Once in a while, an event occurs that brings a similar one that happened ages ago back sharply into focus. Ini was the first to get married out of the ‘group’. She had to be. With so many men in heat panting after her, it was inevitable that she had to make a choice before she got into serious trouble. She’d already promised marriage to about four men and was wondering how to wriggle out of the web she’d woven for herself when her mother came to the rescue.

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A woman in her 60s then, she’d had minimal education but, God, was she pretty! She was on her third husband and still had a bit of mileage in her even after seven children. A woman who believed a wife must secure her presence in any matrimonial home, she’d made sure she had children for each of her husband’s. And they weren’t poor men either. So, when the men eventually croaked, some nest-eggs would be waiting for her children! Ini’s mother sat her down so they could both ‘vet’ each candidate.

Nothing like love was considered and Ini’s choice was quickly dismissed by her mum. Her reason? Though he came from a rich background, he was too possessive and arrogant. Her second choice was given a grudging nod. He was so much in love with Ini her mother reckoned Ini could get away with murder married to a ‘mumu’ (sorry readers, a gentleman!) like him. The other two would be kept on the leach in case anything went wrong. And something did go wrong! Three weeks to the wedding, Ini was at home when Dave, one of the ‘losers’ visited.

A divorcee who was some ten years older than Ini, he took Ini’s decision to throw him over for another man very badly. “Is it because I have two children?”, he wanted to know. “Or because I’m not of your tribe?” It was obvious he was hurting. “I had to explain to him that I accidentally got pregnant and didn’t want an abortion”, Ini had confided then. “It was a lie, of course. He looked suspiciously at my flat stomach but I bluffed it couldn’t have started showing yet. He was so heartbroken that he burst into tears. I felt so sorry for him that I threw my arms around him, trying to console him.

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“Sobbing along with him, I genuinely felt his pain because he was a kind, generous lover. One thing led to the other and we were both sobbing and kissing. Before I knew it, we were making love with our clothes on! It was a mad, unplanned moment and I forgot to lock the door. That was how my finance found us. `What the hock is going on here!’, he roared, rushing back to the living room to find my mother. The wedding is off he shouted at her as if she were the culprit. `I just discovered your daughter having sex with another man’ I’d so juggled the men in my life they scarcely knew each other. My mum was naturally distraught and told me off in no uncertain term after my irate finance left. Poor mum, she wasn’t around when Dave came or he wouldn’t have been allowed in my room.

Dave was elated. He wanted to be a substitute groom until I reminded him of my ‘pregnancy”. He left shortly after and the next couple of days were devoted to a lot of diplomatic talks that would put the UN to shame, in order to salvage my impending marriage. In the end, my finance relented. One thing about the extended family is that there is no problem it can’t solve as soon as such problems surfaces! I had to lie to my poor finance that what he witnessed was an act of rape by Dave because I disappointed him. That he had his hands round my throat and only let go when he started raping me. He looked a bit sceptical but, in the end, he believed me and the wedding was back on course”.

After Ini’s marriage, Joan, a favourite niece of hers who’d always watched open mouthed at Ini’s sophistication begged to come and live with her. Ini was glad of the company and, within years, Joan being a clone of her aunt – thanks to all Ini’s cast-offs that she happily wore like a trophy, quickly grew up, finding suitors amongst the male visitors to Ini’s matrimonial home. It was a relief when she went to the university and relocated to her family home because it was nearer to campus. Any little opportunity she had, she was with Ini, happily staying over to look after the children when Ini travelled and Joan was free.

Now, it was Joan’s turn to get married. Not that much of a patch on Ini in looks, she made up for that with a lot of charm Ini must have imparted on her. Incredibly, Joan too had a problem about who to settle with! Thank goodness, she only had two choices. The first man, Luke came from a rich family and was thoroughly spoilt. “He wasn’t all that keen on getting married”, Ini had told me a few months back. “He’s still happily sowing his wild oats with girls. But, poor Joan is in love with him, and was prepared to wait and hope that, `one day’’ the spoilt brat would take one look at her and march her to the altar! I lectured her she might have to wait forever only to watch him get married to someone else.

“Labi, her second choice, is a bit wet behind the ears. So what? He loves Joan with a passion and has a good job. She doesn’t love him because he wasn’t aggressive enough but I told her that was exactly the man she should get married to. He was also a British citizen which meant their children would automatically become British. What could be better than that? I reminded her that in life, there are some perks money can’t buy!”
Ini’s mum, bless her departed soul, would have been proud of how Joan’s ‘predicament was resolved’.


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