I had gone for my regular tour visits to homes of some friends and acquaintances, so I could get first hand knowledge of how marriage is, and my point of call this time around was the house of the Ojekunle’s. Nkechi is a friend I met while serving in Kaduna. Though we were not so close, we shared some things in common that brought us together once in a while. She writes just like I do and she also enjoys baking.
Nkechi met Ayo during our service year. He was the General secretary of NCCF, while Nkechi was his assistant. We all lived in the family house together, and initially, the relationship between Ayo and Nkechi was purely platonic. The only thing that brought them together was the unity of assignment.
I knew Ayo from a distance. Though he was warm and friendly with all members of the family, the highest form of relationship we shared was hello, good morning, good afternoon. Most times, while members of the family were together, I was always to myself, either reading or writing or doing something.
We completed our compulsory one year service, and two years later, I received a wedding invitation from Nkechi. “Nkechi weds Ayo” it read. If I tell you that I was shocked, that would have been an understatement. Nkechi, Ayo, how? When? Where? Which day? Not the Nkechi I know. I remember when Nkechi and I discussed along the marital path while working on a piece together. She told me she had an impression she was not going to marry someone from her tribe, and the fear it was already building in her heart. She made me understand how her parents kicked against anyone that was not Igbo, and she saw it in the way her parents had determined the people her siblings married. We prayed together and forgot about it.
So as not to sound nosy, I did not bother asking how. Deep down in my heart, I knew I was going to hear the story. My opportunity came when I was granted the opportunity to come stay in their house for two weeks. This was a year after they got married.
“Babe! How far? How did it happen? I said, chopping carrots as we were preparing fried rice for that evening.
“How far what? What happened?” She said, feigning ignorance.
“Be asking me o. You want me to spell it out abi? How did you and Ayo get married?” I asked.
“Hmm. This one na long story so. Are you sure you have the time to hear full download?”
“Long story, short story, let me hear. This is something I’ve been dying to hear since I received your IV.”
“Ok o. If you insist. Where do I start from self? Beginning or end?”
“Start joor. Stop keeping me in suspense.”
“Ok o. Barely six months after service, I received a call from my church leader that someone wanted to see me. I was like who? For what reasons will a person whose identity was not revealed want to see me. The questions were in my mind though. I followed him to the room where the person was waiting, and lo! It was our able NCCF Gen Sec. My heart started thinking different options for his visit till I called it back to order. We exchanged pleasantries and the reason for the visit was announced. Deep down within, I knew he was the one, but the fear of tribe made me reject it. To cut the long story short, we’re married today, tomorrow no more, we are married today, today and forever.” She said, singing at the end.
“If I beat you ehn. Which long story are you cutting short. Better get ready to give me the full gist.”.
Laughing. “I trust you. Story dey always sweet you.” She said. “Ok. When he came, I explained everything to him so that I won’t waste his time. He was not even bothered and he made me finish my rant. What he said that day was what put my troubled mind at rest.”
“This is getting interesting, Kechi. So, what was the thing he said o that made our Igbo sister accept the proposal of a Yoruba man.”
“You’re not serious o. He said, ‘love knows no tribe, it is beyond borders and there is neither Jew nor Greek in Christ.”
“Hmm. This is deep o.”
“I prepared my heart to talk to my father about it. Before meeting him, I prayed and gave his heart to God to control. During our discussion, I asked him that what if I brought a man from another tribe, what was he going to do? He flared up and that put an end to our discussion. For two months, we discussed every other thing but the issue of marriage. I brought it up again, and the same reaction. In fact, he categorically told me that I should not bother bringing someone who is not Igbo, else I won’t like his reaction to the person. It dragged on for another six months and I was already fed up. Ayo was not even perturbed and we kept praying.”
“One day, Ayo just told me that I should take him to my father. I was gobsmacked. What was he trying to do? I obeyed o. At least, if Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain will go to Mohammed. My father was in a superb mood when he came. As soon as my Yoruba bobo met with my father, he started speaking Igbo. Shock slapped me and left me dazed. How come? Who taught him? He was so fluent. My father was so carried away smiling happily, content with the fact that he had gotten an Igbo son. After all the talk, he told my father that he is a Yoruba boy who spent his early years in the East. My Father was shocked, but he agreed to the union anyway. The rest they say is history, Bola.”
“Wow! Wow wow wow! I can’t believe this. This is not ordinary. I’m sure you guys must have prayed o.”
“Definitely. It was indeed a miracle.”
By the time she finished the story, we had already abandoned the food we were cooking. We had to speed up so Bro Ayo doesn’t come back and not meet food ready. My two weeks stay in their house was my best experience. Their marriage was sizzling. The love was real, you could feel it. The only thing I did not enjoy was when they switched to Igbo so that I would be lost in their conversation. Indeed, love is beyond borders.