“Calm down”. Chinedu said for the umpteenth time.
He held her hands and smiled. “Do you realize how many times you have said the word “okay”?”
Chinedu had gone to the café to pick her as promised. On getting home, his mother had dropped a message with Ibrahim that she needed to get to her shop and would be back in a few minutes. Fadeke had voiced out her anxiety, fidgeting endlessly.
“I’m just not sure of what to expect”.
He touched her cheeks. “My mum isn’t going to eat you, my sweet “poff poff” cheeks?
She smiled and tried to relax. She hoped her first meeting with Chinedu’s mother would be pleasant.
“I’m sorry, Chinedu. I had to dash down to the shop”. His mother said apologizing as she walked into the house.
Still flustered, Fadeke quickly untwined her hands from Chinedu’s.
“It’s okay, mum”. He said standing up; holding Fadeke as he did. “This is Fadeke; Fadeke, my mum.”
“Good afternoon ma”. She said going down on her knees.
“My goodness”. She moved quickly to raise her up. “I can see why my son is so in love. You are beautiful”.
Fadeke looked down shyly. “Thank you ma”.
“Have you been offered anything in my absence?”
She looked unsure of what her answer would portray and decided to play safe. “I’m okay, ma”.
“Please feel free. Let me get you something to drink”. She said ignoring her earlier response.
As his mum walked out of the living room, Chinedu tugged her by the arm. “You okay?”
“I think so”. She said as she clasped her hands.
He sat down on the couch and tapped his side. “Come and sit”.
She was still fidgeting and continued to clasp and squeeze her hands.
“If you continue fidgeting and refuse to relax, I promise I’m going to give you a full kiss right here”. He warned.
“Oh no, Chinedu, please”. She begged. “I’m relaxing”. She said as she willed herself to be still.
Two hours later, Fadeke and Chinedu walked out of the house hand in hand. “I like your mum. She’s so funny and I love her attitude to issues of life”. She smiled.
“Well, she sees only the bright side of life. She is my driving force. She gives me a reason to push and make the best of all situations”.
She stood to look at him. “I am glad I met her. Thanks, you made my day”.
“You also made mine, love”. He looked lovingly into her eyes.
“So, mum, what do you think?” Chinedu asked as he sat beside his mum on the couch.
“Yes mum, honestly”.
“She’s well bred. She’s beautiful. She’s intelligent”.
“And?” He asked expectant.
“She’d make a good wife”.
“You sure about that?”
“Were you expecting me to say otherwise?” She asked nudging him.
“Considering that I have fallen madly in love with her, I don’t think otherwise would have made a difference”.
“Then go ahead and do the right thing”.
“I will mum, I will”.
As he lay on his bed that night, sleep eluded him. His mum had asked him to do the right thing and he needed to do it sooner than later. He thought about how his mum had gladly accepted Fadeke. He did not think he would get anything other than an acceptance from Fadeke’s parents. Her parents were learned and according to her, accepted all tribes. Tomorrow, he would discuss with her. For now, he was going to go to bed dreaming about her for she had become his love and his life.
“Mum, can I talk to you for a moment?” Fadeke asked.
Her mother looked up from the fashion magazine she was reading and readjusted her glasses. “Yes, my dear. Come sit with me”. She was sitting in the den outside her room and had a glass of strawberry tea beside her on a stool.
“I need you to keep this a secret for now”.
“Okay”. She said as she sat upright. Whatever her daughter had to say needed her utmost attention.
“I’m dating someone”. Fadeke said and waited for a reaction from her mum. Seeing none, she continued, “And I love him very much. I went to visit his mum today”.
“You did what?”
She looked backwards to be sure they hadn’t stirred up anyone. “Mum, keep your voice down. It’s late”.
“What did you just say you did?” She whispered.
“I went to see his mum. It was just an ordinary visit”.
“Fadeke, you haven’t brought him home yet. You can’t go around visiting mothers of people you are dating”.
“Mum, I went to visit Chinedu’s mother not mothers of people I am dating. Chinedu is the only one I am dating and I did not see any harm in what I did”.
“You are dating an Ibo boy?” (Eastern part of Nigeria)
“Yes, I am. Anything wrong with that?”
“Everything is wrong. Your dad must not hear this. He has vowed that none of his children will marry from that tribe especially you, his daughter”.
“But mum, the tribe does not make the person. Chinedu is really sweet and he loves me very much”.
“Hush” She said shutting her up. “You are just 17 and too young to recognize true love”.
“I’m no longer a child, mum. I know true love when I see it and that’s what Chinedu has shown me”.
“Go to bed, Fadekemi. I have had enough for the night”.
“I said go to bed. What we have discussed this night remains between the two of us because all hell would be let loose if your father finds out”.
Fadeke sighed. “Goodnight mum”.
“Goodnight. I hope you sleep over what I have just told you and change your mind”.
After two hours on the bed, Fadeke still tossed and turned. What could her father possibly have against the Ibo tribe? Why would her mum want to jettison her happiness over an excuse as flimsy as a tribal issue? Were they not all Nigerians? She hadn’t even accepted that she was old enough to be in a relationship. So many questions without answers. A tear slid down her cheek as she thought about how much she loved Chinedu. Was this going to be the launch of the end of their relationship? A relationship they had both nurtured with so much love? She broke into sobs and dug her face into her pillow. She was torn between her parents and Chinedu and it was breaking her heart. She hugged her pillow and sobbed until she fell asleep.
Fadeke’s mobile phone kept on ringing persistently. She had placed it on the little side drawer by her bed and whoever was calling had decided to keep calling until she picked up. Today was a day she wanted to speak with no one. She had cried herself to sleep and had a very bad headache. She put a pillow over her head so she wouldn’t hear the phone. For a moment, the phone stopped ringing and she was glad that she could go back to sleep. She was going to stay in bed for as long as she could. She pulled the duvet cover closer and buried herself under them. Just as she was beginning to drift back to sleep, the phone started ringing again.
“Oh, what is it again?” She hissed.
She turned to her side and winced. She needed to take pain relievers. She picked up the phone and yelled. “What?”
“Are you okay, my love?”
She heard his whisper and regretted immediately that she hadn’t looked at the caller ID. She tried to sit up but with the persistent headache decided it was best she lay down.
“I’m sorry. I should have looked at the caller ID”.
“Had someone else been harassing you?”
“No, not at all. Ouch”. She winced as the headache got worse.
“What’s wrong, Fadeke?” He asked getting uneasy.
“Nothing darling. I just have this bad headache”.
“Did you sleep late?”
She thought about her discussion with her mum the previous night. There was no future with Chinedu.
She suddenly realized that she had drifted away. “I’m still here. What did you say?”
“Please talk to me, baby. You don’t sound okay. Do you want me to come over or would you meet me some place so we can talk?”
She thought about the idea of going out. Even though, she really did not want to get out of bed, what she did need right now was to be with Chinedu. “Meet me at the Posh café in about 2 hours. I’d go have my bath and take some pain killers. We need to talk”.
“Ok then. I’ll be waiting”.
Chinedu held onto the phone and was lost in thought. Fadeke was in high spirits yesterday, so he couldn’t fathom what could have caused the sudden change of attitude. Whatever it was, he was determined to get to the root. He looked at his wrist watch and decided to get dressed. He wanted to get to the café early enough as he did not want to keep her waiting.