[…continued from WELD-LOCK(4)]
Really I couldn’t believe I did it, just like that. It looked way too simple and crude, -‘will you marry me?’ That one question that popped out of my mouth, knocked the very air out of the room. The moment that followed was breathlessly tense and intense. I was already seeing things in the celestial. I still remember her hair plait that afternoon. It was an exotically styled traditional ‘Patewo’ hairstyle. “Patewo literally means ‘clapping hands’. And truly in my head at that moment were claps of thunder. We were seated right beside an actively functional A.C unit, but beads of sweat were already gathering mass on my forehead. I loathed my naivety, my lack of experience in handling situations like this professionally. It was my début in the ‘toasting’ business.
Funke wasn’t helping matters. There she was playing ‘rough play’ on my volatile emotions. The girl was just mute for minutes. “Kabashing” or meditating I couldn’t tell . She just looked down on her half empty plate of rice and crushed bones, and was fiddling with her spoon. Once she heaved a sigh heavily. My entire existence followed suit. I was clearing my throat already, tempted to break the deadlock and stutter something. I knew I could be stupid there and then. So I fought the urge down. I wanted to either repeat my proposal in clearer copious terms, or simply tell her altogether it was just a joke. It was about five minutes. She managed to look up, but not straight to my face. With a sly smile, forming her mouth into a left-cornered arc, she said she was going to need some time to think it through and pray. The things ladies do.
But then I knew I had my answer already, albeit ‘codedly’. It was a knowing deep down there in my tummy. For those moments she was mum, I was seeing the vision of the hangman’s noose. But at the end of it all, it was already clearing out into the picture of an engagement ring in sight.
The thought of ‘waiting’ for a response to my proposal scared me a bit though. I knew a couple of guys then who were put on a perpetual waiting mode by ‘praying’ ladies. These must have really been warring World war 3 in the spiritual realm. Me. I had already ensured that portion was well over my dead body before then.
About a month later, I was home. I was just inducted as a Dentist. I paid Funke a ‘courtesy’ cum ‘reminder’ visit at the parsonage. I was well received. We were taking a stroll out of the house. She was seeing me off. There and then under the ancient almond tree, just outside the parsonage, in the church’s big compound, she said ‘yes’. That spot –under the ancient almond tree, became our rendezvous, our love nest. The laughs. The sweet pecks. The blindfolding. The tears. Warm hugs. Sweet words. Lasting memories. Photo shoots. It served us well, through a scintillating, steaming courtship.
In 2 weeks, I was already formally meeting the ‘Lion’ himself-. her Dad, Rev’d Okanlawon. I was scared to death. But I was a responsible gentleman, a medic for that matter. I was bold. And in about a minute or so, we were having loud laughs together, over a plate of ‘chin-chin’ and chilled Zobo. For one, he fell in love with my amiable personality, and was impressed. And then, I was ‘doctor’ too.
Funke was to later inform me, that he had earlier always expressed his reservations, relating closely with people from my Dad’s enclave- the Ijebu’s. It was popular knowledge among folks then, that the average Ijebu man was ‘money-ritual inclined’. In fact the slogan then was to run at the sight of an Ijebu plate number, to avert kidnap.
But I was an exception. He obviously got his mindset changed with me. A good Christian plus being a doctor was a rare combination. And so with the free health tips, consultations, and routine blood pressure and oral hygiene checks, I won his heart. I became in law.
I had my internship at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching hospital up north in Zaria. I served as a Youth corper in Niger state, about the only medical personnel serving about 5 local government councils. Funke by then was about starting her master’s degree program at the University of Ibadan. For the most of the time we courted, we weren’t really much together. We did communicate regular via letters though, and maximized the moments we had together to the fullest.
Funke was a Pastor’s kid. Daughter to a renowned clergy, and therefore daughter to many ‘parents’. So that we were always hopping from family to family honoring invites to various doses of practical counselling sessions. We had to also keep up with appointments with the church’s marriage committee too. It was a stressful something.
The period our courtship spanned for was largely uneventful. We were really cool lovebirds hanging around each other. The devil though. He’s a bastard, yes, all the time. In the final six months to our wedding, we had those close ‘almost’ moments twice. Those times we weren’t meeting up in the open space , under the ancient almond tree. Once we were alone in her living room. It was late in the evening. We were together on the sofa. NEPA struck. She snugged close. I lifted my eyes from the hell of heat in my mortal body. I was gone. I saw stars beckoning. A man must die once. I refused to die. I hit my fist hard against the wall nearby. The pain was excruciating. But it winged my senses back safely. In all, we had a clean slate.
By then I had already taken up an appointment as Dental officer at the State hospital’s dental clinic in my town. I was decently paid, and was very comfortable.
The build up to the wedding wasn’t much of a big deal. Everything, including the notorious engagement list were well taken care of. The wedding itself was modest. It wasn’t quite a society wedding. It was more of a low-keyed. Someone somewhere had mentioned my wife’s destiny wasn’t compatible with elaborate events. African trado-christian religion for you there.
But then it was all fun, though a succinct affair. Folks still came around in their numbers. And had their fill of the burnt-smelling party jollof rice, with ‘minerals’.
I did have fantasies while growing into an adult. One was to propose my woman at the Eiffel tower in Paris. I ended up in Ife not Eiffel.
Another was the picture of a perfect honeymoon somewhere in Dubai. A rainy wedding night of bliss, in a fragrance-filled dimly-lit suite. Strawberries and a bottle of exotic grape wine, with blues streaming softly off the stereo.
This I had ever earnestly prayed for. But then, we ended up retiring to a quiet resort on the outskirts of the town for our honeymoon. And yes, I never had a wedding night… (to be continued)