She smiled as she finished the letter, she couldn’t quite hide the joy flowing through every cell of her body. She was still whistling when she locked her door, she felt like skipping all the way to the post office but she knew that the police officers on that route would not think twice about arresting her for whatever reason they could think of.
“Another letter to Nigeria eh?” the postmaster asked.
“Yes Sir, I am Nigerian after all” she was smiling.
“You Nigerians are so loyal to your roots, you all write home at least once a week unlike all the others.”
“Nigeria pulls you, your heart will always beat to its rhythms”
“I guess you are right” he replied “I’d like to visit Nigeria before I die” he said wistfully.
“Nigeria is a beautiful place, you should see it and soon too”
When Chinwe got out of the taxi and saw the big brownstone that housed the talkative Jane and her family, her mouth went dry. She wanted to run away but remembered that no child of Matilda would ever run away from a battle, her mother would swoop down from the sky to set her straight and push her back to the scene to face her fears.
Thankfully it wasn’t Jane that came to the gate, it was a balding man with kind eyes who unhitched the latch and let her in. He laughed when she asked of Jane and told her that Jane was an acquired taste and hard to get used to but she was also the most loving person in this world.
“She’s very lucky to have you” she said while her eyes scanned for the cottage and its lone inhabitant.
“I thought you said you need time and space” were the words that fell out of his mouth when he opened the door and saw her. He mentally slapped himself for sounding like he didn’t want to see her. He cleared his throat to start over.
“I know what I said but we need to talk now”
“Talk about what?” he said belligerently but this time he actually slapped himself on the cheek.
“We can’t talk on the threshold can we? Invite me in” He stepped aside and let her in while his heart was beating like he had just run a marathon.
Matilda had been watching the young woman since they got into the market, she wanted to hate her but she couldn’t quite summon such negative feelings no matter how hard she tried.
“Do you believe in one Nigeria? She asked Folake
“Well it can be possible but it will be very hard to achieve Ma”
“Why do you think that?” she asked imperiously
“It is because we still think of ourselves as members of our tribes first and not as a nation”
Matilda mused over her answer before asking “Is that a bad thing?”
“It shouldn’t be, actually…” the cocoa seller signalled at them to come and watch the weighing of the dried cocoa beans before they were bagged.
“What led you into this business?” Folake asked.
“My daughter Chinwe who is a British trained doctor has a contact in a chocolate factory over there who buys from us and we get plenty profits”
She had barely stopped herself from wincing at the mention of Chinwe, the same girl who she had taken her fiancé Madu from and discarded him like a piece of rubbish when MacGregor focused his searchlight on her. It was amazing that Madu had given up the girl for her and it was even more amazing that she hadn’t valued his love. She felt a certain discomfort, a dull ache around her heart and she wasn’t surprised to find that it was shame.
Did she even deserve Madu, wouldn’t it be better for her to start afresh with someone new? Her father, the sovereign king of Ejagbo Ikere would not even be pleased if she brought home an Igbo man. She could just imagine his reaction to seeing a son of the ‘Aje okuta ma momi’ marrying his only daughter, the fact that he wasn’t even royalty would be a bigger slap on his face. Could she really face all that and ask that of Madu? Wouldn’t her fifty-six brothers beat him up too?
Jumbled thoughts swirled in her head but when she looked up she saw Madu and Matilda smiling at her, Matilda’s husband was paying the cocoa seller and was intent on the transaction. Igbo men and money, she thought. But why were they smiling at her? What did it mean, could he have decided to forgive her?
“Please God let it be” she muttered.