Written by Anna Okon
Rita is a very beautiful lady. As a 15-year-old, she won a local beauty pageant and talent hunt that was organised by an international organisation to scout local girls for a global magazine cover.
At that age, it was not possible for her to explore the opportunity she had to take up modelling as a career. Her father would not have any of it because he wanted her to study engineering or any medical course. To him, modelling was not a job for any serious-minded young lady.
But he died when she turned 20. Then, she was in her second year in the university. Two years before his death, he had lost everything when the government seized his assets and placed him on house arrest due to a fraud perpetrated in his office. Soon after his death, the bank claimed their house and Rita and her mother had nowhere to go and no one to turn to.
Rita was fortunate. She had good friends and coupled with her beauty and youth, she was able to gain a lot of favour with different people who supported her university education.
She gained employment in an offshore oil servicing company and her family's fortune immediately turned around. She was able to pick up a suitable accommodation and a car for her mother and herself.
By the time she turned 30, she was beautiful, rich but she could not find any man suitable enough for her status and beauty. The men she fell for turned out to be gold diggers and people who were more comfortable with having her as girlfriend than as a wife.
One man who was sincere and desired to marry her was her former school mate, Linus. But Linus worked as a clerk in the civil service and had an annual salary of N600, 000. He could hardly afford good clothes. The few times he had accompanied Rita to one of her high profile hangouts, her acquaintances had mistaken him for one of the labourers working on the premises!
It was really difficult for Rita to continue going around with Linus. He was becoming a huge embarrassment and her friends looked down on her due to this. Worst still, Linus was too proud to accept money and gifts from her. All he wanted was for her to agree to marry him. Rita kept hedging on the issue of marriage, telling him that there was still time.
Linus held on until it was clear that Rita had no intention of accepting him as a husband. He left her.
She did not meet the man of her dreams until she was 45 years old! Then, she had become a director in the oil servicing company and was an affluent businesswoman. She had houses in choice areas of the metropolitan city and also engaged in her own private oil lifting business. Her fiancé, Timothy, was a 50-year old man from the Niger Delta region. Rita met him at a party organised to honour stakeholders in the oil industry.
Tim, as she fondly called him, had gained a reputation as the city playboy and his friends had given up hope that he would ever settle down. When he introduced Rita as his future wife to friends and family members, they all heaved sighs of relief.
The wedding arrangements went into top gear on Rita's 46th birthday. Unfortunately, she had deceived her husband to-be about her real age. Still looking beautiful with a petite frame, Rita did not look a day older than thirty. So she led her fiancé into believing that she was in her 30s.
At 30 plus, his wife would still be able to give him a child he thought.
Three years after their wedding however, the promise of a child did not see the light of day. Rita did not get pregnant and whenever Tim expressed concern about the situation, she told him she would visit the doctor and see if something can be done about her state. A visit to the doctor revealed that at almost 50, it was risky for her to put to birth.
"As it is, it seems you have entered the early stages of menopause," the doctor explained.
This was not a piece of news Rita wanted to share with her husband. He would never understand why his 30-something-year-old wife should experience menopause. She decided to explore other options. Adoption was out of the question as well- it would raise questions.
The only alternative open to her was to get a surrogate mother. At a very highbrow but discreet medical facility, she met the person who would help her. The plan was that Rita would pretend to be pregnant while the surrogate carried her baby. Her husband would have no idea.
She returned from work one day and announced to Tim that she visited the doctor and he had confirmed her to be pregnant. He was overjoyed. About four months into her 'pregnancy,' she embarked on a maternity leave and travelled out of the country with the woman who was to give birth to her child.
Nine months later, Rita arrived with her bundle of joy, a bouncing baby girl. Tim pulled all the stops to welcome and celebrate his first child whom he named Rebecca after his paternal grandmother. The child became the centre of the attention of both parents as they dotted on her.
When Rebecca turned two years, trouble sprang up for Rita. The first of a series of phone calls she received came when she had just picked Rebecca from school and was driving home with her. A female voice on the opposite end of the line told her, "She looks beautiful doesn't she? Now I realise I made a huge mistake giving away my only child. I am unable to bear another one."
Rita recognised the voice and fear gripped her. The call was from the woman she used as a surrogate three years ago! "What do you want?" Rita screamed into the phone. I paid you every cent you asked for.
"No amount of money can pay for my child. I need my baby back. I will give you all your money back. Don't prove stubborn. Remember your husband knows nothing," The ominous voice sounded.
Rita is at a loss. She does not know what to do. This is indeed a river of trouble she is swimming in.
NOTE: All names and events are fictitious