If you haven’t read part one of the Chidima chronicles, please read it here: Chidima Part one
Chidima was not shouting from the rooftops about her engagement. When they had arrived at Galvin at Windows on that godawful evening, she had updated her Facebook status by checking in; and because she had felt a proposal was imminent, she had hoped to update her relationship status from ‘in a relationship with’ to ‘engaged to’. When her online friends saw her ‘checked in’ location and time, they too knew dinner there could only mean one thing, and so most of the comments revolved around the subject of engagement. When Okwebe dropped the stealth ‘being gay’ bomb, Chidima did not update her relationship status, nor did she reply to any of the comments. The rest of the evening had gone in a blur – she could not recall what really happened after the bomb, or how she got home, or if she said anything to Okwebe, or if he asked her anything. She moved as if on autopilot and on hallucinogenic.
The next day she deleted the post and went radio silent. For the next several weeks, after dragging herself out of bed she would stay in the lotus position meditating and contemplating her future. Her doctor signed her off work because she told him she was having a hard time reconciling an engagement to a gay man – his honesty was troubling and her love for him was real. She was confused and in turmoil. When the doctor asked, “do you have suicidal thought?” She replied, “only homicidal ones!” She was ordered to see the doctor every week and given leaflets.
Okwebe was equally in hell because he had no idea what she was thinking or what she intended to do. She had blocked all communications with him – all she did was blue tick him and then go offline. Whenever he called, she would answer the phone, say nothing for 30 seconds then disconnect. He sent her several messages begging her to not to tell his family ‘whatever she did.’ He wanted to talk to her; he wanted her to tell him what she was thinking or planning to do; he wanted her to tell him if she’d spoken to anyone about the engagement or his coming out to her – he wanted many things but none of them moved Chidima’s stone heart.
Six weeks later, she had come to a decision – she would marry him.
When his phone rang, Okwebe was having a haircut in one of those upmarket Toni and guy salons in the West End. He nonchalantly reached for his phone from his breast pocket with every intention of sending an automatic message to whoever was calling. When he saw ‘Chidi baby’ calling, he jumped out of his chair causing the hairdresser to accidentally cut a chunk of his hair too deep, and almost cause a catastrophic electrical accident – some water accidentally became airborne.
He took a deep breath, crossed his fingers and said a little prayer; then with bated breath answered the damn phone.
“Hi,… baby.” He said ever so meekly.
“How have you been…” he continued but she ignored him.
“I will marry you on several conditions.” She said coldly.
“Aahh, Oo…Kay…..” he answered hesitantly.
“Take me to the Shard for dinner, propose again and I will tell you my conditions.” Chidima said and hang up. Her voice was so flat it sounded like she was stoned.
The excitement he had felt when the caller ID showed Chidi was quickly replaced with high levels of anxiety. Her dead monotone only reinforced what his boyfriend had been saying for weeks: “she’s plotting something. Something bad.” His new-age-enlightened boyfriend, though accommodating his cultural limitations, drew a line when it came to being embarrassed or humiliated in public. He had made it clear that he would not be too forgiving or understanding. Okwebe sat down, buried his face in his muscular hands and wondered if there was any point in living. At that moment he looked several years older than 40.
It was impossible to get reservations at any restaurants in the Shard – he was informed he needed several weeks’ notice. Chidima wasn’t thrilled and threw a diva tantrum – she had decided to milk her situation for all it was worth. They settled for an upmarket steak joint in London Bridge whose sirloin steaks costs upwards of £75 per 250grams and a bowl of soup cost £25. During the time Chidima was nursing a broken, shattered and disappointed heart, she researched her prospective future family-in-love. She discovered Okwebe, unlike some Nigerians who claimed to be princes and were actual paupers, was a real-life prince who stood to inherit a multi-billion-dollar oil empire. The phrases ‘money-honey’, ‘strike while hot’ and ‘leverage’ played in her mind in a never-ending loop.
She had considered several options before making the decision to marry a gay man. What was evident and what she knew for sure was: –
1) She was in her mid-late thirties with no children – her mother made sure to remind her every day. 2) It would take a miracle and several years to meet a single, never-been-married, no illegitimate children 35 – 40 years old heterosexual man willing to marry.
3) The constant ‘when are you getting married’ from her aunties and married friends was the bane of her existence. And many more.
On the plus side, she considered, Okwebe had unwittingly handed her an axe to dangle over his head till death do them apart – for example, if his multi-millionaires family demanded a prenup, he’d do whatever it took to make that little inconvenience go away. If she disrobed the cloak of victimhood, she would marry a gay man, have a couple kids, and by the time his parents liberalised, she would be a rich happily divorced single lady, young enough to travel the world. Her gay ex-husband, she reasoned, would then be able to live his life happy in the knowledge that his family genes pool whirls on.
If Okwebe refused her demands, she would not only shout from the rooftops about their phoney engagement, but she would humiliate him into the next decade. She would annihilate what little character would be left of him by disclosing his bedroom antics and his secret gay-cruise adventures. She was aware this antic would degrade her social status as well, but she was ready to burn.
Okwebe could not eat his overpriced steak. He listened in disbelief as Chidima talked non-stop for over 2 hours – laying down the rules, the conditions, the expectations, the expensive wedding to be held in Tanzania, the extravagant ‘just-married’ party to be held in London, the ‘not-raising-brats-in-London-but-in-a-country-mansion-somewhere-in-the-west-coast talk. He did not have the heart to tell her that in the time it took him to find and book this expensive restaurant, his lover had devised an ingenious plan to liberalise his parents and community sooner than anyone could say ‘21st-century babe’.
The half-eaten steaks were swan-wrapped for Chidima to take home.