The day had arrived when he would bring a Calabash filled with gifts such as the bride price, a needle and thread, Kolo nuts, a Bible and Quran, and envelopes filled with money addressed to different family members.
The bride price is the money the groom pays to the bride’s family for her hand in marriage, the needle and thread signifies that in times of difficulty they will seek to mend and repair any problems they face. The Kolo nuts, are a reminder that there will be bitterness in marriage but in the end, sweetness prevails. The Bible and Quran are to allow God to enter and remain present in the home, and the money addressed to different family members, is a thank you for the role they each played in the brides life.
This was my very own, Lock Door.
Once complete, I would no longer be free to date. I would be engaged!.
I initially had no desire to marry, least of all a man twenty years older. I was 20, he was forty, yet he looked even older. I had noticed him hanging around our family home, and that he often brought alcohol for my dad, and fish and meat for my mother. I stayed away as much as possible whenever he came around, as I had noticed him staring at me, even licking his lips on one occasion . ‘creepy crab’, I called him.
My sisters would tease me often , saying he would ‘use him yam to silence my rude mouth’.
I told them that the yam was stale mouldy ugly and old, and only a desperate woman after his money would allow that yam to enter her pot.
Yet here I was, accepting the 'creepy crab's proposal.
His happy smile and countenance did not diminish over time. The entire day it was he who smiled the largest.
When the front door knocked,and my parents asked ‘who is it,?’and ‘what had he come for?’ I was hoping that as my sisters came downstairs, and he was asked if ‘that was the one’, that he would say yes, and choose one of them, But he didn’t. It was upon seeing me that he pointed, ‘that one’.
My parents were happy, my sisters were also happy because they got to enjoy a party, and my husband and his family were overjoyed.
This would be his second marriage. His 1st Wife died under ‘suspicious circumstances’ people used to say, but in truth she died of malaria. Before I had decided to accept his proposal, I used to say he had killed his own wife, but I no longer said so.
My sisters laughed and at the large gap in his two from teeth, which at the time filled me with absolute disgust, and fear. I could barely look at his gap and not have some strange image surface in my mind. I had a gap also. It’s seen as beauty in a woman here. For years I didn’t like it , and refused to smile, yet I began to love it over time.
He put the ring on my finger in front of everyone, and all the guests cheered.
The ring was a beautiful diamond, set on a plain gold band. It was in the refection of the diamond, that he began to look more attractive. I knew that to marry a man who loved me more than I loved him would be the best option for me. A man who had a good job, and a business, an intelligent man who knew how to treat and respect, a woman.
I knew his eagerness would not keep other women away, as most women here are attracted to married men with money, and they will openly tell you, 'there’s no such thing as an ugly man, unless he is poor'.
As the dancing subsided, and guests began to leave, my sisters asked me what it was that had changed my mind and encouraged me to marry.
My elder sister seemed to understand my change of heart more than my younger more naive sisters.
I told them it was because I was tired of being let down. I had dated my high school sweetheart all though school and university, only for him to leave me for someone else.
I explained to them that the young men who I had met seemed to only want one of two things, either sex or money. I told my sisters that I needed stability. That stability will be the foundation on which I could pursue my dream of becoming a scientist.
I explained that all the good looks in the world would not pay for my education, my upkeep, and needs, and whilst I had no intention of soley relying on my husband . I needed someone who I knew would take care of the essentials without confusion or contention.
I had dated three other men since I split with my childhood sweetheart, and one day I realised that despite the declarations of love that each had given to me, none had been sincere, or really knew how to love.
I said yes because I recognised that he was at least, a loyal man.
‘So is loyalty more important than love?’, my younger sisters asked
‘Yes’, I replied, ‘to me, it is, and you repay loyalty with loyalty'.
It was whilst speaking with my sisters that I realised something I hadn't realised before.
That I , Aminata Kamara, despite my anxst and protestations, I actually did love him.