An Inquorate Conclusion
Okeagu’s hatred for these impromptu family meetings beggared an apt description. It literally had bile rushing to his mouth and face from all pores. So much that even passersby could behold it and avoid him with the largest of margins. One would have marshaled out a week’s itinerary with passion only for a summons to yet another one of the obnoxious distractions to be broadcast with no room allowable for absenteeism.
He hit the road to the venue to the present one with a skewered-up face. To his utmost disgust, he met the conveners inexplicably absent upon his arrival as always just a few hours after the scheduled takeoff time. However, he still managed to assume a seat on a raised pavement in the hall as he had no young one to log a portable one along for him from home.
Next to arrive was another habitual latecomer, Obinze, who entered wondering out loud whether these meetings were not being called way too often ever since Okereke became the convener. Trust him, he came along with his seat. Always did; to an extent that many - behind his back, though - now think he must have some talisman engraved in its carvings for his protection’s sake.
“They are never called for nothing,” Okeagu vouchsafed beneath his seething self.
“Who said so?” Obinze continued. “Very soon we shall graduate to settling problems between kids.”
“Wouldn’t that be problem enough?”
“If you say so, but I think I have better things to do with my adult self.”
“Like everybody else.”
“Then where are the people who are supposed to have summoned us?”
“They are yet to come as always.”
“Which is what I meant to say – it appears all they ever have to do is to summon these meetings. Taking the rest of us for granted. I would have been miles away from here by now if not for this.”
“My brother, that is why I came this early; to see if it would end in time for me to meet another appointment before sunset.”
“This should form part of the agenda of this meeting. Everybody has to join in saying enough of this chicanery.”
“You cannot say o, lest you became the cause of all the troubles that have befallen this kindred since creation.”
“This will be the last time –” was all the rotund, bald-headed farmer could say before the entire crowd for the meeting emerged from the corner. In tow was Okafor’s pregnant wife.
“What did I tell you,” Obinze continued after the visual interlude. “So it is now women cases that we have to handle.”
By now the crowd had approached the meeting venue in droves. They variously assumed sitting positions on the mud pavements that surrounded the rectangular room.
When all were seated, it dawned to the ‘early’ arrivals that the rest who had to come on time had run into Okafor and his wife in a bitter fight. The convener moved that they settle the matter before the matter of the day.
“This would not have been the case,” Okeagu countered in jest, “had you people kept to the schedule of the meeting – when chicken yet roosted.”
“Good a thing they did,” Obinze heard himself say, “lest that woman from a family of wrestlers killed her weakling of a husband before his time.”
“Doesn’t he deserve it,” Okeagu added. “Didn’t he know the family he was marrying from? Are they foreigners like has become the craze now?”
Everyone in the land knew as much, though not all had the capacity to make it common talk like Okeagu. As the story enfolded, it was learnt that poor Okafor had used the intending meeting as a subterfuge to renege from giving his wife her routine dose of affection. The lion of a woman from whose iron grip several men had managed to extricate themselves before the lot inextricably fell on Okafor had proceeded to give him a beating of his life. In fact, he was only saved from outright annihilation by early sojourners to the very meeting.
The dip at the end of the variegated tale saw it as another statistic of the evils of an unabashedly patriarchal society.
“Why should a man as gentle as Okafor,” they queried, “take a fifth wife at his age but for the want of an heir absent from his loins.”