Last week, Uchenna proposed to Titilayo in the presence of her parents, if you missed it, find it here.

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June 1980

After working for a year as a graduate assistant in my school, I got a job with one of the Federal Government Parastatals in Lagos, Nigeria and being a lady who is quite educated, I was placed at a very good level with perks like a new car. My family was so excited when they heard the news. Uchenna had also returned to Lagos after working for two years abroad. Our weekdays were always busy coupled with the fact that we lived at different ends of the city but we always met during the weekends to either attend an event together or visit various exciting places. The fact that I moved back before him put me at advantage because I was aware of the best places to lounge, I showed him around new places that had changed from the time we left for the University to the present and we tried to get to know each other well. 

Valerie also returned to her country at about the same time that I relocated to Lagos and got married within a year. Uchenna and myself went for her wedding, it was his first time visiting Ivory Coast and he had a lot of fun including almost passing out because he ate an extremely spicy meal in haste. In fact, he almost went into a fit afterwards. It was a scary episode at the wedding but we now laugh over it. 

*****

We planned to get married in one year’s time so I had to visit my family home more often to prepare for the wedding. 

We travelled home to tell both parents and Uchenna’s family accepted me very easily. I still found it strange till date. However, there was quite some drama at my end. 

As soon as we got home, I noticed that my father had rebuilt his house. It was more modern and was even painted. 

The sitting area was quite large and my father and all his wives were present. I found it weird that no one bothered to tell me about such an improvement, not even Jumoke. It looked like they planned to surprise me anytime I returned and surprised, I was. I also suspected that my parents’ short visit abroad informed such decision

Jumoke, my favourite step-sister and my younger brother were carrying drinks and food from the kitchen to the living area. As soon as they saw us, they hurriedly dropped off what they were carrying and rushed to greet us. I was very excited to see my younger brother so grown and to see my sister after so many years. She was not available the last time I visited shortly after arriving in Lagos.  

We entered the house and greeted everyone. The reception was warm but I could sense some tension in the air. We sat beside each other, I looked around and saw everyone was looking at us. 

“Okay, Baba, what is going on? Why is everyone quiet? Is everything okay?”

“No, everything is not alright? Your mothers and I have decided you cannot marry this boy” my father said sternly

My countenance became defiant. 

“What do you mean by mothers? The only important people in this conversation are my mother and you, moreover, I thought we had met several years ago where you agreed to this?

The look on my step-mothers’ faces changed but I did not care. 

“We just had to go ahead with you during that event so as not to spoil your big day but we cannot be alive and see you marry an Igbo boy. There are many young men who have come here to express their interest in marrying you but I tried to not give them any positive answer. Now that you are home, you can choose anyone among them that pleases you” My father said and my mother was nodding her head vehemently.

I was so upset, I busted into tears. Uchenna tried to pacify me and put his hands across my shoulder. 

My father stood up and pointed at him

“My friend, will you remove your hands from her shoulders. You have not married her and you are getting familiar with her in our presence”

He slowly removed his hands and kept apologizing.

“My daughter, I have spent so much on you and would want you to be happy. You do not have to get married to someone from our hometown but you must marry a Yoruba boy who I am rest assured will take care of you. Did it not occur to you why I never for once asked after him anytime I sent you letters?” 

I was too speechless to respond. I stood up and Uchenna pulled me back to sit”

He prostrated flatly in the presence of everyone and asked my father if he could speak. 

My father was about to refuse but the first wife spoke up.

“Chief, I think you should allow the boy to speak.” She said in an authoritative manner. 

My father opened his mouth but on looking at her face, he obliged Uchenna

“Thank you very much ma and sir. Good afternoon everyone.”

“You can take your seat, we are not bad people” my father said reluctantly

Uchenna sat beside me and started to talk. After about an hour of engaging them in discussions and answering the barrage of questions, he was able to convince them that he was the right man for me. 

My oldest step mother eventually spoke up

“Welcome my son, even though I feel insulted when your wife-to-be said we are not important in this conversation but I have also had the experience of not being allowed to marry the person I initially wanted, so I have made up my mind that I would not do such or allow such to be done to anyone around me. My first daughter too had this same issue but I succumbed trying to be an obedient wife but that would be the last I would ever allow”

My mother came to drag me to get on my knees to apologize to her. I was now a sober child. 

My father looked at his first wife and gave her a bad look “What are you trying to say anyways, you should be happy I married you and for our daughter, I was doing what was best for her”

“Of course, I am happy especially when you moved on to marry two other wives because you were in search of a male child” she replied with sarcasm

The two other wives started talking immediately and there was an uproar. 

O ti to oooo”

My favourite sister yelled and everyone calmed down.

“Can we just get settled and eat, the food is almost cold and I am starving”

“Oh yes, I am hungry, I agree” filled the air and everyone moved to the dining area. 

We ate together like a large happy family and made plans for both parents’ meetings. We stayed over for the night and I had time to talk with my sister and brother. 

“Your husband is handsome o” Jumoke said to me

“Yes o, my sister I am very happy. So how did you actually meet him?” my brother asked immediately

I looked at Jumoke and we both laughed. My brother was a bit confused “what is wrong?” he asked

“Nothing, it’s just that we met in a funny way and a very long time ago.” I replied.

After spending three hours catching up with my siblings, Uchenna, who had gone to bed earlier came out to the living room and was surprised to see us.

“Hello” he said to my siblings and turned to me “You are still awake? You know we are travelling back in the morning.”

“Yes, she knows, that is why she wants to spend some time with her favourite sister and only brother” my brother responded. 

We all smiled and continued to catch up but this time filling Uchenna in on many things about the family, our culture, our hometown and so on. At 1.00am, we finally decided we should go to bed. I slept immediately as I landed on the bed. 

***** 

It was until morning that I remembered to ask my sister about her children. 

She gave a chastening look.

“Now is the right time indeed. You were so into yourself. Anyways, I forgive you. I left them with my elder sister so I could have time for you. You know they already know I love you too much so she let me be. My husband is also fine, he sends his regards”

“I am so sorry. How is your marriage though?”

“Very well. We bless God” 

“I think I need to come and take marriage classes from you” I said with a wide smile

“Yes, you should and I will charge you hugely since you are a big girl now”

“What?” I retorted

“Take it or leave it but you will pay me” she replied. I could not believe my ears and I planned to get back at her

We packed our luggage and prepared to go back. The family was already at the dining area waiting for us. I knelt to greet all the parents and hugged Uchenna and my brother. My mother frowned at me. 

“Is that how you will greet your husband?” she asked

Uchenna laughed

“Mummy, your generation is different” I retorted

She clapped her hands “so you have quickly disowned us, that was fast”

Everyone laughed. 

“Titilayo, when are you planning on visiting his parents and I hope they would not give you any form of troubles?” My father said as we all sat to eat.

Myself and Uchenna looked at each other and laughed. 

Everyone was confused

“Actually, she has come over to my parents and they willingly accepted her. My parents are quite warm and flexible. They did not give her any problems and always ask after her” he said with pride in his voice

“Now, I feel so bad” my father said

“Yes baba, you should” I said with a smirk but Uchenna pinched me

“No sir, it’s allowed. If I have a daughter, I would probably do worse to shield her, nonetheless a daughter that I have spent a fortune on, that is why I really appreciate everyone accepting me and giving me this beautiful damsel to be my wife and I would never ever take it for granted” he said

I smiled at him “You have a way with words that is enchanting, that is why I love you”

“Is that the only reason?” he asked playfully. 

“Of course, not” I responded and we continued eating

We finalised plans for the introduction and eventually returned to Lagos.