Behind Mud Walls S01 E01: “The Proposal”
Glad to know you’re here again! This is the start of yet another series which I’ve titled Behind Mud Walls. It’s a love story set in the fictional village of Ajobo, in precolonial times. This is the first season and I hope you enjoy it as much I’ve enjoyed writing it. This season has TEN EPISODES.
There are three seasons in all and the first two are free. You will be required to buy the last season for a token. You can do this now or read the first two to determine if it’s worth it!😀
It was in that space of time when the afternoon heat gives way to the evening breeze that Adegbola and Oni walked into the market. Women were haggling over prices, trying to rake in the last few sales they could before going home to cook the evening meal. They walked past displays of smoked fish, vegetables, melon, pepper, salt, soap, oil and ointments.
“It’s over there.” Oni pointed at a section of women who sold herbs and traditional cosmetics. “Good day mother, we’re looking for Iya Ige.” He said to an elderly woman who swatted flies with her ipele.
“She left early today, her daughter took ill.”
Adegbola and Oni were disappointed.
“I told you that we should come earlier!” Adegbola said bitterly.
Oni frowned and sighed, Adegbola always had to blame someone for his misfortune. “We’ll come back on the next market day, who knows, it may be that the gods don’t want you to patronize her today.”
Adegbola hissed and walked away, angry that he had to put up with the pain in his back for longer than necessary. Iya Ige’s ointment had been recommended to him by an elderly cousin who had come to the family compound some days ago.
The two young men headed back the way they had come when Adegbola’s eyes caught the sight of a young woman who was arranging traditional beads elegantly in a wide woven tray.
“Who is that young woman?” he asked, overwhelmed by her fragile beauty and graceful movement.
“That is the beader’s daughter, Mowunmi.”
“She is beautiful.”
“There are others who are more beautiful.” Oni said irritably, feeling hunger pangs and wanting nothing more than going to his frined’s house to eat a hearty meal of pounded yam and vegetable soup.
Adegbola didn’t respond, his mind had begun to plot ways of meeting the beautiful young woman.
Mowunmi and Ireti were on their way from the Olanbe stream, two months later.
“I told the woman to move forward!” Ireti said with heavy sarcasm.
Mowunmi laughed. “Don’t mind that woman, she always underprices my goods too.”
“And her husband is rich! The woman is just stingy.”
Mowunmi laughed at her friend’s surmise and wiped water away from her face.
“Good evening.” They heard someone say behind them and turned around.
“Good evening.” Ireti replied tentatively.
“Good evening.” Mowunmi said.
“Mowunmi, I want to talk to you please.” Adegbola said.
Mowunmi was stunned, how did Adegbola, the rich and handsome man, know her name? What did he want to tell her? How did he know that she’d be here? She looked at Ireti who shrugged and then nodded at Adegbola.
“I’m sure you’re wondering what I have to say.” Adegbola said, rubbing his chin and looking deep into her eyes. She was even more beautiful to him close up.
“How did you know my name?” Mowunmi asked with her eyes averted.
“Who wouldn’t want to know a hardworking and beautiful woman?”
Mowunmi looked at him once and looked away again, he was very handsome.
“Let me help you to put the pot down.” He said pointing at her head.
“Thank you, but I can’t stay for too long. My mother is waiting for me.”
Adegbola clapped his hands and looked at her admiringly. “I knew I made the right choice. This is how a good woman should talk!”
Mowunmi shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other, wondering how she could tell this gorgeous man to say what he had to say quickly. She appreciated his attention but she knew that her mother timed her outings and would punish latecoming.
“I love you and I want to marry you.”
Mowunmi gasped, she had never in her wildest dreams thought that Adegbola would want to marry her.
“Let your people come and see my father.” she replied shyly.
“We will be in your father’s compound soon.” He said with a smile.
She nodded and stepped away from him.
“He said he wants to marry you!” Ibironke, Mowunmi’s mother said, dropping her basket.
“That’s good! Ah ah had you been talking to each other before?” she asked, eyes widened with glee.
“No maami! Just like I said, he talked to me for the first time today.”
“But he should have talked to your friend first. Anyway, this is good news!” Ibironke said excitedly, clapping her hands together and thanking the gods for her daughter’s good fortune. “Don’t say anything to your father! Do you hear me? We must act as if we’ve never heard of his intentions. Do you hear me?”
“Yes maami.” Mowunmi replied happily and picked up the basket that her mother had dropped.
“Mowunmi? The beader’s daughter? Who is her father?” Adegoke, Adegbola’s father said.
“His name is Agbeniyi.”
“Which Agbeniyi? The one who has acres of land beside Odo Ire?”
“Yes father. Is there a problem?”
Adegoke sat down and thought for a moment before he replied. “No, nothing is wrong. In fact, you have chosen wisely!”
Adegbola could see that his father was hiding something from him. “Father, you don’t look too happy with my choice.”
“No! I’m very happy with your choice in fact your mother and I couldn’t have chosen better! I was just surprised at first.”
“I desire that young woman father, I want us to go and ask for her hand in marriage.”
“We will!” he replied cheerfully. “In the meantime, did you find those men?
“Yes I did father, they’ll be on the farm at sunrise tomorrow morning.
As Adegoke watched his son walk away, he smiled at the mysterious ways of fate.
“What are you saying?” Adegbola asked Oni. They were seated under a tree in Adegoke’s compound, having just finished a meal of amala and ewedu soup. Oni had just expressed some doubt about Mowunmi.
“I’m just saying that maybe you should consider it well before you ask for her hand in marriage.”
“Why? What else is there to think of? She’s beautiful, well-mannered and from a good home!”
“Adegbola…” Oni said rubbing his head in confusion, he wasn’t sure that his friend would appreciate his concerns. Yet he felt obligated to speak his mind about the matter.
“What is it Oni? Can a word be too big that we have to cut it with a knife? Say what you have to say and stop giving me grief!”
“I’m concerned that you’re not from the same background.”
“Oni? What are you saying?” Adegbola asked irritably. “What does background have to do with this?”
Oni exhaled sharply and decided to express his opinion. “Look, she’s a nobody. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter, her mother makes beads, you’re from a royal family, your family is wealthy and well-respected. Why can’t you choose somebody from a higher class? There’s Abeni, Chief Akinlawon’s daughter she’s even more beautiful than this girl you have chosen. If I had known you would do it earlier, I would have discouraged you from talking to your father about it.” he finished and looked away, hoping that his exaggerated anger would convince his friend to change his mind about Mowunmi.
Adegbola laughed. “Is that all?”
“Look let me tell you, I’m not bothered about her social class. What I appreciate about her is beyond who her father is or what kind of family she comes from. I’m ready to take care of my in-laws and take them to a higher position in this village. If all you have against her is her background, you don’t have anything to say.”
Oni smiled cheerlessly “I don’t know what you see in this girl.”
“You’re not the one who will marry her, so why are you so concerned about it?”
“I’m your friend, I can’t see you walking into a trap and allow you to fall into it…”
“What trap am I falling into? Look Oni, don’t make me angry. This is not your concern. Mind your own business.”
“I should mind my business?”
Oni shrugged and made up his mind not to bring up the subject again.
Ireti and Mowunmi were picking melon seeds in the former’s house.
“So very soon you’ll be married to Adegbola?” Ireti said teasingly, itching to hear something new about the eligible bachelor’s interest in her.
“Well, if he comes to my father’s house, and my father approves, we will be married.”
Ireti laughed. “Why wouldn’t your father approve?”
Mowunmi smiled. “It’s still feels like a dream Ireti! What did he see in me?”
“You’re talking as if you don’t know that you’re beautiful.”
Mowunmi looked away bashfully and tried to hide a smile. She was very happy, Adegbola was every woman’s dream come true. She would soon begin to live a life of comfort.
“The beader’s daughter? Adegbola? What did you see in her?” Adebisi, Adegbola’s mother asked. She had been cooking the evening meal in her kitchen hut.
“Maami, she’s the one I want to marry…”
“Ah ah? Are you sure you’re not under a spell? The beader’s daughter, of all the young girls in this village?”
“Maami, please I don’t care about her background. She’s the one my spirit agrees with.”
“Adegbola! Why are you so much in a hurry? You’ve just recovered from that fall from last year’s match and here you are talking about marriage. Do you think that marriage is just about eating and sleeping?”
“Maami, I know what I’m doing…”
“That’s exactly what you said last year when I told you not to compete in that match.” She raised her shoulders up, mimicking him. ““Maami, I know what I’m doing.” You never listen! You must always have it your own way! You think that you’re so knowledgeable. I can’t talk to you anymore, right?”
“Maami, she’s the one I’ll marry. Baami has approved of her.” Adegbola said adamantly.
“He approved?” Adebisi said, sitting back and staring at her son with her eyebrows raised. She finally shook her head and stirred the stew in the clay pot.
“If you marry that girl you will regret it, just like you regretted competing in that match.”
Suddenly she got up and walked into the house.
The black hen squeaked relentlessly, turning around in a circle. Ibironke tried to help it but it seemed that an invisible force surrounded it. She stared at it as it continued to squeal almost mournfully.
Suddenly Ibironke opened her eyes. It was dark, and her husband was sleeping beside her. She sat up and rubbed her eyelids wondering what the dream meant and if she should take it seriously. She thought of her businesses and searched her mind for any reference to the dream. She found none.
Confused, she lay back down and tried to sleep.