“Welcome our in-laws,” greeted the elaborately dressed woman in Yoruba traditional attire of buba and iro made in white lace fabric and a peach head gear made from the famous aso oke.
She led us into the living room that had been decorated differently from the way I remembered it. The interiors screamed posh with an extensive detail in its design. I could see the principles Feng Chiu used as every accessories and furniture blended harmoniously with a subtle twist of simplicity.
The seats were soft and comfortable as we sank into them taking our seats. We thought we were late but on the contrary. Our in-laws were not ready which was a blessing in disguise. It would not have been a good impression if they had to wait for us.
I sat beside my uncle, Baba Bisola who was beside my mum, and next her twin sister and Risi. The woman was quiet, but it was not out of the ordinary since no one was conversing with her apart from my mum. Baba Bisola had not as much as given her a glance since we came in. She could have well not existed to him.
Lana’s parents came out followed by her Uncle Segun. I noticed he did a double take when he came in and saw us. The man was stunned with a look of shock on his face as he struggled to gather himself together. That could be easily explained seeing the similarities between my mother and her twin.
However, I began to wonder what he saw that brought the look and reaction. He was not himself for the better part of the time we were there. He kept stealing looks at my mum and her twin. At another occasion, I could have sworn the man was sweating which did not look like one from the weather as the air condition in the room was as cold as a refrigerator.
My interest was further piqued when I glanced at my aunt who had a startled look on her face when she saw Lana’s uncle, but if she knew him, she did not at least give a hint. I watched the interplay between them, Uncle Segun desperately trying to pass a message across to her while my aunt stubbornly kept looking away from him.
Uncle Bisola, stood up to give the speech and the reason the family came. I could not have been more proud. He was eloquent and purposeful with very convincing words leaving them no choice than to give their daughter to us willingly.
My Uncle, a Professor of Mathematics and Applied Statistics, insisted on being called Baba Bisola by family members and not the usual Prof, used by his friends and colleagues in the academic community. He argued that Prof was meant for work and would not want to be placed on any pedestal apart from the one that arose from the ties that bound us.
Nonetheless, today, he showed us off in a proper light, and I was none the more so glad he came along.
The speech was well received, and Lana’s father was more than happy to receive us. However, he asked if Uncle Segun had anything to say.
The man cleared his throat and focused his attention on my mum and her twin.
“Our in-laws to be. I did not know Bode’s mother is a twin. So we can expect twins as grandchildren from Bode and Lana,” he joked.
“Your similarity is so striking that I can hardly tell the difference. Which of you of you is Bode’s mother,” asked Uncle Segun
My mum smiled in response that she was, and this was her twin sister who she dragged to the venue having just returned from the UK.
“Her name is Kehinde Agnes Balogun
Uncle Segun cleared his throat uncomfortably.
“Mrs Balogun,” he called out to her.
“Do you have anything to say that would help us consider accepting your nephew as our future son-in-law?” he questioned.
I was confused but explained it away in my head. He did not know that Agnes Balogun was not part of my family but someone who dropped from the middle of nowhere and due to my mother’s kind heart and irreversible bond, she was brought here on impulse.
Baba Bisola was fuming under his breath that he had said she was bad news from the beginning.
My aunt replied No.
Uncle Segun now asked my mum, “Are you are Bode’s mum?
It seemed odd for him to be asking the question again but I assumed it was all to make the program livelier. However, unbeknown to me. It was the beginning of an issue that would turn around my life forever and haunt me till my dying day.
“Yes,” she answered.
“And this is your twin?” he asked jutting his chin to my aunt’s direction.
“Yes,” my mum answered again not perturbed.
There was no need to worry. People asked for hands in marriage every day without the the drama mine was about to unfold.
Ewo! He shouted in Yoruba meaning forbidden, shaking his head from side to side despondently.
Lana’s father was staring at him with raised eyebrows.
“Daddy Nekan, there is trouble,” he whispered to his brother but loud enough for all in the room to hear.
“Lana cannot marry into this family. And it is with due respect. We would have to ask you to leave. We cannot accept your proposal.
“Segun, kilonsele, I heard Lana’s father ask amidst the panic that seized my heart.
I glanced at my mother and Baba Bisola. This must be some huge joke. There must be something wrong.
The family had accepted Lana and I. Coming here today was to fulfil the obligation. So what was this madness of a joke played out here?
I ran my hand through my hair, unbuttoning the clip of the neck of my beautifully embroidered white guinea kaftan as I was suddenly feeling hot.
Whatever was playing out here could not be happening. I shook my head like one willing away an evil trance.
“Egbon, I will tell you now but let them leave,” I heard Uncle Segun say.
Why was this man the one in charge while Lana’s parents listened to him?.
I was distraught.
What was happening?
This was not some Nollywood movie.
This was my life! My introduction! I screamed in my head.
My family was being asked to leave that the proposal was not accepted.
I saw the stunned look on Baba Bisola’s face.
“Our in-laws this is not done. If you are rejecting our proposal, could you at least tell us why? And if it is something we need to work on, we will rectify and come back to you at an agreed date,” said my uncle trying to salvage an already bad situation.
“You would have to ask her,” said Uncle Segun pointing to my aunt.
She sat down unflinchingly without uttering a word.
My life was going in shambles, and an aunt I had never seen held the answers.
We were looking at my aunt expectantly hoping it was a misunderstanding to be cleared once she spoke.
But she never did, rather she had tears trickling down her face. In one second she looked tired and defeated.
There was some story to be told and for Lana and my happiness, someone had better start talking.
“There must be some misunderstanding,” said Baba Bisola gallantly, refusing to give up forging ahead with the belief that our mission here today must be achieved.
Lana’s father called Uncle Segun aside.
We could not hear what was he was saying but could read the look of shock on his face at whatever Uncle Segun had told him.
And right before our eyes, Lana’s father aged as his shoulders slumped losing it’s earlier aristocratic posture.
I needed to get out of here and see Lana. These elders should not play with our lives.