After the festival was over, Ife returned to find her father pacing up and down the room with a letter in his hand. Ife stared at him asking what the matter was, but he simply gave her the letter in his hand. It was a scholarship from her old principal to read medicine at the University teaching hospital. She sat down slowly unable to think.
Her father sat down and Ife was shocked to find he had tears in his eyes. He shook his head several times and Ife knew he was trying hard to control his voice. His hands shook as he placed them almost timidly on her shoulder, “You always wanted to be a doctor Princess”
“Yes papa, always” Ife whispered staring at the letter. Attached to the offer of scholarship was a letter of admission from the teaching hospital and a request to confirm her acceptance of the offer of admission. She opened the letter from her principal and cried silently as she read the words “Fly brightest and best, it will be a pleasure to call you doctor soon” He signed it simply as Ayo Lawrence.
Her mother walked in and stared at the picture of her husband and daughter in close embrace. She raised her eyebrows and Ife said quietly that there was nothing to worry about as her father explained in a quiet wondering voice that Ife was continuing her style of paying her way through her education. He explained what had happened and of course Ife’s mother removed her head tie and danced round the room singing praises to the Creator.
It was a quiet peaceful family that celebrated Ife’s imminent departure for medical school. Grandma asked much later how long the medical school was going to take and when she was told she became alarmed. Yeye Agba wondered if Ife might not be an old maid by the time she takes up her duties as the Princess.
Ife laughed, “Grandma, I am sure the Light above do not care about my intellectual ability, but I am sure as a woman I do need to equip myself properly you know.”
“Hmm.. too much of this western thing might spoil you. You will lose touch with your roots and become blasé.”
“I have not the slightest intention of being a village idiot nor of marrying one either” Ife replied sharply about to be irritated
“Did you choose one then? A village idiot?, and have you asked him what he wants to do about that?” Grandma countered
Ife turned puzzled eyes on her mother, ”What is she talking about now?”
Her mother coughed and explained that at the peak of the festival the priestess had announced that Numen Yeye had chosen her groom.
Ife was agitated. “I am sure I did no such thing mother, who started that story? I am not thinking of marrying anyone right now, Great Lights not when I am about to go to medical school”
Her parents stayed silent except Grandma who simply hummed a tune silently, then looked at Ife, “You are Numen Yeye and you chose a groom, you need to check with him, whoever he is about this trip of yours, I don’t like doctors. They are always poking at you and you want to start sticking knives into people”
Ife stared then turned straight into Babatunde who was standing in the doorway. He was holding in his hands, the string of cowries he found in his bedroom. Ife stared at him in horror backing away.
Ife disappeared into the grove to seek out Yeye. She stayed away for two days and her father had to seek her out . They went to sit under the tree and Ife had alarm in her eyes. “Papa, I am not thinking of being anybody’s wife right now and I definitely have no memory of choosing a groom. Somebody is playing a fast game on me Papa”
Her father gave her a keen look and gathered her into his arms sighing, “I thought I taught you never to run away from your problems for it will still be waiting when you run back, besides I don’t think the goddess meant you were to marry right away you see..”
Ife interrupted him ,”Papa, I am not marrying anyone. Being a woman does not mean I have to automatically be somebody’s wife. I am not ready.”
“I heard you the first time my dear.”
Ife stared at him and the hint of frustrated anger came into her voice,”Papa why in goodness did you ever agree to this?”
“we would never agree on that will we? You have to make arrangements to return to Ibadan, sign in to your school and we will take what happens in easy stages shall we?”
Ife was silent looking out and then turned to her father, ”Where is Babatunde?”
Her father frowned and stood up from the hard bench, then looked down at her,
”You know what?, that young man looked like the most resigned groom I ever saw. When I questioned him, there was a strain of frustration running through his voice too. Seemed the goddess chose two very reluctant pair. He seemed really pissed I can tell you”
Ife suddenly laughed, ”Yes he told me himself and I told him it was kind of silly coming to my place holding the string”
Ife’s father was puzzled and he stared. “You have talked with him? When? How?”
Ife bit her lip remembering that she could not explain about her ability to talk with Babatunde telepathically. She smiled and shrugged saying she really couldn’t remember when she talked with him as things had become hazy in her mind. Her father stared at her speculatively and she sensed he suspected her of lying. Ife felt terrible and looked at everywhere but meet her father’s eyes.
Her stated very quietly, “seems there is no real cause for alarm is there?”
Her father took her home and two days later she traveled to Ibadan to sort out her admission requirements and filled form for hostel accommodation. Her medical studies began