In August 2002 on my 33rd birthday, I came to the conclusion that it was time to get a life partner. So, I took out time to list ten qualities my future wife must possess knowing my shortcomings. Chief amongst which are short temper and “wakajugbo” spirit.
I then served quit notice on all the babes hovering around my bachelor nest at Ekpan near Warri, not to talk of the fasting programs at St. James Church, Warri that I regularly attended seeking divine intervention. The search began in earnest, but there was a snag; a serious one that torpedoed all my plans. When I met a pretty pharmacist with all the vital statistics who hails from Ethiope East, followed by another from the Eastern part of Nigeria and another from Izon, all of whom had one thing in common that brought our budding relationships to an abrupt end: they were all of AS genotype. Myself also being AS too, had lost several relations and friends to the sickle cell scourge, an abnormal red blood cell having an elongated crest-like shape due to the presence of abnormal haemoglobin. I was crestfallen by my hard luck but nonetheless, I doubled my fasting and prayers seeking the intervention of the Almighty God for a life partner with the right genotype of AA.
It was at the end of one of such prayer sessions that one of my younger friends and neighbour came to mention to me about a very pretty ebony and well-mannered girl what they now call *”Wife Material” at the University of Benin that will make a good partner having known her for a very long time at close quarters but he insisted that I swear I would not mess up with her if am not sure of walking the aisle with her. Of course, I agreed to the terms and he travelled to Benin to approach her. On the appointed date, I still remember not having enough money to fuel my Tokumbo Mercedez 230 (The first car I bought as a Youth Corper at Bayelsa House of Assembly in 1999). So, on my way, I picked up three passengers from Effurun roundabout to enable me to fuel my car. I had earlier prayed and sought the face of God to show me signs like the biblical prophets of old to keep her in her room if she is the chosen one.
To cut a long story short, we met her in the room sleeping. I immediately seized upon the moment after greetings and introduction to ask whether she had malaria as AA genotype people are wont to. She answered in the affirmative that she is AA but she was exhausted hence the afternoon sleep.
She then queried why in this modern age and time I would send my friend to her about marriage before meeting and knowing her. Well, I told her that it may look strange to her but that my search for my missing rib has ended and that I promise to fight hard to win her heart knowing full well that nothing good comes my way without hard fighting.
For the next 60 days with no cell phones/social media to power WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook then, I transformed myself into a modern-day Romeo by engaging the services of a young man who stays nearby to her Ekosodin hostel and handed him 65 emotional greeting cards. The young man’s task was well spelled out, deliver each card at dawn by 6 am by slipping each of the greeting cards professing my eternal love under her door each morning for the next 60 days. Happy to announce that my young friend accomplished the mission in 60 days without being caught. My wife would in later years confess that she looked forward to seeing the cards every morning when she woke up though intrigued about the dexterity of the delivery man. Younger generations may not know what we went through to win the heart of a lady when there were no social media like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc.
It is instructive to mention that I finally convinced her on a particular day. I had earlier visited her Ekosodin hostel buoyant by some money paid by passengers I picked on my way to meet her in a forlorn and dithering mood, she told me that she wanted to finish her studies and finish her NYSC before contemplating marriage. I was crestfallen, I was able to convince her for an outing at the popular Palm Royal Hotel along Lagos Expressway. It was a brave act that earned me her hand in marriage. It was bravado and sheer guts because I had just #200 on me. I devised a plan. I hid my wallet to lie that my wallet was stolen then I proceeded to drop my spare tire while I went to look for ways to settle the bill for the outing.
Of course, there were no ATM cards then, all these arrangements were made with another prayer to my heavenly Father to show me the final sign: “If she is the chosen one, oh Lord God don’t let this outing end in disgrace, in Jesus Mighty name I pray, Amen”. So on arrival, I asked her to order anything she desires; chicken and chips, peppered snail, smoked chicken, etc, Unlike our ‘woke’ girls who will jump at such an offer, she rather ordered a parley soda only. Oh God, My God is alive. I muttered a silent prayer and she asked what I wanted to take. I lied that I had a runny stomach because I wasn’t sure if my almighty #200 can pay for the two-bottle Parle soda. The outing that cost me #100 changed our lives. She agreed to at least date me.
We were married on May 18, 2003, at a wedding ceremony at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Sapele. The reception was chaired by the then Deputy Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Ovie Agas.
Today, we give God the glory that despite all the challenges inherent in marriages, most especially being married to a lawyer and wandering politician who is hardly at home, all the quarrels, disappointments, and obvious fallings in my character, our marriage, our union is blessed to the glory of God with beautiful kids, homes, cars and above all mutual love all these twenty years.
Today, My Love the wife of my youth, I renew my love and vows to you to love and nurture us till death do us part.
- Olorogun Jaro Egbo, LLM, Ksc, wrote from Camp Moses Vineyard Abovwe, Ughelli in Delta State