"what?!" Jude rose up in a rage. His eyes was turning red already. 

"sit ya ass down Jude" his other uncle said, pointing to the seat with his walking stick.

Jude's brother then continued .

"Mama told us everything about the outcast you brought home some weeks back........." 

Jude cut in angrily "She's not an outcast brother. Her name is Alice"

His mother looked at him with disdain and hissed.

"Oh please spare me the joke. We ibos refer to other tribes as outcast" Jude's brother replied sharply with his rugged voice. He and Jude haven't been good terms since he asked him for money and the latter refused. Since Jude started work and earning money, his brother hasn't stopped asking him for money. Jude suddenly felt agitated and decided to stop giving him money since all he uses the money for is to gamble and drink. 

"So as i was saying" he continued 

"Mama told us of the number of times she has tried to hook you up with a responsible girl from this our village and you kept on rejecting them. But judging from the description Mama gave us about the girl you brought two weeks, we've been able to find the perfect girl for you" he paused, trying to catch Jude's expression. Jude was quiet, obviously boiling in anger. Nnamdi, his brother continued when he saw that he's not ready to talk

"She is Chinedu's last daughter. She's also in the city just like Alim, abi what was it you called her. So she's up to your standard" 

 Jude looked at his Nnamdi's face, then his mother's and his 2 Uncles' according to the way they were seated. 

"I thought this meeting was supposed to be a reconciliation meeting between me and brother" he finally blotted 

Nnamdi and Mama exchanged glances and burst into laughter. The two uncles later joined them. Jude was looking at them all as they laugh. 

"What reconciliation are you talking about Jude" Nnamdi asked 

"The last time you came to meet me in the city asking for more money and i refused, you said you were never gonna forgive me" Jude said 

Nnamdi laughed again, this time alone. The others were just humming

"C'mon Jude, don't tell you took me serious with everything i said that day. I was only angry na, in fact when i came back to the village that same day, one of my debtors came to pay back" he explained 

"hmmmmmm" Jude sighed. He could smell the lies in his brother's words. He knows him to be a very cunning man. 

"My son, i know everything may seem confused to you now but you should know i will never do anything to jeopardise your future. I've always dreamed of you marrying from this village. This girl we've prepared for you will make you happy" Jude's mother said. 

Jude couldn't sleep that night. He kept on turning and turning. He just couldn't find himself leaving Alice, he loves her with his whole life. 

He and the others had ended the meeting with arguments few hours ago. He made it clear to his family members that he's never going to leave Alice.

"we will see how you will marry her without the backing of your family members" Nnamdi said, stomping out of the compound. 

His house is situated few houses away from his mother's house. Despite the fact that he has nothing doing for a living, he lavishly spends any money that comes in contact with him. The plea of his brother about getting a job fell on deaf ears. Even though he has nothing substantial, that didn't stop him from impregnating two women at the same time. To crown it all, by the time the both of them gave birth, each of them had twins, therefore making a total of four children at the same time. Such is the life of Nnamdi. 

Jude left the village the following morning without saying bye to his mother or brother. 

"It's just so annoying really" said Jude after telling Alice what the meeting was all about. He went straight to Alice place, immediately he got back from his village. 

"Hmmmm" Alice sighed 

"Alice!" he called, then he held her hands and stared into her beautiful brown eyes. He could read anxiety and worry in them. "damn! I love this lady" his heart screamed. 

"Let's get married next month" he said, still looking into her eyes. He wasn't sure about what her response will be. 

"Next month?!!!!" Alice almost screamed, she had wanted an early marriage but not definitely a short courtship. They just got engaged not quite a month ago.

"Yes, next month. That's the only way to prevent my family from coming between us. They won't stop till they drift us apart but once we are married, there's nothing else they can do" he explained further.

"I thought you said your mother only said those things out of saying sake"  she said almost immediately, withdrawing her hand.

"I know, but we never can say what her next step will be, now that she has involved my brother and uncles" he replied solemnly. "I can't afford to lose you Alice, you are all i want in a lady" he added. 

A week later, Jude went home to announce his wedding preparations to his family after been persuaded by Alice. 

"I don't think it's right for us to get married without the knowledge of your family. That will make me look cheap" she said. 

Jude broke the news to his mother who felt undaunted and kept mute throughout the period Jude talked about getting married to Alice. Jude looked like a fool, he was definitely expecting more than his mother looking at him while he fantasies about Alice. 

"The igwe will like to have a word with you in his palace" she finally spake. She sighed and went out of the mini sitting room. 

Jude couldn't believe his ears. 

"The igwe?!" he stuttered.

Igwe Obiekwe Ozokwere 3rd has been a role model to Jude since he was made the Igwe of Amutafia village years back. Jude had fallen in love with his leadership skills and courage. No doubt he respects him a lot just like the other villagers but now he's surprised this same igwe has requested his presence at the royal house. Such an honor has never been bestowed upon him in times past. 

He changed his shirts in a jiffy and hurried out of the house to the royal house. 

"Igwe!!!!!!!" he greeted, lying on his chest. 

Igwe stretched his mantle towards him and he rose to his feet immediately. He sat down on the special seat for visitors as ordered by the igwe. 

"I just arrived from the city and my mother told me you requested for my presence" he said after being offered palm wine and kola by the palace maids. 

"What is this i hear about you wanting to marry an outcast?" igwe dropped the bombshell almost immediately. 

Jude was thrown off balance. His mother had definitely come to discuss with igwe. He kept mute, not knowing what next to say. 

"I have a proposal for you" igwe continued, not giving attention to his shock.

©Toluwanimi Odeniyi