Driving down the dusty road under the scorching November sun was not really a trip I had foreseen myself making. I wiped off the perspiration from my face for the umpteenth time and sighed tiredly still trying to understand how I had let my fiancĂ©e, Chisom, talk me into travelling to Enugu for her grandmother’s memorial service; that was supposed to be my first meeting with the Okoros.
The next track, Ed Sheeran’s Shape of you, boomed from the car radio. That song instantly brought back a memory I had forgotten. A night I had never planned for; I would not say I regret anything, but it still was not something I was proud of.

“Hi, I’m Ella. What’s your name?” she had yelled over the loud music in the hall.

“Ed Sheeran”, I had yelled back as she hung her head back and laughed.

“I mean, your name. I know who sang Shape of you”, she had a smile that was forever etched in my mind.

“Boma Sampson”, I had replied and put out my right hand for a handshake but she pulled me into a surprising hug.

Now, for the record, I had never seen this lady in my life. She had been dressed in a skimpy gown that showed off her cleavage and laps which I thought was really hot.

“Take me out of here, Boma”
Booty call, one-night stand, whatever you choose to call it, I was game. That was morally wrong of me because I was already engaged to Chisom.
You can judge me now, but what would you do if a beautiful girl threw herself at you?
Oh, I just heard your answer. Jackpot!
Just when I was reminiscing on the feel of Ella’s body, my phone beeped in Chisom’s seat; that was what she always insisted I call it.
The tracks had played for longer than I thought; the last song in the compact disc was already on. I took the phone and scanned through the message, she had promised to send the address over three hours ago. The text contained a phone number I was supposed to call when I got to Gariki which was supposed to be just thirty minutes away from her house.
I tossed the phone back on her seat and focused on the road, I was just ten minutes away from Gariki.
*****
“Good afternoon”, he smiled at me by the side of the window. “I’m Chisom’s elder brother, Chukwudi”, he continued and pointed at the window beside Chisom’s seat. “That’s Chikezie and Chidiebere”, I turned to see two young men. The one who looked older was tall and heavily built while the other was tall as well but slim and fit.
“Welcome”, the older said in a tone that was definitely not welcoming.
“To the family”, the slim one added with a serious tone.
All that ran through my head at that moment was strangling Chisom, her father was dead so the young men surrounding my car were already used to playing the “daddy” role in her life. I was not ready for the threat-talk they were going to deliver on our way to the house.
“You wouldn’t mind me driving, would you?”Chukwudi asked as he opened the door of the car and stared down at me.
I would mind!
Well, I could not say that out loud since he already had the door opened and eyes expecting me to get out of my seat.
I shook my head and smiled stupidly before alighting from my three-month old Toyota Camry. He got in and just when I was making my way to the other side of the car, the older guy got in while the slim one sat at the back.
Trying not to let them intimidate me, I reached for the car handle and pulled it but the door did not budge. I tried to alert the guy in my seat when he started the car and drove off.
I stood there in shock and watched my car speed down the busy road.
This cannot be happening, I kept on telling myself as I tried to pull my thoughts together. I was completely disoriented for close to ten minutes that I did not see a car park beside me.
“Bom-inlaw, do you want to sleep here all day?” I turned to see the older one seated in Chisom’s seat.
I said nothing and got into the back seat. If they were trying to test my limits and know if I was good enough for their sister, I was game. I was ready to show them what an Okrika boy was made of.
“So”, I began trying to sound as brave as I could amidst them. “Are you all older than Chisom?”
“Chikezie and I are older”, the one in my seat replied. “Chidi is two years younger than Som”, he pointed towards the back to the slim one seating beside me.
“They are both our half brothers”, he continued as I opened my mouth in surprise.
Chisom had never told me she grew up in a polygamous home.
“Why do you look surprised, Bom-inlaw?” there was mockery in his voice.
“I’m not”, I lied sharply with my eyes outside the window. “I’m just surprised you would actually introduce yourselves as such”, he shrugged his shoulders and said nothing for a while.
We had been on the road for almost twenty minutes and just when I was thinking of asking how far we still had to drive, the car came to a stop.
They all alighted and I did likewise. We were standing before a bush.
“This is our farm, Chisom and the rest of the family are getting leaves for the soup they plan on preparing tomorrow”, he explained and smiled at me.
I was scared, but my stupid ego and the quest to not be intimidated by them got the better part of me. I wanted to prove to them that I was good enough to marry their sister.
Chukwudi walked in front and I followed him with Chikezie and Chidi closely behind me. I swallowed hard at intervals as we walked on. We looked as though we were surrounded by grasses and weeds; it was nothing like a farm to me.
“I forgot my phone in the car”, the relief in my voice must have been obvious because they exchanged glances instantly. “I’ll just go back and-”
“What did you say your name was again?” It was Chikezie that was speaking this time.
“I never told you, but my name is Boma Sampson”, I tried to act strong again.
He nodded his head and placed his two hefty hands on my shoulders with a smile on his face.
I was not expecting it; so when the heavy nod came, its impact with my forehead seemed fatal as I landed on the grasses. Images before me swooned as though I was in a trance. They were not laughing; it was not a joke. They all looked angry, even Chukwudi who had seemed nice along the way.
“I always hated Rivers boys”, Chikezie said picking me up by my collar.
If someone had a camera, I would have looked like a 10-year old in the hands of a giant bully; a clear picture of David and Goliath.
“You feel you’re the most handsome”, he slapped me hard across the cheek causing me to stagger back.
“Whoa, chill”, I was not going to be beaten up without at least knowing my offence.
He must have been shocked, because he tilted his head to the right as though he wanted to be sure he heard clearly. He turned to the others and spoke in Igbo. Just then, I wished I had listened to Chisom when she continually forced me to learn the language.
“This is not the way to treat your fellow-”, he cut me short by hitting me hard on my chest.l with his right palm. I was not prepared for that as well, so I fell to the ground once more.
“You are not a man”, he yelled angrily as I noted the way he emphasized the last word.
He made it sound as though he ran a sperm analysis and had declared me impotent. I almost wanted to brag about how I made his sister yearn for more after every sexual encounter.
“You’re just a sex machine”, he glared at me as though reading my thoughts. “If you survive what I’m about to do to you today, you’ll turn the other way whenever you see anything in skirts”, the malice in his voice was overwhelming.
I was shaking visibly as he walked towards me. I tried to make a run for it, but the other two held me down. I turned back to Chikezie who immediately handed me a heavy blow in the face.
Blackout.
*****
My eyelids fluttered half expecting a slap or another blow. Relief flowed through me when I received none. I was not staring at the sky as I had hoped to, everything was utterly white and my entire body ached.
Was I dead?
“He’s awake”, I heard someone shout and tried to turn but a sharp pain in my head made me lie still.
“Babe”, I heard and turned to see Chisom dressed in a blue gown that was so tight I, it looked as if her breasts were going to pop up like balloons. That was supposed to turn me on, but I was obviously not in the condition to.
I immediately remembered Chikezie’s words: you’ll turn the other way whenever you see anything in skirts.
I tried to talk to her, but the pain in my head worsened and I thought it wiser to keep mute. She kissed me on my forehead and I immediately felt a tear drop on the rim of my nose.
“I was scared you would not wake up”, there was relief in her voice as she spoke. I tried to explain what had happened but the nagging headache was a hindrance.
“Your brothers”, I finally managed to whisper with all the strength I could muster.
She nodded and held my jaw. “Why didn’t you wait for them?” she asked with an inquisitive stare as I immediately wondered what she was talking about. She must have seen the surprise on my face and so continued. “They got there, but you were gone and found hours later unconscious in a bush”, she sounded worried, but with her next words, there was a spark in her eyes. “My brothers have called the police to investigate; we’re suspecting some boys must have deceived you, it’s a normal thing around Gariki”
I was puzzled and amazed at how I had been swindled and almost killed by thieves, yet, the story just did not seem to fall into place; they had known my name and had even called me “Bom-inlaw”.
A man walked in and stood by my left. It took a while for me to notice he was dressed in a police uniform. “Babe, this won’t take long. Just tell him what he needs to know so that we can capture the hoodlums who did this to you”, she gently caressed my face as she spoke.
I was willing to tell him all I knew and describe the three men effectively, but the persisting headache gave me no chance. I knew how the police system worked; the earlier the better.
With that in mind, I struggled to sit up with Chisom’s assistance. The pain in my head bolted through my entire body and for a moment, I thought I was going to pass out. I took in a series of deep breaths before I was finally able to speak, but rather slowly.
“What exactly do you want to know?” I asked with clenched teeth trying to minimize the pain in my head.
“Can you remember the faces of your assailants?” his voice was casual; as though he was used to taking down statements.
I was prepared to give a detailed answer when three men and a woman walked in.
“Brother”, I heard Chisom say and run to hug Chikezie. “It’s a miracle, he’s awake”, she announced and turned to face me with joy still in her eyes.
From the left stood Chukwudi, Chidiebere, Chikezie and a woman who looked very familiar.
Chikezie left Chisom and took a step towards me that I almost cringed in the bed. I swallowed hard when his hefty hand landed on my shoulder.
“You’re a lucky one, Bom-inlaw”, I gasped as he smiled at me as if I was a child. “These are my brothers”, he introduced as I kept my eyes on him but he stylishly squeezed my shoulder making me follow his eyes.
I swallowed hard and nodded at them; they smiled at me.
“And this is Kosi, Chikezie’s wife”, Chisom chirped standing beside the woman as though thrilled that I was finally meeting the family.
Kosi’s fake and uneasy smile got my attention. When our eyes met, my mouth opened in awe and a wave of realization as to why I was nearly killed finally dawned on me.
Kosi was my Ella.


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