THE IN-LAWS: BLACK VERSUS WHITE - EPISODE 1

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“Are you ready to order?” The waitress asked us politely. “Are you ready?” I asked Daniella in...


“Are you ready to order?” The waitress asked us politely. “Are you ready?” I asked Daniella in a clear effort to drive home the point that I am a gentleman. We were in an upscale restaurant in San Diego, California where both of us were attending a scientific conference. I had originally met her at another conference the previous year. She was a beautiful Canadian girl. She happened to be studying for her PhD at a University not far from the University where I was working at the time in Pennsylvania. We had become friends, talking every now and again over the phone and meeting up for coffee once in a while. Attempts to go out on a proper date never quite produced any fruits due to our busy schedules. Finally, we had the opportunity and we both grabbed it by the neck. Her azure eyes were not beautiful - they were beyond beautiful. They shimmered like sunbeams illuminating the earth from afar. Her smile made your heart quake with both excitement and dizziness. You know the feeling I am talking about; when you are thoroughly mesmerized that you smile almost foolishly at any word that flies by your ear, yet at the same time, you are somewhat immobilized. You cannot think straight. You are fixated on the beauty sitting across the table from you.

“Yes I am,” she said with the the type of smile that made your hands shake and your heart quake. “Ladies first please,” I replied, gesturing that she should order first. She quickly disgorged her order to the waitress, who turned to me to state what I wanted. I ordered quickly so I could get back to the important business of admiring her beauty. Soon, the meals arrived and we treated ourselves to every morsel with ravenous appetite. Happily, we chatted all evening, energized by the warmth of the beautiful city. The restaurant overlooked Coronado Beach, so from where we sat we could hear the soothing rhythms composed by sea waves as they crashed onto shore and quickly receded back to sea. The moon was full, glowing with iridescent energy. We had skipped the evening session at the conference to be able to finally have this date. 

We chatted about everything imaginable; you know the usual suspects, from the books we liked to our favorite movies; our favorite cities and the places we would like to visit. We dissected politics from every conceivable angle. I found her quite charming and exciting. The next day we made sure we sat next to each other at the conference. I have to mention that I barely slept the previous night. My heart was far too excited to go to rest. Each time I closed my eyes, I could see those azure eyes that smack of pristine blue waters of the pacific ocean. The thought of her smile made me smile non-stop. I would go over to the mirror and watch myself smile in sheer excitement. My face glowed like moon in the sky. Love sef, it can turn a full blown man into a child. The following day, we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company again...I ditched my other friends with whom had flown to San Diego, choosing to spend every possible time I could with Dani, as I had begun to call her. 


We went to the cinema that night and I have to say that with her beside me, I really enjoyed a romantic movie from start to finish. My friends and I were in the habit of watching action-packed movies with lots of guns and bombs. The guys know what I am talking about. With Dani, my soft side began to come to light. We seemed to be operating in sync. My teeth seemed to know when she would smile, and just as her face would begin to fold beautifully into that adorable smile, I was already flashing my entire set of 32 teeth like a goat that ended up over the fire at Christmas. When we returned to our base, our romance flourished. Not a day passed by without the two of us talking. We would analyse the stars and the moon, the weather and the water we drank earlier in the day. When there was nothing to talk about, we invented one. Sometimes we even talked about the smell of the air, the clouds and their color or the color of clothes we wore to work that day. In case you did not know, you could spend a whole night discussing just the color blue when you are talking to the right person. Anyway, we began to spend more time together, buy each other gifts, travel together. Weeks led to months and then years and we still had the phone to our ears at night after work as we checked in on each other. Whether it was the cinema or the restaurant, each time we went out together, we always fought (in a jovial way) over who would pay the bill. I would fork out my money or bank card ready to pick up the bill, and she would do the same, brandishing her money or card. It was always hard to win, but I managed to beat her to it as much as I could, and in that case,the next time, she made sure she picked up the bill… If I refused, she would not come out with me. Cultural differences...for Naija, na me go pay everytime, everyday everywhere!

Anyway, I began to think that this was it...She was the one! Wedding bells sounded loudly and clearly at night in my sleep and sometimes at day...I would be walking in broad daylight and those bells would be ringing resonantly - well, I was the only one that heard it. I began to pray about it. “Is she the one?” I asked God. We explored our faith and made sure that we were on the same page. We talked about children and finances...we both felt like we had found our missing ribs. Really, when you are in love you tend to gloss over all that. You just want to be with the other person.Then, she had to tell her father about me. Remember she is white!!! “My father had a not-so-pleasant experience with a Nigerian family in the past,” she said. “The man treated his wife very harshly...you could say that she was treated without respect or love, so my father formed the opinion that Nigerian men are like that,” she explained. “He does not care who I marry as far as they are not from Nigeria,” she added. We had our first dilemma on the turbulent waters of interracial relationship. “Pray about it and talk to him honey,” I encouraged. “I am sure he will be fine. He will understand. God will touch his heart,” I searched for phrases to drive home my point...My hope and faith.

One weekend, she was back in Canada to have the dreaded discussion with her father. She was very nervous. She has a deep admiration and love for her father, and so does he for her, so it was important to her that he bought into her intention. They left church one evening and chatted as they walked home. Suddenly, she brought our relationship up to her Dad. Quietly, she mentioned that I was Nigerian. You could hear the fear in her voice as she uttered the dreaded word to her father. Her mother had already bought into the idea, so at least she had one front covered. Her heart was hammering against her poor ribs with unquenchable force. Her legs and hands quivered. Surprisingly her father smiled and said, “It is okay love. If that is where God wants you to go, then who am I to stand between you two. As far as you know him well enough to trust that he will be a good husband to you; one that will treat you well.” “Yes daddy. He is the most adorable guy I have ever met,” she answered. I was glowing with smiles as my head doubled in size when she mentioned this part of the conversation to me. 

Soon, it was my turn to inform my family. I am from a large family; something I enjoyed growing up and still enjoy till date. I had to talk to all my siblings first. One after the other, I went on to convince every single one of them...well I tried. In the end, I had to talk to my Mom. “Is she a Christian?” Was her first question. I could hear the concern in her voice. She wished I would come home and find me a fine Igbo girl. “Why don’t you wait for a while so we can pray on this,” she suggested. “I am willing to wait and pray Ma,” I replied obediently. When I told my father over the phone, it was a different reaction. He was quiet for a good two minutes. He seemed at a loss for words. Then he tried to say something, but he stopped abruptly. “What is Dad?” I inquired. He stammered, dragging his feet. “Son…” he said. “Yes Dad,” I replied. “You know…” Then he stopped yet again. 

He was finding it difficult to say something...whatever it is, it is very difficult for him to say, I thought to myself. Maybe he won’t give his blessings, I thought as my mind ran helter skelter. “You think she is the one?” He asked cautiously. “Yes Dad.” “You are very sure?” “I am very sure Dad,” I maintained. His voice was tired all of a sudden. He took a deep breathe as he pondered the situation. There was another silence over the line. I was treading cautiously, refusing to apply too much pressure on him; so I waited...impatiently though.  “Son, have you ever seen this girl angry?” He asked. I was bemused. Where was that coming from I wondered. “Yes,” I answered, still confused. “Very angry?” He repeated. “Yes Dad! Why?” “I mean you actually argued with her seriously when she was very angry?” “Yes. She gets angry like we all do.” “And…” He stalled again. “And...She did not shoot you with a gun?” There was utter silence over the line. He listened intently for my reply while I was left confused by his question. Sensing that I was either holding something back or not clear with his question, he continued. “I understand that over there when white people are angry...when they have arguments, they settle them with guns,” he clarified. 

I was laughing so hard by now. My eyes teared up as laughter rocked through my ribs with palpable force. I could tell my Dad was embarrassed. I knew him well enough to know when he was embarrassed. He chuckled over the phone, but he still wanted answers. “Well, that is what I have heard and that is what I see in the movies too,” he tried to buttress his point. “Dad, it is not like that. Some people here have never seen guns at all. Besides she is Canadian and not American. She has never used a gun her whole life,” I explained. “Really?” “Yes. That is the truth. What you see in movies are not exactly how it works here. Yes there are lots of guns here compared to home, but not everybody has one, and people do not always settle arguments by shooting each other.” He became somewhat relaxed. I spoke at length with him to calm him down and dissuade his fears. 

Despite my efforts, my parents still had their fears. Daniella was sad about it so I had to do my best to calm her down. “It is a big cultural chasm for them...and for us too, but we know each other and they don’t. So, let’s give them more time to think it through,” I explained. She agreed. We hung on and prayed about it. Time ticked away and one day, my parents decided to strike a bargain with me. “We want you to do this for us. Please do this for your parents,” they both pleaded. “I am listening.” “Okay. Mazi Kennedy Okorafor’s  daughter has just moved to the USA and from our inquiries, she lives not too far from you. Her parents gave us her phone number and they will talk to her too. We know her very well. We think you two will make a good couple.” How do you just tell your parents to forget it, which was how I felt. I loved them very dearly, so I kept that thought to myself. It did not solve the problem though. I still had to get past their offer. “Dad, I already have someone please. I do not want to get into another relationship. It would not be fair to someone who has been immensely loving and supportive to me just because she is not black...Nigerian I should say.” “I am not suggesting you end your relationship with the white girl. Just put things on hold for a short while so you can broaden your perspective. Just view things differently and if in the end you still feel she is the one, then carry one with her,” my Dad suggested. STORY CONTINUES...
LINK TO EPISODE 2: http://www.moofyme.com/2015/12/the-in-laws-black-versus-white-episode-2.html

This story was written by:

Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: THE IN-LAWS: BLACK VERSUS WHITE - EPISODE 1
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