No matter what they said, he would not hear of it. His mind was made up, this Uncle of mine. He was tall and broad-shouldered with a voice that boomed. I can never remember a time when his head wasn’t shaved smooth.
His wife was actually my blood relation, not him. She was lithe, fragile and perennially maudlin. We called her ‘the screamer.’ Show her an insect or a lizard and she would hit your ear with the highest pitch of human voice you could hear.
They were married long before I was born. And I grew up seeing them come to our home every Sunday to settle one problem or another. They never came with their three children. It was just them, fuming.
My father would reluctantly be the judge, my mother, who was related to my aunt, would eagerly play the defense attorney, her defense attorney.
My uncle cared less. His voice was his own defense attorney. It shouted down everyone into submission.
Hence, after most of the Sunday meetings, it would be my aunt begging him for forgiveness, whether she was wrong or not.
My mother, smarting in silent anger, would then have to go prepare pounded yam and egusi soup for my uncle. He would eat it alone and care less that my parents never joined him, even as my father and mother consoled my sobbing aunt a couple of feet away.
I was young. Yet I despised my Uncle.
I liked my Auntie. But I wished she would stop crying at every provocation and screaming at every scare. If she was like my mother, I knew my Uncle would not be like himself. He would have no choice but be like my father.
That day, when my parents pleaded with him not to divorce my aunt and he would hear none of it, my aunt wailed continuously. It was the wail of the innocent. My mother consoled her in Edo, while looking at my uncle with flames in her eyes.
He shouted even louder as my father pleaded with him. “Stephen, I am afraid for my life! If I stay with her, she will kill me!”
My father’s voice was calm and reassuring. He had learned over time how to handle my uncle. “How can you say she will kill you? She is your wife.”
“Ask her. Let her tell you why all the friends she has chosen to keep are widows. The associations she attends are those of widows. A woman loses her husband, the next thing you know, my wife has gone to become her best friend. The only married woman amongst widows. Isn’t that the mind of a woman who can’t wait to become a widow?”
My father fell silent.
My aunt wailed.
My mother glared.
And my Uncle left.
He divorced her, and married again. It was after two years. No one went for the nuptials from our family.
The Christmas after the wedding, my uncle was involved in an accident on the Benin Ore expressway. He died.
We went for his funeral. My aunt was there too, dressed in black, consoling my uncle’s new wife.
To this day, they are good friends – both grey and members of the same association of widows.
Written by Jude Idada