PLEASE MARRY ME – GRACE OCHIGBO
Every single pull on a strand of my hair sends shivers down my spine. The last thing I want to do in my entire life put together is braid my hair with hair extensions. I love combing my long dark hair over my shoulders and wearing it in any naturally inspired style I find online. Better still, I prefer carrying a low haircut. Just anything other than sitting for long hours to braid. And Anibe is not even making things any better. She threatens to leave my hair and go onto other ‘pressing’ things anytime she hears a painful groan escape my lips.
The ordeals of having one’s hair done by a friend for free.
But Anibe is not just any friend, she is the immediate younger sister to the man I otherwise consider my significant other, Mona. Ever since he introduced me to Anibe three years ago, we had moved from acquaintances to the deepest bond of sisterhood anyone can ever wish for.
“But you really have to go through this?” Anibe speaks over my head, pulling the strand of hair extension in her hand tighter, hurting me.
“Anything for my man.” I say, trying to submerge the pain from her fingers.
“That’s exactly my point.” I hear her smack her lips. She does that all the time. “No one’s man should instruct her on what to or not to do with her own hair.”
I blink. “He didn’t instruct me, Anibe.”
“But he says he loves you more on braids than on low haircut.” She pulls my hair tighter again, as if hurting me on purpose. “If that’s not impeding on human rights, I wonder what else is.”
A wry smile tugs around my lips. I wouldn’t know if she’s pushing me to talk but I am not saying anything derogatory about my man, at least not before his younger sister. Moreover, he didn’t use gun and knife to ensure I braid my hair at all cost, so I don’t know where the human rights line is drawn here.
“We’re expecting a guest, Anibe. I need to look my very best.” I say my thoughts before I could stop myself.
“Your very best look should be being you and not otherwise, plus…”
There’s a beep on my phone and I stretch my hand to pull it closer. A sharp pain courses right in the middle of my skull where Anibe is holding onto my hair. “Ouch!” I groan uncontrollably.
“Sorry!” Anibe let out, pissed.
Raising my finger, I nonverbally ask her to let me take my call and she lets go of my hair without a word.
“How’s it going, baby?” Mona’s baritone voice comes loudly through my ear. He sounds a bit nervous, tired.
“Anibe and her gist-time longer than work-time saga, babe!”
“Eh eh! Okay now. Shebi it’s free hair I am making for you? You people should come and pay me.” Anibe screams from the kitchen. I have no idea when she got in there.
Mona and I burst into laughter.
“Tell her to name her price, I’ll pay. Anything for my priceless princess.”
The mirror in front of me shows a deep pinkish appearance on my chubby cheeks and I lean in closer to watch myself blush even more. Mona has this effect on me most of the time.
“So how far? Is he almost around?”
“Oh yes. He is. I would have loved for us to go pick him up together but guess I will do that alone.” Mona’s initial cheerful tone fills up with disappointment and I take a deep breath. I am like his only wheel and left to him, I should be in his face twenty-four-seven.
“I am sorry, babe. Just this hair taking longer than planned.” I say with, remorse filling my voice.
“No. It’s okay. You’re doing all these for me too even in the face of the urgency, so I am not complaining. Will come over with him to pick you before heading home, yeah?”
“Okay!” I agree without thinking. “Take care, babe.”
Anibe is back to her position behind me now. I can see her through the mirror and as expected, she scoffs. “I don’t understand you.”
She picks back the hair she left off earlier and I wish I can skip to that part where she’s done and I am dressing up or doing something less painful.
“No one does.”
She shrugs in preparation for a rant. “Like does he have to come pick you though? I mean, like you cannot drive down there yourself after we’re done? Like, are you going to be kidnapped or something?”
Why the ‘like-like’?
“Could you just help me finish making this hair, Anibe? Awa? Please?” I beg her, laughing.
My brain reminds me of one, two, three, four and counting things I plan to do before the arrival of our august visitor. Half of which I haven’t even started. Mona and I were not expecting this visit until about a week from now but this morning, Mona said there was a change in plans and that his friend was already on his way. We’ve been thrown off guard ever since and even though I initially planned to make dinner for us all, we may just have to pick some plates of food from Captain Cook on our way to the house later.
I catch myself smiling to something I am not aware of. Mona has been a loving partner to me and an amazing dad to Attah. Fourteen months ago, he popped the ‘will you?’ question, yet, I have been unable to say a wholehearted ‘yes’. Inasmuch as I don’t see any hindrance to a forever with Mona, I cannot explain my hesitation on picking a wedding date till now.
“Just pick a date and it would be it, baby!” He rings in my ears every chance he gets. “Even if it takes you forever to make up your mind, I will still be right here waiting for you, my love.”
Lately, he’s been jesting about the arrival of his friend who would be his best-man at the wedding.
“Baby, groom and best man are ready o. Everyone is ready. At this point, we are all waiting for the bride.” He said yesterday at the photo studio.
The mere thought of walking down the isle with someone and never again able to turn back on that decision scares me to my bones but this is just how long the claws of fear are holding me down for. I am going to pick a date tonight, before his visiting friend, Anibe and Attah. They will be our mini-audience. I will pick a date to get married to Mona very very soon. Sooner than anyone can imagine. I promise.
There’s a knock on the door and I jerk back from my thoughts. Anibe is done and she’s parking the long and full braids on my head with a shiny red ribbon. My eyes reflexively glance at the wall clock. Never knew time had gone this much. The knock comes again, this time I hear Mona’s voice.
“We’re coming.” Anibe yells. The girl has no chill at all.
I urge her to get the door while I go into the room to dust myself and change into a cleaner, more presentable dress. For once, she agrees to do my bidding without questioning.
In the bedroom, I scan my eyes through all the items heaped on each other and again I wonder when I am ever going to grow up as far as arranging my wardrobe is concerned. I hear the door close and Mona calling out to me from the sitting room, asking if I needed help.
What sort of help would I be needing with dressing up, please?
Hastening to leave the room, a purple dress on the rugged floor drags my left leg and I almost fall. A curse escapes my mouth immediately while the other part of me is thankful that I am not meeting my man’s visitor for the very first time with an injured mouth.
The distance from the bedroom to the sitting room appears longer than ordinary today and the fact that I can hear my own heartbeat loudly over the ticking hands of the clock beats me. Anibe is pointing the remote control towards the TV, probably trying to switch channels and Mona is helping himself to a glass of cold water on the center table but they both automatically zoom out of focus immediately I set my eyes on Mona’s visitor – our visitor. As if on a merry-go-round, the room begins to spin uncontrollably and I feel like a demon from nowhere is hitting my head with a hot metal. As my brain battles shock to stay alert, I feel every part of my body grow dizzy until I cannot see or hear anything anymore.
To be continued.
Points OF Ponder (POP)
- What in your opinion scares Ileanwa about marriage? Hurt? Entanglement with her past? Secret admirer?
- Who could be this Mona’s friend that’s making his fiancée faint?
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