When i was little and my life revolved around Tv, food and my mum…I fell in love. I was six years old, a nursery school certificate holder, ready to take on the world in Primary 1. He was an older guy, when I say older, I mean 22 years older. He had a good job, a standing house and a moving car, he was clearly ready and able to marry me. I was literate, I could read and write any two, three or four letter word,…definitely ready for marriage.
His name was Femi or Uncle Femi as my mum insisted I call him, he worked as her P.A at the time. He was light skinned, and looked (in my eyes only) so much like the black Micheal Jackson whom I’d decided was the most handsome man in the world. Femi was tall, like a tree (or so it seemed to the tiny me) and he had a sing-song voice that reminded me of the toy phone my mum had gotten me years back. He was, in my childish eyes,…an angel.
I met and fell in love with him one Saturday morning, a few days after he started working with my mum. He came to our house to deliver some documents, and i happened to be the one to answer the door. I opened the door and saw a vision in blue brocade.
“Hello”, he said, “I want to see your mum”.
I knew I was supposed to go call her at that point but I couldn’t make my feet move. I kept staring at him until I heard my mum say,
“Lala, who are you talking to?”, as she came towards the door.
I mumbled some incoherent words and made room for her to see the visitor.
“Oh, Femi welcome. Forgive my daughter, she’s very shy. Have you been here a while?”
He replied in the negative and she ushered him in. When I made no move to leave the sitting room, as my mum had taught us to do when guests come over, my mum said,
“Femi this is my last daughter Olanma, she’s the twin”.
He looked at me, and i knew at that moment that he felt it too. He opened his arms and said
“Sweety, come and sit with me”
I didn’t need to be asked twice. I flew into his arms and he lifted me up and placed me on his knees. My mum, surprised; said,
“Wow! Ola hardly ever comes this close to people she doesn’t know. She must really like you”. My dear mother did not realise that I was past ‘liking’, I was in love.
“Lala, say good aftrnoon Uncle Femi”, i said the words quietly, wondering why i should call my husband-to-be ‘Uncle’.
Femi laughed and said, “Madam, this is the one I’ll marry”.
My heart leapt for joy and when my mum asked me to go to my room, I was sure that it was so they could discuss the wedding details in private. I went upstairs and informed my twin sister that I was getting married, then tried not to get angry when she burst into laughter. I went to my elder sister who was 10 at the time and had just gotten into secondary school, I told her about Femi’s proposal too and when she burst into laughter, the hurt and confused look on my face made her stop and say,
“Lanma, you’re not old enough to get married. You have to go to the university first”. After she explained what a university was, I had a new life goal. To go to ‘Younifesity’.
On Monday morning, nothing my mum said or promised could get me to get down from the car and into the school gate. I kept crying and saying I didn’t want to go to that school again, I wanted to go to ‘Younifesity school’ so that Uncle Femi could marry me. The poor woman, amused and annoyed at the same time, couldn’t quite decide where I’d gotten the university idea from and had to threaten to flog me in the presence of my classmates before I alighted the car. Needless to say, I cried all day in school. My mum of course, reported the incident to Femi, who came by the house that day and promised to marry me whether or not I went to the university. I was overjoyed, mainly because he’d said it in the presence of my (jealous) sisters, who for some reason, kept laughing. I didn’t care, I was over the moon. I made sure I went with my mum to visit him regularly as was expected of a good fiancée (according to Barbie) and even brought him sweets and biscuits to show him that I could take care of him.
Months after our official engagement, on a Saturday morning, my mum dressed my twin and I in our fanciest ballerina dresses and said we were going for a wedding. The ‘who’ did not interest me, I was just excited to see what a wedding was like…how mine would be. When we got to the church, we were ushered to the second row, and I noticed Femi standing in front of the church.
“Mummy, look it’s Uncle Femi” i shouted pointing at him.
My mum shushed me, but it didn’t matter because Femi was waving at me. I waved back and sat down at my mum’s command. Before I could ask any questions, the piano started playing and a woman wearing white came into the church, headed for Uncle Femi, who was smiling.
“Mummy, what’s happening” I asked, tapping her knee
“Uncle Femi is getting married”, she whispered.
“To who?” I asked in shock, my mum looked at me, worried.
“To that Aunty wearing the wedding gown”, she replied.
I looked at Uncle Femi, who was still smiling. There had to be some sort of mixup, I looked at the woman who was now standing in front of him. Did he think she was me?, I looked at my mum, how could she let this happen? I looked around the church, at people’s faces. Everyone was smiling asides me. I looked back at Uncle Femi, and let out an ear piercing scream. Everyone turned to look at me.
“Uncle Femi, I’m here!!! You said you will marry me” I screamed.
The entire church burst into laughter and my mum, embarrassed, dragged me out kicking and screaming.
The ride home was gloomy, of course. I cried all the way, not just because my heart was broken, not just because I would never love again, not because of the flogging I was sure to receive at home, but because like Jacob in the Bible Stories they’d read to us in Sunday School, my Femi had been deceived. He had married the wrong bride.
Posted by Pearl O’Browne