People love marriage but people’s parents love marriage more. My parents were not any different. I was just twenty five but I was already the prayer point in my family. I was the second of two children. My elder brother was just as single as I was but he was in the UK lounging, just because he was a Doctor. He was twenty eight but they didn’t disturb him. It’s not easy to be a doctor, they always told me: he doesn’t have time. I studied political science and now worked for an NGO so apparently I had all the time in the world. Maybe I had time but I definitely did not have time for the boy selecting process.
Enter my parents.
One day my Mom had sat me down.
“I understand your challenge.” She told me.
She nodded. “Of course I do. That’s why I’m your mother. I know what’s best for you.”
“You should know that already.” She said. “I understand how busy you are with your NGO and other things you don’t tell us about but that is not a problem.”
“No, it’s not my dear. This whole husband matter, can be solved like this.” She snapped her fingers.
“What is wrong with you? Why are you answering me like that?”
“Sorry Mommy, I’m just tired of all this your marriage talk.”
She moved closer to me. “My dear, we have friends, families that I and your father know and trust. Good families. They all have sons; handsome young sons. Let us introduce you to some of them.”
I laughed. “You want to arrange a marriage for me? Mommy, this is not an Indian movie or 1960.”
“No my dear, I’m not arranging marriage, I just want you to meet some of them.”
I shook my head. “Thanks, but no. I’ll find a husband on my own, at the right time.”
That was a good three weeks ago and my Mom had stopped talking about marriage all together. It was a miracle. It looked like an angel had reached down from heaven and erased that part of her memory. Well, all that lasted until yesterday when she called to say she wanted me to come home to meet somebody.
“Is it a guy?” I asked. “Mom, we talked about this.”
“Don’t be a disobedient child. Come home tomorrow.” She said and ended the call before I could protest further.
I arrived at the house expecting the worst. Who was the guy my parents had arranged for me? What would he look like? Was he going to be spoilt Mommy’s boy who thought the whole world ate cornflakes for breakfast? What would he think of me? What had they told him? The questions were so many I knew there was no way I could answer them until I saw the guy.
Then I saw the guy and most of my fears when away. He was in the living room, alone, watching the TV. I stood still and watched him for a while, undetected. From his face I could tell who his parents were. He was a classic example of a handsome, rich guy. I’d never seen him before but I knew his parents very well. Maybe this was not such a bad idea. Standing there, staring at him was getting creepy. I opened the curtains and stepped into the living room.
“Hi.” I said.
He stood up – okay, gentleman – and stretched out his hand. “Hello.”
I shook his hand. “My name is Jumai.”
I chuckled. “Elvis? Like Elvis Presley?”
“I know, right? My Dad was a big fan and my Mom unfortunately could not change his mind.”
“At least nobody will ever forget your name.”
He smiled, showing his perfect dentition. “That’s the silver lining to the very dark cloud.”
“Where are my manners? Please sit. What do I offer you?”
“Don’t bother, your Mom already took care of that.” He said and sat.
I wondered where they were anyway. I couldn’t put it past them to be eavesdropping on our conversation. I wasn’t mad at them. Elvis was great, so far.
I sat on the chair adjacent to him.
“How come we have never met before?” I asked. “I know your parents very well.”
“Well, I was a boarder in secondary school and then I went to the UK for my first and second degree. So I’ve never really being at home.”
“I see.” I wasn’t one to be impressed by international education but I was getting impressed here.
“So, what do you do?” He asked.
“I am head of strategy for a non-profit organization.”
I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to smile. “No, I’m not. You are surprised I’m head of strategy?”
“No, of course not. I recently started a non-profit too. We are working with some international organizations to help local farmers increase productivity and reduce wastage during harvest. Well, that’s what we are doing for now.”
“That’s impressive.” I said.
Maybe I should start respecting my Mom more; she was good at this. Elvis was the kind of guy I would pick myself. He was ticking all my boxes one by one.
“What do you guys do at your place?” He asked.
“Education.” I said but I didn’t want to talk about me, I wanted to hear more about him. “When did you start your organization?”
“Just three months ago.”
“And how’s it been?”
“We’ve been doing okay but we’re not getting as much money as we hoped for.”
“That seems to be everybody’s complaint at the moment.”
“Sometimes I just wish I could stumble on a pile of money somewhere.”
I frowned. “Really?”
He smiled. “Yeah, I blow my whistle and ten percent of the money becomes mine.”
Somewhere in the house I heard a door open and footsteps approaching the living room. I paused and waited for whoever was coming. It was my Dad.
“Good afternoon Dad.” I said.
He ignored me and looked at Elvis. “How are you my son?”
“Very fine sir.”
“You’ve been here for a while, don’t you think it’s time to go?”
“Sir?” Elvis said.
“Dad?” I said.
“It is time for her afternoon nap.” My dad said. “I’m sure you can talk later.”
“Dad, what are you doing?”
My Dad turned to me and whispered. “Casting out every whistle blowing spirit.”