Tag Archives: arranged marriages

The Wait – Chapter 10

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. With each passing month, Ajoke’s hope of receiving a letter from Adejoro dimmed. Initially, his mother frequented their home assuring her that he would be back soon but Ajoke was not sure who to believe; his friend or his mother. She wondered so many times if Akanbi had mentioned her husband’s refusal to write back to spite her for refusing to sleep with him or if he meant what he had said. But she was unable to ask anyone. The only close friend Adejoro had was Akanbi and her elder brother and she was not sure if it was worth asking her brother, Adisa.

Six months after Adejoro’s scheduled return, Ajoke decided to go to her father’s house to talk to her brother. She told him about Akanbi’s statement carefully avoiding to discuss her encounter in his house. Adisa had been surprised and told Ajoke he was not aware Adejoro did not contact her anymore. He was even more shocked that he had stopped sending her a monthly stipend and wondered how his sister had coped the past six months with two extra mouths to feed. He told her he was going to make sure he got to the root of the matter and find out exactly what the situation was.

Ajoke thanked him and Adisa gave her some money to take care of herself and her kids. Her mother also packed some foodstuff for her and Ajoke went home with her heart less burdened. Three months after, Adisa sent an errand to Ajoke to come home. She wondered why Adisa would call for her. She hoped her parents were doing fine. She took her kids and went to her father’s house. She met her parents and all her six brothers seated discussing when she walked in. Her mother took her grandchildren away, leaving Ajoke alone with her father and elder brothers. Adisa broke the bad news to Ajoke. Akanbi had been right. Adejoro had deserted her to build another home in the United Kingdom. Ajoke looked at her father’s face and shook her head in despair. No tears escaped her eyes. She was only sad that she had become a single mother with no source of income.

She thanked her brother, Adisa and asked for her children. Her mother encouraged her to stay the night but she refused; saying she was going back to her husband’s house – the house of the man she and her husband gave her out in marriage to. Iya Ajoke held her daughter’s hand as she begged her to please forgive them. They never imagined Adejoro would do this to them, she said. Ajoke looked at her mother and sighed. There was no point lamenting, she told her mother. The deed had been done. Ajoke walked out of her father’s house with her kids in tow.

 

When she got home, she thought of what she could do to earn a living so that she and her kids would not suffer. She remembered that when she was in the secondary school, a lot of her friends came to her house to get their hair weaved because most of them did not have the money to pay a hairdresser. She stepped out of her house and looked around. She saw a small carton lying on the ground. She picked it up and walked towards a primary school not too far from her house. Used pieces of chalk were strewn all over the floor and Ajoke picked up a few. She wrote on the carton with a piece of chalk advertising that a hairdresser lived within. She found a used rag and tore it into two, then used it to hang the carton on the tree in front of her house. She went back inside to prepare a meal for her kids and awaited her first client.

 

Within a short while, word spread round that Iyawo Engineer weaved hair better than most of the other hairdressers in the vicinity. Ajoke’s house became of mecca of sorts for children and her weekends became her most busy period. She had mothers knocking on her door very early on Saturday morning to plait their daughter’s hair as they did not want to be caught up in long queues later in the day.

She enrolled her kids in the nearby primary school and life took a new turn for her. Soon, the mothers who dropped their daughters also needed her services to get their own hair done and Ajoke became busier by the day. She no longer thought about what to eat and how to survive. She had just enough to feed herself and her kids.

 

The years rolled by and Ajoke forgot about her husband. His mother still visited her once in a while to see how her grand-children were faring. Iya Ajoke also visited her grand-children but the relationship between mother and daughter was strained. Ajoke performed her duties to her parents but it was not done out of love but out of obligation. Her elder brothers all got married and had successful marriages.

 

Seven years after Adejoro left Ajoke, she rented a shop close to her house and opened a small salon in with the proceeds of her business, establishing a name in the village as one of the foremost hairdressers. She recruited two girls who helped her in her salon and business went smoothly. Her brother, Adisa was happy that she was doing well and on one of his visits to her house, he advised that she opened a bank account so she could have some money saved for the rainy day.

She heeded her brother’s advice and took a bus to the nearest town to open an account. The lady at the customer service desk gave her an account opening form to fill. As Ajoke bent her head to fill the form, the lady’s boss walked out of his office and called the attention of the customer service staff to a form in his hand. Ajoke froze as she heard the voice of the manager. She was scared to look up to identify the person who had just spoken. The manager walked to the customer service desk and as he spoke to his report, Ajoke summoned up courage to lift up her head. She met the manager’s eyes and the expression on the faces of both of them was shock. Ajoke could not believe her eyes. Her jaw dropped as she looked at him. The manager was so stunned that he couldn’t finish his sentence. He started to stammer as his mind refused to process the information he was passing across to his report. The customer service staff noticed her boss was a little disoriented and asked him if he was okay. She wondered what had suddenly caught her boss’ attention and looked at Ajoke.

Ajoke had turned her attention back to the form she was filling. She could not fill the form any longer as the letters danced before her eyes. She held on to her pen refusing to look up as her eyes filled with tears. She could not afford to break down here in the presence of strangers. She bit her lower lip as she blew air through her mouth in a bid to subdue the tears. Life had been unfair to her. She quickly filled the form and handed it over to the lady before rushing out of the bank in a hurry.

———
The story continues…..

Photo Credit: http://www.123rf.com

The Wait – Chapter 7

Exams were soon over and Kokumo packed his travel bag in a hurry. He half-ran to the bus stop to catch the next bus out of town. As he sat in the bus that was loading, he waited impatiently hoping the bus would fill up on time. He intended to go to Ajoke’s house before going home. He could not risk going to his house first and getting distracted from his mission. His mother had not seen him for over a month and he knew once she did, she would kick against him going out immediately after his arrival home.

As the bus moved and eased into the snarling traffic, he prayed in his heart that Ajoke would be home. He knew he took a risk by going to her house but he had no other choice. The matter at hand had to be handled today.

 

In one hour, Kokumo arrived Ajoke’s village. He threw his travel bag over his shoulders and walked towards her house. He was a few metres from her house when he saw her sitting on a low stool and frying garri outside her house. He looked to the left and to the right to see if anyone was looking. When he noticed no one around, he stood at a corner where he would not been seen and whistled. Ajoke’s hand movement stopped immediately she heard the whistle. She looked around her to see if her mother was in the vicinity before looking in the direction the whistle came from.

Kokumo whistled a second time. This time, Ajoke packed up the garri she was frying in a hurry, covered it up and took it into her house. She stepped out of her house with a water pot and started walking towards the back of the house to the path that led to the stream. Kokumo took the cue and also passed through another path which would eventually lead him to the stream.

 

Ajoke dropped her water pot on the ground and waited as she craned her neck to look out for anyone passing by. She tapped her hand on her laps impatiently as she waited. She almost jumped when she heard the rustling of leaves behind her. As she turned back, she was face to face with Kokumo. He had a smile on his face. He removed the travel bag slung across his shoulders and dropped it on the ground without breaking eye contact with Ajoke. Ajoke stood rooted to the spot. She wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Kokumo closed the space between them as he took her hands. She hugged him tightly and the tears began to flow freely.

Kokumo pulled her back and kissed her lips gently. Ajoke responded with a passion that was unmatched with his. She ravaged his lips as the tears continued to flow. When she eased away from him, Kokumo wiped her cheeks with his thumb. “I love you Ajoke.” He said.

“I am getting married to Adejoro in a week.” She cried.

“What?” Kokumo’s eyes widened. “A week? Why?”

“I don’t know, Kokumo. I don’t know what to do.”

Kokumo exhaled as he picked up his travel bag and put it on his shoulders. He also picked up Ajoke’s water pot and held her by the hand. “Let us walk to the stream.”

Ajoke sniffed as she nodded.

They got to the stream and looked for a secluded area where they could sit down. He found a spot where they could see anyone coming to the stream to fetch water but remain unseen. There was nothing to sit down on, so Kokumo took out his wrapper from his travel bag and spread it on the ground. He placed Ajoke’s water pot and his travel bag by a corner and sat down resting his back on a tree. He spread his legs apart as he pulled Ajoke down to sit in front of him.

“So who is this guy?” Kokumo asked.

“Adejoro. He is Broda Adisa’s friend. They have been friends for long but I never knew he was interested in me.”

“Hmm…..so your father just decided you were getting married to him without consulting with you?”

“Maami discussed it with me. When I kicked against the idea, she asked to know what made me different from my friends who were already married. I had no words to answer to her.” Ajoke replied.

Kokumo put his hand on his head as he thought. He hadn’t bargained that Ajoke’s wedding will be so close. He was confused. Was there really anything that could be done at this point to salvage their relationship? Was this the end of their dream?

Ajoke turned to look at Kokumo when she noticed he was silent. She removed his hand from his head and looked straight at him. “Let’s run away.”

Kokumo looked at her surprised. “Run away? To where?”

Ajoke shrugged. “Anywhere. As long as we are far away from the village.”

Kokumo shook his head vigorously. “No Ajoke. We can’t do that. Have you forgotten that you are an only daughter? Your father will never forgive us.”

“I don’t care.” Ajoke said throwing a tantrum. “Did he think about that before deciding to seal my fate with a stranger?”

Kokumo put his hand on his head as he looked to the heavens. “Ajoke, your father believes he is doing this in your best interest.”

“And you?” Ajoke asked, getting angry.

“Ajoke my love, you don’t know how much this hurts. Do you think if I knew this could happen, I would not have asked for your hand in marriage before going to the University? Our dreams are being shattered before our eyes. I wish I knew what to do. I am as confused as you are.  If we elope, where will you stay? How will I cater for you while I am still in school? I wanted a better life for us. A life different from what our parents have in this village where civilization is still a dream.”

“So you are just going to let me go? You would leave me to live a life of misery married to someone I do not love?” Ajoke asked as tears began to stream down her cheeks again.

“Ajoke…..” Kokumo stressed her name as he turned her so that she sat face to face with him. “I cannot help it. What do you want me to do? If we could think of a way out besides eloping, I am ready to go that route.”

Ajoke burst into tears as her body shook. This was not the dream they had when they were leaving the secondary school. They had had lofty dreams; Kokumo especially. He had been so sure of a bright future ahead of them. Even when she had been discouraged knowing that her education ended at the secondary level, he had lightened her spirit by telling her that once they got married, she could go back to school. He wanted her to be educated as well. All the dreams they talked about were crashing before them like a pack of badly arranged cards. She understood everything Kokumo had said. She knew eloping with him did not make sense but she was ready to gamble on their destiny.

As she sobbed, Kokumo pulled her close and hugged her. This was difficult for him as well. His heart was also getting broken. He had never loved anyone the way he loved Ajoke. She was his first love but fate was turning its back on their love. Fate was tearing them apart leaving each one of them in the cold. How he wished he could turn back the hands of time. How he wished he had listened to his mother. It was almost as if she knew this would happen. He would have visited her father immediately to make his intentions known. He would have gotten married to her and took her home to his mother. He would have still continued his education but he would have also saved their love. Now, his inactions had caused both of them great pain. He sighed deeply as he held on to Ajoke.

Ajoke looked up at Kokumo’s face and his heart broke. She was more broken than he was. She took Kokumo’s face in her hands and kissed him passionately. She kissed him with so much dexterity that Kokumo almost wondered where she learnt to kiss. As she held on to him, she raised herself from her sitting position and knelt before him as she continued to kiss him. Beams of passion began to burn in Kokumo’s body and he tried to pull back but Ajoke refused to let go. She began to caress his body as she put her hands under his tee-shirt. The sensations Kokumo felt were indescribable as blood began to seep into his nether region. Ajoke was waking up every member of his body. He kissed her back matching her passion and soon, they were both panting. Ajoke began to unzip his trousers and his body began to seek expression. He tore the wrapper she tied round her waist away as he lay her down gently to take pleasure in her. Just as he was about to merge his body with hers, he remembered what she had told him a few minutes ago; I am getting married to Adejoro in a week. He shook his head as if a spell cast on him had suddenly been lifted and stood up as he began to zip up his trousers.

Ajoke lay on the ground with her eyes closed awaiting his pleasure. His kisses had pleasured her and she wanted him to take her whole. She opened her eyes when she noticed she couldn’t feel his breath on her again and saw him standing and watching her. She looked at him confused as she realized he had zipped up his pants and was holding her wrapper.

“We can’t do this, Ajoke.”

Ajoke sat up. “Why? We both want this.”

Kokumo breathed hard. “Yes, we both want it but it is not right. You are getting married next week.”

Ajoke opened her mouth to say something but shut it again. She stood up, snatched her wrapper from Kokumo and tied it round her waist. She picked up her water pot and was about walking away when Kokumo held her arm. She looked back at him angrily. “Leave me alone, Kokumo.”

“Please understand Ajoke. The embarrassment a woman goes through when her husband finds out someone else had made her a woman is great. I love you and do not want you to go through it.”

“Kokumo, I said leave me alone.” Ajoke repeated in anger.

Kokumo exhaled. He regretted leading her on and as much as he would have loved to be the one to make her a woman, he could not stand the embarrassment she would face later. He retrieved the water pot from her and dropped it gently. He hugged her tight but Ajoke struggled to free herself from him. When her strength failed her, she sighed and stayed still in his embrace.

“You don’t know how much I love you, Ajoke. I am willing to make this sacrifice to show you how much I love you.” He said as he cradled her face and planted a gentle kiss on her lips. He bent down to pick up her water pot and handed it to her. She collected it without making eye contact with him. She had cried enough for the day.

Kokumo took up his wrapper, shook it before placing it back into his travel bag. He picked the travel bag and held Ajoke’s hand as he led her towards the stream. He collected the water pot from her, filled it up with water and helped to balance it on her head. They walked quietly towards the path that led to her house.

When they got to the junction before her house, Kokumo stopped walking and kissed his fore and middle finger and placed it on Ajoke’s lips. Ajoke smiled sadly as she knew this was his goodbye. He turned back and took another path that would lead him back to the main road while Ajoke watched in sorrow.

——–
The story continues…..

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com

The Wait – Chapter 5

Kokumo went back to school a week later. Immediately he arrived campus, he sat down to write a letter to Ajoke. He informed her that he had arrived school safely and that he missed her already. He told her he couldn’t wait to complete his education so that they could be together forever.

Ajoke smiled when she received Kokumo’s letter. She placed the letter on her chest and day dreamed about her marriage to Kokumo. She was still lost in thought and did not realize when her mother walked into the room.

“Ah ah, kí ló n se ìwö ömö yìí? O jòkó sí ibí bayìí, tó yë ko wá bámi dá iná.” (What is wrong with you, this child? You sit down here when you should be helping me prepare food.)

Ajoke was startled when she heard her mother and quickly put the letter under her pillow.

“Kíni ìwé to tójú sí abé ibusùn ë?” (Which paper did you just keep under your pillow?) Iya Ajoke asked.

“Kò sí mà.” (Nothing ma). Ajoke replied looking scared.

“Sé ìdáhùn sí ìbéèrè mi nì yën?” (Is that the answer to my question?)

“Rárá mà.” (No ma). “Ìwé…ehn…ìwé yën.” (Paper….the paper). Ajoke stuttered as she looked at her pillow and looked back at her mother.

“S’ó ò lè dáhùn ni?” (Can’t you answer?) Iya Ajoke shouted.

“Ìwé tí wón fi ránsé sí mi láti ilé ìwé gíga ni.” (I was sent the letter from the University).

“Ilé ìwé gíga? Sé bàbá ë o sò fún ë pé kò s’ówó láti rán ë lö sí ilé ìwé gíga ni? (The university? Has your father not told you that there are no funds to send you to the University?)

“Wön ti so fún mi, mà.” (He has told me, ma). Ajoke said looking at her feet.

“Kí lo n wá da ara ë láàmú fún?” (So why are you disturbing yourself?)

“Mi ò ní rò ó mó.” (I won’t think about it again). Ajoke replied as she stood up.

Her mother pulled her close and hugged her. “Ilé ökö ló yë kí o ma rò ní ìsìnyín. To bá ti lo sí ilé ôkö ë, o ma gbàgbé nípa ilé ìwé.” (You should be thinking about getting married. Once you get married, you will forget about schooling.)

“Mo ti gbó Màámi.” (I have heard, my mother).

 

That night, as Iya Ajoke and her husband were about to retire to their tattered mattress, she mentioned the discussion between her daughter and herself to Baba Ajoke. She told Baba Ajoke that she was beginning to see reasons with him as regards giving their daughter out in marriage. She told her husband that even if Ajoke was interested in going to the University, she would be better off doing that from her husband’s house; as he would bear the sole responsibility of financing her education.

Baba Ajoke told his wife that he was happy that she understood his point of view. He informed her that a friend of their first son, Adisa who was an engineer had indicated interest in Ajoke but since she refused to give out her daughter, he had asked him to hold on for a while. He also mentioned that he had even gone ahead to make investigations about his family and that they were good people.

Iya Ajoke was surprised that her husband had made all the inquiries needed prior to the marriage of their only daughter without her knowledge. She was however, happy that they had found a suitable suitor – an engineer. That meant her daughter would be referred to as “Iyawo Engineer” (wife of an engineer). She smiled as she thought about the title which was much better than hers – Iyawo Baba Elemu.

 

The next day, as agreed between her parents, Iya Ajoke called her daughter aside and informed her that a young engineer had indicated interest in her. She told her daughter that she and her father had agreed that this was the best time for her to get married. Most of her friends were already married and they did not want their daughter to become an outcast. She informed her that the young engineer was her elder brother’s friend who frequented their house in search of her brother. She also assured her that he would take care of her and make her a proud mother of many children.

Ajoke looked at her mother, unable to utter any words. I warned Kokumo. I warned him. Now what I feared is eventually coming to pass. She thought. Oh Kokumo, where are you? How am I going to fight this battle alone? Her heart cried out.

“Ajoke…Ajoke, so gbó gbogbo nkan tí mo sö?” (Ajoke, did you hear all I have said?)

Ajoke looked at her mother as a tear escaped her eyes.

“Mo gbó ö yín Màámi.” (I heard you, my mother).

“Kí ló n wa pá é ní igbe? Nkan ìdùnú kó ni mo bá ë sö ni?” (So why are you crying? Isn’t this discussion a thing of joy?)

“Mi ò tí ì fé lö sí ilé ökö.” (I am not ready to get married now).

“Kí lo fé ma se ní ilé Bàbá ë? Sé orí méjì ni àwön òré ë tí wón ti lo sí ilé ökö ní ni?” (What will you be doing in your father’s house? Do your friends who have gotten married have two heads?)  Iya Ajoke asked irritably.

Ajoke looked down as the tears flowed freely.

“Ya nu ojú ë kíá kíá, ko múra láti pàdé àwön ëbí ökö ë ní òsè méjì sí èní.” (Better wipe your tears and get ready to meet your husband’s people two weeks from now). Iya Ajoke concluded.

 

As Ajoke lay on her bed that night, she thought about the promise Kokumo had made to her; the promise to get married to her immediately after his graduation. Since eavesdropping over her parents’ conversation about marriage, she had been uncomfortable with his decision to wait till he graduated. But his dream was to become a graduate and she knew denying him that dream would be selfish of her. With the turn of events now, she wondered if his decision was the best. Her parents were giving her out in marriage and there was nothing she could do about it. Most of her married friends also had their marriages arranged by her parents and thinking hers would be an exception at this point was laughable.

Early the next morning, before her brothers woke up to prepare for the day’s job, Ajoke tore a sheet of paper and wrote a lengthy letter to Kokumo. She informed him about the decision taken by her parents, the date set for the introduction by her prospective husband’s people and her fear of living a life of misery married to someone she did not know. She put the letter in her pocket and waited till the right time to go to the local post office.

 

 

Two weeks later, Adejoro and his immediate family came for an introduction. They came bearing gifts of foodstuff and told Baba Ajoke that they had found a flower in his house which they intended to pluck. Baba Ajoke welcomed them into his abode and asked Iya Ajoke to entertain the August visitors.

“Àwön ëbí ökö ë ti dé.” (Your husband’s family members are here). Iya Ajoke said excitedly to her daughter who was pounding yam at the back of the house.

Ajoke refused to look up from what she was doing but continued to hit the mortar with the pestle in her hands with force.

Iya Ajoke assuming that her daughter did not hear her moved closer to her. She repeated herself again.

Ajoke ignored her mother and continued to pound.

“Sé o ti di adití ni?” (Are you now deaf?) She asked her daughter.

Ajoke stopped and wiped her brow with her forefinger flicking the sweat away. “Mo ti gbó yín.” (I have heard you).

“Wò ó, ya só ara ë, tí o ò bá fé kí bàbá ë bínú sí ë.” (Look, you better be careful if you do not want your father to be cross with you). Iya Ajoke said as she pointed a warning finger at her daughter.

She walked into the kitchen and started dishing the efo elegusi that she had prepared that morning for their visitors in bowls. When she was done, she called Ajoke to scoop large mounds of the iyan into plates and bring them into the kitchen. Iya Ajoke called her youngest son, Akanni to assist her so she could serve their visitors. It was not yet time for the prospective husband to see his intending bride.

Akanni and his mother went ahead to serve the visitors while Ajoke went to her room to await her parents call. As she sat down on her mattress, a tear slid down her cheek. She was at a loss of what to do. She hadn’t heard from Kokumo and she wondered if he had received her letter. She was half-expecting him to show up in her house any moment from now to disrupt the marriage rites. She was still in her state of dejection when she heard her mother’s voice. “Ajoke, Ajoke, ó ti yá o.” (It is time).

She quickly cleaned her eyes and stood up. Her mother had given her one of her most expensive iro and buba to wear. The attire was always at the bottom of her portmanteau as she only wore it for special occasions. Ajoke’s introduction was one of such and she told her daughter that she deserved to be dressed expensively. Even though the attire looked a little big on her, Ajoke had cared less about the fit. She was not interested in looking attractive to her prospective husband’s people.

Her mother took her hand and led her into the small courtyard where everyone waited for the beautiful flower to be plucked. As taught by her mother, she knelt down in front of every member of her prospective husband’s family greeting each one of them. Adejoro smiled broadly as he nodded his head. He raised his shoulders with pride as she took turns to greet every member of his family. He was the last to be greeted and as she knelt down in front of him, he pulled her up into a hug. Every one clapped at Adejoro’s gesture while Ajoke boiled inside. She refused to hug him back but Adejoro was too caught up in the moment of adulation to notice.

He had eyed his friend’s younger sister for years. She was still in the junior secondary class when he had mentioned to his friend, Adisa that his sister was beginning to sprout into a beautiful lady. Adisa had mocked him when he said he would not mind marrying her one day. Adisa told him she was too young for marriage and that their father wanted her to finish her secondary education. Adejoro had agreed with him on the importance of education. He had also finished his secondary education the same year as Adisa but from different schools. While Adisa had gone ahead to trade in shoe making, Adejoro had gone to a technical college to fine tune his engineering skills. He was still in the technical college but also made a few cash helping out with sub-contracted jobs. His side job had earned him the title “Engineer” within the village and he prided in it jealously. He had also earned the admiration of the young ladies in the village and each one of them sought his attention.

 

The two families agreed to wed their children in four weeks’ time. A list of items to be bought by Adejoro’s family was also handed over to them by Ajoke’s family. Baba Ajoke reckoned that since his daughter was getting married into a family which stood better than them in terms of means, he needed to make sure he requested enough to cater for his own family.  He therefore demanded for an increased number of food items than the usual tradition. His wife also needed to have a change of clothing, so he demanded for expensive clothing items as well.

This was the only chance he had to upgrade his family and he was ready to go the extra mile to ensure they were well catered for.

——–
The story continues…..

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com