MAN HUNT VI by Engee Mbah ( dept Radiography )
“What did you hear?” I ask, resigned to being late. I will have a lot to answer for at work. First, the police came for me, yesterday, now I am going to be late. My mother sits beside Perpetua and I take the sofa opposite them. Perpetua greets my mother.
“Good morning, dear. I heard what happened.” My mother says.
“Men can be such idiots.” She added.
“But, don’t worry yourself. Kaycee says he’s working on something. It will all end in praise, inugo?” Perpetua nods at my mother’s reassurances. She looks marginally reassured. Sometimes, I wonder how my mother knows just what to say in situations such as this. This is one of those moments when I’m tempted to wonder if I was swapped in the hospital. In this kind of situations, I am usually kind of you know, awkward. I usually don’t know what to say. My brother doesn’t have that kind of problem. May be my father did. I don’t remember him clearly though. He died when I was about nine years old.
My mother turns from Perpetua to me.
“And, you, I heard you got a proposal, yesterday and instead of accepting, you threw him out.” She says. I keep silent because I know that opening my mouth will only exacerbate my troubles.
“Are you dumb, now? Answer me, osiso.” Her tone is all command.
“Eh. He proposed. I kind of got angry. I threw him out.” I reply grudgingly. She throws her hands in the air.
“Chi m o! They told me that your problem is spirit husband but I didn’t believe it.” She cries. I barely resist rolling my eyes. I think I hear Perpetua snort, but I can’t be sure.
“Why did you throw him out?” She wants to know.
“If he wanted to marry me, why is he just mentioning it now?” I ask. Truth is, I can’t really explain why I threw him out.
“Mgbe onye tetalu bu ututu ya. Na now day break for am. You have been mooning over that boy for a long time now, so I don’t know what your problem is.” She tells me.
“Mooning kwa? We were just friends.” I counter.
“I did not say you were more than that. What exactly is your problem?” She wants to know. This discussion is starting to make me uncomfortable.
“Nna eh, mother leave me jor.” I mutter. My mother turns to Perpetua.
“O si n’ogini?” She asks rhetorically. Perpetua shrugs. My mother turns back to me.
“I will slap you. M ma gi ura m ga-ama gi eh? If it is evil spirit that is worrying you, I will deliver you and set you free right now.” She threatens. I hear another snort. Perpetua is definitely laughing at my me, right now.
“Every spirit that says that my daughter will not marry, I bind and cast… A gworo ya agwo, ma e kere ya a eke, e mixiri ya e mixi, oku mmuo nso…” She shuts her eyes tightly as these words fall from her lips. Perpetua is full out laughing, now. My mother reopens her eyes when Tekno’s “where” blares from someone’s phone. Perpetua digs out her phone from her hand bag.
“Hello.” She says as she picks the call. She listens to who ever is on the line for a while. It must be good news because there’s such relief on his face.
“Ah! Thank God.” She gives a sigh of relief.
“How?” She asks.
“Thank you.” She says before dropping the call.
“It was your brother. Robert is out of jail. They got Frank to agree to settling out of court.” She announces.
“How?” I ask. If I was a guy and someone sliced my balls open, I’ld make sure the person rots in jail. Imagine life without balls. That’s like living without boobs; no, it’s worse, more like living without a vagina or womb or something equally important. The very thought makes me shudder.
“They somehow convinced him that they have evidence that he raped the girl that started this nonsense. And that if he pursues this matter, they will sue him for sexual assault or something like that.” She answers.
“She didn’t start this nonsense. Your husband did. If he had restricted his pecker to his wife. All this would not have happened.” I can’t resist saying. I probably should have shut it, though.
“Don’t remind me.” She says, giving me the stinky eye and relaxing on the sofa.
“Do they actually have evidence?” I am curious. Perpetua shrugs.
“I don’t know.” She replies.
“Aren’t you going to pick him up?” I inquire.
“Pick fire! He should find his way home. Is it me that drove him to the station? Mscheeew.” She answers, as though she hasn’t been worrying herself to death and bawling her eyes out a few minutes ago.
“I told you it would be sorted out. That son of mine is good at what he does. It is this one that is my problem.” My mother turns to me, again.
“I am good at my job, too.” I inform her.
“E hen? Is that why you will not marry? Is your brother not engaged?” She tells me.
“Babe, just call Chuba and put him out of his misery. You know you have feelings for him.” Perpetua wades in. How come everyone knows my feelings better than me?
“On a second thought, don’t. He might just wake up one day to cheat on you and slice someone’s scrotum open.” She adds, only to let out an, ‘ouch’ as my mother slaps the back of her head.
“Mother, can we do this some other time? I’m late for work.” I suggest.
“No. You will go to work when we sort it out. The earlier you start talking sense, the better for you.” She answers.
I rest back on the sofa and cover my face with my hands as I try to sort through my emotions. I hate doing this, though. Everyone just might be right. I actually do have feelings for Chuba. I think I’m just plain scared.
“What if it doesn’t work out?” I mutter, because I’ld rather have him in my life as a friend than not have him at all. That’s what will happen if we try and it doesn’t work.
“When we get to that bridge we will cross it.” My mother says.
“Nna eh, mother, the way wey you dey hustle the kain marriage thing, sef, one would think they share money to people who their daughters get married.” I tell her.
“Mechieonu.” She replies, with an eye roll and half smile.
“Fine. I’ll go and see him later. Can I go to work now?” I finally say, taking a glance at the wall clock. I am already very late.
“No. Call him on phone before my very eyes. You can go and see him later and conclude the matter. You might leave here now, and discover twenty more reasons why you should say, no. I don’t trust you. The kind of evil spirit that used to whisper to you is what I don’t understand.” my mother says, insistently.
“Hia oh!” I say but pick up my phone from the center table and does as she says. He picks on the second ring, which is surprising because I figured he would be pissed at me and avoid my calls. I start with apologies. Afterall, I did throw him out of my house. Then, I arrive at the crux of the matter. I feel kind of weird saying the words, especially with two pairs of eyes watching me as though I am a nollywood movie unfolding right before their eyes.
“So, it’s a yes?” He wants to know, cutting me short as I’m beginning to ramble.
“Yes.” I reply. He laughs. He actually sounds happy. We talk for some minutes and then I end the call. My mother is grinning from ear to ear. Maybe, now, she will stop disturbing me so that I can have peace.
“So, let’s talk weddings, now. What can of dress do you want?” My mother asks, looking like she just won the lottery. In this moment, I realise that her wahala is permanent in my life. When I do marry, she’ll probably find something else to pester me for, like children. She will probably try to tell me when best to have sex too.
“Hia! Na wa o. Can I just stay engaged for a while, biko? I don’t even have a ring on my finger, yet.” I answer. Her smile evaporates.
“Heavens forbid. So that you will have time to change your mind, abi?” She asks. I stand from the sofa.
“Mother, i na-enye nsogbu. Your trouble is too much. I’m going to work. Obviously, you want me to get fired, so that I will join the throngs of unemployed people in this country. It won’t work for you, you hear?” I tell her, tucking my orange blouse into my skirt. I walk to my room to pick my bag and other stuff that I need. I come back into the living room and pick up my phone that I had dropped on the sofa. Then, I herd everyone out and head out, grinning from ear to ear. I am happy, which I think and hope is a sign that I made the right decision.
So, yay! I’m getting married! Not for a while, though. I am determined to enjoy the engagement stage for a while, irrespective of what my mother says. The woman can disturb sha. I’ll go and get my ring from Chuba on my way to the office. The ring had looked so fine, from the glimpse that I had caught of it. That will give me time to cook up the lie that will explain yesterday’s event and my lateness, today; but, first, my ring…