The district chief summoned Elder Anyebe to answer for sundry issues, attempted murder being the main concern. His guards reported the bleeding and near death of Priscilla. She swallowed some toxin as a protest against her father’s disavowal to her friendship with Séyitän, her most beloved guy. The chief gestured to Elder Anyebe to speak.
Anyebe cleared his throat, “Chief, I salute you with the most respectable greeting, may you live longer than those who born you” A long ‘Amen’ chorused from the audience. “Honestly Chief, this matter is serious and I am happy you choose me to first speak before others. My daughter could have die by now if not for doctor rescue. It is doctor that give her something that kill poison. If not, the poison she swallow will have kill her all because of this boy. As you know it, a daughter cannot bring any kind man she see in the street and start talking love, talk less of marriage. She should have even tell her mother first, I can understand. But my daughter want to disgrace me and the entire family by this action.
She say, if not this boy, she will kill herself. I ask her why? She say he is the only one she lof and he is her intended. I tell her, this is not the day of Romeo and Juliet that somebody will be loving somebody blindly. I say to her, calm down, you don’t know nothing! I know this boy more than she. And I can swear to my grandfather’s grave that my Priscilla and him cannot become couples. Let me start to give you the full details from the beginning. Chief, you know when GSM come out first first, okay. Like five years now, I go to submit document for my daughter that want to travel abroad.
As I finish in the office, I call the man that help us to make the papers and thank him. That time that I am phoning, my Mercedes 190 is park at the end of another motor- Black ACURA Jeep that I don’t know who have it. I am out telephoning to the man, because I cannot be talking double at the same time, I want to finish the call first. I just see somebody stand, looking at me and shouting rubbish. ‘who is the driver of this motor! who is the driver of this motor!’, he shout it four or five times and everybody did not answer him. So I finish and as I want to open my Mercedes door, this boy, I don’t know if he is yahoo-yahoo or he steal his father money or what, he is asking me why I park my motor bumper to bumper near his ACURA jeep , that I have delay him. First I look there and I want to evaporate from there because I think maybe he say bomber, suicide bomber.
But he show me by touching the place that my motor front kiss him motor back. When I hear him finish, I told him, so what? That is not how to approach Elders. I am a Elder and I command all respect. Chief, can you believe what this boy do? He hiss on me and then walk to his motor door, open it and bring out Koboko. Koboko of three mouth, he now tell me to told him sorry. I say to him, impossible! Me?, a Elder and a Knight of St. Mulumba. He have to respect me for that. He just started flogging me there in the public. I start to run and run you will think Lion have pursue me for chop. It is the run that I run that make me loss my phone. And the phone is cost that time more than now- is a open and close phone. I loss the phone. I run and hide, waiting for him to go away before I go and carry my car. But he cannot drive out like that, so he come again to where I am hide and use the Koboko to threaten me to come and dress back with my Mercedes before he can now drive out. In my whole life, nobody have do such a thing to me.
That night, is Mama Prisci that help me use hot water and be massaging my body because the cane form line-line all over my body. Chief, that time is a serious thing because for the complete week, I weak, I cannot near my wife; we just like two women mourning for their dead husband for bed. Now chief, if is you, can you agree for this type of boy to attempt to become your son-in-law? Before God and man, I cannot think it. And if not Prisci is a compound fool, I tell her what a man can see, a daughter cannot see. My grey hair is not play-play, it is the sign of experience. She did not hear, she say is must to marry Séyitän- this boy. Why I say she is a compound fool is that, if is just Séyitän that is the issue it will have been a slender matter but ask her. Ask her about Ene- her sister that take five years and senior her. Ene go and marry a Yoruba man. After three years she come back crying saying that they have spoil her child face. I ask her, by who? She say it is her mother-in-law, the woman that born her husband.
She make sure she give the pikin twelve tear-tear triba’ marks, six on the left! six on the right! Ene say, him Mama say is for proper recognize. She say is when she and her husband go to work that before they come back from work, they have do it for her child face. Is pain me too, but I pity her that term. She cry, cry and cry, so I tell her, if she cry too much people go thinking that her child have die or something of that nature. And is the same of what happen to Ene that can happen to Prisci, if she marry and born for him. It is their culture.” The chief nod his head twice in assimilation. Elder had been on his daughter’s case since her return from studies in Pretoria , S.A. According to him, a lady her age without a man was merely wasting.
Sometime ago, she met Séyitän, a Lieutenant colonel turned stockbroker at a dinner. Séyitän, 27, is calculated and methodical and asks too many questions. No thanks to his years of military drilling. At first, she avoided him, but he kept on stalking her, inquiring about her. She finally spoke and tried to explain to him that his questions had more than one answer. Since then, they had taken to each other and had several dates, few spa outings, long leisurely walks and memorable moments together. Still standing before the chief, all present, could see the passion in their eyes. Séyitän and Priscilla? Ta! Anyebe thought flicking his finger in disgust, as the Chief motioned Priscilla to speak next. “Good afternoon Chief! Good afternoon everyone! To be frank, I think Dad is just being hysterical about this matter. The scarification on my nephew’s face is not a big deal, we are Africans for God’s sake, some among our people still have the elili facial marks. I agree that his use of the whip on Baba was really reprehensible. But that was then, Séyitän deeply regrets it.
Now that we both have shared dreams and possibly a common future, I am saddened to death because Baba is adamant and unyielding. Séyitän had appeased him with several gifts and an entire retinue of emissaries from his village head came to plead with him. I almost lost my life. Sir, without Séyitän, life will not be worth living.” Her father objected, “If I hear pim again! That’s why you will go and kill yourself for a boy? Ask him if he can swallow poison or catch grenade for you? Ask him, is he Bruno Mars!” The Chief let out a smile, musing on the matter. With his staff , he motioned her to sit and instructed Séyitän to speak. Séyitän dropped, his knees instantly touching the ground, his shirt soaked and his hands wiping uncontrollable tears, pleading with all his might. Being a cadet didn’t matter now. “Please Chief, help _ me plead with Baba _ he is my father now.”
His voice, now hoarse from suppressed whimpers. “ I regret what I did in the past. I can sacrifice everything in life to retain Priscilla_ she is now the meaning to my existence. She is a well bred lady and I love her and the entire family. I promise to be obedient to Baba henceforth.” The Chief was at a loss, unsure of what to say. He fumbled with his staff, flipped a strand from his eyelid then mouthed an appeal, “Ehn Ehn, Elder Anyebe. This is a serious issue that needs to be tackled with all the seriousness that it deserves. Your children have pleaded and I wish to add my voice, please accept their apologies.”
“Nooo! It can’t easy like that!” Elder Anyebe shot back, “Before the issue on the ground can be clear, I must flog back my own. Is not flog to take revenge , it is flog to show discipline” To that, the chief signalled his guards to tie Séyitän to the tree and a light horsewhip was handed to Elder Anyebe. The chief admonished further, “I sympathise with you all, I will decide the number of strokes, please be gentle on the young man Ehnn” The aggrieved Anyebe interjected, “I agree with what you say, but this matter consign Mama Priscilla too. Prisci, go and call your mother to join and witness it.”
Priscilla and her mother soon joined them. Séyitän too was still against the tree ready for the reprisal. Priscilla, tried restraining her emotion but she felt the urge to break to tears. Her mother drew her near, encircling her with her plump arm and said in audible whispers, “Sorry Prisci, Is for you Séyitän he is doing this. And if that is what your Dad like, agree for him for the sake of peace. ” *** *** ***