I’d been under a lot of pressure lately. Not pressure at work, not pressure for money but pressure to get married. It wasn’t anything new. Immediately I started working, everybody – my parents, my grandmothers, even my barber started asking when I was getting married. Initially it was easy to laugh and say, not yet. But a time came when they no longer accepted that answer. If I dared to laugh at the question, I would receive a lecture that sometimes lasted for hours. My Dad will tell me how he had nothing when he got married. My mom will tell me how she wished she had married earlier. My grandmothers told me how I had to marry before I became very successful because ‘these girls of nowadays’ will come for my money. Even my barber had a story from a Yoruba movie he saw. The conclusion; go and marry.
I don’t know if it was the constant barrage and pestering from people but I was starting to feel anxious about marriage too. Everything I saw reminded of marriage and how I did not have a wife. I saw a housefly chasing another one and my heart melted. I read the news of a man who caught his wife cheating, I’d remember I didn’t even have a wife who could cheat on me. I was desperate now. I needed a wife.
It was worse this week because about a week ago, my best friend had his first child. Everybody who saw me at the naming ceremony said it was my turn. Some of them said it more as a challenge than as a prayer. Some even said it like it was a threat. Fast forward to a few days after the naming ceremony and my brother was getting married. My younger brother.
I love my brother to death but I was a little angry he put me in this position. But as the great optimist that I am, I decided to see the silver lining on this dark cloud. Weddings are a great ground to find beautiful girls. So when I got to the wedding reception I isolated myself. I was not here for the jollof rice or the pounded yam, I was here for something more important. And just like I hoped, there were several girls at the wedding. Many of them, beautiful and old enough to be legally married. But there was a problem, there was no spark with any of them. I’d talked to a few and I’d immediately know they were not the one after just a couple of minutes.
The reception was almost over and I was getting discouraged. Maybe this marriage thing wasn’t for me. How could there be more than a billion girls in the world and I could not find one?
“Hello, is this seat taken?” Someone said behind me.
I looked back and opened my mouth and for a few seconds, I just stared. Oh wow, I was giving up too easily. There was someone for me and I’d just found her.
“The seat is not taken.” I said and she sat.
She was complicatedly beautiful. Her complexion was fair and dark hung in a balance. She looked small yet stood so tall. I wasn’t a fan of bunching up your hair claiming to be a naturalist but her hair made me change my mind. She looked as African as they come but yet her nose looked like it had been transplanted from Julia Robert’s face. She wasn’t looking at me but I felt like she was communicating with me. Maybe she was a psychic. Or maybe I had just been hit by the thunderbolt.
I had to talk to her, see if she was as great inside as she was outside.
“Hi.” I said.
She looked at me and smiled. “Hello.”
“You came to the wedding by yourself?” I asked.
“No.” She said. “Why?”
“You’d be sitting here alone if I wasn’t here.”
“Did you come by yourself?” She asked.
“No.” I said.
“Weren’t you sitting alone before I came?”
“Good point.” I said.
Okay, everything was going on fine. She was confident, her diction was great and she had a beautiful smile.
“I’m Justin.” I said and offered her my hand.
She shook my hand. “Grace.”
“Which of them do you know? Groom or Bride?” I asked.
“The groom. Although I don’t really know him that well.”
“So you’re a wedding crasher?”
She laughed. “No, I came with my Mother.”
I looked up and saw my mother looking at us, smiling. Of course she was smiling. If she could get me talking to girls all day, she would. Anything to make me take the plunge.
“Which of them do you know?” She asked.
“Both of them.” I said.
I saw my mother walking towards us and I sighed. She was going to spoil everything. I would be lucky if she didn’t go on her knees and ask the girl to marry me.
She stopped in front of us.
“Who is your friend Justin?” She asked.
“Her name is Grace.”
She frowned. “Grace?”
“Yes ma.” Grace said.
“Grace Adeyemo?” My mom asked. What was going on?
“Yes.” Grace said.
My mom grabbed her and hugged her. “I saw your mother at the church, she mentioned that you came with her. I didn’t even recognize you.”
My mom knew her and knew her mother? This was awesome.
“Mom?” I said. “You know her?”
“Of course, I know her. She is Sewa’s daughter.”
I swallowed. “What?”
Aunty Sewa was my Mother’s stepsister who was out of the country for a long time. We weren’t close because it was only recently that she reconciled with my mom. But it did not make sense; Aunty Sewa’s children were kids.
“Aunty Sewa’s daughter will be like eighteen now.” I said.
Grace smiled. “Actually I’m seventeen.”
Oh crap! Seventeen? Forget the age, she was my frigging cousin!
I picked my cap from the table and walked away. Maybe marriage wasn’t for everybody.