March 9th, 2013
“It looks like the young man has a problem with the arrangement!” Yakubu remarked, with the hint of a smirk.
Suddenly, he didn’t look so handsome to me after all.
“As a matter of fact, I do!” Phillip responded angrily. “I don’t understand this. I don’t understand any of this!” Then turning to Diana “You never told me your late husband’s family is still a huge part of your life.”
Before Diana could even respond, her brother Jacob did so for her. “She has been a part of their family for over fourteen years! What did you expect?!”
Phillip smiled, and shook his head. Knowing my brother, that was not a good sign.
“So, who exactly will my in-laws be? Who will I be taking her from? Your family?” he asked, before turning to Yakubu “Yours? Or both?” he looked at Diana “Will your late husband be a part of our marriage? Will he be the invincible third party?”
When Diana said nothing, Phillip stood up and walked out of the room. My Uncle Ekong glared at everyone, before rushing out after him.
Diana stood to follow him, but Vou dragged her in the opposite direction, with their older sister on their heels.
“To! I said it!” Diana’s Uncle, and our host for the day, exclaimed all of a sudden. “When I said I didn’t understand your arrangement, it was as if I was just talking nonsense!”
“Uncle please! Now is not the time!” Jacob snapped.
“No, I can’t keep quiet any longer! You children have been doing things the way you like for way too long! If you knew you wanted to do things your way, why did you bother involving your other relatives?! Why didn’t you just have the introduction in London, the same way you unceremoniously married her off years ago?!!!” the Uncle snapped, fully enraged by now.
“I agree! This is nonsense!” another relative remarked. “I was wondering what Audu’s brother was doing here. And to hear him demand to give Diana a way?! What an insult! If I were these our in-laws, I wouldn’t take that!”
“Isn’t it till death do people part?! Why is Audu’s family still holding on? This is ridiculous!” another one remarked.
“There’s nothing ridiculous about it!” Jacob retorted, through what appeared to be gritted teeth. “Audu was an integral part of her life…”
“Your life, Jacob!” their Uncle shouted back. “You think we don’t know how he was the one sustaining you and your lifestyle, even long before he married your sister? And even that marriage! How convenient for you that he just happened to marry your barely 20 year old sister…a man that was almost 40 at the time! Just because we don’t talk doesn’t mean we are fools!” He turned to Yakubu “Will he be indebted forever?! Wasn’t marrying our daughter enough repayment?!”
You could hear a pin drop, in the ensuing silence. Jacob stared back at his Uncle, equally enraged, but oddly unable to say a word. Their other brother, Adam, looked away uncomfortably. And that arrogant Yakubu just sat there, still with that smug smile.
And then I finally understood.
From what I could gather, Jacob had been indebted to Audu in some way, and had orchestrated the marriage to his sister, as some form of appeasement. But apparently, the marriage had further worked in Jacob’s favour, as it seemed Audu had taken financial responsibility for the entire family. And if all this was anything to go by, his death hadn’t changed anything. My guess was that Yakubu was the one in charge of the purse strings now.
With her usual deep sigh, my Mom rose to her feet, excused herself and walked out of the room. I started going after her, when I overheard voices coming from what looked to be the kitchen. The voices belonged to Diana, Vou, and a third person, who I assumed to be their sister Sim. I was torn. Chase after my Mom, who I knew wanted to see what was going on with Phillip and my Uncle…or eavesdrop on Diana and her sisters.
The eavesdropping won.
“You will be the biggest fool if you let that man leave here…all because of Audu! A man who has been dead almost 10 years!!!” That was definitely Vou’s voice.
Diana’s muffled response was too quiet for me to hear, and I had to restrain myself from physically leaning on the door to hear better.
“So what??!” Vou exclaimed “So bloody what??!”
“Di…it doesn’t matter that you have been a part of their family for 14 years. Don’t forget that you were only married for 6! It is not enough for you to give up your future!” the gentle unfamiliar voice made me deduce it must be Sim.
“Jacob has always known how to manipulate you! From the very first day he brought that man home, I knew I could smell a rat!” Vou exclaimed “From the way he kept on goading you to date Audu, I knew he was up to something!”
“Nobody forced me to marry Audu!” Diana said sharply. “And don’t make Jacob out to be the devil here! All of us, every single one of us, benefited from Audu. Have you forgotten how many jobs we were all working, just to be able to eat food? Have you forgotten how hard it was for even you and Bako? Can’t you remember complaining to me that, after paying both your bills, you didn’t have up to £100 between you? Have you forgotten?!”
“No, I have not forgotten!” Vou snapped back. “Audu was very kind, there’s no doubt about that. He was a good man, and may God rest his soul. But you know very well that he is not the one you need to be careful about! Jacob has been emotionally blackmailing you for years, tying you with an invincible rope to Audu’s family long after his death, just for his own selfish purpose! He doesn’t want to lose out with their family, which is why he came up with this cock and bull idea of them giving you away! And you, my naïve sister, have fallen for it, hook line and sinker!”
There was silence…and I couldn’t tell if they were just talking quietly, or were really not saying anything.
“There is nobody who agrees with what Jacob is doing.” Sim finally said. “Not even Adam. Don’t lose your opportunity of being happy again because of some foolish thing Jacob has made you believe. You owe nothing to Audu’s family. That you didn’t give them a child is nobody’s fault! If they have an issue with that, let them take it up with God…not you! You are not their property…or a permanent replacement for their son!”
“And whilst you chase away this man you told me with your own mouth that you love with all your heart, don’t forget that, at the end of the day, Jacob will go back to his own happy home…to Emily and the kids.” Vou threw in, for good measure.
I heard some rustling, so I quickly left the vicinity, and went outside. Catching me eavesdropping would not make better an already bad situation.
Getting outside, I saw that my mother and Uncle Ekong had been joined by a few of our relatives, whilst Phillip stood in the far distance, smoking a cigarette.
As I stood there, Patrick came outside to join me, and we exchanged a troubled glance.
This was messy indeed!