She quickly arranged everything properly and asked Okorie to come in. Qkorie came in and she said, “You are welcome to my house. Please, just a minute let me see my mummy. Okay do that, he replied”. She got to the hut where the grand mum was already boiling some yam and was preparing stew with a big fish she bought at the Eke market. “Mama” she called. Yes, my daughter. Are you back from church? Yes.
Did you see the boy that is waiting for you? I have seen him. Who is the boy? I don’t know him much but we met about a week ago. He is a driver. He picked me up on that day that I was waiting for a vehicle to go to work. How do you see him? He is not bad for now but I don’t know if he will change in future You must be careful so that you did not make another mistake because “when the frog in front falls into the pit others behind take precaution” Have you visited him? I went only once to know their compound. Mummy let me meet him.
Prepare the food and I will come back later She entered the sitting room and apologized for staying a little bit longer”. No problem Okorie said. Which of the churches do you attend? I attend Catholic. The one behind the Nkwor market. Okay, I have been there. I was baptized in that church. I may have seen you. Perhaps you were a small girl by then. I was baptized at the age of fourteen. Please lest I forget, I want you to buy some drink for us to celebrate Sunday. Buy a bottle of malt drink for your mum”. He brought out some money and handed it over to Mércy. She hesitated a little before she collected the money I am supposed to entertain you but you are rather doing it. Don’t worry. I love the way she treated me the first time I saw her”.
Mercy went out and came back immediately. “Where is the drink?” Okorie asked. I have sent a boy in the other compound.”The old woman brought a tray containing two breakable plates neatly covered with a tablecloth. She dropped it at the table and left. Okorie was surprised at the level of this old woman’s understanding. He thought maybe Mercy must have done such an arrangement.
The small boy came in with three bottles of malt and dropped them on the table. This is the change. He handed it over to Mercy but Okorie called the boy. Give him the money Mcrcy gave him the money. “Thanks, Sir” with a smile all over his face and went away dancing. “Kind of you,” Mercy said. There is a little food at the table Let’s manage it first before we drink” Okorie did not even hesitate. She opened the food and asked Okorie to pray over the food.
Okorie prayed briefly and they started to eat. They did not talk during eating. Thanks for your hospitality”. The old woman came in to pack the dishes away “Thank you, mama” Thank God, my son. Please, Mercy gives her one bottle”. Mercy dropped one of the bottles in the tray “Mama that is for you. Thank you, my son” They opened their drink. Okorie finished his bottle and told her that he wanted to go But I want to ask you a question” You are free to ask. I hope you don’t have anybody in your life? As a matured girl like me. I use to have. He traveled overseas and abandoned me.
Do you mean it? We are in the same boat. The girl I wanted to marry left for America and since did not hear from her. So let’s build our life here and pray that God will see us through. I don’t want to waste any time about our marriage I want us to study ourselves for only three months before we will get married. How do you look at it? “By strength shall no man prevail.” That is, everything is in the hand of God. I should be going. See you tomorrow. I will see you at the normal position”. She walked with Okorie before he stopped a bike and left.
It was more than three months now since Okorie knew Mercy. His parents have accepted Mercy as their daughter. Simply because of her good disposition. She was respectful, docile and good-looking. She usually comes around to assist Okorie’s mother in her household chores. One early morning Okorie’s father decided to visit Mercy’s family to discuss the Marriage plan between their son and Mercy.
He got there and the family members were seated already. He was received with all respect. They presented kola nut and a bottle of hot drink. “Ndu please hold the kola nut for papa so that he can pray for us”. Papa Dike was the oldest man. He was the elder brother to Mercy’s father who is late.
He collected the kola nuts raised it up towards heaven and said. “The God that owns today please join us to eat this kola nut. All eyes that see this kola will live long. ‘Ese’ the other people responded. My son that has come to visit us, may your journey to this place be successful.
May we live long to witness good things. May God take absolute control of every activity in our life. Amen, He gave the kola nut to Ndu to break and share it to the people present He collected one gave it to Ndu his son and collected another one. He placed it at the corner of his lips. “Give 10 others”. He bellowed After some time, Dike cleared his throat and said. “We have a visitor in our midst, let us hear what he has to say”.
Okorie’s father stood up greeted everybody before he began. “Before you see a rabbit with a stick of fire you should know that Harmattan has extended to the spirit world” We have come in respect of your daughter Mercy. My son is seeking her hand in marriage. I pray you people will not reject my proposal. Thank you all”. He sat down and waited for a response. “My son. you have spoken well Dike said There is no harm in a trial. We will not say yes, we will not say no, You should be coming to see us with palm wine before we will consider what you have said. He stood up and thanked them and left for his village.
The marriage was contracted and Okorie paid the bride price before Mercy packed down
to his father’s house where they are living as husband and wife. Mercy was still working at K and G SuperStores. The Wedding Ceremony took place a week after the bride price had been paid. They wedded at Saint Pius Catholic because of their popularity. The Reverend Father that wedded them usually comes to their store to buy juice and other food items.
Okorie came back one day to discover that his wife had already gone home. The Bank opposite the Superstore was robbed by a group of young men in police uniform. Glasses were shattered and littered all over the places. He was terrified because she had gone and the store had closed before their usual time. He could not ask anybody because the streets were empty except for a few policemen standing hopelessly facing the Bank. He started the ignition and drove straight to his house. He got there, switched off the ignition and closed the door as he walked straight to the house.
My love he called. Darling, you are welcome. I have just finished cooking. What happened that you have to return earlier than usual? Honey, it is a long story, let me keep the food first before I give the detail of the incident I was surprised that the whole street was deserted except for few police officers on the road. After Okorie had finished eating with the wife. she greeted and packed out the dishes…. To BE CONTINUED.…