(In the house of Nweke, Ugomma's father. On the evening when Ugo lets her mother and father know about the arrangement between her and Ibe. Ugomma is in her room, studying. Her mother and her younger sister, Chinwe, are in the kitchen cooking the evening meal.)
Diwumma: Mma! Mma!
Ugomma: Ma'am! (She enters the kitchen.)
Diwumma: Go and arrange the table and chair for your father to eat in. Chinwe, go and fetch water for drinking and some for washing the hands.
Chinwe: I am going to sleep. Goodnight. (She enters where Ugo has come from.)
Diwumma: You will not eat supper before you go to bed?
Chinwe: No! Put mine aside. I ll eat it before going to school in the morning. (Goes out.)
Ugomma: Mother! There is something I have been wanting to tell you all day but I didn't have an opportunity to tell it to you.
Diwumma: What is it, my child? Tell me what it is now.
Ugomma: It's about one
of our students. His name is Ibe Obike, from Umueme Aboka. He and I have
known each other from our first year in high school. Since then, we have
gotten along very well together. Since then, he has never done
Diwumma: You did well, my child, to tell me this first before the young man comes because it is said that the shelf does not fall without a basket on it. What I want you to understand is this. A matter like this is not something concerning only you and me. I really don't know what to say about it; therefore, I will tell your father about it so that we can know what he will say. Is that all right?
Ugomma: That's good. The reason I thought I would tell you first was that I knew you would know how to tell it so there would be no problem. I know how he respects what you say.
Diwumma: Don't be afraid, my child. After we have finished supper, I know how I will broach the subject to him. (Ugo gets up and goes to the room where she is studying. Where are you going? Are you not going to eat supper?
Ugomma: No, I do not want to eat. I will eat in the morning. Let me go and study for the examination we will take tomorrow.
Diwumma: All right, till tomorrow then.
The lights go out.
ACT THREE, Scene 2
(She leaves the kitchen and goes out, goes to her husband, who is waiting for her. After they finish eting she starts to tell him about Ugomma.)
Diwumma: Master! (Her husband turns to face her.) Ugo has told me something that I want to tell you. I don't know if she has already told you about it.
Nweke: She has not told me anything. Did she say what it was about?
Diwumma: She said it was about her and the son of Obike.
Nweke: Which Obike?
Diwumma: Obike Ekwueme from Umueme Aboka, who is a butcher at Afo Aboka market.
Nweke: Ohoo! Obike, whose father's house was burned down by the umu ndom during the time of the ndom war?
Diwumma: That's the one!
Nweke: What did you say his son did?
Diwumma: That she said that he wants to come and bring wine on her behalf.
Nweke: (In a soft voice.) On whose behalf?
Diwumma: On Ugomma's behalf.
Nweke: Where is Ugomma now? Call her for me.
Diwumma: Please, you should keep your voice down when asking her whatever you want to ask her. Let us not spoil things; young women now think differently. They are really crazy. One does not force them on a leash.
Nweke: Call her for me first. Do you know what my intentions are?
Diwumma: Mma! Mma!
Diwumma: (She shows her a small chair nearby.) Sit down. (She sits down, looking straight at her father.)
Nweke: My first daughter! (In a gentle voice.)
Nweke: Do you know who Obike Ekwueme, from Aboka, is?
Nweke: How do you know him?
Ugomma: I know him through his son, Ibe, a student in our class.
Nweke: Do you know him personally or do you only know his name?
Ugomma: I know him by his name as well as face-to-face.
Nweke: How did you come to know him face-to-face?
Ugomma: I met him on a day when we all were returning to school and the rain chased us into his house. We followed his son, Ibe, in running to that place to get away from the rain.
Nweke: What about your relationship with Ibe now? What are you and he doing together?
Ugomma: Ibe and I are not doing anything, except that the other day he told me that he was going to come and bring wine on my behalf. So that it would be when I finished school he would come and fulfill the other requirements.
Nweke: (Speaks to his wife.) Woman, you have heard! Is there something you would like to say?
Diwumma: There is nothing I want to say, but one thing I want to ask Ugomma is if she completely trusts this man in what he says. Because young people nowadays are slippery like geckos. One who catches them by the tail is empty-handed. Apart from that, I see nothing bad in what they are planning, because it seems to me that I have seen that young man here one day when I returned from the market, studying with Ugomma. I looked at him carefully and I was pleased with his character.
Nweke: My daughter, now what do you think about this matter? My father said that one does not remove sand from a person's eye without touching it. What we heard from your mouth is what we will rely on to decide what we will say. What did you answer him when he told you this?
Ugomma: When he asked me if I would agree, I answered yes, if my mother and father agreed.
Nweke: Does it mean that you will not finish school and will do office work for a few years before you marry?
Ugomma: No! I must finish school. What he said is that he will first bring wine and let our parents know our thoughts. After we have finished school, then we will marry.
Nweke: Good. As I always say, I am not the one who will select a husband for you, or force you to marry. The promise I made you was that I will train you in school as far as any position you are able to achieve. Any time you find someone you like, you will marry. (He pauses for a moment.) Let us see. If they come, we will know that they are serious. One who stays in his house expecting someone will not break his waist. Go to bed now, good night.
Ugo and her Mother: (speaking together) Good night. (They rise and go out, taking the left exit. Nweke takes the right exit and also retires.)
The lights go out.
ACT THREE, Scene 3
(In Nweke's house. Ugomma is sitting at the kitchen table arranging her hair and face, making herself pretty. Her mother and father and her other siblings have gone out. Ibe, with his friend Onwukwe enters.)
Ibe: (Knocks.) Knock! Knock! Knock!
Ugomma: Who is knocking?
Ibe: It is we o o. (They then come in.)
Ugomma: Hey Ibe, you are still keeping to this behavior of yours.
Ibe: Which behavior of
mine is that?
Onwukwe: Did you look for me and didn't see me? (She enters the house and fetches pictures and gives them to Ibe. Ibe gives them to Onwukwe. Ugo returns to what she has been doing. Ibe takes his chair and comes near her.)
Ibe: Mma, how are you? How are things going?
Ugomma: They are fine. It is only hunger that afflicts us now.
Ibe: (He touches her hand.) You are hungry, yet your body looks so beautiful.
Ugomma: M m m m! I knew you were going to say that. If the grasshopper is burning, you say that it gives off oil.
Ibe: How about this--mmmm. The snake we killed, what size is it? (He winks at Onwukwe.) The head of the bed, is it still where we put it?
Ugomma: Haven't I already told you that I do not understand proverbs?
Ibe: What about our matter? Have you told them yet?
Ugomma: I told them. Yesterday evening after you and I discussed it.
Ibe: What did they say?
Ugomma: They agreed.
(Ibe smiled broadly and laughed in his heart. He put his hand in his pocket
and took out a letter that was written to him from overseas and gave it
to Ugo. Ugo was very pleased. She smiled a little.)
Ugomma: My mother went to the market and my father and others went to meeting to drink their wine. You and he might meet on the road if you leave. He went by bicycle. Please, Ibe my brother, wait a while for him. He will soon return. (She runs into the house and brings them bread.) Please, my brothers, eat a little of this as it is; we have finished eating what we cooked in the afternoon. Let me send my sister to go and call my father. Chinwe! Chinwe! (She runs out. Someone rings a bicycle bell -- Mr. Nweke enters from another door.)
Ibe and Onwukwe: Sir, have you returned?
Nweke: Greetings, my children. Have you come?
Ibe and Onwukwe: Yes!
Nwekwe: Are you well? (He shakes hands with them.)
Ibe and Onwukwe: Yes, sir.
Nweke: And the people at your school?
The Guests: They are very well also.
Nweke: Where have these children gone--have you not seen them?
Ibe: We and they were here just now, before Mma went to find Chinwe to tell her to come and look for you.
Nweke: Come and look for me?
Ibe: Yes, sir.
Nweke: Are we supposed to go somewhere?
Ibe: Sir, we are the ones who told her to go and look for you because it is you that we were looking for. (Ugomma enters.)
Ugomma: (In surprise.) Oh! Has he returned?
Ibe: Yes! As soon as you went out to look for Chinwe, he came in.
Nweke: My daughter! Daddy's girl!
Nweke: Bring out a chair outside for me in that place (near Ibe). Now, my children, this is kola. (He presents it to Ibe.)
Ibe and Onwukwe: (In unison) Thank you, sir. Thank you for the kola.
Ibe: Onwukwe, kola has come.
Onwukwe: I have seen it, brother. Go ahead and take care of it then.
Ibe: Sir, please take care of it for us. It is said that the owner does the sharing. (He gives it to Mr. Nweke.)
Nweke: All right. (He starts to break the kola nut.) He who brings kola brings life.
Ibe and Onwukwe: That is what is done.
Nweke: Life of men, life of women. What one sows is what he will reap. One who has nothing to carry (on his head) does not feel any pressure. One who does not do anything bad has nothing bad done to him. One who wishes us long life, may long life come to him.
Ibe and Onwukwe: Amen!
Nweke: One who wishs us death , may he die early. The child is reincarnated in the place that is best for him. May we all have long lives, strong bodies and prosperity.
Ibe and Onwukwe: So be it!
(He breaks it, takes
his own, and passes it to them.)
Nweke: You are welcome, my children.
Ibe: Sir, I myself am Ibegbu Obike from Umueme Akabo. This (he points to Onwukwe) is my relative . His name is Onwukwe Nwakamma. We and your daughter, Ugomma, go to the same high school. That is the reason we have come.
Nweke: On account of me?
Ibe and Onwukwe: (In unison) No!
Ibe: Because of her, your daughter, Ugomma
Nweke: Oho o! Is everything all right? (Onwukwe nods his head.)
Ibe: It is indeed good, sir. However, there is a matter I told her about today and told her to tell you when she got home, concerning coming to bring wine on her account. This year I will graduate from high school. But as it happens, this is a letter they sent me from America (he shows him the letter) about the examinations we took last year. Now they want me to come and start studying on scholarship at the beginning of next month. That's why I came to tell you that it is not only the bringing of the wine but I want to come at the same time and do everything necessary on her behalf to take my wife because I will not leave her and go alone.
Nweke: The first thing I want to ask you is, does it mean that you will not finish your schooling here, since there are only three months left?
Ibe: No! I will graduate from there.
Nweke: Are you and my in-law here (he points to Onwukwe) traveling together?
Onwukwe: No! (He shakes his head vigorously.) My turn will come next year.
Nweke: All right, my children, I have heard what you said. It is said that the hawk has not even been seen yet but they say that a woman does not eat it. What I mean to say is this: at the time we actually see you people we will know that you have something serious to say.
Ibe: That is good, sir. (He rises, and his friend joins him.) We will start leaving now. When my mother-in-law arrives, greet her for me.
Nweke: All right, my children. Good journey.
Ibe: Thank you!
Ugomma: (Comes out of her room at once.) Ibe!
Ibe: We are leaving. Tomorrow we will meet at school and I will tell you what we agreed on.
Ugomma: Good. Go well. Onwukwe, good night.
Onwukwe: All right, our daughter. Good night. (They go out. The curtain falls.)
The lights go out.
-- on to Act Four --