“Happy birthday Tinashe,” Diana and Clara shouted excitedly.
3rd February, 1998, I was celebrating my eighteenth birthday with my two closest friends together with my sister Kasuli. We were at Clara’s place and Clara had big news for us but she said it could wait till they wished me a happy birthday. Their company made me forget the hardships i was going through at the hands of my Uncle, his and son.
“Now tell us the big news?” Diana asked Clara curiously after we had eaten the cake made for me by Diana.
I looked at Clara who seemed to be in a good mood ever since we got at her place. She was glowing with excitement.
“I am getting married,” She whispered happily.
Diana and me looked at each other surprised. Not once did Clara tell us about any man in her life and she dropped the bomb of getting married from nowhere.
“How?” I asked shocked.
“What do you mean how Tinashe?” Clara looked at me expressionless.I went quiet.
“What she means is we don’t know anything about this, tell us the details,” Diana clarified my question.
Clara told us about the man she was about to get married to. His name was Harold. He was a Teacher in Copperbelt. Her parents arranged the whole thing. At first, she didn’t like him but after spending some time with him, she grew fond of him. She said she was against the idea of her parents arranging the marriage but later, she was grateful to them.
“He’s so mature and responsible,” she said joyfully.
“We are happy for you Clara,” Diana said while I just listened.
The entire time Clara narrated her fairytale , I kept thinking about what my uncle said about me turning eighteen and marriage. After hearing Clara talk about marriage, it then dawned on me that the possibility of an arranged marriage for me was high. I was not ready for marriage. I told myself.
“What is it Tinashe,” Clara asked concerned. “Are you not happy that I will be getting married?”
“Of course Iam happy Clara,” I said forcing a smile.
“You were worrying me,” she laughed.
“If you don’t mind, how old is Harold?” I asked
Clara looked at me aback.
“He’s 35,” she answered hesitantly.
Growing up, we were told that a man who was supposed to marry us was supposed to be ten to fifteenyears older than us but that didn’t make sense to me. The age gap was too much and which person would choose who to fall in love with and their age. It was tradition and custom, it had to be followed. That’s one of the reasons Clara’s parents thought Harold was the perfect match for their daughter despite the fact that Clara was only 19.
“He’s perfect for you,” I said hiding my astound expression.