Episode 1

Oreoluwa Akinola, known to her friends as Ore, checked the time—it was 6 p.m. The office had closed at 5 p.m., and being a Friday, everyone had quickly departed, eager to start their weekend. However, Ore wasn’t looking forward to hers. Her younger sister Darasimi was getting married in just a few days, in what was an arranged match between the Akinola and Ayegbajeje families.

Darasimi was set to marry Adetola Ayegbajeje, the town’s most eligible bachelor—wealthy, single, and arrogant. But there was no love in this union; it was purely a business decision. Their families are on the verge of securing the most significant partnership deals of their lives, and it’s deemed crucial to cement this alliance through marriage.

Ideally, it would have been Ore matched with Adetola. But due to her being extra plus-sized, she had faced rejections from several suitors, and Adetola had stipulated he would only consent to the arrangement if he could marry Dara. Ore couldn’t help but remember how, during their high school years, she had a crush on him even though he was older and completely indifferent to her.

Now, as he was about to marry her sister, Ore felt a strong aversion to going home and facing the wedding preparations. She decided instead to spend some time at her friend Temidayo’s place, seeking a reprieve from the emotional turmoil.

Ore called her best friend Temi, who confirmed she was already home. Excited for the evening, Ore packed her bag and headed to Temi’s house, stopping along the way to pick up dinner for the two of them.

When Ore arrived, Temi was still on the phone, so she took the initiative to take the food to the kitchen and set the table. Once Temi finished her call, she saw the table and commented, “I don’t know why you always stress yourself; we could just eat from the takeaway containers.”

“I’ve never eaten straight from a takeaway pack and I’m not about to start. Come, sit down; the table is set,” Ore replied, inviting her friend to join her. As they began to eat, the conversation turned to the upcoming wedding.

“So, is everything ready for the wedding?” Temi inquired.

“Yes, and I can’t wait for it to be over so I can get back to my regular life,” Ore responded.

“It’s sad, my friend. Your sister is marrying the guy you had a crush on, and you’re so calm about it.”

“Shhh, you’re the only one who knows that, so please, let’s not talk about it,” Ore whispered urgently.

“And Dara and her boyfriend, they didn’t try to oppose this arranged marriage? They should fight for their love.”

“Fight? Against Chief Niniola Akinola? You would lose, and the cost would be too great.”

“But I think your father should let her marry who she wants. It’s an outdated tradition to force people into marriage,” Temi argued.

“My parents are traditional; they think all this talk of love is nonsense. My dad would tell you about how he met my mom on their wedding day and how they grew to love and respect each other over the years.”

“Na wah o,” Temi sighed, expressing her frustration.

Ore stayed at Temi’s place until late in the night. When she finally returned home, she quietly slipped into her room, collapsed into bed, and fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.

Ore was jolted awake by a loud noise and glanced at her bedside clock—it was 8 a.m. Puzzled by who could be causing such a commotion early on a Saturday, she then heard her mother’s voice echoing through the house. Curious, Ore followed the sound to Dara’s room.

“What’s happening, Mum?” Ore asked, noticing Dara’s bed was empty.

“Here,” her mother said tersely, handing her a note. Ore read it, her shock growing—Dara had eloped with her boyfriend Tobi. No wonder her mother was in an uproar; the wedding was only a week away.

Her mother spun around, eyes fierce. “Did you know about this?”

“No, Mum, I had no idea,” Ore replied honestly.

“Darasimi is trying to disgrace me, to disgrace our family, but she won’t succeed,” her mother fumed. While she continued to lament, Ore retreated to her room to try calling Dara, but her phone was switched off. Ore shuddered at the thought of her father’s reaction once he caught up with Dara and her boyfriend.

Their father arrived from Abuja later that morning, and the household erupted into chaos. The walls of their home seemed to close in on Ore more than ever before. The news of her sister’s elopement with Tobi, a young man of modest means and ambitious dreams, had hit their parents like a thunderbolt. Dara, the defiant second daughter, had never been expected to take such a drastic step—a complete rejection of the planned marriage to Adetola.

Ore stood aside in the living room, watching as her parents cycled through disbelief and anger, settling into a grim resolve. The ramifications of Temi’s decision were unmistakable; the meticulously arranged union meant to unify two influential families and their businesses was now under threat.

Thanks for reading,
Jumie Naths

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