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three generations episode 52

TITLE: THREE GENERATIONS

WRITTEN BY: OGECHI ALABI

CHAPTER 52

Ijeoma got a very nice two-bedroom bungalow in secured quarters near her office. The person who lived there was transferred out so she just took over the rent. The room belonged to a bachelor with taste who he did it up nicely.

Ijeoma told Jude about the place and the rent for two years. It was close to what they paid for a three-bedroom. He called her that morning before she left home asking if she was trying to defraud him of his money with the rent. She was very upset that she hung up on him.

When she got to the office, other staff members she worked with saw she was in a foul mood and avoided her. She was angry, bitter and in deep thoughts. If she paid the rent, she would have nothing left for the things she planned on doing.

Her boss came into the office and saw her. Ijeoma wore her emotions on her sleeves and it was obvious. He called her into the office and asked her what happened. She tried to brush aside but she couldn’t. She was hurt and only crying could make her feel better. She made an attempt to leave the office knowing she was going to burst into tears, but her boss stopped her. He helped her sit down on his couch and allowed her to cry.

Ijeoma wept to her heart’s content. Her boss sat beside her holding her hand. Then she began to talk about her life. “I was a good girl. I resisted every temptation to defile my body. I kept it for my husband. I didn’t know there was no God and all the teachings were false. I gave my body to an ungrateful man. I believed he loved me. He married me and deflowered me. He promised me heaven and earth when he found out I was truly a v!rg!n. When I couldn’t get pregnant, he turned against me and watched his family maltreat me. Suddenly, it stopped. They stopped coming to the house. They asked me not to come to the village anymore. I was glad to not knowing my husband had gotten another woman pregnant. He transferred to another state to be with her while I remained here lonely”

“He got another woman pregnant? That’s sad. What do you want to do about it?”

“What will I do? I am married to him. He asked me to relocate to a smaller apartment since he was no longer in the state. I found a place close to the office. I gave him the bill and he thinks I want to defraud him. Imagine! Someone who lied to me and abandoned me claiming I want to defraud him? It hurt me badly.”

“Where did you get the place?”

“Hllio Petroleum staff quarters”

“That place is a bit expensive; no wonder he asked the question. I will give you the rent money. Don’t bother yourself with him again. Does his new wife know you?”

“I don’t know. He doesn’t know I have found out yet. I refused to bring it. He pays rent and gives me monthly upkeep. He does this so it won’t be said he abandoned me. This job has helped with my sanity”

‘Divorce him”

“I can’t. He won’t collect the bride price”

“You are not determined enough. Once you are, you will find a way. Here is a cheque for the amount you need for the rent”

“How do I thank you? How do I appreciate you for your kindness?”

“I want to walk into my office and see your smile every morning. It lights up the room and influences the atmosphere. I don’t want to walk into the office seeing you sad or frustrated, it affects everyone. Lunchtime, you can leave to pay the rent; let [email protected] cover for you. How much does he give you monthly?”

“N10,000”

“I will give you that every month. Tell him to stop s£nding it”

“Why? Why are you helping me so much?”

“Because you need a break and you are having it now. I want you to always be happy. Do you hear me?”

“Yes sir”

That weekend, Ijeoma moved into her new apartment. She took some of the furniture and electronics from her husband’s house. Nkeiru, her elder sister, helped her with the moving. She didn’t tell her parents about the apartment or show them. She was so happy with her new place. She was at peace here. It was like a fresh start for her. She loved the tranquillity she felt in the estate.

She packed everything that belonged to her from the house. She never called Jude again. When he was ready, he would move his things. She knew she had to build up her confidence. People living around her were comfortable. They all had flashy cars. Even the guy she rented from had a flashy car. How were they making the money? She had to learn how to make money and live a good life.

Jude called Ijeoma a month later. It was a weekend and she was in her parents’ house visiting. He called on their land phone.

“You are no more in the house?” he asked her

“Did you pay the rent?”

“Where are you staying now?”

“I got a place.”

“How did you pay for it? Why didn’t you tell me you had moved out?”

“You told me I wanted to dupe you. I took a loan from my company and paid for the accommodation. I don’t have to wait until I am thrown out of the house before I know I am no longer wanted”

“I am renewing the rent, go back to the house.”

“What happens to the place I rented?”

“Give it to someone else. Ijeoma, go back to the house”

“I am not going back. I have my own place now and I am happy there”

“What are you saying?”

“You heard me” and she dropped the phone.

Her father saw her off as she was leaving. He wanted to have a talk with her without distraction. He walked her to the bus stop.

“Ijay, I know Jude has offended you. Without being told, we can see he has sort of moved on. Since you got this job, I began to get my darling Ijay back and I don’t want to lose that. I am not saying you should resolve things with Jude but before you close your mind to anything, why not pay him a surprise visit where he lives. Tell him you came to resolve issues. You should know people in his office who can help you. Get all the information you need about where he lives and just appear there. Confirm things yourself. Take an eye witness. Once you do that, no one can say anything to you.”

“Papa, honestly, I am not interested. Jude isn’t worth it. He has a new wife and a child”

“Did he tell you himself?”

“No, one of his colleagues told me”

“Go and confirm it so I can go to his people and table the matter. We can then return his dowry so you can be free to meet other men”

“Papa!” Ijeoma exclaimed in shock.

“Yes now. He can’t tie you down like this, don’t allow him. If he is no more interested, he should tell us instead of stringing you along and blocking the way for other men who will love you just the way you deserve”

“I’ll think about it, papa. And please, this is between us”

“My l!ps are sealed nwa m oma. God bless you. All I want is your happiness”

Ijeoma thought about what her father said. She prayed for wisdom. She was afraid of what she would find out; it will devastate her. She needed advice.

Her boss noticed she wasn’t her very bubbly self anymore. He could see something was bothering her. She was doing her work perfectly but she wasn’t her smiley self. It seemed her joy was short-lived. He called her into his office to find out why. She told him what happened with Jude and what her father recommended. She needed advice.

“I think you should go. Confirm things yourself and move on from there. It is that simple. You can claim he abandoned you to start a family. Giving money isn’t marriage, it goes beyond that. He needs to understand you are not stupid and can’t be taken for a ride. You are building yourself now and soon, you would wonder why you were ever with him”

“I might be broken with what I see; I’m afraid of that. I am afraid I will expose my emotions and breakdown. I loved Jude, he was my first and only. Other girls that misbehaved in school married men that treat them better and have children. I don’t have a husband or children to show for seven years of marriage”

“My dear, there is always a second chance in life. Some men stick with their wives whether they have children or not. Some of them might have children with another woman but their wives remain a priority. In this case, he abandoned you and moved with the woman who had a child for him. He is not a good person and definitely not a good husband. Focus your energy on building yourself, he will regret everything he did to you very soon”

“You think I should go?”

“Go and get this over and done with. Get there on a Friday evening and then get to his house. Have someone you can spend the night with in case it gets nasty”

“I know who I will go with. Thank you, sir”

“Any time. I can permit you to go on Friday”

“That will be fine”

Ijeoma stood in front of her husband’s house in Akure. She came with a small travelling bag. Her escort knocked on the door. A heavily pregnant lady answered the door. It was the confirmation Ijeoma needed. She wanted to abort the mission but her escort didn’t allow her.

“This is Jude’s sister; she came to see him. Where is he?”

“He is not back from work. Please come inside”

As they entered, a toddler walked into the sitting room. He wouldn’t be more than two years old. He walked up to Ijeoma. Ijeoma smiled at him and carried him. He sat with her playing. He distracted her from her thoughts. The pregnant lady brought water and juice for them but they declined.

Fifteen minutes later, Jude came back. He knocked on the door and the pregnant lady opened it. They could hear her say, “Your sister is around” and he replies, “Which of my sisters?”

He came into the sitting room and stopped in his tracks. Ijeoma was still carrying his son and she was all smiling.

“Ijeoma what are you doing here?”

“I came to see you. I felt bad for banging the phone on you the day you called me to return home and I decided we needed to talk things over, so I came. See what I met; your new family.”

“Ijeoma, why did you have to do this? Why did you have to come?”

“You wanted to keep deceiving me that we were still a couple meanwhile you had married another woman who had has a child for you and another one on the way. It has ended today.”

The pregnant lady realized what was going on and quickly grabbed her child out of Ijeoma’s laps and entered the room.

‘I have seen what I came to see. I am leaving Jude. Thank you for a wasted seven years.”

She left the house with her escort. She couldn’t believe how composed she was when she saw Jude. Jude had changed. He looked older and had a potbelly. Was he pregnant with his wife? They were both always keen on fitness but here he let himself go. She thought about the lady. She was a bit younger than her. She looked quite big but it could also be the pregnancy. She wasn’t bad looking. His son was his carbon copy.

As she and her escort walked down the road to get a taxi to the hotel she was staying in, Jude met them with his car. “Please come in, I will drop you off, let’s talk”

“I would rather not discuss anything with you, Jude. I have learnt never to trust you”

“Ijeoma, we need to talk. Please”

“If you want to talk to me, come to Asaba let us talk there. I will be there over the weekend”

“Where are you staying?”

“Warri, close to my office”

“Give me the address, I will come there to see you, it is between both of us”

“No, it is beyond that. I don’t want you in my home. Come to my parents’ home, we will talk there”

“You don’t want me to know where you live?”

“Yes. You have betrayed me Jude and broken my heart. It can never be the same again”

She entered the taxi her escort had stopped and they drove away.

She couldn’t believe how relieved she was when she got back home. She actually thought she would cry and be beside herself but she felt better. She felt free. All she had to do was wait for him to come back and they sort things out. Now he had a family, he should tell her what he wants from her.

When he didn’t come to see her almost a month after she went there, that was when it hit her. Jude had no regard for her or for her family. He didn’t call her or any member of her family. It broke her down that she took some days off from work to come to Asaba.

She told her family what happened when she visited Akure. Her mother was furious with her for going there to see him without informing him. Ijeoma was shocked at her utterances. It was her father who shut her mother up and told her she did the right thing. Now she knew where she stood.

“The way forward now is to return his dowry. Ijeoma, do you have enough money for us to do this?”

“Papa, I do”

“Return whose dowry? You want to have two divorced daughters in your house? Don’t you have shame? She didn’t have children for Jude and Jude has children with another woman. She is the first wife living in Warri and the other woman is the second wife. Did Jude tell us he doesn’t want to marry again?”

“What are you saying mama,” Nkeiru asked. “How would you advise your daughter to accept Jude and his second wife. Jude abandoned her in Warri alone for how many months that she had to move here to be with us meanwhile he was impregnating another woman. See eh, I don’t like nons£nse. Ijeoma, you will be the biggest fool to go back to Jude. Jude met you a vir-ginand wants to keep you to himself while he has another woman servicing him. Tufiakwa! Don’t agree. Have men finished that you will enter polygamous marriage? That is why I ran and I was forced to go back. If I have money, I will return my husband’s dowry too. Wait let me make money first and see what happens. You will marry a correct man and have children with him. Hoo-ha!”

“You are listening to Nkeiru, she wants you to be in the same category she is, a rejected wife. Jude still loves you, he will come around. Forgive him. As long as the woman is in Akure and you are in Warri, you don’t have a problem. Jude just has to be visiting often to see you”

“Ijeoma my daughter, if you say the word, during the Christmas holiday, I will return their dowry. He is no worth you anymore”

Nkeiru wanted for Christmas to speak Nwanneka. She explained everything to her and asked her if Uju could live with them. Nwanneka told her to give her some time to discuss with her husband before giving her feedback.

Nkeiru wasn’t pleased with the response. She went back to Ijeoma and told her. “Why are you angry? She shouldn’t discuss it with her husband? Nne, this woman respects your brother that is why she will discuss with him first. I know what the answer will be”

Nwanneka asked Adanma to stay with her mother for the festive season. Everyone that saw Ada when she returned came to thank Nwanneka. She had added some weight, looked very fresh and well taken care of. Her mother came to thank Nwanneka and her mother-in-law. She told them Ada would remain with them and can visit her and her siblings whenever she was free.

Nkeiru seeing Ada had to agree with Ijeoma that Uju staying with Nwanneka will be the best option. Her mind would always be at rest. Nwanneka hadn’t gotten back to her about their decision and the suspense was killing her.

Immediately after Christmas, Papa called everyone for a meeting. He told them he was going to Jude’s village to return his bride price with Ijeoma, Chike and Okey. He will also be going with two of his brothers.

“You have gone to expose our family woes to your brothers. Why involve them? Why can’t this be settled amicably? Is she the first woman that would have a second wife? You are making a big mistake. Ijeoma has gotten a job now and she wouldn’t allow us to rest, she wants to start following men up and down. You are married and that’s it. Stop deceiving her. Marriage is for life”

“Mama, it is what Ijeoma wants we are going to do. Ijeoma, what do you want? Tell us” Chike added.

Ijeoma sighed before saying, “I feel I have been taken for granted for almost three years now. Jude became distant after he met this girl and got her pregnant. I have not had se-xual relations with my husband for almost three years; how will I get pregnant? Everything isn’t money. I want peace of mind. Jude is happy with the other woman. I don’t want to be a hindrance to their love affair. It feels like I am in a dream, I need to wake up and face my life. I am still young. Please, let’s return Jude’s dowry and I know I am free”

“That’s what we are going to do. For how many months she caught him he didn’t come to see her or her family. It shows all ties have been cut. Let’s make it official”

“I want to go too” mama Chike insisted.

“If you are going, then I will go too” Nkeiru added.

‘I won’t be at home alone. I’m coming too” Nwanneka replied.

They all went to Jude’s village the next day. Nwanneka insisted that Ijeoma should dress gorgeously for the visit. “Don’t tie wrapper, wear trouser and top. Look sophisticated. You are not going there for a wedding. I wish you had your ride”

“After my MBA, I will buy a ride”

When they got there, they were surprised to see Jude in the village. He came home with his wife and two sons. Mama Chike couldn’t believe her eyes.

The elders sat together for the meeting. They introduced themselves again as the marriage was seven years ago.

“For more than a year, your son, Jude, abandoned my daughter in Warri where they lived together and relocated to Akure. She hadn’t set eyes on him. She was worried. He didn’t come to see her. So, she decided to pay a surprise visit to her husband in Akure and I am sure you know what he found. Your son had a wife who was pregnant then and a son. She left after this discovery. Jude has not come to see us as a family. He didn’t come to appeal and appease his wife whom he betrayed. He didn’t even talk to me or her father. He ignored us and faced his new family”

“This is a serious allegation. Jude, what do you have to say concerning this?”

“That’s not what happened. Ijeoma refused to speak with me. She was angry hens she saw my new family. When I drove back home, my wife went into labour and gave birth that very night. I had to take care of her”

“For how many months? How long ago was this?”

“Almost three months”

“Your wife’s mother was there and also your mother, why didn’t you attend to your first wife and her family?”

“She refused to tell me where she stays in Warri instead she insisted we meet in her father’s house in Asaba. I wanted us to talk but she refused. What was I to do?”

“She was angry. You should have seen her people. You have erred; you abandoned her.”

“I didn’t abandon her. I was paying rent and s£nding monthly upkeep to her. I stopped s£nding when she refused to tell me where she lived. I treated her like my wife.”

“Jude, you stopped paying rent about five months ago. You also stopped having intimacy with me for three years now. You can’t call me your wife”

“Everybody should calm down. Ngwanu, what is it you want? As you can see, Jude has a wife who has borne him children. Jude, what do you want”

“Ijeoma, I know I offended you, please forgive me. I wanted to prove I was a man and I have. I want us to be together again. I will get you a place in Warri for you to live. You will have to stop the job you are doing. Also, you have to be cleansed before I can lay with you”

Nwanneka nearly fell off her seat from laughter. She laughed so loudly that people stared at her. She finally comported herself before they continued.

“My daughter, your husband is asking for forgiveness. He knows he has offended you. For the love you both shared, forgive him and make peace”

Nkeiru couldn’t contain it anymore, she flared up. “Is Ijeoma a joke to you? A cheating man is saying Ijeoma has to go for cleansing before he can lay with her. Between the two of you who needs to go for cleansing? You deprived her so you will look for a way of accusing her of adultery but guy, it will not work. Ijeoma is no more interested. She doesn’t want you anymore. Look at Ijeoma now, both of you don’t fit at all. Stay with your bush meat, inugo”

Jude’s mother replied in the same vein, “Your sister doesn’t have a right to talk down at my son. She is barren and he had to try outside to make sure he was ok. Is it his fault? He should remain childless because he married Ijeoma? If she doesn’t want to stay, let her go”

“It is your daughters that are barren. Each and every one of them is barren. What Jude did to Ijeoma, may your daughters experience it. Since it is good in your eyes, we pray it visits your home. Our Ijeoma is not barren” Nwanneka replied Jude’s mother standing up.

“Barrenness runs in the family, where is your own pregnancy? Isn’t it more than one year you married, where is the evidence?” Jude’s mother replied.

“Search your daughters, they are the barren ones. Papa, Chike do what we came here to do. Mama, you kept silent while they called your daughter barren, is it because of the stipend Jude s£nds? He stopped s£nding since when and Ijeoma had been giving you the allowance. You have sold your conscience for money. Anybody that calls my sister names will have me to contend with”

“See who is talking? Where is your husband?”

“Husband? The man is a fool like your son Jude and I was glad to leave him. I will not live in a polygamous home no matter what anyone tells me. Ijeoma will not live in a polygamous home. How can a beauty like this be sharing husband when men are throwing themselves at her feet? Look, if you don’t have self-worth, we do. We will not stay with a disloyal betrayer. This family aided Jude to do this wickedness to Ijeoma and there has been no sincere apology. Papa, what are we waiting for?”

Jude’s father looked at Ijeoma’s father and asked him, “Nna, what do you want?”

“My daughter said she is no longer interested in being bond by marriage to your son Jude. This is the dowry that was paid and additional money for other expenses. We want to break all bonds and tie with your family”

Jude was shocked. He thought the family came to resolve issues between them but he was hearing something else. Ijeoma’s mother had @ssured him she wouldn’t leave the marriage when she called him, what was happening now?

“Jude, are you ready to break all ties with Ijeoma and her family?”

“I am not. Ijeoma and I haven’t discussed it. I haven’t had the opportunity to explain everything that happened to her. She should give me a chance before she ends the marriage. I want the marriage”

Nwanneka stood up and asked Jude, “Is your new wife aware you want to continue your marriage Ijeoma?”

Jude didn’t answer her.

“Is this another deception? The only way we can believe you is by hearing her say she will be happy to be a second wife. Call her, let her come here and tell us”

Jude didn’t make a move.

Nwanneka looked at her entourage and said to them, “Let’s go”. Papa Chike dropped the money in front of Jude’s father. A photographer and video person recorded everything as evidence. They all left the compound and went home triumphantly.

Tbc

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