Modupe Peters had prepared her daughter’s favourite meal of ikokore (water-yam pottage) with smoked fish stewed in tomato sauce. She knew her daughter would have missed having the delicacy and she looked forward to welcoming her back home with it. She had also ensured that the housekeeper had cleaned up her room, dressed her bed and made it just like she loved it.
At thirty-five, Modupe Peters was still a beauty. She had gotten married at the age of eighteen as was the fad then in the western part of Nigeria. Her parents had only been able to send her to secondary school as they could not afford the university fees. Not one to be discouraged, she started scouting for jobs with her school leaving certificate and had gotten the job of a receptionist in a branch of a multi-national construction organization. She worked diligently and this coupled with her beauty attracted men to her like bees to a honey pot. She got so many offers for lunch and dinner dates from her colleagues that at a point she wondered if they had made a bet on who would win her heart. Unfortunately for them, she had only one thing in mind. To make enough money so she could go to the university. As much as they all tried to win her, she had her mind made up and never gave anyone an opportunity.
One day, a site visit to her branch by the executives of the head office was scheduled and she was assigned the job of welcoming the officials. The Deputy General Manager had been so taken by her beauty and wondered why a girl her age was working in an office instead of being in school. After the visit, he gave her his complimentary card and promised to keep in touch. Modupe wondered how and why a top executive of the company would want to keep in touch with her.
The next day, her desk phone rang and she picked it up professionally as always. She was however stunned when she found out that the Deputy General Manager was on the other end.
“How are you, Dupe?”
She stammered. “I’m…I’m…fine…fine, thank you sir”.
“Are you surprised I called you so soon?”
“Yes, no, no sir”. She said trying to find the right words.
“Would you mind getting a transfer to the head office?”
“Really? I would like that, sir”. She said excitedly.
“Okay, I would ask the HR manager to make your position available and effect your transfer immediately”.
“But, sir, how would I handover if I’m transferred immediately?”
“Don’t worry about that, my dear.
Her transfer was effected immediately and by the next week, she resumed in the head office as the secretary to the Deputy General Manager. Within six months, she got acquainted with the job and was at ease when she received the bombshell.
The Deputy General Manager had called her into his office for an important meeting. As she sat opposite him on the other side of the table with her pen and jotter ready to take notes, he asked, “Will you marry me, Dupe?”
“What?” She asked, shocked at the question.
“I asked if you would marry me”. He repeated the question looking at her straight in the face.
“I’m sorry, sir. I….em….” She stammered and wondered what she was supposed to say.
“I’ll give you time to think about it. I don’t intend to rush you. What do you think?”
She fidgeted with her hands unable to look at him. “Okay, okay sir”.
“Please don’t let this scare or bother you. I love the way you work and I am impressed”. He stood up and walked to the window overlooking the car park. As he pulled the venetian blinds open, he continued, “I fell in love with you the very first day I saw you”.
Dupe gasped and put her hand on her mouth. He turned swiftly and smiled. “Don’t be surprised. You are a very beautiful and cultured lady. I effected your transfer because I wanted you close to me. I have watched you the last six months and I have seen everything I desire in a wife in you”.
Dupe was too stunned to utter a word. Then she remembered the reason why she had taken the job in the first place and decided it was better she made it known. “Can I say something, sir?”
“Yes, you can. I’m all ears”. He said sitting down on the couch in his office.
“I took this job in order to make enough money to go to the university. So, I really can’t say where marriage fits into my plan, sir”.
There was a smile in his eyes as he spoke. “I know why you took the job, my dear. I did not come to you as a novice. I have done my research as well. I am aware of your intention to go back to school and I am in total support. I intend to sponsor your university education”.
“Is that meant to be a precondition to my acceptance, sir?” She asked surprise and uncertainty written on her face.
“No, why would I do that? I am only informing you that I intend to sponsor your education whenever you are ready to go back to school. That has got nothing to do with my request for marriage. I believe it is your right to be educated”.
Dupe had gone home that day very confused. How was she supposed to tell her parents who were barely educated that her boss had asked for her hand in marriage and that he intended to sponsor her university education? It looked too good to be true. She thought about most of her friends with whom she had graduated from school who were now married. Most of them had thought she was silly to think of furthering her education beyond the secondary level. She had gotten the basic education which had gotten her a job, so why slave away for another four or six years? They had told her.
This was an opportunity of a lifetime; to get a university education and get married to a reputable man at the same time. But there was one snag; she knew nothing about her boss. Most of her friends’ marriages were arranged by their parents. They had all gotten married to men who were well known in their village. If she had to discuss it with her parents, she had to be sure she knew the village and the particular family he came from. But she could not bring herself to ask her boss. If she wasn’t going to lose this opportunity, she had to talk to her ally; her mother.
Dupe’s mother had looked at her as if she were speaking in another language. She had sighed all through as her daughter spoke. Dupe looked at her mother expectant.
“Màámi, ë ò sòrò sí n kan tí mo sö fún yín”. (My mother, you haven’t responded to all I have told you).
“Kí lo fé kin sö, ömö mi”. (What do you want me to say, my child?).
“Só wùn yín kín n ka ìwé si”. (Is it your desire that I further my education?)
“Ó wùn mí, sùgbón ökùnrin ò kín dédé ní pé ó ma sanwó ilé èkó gíga f’óbìnrin l’áìní rò pé, ó ma fé obínrin náà”. (It is my desire, but a man does not decide to sponsor a woman’s education without having it at the back of his mind that the woman would one day become his wife).
Her mother looked at her straight in the face and asked, “So féràn ògá ë yìí?” (Do you love your boss?)
“Màááámi…..(My mother) Dupe stressed. “Okùnrin tó da ni wón”. (He’s a good man).
“Só wùn é ko mu l’ókö?” (Do you desire to have him as a husband?).
Dupe shrugged. “Mi ò ní ìyönu pèlú è, ó wùn mí”. (I don’t have a problem with that; it is my desire).
“Hmm…tó bá jé bè, a gbódò mö ìdílé tó ti wá. Gbogbo ìwáàdí la gbódò se kín tó bá bàbá ë sòrò”. (If that is the case, we must find out the family he comes from. All the necessary details must be sought before I speak to your father).
In three months, a flurry of activities took place. Dupe invited her boss to meet with her mother secretly and his family history was traced to the village next to theirs. He also met with Dupe’s father and in the presence of the two families, he made him promise that his daughter would further her education even after marriage; as that was his daughter’s desire. Preparations for a low key wedding began and Dupe was advised by her boss to resign so she could have enough time to run around. He put her on a salary from his pocket so she would not run out of cash at any point in time. In another three months, she was married to her boss; Adebiyi Peters.
She gained admission into the university a year later to study public administration and by the time she was graduating, she had a husband, a Bachelor’s degree and two kids as her achievement. Her husband had also proved over the years to be very loving and after seventeen years of marriage, one decision she had never regretted was to marry her boss.