I’d barely taken off my coat before my grandmother walked into the living room and asked her infamous question: “Iyore, which day you go marry?”
She placed her hands on her hips and slowly moved her waist from left to right, singing , “Eh eh…I wan shake my ikebe.”
Iye, my grandmother, was ready to dance at my wedding — the same wedding that she’d been pestering me about since I graduated from undergrad ten years prior.
My stomach could no longer resist the food that awaited me in the refrigerator. I debated whether I would devour egusi soup with bitter leaves or fried rice. “I hope you are cooking these foods by yourself by now,” my father said from the living room couch. I pretended not to hear him and dished the fried rice from the repurposed clear bin.
Iye continued dancing and singing, “God go bless you oo. God go bless you oo. Agh, now! Which day you go marry ooo?”
My father looked up from his phone and fervently shook his head, “She won’t understand.”
He was right.
Iye wouldn’t understand, not because she barely understood my American English or because my Pidgin wasn’t as fluent her own.
It wasn’t a communication barrier. It was a generational one.
In Iye’s time, marriage was a thing to do. A box to check. A cultural expectation.
Perhaps it was her own experience that caused her to blurt out the question, not just on that day, and not just to me, but to all of the daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and women in her circle. Or maybe it was some invisible meter that indicted that it was time to lock our lives with someone else’s.
Someone, and if you waited too long — anyone.
Besides, Iye could never wrap her mind around my refusal to go forth with the marriage she so patiently waited for. The evening my fiancé proposed to me, I showed her my ring, and she raised her hands high to the heavens, singing “Osawese” all night long.
Time has passed, and Iye was still waiting.
How could I tell her that I was no longer marrying him — the same man she called her pikin — because he was abusive?