A Promise To Keep
“To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and the health, to love and to cherish till death do us part.” These were his vows to me some hours earlier at the Michigan courthouse.
My family was certain that my husband should pay for the entire wedding, even though it is not typical for us to cover all of the expenses. The last time we were all together in Uzo-Awka, I heard Daddy say to Nnamdi, “We want to be sure that he can take care of your sister.”
It was he who nearly got into a brawl with our in-laws on the morning of Nnamdi’s Igba Nkwu when they suddenly decided he wasn’t buoyant enough to marry Aunty Francesca.
“Give us 10 pregnant she-goats before she can be allowed to greet ndi ogo.”
“But Dede we have done everything you wrote in the list. We even increased the miscellaneous budget by 100,000 naira. Biko, allow our children to get married and we will settle this first thing tomorrow,” Uncle Okezie appealed.
“Our daughter is a graduate.”
“She studied law at the University of Nigeria and graduated with a first class. Ada anyi bu nnukwu mmadu. She is no small woman.”
“We cannot give her to you for free. Give us what we have asked or …”
“Or what, Mazi? My son is a telecommunication specialist. The country director for Etisalat in Kenya. I will not have you disrespect my family!” Daddy’s baritone voice echoed. “If you don’t quit this charade, I will walk in there and take Frankie to Uzo-Awka.”
Now, Nnamdi jokes that he would have gone searching for 10 pregnant she-goats that morning if Daddy had not intervened. “Nwoke ka m bu,” he adds, prancing around and beating his chest.
Not that she would mind but he promised Aunty Francesca that he would pay her bride price in full. Because he hates mkpari and will not allow any insult from her family, no matter how inconsequential, to crush his ego.
Six years, ten months and twenty-three days later, I am eyes-locked with my husband exchanging life-altering, eternal vows in the absence of our families.
I never saw myself sitting through a six-man wedding reception in a pub but here I was, wearing a sleeveless, boatneck peach dress, laughing at jokes told by the barista, my husband’s college mate, and an old couple from our apartment while my husband performed Westlife’s My Love on the stage in front.
Although having our families visit would have given the day more flavour, it would have increased the cost of our wedding by thousands of dollars. This soulless ceremony is better than listening to Daddy whine about how I should have married Onye Igbo and lived in Nigeria.
“A white man does not understand our culture,” he would say.
My phone beeped.
I had just received a WhatsApp message from Aunty Francesca that read: Now that you are married, I hope we will see more of you in Nigeria. Being a good wife means cleaning and cooking for your husband. Ebuka nwa m, who you didn’t get to carry as a baby is now walking. Please, send pictures of the wedding. Greet your husband for us.
She is the only one who remembered.
I checked Nnamdi’s status and found out that an Angel investor had awarded his startup a $10,000. After my nephew was born, he was dismissed from Etisalat and since then, he has been struggling to grow his startup.
I typed, “Nice one. Congrats.” However, I edited it to, “Congrats, Nnamdi. More wins to come.” and clicked send.
He responds with a thumbs up and proceeds to send me a video of Ebuka taking his first steps with his nanny cheering him on and two 10-minute long voice notes that I didn’t care listening to. The only beautiful thing in his conceited life was his son.
He currently has three employees but Aunty Francesca wants him to sell the company and get a proper job. She informs me that he no longer posts family photos on his social media feed or wears his ring. They have been at it for so long that their marriage is under significant strain.
I ignore my brother and his wife.
I dial Daddy’s number but it doesn’t connect. I leave him a message asking him to call me when he is online.
My husband is now singing John Legend’s All of Me. I am completely devoid of all emotion, including happiness. As long as he was mine, I would try again the next day or not.