My beloved and I cannot be together–or so they say. But why? I still don’t really understand, but they say we are not the same–or so his mother claims.
We are not the same?
On the day my beloved and I go to visit his mother for the first time, she makes it clear to me that ‘we’ can never happen. I sit there like a log, speechless, as if my tongue is tied but really, it is because I find no words to express my bafflement. He asks me to excuse them–‘Wait for me in the car Emefa, I’ll be with you shortly.’ He appears to be quite stunned by his mother’s mien himself. I obey and leave the room; but I stand by the door and eavesdrop. I need to hear something, at least to help me comprehend why this woman who had sounded so sweet and welcoming over the phone earlier, suddenly is being so indifferent to me, now that we finally meet.
‘Mom, what is the meaning of all this? Why are you being like this?’ I hear him say.
‘I’m not being indifferent Akwasi, I’m telling you the reality,’
‘That you cannot marry her. No son of mine is ever marrying from that tribe or any other!’
‘But mom why? She’s the one I love.’
‘No way,…Never! Then find someone else to love because I am not accepting this one. Not today nor tomorrow! There are equally good Ashanti women you can choose from, maybe even better!’
‘But she’s the one I like mom!. I don’t want anyone else, why can’t it be her?’
‘Mm-mm. Impossible. I will not accept an Ewe as daughter-in-law!’
‘You know you’re being very irrational mom. You’re much too educated to be speaking like this! You of all people should know better!’
‘Me…? You dare call me irrational…? Call it whatever Akwasi, I’ve said my own. See? She hasn’t even married you yet, and she’s already turned you against me, your own mother.’
‘Mom, Emefa has done nothing wrong. She deserves a chance.’
‘It’s either her or me then, let me know when you’ve made your choice. I have nothing left to say.’
‘Ah-ah, this is too much, you can’t just……’
Door opens and bangs. Soon afterwards, dead silence.
Bitterly, I turn away, my heavy heart pregnant with words my lips may never utter. I head calmly in the direction of the car.
Another door bangs. I know it’s him coming out. I sit in the car and watch him tread over; shoulders slumped, his eyes drooped the way they do when he is fatigued. My own eyes sting from the struggle to hold back tears that threaten to trickle down any time soon. He joins me in the car, I stare in the opposite direction, into direct nothingness.
‘I know you heard everything. Right?’
It was not so much of a question. But I nod anyway.
Hmm. ‘I’m sorry you had to hear all that Emefa. My mother is not a bad person. I promise to sort everything out. Don’t worry dear, we’ll be fine.’
I smile, a painful smile, when he takes my hand in his and squeezes it gently, a feeble attempt made to comfort. I am not convinced. How can I not be worried? He doesn’t sound confident like the Akwasi I know; I can tell he isn’t so sure anymore.
I stare out the window, at the house one more time. Who knows? It could be my last. As we leave, I close my eyes and allow the tears to trickle down, caressing my cheeks as they make their way down to my chin. I bite my lower lip and wonder why it has to come to this.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, families we didn’t ask to be born in, identities we had no choice but to embrace, because of this division called tribe: my beloved and I can never be–or so they say.
A short story on tribalism and ethnicity.
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