March 9th, 2013
Waking up at 5am, just so that we could catch our 9am flight to Abuja, almost made me wish I had travelled with the rest of my family yesterday evening. Phillip, my mother, my brothers, three of my paternal Uncles, and my maternal Aunt Imoh, had left with the evening flight to Abuja. I actually found myself feeling sorry for Phillip, having to bear the cost of flying 8 people. His major saving grace is that my father’s eldest brother, Uncle Ekong, and patriarch of the family, also lives in Abuja, so not only did that reduce the amount of people that would have to fly there, it meant he didn’t have to add the cost of accommodation, as my Uncle Ekong’s house is apparently large enough to accommodate everyone.
Because I know my family’s definition of ‘accommodate everyone’ could mean some people would have to sleep on the floor, or be as many as 4 on a bed, I politely declined the offer to spend the one night I will be in town there, using my husband’s supposed discomfort, as an excuse. Abeg, even sleeping alone on a bed is bad enough for me.
As we drove to the airport, all grouchy and groggy, my phone buzzed with a text message. Checking it, I groaned. This Akunna girl sure knows how to time her nuisance!
Faith, today is exactly a week since your family came to see mine. And I have waited this whole week for you to call me, but you haven’t. I’m sure you are aware that your brother’s concubine succeeded in brainwashing him to change every single thing we agreed. Yet, there has been no word from you. You that should understand my case the most!
I hissed, and momentarily thought about deleting the text, before deciding to reply.
Nobody was brainwashed. I’m sure you yourself know that your family’s demands were outrageous. The offer we have made is more than fair.
Sure enough, practically seconds after I’d sent it, my phone buzzed again.
Is that how much you get as an allowance? Can you survive on that kind of allowance? Is it fair that he put me in this condition, and now wants me to be living like a pauper, while he lives the high life with that old cargo?
I half laughed, half grunted. Old cargo indeed! If they were to stand side-by-side, we all knew who people would think was the old cargo!
I’m not sitting here, waiting for handouts. Even with my pregnancy, I am working and earning a living! Instead of sitting around and wondering how to fleece your baby daddy, I suggest you try to make yourself useful, if not now, when the baby is born. And please, if you have any issues with the offer, send your own counter through your lawyer to Phillip’s. Leave me out of this, please!
“Ah, don’t break your phone oh!” Phillip laughed, as I punched away at the buttons angrily.
The last thing I needed that morning was any Akunna grief!
Luckily, we got to the airport in good time to check in, and boarded the flight very shortly after. By 10.05am, we had landed in Abuja. We took a taxi straight to the hotel we had booked for the night, and after paying a small fee, checked into our room early. I managed to nap for a couple of hours, before we had to head out. As my Uncle’s house is all the way in Kubwa, it didn’t make sence for Patrick and I to drive there, and then drive back to town again. So, we had agreed it would be best for us to meet up with them at Diana’s Uncle’s house in Asokoro.
We got to the place, just as my family were being let into the compound. Thank God for car hire, because if it had been only my Uncle’s old model Mercedes that had brought them, I think they would have had a rethink oh! LOL!
Whilst my stubborn Uncle chose to drive his rickety car anyway, Phillip and my brothers were in a much more presentable automobile.
But speaking of automobiles!
Patrick’s whistle, as we walked into the compound, pretty much mirrored my own feelings. The compound was like a showroom for exotic cars. By the time we were ushered inside, the opulence of the place took my breath away! For the first time in a long long long time, I actually felt an inferiority complex begin to creep in. What if they thought we weren’t good enough?
Luckily, my fears soon proved unfounded, as we were soon welcomed warmly by their family; consisting of a host of Uncles and Aunties, and some slightly younger men I assumed to be Diana’s brothers. It turned out I was right. Two of the younger men (if you call men in their 40s younger) were Diana’s brothers, and one of the ‘Aunties’ was actually Diana’s oldest sister.
The event followed no protocol. Introductions were made, from both sides, and Diana’s brother gave a brief speech about how they had become very close knit, following the loss of their parents, at a young age. He talked about how they have always looked out for each other, from when they were moved from house to house here in Nigeria, before they were moved to stay with relatives in the UK. He talked about how, even though he isn’t the oldest in the family (apparently, that honour belongs to her sister here, Sim), he prides himself as the protector, and will not hesitate to kill anyone who hurts his sister.
Hmmm. I’m sure Phillip got the point.
Shortly after, Diana was ushered into the living room, and I found myself break into a broad smile when I saw she was accompanied by Vou. She had made it in the end!
Diana was a vision of loveliness, in a yellow lace outfit. In fact, the whole room was full of devastatingly good looking people…even the older Uncles and Aunties. This family sure is blessed with great genes! More than a few times, I caught myself staring at Diana’s brothers. Hmm, they are lucky I’m married, or else na two people from my family dey for marry today.
The introduction ceremony (if I can even call it that…it was so informal) was going so well; the necessary questions had been asked, fantastic food had been eaten, and everything was going great…until the question about where the wedding would be came up.
Someone suggested Jos, as it had been where she’d been raised; someone else suggested Abuja, as Jos is too volatile, and most of her relatives live here now; someone even suggested Lagos, as it is now home to her.
“I still think it should be in London.” Diana’s oldest brother, Jacob, insisted. “Her closest family members live there, and we have to remember that’s where she will be given away from,” and then turning to a mystery gentleman, who hadn’t been introduced as one of her brothers, but was easily the most handsome of the lot. “Right, Yakubu?”
I saw my Uncle’s face contort in a frown. “I’m not sure we were introduced to this young man. Is he also one of your brothers?”
Jacob shook his head in response, and was about to answer the question, when the so called Yakubu decided to speak for himself.
“No, Sir. I represent her late husband’s family. I am his younger brother.”
I think someone in our group even said it out loud!
Husband’s family ke? Looking at the enraged look on Phillip’s face, I could see this was news to him. Diana simply looked away.
Uncle Ekong was the first to compose himself.
“Yes, we know she is a widow…but what has this got to do with the late husband?!”
“Sir” Jacob responded. “When we gave Diana to them in marriage, she became theirs. The death of her husband changes nothing. If she is going to another family, they are the ones who will hand her over.”
Members of our family exchanged shocked glances.