I sat with my father over my marriage at dusk in our compound, where the listening ear of my mother, who was chatting with our closest neighbour won’t reach.
My sibblings were playing ncho close to where they were and my father and I were all by ourselves. No advocates for Ukadi. None of his active supporters was with us to interrupt.
I only wished my mother didn’t find out the reason for the meeting. She would definitely dismiss her friend quick enough to join us and complicate issues. I didn’t want that to happen.
After small talks my father cleared his throat for the important discussion.
“How do you feel about the marriage proposal?”
“Papa, I don’t want to marry him. I’ve never ever wanted to marry him.”
“Why my daughter? With all the love and gifts he showers on you? Why, Amaka?”
“Because I don’t like him…gift or no gift.. I don’t like him papa. I just don’t like him and will never ever like him.” he turned into a stone for some time before giving out one laboured breath.
“Listen my daughter, I have told you time without number that you will develop likeness towards him when you start living as husband and wife.” he said and drew his chair closer and spoke in a low voice as if someone would eavesdrop if he didn’t.
“Your mother ran away so she wouldn’t marry me. It happened on the very day I went with my people for paying of dowry. She left in the morning and said she was going to get her clothes from a seemstress but was nowhere to be found. We went back home highly disappointed when she didn’t show up at dusk.”
“Mother did that to you? Unbelievable!” The revelation was both shocking and interesting. I could do that to Ukadi. I could.
“Why didnt she want to marry you? You’re such a nice man.”
“Thank you Amaka. I later heard it was because she didn’t like the big gap between my upper front teeth.” he said and I stifled my laughter. My father had once told me how he lost his two front teeth to a terrible fight. He couldn’t do anything to fix the damage.
“Your grandmother found out where she was and had to travel to Portharcourt, her aunt’s place to bring her back. Her aunt never liked me. It’s no wonder she didn’t inform us about her where about.”
“Yes, it took up to ten different persuasive people to talk her into accepting to go ahead with the marriage. She reluctantly yielded and I did the needful as quick as possible before she could change her mind again. She was sixteen and I was thirty.”
“She told me she loved me six months after our marriage, in this house and ever since I’ve been enjoying her show of love.” I nodded even if we couldn’t see each other’s face since it was getting dark.
“What am I getting at, Amaka? Don’t think that if you don’t like Ukadi today, you won’t like him tomorrow. Give him a chance and..”
“Papa!” I called him. It was a sign of disrespect to interrupt an elder in such manner but it couldn’t wait. He listened. My father was a gentle man to the core. And I love him for that. He’s tolerant and understanding.
” Papa, Ukadi is 34 years older than me. Is it the kind of person you want me to marry? Do you ever think about my future? And there is one thing that brothers me about him. Why is he not yet married at fifty? You got married to mother at thirty, right? Why is he doing it now? I’m beginning to think he has family elsewhere.”
My mother’s friend passed by and we bid her goodnight and my mother started walking towards us. My father closed the discussion before she could reach us.
“So the head and tail of our talk is that you don’t want to marry him?”
“I’ll sit with your mother early in the morning for plans on how to tell him off.”
“No papa. It won’t work.”
“What won’t work?”
“You know mama will not agree to that.”
“Well, I’m still the man of the house, Amaka. Leave that to me.” he stood up and I carried the seats.
“Am I missing anything?” Mother asked jokingly as she joined us to walk back to the house.I was not happy he was going to discuss with her.