Early the next day, a kinsman who lived in the same neighbourhood with me showed up in my house. I was highly surprised to see him because we weren’t mates nor close friends. I instantly suspected it was Tony’s case that brought him.
“i came so early in order to meet you at home. You boys hardly spent a minute at home these days” he said jokingly, trying to ease the tension between us. I laughed fetched a bottle of hot drink and kept on a stool before him.
“aah nothing suits the soul more than a shot of this drink every morning” he laughed and diligently served himself while i looked on with a smile. He appeared relaxed while i looked a bit nervous.
Even though we were far from being close friends, i respected him a lot, especially the way he played his community politics. He was barely forty years old but has been our town union secretary in Benin city for so many years, even before i knew what was politics.
“what is this rumour i hear going round between you and your friend. I heard a very surprising news from Tony’s cousin yesterday” he asked calmly, studying me with his eyes. I scoffed and drew back.
“what rumour did you hear?” i asked. He smiled, served himself another shot of whisky before facing me.
“you took away his woman” he fired directly, mincing no words.
“oh i see, c’mon Tony is yet to marry, so how come i stole his woman?” i asked with a sly smile.
“come off the pretence man. You perfectly understood my question and your answer shows you really did it. Why?, why her?. This town is filled with lots of women. Gush” he breathed with disappointment.
“you are a graduate. You are rich. Your father was my friend. A man of honour Why commit this terrible atrocity with his blood?. You took away your friend’s woman because of a silly hit and run agenda in your mind” he said angrily, hiding nothing from me.
His words were strong and painful. In fact he whipped me with his tongue.
“it’s not the way you think. We both fell for the same woman and luckily she chose me instead of him. I have no hit and run agenda in my mind. I’m marrying her” i defended myself, breathing heavily.
He spat out the drink in his throat and stared at me with shock.
“what madness!” he exclaimed.
“yes i’m marrying her” i repeated.
“this is really more serious than i thought. C’mon man think. I’m your senior but still a young man. I’m not yet up to forty years but i have seen a lot to know when things are going astray. You know no man legitimately marries a wife alone. You need your people, you need me, you need Tony, you need your kinsmen. Do you think anyone will follow or side you to marry her. I know it’s too early to be saying these words but the earlier the better. Nobody fights his kinsman in the city and lives a fulfilled life after. I don’t think our people will permit you to marry a woman you stole from a brother, unless you settle with him which i very much doubt. We are all from the same clan. Yes Tony is your brother. This isn’t good at all” he concluded, stood, shook his head and left with disappointment, leaving me shocked and choked up.
I managed to return to my room where i found Jenifer crying. It was obvious she overheard everything
To be continued.