Ruth and I walked down to the notice board, the only thing that came to mind was how my mum had to do petty trade in those days to see that we as a family could eat once a day, she and my dad struggled so had to ensure we had corn meal( akamu) and bean cake ( akara) in the morning and one proper meal later in the day, my family was such that we were not mostly sure of what we would eat the following day, it all started when my dad got retrenched from the railway corporation , we had nothing to fall back on, it’s being a difficult life.
Ruth was more excited than myself (LOL),not like I wasn’t excited, I was just astounded and all I could do was shed tears. Ruth decided to take the celebration a bit further by taking me to an restaurant directly opposite the school gate, we had lunch,I had starch and banga while Ruth settled for amala and ewedu soup, lol,her way of reminding me that she remembers her roots even if she’s far off, a little we both were done and strolled back to class. I got back home that day and informed my parents about the test and the outcome, My mum was so excited that her daughter would be going for her masters outside Nigeria, her joy knew no bounds, amazingly my dad was happy about the whole thing, he only had issues with my not being married yet and he goes;
Dad: Uduak, congratulations, I rejoice with you my daughter, you have done well for yourself. It’s a good thing. Have you discussed with Rukewe?
Uduak: What has discussing with Ruks got to do with this?
No I’m not being insensitive and callous, all I’m saying is I would be going with or without his consent, don’t get me wrong, this kind of opportunity comes once in a life time , at least for someone with my background it takes a miracle to go outside the shores of this country to study.
Dad: Everything!!! Don’t tell me you have forgotten all he did for you?
Uduak: Fine I appreciate all he has done for me, but I’m not married to him neither did I promise him marriage, for God sakes I’m only going to be away for less than 2years, why are you making an issue out of this?
Dad: Listen to yourself…you are only going to be away for 2years, how old will you be two years from now? You better listen and listen carefully; we should arrange an engagement ceremony for the both of you before you leave, I have given him my words and I do not forgot any good done to me
Uduak: And you think it’s inconsequential what I think/feel about you giving him your word without having my opinion? I am a human being not a piece of furniture! You cannot do that without asking for my opinion.
At this point I was already raising my voice at my dad, yea, I knew it was a wrong thing to do, but I wasn’t going to let myself into any forced marriage.
My mother tried to chip in a few words;
‘Uduak my daughter, please calm down and hear us out, your father and I are only taking cognisance of the fact that age is no longer on your side, and we think it’s only proper to get engaged to Rukewe before going out of the country for your masters, so that when you return by God’s grace we can now go ahead with the wedding proper, this is Africa, women are naturally expected to marry in good time, when you return , most men would be scared to ask you out’
Uduak: Mummy, most men not all, meaning I still have a chance right?
Mum: The small fraction out of a 100% remaining might be after younger women, you are my only daughter and I can’t afford to sit back and watch you take this risk.
Dad: Well, I have spoken, if you go against my words, I would not hesitate to disown you, so do not think you would disobey me and I would let you into my house when you get back.
Mum: Dear, it hasn’t gotten to that, not yet! Uduak let me see you in my room right now.
My mum and I went to hers
Mum: My daughter you have to be smart, you mustn’t marry him when you get back, if you find a better person, by all means please marry, but just in case you don’t find this is supposed to serve as a backup measure. Just obey for your own good. I would tell your father that I have spoken to you and you have agreed, but let this be between us.
Women!!! I can’t believe what my mum and I just agreed on????
Uduak: Ok ma, I have heard you.
............................................/The story continues.