Second Engagement
206 Pages
English
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Second Engagement

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Gain access to the library to view online
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206 Pages
English

Description

Second Engagement is an enthralling tale of triangular love and the quest for fulfillment. Framed around Gabby and Lizzy, the narrative unravels the secrets surrounding relationships of love. Susan Nde explores the pleasures and tensions of how two individuals in love handle the obstacles on their path to being together. In an exceptionally lucid and graceful style, she weaves an enduring tapestry of great human interest, from divergent dreams, which converge at the point of acceptance and tolerance.

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Published by
Published 15 May 2009
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EAN13 9789956716777
Language English
Document size 2 MB

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0045€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.

Exrait

Second Engagement Second Engagement
Susan Nkwentie Nde
Susan Nkwentie Nde
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Second Engagement
Susan Nkwentie Nde
LangaaResearch & Publishing CIG M ankon,Bam enda
Publisher: Langaa RPCIG (LangaaResearch & Publishing Common Initiative Group) P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Langaagrp@gmail.com www.langaapublisher.com
Distributed outside N. America by African Books Collective orders@africanbookscollective.com www.africanbookscollective.com
Distributed in N. America by Michigan State University Press msupress@msu.edu www.msupress.msu.edu
ISBN: 9956558664
© Susan Nkwentie Nde 2009 First published 2009 No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.
DISCLAIMER The names, characters, places and incidents in this book are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Accordingly, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely one of incredible coincidence.
Contents
Prelude ................................................................................................. vii
Chapter One ......................................................................................... 1 Chapter Two ....................................................................................... 17 Chapter Three .................................................................................... 33 Chapter Four ....................................................................................... 55 Chapter Five ....................................................................................... 73 Chapter Six ......................................................................................... 91 Chapter Seven .................................................................................. 103 Chapter Eight ................................................................................... 117 Chapter Nine .................................................................................... 141 Chapter Ten ...................................................................................... 177
Second Engagement
Prelude
he looked healthy and plump, and her face exuded years of complexion cream application. Dark hair crowded to her eyebrows S where a prominent ridge rose to the end of her nose and beyond. Her once full and sensuous lips pulled down at the sides in a scowl. Dark visible veins contrasted with the fair skin of her arms. There was all evidence that she had spent a good number of years in the northern part of the country. She wore a flowery flowing gown over a loincloth. Her stylishly tied headscarf of the same material exposed a row of woven hair on the side. I admired her outfit and was intrigued with the way she looked at me. I walked leisurely into the main section of the market. By the time I reached the first row of shops she was at the main gate. She came towards where I was looking at some wrappers displayed outside one of the shops. I had my salesmen from whom I usually bought these wrappers, but I was attracted by a new design, which had just arrived from Nigeria. The woman came to stand next to me. I stopped looking at the wrappers to look at her. My heart began thumping with fear. With the pretence of reaching for a wrapper further up the shelf she pushed me aside. I stepped back. She turned and looked at me from my feet to my head and back to my feet and sighed. I moved into the shop. The shopkeeper and two other customers who were in the shop stopped what they were doing and looked at us. The shopkeeper was ready to stop any brawl that might ensure but was relieved I did not react. I was convinced there was something wrong but I did not know what. I quickly left the shop to avoid any more provocation from the woman. When I left the market two hours later, I was disturbed. I tried to imagine where I had seen the woman before but nothing registered. Later that evening I narrated this incident to my friend Lucilla. My friendship with Lucilla had carried over from secondary school and we were now like sisters. ‘‘Are you not exaggerating, Lizzy? How can a woman you do not know bear a grudge against you?’’ she asked with her head tilted to one side and looking at me as if I were just being childish. She continued, ‘‘You are a woman to be admired. Don’t you know that? Even me, I admire you.’’ We were sitting on the first floor of a snack bar overlooking the Commercial Avenue in Bamenda. Customers preferred these tables on the balcony, where they could sip their drinks and watch, goings-on in the street below. A brightly coloured awning shaded the balcony and protected vii
Susan Nkwentie Nde
it from view. With the delicious smell of roasting chicken and fish coming from behind the bar, customers salivated – and washed down the slobber with each gulp of beer. Every evening since I arrived in Bamenda, Lucilla and I had been eating here. I always waited with anticipation for our plates, but this evening my worries seemed to have killed my sense of smell and I gave no thought to the appetizing chicken on its way to our table. I studied Lucilla’s peculiar beauty. The expensive nourishing creams she used to keep her skin looking smooth also enhanced her natural darkness. Her beauty is one that reveals itself over time. As you get to know her, her warm personality combines with her external features, leaving an indelible impression. Our friendship was not the type that could be defined. Lucilla was not married but was able to hold her own. Neither of us went to the university, but after the GCE Advanced Level examination we both struggled with various Public Service Competitive Examinations until we found ourselves jobs and by taking more competitive examinations found ourselves in comfortable rungs of the public service. I had come to Bamenda to buy loincloths to resell in Douala. We were having a wonderful time and she did not want it to be spoiled by my unnecessary worries. ‘‘I do not know her but she knows me and definitely has something against me.’’ ‘‘You are leaving for Douala tomorrow. Before you leave I will do everything to find out about this woman. We must know who she is. One can never be too sure about women, especially if she did what you just told me.’’ ‘‘Lucilla, do you think I’m lying? Do you think a big woman like me would lie to you? I am serious. If I did not leave the shop, I am sure she would have done everything to get me into a fight with her.’’ I was almost losing my patience with Lucilla. I could not understand why she was taking my story lightly. And this was evident in my voice. ‘‘Alright, Lizzy. It must have been really serious if you are speaking this way.’’ ‘‘I am really scared. I can’t imagine what I have done to that woman. What puzzles me more is that I do not even know her.’’ ‘‘By tomorrow evening we will know who this woman is. I will find out.’’ My friend in her own way was trying to allay my fears. My mind kept going back to the events of the morning. Then I remembered something. ‘‘When I was leaving the shop I heard the shopkeeper talking to her. It seems as if the man knows her. I also have the impression that she also has a shop in the market.’’
viii
Second Engagement
‘‘That is good. It makes it easier for me. Now let’s forget about her and enjoy ourselves.’’ I heaved a sigh of relief. I was afraid that she was going to brush my story aside leaving me in state of uncertainty, doubt and fear. I was assured that no matter what happened Lucilla was going to find out who the woman was. Before I left for Douala Lucilla did not succeed in getting the woman’s name. Inquiries from the shopkeeper revealed that she was just one of his customers and he did not know her name. A visit to the shops in the market in the guise of window-shopping was in vain. I left for Douala disappointed and afraid. Two weeks later, I received a letter from Lucilla. She gave me details about the woman who had accosted me in the market. Her name was Sheila. That evening, sitting with my husband in the parlour, another piece of the puzzle fell into place. We were watching television. The children were in their room. They were supposed to be doing their school assignments but from their silence it was evident they had fallen asleep. I got up to check, because I did not want the children to interrupt when I started asking my husband what was on my mind. The two younger children were in bed but the eldest, the boy, was sleeping at the reading table with his head on his book. I got him into bed and went back to sit in the parlour. I did not know how to bring up the topic. I looked at my husband and in a conversational tone asked, ‘‘Do you know where Sheila is, Gabby?’’ ‘‘Which Sheila?’’ ‘‘The one to whom you were first engaged.’’ Silence ebbed and flowed. Gabby looked at me steadily. I looked at him too, steadily. We had been married for twelve years and had three children. One is in secondary school, one in upper primary and the youngest in lower primary. It was not easy having these children for each time my life was at stake. For these twelve years Gabby and I had gone through difficult times together. There were times when we almost came to the point of separation but miraculously stayed together. I have all the symptoms of a middle-aged woman. The stretch marks on my stomach give it a paunchy look. I can no longer wear a straight-cut dress. My life is like sediments at the bottom of a pond, hardly disturbed by the things that disturbed me twelve years ago. Gabby sat with his legs stretched out in front of him. By the age of forty-six, his vibrancy had matured. His hands rested on his thighs below his paunchy stomach. ‘‘The stretch marks on my stomach have given it a paunchy look’’. Bits of hair held precariously to his scalp. What had not changed was the glint in his eyes. I could see it even in the narrow slits ix