What do I do to be free from these people; Ukadi and his supporters including his desperate mother. Did he bring me to his house to prove how rich he was? And how well he could carter for me as his wife? Well, there’s no need for such since I didn’t have an eye for his riches.
When Ukadi left the room, it was on purpose; to allow his mum a chance to sit and talk with me and she made very good use of that opportunity.
“I was 14 years old when I got engaged to my husband, Ukadi’s father,” she stopped to allow me a chance to digest the statement and to realize I wasn’t a baby compared to her. And to prove to me that she was more a child than I, when we both first got engaged.
Why did those men have to climb the palm tree only to cut down an unripe palm fruit and then wait for it to mature? Was it not better to cut the ripe one?
I was wrong to think that the girl child engagement had been one of those things the ancestors spat upon as abominable. The ritual had been there, as old as ten decades.
“Huh.” I was disgusted rather than surprised.
“He was a very nice man and still is.” She held both shoulders of mine and looked at me closely. I read what was written in his eyes and it was nothing less than desperation.
“How old was he at the time he married you?” I asked carefully making sure I didn’t make it sound like I was raising the issue of age difference between me and his son.
“What does it matter? I loved him and that’s what mattered. I didn’t look back even for a minute.” She said and looked up thoughtfully with her face all lit up.
“You loved him? You were only a child.” I said and she looked down at her hands.
“Well not right away but before we got married, I fell head over heels in love with him and didn’t look back ever since.” She smiled.
I wasn’t interested in her love story at the moment. My mind was far away at my home thinking of what they’re doing. I wondered how my parents could ever support Ukadi for picking me on my way back to school forcefully and keeping me in his house like a prisoner when I’m not married to him yet. I needed to leave that house by all means.
“So my daughter, stop playing the new age game with my son. Relax yourself and enjoy all the benefits that could come with paying even a little attention to him…..” She blabbed on but I was only watching the movement of her lips.
She paused to listen as if I asked her to, so I could say something important. After listening for a while with no word from me, she continued.
“There were many other girls and he picked you. Think about that my daughter.”
I should have preferred being call ‘my granddaughter’ instead, by a woman who was Ukadi’s biological mother.
By the way, what was the use of thinking? I had an answer already. I loathed Ukadi and could pay a lady to take my place.
Wait. So she thought her son did me a favour by choosing me over other gir…children to be his wife?
“Are you aware that I’m forced to be here? Are you part of the plan…..ma?”
I tried to show some respect but I was too unhappy for any courtesy.
She opened her mouth to answer but Ukadi walked in.
“We’ll be going to your house in an hour time. You need to see your family, Im sure they would like to see you,” he said.
I hope Ukadi had not taken control of my life and my entire family!
“After seeing them, we will be coming back here,” he said as he scratched his scalp through his bushy gray hair and then gave the tips of the portion three taps to smoothen it
I jumped to my feet and almost knocked his mother down. She looked on in such a pitiable way that I felt sorry for her. I guessed she thought I had finally arrived and was disappointed to know I was leaving.
Did he just say I was coming back to his house? He should of course be talking to his mother or better still himself. And definitely not me because that would be the last he would be seeing me in his house.
To be continued…..
Excerpt from my work Baby Merchants will be posted on Saturday.