At first peep of the day, while the fowls were mindlessly coming out from their roosts, a loud persistent knock at the gate woke me up. I listened and lay back.
I was astonished when mother dragged her feet to our room to ask my sleepy head to get the door. I wondered why she singled me out but quickly obeyed.
I was startled to see the two of them – Ukadi and his mother, Nwakaego. It dawned on me that my mother didn’t go to sleep after the coming of my uncle the previous day.
To the best of my knowledge, Ukadi was somewhere in Lagos at the time my uncle visited with the pleasing news against him and according to his mother the day she visited me at school with the things Ukadi bought for me, he won’t be coming until the end of July. But it was the second week and there he was. I thought there was more to it than could meet the eyes.
“Good morning, sir! Good morning, ma!” I greeted them both without a smile and glanced casually at the well within our compound, left side of the gate and nursed the crazy thought – wishing they could blindly walk into it by themselves. That was very crazy thought of mine. I was glad thoughts didn’t happen.
“How are you, my love! Sorry, I didn’t inform you I would be coming home.” Ukadi said and put his left arm around my mid-section but I quickly moved away to avoid his hold.
Who’s your love? I asked in silence.
“How are you my daughter, hope everything is fine.” said his mother.
I’m fine. Thank you, ma. I replied.
Before I could announce their arrival to anyone , mother had already ran to them, in her best behavior with unnecessarily laughter escaping her mouth every now and then as they talked. She led them to the sitting room.
My father joined in a minute. Small talks and shorts of something strong followed- my father kept whisky exclusively for early morning male visitors. Ukadi took one short and my father took up to three.
Ukadi spoke up.
Everyone listened to his discourse without an interception. But I noticed my father’s legs shook non-stop as he spoke and noticed my mother wasn’t happy about the leg shaking.
She abhored leg shaking when with visitors. She would always tell us it was a sign of boredom – to her it showed people you’re with bore you to death or that you found what they’re saying extremely unimportant and you couldn’t just wait for the cock and bull story to be done with.
She gave my father a secret quick eye-blink to stop, but father seemed intractable as he increased the shaking. I couldn’t control a churkle and everyone looked at me. Mother gave me a sign to disappear from there since I couldn’t behave myself. I obeyed but Ukadi asked me to stay.
Those were too much of a drama for a young day. Mother ignored father and I and gave a hearty warm smile for his son-in-law to-be and co-mother-in-law.
“Welcome once again.” Father began after clearing his throat and swallowing his spittle in an exaggerated way. “I’m happy you came. I was planning on how to meet with you Ukadi. I want to use this medium to tell you that–” he cleared his throat again. ” that the palm head you’re about to cut down is not ripe yet.”
Mother jerked and got up, walked briskly to father and whispered something in his ear. Father got up.
“Please our in-laws, excuse us. Sorry for this. We’ll be back in no time.” She said and both of them walked to a corner and mum talked to him but I noticed she didn’t finish when father hastened back to his position.“Sorry for keeping you waiting.”
“It’s okay, ” Ukadi said.
As I was saying, Amaka has not yet made up her mind for this marriage. She has no interest.” I saw mother
entwine her fingers and placed each elbow on each of her bent knee, head bent.
I only hoped she didn’t cry because the drama would be too tense for my pleasure.
“What are you trying to say, sir? Please hit the nail on the head, sir. I’m a man, there is nothing the eyes will see and shed blood.” Ukadi said and her mother began to lamented. My mother got up to console her with words of hope.
“Don’t give up yet, everything will be alright in the end. Our enemies will never win,” she said and I found it hard to sit and watch. I got up and Ukadi walked to me. Put both alms on my shoulders and looked into my eyes. I squeezed my face in defiance and he withdrew his arms. Walked to his seat and lowered himself slowly in it.
He bent his head and it was his turn to shake his legs. I watched his mum try to calm him down by nursing his knee. I watched her hand shook from the shaking of his legs and was not touched a bit by their emotional display. I felt like I’ve turned very wicked but they should all end it today and leave me alone. My father deserved a thank you hug and I was sure to hail him when the storm would be gone.
To be continued….
© Florence Ezekafor