After Dapo proposed to me, we decided it was time to tell our families of our impending nuptials. I was not sure about mine though. I felt my parents might say I was too young to get married. I was totally unprepared for the reason they gave……
The day came when we were to inform my parents of our engagement and we both decided to do it by the weekend. It was arranged as just a friendly meeting between Dapo and my parents, no formal engagement party or introduction yet. I just told them a friend of mine was coming to visit and would like to meet them. They had looked at me funny as if to say ‘friend indeed’.
I was excited for my parents to meet the love of my life. I was sure they would love him as much as I did and see his kindness and good heart. Little did I know they wouldn’t get as far as noticing his attributes.
That Saturday, at exactly 2pm, Dapo honked at the gate to my house. He had previously informed me he was on his way and I was anxious to see him. I had missed him despite the fact that we saw each other just the previous day. I jumped up excitedly to meet him and beat the gateman to the gate. I waved him off and happily opened the gate for my man. Dapo drove in and parked his car and before he completely got out, I had jumped into his arms. He engulfed me in his arms and we hugged tightly, while he gave me a peck on the cheek.
I looked up and saw my mum at the terrace upstairs looking down at us. She was smiling and did not hide the fact that she was looking at us. She gave a cheery wave and went back in. I shook my head and rolled my eyes at her.
“What is it,babe?” Dapo asked, looking up to see what caught my attention.
“It’s nothing. Just my mum trying to be funny.”
“Your mum?” he asked alarmed.
“Yeah, she was looking down at us.”
“Seriously? Did she see me kiss you?” he looked around furtively.
I rolled my eyes once again and shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe.”
“Ohhh.” He groaned. “Now, she saw me pawing her daughter in her home.”
I laughed and looked at his face. “Really, babe? That’s so rich.” I rolled my eyes again.
“It’s not funny Leona. I’m trying to make a good impression here.”
I hugged him. “I know. Quit fidgeting, you’ll be fine. After all, you are my tall, dark and handsome man. They’ll fall in love with you just like I did.”
He feigned horror. “So, you love me just for my body?” he gasped.
“No, silly. I fell in love with the whole package, but the body is surely a strong incentive.” I batted my lashes playfully.
“My word! The audacity!”
I laughed uproariously. “Stop being funny and let’s go in before they send out a search party for us.” I turned to him and spoke seriously. “They’ll love you.” I looked into his eyes.
It was his turn to roll his eyes at me. “Let’s hope so.”
We held hands as we walked in to face the panel.
My parents were seated comfortably side by side on the large settee in the living room when we walked in. They were probably trying to portray a united front but I didn’t give it a second thought. I was rather amused.
“Dad, mum, this is Dapo.” I told them as we stood before them.
They were momentarily speechless and I could see they were stunned. What’s going on? I thought to myself as I watched them completely rooted to the spot.
My dad finally roused himself and stretched his hand towards him and Dapo gripped his hand in a firm handshake. “How are you doing, Dapo?”
“I’m very well sir.” He answered warily.
I could feel the tension emanating from him; he had probably noticed the shocked look on my parents’ faces earlier. I racked my brain trying to figure out the reason for that slight delay in action. I was soon to find out though.
Dapo turned to my mum and greeted her respectfully. She answered perfunctoriy and I was all the more confused. WHAT WAS GOING ON???
“Please sit down.” My dad offered him a seat.
Dapo sat at the edge of his seat so tensed up. I sat beside him to offer the little support I could. I was as floored as he; I had no idea what was causing this tension. The poor guy had not even spoken yet and it was like he had made an unforgiveable blunder. I looked to my mum but she quickly darted her eyes away refusing to meet mine. By then, I was really alarmed.
“So, Dapo what do you do?” my dad finally broke the uncomfortable silence.
“I’m a lawyer sir.”
“A lawyer? That’s very good.” I could tell my dad was impressed but something was still holding him back. I wondered what it was.
“So, do you live here in Lagos?”
“Yes sir. I live and work here in Lagos. Leona and I work together at the same firm.”
“Oh really? You don’t say.”
“Yes sir.” Dapo reiterated
“That’s great. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Same here sir.”
My dad sat back and watched us both shrewdly. “Where are you from?” he asked suddenly.
“I said where are you from? What state are you from?”
“Oh. I’m from Ogun State, sir.”
“That’s in the South-West region?”
“Yes sir.” Dapo answered. I was getting uncomfortable. Why was my dad spending so much time on his state of origin? Of course he knew Ogun State was in the South-West. I had a feeling something was about to go terribly wrong.
“You’re Yoruba then?” he raised his brows.
“Yes sir, I am.” Dapo looked at me quizzically. I shrugged.
“So, what are your plans for my daughter?” my dad asked, all serious. I smiled.
Dapo cleared his throat nervously. I took his hand and gave it a squeeze, trying to encourage him. This seat was about to get hotter.
“I want to marry your daughter sir. I’m in love with her and I want to spend the rest of my life with her, making her happy sir.” He said looking into my eyes. I smiled at him and we both directed our gaze back to my dad, eagerly awaiting his reaction.
My dad looked sad somehow and very uncomfortable. I guess that kind of reaction was normal when you just heard another man profess his love for your daughter.
He cleared his throat and looked to my mum as if to garner courage. Mum smiled grimly. “Erm, Dapo I can see how much you love Leona but I am so sorry to tell you that I can’t give my blessings. Leona cannot marry a Yoruba man. In fact she can’t marry any other tribe apart from Igbo. She’s my first daughter, you see, the tradition has to be upheld through her.” He spread his hands as if to say it was out of his hands.
It felt like a bomb just erupted in the room. Such was the total silence that engulfed us. You know that absolute quiet that inadvertently follows a loud noise. It was as quiet as a tomb.
My mouth hung open in surprise and I didn’t know when my hand slipped from Dapo’s. I was in shock and my brain couldn’t function at that point. All I could think about was ‘this chair just got a hell of a lot hotter.’