I found my mum in her room reading a paperback novel on her bed. After I knocked and entered, I went straight to where she was reclined and lay beside her. She looked at me in surprise but only smiled and drew me closer to her side as she gave me a hug. I felt safe and loved as I lay there in her arms. With all my bravado, I didn’t want to do anything that would hurt my parents especially my mum. I just prayed we would be able to come to a solution that will favor all.
“I’ve missed you mum.” I snuggled closer to her.
“I missed you too, baby.”
Despite the fact that I am an ‘old woman’ my mum had never stopped calling me ‘baby’, especially during the times she felt emotional, like now.
“I’m sorry I was acting like a spoilt brat.”
She sighed. “It’s okay dear. Believe me, I know what it is to be in love and I saw clearly that day how much you and Dapo love each other.”
I sat up straight, surprised she admitted that. “So, why are you guys insisting I marry an Igbo man?” I asked incredulously.
She sighed again. “You have to know that this has been in our constitution as Igbos for generations now. We’d rather our daughters do not go outside the tribe to choose husbands. I don’t know why but I think it has to do with our pride and independence. We always want to take care of our own. It’s as bad as not even wanting to marry another Igbo that is not from our immediate locality or even our village.
“And no matter how many stories you hear about things like these happening especially in Lagos where our daughters mix with all tribes, you never want to believe it could happen to your own child. You always want to believe that a rich, young, Igbo guy will ride in one day and sweep your daughter off her feet. Some parents even go as far as arranging a marriage for their children with sons or daughters of family friends. That is the norm in the Igbo tribe.
“So, it came as a great shock when you brought your young man and we found out he was Yoruba. Imagine our surprise and indignation. How dare this ‘small boy’ come into our house and have the audacity to ask for our daughter’s hand in marriage. How dare he presume he was good enough for our angel, being a Yoruba guy and all? What audacity!”
She looked at me and smiled as I watched her intently. “We forgot that all men were created by God and we should never presume to choose who we associate with by reason of tribe, nationality, color or propensity. We forgot that we are all human in the same world destined to work and live together.
“And believe me, our eyes didn’t open until we saw how much you suffered. We were still in our cocoon of self-righteousness until we saw our daughter heartbroken. Nothing we said or did had any effect. We made you suffer and we suffered along with you. It was then and only then we realized our foolishness.”
“Really?” I asked, incredulous
“Yes baby. We had to talk some sense into ourselves, your dad and I. We came to realize we shouldn’t set so much stock on tradition, but rather, the love and understanding between a couple. It shouldn’t be about race or tribe but compatibility. If you had come home with an Igbo guy as your man, all well and good; but now that you came with a tribe not Igbo, we should accept him as your choice and not try to influence your decision. All we can do is pray that your relationship will work and you’ll enjoy each other till the end of time.”
You can imagine my surprise after this whole epistle. Yes, I was speechless and stunned. I just kept staring at her.
“I assure you we already made our decision before your aunty came. But I’m glad you were smart enough to inform her. If anyone would have changed your dad’s mind apart from me, it would have been her. But since I was complicit in this foolishness, you sought her counsel. Even if your dad is still wavering now, she would set him straight I’m sure. You did well child.”
“Thank you mum.”
“You are welcome.”
“So, if I heard you right, you are saying you will allow me marry Dapo?”
“I just told you we had a change of heart about tribalism. If anyone is going to make that decision, it’s going to be your dad.”
Hmm, my mum the diplomat. In other words, ‘you didn’t hear it from me but yes.’ I decided to humor her and let her off the hook. I could wait for my dad now that I knew everything would be okay. I could barely contain myself as my heart leapt for joy.
A short while later my mum and I were summoned to my dad’s private sitting room where Elena had earlier said he was having a meeting with my aunt.
On getting there, I went straight to my aunt and gave her a big hug. I was glad to see her and happy that she loved me enough to make the journey to see my dad. “Thank you for coming, aunty.” I whispered in her ear.
“You’re welcome darling.” She whispered back and winked at me; with that wink, I knew everything was settled.
My mum greeted her too and while they exchanged pleasantries, I looked to my dad and saw his eyes on me. He smiled and gestured I come sit beside him on the sofa. I went ahead.
“How are you?” he asked, looking at me intently.
“I’m fine sir. I’m sorry I was such a brat.”
“Never mind. But don’t ever act that way again. I’d rather you told me your grievances than locked your door for days.” He admonished. “Anyway, that’s about to become a moot point.” He said under his breath.
My mum approached us and sat on the other side of my dad. They always liked to sit together in family meetings like this to show they were a united front.
My aunt Chioma took the floor. “Leona, my dear I have talked some sense into your father.” My dad smiled ruefully at that. “I believe he has seen the errors of his ways and he’s ready to change. With all his enlightenment, I can’t believe he’s still living in the 18th century. You’ll forgive him for being a bull-headed father, won’t you?” she raised her brows.
I looked at my dad and found him smiling. He shrugged. “Of course ma.” I answered
“Good, good. Now, this young man of yours, he’s a good man, kwa?”
“Yes, he is.”
“Of course, you’ll say that; you are filled to the brim with love.” my mum laughed. “We remember how it was in our days, ehn, Ijeoma?”
“Yes sister, we do.” Mum replied
“So, it is settled nne.” She turned back to me.
“Okay ma.” I smiled.
“Invite your young man to dinner tonight. I want to meet him.”
“Okay aunty.” I replied happily.
I looked at my dad and he nodded. “You can go.” He said. I hugged him and bounced out to make the happiest call of my life.
Less than eight months later, Dapo and I were married. As I stood beside him and said my vows, I was the happiest and most blessed woman in the world. My heart was full of love and I could see the love reflected in Dapo’s eyes.
Winnie was my maid of honor and my sister and the other girls made up the bridal party. Winnie kept winking at me all through the ceremony. She couldn’t wait for me to give her the entire gist about the wedding night. As if I would. I winked back just to pacify her.
In a short while, Dapo managed to make my entire family fall in love with him just like I did. My parents have been so glad they didn’t pull us apart. They have blessed God everyday for the new son he has added to their family. It just goes to show how much love will be in our lives if we can set aside all prejudices.
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