Help, my parents want to mortgage my happiness!

Dear Taiwo,

Inasmuch as I wouldn’t want to get my parents into trouble, disobey them or cause them heart ache, I still intend to live my life and be happy. I thought the whole issue was a joke, until my father called me about two weeks ago and gave me an ultimatum.

His words to me were hard and mean. This kept me wondering if he is the same loving father I knew. My mother who has always been in my support is also under severe tension and my father is not sparing her too.

I am an only daughter, in a family of seven; my parents, my elder siblings, all boys, and I, the last. We had a beautiful childhood. Dad was into business, he was into sales and services of electrical poles and appliances. He studied electrical engineering at the polytechnic and this knowledge really helped him, coupled with the fact that not many people were into his kind of business in the town.

Mum was a primary school teacher, but she didn’t have to do that for long because she left and started her own business, a supermarket, at the time I left primary school.

We all went to very good schools. Our parents were so buoyant that we used to go to the UK for holidays and we all went abroad to study for our masters degrees. It was during the course of my stay in the UK for my masters degree that I noticed that things had changed for my parents financially.

Thank God, my elder brothers were doing well; they had to rally round to make sure that I finished school. I was also really worried about my father’s health. He became diabetic and he had to take things easy. We all needed to support him. The responsibility of taking care of his business fell on my shoulder, because I couldn’t secure a job. My brothers were all away from home. I didn’t mind but it exposed me to the rude reality that my father’s business was bankrupt.

I raised this fact with my mother first. She said she was in the know and advised that I shouldn’t raise this with my dad, he knew already and there was no reason troubling him because of his health, we needed to manage the little we had. My brothers were also helping out financially.

Not long after I returned home, my father’s bosom friend was crowned the Eze of his community. Though both of them are close, his family and ours are not really close. I have never had a cause to question this, but there was a form of silent rivalry between both families with his wife and children always wanting to do whatever they see us do.

He became a frequent guest at our house; I felt this was because of dad’s illness and didn’t bother myself until the day my father mentioned it that his friend would like to marry me. Initially, I thought it was a joke, but my father insisted that he was serious. To say I was shocked is putting it mildly. I am not too young to be married; at 27, I am in a serious relationship and I told my father that much, but he would not want to hear of it and he is particularly opposed to my relationship because my boyfriend is from the South-West.

I told him that I would not marry his friend, the very first day he raised it and I felt it ended there. But I was shocked when my mother also raised it with me although she is also opposed to it too. And she minced no words to let me know that she did not support my father. Her handicap, however, is the fact that my father’s health is not sound and she is wary of stretching him too far.

We have been at this since March; I was however shocked and disappointed when my father called me two weeks ago and gave me an ultimatum. I was forced to ask why? He then told me that we would have been on the streets but for his friend. He explained that he owed the bank some money and he could not repay. His friend however bailed him out and, as such, he  could not refuse him his request.

I asked about Eze’s wife who is obviously older than my mother and also about his children all of who are older than I am. My father told me that Eze’s wife had been down with stroke years back. Nobody knows about this except people very close to them, my mother doesn’t know either.

When he was through, I made him understand that his explanations were not enough to sacrifice me at his friend’s altar. I would not marry him for anything in this world. He has since been threatening hail and brimstone. In fact, he said he is ready to die.  I refused to be fooled by this. My brothers also learnt about the situation and they all are against it. In fact, my immediate elder brother has asked me to come over to Lagos and stay with him. I am however disappointed in my mother who decided to join her husband and ask me to do this hideous thing.

As if that was not enough, both of them have started pulling Lanre my boyfriend into it and they are accusing him of encouraging me to disobey them. The question is; does this still happen in this day and age? How much does my parent want me to sacrifice for them? Please, help me.