Searching for a Wife
By Victor Lugala
Juba is a fast-growing city like any other. Am I kidding? Our busy streets bear testimony. Don’t you agree? Everybody is in a hurry, running this way and that way. We are speeding somewhere. Boy, don’t even ask about the destination. We are go-getters.
Today a street may be dark at night. Tomorrow it will be lit with solar panels. Another day the street will be dark again because somebody climbed up the pole to remove the solar panel and took it to his house. Life continues as if nothing happened: we are one people, one nation, one God.
It seems we have some things in common with New York city, I dare say. That is why we wear second hand T-shirts which declare in writing: I love NY City.
The only difference is that there are no bodabodas in New York. And as a result – and on a serious note – we should plan on introducing bodabodas on New York thoroughfares. We will patent the bodaboda brand before the Chinese jump in to overtake us. Man, can you imagine that!
It may be a fallacy that our illiteracy levels are high, I’m not sure if that includes the city. Otherwise, how do you explain the many billboards and signboards all over the city, advertising this or that brand.
Because we are always in a hurry you can forgive us for misspelling some English words on our signboards. After all, English is not our native tongue, is it?
If the experts claim we are highly illiterate, so what! So who is reading the many signboards and billboards?
So one fine day, it was not too hot, just fine, tolerable weather, like October weather, when rogue husbands are not chasing away their wives, a Juba man went out to look for wife material in the street.
What did I say? Wife material. They are many out there and men fear to approach them. The dollar rate is very high and bride price so exorbitant, is the other excuse they give.
Let us assume that the eligible bachelor has serious communication problems, therefore he has difficulty ‘tuning’ or lying to women to love him. He has heard that beautiful women like to be lied to by men. That such women will listen to a man who dangles a fake car key than a man carrying three degrees in a manila envelope.
Doesn’t it sound convincing that a car thief is more practical than a man buying a fake university degree to hunt for a white-collar job?
The man, the bachelor in question, swore to himself that he must have a wife before November. He was sick and tired of relatives or friends taunting him to marry a wife even on ‘loan’.
Let us say he is a man of means who sweated for it. He does not brag about his humble achievements. Therefore, he wants a wife who will make him happy, to consolidate his health and wealth, and to expand his family tree. Remember he is a South Sudanese to the core. A traditionalist. Conservative even.
But he is also a careful chooser. He will not be tempted to fall for a Facebook wife – they are many with many fake faces. Today she looks young. Tomorrow she is posing near a V8 which belongs to nobody.
He has gone to clubs, church, community meetings, and karama, but has not found a lady who caught his eye. Or maybe he saw one but did not know how to start saying, ‘I love you, baby’.
Whether he wanted a tall, slim, bulbous, tough, or cheeky lady – these are all attributes that were now back-burnered.
He was 34 years old. For him it was as if the clock was ticking away very fast, made worse by the extended loneliness of his bed and pregnant silence of his room. He wanted a companion. He wanted a wife. Badly!
Like a serious hunter of a treasure island, he never gave up his search.
He wrote his statement-of-intent before he went to a busy street of Juba to test the literacy levels in the open.
He positioned himself, almost disguising is looks. He put on a red plastic helmet on his head, dark sunglasses concealed his eyes, a baggy shirt and trousers no longer in fashion and leather shoes. Round his neck hung a placard with the following words printed in bold capital letters:
LOOKING FOR A WIFE!!!
Standing by the busy street which runs from north to south, the eligible young man stood facing east where good things and good luck come from.
He stood there from 8 a.m. And because he was stationary and immobile it was easy to spot him. Passersby looked at him and ignored him as they minded their own business.
He was not the first and neither would he be the last to behave like this. Juba was ejecting into the main streets, a number of frustrated adults. Maybe he too had a head knock. The people of Juba wondered as he stood his cause, placard over his chest.
LOOKING FOR A WIFE!!!
He looked like a clown. Overdressed, he looked like one of the new ones sidelined and ejected by society, and gone bonkers.
He looked east as if directly at the sun, but with the dark sunglasses on he looked a stump.
By 10 a.m. when the Juba sun was getting warmer, even hotter, the guy started sweating. He let the sweat and placard speak for him, to show that he was serious. When you are looking for a wife there are some things you have to forgo, including public shame.
The Juba street was getting busier and noisier with bodabodas and cars competing for space. Housewives were rushing to the market to buy food or to quickly sneak into a shisha corner for a hurried puff and gossip.
“Poor man. Look! His wife ran away from him,” said one woman to another as she pointed at the bachelor standing in the sun.
The two women might have misunderstood the message around the man’s neck.
“Bisimillahi! How couldn’t his wife not run away from such a mad person,” said the other woman, casting suspicious glances at the man.
Oh, I forgot to add that the man had a stick for supporting and balancing his weight, for he knew not how long he would stand by street.
LOOKING FOR A WIFE!!!
Some teenage schoolgirls with earphones plugged to their ears laughed loudly when they read the advert hanging from the man’s neck.
“Juba is a city full wonders. You always wake up to new street drama. Couldn’t this dude search for a wife on Facebook?” One of the schoolgirls with a plastic comb stuck in her kinky hair commented sarcastically as if Facebook was in the business of auctioning wives.
From now on we shall call the guy dude.
Passersby who didn’t know how to read the placard over the dude’s chest concluded or dismissed him as another beggar or madman, only he didn’t speak or extended his hand to anyone.
As it was getting hot and he was sweating profusely and itching, the dude didn’t know how long he would be in the street. He had not factored in things like the discomfort caused by excessive heat, thirst and hunger. Would he give up the search midway?
Luckily or unluckily for him no one knew him on the street where he stood. It seemed he was not from the neighbourhood.
He stood rooted to one spot. He was getting tired, then he remembered to pray.
He closed his eyes behind the dark sunglasses and prayed like this:
“Dear God, giver of things good. Loving Father, I’m looking for wife material. A wife who will love me with all her heart and soul. God give me a good wife. God don’t give me a wife whose lips are red from drinking alcohol. Please God don’t give me a wife who smokes shisha. Shisha is bad! Also God don’t give me a quarrelsome wife. And, oh God, I fear women whose eyes look tuleng-tuleng, for they are tempting. I want a wife who will give me peace of mind….”
While the dude was praying and sweating a woman drove by. She saw him and read the bold writings. She stepped on the brake pedal and the car stopped. She jumped out of the car. She was wearing a loose trouser. She was also wearing dark sunglasses. Her fulsome lips were painted with maroon lipstick. She had bangles and a rich wristwatch. Wait a minute, she told herself as she slowly walked towards the dude.
LOOKING FOR A WIFE!!!
She read the placard and smiled. Com’on, she nearly laughed as she adjusted her pregnant handbag. She fished out a new smartphone which look as if it was fresh from Dubai. The woman looked like someone who was in the region of early 40s. In ‘perfect condition’. Powerful! And loaded to boot!
As she approached the dude gingerly, she reached for a pen in her bag which looked like an overfed bush rat. The dude’s lips were still moving in prayer.
The woman turned the placard on the dude’s chest and wrote something. She then stood by the dude’s side, placed her hand on the dude’s shoulder and with the other had she took a quick selfie on her smartphone.
The dude finished praying when he sensed he was surrounded with expensive perfume. He turned his head and dark sunglasses greeted dark sunglasses and broad smile.
The woman grabbed the dude’s hand and led him to her Range Rover car, leather seats and all that. Powerful. She thought he was visually impaired. He removed his sunglasses and there his smiling eyes entered the car. The woman showed him the photo she took with him. The dude was happily excited to read the new writing on the placard he was wearing: