THE FLOWER GIRL EPISODE 4
Chibueze’s wedding over, and he went back to US with his wife, Oluorna. Also with Chibueze was the video recorder of all the activities that occurred during the wedding ceremony among which was the role Chidimma played as the flowergirl. When the video record was played in the United States, Chibueze’s allies were captivated by Chidimma’s wonderful performance. They all watched her with admiration and wanted to see her in person.
“You should have brought this girl along with you to the United States,” said by the first person, Scott.
“I tried but her parents refused,” replied Chibueze.
“You should have tried harder.”
“She is their only child.”
“I would have wanted her to be trained as a model.” It was the second person, Danny, talking.
“And she must be a good model because she possesses the qualities needed,” Oluorna cutting in.
“She will earn her parents much money through modelling because African models are hot cakes here,” added Scott. .
“But that’s not what she needs now. I think I have done for her what she needs at the moment. I have given her scholarship to get good education first which is the basic thing in the life of every child.”
“That’s good. I commend you for that,” Scott remarked.
“So when are we expecting her?” asked Danny.
“It is not in my powers to say that, Of course, I am not her parents.”
“Do you think that taking that girl out of that village is easy? Villagers, not even the parents, will not allow you take her out,” Oluoma hinted, “because she is jealously guarded.”
“Everyone in the village wants Chidimma to be the flower girl in their wedding ceremonies. They book her in turn to get her feature in their weddings.”
“Can you imagine!” Scott amazed.
“That means I too can now begin to book her for my own wedding in two years’ time,” joked Danny.
“By then she must have overgrown the age of a flower girl,” replied Oluoma.
Chibueze’s two white friends: Scott and Danny, respectively, enjoyed a lot of African cultural practices which were covered in the video during the wedding ceremony. First was the wonderful attire of Igbo people which ranged from red cap to isi-agu dress adored with traditionally decorated hand fan for the ichies and odu-enyi for their lolos. Chibueze’s wedding was indeed a colourful one because the World and his wife attended it.
The breaking of kolanut and the movement of palm wine here and there gave the wedding a befitting Igbo setting. Traditional dancing groups and other ceremonial rites added colour to the event. These were what kept Scott and Danny’s eyes glued to the television set in the four-hour video documentary. Scott and his friend saw Igbos as happy people whose culture was happily cerebrated and jealously cherished.
Throughout the period of watching the video tape, Chibueze was busy explaining the meanings of some Igbo words and phrases as mentioned by the elders, which Scott and his friend, Danny, were so inquisitive to ask what their meanings were. Such Igbo words and phrases included nkwu elu, iwa oji, ose oji, igba akwukwo, igba nkwu, ilu nwaanyi, ime ego, ndi ogo, igba egwu, itu ego, ida ego, unmada, umunna, ikwu na ibe, and so on.
Nneka and Chidimma were once two good friends who met each other when both were knee high to a grasshopper. They were schooling at Central School, Ukoli. Chidimma had to trek daily to Ukoli because there was no school in Oseh. Both were in the same class and they at tiMes used to do their class assignments together, especially when Chidimma could not do hers alone. Nneka who had a bent for Mathematics was more intelligent than Chidimma who only had a nodding acquaintance with the subject. They really were apples and oranges.
Their friendship came up as a result of the fact that both parents were childhood friends too. They, Mmachi and Ndudi, also got married at the same time arid as well had their first born at the same month though Nneka was Chidimma’s senior by half a dozen days.
Ndudi had watched Nneka’s character closely and was dissatisfied. She, therefore, advised her daughter to keep Nneka at arms length to avoid getting herself spoilt. Chidimma equally agreed with her mother because she herself also believed that Nneka was indeed a rotten apple having seen how she mingled carelessly with men, especially those that often lured her into sin.
Chidimma never fancied such character and because of that she began to keep her at a distance, their only meeting point being only at the study class. At times, Chidimma would have to tackle the assignments alone in order to avoid contact with Nneka.
One day, Chidimma was tackling an assignment in algebra given to her by their new teacher. It took her all day but she couldn’t achieve any success and that left her with no other option than to start heading to Nneka’s house. Her mother also agreed to that when Chidimma stressed that her new teacher would not take it lightly with her if she failed to Submit the assignment the next day. Ndudi wished she was educated so that she would be helping her daughter to do her home work.
The journey to Nneka’s house would take about fifteen minutes from Chidimma’s house. Oseh, being a bushy area, had a higgledy-piggledy collection of local buildings of which Nneka’s and Chidimma’s were among. Both houses were separated by three other houses and connected by a zigzag pathway which passed through the centre of a thick forest. Chidimma had gotten closer to Nneka’s house when she heard her name mentioned. She stood still to be sure Of what she heard. It was the fag end of Mmachi’s.voice lashing it on Nneka.
“. .Ewu!. Do you ever look at how your friend, Chidimma, behaves. Have you ever seen that girl with any man, despite her beauty? How many times have you seen her collect money from men? Has she ever in your frill glaring eyes used her. God-given beauty to seduce men in order to trap them? She is still a virgin, I believe, but I know you are not any longer.
Look at how people rally around her begging her to be their flower girl. How many people have come here to ask of you? Look at how happy her parents are, not minding that she is the only child. All you do is nothing but to cause me persistent headaches. Must I die because I gave birth to you, Nneka? It is not me that will die but you…
” Another voice was heard from the background, forcing the other voice to a mute.
“The reason why I came by myself is to know why you have refused to come to The school in person to answer the headmaster since this is the third day your daughter was asked to produce her parents,” said the second
“She did not tell me. Ask her if she ever told me that she had any problem with the school. This idiot did not tell me anything…
“Please don’t call her idiot. Take it easy with her. What you owe this girl is proper home training, not showering her with curses. Nneka is a very intelligent chap but the nigger in the wood pie was that she is a flirt.”
“But her father must kill her today when he comes back. I will no longer protect her from her father’s mgbajara again. I done that enough. Nneka must hear nwii today.”
The voice Chidimma heard was like that of her teacher and that made her hide behind a cashew tree close to the backyard of Nneka’s house. She had to remain there until her teacher took her exit.
Nneka’s teacher had earlier brought a report to her mother about the case Nneka had with a male pupil in the school whose name was Nwanna. Nwanna’s mother had reported to her son’s teacher that Nwanna had stolen her money and had refused to bring it back. The amount which was three hundred and fifty naira was stolen from Nwanna’s mother’s save.
Nwanna had lied to his mother that he used the money to pay for a book which his teacher was yet to give him. It was when he failed to produce the book after many days that his mother decided to toe the path of the school to ascertain the real truth of the matter.
There was never a time the new teacher sold any book to the pupils.. This infuriated the teacher that she went up in the air and began to beat hell out of Nwanna not minding the presence of his mother and not even giving him room to defend himself from the accusation. It was in the course of beating him that the truth came out.
“Aunty, please, let me say the truth,” cried Nwanna, bawling and blubbing.
“Oya, say the truth. What did you do with the money?”
“I gave it to Nneka.”
“You gave it to whom?”
Nneka was in the class at that moment and was highly prepared to defend.herself. Nneka vowed.never to agree that she collected any money. Even some of the money which was the remnant from the bulk sum was still with her. She had earlier brought it out from her bag and put it inside her under pants. Nwanna pointed his finger at Nneka who was already trying to hide her face.
“Nneka stand up!” ordered her teacher.
Nneka stood up but was not physically fidgeting. Rather her eye balls were fully round, moving here and there.
“Did this riff-raff give you any money?”
“Aunty, she is lying!” cried Nwanna, snivelling.
“Is you that are lying,” replied Nneka instantly.
“Bu if it is true that you gave her the money, what culminated into giving her the money?” inquired the teacher looking at Nwanna.
“Aunty she didn’t give me any money.” replied Nneka curtly in order to stop Nwanna from spilling the beans.
The teacher, looking crossly at Nneka, said, “To hell with that your hocus-pocus because I didn’t direct the question to you. So keep your dirty mouth shut,” she huffed irritably.
“Nwanna, why did you give Nneka the money?”
“She asked me to give her five hundred naira if I wanted to continue being her boyfriend,” replied Nwanna, who looked more or less namby-pamby.
The pupils shouted noisily, turning the entire class into a bear garden. Nwanna’s mother and the teacher too were shocked. In fact, the teacher was numbed to the extent that she didi’t know what to say again. The two adults looked askance at Nneka and Nwanna and wondered why and how children below ten years o rage could be in such reckless love affairs. The way and manner with which Nwanna made such pronouncement made them to believe its authenticity, but to everybody’s chagrin, Nneka still denied it.
Even when Uchenna, the boy that stayed closest to Nwanna, testified that he overheard when Nneka was threatening toidrop Nwanna if ever he failed to produce that money the next day. Nneka still refused to give up, saying in her mind that what she did to Nwanna was a mere hanky-panky.
Nneka’s continued denial of the allegation made the teacher to take the case to the headmaster, who ordered Nneka to produce her parents. Despite the order by the headmaster, Nneka still went to school without having produced her parents. She lied that her parents travelled out of the village for a burial in her maternal home.
It was when her teacher discovered through other pupils that Nneka’s parents did not travel to anywhere that she decided to trace her home.
The discussion was over, and Nneka’s teacher then took. her leave. The tension in Nneka’s house was then doused, and Mmachi’s voice was no longer heard. Chidimma would have never liked to enter that houw at least for that day but for her assignment. She came out of her hiding place and made her way into Nneka’s house.
Mmachi’s countenance changed immediately she set her eyes on Chidimma. She welcomed her cordially and so Nneka who had begun to appreciate Chidimma’s behaviour owing to the showers of praises her mother had rained on her. Chidimma had her algebra tackled and she left for home contentedly.