THE FLOWER GIRL EPISODE 3
The kola arrived and the prayer stammered. Chibueze declined chewing a piece given to him, rather he put it inside his pocket promising to take it home.
As Obele was busy chewing his. he engaged Chibueze in further discussion.
“We got the news down here that they bombed America. Is that true?”
“Yes, it is. It was indeed a tough one and a black day for Americans.”
“The way we received the news here, we thought that everybody in America was killed in the bomb blast…”
“No, no, no. America is such a big country that destroying it a day is impossible. They said that it was Osama,Bin Laden that perpetrated that evil act.”
“Osa, is osa not a wild animal’s name? How come did it get to America?”
Chibueze laughed. “No Osama is a human.. It is a Muslim name.”
“But will you still go back to that America?”
“Yes, I will. Even with the bomb in America, America is still better than Nigeria. I parked my car in Ukoli because there is no motorable road in Oseh. In America, there ate tarred roads everywhere and there is adequate power supply quite unlike here in Oseh where there is no single tarred road not to talk of electricity. Once I am through with my wedding, I and my wife will be off…”
Ndudi’s re-entrance to take her own portion of kolanut interrupted Chibueze. He waited to allow her pick her own cut of kolanut and get settled on her seat. And that done, Chibueze continued.
“I have come to appeal to you to please release Chidimma for me on the day of my wedding. I want her to be My flower girl. That’s why I am here.”
Obele was done with the kolanut in his mouth. His wife, though busy with hers, expected her husband to talk first. Both exchanged glances. Chibueze was looking at them softly and was expecting them to grant his request. The long silence made Chibueze to think whether there were any dues paid before Chidimma was being released for such function. As he was not told about that by his people, making such offer first would be unwise. He, therefore, allowed the couple to have the floor.
Obele was the first to talk. “Chibueze, I have heard your request and it is not a difficult one.”
Chibueze heaved a sigh of relief which anyone close to him would have heard.
“But very importantly, on what de-de-de-date is the wedding coming up?” Ndudi asked.
“On the next two uka Eke market. Hope I am safe.”
“No!” replied Ndudi shaking her head. ,
“She has been booked on that day.”
“Where is she going that day?” asked Obele.
“Have you forgotten that Onowu’s daughter, Ebere, is wedding that day?”
“Ooh! Yes, please, Chidimma is already booked on that day. Onowu came here himself in flesh and blood to beg me to-to-to release Mma for him. Please; I am sorry you have to reschedule the date,” advised Obele.
“Reschedule!” shocked Chibueze.
“That’s what so many people do,” said Obele.
“Okay, I have to shift it to uka Nkwo market.”
“That’s alright. She is free that day,” said Ndudi.
“But please sir, can I see the girl?” pleaded Chibueze looking at Obele.
“Da-da-that was the one you saw few minutes ago.”
“But there was no formal introduction.”
“It is alright.” Obele had no objection to that and he called Chidimma immediately.
“Papa!” she answered from the backyard.
Few seconds later, Chidimma came out. Chibueze looked at her again with admiration.
“Mma di-di-di-this man wants you to be his flower girl. Are you interested?”
Smiling benignly, she said, “I am interested.”
Chibueze nodded happily and said, “Thank you very much.”
And Chidimma left.
Obele took a deep breath and said, “But the little thing that bothers us about this girl, Chidimma, is that she is no longer attending school. All that people are interested in her is to make her their flower girl but none cares to ask whether Chidimma goes to school or not, or whether Chidimma wears clothes or not,” Obele talked in a quiet mood and never stammered as usual.
“Do you mean Chidimma does not go to school right now?”
“Yes! We don’t have money to pay her school fees,” replied Obele.
“Even her torn school uniform has not been replaced for months now,” added Ndudi.
“I used to have enough cash to manage my family with, but something tragic happened to me few months ago.”
Chibueze rested his chin on his palm and was listening mutely.
“On the first day it rained, heavy flood came and swept all my yarn seedlings away. I then used the little money in my hand to buy the yam seedlings which I have just planted. So, since that incident, I and my fa-fa-family have been living in squalor. Now, Chidimma has been sent home from school because of non-payment of hersChool fees.”
Obele paused to take a heavy breathe. He then continued. “Please inasmuch as you want Mma to assist you on your wedding day, keeping her comfortable should also be put into consideration.
Mma looks prettily well dressed on people’s we-we-wedding day, but thereafter she continues moving about in rags. This attitude of using my daughter and dumping her is my main source of worry.”
Chibueze really took pity on them when he looked at the poor parents and also the archaic structure called house in which they lived. He, therefore, promised to include Chidimma in his scholarship scheme which he designed for primary school pupils.
“Though the scholarship was meant for Ukoli indigenes alone, I will direct the chairman of my scholarship board to visit you and formally include Chidimma’s name on the list.”
Obele and his wife were very thankful of his gesture and prayed that God would reward him abundantly.
“Please, whenever you are ready for the wedding, come and pick my daughter. Even if there is any other thing you want her to do for you, I have no objection.”
Before leaving Obele’s house, Chibueze gave Chidimma’s parents fifty dollars each and to Chidimma he gave a beautiful wrist-watch which she received with much delight.