It will be falsely presumed, if rather, I say that she had a certain powerful control over me. It too would mean that I hadn’t much of a choice in the matter. Also, it would definitely mean that I hadn’t a choice but to let her overwhelm my every decision about life. Yes! She was beautiful, too much and she too was a possessive one, who could on the first contact cause springing tingling lewd thoughts in you. So who was I not to hollow in deep into the wonderful intoxicating beauty of all of Olokoro clan, to be held closely, at such longetivity, and on a leash by her jaw-breaking features, which all men in this clan of mine, craved so earnestly as one craves happiness itself. Who was I not to love her?
I had been a prisoner to her, as currently, I relive it all in my mind that she, Nkem, was the she-gazelle of the entire village and I, at one particular time, her potential suitor, who she terribly had disappointed upon all we shared. I no more argue blatantly with experienced people , who would condemn it; love, to say it with every negatively inclined characteristics, and also to call it obscene names like ‘arrant nonsense’, instead, unconsciously, I dwell in the thought of it, drown in the thought of it, and simply nod my head at whatever wrong they plainly attribute to the damn thing. Most times, they call it foolishness on the part of the man, the lover and deception on the part of the woman, not presumably at all but because they too like myself, initially, had been condemned to its lies a certain time ago. But instead of saying all that, I’ll put it this way: I was clearly lovelorn, simply exhausted from heartbreak and thus, appreciated her very soothing acquaintance which she would, whenever my ego rose too high pride herself over.
Her greedy parents were the reasons why it all began to fall apart. Her father was one of the chief in my community, and too, well respected and often, she had told me how he, chief Maxwell, had always discouraged her of me, a low-life like me who only had a certificate as a material for acknowledgment while as she would put it ” potential suitors with profitable endeavors combed the entire town for wives. Was she blind to them all”, he would say to her whenever she returned from a visit to me. But yet, one was quietened at this. I still loved her more. Her mother hadn’t much of a problem with the whole idea.
Everyone, especially the youths in Olokoro wanted so much more than the regular farming and the regular tending of bleating goats and poultry. We wanted the city. Of all that remained in Olokoro was I, Nkem, a few other youths and the elderly. This wasn’t good for us because they looked upon us as dreamless set of chaps who were lazy to go out to face what our mates experienced. But of what use was it? Why couldn’t we remain here, in Olokoro and who said we couldn’t make it here in hither land. Who said thus? Chief Maxwell? Or was it my parents, who compared me with my younger brother who currently is an apprentice in the city. I believed we could make it here if we hadn’t the means to live outside this village.
At the beginning, the plan to evade Olokoro was mine. I had told my brother upon my return from the university at the border of my village. The plan was to save twenty pounds and an additional five pounds for the fare to Onitsha. Then on the eve of a day in April, my grandfather died of diabetes. I remember Nkem, at the burial, endlessly working, perhaps to make up for what her father had said to me on a certain occasion which I’ll never for once forget.
On a certain Saturday afternoon, at one of the numerous occasions that graces my community. We had been seen together by her parents. Her father flanked by her mother, a woman beautifully designed and young for her age. I saw In her what made Nkem the astounding peacock of Olokoro. Her father’s stern eyes were occasionally plunged into me, my every movement as though I was eating his daughter, as though i was unreasonable and wretched as those men at Amangwu. How he stared made me very uncomfortably and when he asked what I did for a living, a newly graduated individual from one of the prestigious universities in the east, I told him there was no job.
“So Nkemakolam”, he said disapointedly at his daughter, “what are you still doing with this good for nothing boy”. I was embarrassed. She saw it too. My face was aglow with irritation at such remark. He didn’t even show remorse at it. Instead, he went further, “Young man, I don’t want to see you near Nkem anymore. I don’t want to see you near my family again”. He made to leave but as he stepped a foot away from us, he stopped and added more, incensed. “In fact, whenever I see your father, I would warn him, that is, if I see you with Nkem again”. He stormed out. His wife followed suit, staring at the ground.
Perhaps she felt my pain. I was terribly disappointed. Nkem didn’t even come to my rescue. All she had done was writ in pain. I was boiling inside. I had retreated into my thoughts and even as she pulled my arms away from the audience, I wanted to knock her on the head and yell for the entire village to know that Chief Maxwell was a complete fool but I couldn’t do that. I was way advanced for that. Even he knew it. Nkem knew it too. That night, she made love to me as never before, perhaps so I forget all her father had bathed me with.
So it dawned on me, at my grandfather’s funeral that she, even as she helped in chores was trying to make me forget her father and his mad sentimental statement. After that day, there wasn’t much money. Udensi, my younger brother hadn’t been to the university, so this journey, he needed most. Papa added a few pounds to the remnants from the savings and let him go to the city. I remained in Olokoro, wriggling from post to pillar, fighting for Nkem over her delusional father.
That was why when, after months passed, without me making any headway in this village, her father’s words began to settle in her mind. It was not her fault. But this I care not, because like the other women who had departed me, her tenure was felt wildly by me. She left me behind, in Olokoro and last week, I heard from a friend in the city that she had married a cocoa dealer. It was after this devastating news that I packed my stuff in a ‘Ghana-must-go’ sack and went too, to the city, where they say money falls from trees.
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