I just cannot stop myself from staring at his face. He probably does not know it, but the mix of emotions I am currently under is like a spell that has left me partially deaf. Since he got on his knees, I have only been able to pick out 3 phrases; ‘most important’, ‘when I first’ and one other one that ended with ‘my mother’. This is one of those moments I wish I could remember every detail of for the rest of my life, I just cannot believe my brain has decided to fail me. I only hope that he wrote a speech, which he rehearsed for this proposal, at least that will leave me something to hold on to in memory of this moment.
Chuka and I’s families have been friends for three generations. His great grand father and mine had both grown up together in Imo state and although they were born to different families, they became more like brothers. The relationship between both families, although existent, would water down in the following generation and re-manifest in the relationship between our fathers.
Chuka and Akinlolu, my older brother attended the same secondary school, which made them very close friends. Chuka being an only child was always seeking Akin’s company and the fact that we lived in the same estate did not help because he was always over at our house. By the time I got into secondary school, the boys were already in their last year and after they graduated, he moved to England for his A-levels, then University degree and I don’t remember seeing him after that.
The next time I will see Chuka, I am in my second year in University and my brother is back in England for his graduate studies program. Tutu, my brothers girlfriend, had planned a surprise 26th birthday party him at a restaurant in Canary Wharf, London. I had missed my train to London, and had to take the another train an hour later. So I had to arrived at the restaurant still dressed in my home clothes and later on went to get changed in the bathroom. Being a successful party planner, Tutu had planned all the details down to the T and she did not fail to include sitting plans. I was to sit next to Chuka and upon arriving at my seat and exchanging greetings and we got talking. I enjoyed talking to him, and I think he felt the same because the only silent moments between us was when we were eating. He caught me up to speed, and that how I found out he lived and worked in the same county as my University and had been on the earlier train which I had missed. The coincidence got us laughing they kind of laughter that had tutu and some of her friend throwing glances at us, whilst birthday boy was completely oblivious.
The following day, we took the same train back home and our conversation had got even more interesting and that’s how it has been till date. We exchanged contact but barely stayed in touch, because in between my crazy school schedule and his busy work schedule, there was not much time to spare……or at least that’s what I thought until last week when he told me I was totally wrong. Randomly out of the blue, he said to me “Do you know how much restraint it took me to stay away from you after Akin’s birthday?” that totally snatched my attention from the TV program I was watching. He continues saying “thinking back now, I think even then I wanted to marry you and I did not want to mess that up”. This was not the first time he would drop hints about marrying me, but I always ignored them, after all, guys say that all the time.
Chuka was one of the very intelligent ones. He had graduated with a first class degree in Economics from University College London, one of the top Universities in the United Kingdom. It was not unreasonable to expect that his master’s degree will happen at either Oxford or Cambridge University but to my utter shock, he joined me at Warwick University, the year after we met, for his Graduate degree program. I will soon find out that he had actually gotten an offer to go to University of California but had turned it down to come to Warwick…..I keep hoping one day he tell me the real reason why he declined the offer.
We started dating at end of my third year, not long after the night when he disguised our first date as a random cinema trip. I remember that night, mostly for the awkwardness of our first kiss and I smile. For about 5 months after we started dating, I lived in the fear of my brother finding out about us, but Chuka did not mind at all. In those months, I pleaded with him on several occasions not to tell Akin, although he soon found out. Chuka lived off Campus and sometimes when I wanted to get off the stress of studying medicine, I went to spend sometime at his apartment. I was having one of those days and I decided to go to his apartment, I call him but he does not pick up and so I just assume he is in class, and so I text him. For some reason, I find it easier to sleep in his apartment than I do in my school accommodation, and sleep is all I do. I wake up to my brothers face staring down at me, disapprovingly. Chuka starts to explain but instead Akin pushes him out of his way and storms out of the apartment. Akin returns not long after, calmer than he was when he left. We explained and although he was not very convinced, he learnt to accept us.
Three years later Akin is getting married to Motara and Chuka is proposing to me at their rehearsal dinner. Our mothers know Chuka and I are dating but I think the both fathers are still clueless. Once my mother said to me without mincing word that the only Ibo man she would permit me to marry was Chuka and I had laughed. Akin did not tell her, so the only way she must have found out was from her friend, Chuka’s mother.
On completion of his graduate studies, Chuka had returned home, whilst I completed my Undergrad studies. His father had insisted he come back home to run the family business. Once, Chuka had confided in me that he wanted to be an aeronautic engineer, but had to give up on his own dreams to protect his father’s legacy, and neither of his parents knew that. They had assumed that his flair had always been for economics.
I am pulled back to the present he is still on his knees, but now everyone is staring at me. Feeling the pressure of their stare, I close my eyes and I feel my hand stretching out to him and a couple of seconds later, I feel something foreign on my ring finger and loud cheers and claps. I finally open my eyes and he pulls me into his arms. I am speechless and continue to be until we all the cheering, hugs and congratulations stops.
I excuse myself to go the bathroom and for the first time I get a good look at the ring. it is a silver ring with perfectly arranged equidistant small-sized diamond stones covering its entire circumference, with a circular, medium-sized amethyst gem stone in the middle. Frankly, it’s the most beautiful ring, I have ever seen, not that I have seen many. I see a lot of thought has gone into it because it has got my birthstone, amethyst in the middle, there is only one which symbolises my birthday, 1st of February. I quickly count the number of small diamonds and I find there are 8 of them. I quickly check what month has diamonds as its birthstone, and I find its March.
I am still thinking what the 8th of March represents when I come face to face with Chuka as I swing the bathroom door open. He walks towards me forcing me to move back inside. He does not say anything, he just grabs my ring hand and I see he is relived when he finds my ring is right where he put it. He tells me he thought I had come to the bathroom to take it off and when I ask why he says “You just seemed so distant and hesitant out there. Initially I was scared you would say no and when you said yes and came to the bathroom, I thought you had said yes, not because you wanted to, but just so I was not embarrassed in front of our friends. I have died a thousand deaths out there not knowing what to think. Baby….please tell me we are on the same page”
“We are on the same page. I said yes, didn’t I?”
“So what’s wrong?”
I am a little hesitant to tell him why I had to go through our history but then I decide to tell him. So after a couple of minutes of silence I say “My father has another family” and I can see from the look on his face that he has some questions, so I proceed to answer them “Akin is completely clueless and you must not tell him. He tried to hide it but my mum knows, although she pretends they don’t exist”
We remain silent for a couple of minutes and then I go on to tell him my mind “I was distant because I had to run through our entire relationship to convince myself that entering a life-long commitment with you is the right thing. I don’t want to ever be in the position my mum is right now”
He is quiet for a while, we both are and suddenly he pulls me into a hug and after a while he says “I can’t promise to be the perfect husband, but I promise I will never put you through what your mother is going through. I will never cheat on you, the mere thought of it makes me cringe”
I start to think about the ring and I immediately the question that has been bothering me comes to mind and so I ask “why the 8th of march?”.
“Wow that was fast, I knew I married a smart woman, but I did not know you were that observant. Well….the 8th of March was the day I realised that I was in love with you and that I was going to marry you. I think it had something to do with that eye-opening kiss we shared at the cinema” He goes on to kiss me again, this time, it’s not awkward or eye-opening, instead its reassuring and deep.
What will you do if your bf/gf proposes to you and you are not ready for marriage?
What do you reckon is the best way to deal with a partner who is not ready for commitment?
What will you do if you are her mother i.e. your husband has another family? Will you pretend they don’t exist too?
Let me know what your answer to these questions are, and your opinions in the comment section below. Please like comment and subscribe.
Thank you for reading.