Lawrence Uzodimma Efobi, fondly called “Original Catechist” or “Lawyer Ikpeama”, and some other aliases, is a man of the people in Okamgbo Village, Ichi, in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State and his wife, Gladys, have been married for about 32 years. In this chat with DAVID ONWUCHEKWA, the man who has been a catechist since October 19, 2003 (he was commissioned by Bishop Ayo Maria Atoyebi then of Ilorin Diocese) and who retired as an engineer in 2013 at Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, and his wife, speak on how they met and have been able to stay together through the thick and thin, all these years. Excerpts:
How did you meet your spouse?
Husband: When I was posted to Kwara State, I started looking for wife. Eventually, I got the one I needed. That was in 1987. This is about 32 years ago on December 26, 1987. We got married at our home, at Ichi in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State. She was introduced to me by three of my relations, my sisters and everyone talked good of her separately, not collectively. Then after the third persom spoke glowingly about her then I said, that I must go and see this particular person my sisters are so much interested in so that she should become part of the family. From Ilorin I travelled to Lagos to go and meet her for the first time. I never knew her. And she too did not know me. We had never seen each other before. But that visit gave me everything I was looking for. The way she behaved when I came to their house, the way she attended to me, I said no, this is my wife. From there, we started. I spoke to her before leaving that I did not want friendship but marriage. I went to see her in August but I told her we must marry by December. From there we started exchanging visit, you know what I mean, and we got married.
Wife: I’m Efobi Gladys Chizoba. He has said it all because I did not know him initially. When he came to our house I did not even know there was such intention behind his coming. I just treated him the way I felt I should treat a normal visitor and he was captivated. Later he told me his intention. Initially, I refused but my eldest sister was so happy, so glad. Indeed she told him to go and come whenever he is ready for the marriage, that they had accepted the whole thing. That was how it clicked and we got married.
What actually attracted him to you when you saw him?
Wife: Yes, the way he talked gave me a very good impression. He is a very polished person. I was really captivated by the way he talked, the manner and the way he addressed issues and his personality also. I was happy. When he came up with the proposal, it was very okay.
When you saw her and made your proposal was there any opposition to that?
Husband: Opposition? There was no opposition. The thing was she was the only one who resisted my move initially. But as time progressed, she started again. Even when l was moving back she started chasing me, you know. That was how it happened and out of sympathy, would l say sympathy, l decided not to disappoint her. And ever since then, l have never disappointed her and l will never.
How did you propose to her?
Husband: It was at my sister’s house in Lagos because they (my wife’s family) were living opposite my sister’s home. So, l sighted her in the opposite direction at their own house, from there l used my eyes to check every physical quality l needed in a wife and she fitted in exactly. So, later fortunately she came over, l didn’t invite her. She came over to my sister’s place. When she came, l had some glances at her and the thing (love) entered, you understand, so from there l invited her on one of the occasions and we chatted.
When he proposed, what was your reaction?
Wife: I told him that l would not give him a straight answer, that l had to discuss with my siblings, my people and whatever they said would determine what would happen next.
What do you remember most on your wedding day?
Wife: It was very funny. l was in school and immediately we went on holiday l came over to Ilorin and our priest, Rev. Father Anthony Atoyebi, called me and said that my husband had finished all the marriage course, that l didn’t need to do anything again since I’m covered for the marriage course. He said l didn’t have to worry myself being trained or anything. He told me he had fixed a date for our wedding. He said l had nothing to worry about that as long as my husband is concerned he is a respected person and a good Christian, pure Catholic, that l didn’t have any problem. That was how the wedding was fixed and carried out.
Husband: It wasn’t as it is these days where people will be asked to do this and that before the marriage is executed. The only thing was that I sought the consent of her elder brother and he said we should go on with whatever we planned to do. And even my own people at home, everybody gave their approval. Without wasting time the marriage was executed. Even the church people did not know much about the whole thing. It was that very morning, they came to church and saw us (my wife and I) sitting like a couple and it happened without wasting time.
When did you have the first misunderstanding and how did you handle it?
Husband: I cannot recall exactly when we had that. I remember one day she got annoyed, packed her things, went to the car park and asked me to come and take her home. That was in Ilorin. So, I had to plead and plead and made promises. And she later changed her mind and we went back to the house. That was the first misunderstanding and I can’t remember when we had the next one. We live in peace.
Why were you angry?
Wife: I can’t remember quite alright. But I think I asked him to buy something for me which he did not buy. And I got angry and I asked him to take me back home, that it was not what he promised me. I insisted that he should take me back home. He started pleading, begged, begged and begged that I should please, forgive him and promised to do everything I wanted him to do for me. I later accepted his plea and promises and we continued to live normally. And there was no third party who knew what happened. He used all sorts of love words, cajoled me and I agreed. He called me sweet names that I liked and said I shouldn’t be angry.
What kind of food is your husband’s favourite?
Wife: His most favourite food is ‘swallow’ with egusi soup, well prepared egusi soup. He loves it so much with semo, cassava or pounded yam. You should make sure there is food on his table at every point in time. When he comes around, and meets food he feels satisfied.
Husband: She feeds me very well. She cooks the type of soup I like including Ofe Akwu.
What do you like most about her?
Husband: I don’t like to offend her because she would always cry, and I don’t like to see her shed tears. I’m everything to her, you understand. So, I don’t like to do anything that can make her angry or cry. She listens to me and gives me audience at any time. She contributes to the success of the family. I’m always proud of her. I admire her even from a distance but I will not let her know this. I admire her any day, any time. There are so many women around but she is the best.
What’s your advice to young bachelors?
Husband: Young men who marry through the Internet, Facebook and all that connections, I pity them. Please, if you want to marry, don’t marry on the road or on the social media. Go home and marry. Everyone comes from a particular place. You should know the family background of your spouse. That is very important.
What’s advice to spinsters?
Wife: They should always be focused. There must be a reason for you to leave your parents’ house to get married. And once you are there, you must know that you are married and put yourself together and make sure that your marriage is the best.
What’s your advice to newly married couple?
Husband: Our young boys and girls should love each other deeply. And when there is a problem, don’t let a third party know about it. Resolve it with your wife. Continue to move ahead with the understanding that it is for better and for worse.