Kamnefechi had to close from work very early that Tuesday. She was due in Church. She needed to obtain the wedding form which was a prerequisite for all intending couples. She and Aniekanabasi, her fiancé had reached a consensus on their wedding date and thus the culmination of a four year long relationship in its expected end was billed for early April, three clear months from this moment. The church insisted on a notice of three months and Kamne was in a hurry to ensure that the wedding date would not be postponed due to any negligence on her part.
As she slowly threaded her way through the infamous Lagos traffic, she heaved a sigh of relief; the end was in sight at last. Her relationships with the opposite sex had usually left her empty and unfulfilled until Aniekan, the only exception, breezed into her life. Ironically her former suitors had pleased her parents greatly because they had all been from the same ethnic persuasion as she was, and could lay claim, no matter how feeble to Anglicanism as their preferred mode of worship. Aniekan was neither an indigene of her state, nor a worshipper in her church, but he had left her breathless.
Kamnefechi drove into Makinde Street, past a police officer in hot pursuit of a Danfo driver who had taken to his heels, and scanned the cluttered street for a place to park her fiery red Kia Soul. Not by the provision shop for the owner would aggressively inform her that she was obstructing his customer’s view of the shop; not by the street corner because the car would be sure to have a dent or scratch upon her return. The akara seller’s corner looked promising though messy and Kamne promised herself that she would purchase some on her return, if only to appease the woman who was glaring at her as she inched the car closer. The akara smelled pretty hot and tempting but Kamne knew she would not be partaking in it even if she bought some. The open gutter upon which the akara seller’s business concern was precariously perched was all the convincing she needed.
Kamnefechi was dressed in an exquisite grey striped skirt suit that fit her slender frame to a T. she preferred pantsuits on most occasions, but with a Church visit in mind, had decided on a skirt suit that Tuesday. Her feet were encased in dark grey Jimmy Choo pumps that had been a gift from Aniekan, and she held her black leather Louis Vuitton bag firmly as she picked her way through street debris to the paved path that signified the boundaries between the Church and the streets.
She made her way to the Church office even as she made a mental note to put the squeeze on her tailor to deliver on time, and was glad of at least one familiar face; the Minister in charge of her confirmation class all those years ago. He greeted Kamne very warmly and directed her to the Curate that would assist her.
“Good evening Sir” Kamne greeted the tall, distinguished looking Curate as she entered his very understated office. Shelves dotted the walls and a big wooden table took up most of the office space, with a few wooden chairs scattered around. The sole piece of furniture in the office which looked any good was the revolving office chair positioned behind the desk, although the upholstery was peeling and faded. The white of the Curate’s priestly collar against his all black ensemble reminded her of an eye; a vacant eye lacking a pupil and malevolent in its deformity.
Kamne informed him of her mission, expecting to start and end it in one fell swoop, afterall, it was just a form.
“What is the name of the man you want to marry?” the Curate inquired of Kamne.
This question surprised her. The Curate had seated himself behind his desk and was semi reclined in his seat in a manner which indicated that the meeting would not be concluded as swiftly as Kamne had envisioned. She had thought to get the form and be on her merry way, but Mr. Curate obviously had other plans.
“His name is Aniekanabasi , Sir” Kamne replied and became further discomfited when he pointed to a chair, indicating that she should sit. Seconds later, two other familiar faces, male and female filed into the office in surely the same way males and females of every living specie had filed into Noah’s ark all those years ago. She vainly tried to place a name on each one as they settled into the uncomfortable chairs and made themselves comfortable. Kamne had to wonder if she had stumbled into a counselling session intended for another. All she had come for was the simple and non-contentious purchase of a wedding form.
“Where is he from? The Curate continued his enquiries, apparently aware that the new entrants were to be present for whatever this was. Marriage classes commenced after the wedding form was duly filled and submitted to the church office, so this ‘session’ did not qualify or make sense.
“From Uyo state, sir” Kamne replied with a tight smile, “Akwa Ibom to be precise”.
“Where did you meet him? How long have you known him? Do you trust him? Is he born-again? Are his parents Christians? Have they undergone family deliverance? Are they Anglicans? Where does he work? Does he look grounded? Are you aware that men from the south-south are polygamous by nature…?
Like flies on meat, they attacked from every angle, probing, digging, hitting her with an endless stream of questions. Kamne’s bemusement turned to anger, and that anger was fast becoming rage as she gave replies to questions she deemed unwarranted and unnecessary. These nosy parkers were not her parents!
Boom! The light went on in Kamne’s head and she deciphered in split seconds, the source of her embattlement. Her parents. The gentleman’s identity had become evident to her the second he began to speak, and asked a question in his weirdly shrill voice. For a man who had enough grey hair and beards to rival Wole Soyinka, his voice sounded like a 12 year old girl-child. He was the President of the Men’s Association of which her father was the General Secretary. The portly lady that was the co-director in what was evidently an orchestrated effort to question Kamne’s choice of husband material, was a respected member of the Church works and welfare committee. These were friends of her Parents and they could only be here, asking such invasive questions on the directives of her parents.
“Is this how badly my parents hate the idea of my marriage to Aniekan? Kamne butt right in. If she tried to hold in her rage any longer, she might blurt out much more than was required in language that would leave her hosts gasping for breath.
The portly lady chuckled, but Mr. Soyinka look-alike and the Curate had the nerve to look shocked.
“Nne, this is really not about your parents,” Mrs. portly lady burbled, “although I must admit you have us nicely cornered. Yes your parents did tell us to try and have a talk with you in the event you turned up here to purchase the marriage form, but” and here her voice went up a notch,” its your choice and its only you and your God that can make that decision for you ok?”
Kamne pondered on the frequency of ‘yous’ contained in Mrs. portly’s sentence and her rage diminished sufficiently to enable her mutter “thank you ma”.
Angst set in immediately. Kamne had endured her fair share of clashes and disagreements with her parents over varied issues but she was very careful about blowing her top with matured folks unless it was on a well-deserved issue; heck, maybe this qualified.
“Before you buy this marriage form, can you please tell us why you think Anelka is God’s will for you as a life partner? The Curate stared at Kamne intently as he spoke. His tone was a lot softer and held a hint of regard for the young woman before him, which had been evidently absent prior to that moment.
“Emm…” Kamne paused and gathered her thoughts. All along she had been answering questions about Aniekan; his life, education, Christian growth, health, status, family background, job history, physical fitness, everything. This question was different for it related to Aniekan from her perspective; this question was about Kamnefechi.
“I have known Aniekan for close to four years. We were acquaintances, and then we became friends, very good friends. At the time I met him, I was contemplating a relationship with a guy that had been introduced to me by a girlfriend. So I never contemplated that Ani and I would be heading in this direction, ever.
Despite this fact we became even better friends with each passing moment. We had a lot of things in common and he was encouraged by my service and dedication to the things of God which he felt was rare considering my relative youth and social status at the time. I found him charming and, filled with humour, verve, tolerant and patient to an unbelievable extent. In spite of me, my misgivings and my denials, my feelings for him escalated. This state of limbo persisted for over a year.”
Kamne paused again and gauged the reaction of her listeners. They seemed attentive and interested; maybe they liked what they were hearing.
“I was deeply involved in my school fellowship in which I was a leader and truthfully, I did not have time to cultivate or tend to a relationship just then. Ani went under the radar and we became peripheral friends. I literally threw myself into working for God and the truth is the labourer is indeed worthy of his wages. The same God that uses a man also knows how to bless him just right and timeously. Ani had graduated from the university at that time and he had the opportunity, actually many opportunities to you know, date.”
Kamne said the word cautiously because she knew that these folk could not necessarily distinguish between a dignified ‘dating’ and the romping of two under-aged teens in the name of ‘boyfriend and girlfriend ism’. She did not want to give them the impression that her Aniekan had romping tendencies.
“Anyway, he was waiting for me, and just out of the blues, right after my 21st birthday, he told me he would like to marry me and would be pleased if I agreed to ‘date’ (that word again!) him. I said yes immediately. I didn’t need to think about it. I knew he was my path and I would follow that path. For at no other period in my life have I been so sure that I was following God’s leading for my life than those years when I served God with whole-hearted attention and with my being”.
Here was a God-fearing, attractive, hard-working, generous, loving and patient man; and God had given him all to me.
“That’s how I know Aniekanabasi is God’s will for me as my life partner”.
She shifted from her perch on the seat. Her mouth was dry from the narration but she felt a deep love for Aniekan at that moment and an appreciation for these folks who had put her on the hot seat. Sometimes it takes a saying to remind oneself of the things one knows but still takes for granted.
“May I have that form now, please?” Kamne asked. Her feet danced in a hurry to propel her towards the door and outside the premises. Kamnefechi had a call to make; her weeklong disagreement with Aniekan suddenly seemed silly and pointless in the light of the overwhelming love that suddenly burned brightly.