I’m going to be 39 in November and have never been married before. That is about to change. I’m going to get married in a matter of months, to be precise, on my birthday on November 23 to someone I met a few months ago.
But let me introduce myself. Ejura is my name. I live alone in the Lekki Phase I area of Lagos in a house with my name on it and own other worldly possessions including a brand new car for which I just traded in my old one. I work as a pilot with a major airline and I’m good at my job even if I say so myself. What I’m most certainly not good at is attracting a man who will settle down with me. That used to worry me a lot, especially when I travelled home to see my mum and dad in Abuja.
“Ejura, when are you going to give me a grandchild?” is how the conversation with my mum would usually start during such visits.
“Soon, mum. Let me find me a good man first,” I’d respond.
“But you are not getting any younger. And the more you age, the harder it is to conceive. Most of all, each day brings me even closer to my grave. I want you to give me a grandchild or two before then,” she’d warn.
“Get off it Mum, I’m sure you’ll live to be a hundred and one years and then some more,” I’d tease.
“But you won’t be able to bear children forever,” she blurted with finality the last time.
I hear her loud and clear but I didn’t anymore. After all, she and my dad wear the ones who taught me that what will be will be. There was nothing I could do about getting a man just yet.
And as the years mount the conversation with Mum has taken a new dimension. In fact, changed drastically. But while she got even more frantic for a grandchild from me, I could now point to my younger brother’s wife who was pregnant for her second child.
“But Mum, you have a second grandchild coming,” I pointed out the last time I was home, which was last Christmas, and the conversation took us down that familiar road.
“It’s not the same Ejura, I mean, you are complete as a woman only when you give birth to your own child. The happiness giving birth to your child will bring you compares to nothing in this world,” she said.
I swallowed hard, short of calling her out for doublespeak. Here was a woman who had drummed it into my head from as far back as I could recall that I could be whatever I wanted to be and do what I wanted. Now she was sounding like my cousin’s parents who were not as educated as she and my dad and could be excused for such rhetoric.
“Leave the poor girl alone,” my dad came to my rescue as always. “You don’t want her to step out there and bring the first man she runs into home, do you?”
I got a reprieve for a bit for my dad is the only person who can make my mum take a break from tormenting me.
I was to find out later that evening that Mum had cancer, which though in remission after intense treatment, she wanted to, as she put it to my dad, ‘put her house in order’ before her time comes.
That touched me deeply and it took a long time for the effect the whole situation had on me to wear off. I was glad she had beat cancer but knew that you could never tell with such a disease. I wanted more than anything in the world to give my mum exactly what she wanted. I thought about all the ways that I could make her happy by giving her a child including adopting but came to the conclusion that she wanted most of all for me to settle down with a loving man. She wanted me to start a family. But after a series of relationships that didn’t work out, I was in no hurry to date another man. It may have looked like I was running out of time but short of going to a crowded street corner and announcing that I needed a man to father my child, the other option was to continue as if nothing was amiss and hope that all would be well in time.
Those who should know will swear that it is darkest before dawn and when things seem to be completely out of hand, a way opens up beyond our wildest imaginings.
I returned home one hot afternoon at the end of January to find that I urgently needed an electrician. My electrician who lives in Ogba was indisposed so I went against my normal practice and used one in the neighbourhood. This had been standard practice in our house where my dad made certain to use workmen who came from a far distance to make repairs on the house. The thinking is that such men could not plan and execute evil even if they wanted to, considering the logistics of distance and not being familiar with the neighbourhood unlike a person from the area. That turned out to be sadly correct in my case. But is ironically why I’m telling you my story.
Frank, a colleague who also lives in Lekki recommended an electrician whose name he said he could not recollect but whom he said was good at his job.
“Hello, someone gave me your number, I’m looking for an electrician,” I said as soon as the call connected.
“OK, what do you need me for?” I was taken aback by his response. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly but this was certainly an educated man and not the normal everyday electrician that couldn’t elucidate let alone communicate. I was glad for that and thought nothing of it.
He was soon on his way to my place where he chose to work shirtless and restored my electricity in no time. He didn’t even need to get any parts and said the fault had something to do with a burnt wire and fuse. Afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about his well-formed muscles, his strong arms and chest. At six feet, Jerry, which is what he said is his name, is a hulk of a man. I’m not short for a woman myself with my five feet ten. If it came to that, we could tick that off on a list of things that could add up to being a couple. Also, I felt that if there were ever arms that were built to protect a woman, they had to be Jerry’s arms. His face, although hard, was soft at the edges. His unforgettable voice stayed in my head like the hook of a song that just won’t take a back seat. But I was getting ahead of myself, I didn’t know this guy. That too was about to change.
I was having a siesta when I heard the unmistakable sound of broken glass. It was too loud to be a dream so I got up to go and inspect. I found two masked men in my kitchen one looking dangerously familiar. The second pulled out a gun and pointed it at me.
“Give me your watch,” he barked.
“Calm down,” the other said. And that was when I recognised his voice. It was Jerry.
“Let’s get out of here,” he told his partner who was reluctant but went with him. It was the most traumatic event in my life and I’m amazed I neither fell apart nor told anyone what happened. I really can’t explain it.
I ran into Jerry one and a half months later at the airport. He was on his way to Dubai on a work-related trip.
“I’m very sorry about what happened. I gave in to the temptation that one time and all that is in the past now,” were the first words he said to me. We agreed to meet and after a couple of outing together, we are both convinced that we are made for each other. Just like I suspected the first time I spoke to him on the phone, Jerry is a graduate who had lost everything and was making his way out of his misfortune. Best of all, he returned my watch and explained why he didn’t come forward all along. You must know I believe him totally, enough to agree to marry him.