After our usual dinner and family time, everyone retired to bed except me.
Father said he was going to sit with mother to talk about Ukadi and how to call off my marriage with him. So, I waited to hear their discussion live, hoping that mother would make things easy and let it go.
I sat there on the wooden back chair, casting frequent glances at the special wooden clock on the wall ticking by and listened to the tick-tack sound it made. I waited for my father to provoke the bee in its hive – not that she was going to sting anyone but it’s the worst thing anyone could discuss with her. It’s no exageration to say that she would act deadly.
I waited into midnight without closing my eyes focusing on the clock’s hands. I brooded over many things including the story father told us about how the wooden clock came to be.
He had snatched it from the clock seller’s shop because he refused to pay him the one hundred and fifty naira he owed him for two years.
It was funny because one fifty naira was nothing but worthless – couldn’t buy a plate of food for an ant. Father had said that it was a tangible amount of money at the time – when the land of the squirrel was still above and money had much better value.
“Mama Uchechi!” I heard father call and rushed to the door to eavesdrop their conversation.
“What is it now, I’m so tired?” Mother responded.
“Don’t worry, I’m not calling you up for that…I have an important issue to discuss with you. Please wake up.” I heard a leg shuffle towards the door and made my quick rush to the three seater wooden chair across the sitting room and lay still.
The door opened and he came through. Shortly after, mother followed him. He walked to me, woke me up and asked me to go to sleep. I got up reluctantly took my leave. After a while, I heard mother raise her voice.
“Did she tell you the reason why?”
“Forget about the reason, Obiageliaku. Our daughter said she doesn’t want to marry Ukadi anymore. She never ever wanted to marry him. We are the ones pushing her to him.”
“And you’re saying that this marriage should be brought to an end just like that? This marriage is the best thing that will ever happen to our daughter.” I heard her say.
What best thing? Mother had probably lost her reasoning to Ukadi. And father had gone silent as he listened. I prayed silently for him to stand up and make a firm decision.
“This man has done too much for our family. Sending him away now is a wicked thing to do. Please don’t do this, I implore you.”
“Oby listen, I’ve not woke you up in the middle of the night for sentiments and to talk about Ukadi and what he has done for our family, I called you up to look into what our daughter is saying.”
“We should also consider the man who has waited for a year for our daughter to mature, spending fortunes to take care of her, and has probably spent a lot in preparation for this marriage.”
The atmosphere around me went tense as I was kept in suspense. Father should arrive at the conclusion.
“What do you suggest we tell Amaka?” I heard him say and lost all hope. Again he had failed to speak like a man.
“Leave that to me my husband. I’ll sit with her very early in the morning. She must marry Ukadi. Another thing you should do now is to allow Ukadi to come for proper marriage – paying of dowry and traditional marriage.
“I’m not going to do that except Amaka tells me to. I’m leaving the final decision to her. We can’t force her to marry Ukadi.”
“Dont worry. No one is going to force Amaka.” She said and I heard her yawn as they both walked back to bed. My father was such a weakling. I realised he was the wrong person to save me from Ukadi.
I walked hopelessly to my bed and lay there. I needed to start making other plans. Who would help me? No one from my immediate family would do. They all loved him like they loved their lives.
That night, I made a decision to never to talk about Ukadi before anyone in my family. I decided to silently follow every plan towards my marriage they when mother came to me in the morning, I didn’t drag issues with her. I nodded and smiled to please her and she left my room very happy. In my heart, I had other plans, terrible plans for the D-day.
To be continued…..