Title: Forever There For You
When NADINE is confronted with the reality of her failing marriage, her first instinct is to work it out. She has had it drummed into her that marriage is ‘for better, for worse’. Walking out is just not an option – her faith would condemn her and her culture would make her a pariah.
The combination of Nadine’s background, education, social standing, friendships, faith, experiences and past relationships is meant to equip her to become a success. Failure is alien to her and love means forgiving at all cost.
As she tries to survive and make the most of the curves that life has thrown her, she discovers that ’success’ is a subjective term, and ‘happily ever after’ is something that you have to discover and define for yourself …
Nadine’s stomach growled and she winced, certain that it was audible. Stella’s efforts to suppress a smile were unsuccessful and she soon burst out laughing. Nadine shook her head.
“Mine does the same sometimes,” Stella said, hoping to alleviate Nadine’s mortification.
“That’s nice to know,” Nadine replied.
“My name is Stella Matthews. And I’m an A-level student.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Nadine Nwaturuegwu. I’m on the UFP … law route.”
“Please, don’t. ‘Nadine’ will do just fine.”
“OK … do you want to grab something to eat? You sound like …”
Nadine laughed. “I was actually on my way to a chicken-and-chip shop.”
“No … one of the kebab shops.”
“I’d kill for a coffee, right about now.”
Nadine shuddered and made a face, as they both started to walk out of the reception area.
“And then some fish and chips,” continued Stella.
“I hate coffee.”
“And I detest fish and chips.” Nadine shrugged.
“Detest is a bit strong.”
“What can I say, I have rather strong feelings about that … meal.”
“OK, let’s hear them.”
“Well, to say that the fish is … soggy, doesn’t even begin to describe it,” Nadine muttered.
“Excuse me?! You’d better not start what you can’t finish.”
“Oh, I’m going to finish! It’s more like, the fish is usually submerged in all the oil in the world and then they just serve it to you. How can anyone eat that?”
“It’s not oil, it’s batter.”
“Yeah well, whatever it is, it gives ‘saturated fat’ a new meaning.”
“Wait till you’ve had a deep-fried Mars bar,” Stella said, smiling wickedly.
“What is that?”
“It’s a Mars bar fried in the batter used for deep-frying … sorry, drowning fish.”
Nadine felt her breakfast threatening to re-appear through her mouth. “And I thought fish and chips was bad.”
“I will have you know that fish and chips is … essential to us, Brits.”
“Essential for a coronary,” mumbled Nadine.
“Every Brit will tell you that it’s incredible,” protested Stella.
“Probably because you Brits don’t know how to cook.”
Stella pretended as though she was on the verge of a heart attack.
“Seriously, chips are just slices of fried potatoes, anyone can do that. And then the drowned-in-oil fish … ugh! Give me pounded yam and nsala soup, egusi soup, edikaikong …”
“Whoa! What are those?”
“Lunch. Proper food. Nigerian food.”
“We have soup for lunch, too.”
“Ah, not that watery stuff you pour from tins,” Nadine replied, shaking her head.
“It’s not all watery. And you’re supposed to pour soup out of tins.”
“Not where I come from. In fact, I’m going to make time to visit London, just so I can go to an African restaurant.”
“You’d go all the way to London, just for a meal?”
“There are no African restaurants in Oxford. London is the closest place I can get a Nigerian meal.”
“Yeah, but you’d go to London?” repeated Stella.
“Yeah, it’s just two hours away. I’m telling you, you have to experience it to know what I’m talking about. You should come with me. Show you what proper food is.”
“Can’t you cook it?” Stella asked.
“You know we’re not allowed to cook in college accommodation. And even then, there are no ingredients here in Oxford, not proper ingredients anyway.”
“So, apart from soups, what else do you have?” Stella asked, now intrigued.
Nadine smiled. “Oh, more stuff than you can count. Stick with me, I’ll show you. And every single Nigerian meal is potentially filling on its own. None of that ten-course meal malarkey, made up of bits and pieces of tomatoes and bacon and who knows what else.”
“You’re going to say you don’t have sandwiches in Nigeria, now?”
“No, I’m not going to say that. But we do not regard sandwiches as meals.”
“OK. Now here, in Rome where you’re going to do as the Romans do, sandwiches are meals. Fish and chips also equal food. And today, it’s going to be lunch.”
Nadine shook her head. “You can keep that. Chicken and chips, I can just about handle. But I absolutely draw the line at putting into my mouth, something that will cause my skin to breathe out all the oil I’ve consumed. Yuk.”
“Your fixation with the oil content, is starting to get tedious. Will you be counting calories next?”
Nadine looked horrified. “Where I come from, calorie-counting exists as an academic concept, if at all.”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means that when we don’t eat, it’s because we can’t afford the food or we’re too ill to eat. Not because we’re trying to fit into a dress.”
“Ah, you think you’re funny, don’t you? Now coffee …”
“Is another great Brit essential?”
“Oh, you’re funny, very funny,” Stella said, sarcastically.
“What can I say?”
“Apparently, a lot. What’s coffee done to you, anyway?”
Nadine rolled her eyes. “Don’t go there. Please.”
ChiomaNnani is an award-winning author, who also contributes to business, lifestyle and literary publications. One of Africa’s most fearless storytellers, she is a 2016 CREATIVE AFRICAN Awards finalist in the category of “Best Fiction Writer”, and a DIVAS OF COLOUR 2016 finalist. Chioma has also been nominated twice for a UK BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award in the “Best Author” category. A talented ghost-writer who is known for “being able to get into your head and under your skin, before writing down exactly how you’re feeling”, Chioma has been named “One of 100 Most Influential Creatives in 2016” by London-based C.Hub Magazine.
She holds a Law (LLB) from the University of Kent and a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law (De Montfort University, Leicester). She is the founder of THE FEARLESS STORYTELLER HOUSE EMPORIUM LTD (a premium storytelling outfit based in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, where she lives), typically contributes to lifestyle and literary publications, and runs the “Memo From A Fearless Storyteller” blogazine at www.fearlessstoryteller.com for which she won the 2016 BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award.
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