Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
How did you meet?
Tunde: Our mums hooked us up.
Tumi: They’re childhood best friends, but his mum moved to the US in the 90s. I’d always known about him vaguely.
Tunde: My mum showed me photos of her once or twice. But we finally met when I came to Nigeria for the first time in October 2018. My brother was getting married, and his babe’s family was in Nigeria. I met Tumi at this wedding.
Tumi: During the weeks leading up to his arrival, my mum kept telling me how I had to meet him, and we’d be so good together. She even told me that when she and her friend gave birth to us around the same time, they promised each other we’d get married. Of course, I rolled my eyes.
Tunde: My mum didn’t go that far, but she definitely wanted us to get together. When I finally met Tumi, I was so over the pressure from my mum that I didn’t really try to get to know her.
Tumi: Three months later, we were married.
Please, tell us what magic occurred
Tunde: I ended up staying in Nigeria longer than the one month my family had planned because of some personal issues. We stayed in my father’s family house, and it was this big, comfortable estate, so Tumi’s mum would come over a lot. She practically lived with us during that time.
Tumi: My dad had recently died, and I was their only child, so my mum really leaned on her old friend for emotional support. That meant I was almost always in their house too when I wasn’t at work or staying over with my friends. He was always out and about, which meant we practically lived together but never actually saw. Meanwhile, our mums were each planting seeds of us being together in our heads.
Tunde: That’s an accurate way to put it, “planting seeds”. I just realised one day that I wasn’t opposed to the idea anymore. It’d been said to me enough times that it started to seem like my idea. So I started watching Tumi from afar and realised she was actually a good catch.
Tumi: Besides the regular pleasantries when we saw, we weren’t really friends, but our mothers’ almost sisterhood was so infectious it gave us a kind of bond, I think.
When did you realise you liked or even loved each other?
Tunde: About a month in, I started really seeing her and realised I could’ve been attracted to her without this pressure from our mums.
Watching her in our living room as I passed by, or as we crossed paths in the front yard, her personality always made me smile. She can be hotheaded, but she’s adorable when she’s angry. You can’t cheat or disrespect Tumi. She won’t take it even for a second; she’ll change it for you immediately and in an intelligent way. I really like that about her.
Tumi: I think around that time, I noticed he was getting less aloof around me. We still only did pleasantries but he was noticeably warmer. I admired how reserved he was though.
I’ve always liked a man who isn’t necessarily arrogant but also doesn’t talk too much. Our mothers aside, he was a good spec based on all the things I liked in a man. Well, the superficial things. We didn’t really get to know each other until much later.
Before or after the sharp wedding?
Tumi: LOL. Both.
Tunde: We’re still getting to know each other right now. It’s not something that has to happen at a specific period. But sometime in the second month, November, I decided I wanted to marry her. I wanted it, and I knew it would make my mum happy.
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Sounds like a huge thing to just decide like that
Tunde: I know. But I didn’t really want to deep it. I kinda liked this girl and both our parents wanted us to get married, so why not? I was young, but I was doing pretty well as a remote coder for a tech company in Cali. I couldn’t really think why not? It wasn’t like I’d been in any serious relationships ever, and I couldn’t be bothered to date.
Tumi: I’d had one serious boyfriend before we married. We dated for four years and it ended terribly, so I was sore from that. I hadn’t dated in several months before Tunde came into my life, and I was meeting many frogs at the time.
When he jokingly asked me, “What if we just get married?” one day in his mum’s kitchen, I thought he was crazy, but I didn’t hate the idea at the same time.
But you barely knew him
Tumi: I know it sounds crazy. But I dated my ex for four years. Still, after our breakup, I felt like I never really knew him.
Tunde: I can’t really explain it, but it felt like we’d known each other forever because of our mums. She felt so familiar, and as we warmed up to each other, it started to feel like home when I was around her.
At some point, when I stepped outside my room after a long virtual work day or got back home from whatever elongated trip I went on with relatives I was getting to know, I’d immediately want her to be around just to feel her presence. Anytime I discovered she wasn’t there with her mum, I’d feel a little sad.
Tumi: I was completely ignorant of this because he never actually asked about me. He’d just use his eyes to look for me. If he sees me, he’d greet me and ask how I was.
So what happened in the kitchen that day?
Tumi: Our mums had gone out. For the first time, I had to stay back at their place without my mum. It was a Saturday, but I had some urgent work to do on my laptop and didn’t want to waste time on transit getting home before doing it. And surprise surprise, he actually came down from his domain to see what the mere mortals were up to. That was the first time we had a proper conversation after almost two months of meeting.
Tunde: I needed a break from my screen to stretch my legs and eyes, so I came downstairs and froze when I saw her in the living room. No one was home. My siblings had gone back to the US by then. I only stayed back to keep my mum company and enjoy Lagos during the famous Detty December because I worked remotely. Everywhere was quiet and she looked so pretty from behind, focused on work, I knew I had to talk to her.
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Tumi: It was a little chat. He asked about my work. I answered and took the opportunity to ask about his because I’d been so curious. I mean, this was 2018. Remote work wasn’t really a thing then. I won’t lie; a part of me thought he was doing yahoo.
Tumi: I told him our mums had gone out together, and we joked about their obsession with each other. I told him I really admired it actually and was jealous I didn’t have something like that. He was quiet for a bit, then he said the thing about us getting married and seeing if they were right about us being a perfect match.
Tunde: It just came out, but as soon as it did, I wanted it to happen. I wanted to marry her.
And that happened one month later, how, please?
Tumi: It was a joke until it wasn’t. I think it was the Americana in him that rubbed off on me. Like, after that talk, I thought for sure he wasn’t serious. But then the next day, he showed me a ring he was considering ordering off Instagram, and would I say yes if he did? We didn’t even have each other’s phone numbers at this point. It was crazy.
Tunde: I was just sure all of a sudden. I mean, it wasn’t a do-or-die thing. If the marriage didn’t work out, we’d divorce. My thinking was worst-case scenario, we’d last five years, and it would be a fun adventure. I knew enough about her character to know nothing particularly bad would happen. Maybe if our mums weren’t so obsessed with the idea, I wouldn’t have been thinking about a wedding off the bat, but really, why not?
Tumi: Crazy, crazy, crazy. The fact that I went along with the craze is a testament to how much I was already liking him before that. And like he said, our mums were a huge factor. I wouldn’t have just agreed with a complete stranger. Definitely not.
How did your mums and Tunde’s dad take the news?
Tunde: We told everyone some days later, and they were shocked.
Tumi: My mum was like, “Ahn ahn. Ahn ahn. When did everything happen without me knowing? So you were just allowing me talk. Meanwhile, you’ve gone behind to do jigi jaga”.
Tunde: My mum actually called me back to make sure her “too much talk” didn’t put undue pressure on me. I was like, “Too late, Mama.” They were all just concerned we were talking marriage right away instead of just revealing we’d decided to date or something. But underneath the disguise, our mums at least, were beyond excited. It was good to see.
Tumi: My friends were harder to convince. Besides my best friend, the rest were convinced I was making a huge mistake. What if he’s abusive? What if there’s something diabolical going on? It was a lot. My bestie encouraged me to sha follow my heart but use my head. My head had already turned because I was painfully attracted to him by this point and his conviction about the whole thing was contagious.
Tunde: Nah. My friends were excited to meet the woman who got me to propose in such a short period. They were totally rooting for me because they thought I was head over heels, which I guess I was.
So tell me about the wedding. Don’t preparations last six months, at least?
Tumi: We didn’t want any of that.
This was kind of an experiment — though one made out of love — so we weren’t trying to go the whole Nigerian festival route. Once we agreed we wanted to do this, we started talking logistics. He lives in the US, and I’d never lived outside Lagos before. Thankfully, I had a British passport from being born there, so it was easy to make the decision for me to move in with him in San Fransisco.
My career was the major bane of the whole plan. I had to be sure I wanted to quit and be dependent on him until I found a job here. And there was a huge possibility I never would, knowing the US immigrant climate, especially being a marketer. It was a huge decision to make for an experiment.
Tunde: I recognised that and urged her to consider it deeply. No pressure.
Tumi: I now run an online retail store, so that worked out fine.
We moved in the middle of January 2019 and had a civil wedding in the beautiful SF city hall. That place is so gorgeous.
Tunde: My parents and her mum attended with all my friends, but they still did an engagement party without us in Lagos. They sent photos of the chaotic thing.
And how has the experiment been so far?
Tumi: Pretty good. We’re good friends and lovers now, and it honestly doesn’t matter that we chose not to overthink things going in.
Tunde: Pretty much. I don’t think we’re missing anything. We created a foundation of not taking things too seriously, and that’s helped a lot. We’re both responsible adults, so of course, we plan things like bills and spending thoroughly. We have kids now, right?
Besides being clear about finances, everything goes.
How would y’all rate your Love Life on a scale of 1 to 10?
Tumi: 10 is perfect, right? So 9.
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