“All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”
You see dating in those days was very different to what it is now. There were no cinemas to go to, no social media to connect on, so everything was literally ‘hands on’. It was quite simple actually and much more personal I think. A man who wanted a girl had to be quite the hunter. It could involve lots of travelling, not by car or taxi no. On foot or if he is quite sophisticated he would ride on his bicycle or his father’s or uncle’s, what does it matter, as long as it got the job done. But most girls would probably stay away from the latter, he was obviously a hit and who wanted a man who was the envy of the whole village? And that notion was not that far-fetched, these ones usually turned out to be quite the players. Because they had means to travel they could have a girl in every village within their reach. I knew a special group of ‘preachers’, they traveled from village to village, setting up camp as they went. Possibly because of the fascination by their preaching or dancing skills, they were a hit with the girls. Having most of their meetings in the evening when everyone was back from the fields certainly didn’t help matters. Whenever the ‘preacher’wanted someone to read scripture, he would pick on a girl – she would be the one. Nothing serious there, just a by-the-way.
On a serious note, even just the process of getting a girl to agree to be your girlfriend was quite a mission. It usually happened somewhere in the bush under a tree, you could just tell from the aftermath that this was no laughing matter. Because of the intensity of the conversation going on between boy and girl, the poor tree suffered. All the lower branches would be left without a leaf left on and even the ground where the girl is standing the grass would be gone! Reason being, there would be nowhere to look, so the girl needs to find something to do, she would draw on the ground with her big toe (obviously she wouldn’t be wearing shoes, what for? Its not like its Christmas!) and at the same time playing with the leaves. If the boy is shy too, he could also join in plucking the leaves.
You see this would go on for days and even months before the girl said yes. But a good hunter(boy) would be able to tell if its ever going to happen or not. If she told him when next she would be coming around that same area, its promising. If she doesn’t, the braver one will keep coming for days on end hoping to meet her the less brave one would cut his losses and move on. Or he could now make a habit of passing by her homestead, whistling away without a care in the world (hahaha of course with all the care in the world). She could respond to the whistling by coming out on the pretext of going to fetch water or firewood, and she would probably take the opposite direction to where is’going’. This obviously is to throw anyone watching off the scent, she is also pretending she didn’t notice him. That would be a good sign for him.
If he has really made an impression she would tell him when she would be coming around the same area to fetch firewood again. He would go home humming happy song. Like a true gentleman he would get to that spot before her, and gather the firewood for her. By the time she arrives, the work has been done, so there is plenty of time to talk or rather to attack another tree or the same if there is anything left of it. Usually they go to the same tree, its like unconsciously creating memories. That tree would forever become a source of joy should things work out for the pair. If they don’t that tree maybe short-lived, it could just become someone’s firewood soon. In those days the girl would insist on collecting firewood alone even when they always go in teams. To avoid being questioned she may start pulling a little disappearing act and coming back with firewood. Unbeknown to her, the elders would see right through her, there are a few give aways.
They would notice how suddenly the quality of the firewood she brings is very high. There are different kinds, women, especially young girls can really only bring ‘sticks’ but when its a man, its heavy logs cut up neatly, which is almost impossible for her to collect by herself. Otherwise they might notice a change of character when she goes to particular place, like wearing shoes for example or wearing the dress she would normally only wear to church or to a wedding. That would be total give away.
If she has come of age the elders would be happy about this development, if she is still too young, such firewood could invite a good hiding and a complete ban to ever going anywhere alone. Even if its not collect firewood. But that’s fine, where there is a will there is a way ‘right? She may rope in a partner in her crime, she can now explain the situation to a trusted family member, maybe an aunt or a sibling (not the young ones who can easily blab away) who would now pretend to always accompany her wherever she goes. Except the aunt would probably go visit a friend while she goes gallivanting. She would do this in return for small favours. Even if he hasn’t got the girl yet, he must still pay, its only good manners and it shows what kind of man he would be for his ‘girl’. If he is a man of means a 300ml Coke would be fine, if he isn’t a man of means, then he could just add another pile of firewood for the aunt. Depending on what he had, that he will bring to the table, if he is a fisherman, some people would be eating fish looong after everyone has gone to bed. If he is a butcher, there’ll be lots of meat to go around all in the dead of night.
So this is what he would look out for to see if there is any hope for him.
- She said she would come and she came.
- She made an effort on her appearance second time around.
- When he was ‘whistling by’, she heard it and she came out pretending not to see you.
- subsequently she came to meet with you in the company of a family member, it means she is willing to take the risks.
But hey. it may still be a few months before the answer becomes an absolute yes. Its fine, it means she is a good girl, she has been raised well……….
We’ll see what happened when she finally agreed…………………