A woman who thinks her family is no good gets a proposal in a unexpected way
She sat apart from everyone, nodding her head to some beat only she could hear, although we knew she was no lover of music. She had kinky braids down to her waist, a skirt that reached the middle of her thighs and make-up so thick her face was stiff. As for her heels, don’t even go there. They could land any person they came in contact with, in hospital. Her briefcase, the only thing by my book that looked lawyerly, stood on the floor by her feet. What kind of lawyer dresses like that anyway? In my mind this is how lawyers look: stiff hairdos to their shoulders, long sleeved shirts no matter the temperature (goes with the profession) and skirts to the knees or longer. As for the wig, we leave that for the courtroom. But I forget myself. This, was Yvonne.
Three of Mama’s sisters had come to support her, market queens all of them, with their heads wrapped in scarves and their cloths properly tied around their waists. They would not allow nonsense to pass under their noses.
I could see Mama watching Yvonne from the corner of her eye, as she went round the hall with a tray heaped with some of her seriously hot seasoned spring rolls.
"No, thank you" she waved her hand, giving Mama a look that said she would rather eat mud.
I took four, even though I was dreading the torture I was going to put my mouth through. Those spring rolls could burn! Prince took one, looked at my face and chuckled. Yvonne was our sister, born between the two of us; him first and me last.
Uncle John’s old jalopy wheezed and bounced into the yard at noon. By then we had managed to finish, between glasses of ice water, all the spring rolls Mama had made. He pushed his bulky frame from behind the wheels and entered the house. When it came to crisis in the family you could count on him. He would be there.
Yvonne sat there unconcerned, inspecting her pointy red nails. She didn’t even look up to acknowledge him.
He went round, greeted and shook hands while Mama rushed to the kitchen to get him a glass of water.
When he got to Yvonne, she took in his appearance from head to toe. Her eyebrows arched and her lips tilted to a half-smile but she didn’t take his proffered hand. She was the only graduate in the family, the only professional, the only lawyer present when the family met and she made sure we never forgot it.
Uncle John smiled and moved on to me and Prince. Nothing, could make that man angry.
He sat down on the sofa beside where my aunties sat and the sofa went down one foot. He shared jokes that made no one laugh. Now that he had come we waited, though we did not know what we were waiting for. Prince nudged me with his elbow and covered his mouth to hide a smile. He had said it. Uncle John will come alright, but he would do nothing.
After ten minutes Yvonne stood up, “look, I’ve been here since morning. I don’t have all day.” She handed some documents to Mama. “There is really nothing to say, everything is here. You all know Daddy left me this house. Now I need it...”
She was going to say more when a car drove into the yard. Mama went to look out the window. She was not expecting anyone.
Uncle John smiled, got up and went to the door and let in a young man. He was tall. Almost as tall as Uncle, but he wasn’t someone I knew and from the faces of the others he was a stranger. Yvonne had stopped talking, she was looking at him with her mouth open.
“Close your mouth,” Uncle John said when he got close to her, “a fly will enter.”
The young man smiled at her and went to sit beside Uncle John.
“Now,” Uncle John said, “this young man has something to say.”
“Yvie,” the man looked back at where Yvonne stood, “can you please come closer?” the papers had dropped from her hands and lay scattered on the floor.
Yvie! Who in their senses called Yvonne, Yvie!
He stood up and met her halfway.
“Uncle,” he said, looking at Uncle John, “thanks for arranging for me to be here.”
Uncle John shrugged when we opened our mouths, “just the son of a good old friend.”
To Yvonne, the man said,
“I want to spend quality time with you.
I want to know your family.
I want you to be my wife.”
Want to know how it all ended?
Yvonne got married to the man, who also happened to be a lawyer. So now we have two lawyers in the family. And oh, Mama still lives in the house Daddy left to Yvonne, and once a month, they pay her a visit in the house with their children. We all do.