By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers!  I was a bit bewildered when Heather came to whisper in my ears at the hotel check-in desk in Abuja, that I shouldn’t take three rooms, but just two,.

”Oh, that’s all right, pet,” I told her, giving her a slight hug.  ”Who wants to put too much money into the pockets of these overpriced Abuja hotels?”“ I asked her gaily.  “”I’‘m taking just two rooms.  One for you and me, and the other one for Robert.”“

”Oh, thank you, mum.  I thought you were going to take three rooms so we could each have a room to ourselves.  Just two will do.  One for you and the other for Robert and me.”“

I looked at my daughter, a born-again Christian, with some anxiety.  Would she share a room with a guy to whom she wasn’t married?

”Hang on, Heather dear.  Am I hearing right?  Would you want to share a room with Robert?”

”Yes, mum.  That was what happened in Accra.”

”Really?” I asked in a daze.   I didn’t think it was a topic to pursue to the hearing of the hotel staff.  Best to wait until I had the little Miss to myself.  She had a lot of explaining to do.  How could my parents have allowed the couple to sleep together in the same room?  My parents may not be born-again Christians, but as committed Catholics, they know that such a thing is fornication.

”Fornication, mum?” asked a surprised Heather when I called her to my room later.  ”That’s having sex when not yet married.  That’s a sin.”“

”I’m glad you said that,” I told her with relief. ”I thought that has always been your stand and you were going to wait until your wedding night before you do the obvious, as a married couple. We’re almost there, so, just persevere.  I was glad when your dad told me that when he had told you that you and Robert can live together, after the traditional wedding which is the main wedding  in the African culture, you refused, saying that you have to take  your vows first at a church altar, before your God.  I thought that was great reasoning.”“

”That’s still my stand, mum.”

”It isn’t, if you’re sharing a room with Robert. I wonder what your uncle Joe and the brethren would say about that.  However, I’m sure you must have a reason for breaking your oath.”“

”There wasn’t an oath on the matter, mum, and I haven’t stepped out of bounds.  My uncle says it’s okay.  He knows about it.”“

”My goodness!  That’s hypocrisy on the part of my brother.  He mounts the pulpit to preach against pre-marital sex and he then secretly encourages his own niece to sleep with her boyfriend.”“

”Mum!  I’‘m shocked you could say a thing like that.  There’s nothing devious about my uncle or his brethren.  That’s why Milwan and I have stuck to their church and doctrines.”“

”Hm!  From what you’ve just told me, I’m beginning to doubt their authenticity.  You don’t bend the rules.  If you condemn pre-marital sex, you shouldn’t bend the rule for anyone – male or female.”“

”Who’s having pre-marital sex, mum?”

”You and Robert.  Okay, maybe that’s accepted widely, but it isn’t in the born-again world.”

Heather looked at me in silence for a minute and then said quietly that she and Robert haven’t had sex yet.  If that had come from another person, I would have laughed out loud and told her to go  tell it to the Marines, but the stern look on my daughter’s face, sort of checked that reaction, and I kept silent, waiting for her to explain herself.

”Mum, you know that I take my faith seriously, and the last thing I want to do is to pretend to be doing the right thing, while actually doing the opposite.  Robert and I are married, so, we can share a room.  But we’re not having intimacy.  Not yet.  He agreed that we should wait until after the white wedding.”“

You can imagine how my head spun in shock at her revelation.  When I could speak, I asked her to say again that she and Robert are married.  She looked at me in disbelief.

”But mum, you know that we did the registry wedding in London the other week.  Surely, you’re aware of that.“

”Aware of what?  How can you get married without telling your own mother?  Don’t I matter any more in your life?  I can’t believe you’d do such a thing to me.    Is the world coming to an end or what?  I’ve never heard of such a thing.  I’ll be a laughing -stock among my friends.  Does your father know about  this?”“

”Of course he did, and he said he would tell you.  I was going to tell you myself, but he said, it was his place to tell you since you would not be attending.”“

”Oh, you mean he didn’t want me to attend?”

“It isn’t that at all, mum.  I’m sorry you weren’t told at the time.  Oh dear!  That must seem very bad of me and Robert.  We assumed that dad did as he promised, and told you.   No wonder you’ve never made any reference to it.  You didn’t even congratulated us.  Dad must have forgotten.  He and auntie Belinda were going through some trying times with the parents of Simon’s girlfriend, who’s now his wife.  It must have slipped his mind.”“

”I don’t believe that.  How can his daughter’s wedding slip from his mind?  How can he give you away without the consent of your mother?  Shouldn’t you have protested?”“

”Dad didn’t give me away, mum.  Nothing like that happened.”

”I don’t understand.  So, what happened?  Wasn’t your father present at this registry wedding?”

”No, he wasn’t, mum.”

”Why?  He was too pre-occupied with his mistress’s problems that he had to be absent from his daughter’‘s wedding?  That’s a curious thing to happen.  Now, I’ve heard everything.”“

”Dad didn’t want to be there because he said you wouldn’t be there yourself.  He said it would send out the wrong signals to people if it got out that he was present at the registry wedding and you were not.

He said people would think there’s disharmony in the family. Robert’s parents weren’t there, either.  In fact, they said that we should go do it with our friends, and that since there are still two more events, there was no need for parents to be at the registry one.  So, Milwan, Bayo and Dupe, and some other friends went with us.  It was very low-key and we wore our normal work clothes.  Afterwards, we popped into an eatery and bought food for everyone.  We’ve already given a copy of the wedding certificate to the priest in the family church in Accra.”“

”I see.  I was going to ask why the rush to do the registry wedding.  Now I understand. You needed the certificate for the church wedding, right?”“

”Yes, mum, but it was also needed for processing papers for the house we want to buy together.  We needed to be married to be seriously considered for a mortgage loan, and some other things.  That was the advice that a consultant gave us.  Robert and I are both citizens, and we earn relatively fair wages, but mortgage houses are not disposed to giving out loans for the purchase of a house, on the basis of a couple just living together.

There has to be a very strong commitment in the relationship.  At least that was what the financial house we’re using said.  We had to comply fast as we didn’t want to start marital life as tenants.  Robert’s parents stressed that.  They advised that it’s the only way we’‘ll be able to conserve money.    If we don’t have strong financial responsibilities we might fritter our money away, and that could be disastrous these days when a worker can be laid off at any time.  I suppose that’s true.”

I nodded in agreement, but I was ashamed that the idea hadn’t come from me.  I mean, I should be giving some good advice to the couple, and all that, shouldn’t I?

I felt left out of things.

”Mum, don’t worry about that.  My parents-in-law are very impressed by my upbringing, and they say always that I seem to be on top of things, and there’s nothing they need to teach me about living in the western countries.  Isn’t that thanks to my wonderfully exposed and civilized mum?  Milwan and I are so proud of the upbringing that you and dad gave us.  Our friends believe that we have a very wealthy and civilized background, with a large team of domestics, waiting on us; whereas there’s been only good old nanny in the house.  Ha! Ha! You and dad exposed us to decent living and insisted on good manners.  Robert’s friends think he’s got the best girl around.  At least that’s what he says.  Thank you, mum.”“

I murmured my thanks, not quite sure that I deserved all those praises.  Hey, wait a minute!  Was the young Miss flattering me in order to divert my attention, so that I wouldn’t ask how she and Robert can sleep on the same bed and nothing happens?

She laughed out loud at that.  ”Oh mum!  Discipline is the key word there.  Yes, we sleep in each other’s arms like any married couple and nothing happens.  We control ourselves.  We pray about this discipline always, and God has been answering our prayers.  He gives us the strength to do that.  It’s like trying to avoid smoking.  You leave a packet of cigarettes in view, but you don’t light up.  Strong temptation, but you control yourself.  After a while the temptation will weaken into oblivion. Our Easter white wedding is almost here.  We can hold out.”“

”Hm!  I’m impressed, Heather dear.”

”It’s just determination on the part of both of us.  It’s what we want.  Papa and Mama and auntie Adeline didn’t hesitate to put us in the same room.  They said it would be ridiculous as a married couple to stay in separate rooms.  That’s where the temptation would be.  That is, with other people.”“

I didn’t understand that, but I kept silent, then asked if they will now start living together.

”No, mum.  I wouldn’t want to move into a bachelor’s pad he did all sorts of things in before he became born-again.  There must be some sordid things the walls and furniture there can tell me, if they can speak.  Best to start together in a new place.  We found a place in Brent – a terraced house.  It’s small and pricey, but in a good environment.  You’ll like it, mum.”“

Is that my little girl talking so wisely?  How time flies!


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