The spoon I was using for my ice cream almost fell out of my hand. The scoop in my mouth felt hot as if cooked on fire. “Sorry, you said…?” I asked for a second time while I swallowed hard. My ears tingled more and more and I felt dizzy as though under a spell. I couldn’t believe what I just heard from my brother in-law to be.
Jean-Jacques was one of Erica’s two brothers who lived abroad. I heard he was around, so I took the opportunity to get to know him on a more personal note.
The beautifully enclosed garden of LA PIEDRA italian restaurant where I had invited him for lunch in an attempt to get myself an ally and at the same time get more information on what my bride to be’s dowry requirements would be like suddenly felt air tight.
My neck tie felt even tighter as though pulled backward by an invisible hand. I was not ready for this at all .
I clearly remember about 10 years ago when my eldest cousin was getting ready to tie the knot. At the time, I was only 18. He came to me all excited with that goofy lover grin on his face. You know, the one guys have on all the time when they’re really in love and can’t hide it. That one that makes them look somewhat silly. Lol
He had just discovered that the dowry he would be paying for marrying his beloved was so “simple” , he had nothing to worry about. He could pay for everything himself. There was no need to borrow from a bank or sell anything of value he had. The family had simply requested for:
One liter of pure akpeteshi.
Twelve bottles of other alcoholic drinks,
two crates of soft drinks and a 50 000 Francs envelope.
In his excitement, his cousin told him, you’d be lucky and blessed if you get a girl from the Guinea Golf to marry ooh. An Ewe one especially.
So what wasn’t my joy when I met Erica several year later. We had been courting for almost 2 and a half years now and it was time they made it official so I could get to taste “the do” if you know what I mean. Yeah, I was a practicing christian and tasting “the do” before both official and divine permission to taste it though very tempting due to Erica’s curvaceous body wasn’t allowed. That girl eeh… It was a dangerous thing to drag your feet when walking with her, the visions her back offered would lead you into the nearest gutter before you knew it.
I, Kwaku Amponsah DeWelsh, a fresh university graduate who got a job at FaWoSikaBraeh* bank for only a year now. Where was I supposed to get the money for such a skyrocketing dowry ?😲😨😳🙆 :
25 000 dollars in cash
12 crates of soft drinks
20 cartons of Moët Chandon and other alcoholic drinks
5 cows and 4 white she-goats
A 4 acres lands in Accra airport city and 6 diverse bundles of Vlisco cloths.
“Ewurade mewu!*” I thought to myself. How on earth do I do this? Even if I sold my father, mother and 5 siblings, I couldn’t get the money for such a dowry.
I managed to regain some composure and ask my now friend (or so I thought) and prospective brother in-law in a semi-distraught semi-jokingly tone : but why is it that way? My cousin whose mother is even from your country married a lady from your tribe and the dowry was so light. Since when did it change ?
He put a hand on my shoulder, smiled and replied: but you are a foreigner; 100% a foreigner. And that’s the dowry for foreigners. We can’t request from outsiders, the exact same things we request from our own brothers.
Dowry for foreigners ?!
You must be kidding, right? I asked while laughing nervously. My country is like a stone throw away from yours. We are almost from the same land bro. People who live in our closest town to your country, even cross the border everyday to school or work in yours and vice versa ooh. Why the division? We ought to be united, I added hoping to turn things around.
That was when Jean-Jacques asked the question that shut me up for good: can you please show me your passport, sir? At that point, I knew I was finished and my love story with Erica over. This stone hearted prospective in-law of mine had just proved me they weren’t going to budge. No mercy for the foreigner I was. I was an opportunity; a golden cow and they were going to milk me to the bones.
Before I could think of what to say next, he continued: ” And since you like talking unity, before you try reasoning that both our countries belong to the Federation of United West African Nations (FUWAN), let me take you down there. You are an educated man and you of all people should know that, that thing is an illusion, is bogus and only works on paper. In real life, there is no United Federation whatsoever. Massa, you can complain all you want ooh, that’s how it is now, has always been and will always be. My family did not invent this. It’s the new world order. Egbé oo, élõn oo…ohOoo !!!” *
I went home more pissed than sad.
“Foreigner…Foreigner…Foreigner…!!!! As if that was the first word they learnt the day they came out of their mothers’ womb. 😑😒😒Mtcheeew! And so what? A hustling foreigner must not marry? And what is it with the dollars sef? Can’t they collect money in their own currency? It’s people like them who are bringing their country’s economy down. Eii Ewiase! Why are people so heartless? What do I do now? Run away with the girl or kidnapp her? Oh naaa…Unfortunately this is real life and not some tele novela. Hmm. It is well. God is watching. One day one day…They’ve forgotten there is a God eeh, and a judgement day coming.”
In a last attempt to fix things, he reluctantly picked his phone to call his soon to be exed darling. She immediately picked up and was greeted with a cold “hello madam” instead of the excited usual “hey baby doll”.
-What’s wrong darling, she asked.
-Everything is wrong! Kweku replied almost raising his voice. I spoke to your brother today and it seems this is the end of us, unless you agree to help me on this one.
-Help you how?
-You know I love you with my life and I could give my last breath for you, but please, can’t you speak to your dad about reviewing the items on your dowry list? Maybe he will listen to you.
-hmm. Kweku, I love you too but as for that one… . Whatever my dad and brothers say is what goes. There’s nothing I can do about it.
Kweku opened his mouth in disbelief for the second time that day and no words could come out.
-Hello…Hello…baby are you there? Please try to…
Puuun…puuun…puuun… The line went dead before she could place another word. He hanged up. He had heard enough. With the back of his hand, he wiped the single silent tear that had rolled down from the corner of his left eye.
That night, he laid wide awake in bed till dawn, wishing God would bring some kind of punishment down on Erica’s family and Jean-Jacques especially. He did not have the strength to pick up when she started calling back and texting. It would have turned into an ugly phone fight leading nowhere and that was the last thing he needed. In his heart, he was mad at her. He was mad because he suspected she was aware of it all but never said a word. Why did she make him waste almost 3 years of his life? “And oh God! After all the waiting I just did. If I had chopped some mmom, it would have been better. Well, let me not be silly but truth is, this is now paining me the more. Ash3 me roff. Eeii…I can’t believe I’m gonna miss out on all that goodness. ”
He put his phone on airplane mode to stop the calls and messages.
Surely, the tables would turn around one day. He’s also got sisters and cousins to marry and karma is a bitch, they say. He nervously closed his eyes while searching for sleep and trying to keep the image of Erica’s bountiful goddess body out of his mind.
Tomorrow will be a better day.
THE END ☺
*Ewurade mewu: Lord, I’m dead!
*FaWoSikaBraeh : Bring your money
*Egbé Oooh…Elon Oooh…OhOoo : Wether you like it or not…
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