mind. They might as well allow him to marry the girl and deal with the consequences of his actions on his own.