Tag Archives: marriage rites

The Wait – Chapter 6

Ajoke’s letter got delivered to Kokumo’s department a day before his exams were about to start. He was handed the letter by the departmental secretary. As he collected it, a smile played on his lips as he recognized Ajoke’s handwriting. He closed his eyes briefly and imagined being right by her side. He had missed her so much. He put the letter in his book folder and quickened his steps towards the hostel. He longed to read from her and he wanted to do it while relaxed. He knew she would have written to fill him on the happenings in her village and also gists about her friends.

As he hastened towards the hostel, he thought about when next to pay her a visit. Exams were scheduled to end in a month’s time and he looked forward to going home just to be with her. This time, he was going to take her home and make sure his mother accepted her. He was now a grown man and if he wasn’t in the University, he knew she would have been asking about his marriage plans.

He sauntered into his room, all his thoughts on his beloved. He took out the letter from the book folder and dropped the folder on his mattress which lay by a corner in the room. As he lay on the mattress, he tore the envelope carefully.  He took out the letter and began to read.

“My darling Kokumo,

How are you and school? I hope you are doing well.

I am writing this letter with so much pain because my father is marrying me off very soon. The man to whom I will be married to is coming for my mo mi mo o in two weeks’ time.

My eyes are filled with tears as I have no choice in this matter. I wish it did not have to be this way.

I don’t know what to do any longer. I am confused. I love you with all my heart.

See you whenever you come home.

Ajoke.”

 

Kokumo must have read the letter a thousand times but each time, he failed to understand what he had just read. Marrying her off? To who? Why? What about their plans to get married once he graduated? Then it hit him like a thunderbolt. Ajoke had mentioned during his last visit that she had overheard her parents discussing about getting her married. The moment it dawned on him, tears dropped down his cheeks. Ajoke, Ajoke, I can’t afford to lose you. He said to himself. God why? First, you took my father. Now, you want to take Ajoke away from me. He put the letter on his chest as he cried silently, hot tears making their way down his cheeks. Ajoke wasn’t the only one confused; he was as well. His exams were starting tomorrow and it did not make sense to go home now. Besides, from the date on the letter, the introduction had already been done. His mind was in disarray as he thought of what to do.

Throughout that evening, Kokumo could not concentrate. He knew he was meant to read for his paper the next day but every time he did, he saw the words in Ajoke’s letter dancing before his eyes. As much as he tried to get his mind off it, he kept on seeing the words; the man to whom I will be married to is coming for my moomi mo in two weeks’ time.

After a fruitless hour of not being able to concentrate, he decided to pack up his books and go to sleep. Maybe when he woke up, he would realize it was all a dream; and Ajoke would still be waiting for him to finish school and they could get married.

Kokumo woke up fitfully the next day. He could not remember how he slept or if he did at all. He kept on seeing Ajoke crying out to him for help. While she did, he stood afar with his arms folded and watched as she struggled with someone he couldn’t recognize. The person held her tightly by the hand and he made no attempt to rescue her. Her cries filled his ears calling him and pleading with him to save her from her captor but he shook his head, turned back and walked away.

As he was walking away, he saw his mother walking towards him. She pulled his ears as she got to him and repeated their last conversation over and over again.

“Sé bàbá ömö náà mò é?” (Does the girl’s father know you?)

“Rárá mà.” (No ma).

“Kí ló wá fi é lókàn balè pé to bá padà láti ilé ìwé gíga, o yì ma ba l’ómidan?” (What gives you the assurance that when you graduate from the University, she would still be single)?

“Àdéhùn t’émi àti è jö ní ni.” (That is the agreement between us).

“Ölórun á bá ë sé o.” (God will do it for you, I hope).

He sat up on his mattress and noticed that the tee-shirt he wore to bed clung to his body. The tee-shirt and his mattress were wet with sweat. He shook his head as he sighed deeply. What sort of nightmare did he just have? He would do anything within his power to rescue Ajoke from danger but why didn’t he do that in his dream. It made no sense to him. He loved her and would never allow anyone endanger her life. Who could have been holding on tightly to her? Was it her father or the man she was to be married to? Why had he made no attempt to save her from her captor? Instead, he had turned his back on her when she needed him most. The dream was all so confusing and he could not fathom what it meant.

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He stood up from his mattress and stretched. He looked at his other room mates who were still sound asleep. He needed to concentrate if he wasn’t going to fail his exams. He thought about responding to Ajoke’s letter but words were not enough to convey everything he had to say. He would rather see her in person and they could discuss their next line of action. Just give me three weeks and I will be with you, Ajoke. He said to no one.

He picked up his bucket and decided to get ready for the day ahead. As much as he loved Ajoke, he also wanted to make her proud and graduating with good grades was of utmost importance to him. Her friends who had gotten married had been given out in marriage to secondary school certificate holders and artisans. Just like Ajoke whose parents could not afford to send her to the University, most of them either could not afford to do so or did not see the importance of sending their daughters to a tertiary institution. Those who did not see the importance believed it was a waste of funds as she would eventually get married and be confined to taking care of her husband and her children.

Kokumo reckoned it would be a thing of pride when Ajoke stood in the midst of her friends to say she had gotten married to a graduate. She would become the envy of her friends just as his mother’s friends envied her in the market where she sold her fruits. She was no longer referred to as Iya Kokumo. She had been given a new name and was now called Iya Gradue. Even though, he had tried to correct them that he was still an undergraduate, it did not matter to them. The fact that he was even in the University had upgraded his status and that of his mother. He also wanted the same change of status for Ajoke and he was going to make sure he worked towards not just being a graduate but one that finished with good grades.

He walked towards the bathroom to take a shower. Once he was done, he sat down to read as he pushed the contents of Ajoke’s letter behind his mind. In three weeks, he would be done and if he needed to present himself to Ajoke’s father as the man who loved his daughter and wanted to get married to her, so be it.

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The story continues…..

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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.

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The story continues…..

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Second Chances – Episode 14

The next Saturday as Kunbi sits in the bus taking her to Ibadan, she is oblivious to discussions and the on-goings around her. Her mind is faraway. The week had been a very difficult one. She had barely been able to concentrate at work and even a few of her colleagues had noticed and asked if she was fine. Sola had stayed away the whole week. She went for lunch alone and after the second day, she stopped going. What use was the lunch anyway as she ended up wasting her food each time? She cried herself to sleep most nights. She was torn, confused and depressed.

She had Ola’s engagement ring as his commitment to her but Sola was yet to state his intentions. He showed her he loved her, but love wasn’t enough. She needed a commitment from him. He had told her that he was scared of being committed. And then in another breath, he said he had hoped for a future with her? What future was there with him if he was never going to be committed? She sighs as she alights from the bus at the final destination. She decides to go to her mum’s first. She does not think she can face Ola yet.

“Are you okay, Kunbi?” Wunmi asks her daughter as she opens the door to her room. Kunbi had arrived about 30 minutes earlier, greeted her mum and gone straight to her bedroom. Her mum had waited for her in the living room hoping to speak with her. Wale had called during the week to inform her about the outcome of their discussion and she had been surprised to hear that her daughter was in love with another man. Her cousin’s friend. She had decided then to discuss about the other young man her daughter was in love with.

“Yes mum”. Kunbi answers as she turns to look at her mum standing at the door.

Wunmi walks into the room and sits on the bed beside her daughter. She takes her hand in hers. “Are you in love with Sola?”

“I don’t know mum”. Kunbi says bursting into tears.

Her mum hugs her as she sobs quietly. “I think you are, Kunbi”.

“Did Wales tell you he has a phobia for commitment?”

“He mentioned that you told him. He said they had not seen each other since school until recently when they bumped into each other again. So he was not aware of his commitment issues”.

“Mummy, Sola told me himself. He said he had lost a lot of good ladies because he was scared of commitment”.

Wunmi looks at her daughter as she lets out a long sigh of despair.

“I want to be married and Sola is not ready”. Kunbi says wiping her tears and blowing her nose with a tissue pulled from a box of tissues by her bed.

2nd Chances 14

“How do you know he is not ready?”

“I know mum. It is obvious he loves me, but what happens if he decides never to get married? Am I going to remain his girlfriend for life? Kunbi looks at her mum expecting an answer. “What kind of relationship exists between us? Am I his lunch partner or his confidant? Or am I just a girlfriend or someone he wants to spend the rest of his life with? Mum, I don’t even know. I don’t know what I am to him.” She says in frustration.

Wunmi cannot answer her daughter’s questions. She feels her hurt and pain and she wishes she could relieve her of them.

“I can’t keep on waiting forever? Ola is ready to marry me. I would rather go with him than wait based on assumptions”.

Wunmi exhales. “I wish I had an idea of what the future holds. Whatever decision you take, I will stand by you”.

“Thanks mum”. Kunbi says as she hugs her mum.

Tears begin to stream down her cheeks again.

“You have cried enough”. Wunmi says wiping her daughter’s face as she stands up. “It is time to take decisions and you need a clear head to do it”.

Two hours later, Kunbi freshens up and takes a taxi to Ola’s apartment. He had called her earlier to find out if she had arrived Ibadan. She confirmed in the affirmative and told him she needed to make sure her mum was home and ready for them. As she approaches his apartment, she puts behind every thought of Sola and decides to face the task ahead.

Ola is seated in the living room already dressed. He gives her a kiss as she walks in and thoughts of Sola go further away from her heart. He smiles as he lifts her left hand and sees the engagement ring. “You are beautiful and I promise to make you happy”.

She blushes. “My mum is ready to see us”.

“Okay. Let’s go”. Ola says as he puts his hand on the small of her back.

Ola and Kunbi walk out of her mum’s house later in the evening. Her mum had prepared iyan (pounded yam) and efo elegusi (vegetable stew with melon) before they arrived. She insisted they both ate before discussing their mission. According to her, decisions and thoughts were better processed and assimilated on a full stomach.

Ola informed her about his intention to get married to her daughter and asked when he could come with his parents for a formal introduction. Wunmi raised her objections about her daughter getting married in three months’ time. There was no need for the rush; she stated. She agreed to inform other members of the family and have representatives meet with his parents three weeks from then. A date will be fixed for the wedding after the meeting, she said.

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Kunbi goes about her job with renewed zest. Her colleagues notice the engagement ring on her finger and compliment it. She receives a lot of congratulations and hugs. She resumes going for lunch alone and manages to put behind her thoughts of Sola. Sola avoids visiting her apartment as the pain of her engagement is too much for him to bear. He decides to stay away and lick his wounds alone.

Wale congratulates Kunbi reluctantly with a sad smile on his face. He touches her cheeks lightly. “Regardless of everything, you are still my favourite cousin and I love you very much”. She smiles her thanks and hugs him tightly. She knows if she falls down, he would be there to pick her up and pat her on the back. In the night season alone on her bed, within the deep recesses of her heart, she remembers Sola and sometimes cries herself to sleep. She knows she will never be able to totally forget him.

Three weeks later, Ola’s parents meet with Kunbi’s mum, Wale and her father’s brother. They discuss about their children and agree to begin the marriage rites. A larger introduction of the two families take place a month later and the date for the wedding is fixed for four months away.

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