Her brothers and wives heard Valerie was in town and they all came to visit us the following day. It was a great reunion except there was not so much laughter but I could tell they were a close – knit family. For a moment, I wished my father too had not married multiple wives, however, I thought “if he did not marry a third wife, I would not have been born”
They shared fond memories of their family times with their father and I could not but dream of such a home in the future. On the fifth day, the whole family decided to show me around tourist attraction sites in their country. It was their first outing after the death of their father. It was fun. I tried various local delicacies and went shopping for souvenirs. By the time we all got back home, everyone was exhausted but relieved. They said some prayers together and her brothers decided to stay for the night. We talked far into the night and it was concluded that Valerie would look for scholarships to support whatever her family could afford. We also planned to take holiday jobs as soon as we got back to school to ensure we had enough money. We wrote a letter to the Faculty Adviser and explained everything that happened pleading for his assistance or recommendations. We told him we would meet up with him as soon as we got back. At exactly a week after we got there, we were set to return. Valerie’s mother sulked all morning.
“Mama, I have to go, I do not like this face you are making all day. My brothers and their wives are here and will visit you often” Valerie said, trying so hard to be strong.
“I know but they have their lives to live and I cannot demand so much from them, moreover, they are men and it cannot be like having a daughter around”.
“Mama, I understand but I need to go finish up what I started. Just pray that I get a good job as soon as I finish so I can either come back here or take you along with me”.
“Oh no, this is my home and I cannot imagine living elsewhere for a long period” Her mother replied defiantly.
“Ok then, let us see how it goes. Moreover, your grandchild will be here soon so you would get busy”.
Her mother smiled at the thought of that and Valerie felt better.
Our flight was for 10.05pm and we planned to have a mini-tour around town doing last minute shopping before leaving. At about 4pm, we stepped out, went to a couple of open market stalls and departmental stores, picked up our luggage and headed for the airport.
Our graduation day was close by, I was truly happy for how far my friend and I had come. It was a real struggle to get her a full scholarship but with the recommendations of her faculty adviser, her past academic record and behavioural track record, she was able to get a 70% scholarship. We were able to augment with funds from our holiday jobs and her family. Her mother was flying down for the graduation and my parents as well. This would be their first time outside of their countries and we hope it would be a good experience for them.
They arrived a day before the graduation, we were elated. We showed them round our campus and went to a nice restaurant to treat ourselves to a great dinner. They lodged at the University’s guest house and as expected were dressed very early and waiting for us on the graduation day. We took some pictures before the event and eventually went into the hall for the ceremony.
At a time when most African children were rarely educated, to have a girl child get to the University is a feat any parent would boldly carry like a placard so we understood their excitement. My mother was the most excited, she prepared like she was going for the traditional wedding of a King’s daughter.
The program started with our school anthem as we marched into the hall and in less than two hours we were confirmed graduates. The event was surreal and that was the happiest day of my life so far. As we stepped out of the hall to take more pictures and look for a place to have Lunch, I saw a figure that looked like Uchenna coming towards me. I thought it was a ghost until he smiled and came closer. I screamed and everyone around me was alarmed. Out of excitement, I rushed to give him a very big embrace. That was the highlight of my graduation.
Stay tuned to this blog for the next episode where you will find out how her parents reacted to Uchenna.