My entire family were gathered round the cut out palm fruit bunches, plucking the fruits when my maternal uncle, Ejike walked in through our wooden main gate.
Excited to see him, my siblings and I mirthfully hurried to him. We jumped on his broad shoulders from all angles – our usual ‘welcome’ gesture towards him, right from when we were tender. He loved it – judging by the way he laughed heartily during and after.
His visit did well to lighten up the atmosphere around us, being a very jovial man who tossed his tall balanced frame around while talking, in a bid to drive ideas and jokes home. We teased him and had small talks before focusing on the palm fruit bunches. Uncle Ejike lived in Lagos. He had come home as he usually did every two months to see my grandparents and put one or two. things in order
After a while he called father aside and they talked. We couldn’t hear them clearly but I could sense everything was not alright from my fathers body language.
Few minutes later, my father returned and my uncle beckoned on me and my mother to join him. Out of confusion, not knowing what to expect, we slowly went.
“What happened?” My mother asked holding her chest in her hands.
“A friend of mine told me he heard Ukadi saying he was coming to pay Amaka’s dowry next month.”
I looked at my mother suspiciously. It’s possible she secretly asked him to come quickly for paying of dowry.
“I can’t believe my own sister hid such upcoming event from me.” My uncle said and sat on a dry log of wood close to him.
“We have not fixed the date for the paying of dowry with him.We only accepted his proposal to marry Amaka. I told you about him. Didn’t I?” She tried to defend herself.
“You told me and I said you shouldn’t consider him. I told you I didn’t like him. A man of his age is not the right person for my little niece here.” I looked on even more confused. I couldn’t believe my uncle said that to my mother, yet she went ahead to endorse the marriage wholeheartedly.
“Uncle, I’ve been trying to tell the same thing to mother and father but they are insisting I marry him…”
“Will you keep quiet Amaka!” My mother shouted at me. “Let me hear him well. Ejike, is this all about his age? We have gone over that and it’s no reason to reject a man.” Tell me. Is there any other thing?”
“Apart from the age difference, Ukadi is a cursed man. And the curse laid on him is that he’ll never get married and live.”
“I knew there was something about him. Ewooo. Thank God we’re not married yet.” I was truly enjoying the situation to the detriment of my mother
“Who said that to him?” she asked panting, to my surprise. Her love for Ukadi was deeper than I thought. She could faint.
“The lady he dated for 20 years still laments. He left the forty- three year old lady three years ago.”
“Alright. Did he propose to her? Where they engaged?”
“They intended to get married. The lady lamented that Ukadi dumped her after scareing all the men who would have married her away.
“She has no brains, Ejike,” she said, just when I thought she would.
“How?”My uncle looked at her bewildered.
“How can a lady, wait for a man who didn’t propose to her for twenty years?. What was she waiting for?”
“Don’t talk like that sister. That man kept her as a wife-to-be for twenty years and you’re saying she was wrong?”
“She’s the cause of her misfortune and she shouldn’t lay a curse on anyone because it won’t work.”
“But one thing is certain sister, as far as I’m concerned. Ukadi will not marry Amaka.”
When he said that, I felt like hugging him. Tears of joy moistened my eyes. Now, I have a supporter, someone to lean on.
“She will?” My mother almost screamed.
“Amaka, come. When are you vacating?”
“In two weeks.” I said. The whole thing was too sudden and wonderful.
“That’s good. You’ll be coming to Lagos immediately you vacate. I’ll send your transport fair as soon as possible.”
“Thank you Uncle.” I said with all the courtesy I could muster.
“You can’t do that. Ejike. This man has done a lot.”
“He must perm your travel Amaka. You can’t just go to Lagos without telling him.” She ranted and everyone looked at her without any more words. My uncle and father walked to the gate, shook hands and he took his leave.
My mother stood still and looked into space for over thirty seconds. I was afraid she was going to have a heart attack.
My sister walked to her, she shove her aside and went to complain to my father. Father picked his matchet and left to fetch feed for the goats. She was left alone and helpless. I pitied her.