Aren’t we all digging for something?
Tall, light-skinned with curly hair that gleamed in the afternoon sun, strong arms for cutting firewood and ploughing nonstop on his father’s farms. But strong arms cannot feed my family or can they? Chike was romantic. He would bring me flowers and write me letters, cute little love notes that I hid inside my bug-infested pillowcases. He would climb palm trees to tap wine, roast bush meat and organise a picnic, or in his words; pikinik.
They say you meet the love of your life once in a lifetime and you might not always end up with them
This was especially true in my case. Chike’s Love constantly reminds me of an electric shock. It grabs you without warning, slams your body across the ground and continues to course through your veins, like a fish swimming in a river. His love was a force, a propelling force.
A round little man with a cute face that reminded me of childhood cartoons. Our people say money comes first then love follows. Whether this is true or not, we shall find out soon. Our first encounter was on the village path. It was Eke market day and I was headed to my mother’s stall in the market, he was inspecting a piece of land he wanted to buy. As I walked past and caught his eye; I greeted:
“Omalicha, oga diri gi”
For me, it was an ordinary encounter. For him, it was the first sighting of a future bride.
They say beauty is fleeting. Yet we run after it like a child with a kite. Of what use is a beautiful face and a body carved to perfection if it continues to linger in poverty. My father has six children, one small hut and farmland riddled by insects and premature crops that float with the mid-year floods.
My mother; the sole breadwinner of the family, continues to curse the day she met papa. In her words, poverty and beauty never made a good combination. So when five days after our first encounter, chief Obi came to see my father and asked for my hand in marriage, there was no hassle, no contemplation. It was a done deal. The mere sighting of his car outside the compound created gossip that ran across the entire village like wildfire.
Mama was elated, the proud mother indeed. As we sat and basked in the shared silence of the kitchen, the fire gleaming angrily underneath the pot, she broke the silence and from the quiver, in her voice I could tell that she had been contemplating how best to approach the situation. Should she tiptoe like one walking on eggshells or should she stab the topic right in the heart? I guess she settled for the latter.
“ Adanna, Adanna poverty might be my portion because I foolishly married your father for the sake of love, but it certainly isn’t yours. Five siblings, farmland that hasn’t yielded crop in years, a stall whose proceeds can barely feed one mouth and no inheritance at all. Chike will find another bride”
She got up and left the kitchen. The truth? Her speech wasn’t needed, it was already a done deal, I didn’t need convincing. Ebuka will not need to go to Onitsha to learn a trade, Chiamaka and the twins can finally stop hawking round the village and Ngozi will come with me to Lagos.
This marriage, a hassle-free transaction. Whether love will come or not, I do not care and if they call me a gold digger, I will remind them that digging is manual labour. It is not a job for the faint-hearted.
Besides the April rains have begun and the roof of my father’s house needs mending.