Mumude sighed gravely as he continued to put his things together as he continued to put the final touches to his preparation for his visit to the east to see his daughter and family, the second of such trip this year alone.
He could not just understand what it is with the children of these days. Their brand of love is entirely different from his generation. “Love for goodness sake is what develops as you come to know each other well” he spoke out loud only to realize that he was speaking out his thoughts and that brought more heavy sighs from him. What made these whole trips more annoying these days is that it is his favorite daughter that Is involved. She sometimes still could not understand why she have to marry a man outside their tribe and religion. Almost two days journey from their family house in the northern region to hers in the eastern region.
Had it been that it was another of his five other daughters that came with this type of marriage proposal from a man of a different tribe and religion, he would not only have threatened that daughter but the man as well. To deny his favorite daughter her heart’s desire is not what has ever crossed his mind for once. He recalled five years ago when that Igbo man from the east came to see him with his daughter, he still see the happiness he had not seen in her for 24 years she had been with him and died before the man who had been talking for almost an hour even started talking. He considered the whole thing a malaria-induced dream that will soon pass away but It never did. It came to pass. that dream became reality.
The man had been talking about marriage and God and his daughter sitting not inches away from him had been beaming none stop at every word out of the man’s mouth and that was when he knew that he had been given a cultural and tribal uppercut in the battle. He had been seeking any hint of doubt from his daughter as an excuse to chase the infidel away from his house but saw only a smile that never wavered and he heard the referee count up to ten. He threw in the towel in spirit. He was still in that spiritual ring when he heard his daughter calling his name and jerked back to reality.
What was said and how long it was said was lost to him. He wasn't there with them. He paused his packing and sat down as he recalled that when the infidel had done and gone, he had asked her daughter in detail if anything outside what his eyes saw was the matter. Why the infidel?
Her words conveyed her wisdom and maturity as usual. He had agreed to this marriage immediately without talking about it again. He had been hoping that with time he will be proven right about this cross-pollination kind of marriage but, five years on, the only complaint he has seen is the one coming from him on the distance he has to cover to see his daughter. He sighed loudly again as he continued his preparation for his second yearly visit to his in-law’s house.
He had as usual done 14 days of prayers and fasting he introduced two years ago each time he wants to embark on the trip. Security and rising prices of everything are never what they used to be. The rate at which both deteriorates is alarming. The economy is getting worse and security personnel in their impunitive way have morphed into what they believed to be smart way of generating funds. They claimed that the groups disturbing travelers in the lonely spots the train tracks crossed are bandits, terrorist that came from neighboring countries. Many believed them and their stories but not mumude.
He commends himself for having good photographic memory. Once he sees a face once, he doesn’t needs to see it again for it to record in the long-term memory. He can place a face he saw once five years ago within minutes. That was how he knew that the so called terrorist and bandits from other countries is no other group than the same security forces that are in the pay roaster of federal government. He had seen the face of two captured by another security outfit and it took him only minutes of starting at it in the papers to recall seeing one of the faces in military outfit while on the same journey to his in-laws house two years ago. When on uniform, they are federal security and when out of uniform with face covered, they are terrorist from another country. He had been making the trips with his wife until two years ago the terrorist and bandit story became every minute news on TV and radio. He knew it was his wife that is rightly supposed to be making the trip but God forbid. How will he feel if she falls into the hands of the kidnappers? “Do you recall the dos and don’ts of the present day travel?” his wife asked.
The don'ts are just what they came out in their family after observing the victims and the similarities and trend thee kidnapping is showing.
Don't dress expensively, don't carry enticing things with you, don't speak English or Igbo language, and never for any reason start preaching in any religion on the train. The kidnappers hate that one most. And above all, never travel first class.
To think that his daughter have said that she will be visiting with her kids next year was another round of sleepless night for him. She like those from that region of the country seems not to take the issue of this kidnapping serious.
“ don’t you think we ought to be the one visiting her, why should she haul herself and kids up here in this perilous time?”
“ you think it is just to see us they are coming?- the kids needs to know our house and their uncles and aunts” the wife encounter.
A dead or captured man don’t know their uncles and aunts. Last year, two of the captured had died in circumstances that aren't clear. The kidnappers had said it was to tell the government that they are not joking.
When he was finally ready, he went to the train station with his wife. He was happy to get a window seat. As he waved his wife bye through the window and heard her shout "Bon Voyage" he could not believe that it felt as if it will be her last to shout that foreign word her daughter had taught her. His eyes were glued to the window until his wife was out of sight.