Chapter Eleven of Bayo Adebowale’s Lonely Days narrates the process of Yaremi’s potential remarriage through a traditional ceremony known as the cap-picking ceremony. This chapter navigates the clash between cultural norms and individual desires.
This chapter of Lonely Days opens with the cap-picking ceremony, a communal tradition that determines Yaremi’s next marriage. Three suitors, Ayanwale, Olonade, and Lanwa, have been chosen by the Kufi community for her to select from.
The cap-picking process is designed to facilitate re-marriage without considering the element of love as a necessary prerequisite. The Kufi community’s adherence to this tradition showcases the disconnect between cultural norms and personal feelings.
Yaremi’s refusal to re-marry has garnered the attention of three erstwhile widows (Radeke, Fayoyin, and Dedewe) who, based on their own experiences, plead with her to embrace tradition and find fulfillment through companionship. The widows argue that a woman’s happiness and completeness can only be achieved through the presence of a man. This cultural belief reflects the societal perspective that a woman’s identity is intrinsically tied to her role as a wife and mother.
However, the situation becomes more complicated as Yaremi rejects all three suitors. She has rejected them before in the previous chapters and only rejects them formally this time around.
Notwithstanding the societal pressure and cultural expectations, Yaremi remains steadfast in her refusal. Her open rebellion illustrates her deep-seated belief in the sacredness of love as the foundation of a successful marriage.
Yaremi’s declaration that the suitors’ caps represent animals like monkey, chimpanzee, and gorilla reflects her disdain for the process and the societal expectations it represents.
Her rejection of the caps serves as a symbolic rejection of the very notion that a widow’s remarriage should be driven solely by tradition and necessity.
In the end, Yaremi walks out of the ceremony and returns home. This shows her resolve to resist conforming to societal norms at the expense of her own happiness.
Chapter Eleven of Lonely Days thus highlights the tension between cultural expectations and the individual’s right to determine their own path, especially in matters as deeply personal as marriage.