December 30, 2017, was the day for the surprise Birthday Party. Not taking chances, and ensuring that things were done properly, he asked Chiemeka, his wife, the time she would leave for it. “12 noon,” she replied. “12 noon ke? No, you have to leave at 8 am,” he said, insisting that everything about the ceremony must be done properly. She thanked God as everything was working-out according to her plan.
That was Willy Uduma’s 40th birthday. A two-time dad of twins. Unknown to him, he was helping in its planning and execution! Chiemeka started the planning three years ago, which entailed, making the budget and saving for it. She used people, friends and key family members, including George, her brother-in-law. A good singer and twice the mum of twins, she could not explain how she lost her voice, making her to go for voice training amidst Willy’s teasing, not knowing that he would be the beneficiary during his birthday.
Chiemeka reached an agreement with Bro. Peter, their family friend, about the birthday party. Uncle approached Willy, pretending that he needed his help in planning a surprise birthday dinner for his [Peter’s] wife. Having bought the dummy, Willy brought Chiemeka into the picture. Some people are full of envy and will not wish the best for other people. Not Willy! He even chose the dress she would wear that auspicious day. Had he, out of envy, worked surreptitiously towards the failure of the party, he would have ruined his own birthday. Not only did he invest his best towards its success, he insisted that Chiemeka did the same.
To put Willy in the shadow, she organized, in their house, a mini-birthday party on December 26, the date he was born. It was tainted with surprises. He and his family had spent a night before that day with Kelechi, his brother-in-law, and left midday for his house, after visiting his parents-in-law. Road Safety officers, as if on a mission to ruin the birthday, wanted to delay them but failed. One wonders if an armed robbery gang could be in a jeep with a lady––Chiemeka, on the steering, her mum by her side, an elderly man [me] who would soon be 77 sitting behind with Willy and their four children, none of whom is above four years! Immediately we arrived at their residence, he was surprised by the birthday song from brethren and some family members planted there. “Happy Birthday to you,” they sang. We settled down for lunch and the cutting of the cake. Nothing that is done at birthday parties was lacking, the difference could be on magnitude.
For the birthday boy not to have access to any information about it, Chiemeka deleted all messages relating to the party from her phone. On December 30, the day the Party was taking place, she tactfully left home with his phone and hers. He was to see it as a mistake. That was to avoid last minutes’ hitches, which could be made through calls.
Wearing a casual dress and arriving at the venue, Frankids, 5th Avenue, W Close, Festac Town, to assess the progress made towards the red-tie event, he was surprised when the air was rent by the people there with, “Happy Birthday to you…” He protested, assuring them of their apparent mistake. “It’s not for me, it’s for Mrs. Peter,” he protested. Nobody listened to him. The jungle had matured. He had been well caught in the web as planned, a planning that took time, money, effort and brain. Having no choice, he succumbed. Not a caftan man, his next surprise was that he was given the type of dress he would have worn, had he made the choice: a coloured, well-sewed-English coat!
When he came out to cut his cake, something precious beside him was missing and in broad daylight––his wife! Cecil Rhodes, an English poet, crafted how Columbus, during a rough voyage, cried, “If East or West, I know not, if North or South, the lane…” For sure, Willy knew it was not the rapture since he was still around! He heard later the melodious voice of his wife, microphone in hand, singing and walking towards him. Her song rent the air and held the audience spellbound in a manner that could send bachelors out on marriage spree for pastors’ daughters like Chiemeka, and more so, if their parents are also SU! And that was only a tip of the iceberg, the fruit of the voice lesson she attended!
The compere narrated how his dad fainted during a surprise birthday for him. It took time and effort to revive him! Thank God that Wilfred did not faint and did not need to be revived. Appreciating the success, people have been meeting Chiemeka to plan a similar birthday for them.
Willy was identified as a humble man and he really is. My wife and I testified that he is not our son-in-law but our son. Once, he pleaded with us not to be angry about a decision he wanted to take concerning someone living with us. It is only a son that could do that. I also testified how he passed our test that made him marry Chiemeka. When he approached us, my wife asked him what he knew to be her fault and he told us. It is an honest man, who could confess that. “Go and marry her,” we echoed. Our daughter has continued to testify that he loves her. We cannot forget how he and his mother, who has gone into glory, continued to love and cherish her, for the seven years she waited for children. A lady testified that he could be tough. Fine! It is a good testimony for a husband and a dad. Someone said that he started early to be responsible, making the man to overstretch Willy’s age.
We appreciate Chiemeka for remembering her spouse as God did to Noah and thus conceived the idea of the birthday. Yes, I cherish it much, when someone remembers me. I value it more than what I am given. It is a different story, when remembrance is combined with value like the elaborate birthday bash she organized and sponsored for him. The compere, Chikancy, was brought all the way from Benin. Ego! The food was on high level. The large and mounted photographs and hotel bill. Kudi! People ate what they wanted. For me, it was my favourite––continental! Owo!
In as much as I love surprised packages, may it not however, be done by telling lies. The surprise, shown in the magnitude of what is done, is good enough. It is usual for some of us to be called, ‘Old School’, and I do not mind it. It seems that ‘birthday gifts’ have joined also the queue of ‘Old School’, for I did not see any. My God! I still have unsewed fabrics I was given during my 70th birthday seven years ago!
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