His eyes are staring at the one thousand Naira shoe I bought solely for this occasion in a way that makes me feel uneasy.
“Biko, sir. Please, just give me some time. I won't be like this forever.” I feel my eyes watering a bit, but I blink the tears away.
“Forever is a word that you and I won't live to see. A time before forever can be in my death bed,” Chief Okonta says.
His eyes are shining brightly, like a man who spits wisdom with every word that comes out of his mouth. I would have been in awe, if I wasn't in this situation.
I have been here for about thirty minutes. He didn't even let me come inside the house. The wine I bought, which Chief called counterfeit, is still in my hand. He is seated in the lush-looking couch in the veranda and is looking at me through the opened iron door, which I am standing in front of.
“Biko sir. Nye m oge.” Give me some time, I beg.
“How long do you need to prove yourself?” He asks. I remember when I was little, mama would take me to the big shops in town with raised shoulders and a gait that radiates the confidence of an Alhaji's wife. I knew mama didn't have any money. She would still ask of the price, knowing that she couldn’t buy it. That is the same way Chief Okonta asks the question, with a fully made-up mind, but still, I answer.
“I need five years, Sir. Just five years.”
“Have you considered that my daughter here is a soon-to-be pharmacist?”
“Have you considered that she is now completing her bachelor's in pharmacy and will proceed to do her MPhil in the UK?”
“Have you considered, young man, what kind of future you, an unschooled farmer, will have with her?” While saying this, he stands up and walks closer to me.
I see Ifeoma in front of the door that leads inside the house. Her right hand is folded into a fist and is placed tightly on her lips. She looks like she is trying too hard to hold in her sobs. She doesn't say anything when her father uses his walking stick to push me out, as though I am a goat that was found eating a farmer's crop.
“Biko, Sir! I love Ifeoma,” I beg. The tears I have been trying to hide, leaves the confines of my eyes in continuous flows, like the Ogige river in my village.
“Ndi Igbo na-alubeghi ndi na-enweghi ego. Igbo people do not marry poor people. Love without money is toxic.” That's the last thing I hear before he succeeds in pushing me out. He closes the door immediately and I drown in my sobs.
“Love without money is love”, I want to shout, but who would I be deceiving? In this material world I was born into, money announces the presence of love.