I have heard and read stories about young women being asked to marry their late sister’s husband for one reason or the other but, I never anticipated it would happen to me. I am the second girl and last child of my family. My elder sister, Eunice, met and got married to Andrew, her husband, when I was just in Junior Secondary School (JSS) 3. She is eight years older than me.
Six years after marriage, there was no child. They did a series of test, but they were both confirmed to be in good health condition, yet, my sister couldn’t conceive. Five years into their marriage, when Eunice went for medical test, she was told she had multiple fibroids and that it would not be easy for her to conceive. In fact, the doctor told her that if she could not conceive all these years without fibroids, then, it will almost be impossible to get pregnant now with multiple fibroids. This totally devastated her.
After my secondary school education, I will say I was lucky to gain admission into the university the following year to study Architecture. I decided to face my studies squarely so that I can graduate with good grades, graduate and get a good job. So, I decided not to have a relationship on or off campus until during my youth service year.
But in my third year, something weird happened. I am very close to my father, in fact, I am his favourite child and everyone knows. I received a phone call from my father one Saturday morning, he said to me, “Flora dear, please I want you to come home in the evening. You know I have not seen you for almost two months and I miss you.” No problem dad, I told him, I have missed you too. I promise to be home this evening.
Well, I know my father calls me but he has never asked me to come home immediately. Since he sounded calm on phone, I believed that nothing bad had happened. I left campus at about 3 p.m. and before 6 p.m., I was at home. I was excited to see Eunice and her husband after a long time, the whole family was present. This really made me glad. After dinner, my parents told me they needed to talk to me and that it was very important.
My father spoke in parables for about five minutes before throwing the bombshell. “Flora, all I have been saying is that we (your family) want you to have a child for your sister. I mean, we want you to marry her husband.” “Father, this is an abomination. How can I marry my sister’s husband? I can’t, I am sorry to disappoint all of you,” I told them. At that point, my sister busted into tears and knelt before me and said, “I brought up this idea, Flora. You know we have been married for six years without any child. His family is mounting pressure on him to take another wife and I suggested to him that he should marry you instead. You are my sister; I don’t think I will be happy with a total stranger in my house. Please, help me take away this shame.”
At that point, I broke down in tears. When I looked around, everyone was in tears. God, I thought of my studies. I am just in year three, I still have two more years to complete my studies, that is if ASUU does not go on strike but I summoned courage and asked her to give me three months to think about it. She thanked me and stood up. My parents too were happy for the answer I gave; at least it gave them some ray of hope. That day I went back to school but decided instead to do a 21-day fasting and prayer programme for my sister to get pregnant than marry her husband. To God’s glory, in the second month, Eunice got pregnant. Although, she went through some problems, but, thank God at exactly 9 months, she gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. Everyone was happy and forget about the plan. A year and a half later, she got pregnant again but had a miscarriage in the fifth month.
In my final year, I met and fell in love with David. He was so loving and caring. He was the kind of man I wanted for a husband. We were a perfect match; we had this unexplainable strong bond. Anyway, my sister got pregnant again but, unfortunately, she died during childbirth due to excess bleeding, according to the doctor, but the child, a baby boy survived. It was a blow on the family. My mother had to take care of the baby because Andrew is an orphan.
In fact, the two children had to start living with us. The first son calls me mummy and my mother, grand ma. Andrew comes to the house virtually every day to see how his boys are doing. A year after her death, while I was enjoying my relationship with my heartthrob and began plans in earnest for my wedding, my parents and Andrew brought up the idea of me getting married to him once again. I told them I cannot because I was in love with David. But they don’t want to hear that. One evening, Andrew and I had a heart to heart talk and he told me, “Flora, please marry me. I don’t want to marry any woman who would claim to love me but maltreat my children. You are the only woman who can truly take care of the boys since they are your blood. I will love and take good care of you,” he pleaded. “What about David? He is the man I am in love with. He loves, understands and cares for me, I cannot ask for more. Please understand that I have my life to live as well. I beg you; do not make my parents reject David. I love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him,” I pleaded in tears.
I could still remember the day David visited my family for the first time. He was a bit jittery when he met my father but calmed down when he started talking with my father. At the end of the day, my father turned to me and said, “Flora dear, you have made a wise choice. I think David will be a loving and caring husband.” He then turned to David and said, “David my son, you are welcome into my family.”
As I write this piece, all that has changed and I am so confused. My parents do not want to see my fiancé any more not to talk of hearing about our wedding plans. They say they need someone who can take care of my nephews and I am that woman.
What do I do? Marry a man I have called uncle for years? A man who is about 12 years older than me? What happens to my love, David? Do I give up my own happiness to make my family happy? Please I need your sincere advice.