I wrote previously of a friend who lost her mother I wrote of her strength and how I desired to tap from it. This is an extension of that story.
On the 21st of November 2019, I woke up to a happy-sad feeling😐. I was going to Aba; a popular town in Abia state, Nigeria and from there to the fast growing Ebonyi state. I always find it exciting to visit new places, but the cause that led to this journey brought tears to my eyes😢. I removed my cover cloth, stretched and made the “sign of the cross”, saying my prayers—I thanked God for the opportunity of a hopeful day, then I prayed for my family and friends saying their names in full, asking God to bless their day.
While I was still praying, my sister walked into the room, ready to continue a gist from the previous day🤦. I had to join my palms together to show her I was praying, even though I had lost concentration. She sat on the bed, playing with her baby while she waited patiently for me to conclude my prayers. In the days I spent living with my sister; I discovered a lot of new things about her. I discovered she was not as serious minded as I grew up thinking. I saw her in a different light and built a new kind of friendship with her.
I hurried through with my prayers, concluding with a prayer for those I forgot to mention. I pulled my niece from her arms, kissed her neck and cheek as she screamed “aunteeeee—I had been teaching her to say the word “aunty”, but she always ended up with “aunteeeee”🥰 .
It was 10:30am when I got to the bus station. The weather was hot, I was packed with over five dozen people (mostly market people) in an old bus🤦. I was lucky to seat by the window. So I stuck out my head, relieving myself of the sweats and bad breaths. The journey was very uncomfortable; the roads were bad and the woman who sat by my side, was struggling with holding her baby and eating “Banga with Rice”. I could have offered to hold her baby but the baby had dreadlocks🤷
I was hoping Aba would be at least appealing to the eyes; with the kind of money the markets generated. I was disappointed. For every five kilometers, there was a larger pool of dirty water in the center of the road. The keke rider, drove his keke into the water like it was the most interesting thing he gets to do. He did not care, our legs went into the water with his keke🙄. Aba, can be a beautiful city; if our government thought differently.
When I got to her house, she dragged me to meet her family. I was shy; I did not know what to say or how to act. I told my friend I felt like a woman who was meeting her boyfriend’s parents for the first time and was not sure how to act😕. She laughed it off, saying it was no big deal, that her mother would have loved me.
We spent two days in Aba. She took me to the fabric market, the food market and everywhere an errand took us. I was honestly enjoying myself in those little moments😃. On the third day we left Aba for her hometown “Amoso Edda” in Ebonyi state. The driver was reckless, he drove so fast and did not even stop when he drove his car into a log on the road😬. I could not even make out the important places. The bus drove away before my friend could explain what she was showing me🙁.
We got to Edda when the evening was too dark for faces to be recognized. I was welcomed like a daughter who came back to Nigeria after ten years in the UK😁. Her grandmother hugged me and held my hands. She spoke to me in their native language. She laughed and said “okay” when she was told I could not understand what she said.
The next day, we spent the whole day cleaning and preparing the house for the many people that would come. The day after, she took me to her maternal home, it was interesting to find out that her mothers house, was only a 10 minutes walk from her fathers house (I thought of the love story that might have happened😊).
The people of Amoso are know to marry within their villages. A tradition they try so hard to maintain in this 21st century. Men married women whose family lived just a walk away. People frown at a person for choosing a spouse from another village in Ebonyi state. I was shocked at this, what happened to crossbreeding and having “hybrid children”🤷
On the third day her cousin joined us. Her cousin, whose brother I had an undying crush for, since second year in the university🙈 (Don’t worry I would still come back to this). I had seen pictures of her cousin, but when I saw her in flesh and blood wearing an amazing smile. I agreed with the saying pictures can never do justice. She hugged my sweaty and smelling body, accused me of being the reason her sister refused her offer to come to Aba😏. She spoke like she had know me since I was ten. We joked and laughed. She laughed about the crush I have for her brother, saying a lot of people were also crushing on him😬.
On the fifth day, her younger sister, arrived. Like my friend she has the “oyibo skin” . She looked like an English woman; the glass eyeballs, the stature and the voice. One day, when she spoke about having faith in God, I told her; she looked like “Jesus”😁—she has the shape of His face and her hairstyle dropped by the side of her cheeks. She asked me to stop the joke, but every time I looked at her beautiful face, it was like the “Jesus character” had jumped out of the movie☺️.
On the eve of the burial, the last girl, arrived. She spoke in formal English🤦, using words I only use when I write formal letters. I avoided her conversation because it turned my head in circles. I was familiar with the kind of English I spoke with my friend. Where we use our Igbo exclamations and did not use words like “perplexed”😌.
During the service of songs, I sat behind my friend. I was not scared she was going to break down, but I was scared for her sisters. When I was sure no one was going to cry. I used my eyes to scan the canopy, searching for my crush😌. I saw him under the tree, wearing a black shades and his beards looking edible 🤭 . Minutes after I spotted him, my friend turned to ask if I had seen him (if only she knew 🤦). When he came over to speak to my friend and hug her, I felt like stretching my hand to touch his fluffy and shinny beards🤷 .
My friend held up all the tears; never allowed herself to break down, she was not even looking worried. I told her it was okay to cry, that I cry whenever I was disturbed or worried. I thought I would be strong enough to hold her when she cried. The evening she finally cried, I could not hold it. The sobs that escaped my mouth was too loud😭, I had to excuse myself. Her cousin took my place; holding her to her chest and rubbing her back (I was jealous 😏).
There are so many scary stories about the montuary; of ghost 👻 and corpses seeking revenge. Contrary to what I have heard, there was nothing frightening about the montuary. On the morning of the burial, I sat with my friend in the passage seat of the hearse. We joked about how we would run, if the corpse opened the coffin🤦. When we got to the house, the compound was full of people. The crowd extended to the road, so we had to wait for them to make way for the hearses. I thought of myself—if I die tomorrow, how many people would come to mourn me? Maybe eleven or maybe some of them might be too busy🤷 .
We spent the days after the burial cleaning and lazing around. She took me to the stream. The stream had three sections; the male, the female and the section for drinking water. The water did not look clean. When I complained, they said they have been drinking it for years and have not suffered any water related illness. She told me of the spring water, in her mother’s community and promised to show me the next time I came to Edda.
The next time, would be when I come to dance her off to her husband’s home😊.