“Look, I am serious about you.” He reached out to grab me and I ducked away. My cousin laughed. “Leave her alone,” he said. “We’re already late.” He turned to me. “Get in the car.”
“Wait,” he said. “Consider my offer. I can take care of you. I can give you anything you want. In fact, when you graduate, I’ll even buy you a car.”
“But I don’t want a car from you. I don’t like you. I really don’t. This isn’t me playing or anything.” He threw his head back and laughed. On a lesser neck, his head might have snapped right off, but his neck was thick and seemed to expand into his shoulders. I could feel my nostrils flare at the sight of his absurdly tiny teeth. “Seriously,” I stressed as revulsion swept over me. “I don’t think you listen when I’m talking. You don’t know anything about me, you just want to possess me…”
“But I love you.”
“Why? Why do you think you love me?”
“You’re intelligent, you have hot legs, you’re beautiful and your mouth will keep me in line. Plus …you know…you’re untouched and I demand that of any woman I am going to marry.”
“Whoa.” I held up my hand, head reeling from the words ‘untouched’, ‘demand’, and ‘marry’. “You need to calm yourself.”
“I don’t play around when I see what I want.”
“I’m a who not a what.” I almost screamed. “That is what you don’t understand. I’m not some kind of fill-in-the-blanks’ female on which you can write in what qualities you like or expect. My brain is not Tabula Rasa. I have my own personality, my own feelings, hopes and dreams, annoyances.” I glared at him. He laughed again. “Will you please shut up and listen to me for once?”
“Only if you call me ‘Darling’.” He was still laughing.
“Look, my point is, you just want to marry me because you think I’ll look good beside you, in your house…”
“And under me,” he interrupted. I eyed him.
“See? You’re not even taking me seriously. You think eventually you’ll laugh me into your bed, your life? I don’t want that for myself.”
“I never said…what you said. I’m just telling you why I like you.”
“Because I’m a virgin.”
“But that means you can marry any other Igbo virgin. You don’t need me. I want someone whose life will become different from marrying me. Not someone who looks like me. Just me. You can always go to the village and get yourself an Igbo virgin. And I’m sure you don’t even need to go that far sef, there are loads in town.”
” Who says there are loads in town? And the village ones will not be educated. Why drive all that way, spend all that time and money when you’re here, all educated and ready for me to pluck?” He clicked his tongue at the word ‘pluck’ suggestively. “I want someone who is my level.” I rolled my eyes at the word ‘level’. As if.
” The way you were talking not two minutes ago, money isn’t a problem for you. Anyway, I am not going to marry you. Not now, not ever. I know we have nothing in common, even if you don’t. It will be a rubbish marriage. You think you can just pick one and automatically she’ll do for you, without considering what her own needs are. That’s not a marriage, that’s…that’s buying bread.” He doubled over.
I took that as a sign of his capitulation and got in the car beside my cousin. The door behind me opened and shut. “Oh no. Is he coming too?” My cousin laughed. “Leave me out of it,” he said, starting the car.
“Don’t mind her,” our unwanted passenger said, talking over my head to my cousin. “She likes pretending that she doesn’t like me. That much energy to hate can only be love. You love me. I am going to marry you, you’ll see. My lovely fresh bread.” He cracked up.
I sighed and turned my face away from the side mirror so I could no longer see him.