Ugonna nwa m,
Kedu? How are you doing? When I received the news of your employment, my joy ran over! A job at a bank? What a dream come true. I have always wanted one of my children to be in the bank, to touch money and own it! This job came in good time. Nwanyiamaka can now proceed to Medical School since she now has a capable big sister who can handle her fees and not bat an eyelid. Your mother too is very excited. She displayed her dancing skills for close to an hour the day your message got to us. The waist that I thought had retired came alive that night. She reminded me of the Erinma whose waist young men fell over themselves to watch during festivals. Ah, how time flies and men age!
I write this letter to tell you that your father is proud of you. You are setting the pace for your sisters. They will emulate your independent spirit and try to fight for their place in life rather than sit back here, waiting for your mother and I to take wine to Honourable Omego for a job at the Local Government Council. That man is very arrogant. I hear he now demands different brands of wine as well as a ‘token fee’ of N200,000.00 before anyone can be considered on his employment list. You know how much I hate to kiss another man’s arse, and you have saved me that shame. You are a true daughter of your father. If you all continue like this, then I may never regret refusing the kinsmen’s advice to take a second wife after your mother had four girls for me.
My new status as the father of a banker has brought enemies along with o. The other day, someone overheard Mazi Nsude telling his wife and in-law that it is a pitiable thing that my own daughter has joined the league of professional prostitutes. He said that they go to the market in the cities and use their bodies to raise money for their banks. Well, his case with me is still brewing. It is either I personally show him pepper or Amadioha will twist his neck very soon. These people always have a way of trying to ruin those who are more progressive than they are. Is it my fault that his son is still going from one special centre to the other just to pass JAMB? He has not even crossed the gates of a university and his father is making noise. Hmmm. . . Anyway, let me hold my temper for now.
These days when I sit to drink my palm wine in the evenings, I smile to myself, rub my belly and let out a loud belch because I know good tidings are here to stay. Before next year runs out, I know my daughter will replace my old motorcycle with a car. I know.
I say next year because I am not a selfish father. This year is for your own car. Next year will be for mine. Chai! I can’t wait to start driving again. After I lost my beloved Peugeot pick-up to that motor accident many years back, I have longed to handle the steering again. At last, my daughter will bring that dream to fruition! Have I ever told you that that pick-up was one of the reasons your mother was attracted to me? Yes, it was. Then who wouldn’t want to marry a handsome, promising young man with a vehicle? Tell me.
So Nne listen, in addition to the monthly allowance you will be sending to us, I will also be needing a monthly supply of mints in N50.00 and N100.00 notes. This new status of mine goes with a lot of expectations. I will have to pay my age grade dues with new notes, neatly packaged in a brown envelope. I will spray mints at wedding ceremonies. When I step out to meet the couple, everyone should know that Ichie Achilihu, the father of a banker has arrived and you know I cannot afford to lose face in front of these people. But you already know these things.
Oh yes! talking about wedding ceremonies, you have to open your eyes now. Lay aside that I-don’t-care attitude you exhibited towards men when you were still an undergraduate. I ignored you because I reasoned you did not want to be distracted. But now, you have to endeavour to come to the village at Christmas. That is when many of our illustrious sons living in the cities and abroad visit. Whenever any of your cousins is getting married, please come home. When you come, help in the kitchen and try to be noticed too. It helps your image. While you are at it, please wear skirts. The mothers of these young men do not always approve of girls who wear bum shorts in public. You can always wear them when you are finally married to the man. If you catch a young man’s attention and he makes his moves, encourage him. You are my first daughter and first daughters are better off married in their towns of origin. Don’t also forget that a woman’s season is fleeting. If you waste time, the suitors might begin to bypass you and look the way of your sisters. I don’t intend to talk to you about this again. It is almost time for the Igwe’s council meeting so I shall stop here.
My daughter, you will prosper. The man that shall speak evil against you will grow dumb before the words form in his mouth. You shall be in front when calamity is behind and if it is happening ahead, you shall be behind. Your feet will lead you to the presence of kings and your face will bring you favour. Ehen. . . before I forget, I expect you next month for Adanze’s traditional wedding ceremony. I know a banker like you will not like the way our house looks at the moment. The paints on the walls have washed greatly. Ikechukwu, the young man that lives opposite the cathedral, is a very good painter. You just have to send the money and you will be happy with the house you’ll meet when you come.
(A na-ekwu ekwu, A na-eme eme)
(Chisim is a banker and she writes in her spare time.)