I want to do the right thing but as you can see now with the way things have turned out, I cannot, my hands are tied.
My girlfriend wanted to commit suicide to spite her parents for not letting me marry her. She did not succeed and so I cannot marry her again.
You think I am wicked?
I am not. I loved her but this isn’t what I bargained for.
This is what happened.
I met Rakiya last year back and immediately, I knew I was going to marry her. You know how these things can sometimes get? You meet a girl, you know she is the right one for you. But as you see me, so, I am a shoemaker and a maiguard. I don’t earn much. We are two gate men in this compound and we are not paid much because we have been given a gate house and allowed to do small trade outside the gate.
So; I am doing two jobs but many times, it is still not enough. Lagos just swallows all that you make; that is my biggest problem.
I came across Rakiya when she was hawking kunu in my area; I bought and she said she didn’t have change that she would come back after hawking to give me my change.
Walahi, even if she didn’t bring my change, I would have left it for her. She was such a fine girl! I liked her from the very beginning.
But she came back, she came back to give me my change but I didn’t collect it from her, I just told her to keep it and come back and sell me more kunu the following day.
That’s how we began to see each other every day and I told her I liked her a lot that Lagos had not spoilt her.
She was shy o. Is that not how women are supposed to be? Not like all these girls that have opened eye in Lagos. She was shy but she came almost every day to sell her market to me.
Later one day, I asked her where she lived and she told me. I said on Sunday, in the evening, when my second takes over the gates I will come and visit. We do different days and we share the gate house.
So, on the days that I am not on duty, if I am not outside sewing shoes, I would go and visit her where her parents are living here in our community. That way, I got to know her people and after some timeI told her father that I was very much interested in his daughter.
Immediately I told him that, the old man just got angry.
What else would he expect if a young man comes looking for his daughter? Or will he marry her himself? He knew I had good intentions for his daughter.
But he did not like me after I told him I was a gateman and a cobbler.
One time when I went to visit her, he told me she wasn’t around but I later found out that she was, that he had told her I was not the right person to marry her.
I was later to find out that the man had told his daughter that I was too poor to marry her. Can you imagine that?
Ok, so I know I am not rich but how can he say I am too poor to marry his daughter?
Then I went to challenge him, I went to meet him. I asked him, ‘Baba, you say I am too poor? How much are you charging for your daughter because I want to buy her, ho ha!’
He was very angry that day and after we exchanged words, he said I should go and bring N17,000!
Walahi, some human beings are wicked on the surface of this earth!
Where would I get N17000 from?
This is real madness, so he wants to sell his own child for N17,000!
I was very angry but I didn’t have N17,000. I earn N12,000 a month from my job as one of the gatemen from my job and the shoes I sew, how much do you think I make per day? Sometimes N1,500, sometimes, when business is very, very good, N3000! How many people bring their shoes for shining? How many people sew their shoes in this Lagos? Everyone is wearing new, new shoes and those who sew their shoes never have more than N50 to N100 to give you for repairs.
I didn’t have that money even though I tried to gather the money for more than 3 months, I couldn’t get it. Lagos swallows everything.
By now Rakiya was very angry with her father. She came to my place and complained that the man is a wicked man and that she will kill herself and make her father suffer.
Me, I did not agree to the killing. I wanted the man to suffer true, true but I did not want Rakiya to die.
I did not know she would go and drink poison. She did not tell me that she would drink acid to kill herself. The acid did not kill her, it burnt her so badly, I cannot even look at her face. She is not dead and she is not alive, either. Her father is trying to find money to pay at the hospital because acid is a bad thing.
She is very, very ugly now that even if her father gave her to me for free, I cannot marry her again.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)