Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Embracing futility 3


If you missed the last two parts, please read them here: part 1 and part 2

PART 3

These love birds grew closer by the day. Working in the same environment and having him ahead of her was a great feeling. There was a security she felt knowing he might be somewhere around, it gave her pleasure when they bumped into each other. She could speak her medical jargons to someone and he would get it. That someone was the one she loved and it made her walk with a spring in her step. It was the same for him, who else could he talk to? He had her to catch him, to encourage him and to boost his ego. He was sure that she would be a part of his life for a very long time.

Two years had gone by since their reunion, there were hurdles of course but they got through them. They sat one day, reminiscing on times past, talking about the times they both might have acted silly, teasing one another and laughing at each other. They did not become a boring old couple even after getting back together, they could laugh, play, tease one another, yet none would take offence. They were a couple to admire. He knew that he could not spend the rest of his life without her. She felt the same but on that subject, nobody had said a word. There were times that it haunted him, he wondered whether someone else would beat him to it, yet he could not imagine her being with any other person. There were days on her part that she wondered when this subject would be spoken about but she just watched.


On that fateful day, he popped the question...he just did! They had been out for dinner. He took her home and didn’t want to drive into her compound so he wouldn’t wake the neighbours. Just as she got out, he did too…he held his arms open and had just one question for her, he stood there with a ring they had once seen together. He must have gone back for it!

Full of nothing but love for this man, she was ready to take him to meet her parents. She knew she would have to face her father but this was one battle she had chosen that would be worth it. She spoke to her mother about their coming. Her mother was pleased that her daughter would be getting married soon. From all she had heard, he struck her as the right person. She had asked Chichi’s siblings and they all thought he was right for her. Her closest sister, Uche, never liked Bee for her, but how could one say things like that to people in love? She told her with a sigh of relief when they had ended things. Azubike always had Uche’s approval.

Her father was uptight that day, he seemed very uncomfortable and he acted like all he wanted to do was to make them unhappy. Where is he from? What does he do? What church does he attend? There was a flood of questions…she caught her breath. All the while, she trusted Azubike to keep calm like he always did no matter what. She looked at the two men she loved, she never imagined it to be this way. She had hoped that the one she would bring home would be accepted, hoping her father would trust her judgement. Sadly, her mother never really said much, she went with her husband’s word even when she disagreed. This fight was entirely Chichi’s. 

They set out to Jos after meeting the parents but Chichi had started to loathe her father’s way of thinking. He only seemed to think in a straight line. It crossed her mind that she may be the one being so unreasonable but then she knew she wasn’t asking for too much. On the individual, he didn’t say much. He was only fixed on irrelevant things like them not attending the same church. Her father made it clear that he could not give them his blessings and did not advise her to continue in the relationship. On the other hand, Chichi had met Azubike’s family and they were a hundred percent accepting of her. In fact, his mother loved her so much, she could not wait to have her as a daughter-in-law. Chichi asked God where he was in all of this, she asked for a sign, for some leading, anything, but no answers came.

She travelled to see a friend of her fathers whom her father always paid attention to, and told him all that had been happening. He was not pleased that his friend would judge a person based on such things and not the character; he was willing to intervene. He followed up with Chichi and Azubike to be sure that Azubike was worth fighting for, before speaking to his friend. When he did eventually, Chichi’s father called to say he was willing to speak to the couple again. They travelled to the family house in Zaria once more, filled with hope. The meeting went better than the last time, that the couple proceeded to start making arrangements for their wedding.

Out of nowhere, Chichi’s dad shouted “Osu! Tufiakwa!”, the call ended instantly. Chichi was home for the weekend and apparently, her father had sent someone to check out Azubike’s family line. It turned out that they were from the part Igbo land considered to be outcasts (Osu). I thought you were a Christian and such things did not matter she said in protest. That marriage will never happen her father ended after shouting nonstop at her. The whole family had gathered round by this time, consoling Chichi as she cried so hard. Her wedding dress had arrived just a day before, then this? She could not hold her tears back, her heart ached. She could not bring herself to even call him. Uche did. Azubike was torn. He had heard of the myth but was unaware that his ancestors were considered to be osus. He wanted to give up. They had fought hard, it had been almost five years of being together. He didn’t know how much more he could take. He cried this time, and pray, he did. He told God that if he was that God that Chichi believed so much in, this was the time to prove that he was all she said he was. It would be hard on them both he knew. He did not feel like speaking to Chichi just yet. He wondered how someone’s father could bring so much pain to his child. At the same time, he had promised himself from the beginning never to resent his prospective father-in-law. After all, two wrongs would never make things right.

“The Osu, by definition, are a set of people sacrificed to the gods in Igbo community. They assist the high priest of the traditional religion to serve the deities or the gods in their shrine. It is the belief of many Igbo traditionalists that the deities, which were (and are still) perceived in some quarters as being very powerful, would wreak havoc in the society, if they are not appeased. So the osus are untouchable”. 
This is a myth which until today, some still believe. The downside to this myth is that these Osus do not intermarry in Igbo land for fear of what might follow.

Chichi just sat there, she was slowly losing her mind she thought to herself. She could not move, she could not eat, she could not speak, she could only cry and sleep. Days passed. Her mother started to get concerned. Just when she thought to intervene, she lifted Chichi off the bed, she had to make her eat or drink something. Just as Chichi tried to stand, she passed out. 

“She suffers from acute dehydration” the doctor said to her mother. Chichi had drips connected to her, she still would not speak to anyone. The spark that was once always present in her eyes seemed to have faded. Two days had passed since Chichi was rushed to the hospital and she had still not said a word. Her mother was by her bed side every day begging her to forgive her father. Just as they were preparing to sleep that night, Azubike walked in. The joy that filled Chichi’s heart was inexplicable. The loneliness she had felt for the last few days disappeared as she buried her head in his chest and cried uncontrollably. Relief! That was mostly what her mother felt. She also felt extremely guilty as she had not managed to stand up to her husband on this issue, she never did anyway, she always just followed…

Chichi could not look at her father. She avoided his eyes, she felt such bitterness towards him but she knew she had to deal with that, as it weighed heavily on her sanity. From the moment she was discharged from the hospital, she started to pack. She could not stay for one more second in that house, she left for Jos despite her mother’s pleading. As for her mother, as much as she was grateful for her always being good to her, she equally felt anger towards her. How could a woman who had spent her entire life with a man just follow and not have a say in anything? Thinking about it, it had always been that way. The past few years had taught Chichi many things but one thing she refused to learn or agree with, was blind submission.

Chichi gave her all to work, she had to forget. She and Azubike were unsure of where they stood or what they were doing but they just stayed on. There were times Chichi felt such pain, like her heart would be ripped right out of her chest. She cried, a lot these days. Her emotions seemed to be all over the place. She had no control anymore of her feelings. She wondered why love had to bring so much pleasure and pain mixed together. Azubike acted strong but she knew that beneath all that, he was hurting. It made her feel worse and she told him to move on but somehow, he was convinced with everything in him that they were meant to be together. Even though she lost hope, lost faith, every time she looked at him, she believed him when he said the words “we are meant to be together and everything will work out”.

Chichi poured out her heart to this man she had grown up calling uncle Amatobi. He was her father’s cousin and her father had a lot of respect for him. She knew that if anything happened to her father, he would be the next person to go to. She liked to believe that her father would listen to him…he had to. This was her last option. His wife was always such a sweet woman, she always made time in their home such a pleasure, yet one could tell that she was firm and had a mind of her own. With all the pain Chichi was going through, she didn’t mean to, but she unconsciously wished that her mother was more like this woman. She narrated everything to them and how hard the last eight months had been since she took Azubike home. At the end of her two day stay, he told her that he would like to meet Azubike. He lived all the way in Kwara state. It was a long way from Jos but Chichi knew that Azubike would not mind.

Uncle Amatobi called Chichi to let her know that the chat with her father seemed to have gone well. They both knew he was stubborn and just would not throw his fight away easily so they were not sure what would come next. He also mentioned to Chichi that his impression of Azubike was that he was a good person and he would make a good husband and father if they decided to have children. Of course she was pleased to hear that from someone she holds in such high esteem.

Chichi’s father invited Chichi for a weekend, he said nothing to her but carried on like all was fine. On Sunday, the day he knew she would return, after church, he asked the whole family to come together. He said a prayer for Chichi then told her that in accordance with certain scriptures, he was giving her his blessings and some presents as she moved on to her husband’s house. Chichi was in shock! She was too stunned to react so she just stared at him. Everyone was excited for her, but she could not move. It was surreal. After all these years! She finally collected herself and drove herself back to Jos. She went straight to Azubike’s house. On seeing her, something did not look right with her. He insisted for her to tell him what was going on. After half an hour of her numbness, she narrated her father’s version of giving his consent for them to finally get married. Azubike was thrilled but also stunned. He sat beside her holding her hand. The silence between them was enough, it was a language that made perfect sense in that moment.

As she walked down the aisle, she had such mixed feeling about every single thing. Staring at the man she was walking to, she fought back tears. She looked at the faces smiling at her from the pews she was walking past. Uncle Amatobi gladly walked her down the aisle, he was proud of her. She hoped, somewhere deep within that her family would show up. Her father must have forbidden them all from attending her wedding. That was the only logical explanation she could give herself. Still hoping, she looked around the entire church but her immediate family had just declared with no words that she was no longer immediate. She fought back tears through the vows but made it to the end. And just as they danced into the hall after the service, for a reception with guests, Michelle Williams' ‘say yes’ was playing. She threw her arms up as she sang and danced into her new life with the ones who showed their support on this day…

 
References

The Osu Caste System in Igboland, Discrimination Based on Descent, Paper presented by by Victor E. Dike, 2002


PS
This story is based on true life events

Photo credit: Unknown

Tufiakwa = over my dead body expressed in Igbo language 

4 comments:

  1. I love happy endings. Thanks Ene.

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  2. Ah... and the grand finale was worth the wait!!! Give it up for the master story teller, Ene. Great job girl! We could make a movie out of this :-) Don't I just love me some happy endings.. *wipes tears*
    Efua

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    Replies
    1. I am glad you like it Efua. Most people who gave me feedback had mixed feelings and someone did not like the way it ended. But these are people's lives and it has continued. Thanks for reading and please find the movie producer, we could make good money *wink*

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