The decorations were stunning. My mom had started trying out a latent passion of hers a couple of years back; interior decorating and event planning. But I’d never seen the overall effect of anything she had done.
Today I was going to. Patrick and Bunmi had hired her. The doors were shut and the lights switched off. There were long ropes of tiny silver twinkling lights providing minimal illumination. At least that’s what I could see from the picture my brother sent me.
However, when the wedding party of which I was a part, danced into the reception venue, electric sparklers went off and the lights in the hall were switched on.
And we danced. And danced. As the Chief Bridesmaid a lot of eyes and videos were on me, and a lot of people who did not know me from Adam or Eve would add commentary no one had asked for. “You don’t know how to dance”.
” Look at the bride, she is even dancing better than you”
“You think you’re still a baby? Don’t be looking for husband. Stay there”
I was tired. I was hungry. And when I heard that last statement, I was officially done. I looked around and spotting the table where the bridesmaids and groomsmen were supposed to sit, I made my way there. Within minutes, Amara came over to join me. Soon Bunmi and Patrick started kissing and tables began to fill up. The dance was unofficially over.
Amara’s husband came over to join us.
I raised my eyebrows, “Daniel, I was not informed. When did you become a bridesmaid?”
“Since my wife decided to sit at this table.”
I roll my eyes. “I presume you guys will start sucking oranges now?”
“It’s mango season actually”, Amara chirps in.
The appetizers arrive and I take a plate of small chops and another plate of asun.
“Does she seem hungry to you? Or is it just me?”
“Actually, she seems angry to me”
“Hangry”, they chorus. I roll my eyes.
“Can you take your cuteness somewhere else for a little bit? This asun is not going to chew itself”
Amara snatches my plate and I shrug and carry the small chops instead. “Why are you hangry? Tell us”
“Well, I’m hungry because you threatened to murder me if I ruined my perfectly applied lipstick before the ceremony and I’m angry because in this country, the second people can’t ask you how school is anymore, they want to ask you how marriage is. You keep asking me why I need to travel so much. That’s why.”
Amara comes over to sit beside me, “I’m sorry. None of us ever meant to pressure you into anything. I just wanted you to stay home. I wanted all three of us to be able to go out dancing. For our kids not to be able to differentiate between us because we would be so close. Since Iris died, you’ve locked yourself off from this family and we worried about you for a long time. Do you know, while Daniel and I were dating I dragged him to a night vigil…”
“You went to a night vigil?”
“Yes. I dragged him to a night vigil with the theme, Let my blessing stay. But you didn’t.”
“Well, my name is not Blessing”
“Your middle name is Ngozi. Same thing”
“Thank you for worrying about me. Really. But I’m not a child anymore.”
“I know. But I still see you as one sometimes. Remember the first time you made jollof rice?”
We laugh. “I always wonder how you guys ate that rice without cursing me”
“We ate it because we loved you. We still do. And nagging you to stay home might not work but remember how I told you that one day your jollof rice would be better than mine? Well, one day you will stay home for a full year and wonder why you travelled so much.”
She rolls her eyes. I give her a side hug and spear a piece of asun.
“So Awesome Amara, when were you planning on telling the family about your pregnancy?”
And Daniel begins to choke.
At the reception, after the dancing, Patrick remembered that he forgot his phone at the church so I went back for it. By the time I got back, the table for the groomsmen and bridesmaids was full, Ebube was with Amara and they were both laughing at something and the waiters were bringing out the second course. I’d really wanted a plate of asun or nkwobi. The things we do for our friends.
I spot my father and my sister at a nearby table and there’s a free seat next to Steph.
So I slide into it. “Wedding’s over. I’m ready to hear about my new brother in-law. You said you’ve been dating for 3 days?”
“Let me eat first. I’m not ready to talk about anything right now. The abacha is calling me.”
“But if we don’t talk, I’ll be bored!”
“Go and talk to your girlfriend. See her there”
“She’s not my girlfriend.”
“You’re sure? You’re really sure?”
“Just eat your abacha and leave me alone.”
“Thought so myself”
She got her food and started eating and I went to the buffet to fill my plate.
Then before dessert, Patrick took a microphone and began singing to Bunmi. When I heard the song, I started laughing. Not many people knew Bunmi’s middle name and it honored Patrick’s long time love of animated movies.
“Look how she lights up the sky
Ma Belle Evangeline
So far above me, yet I
Know her heart belongs to only me
Je t’adore, je t’aime
You’re my queen of the night sky
So still, so bright
Someone as beautiful as she
Could love someone like me
Love always finds a way, it’s true
I love you, Evangeline”
The applause was thunderous and I sneak a look over at Ebube.
Patrick and Bunmi had had a rocky start at first. Bunmi was very quiet, very introverted and Patrick was not. But after they had been going out for a month, Patrick called me.
“I know who I want to get married to. She doesn’t realize it yet. But one day I’m going to marry her and we’re going to be insanely happy. Watch.”
I’d thought of sharing that tidbit in my Best Man toast but it felt wrong. And way too personal to be in a public speech.
The couple is dancing now. After the first song which was for them only, my dad stands up and pulls my sister into his arms. I think of going to dance with Ebube but I see that she’s dancing with Tega. When the song ends, my dad and Tega switch partners and I go to ask Bunmi for a favour.
After I’m done dancing with Boma’s father, I want to sit down but Tega apparently wants to dance with me again.
Then I hear the distinctive opening theme of the Freshlyground song; Pot Belly and I remember a promise I’d made to Boma. And just as I’m looking around the hall for him, he taps Tega and smoothly cuts in.
“Smooth. Very smooth.”
“Thank you. I wanted to talk to you. Honestly. And leave all my cards on the table and completely up to you”
“The first time I saw you, at your mom’s wedding, I developed a crush on you. It lasted for a long time and when I saw you in church that day, it was fortuitous and I was happy we would have a real conversation. Then, when you agreed to go out with me, I was over the moon.
I never wanted you to travel. But it wasn’t my place to tell you not to go. I didn’t want to be that person. So I watched you go. And we began a sorta kinda relationship.
But here’s the thing. I don’t want a sorta kinda relationship with you. From the first day I met you, I wanted a proper relationship with you. I want to have impromptu movie dates, to laugh with you, cry with you, comfort you, pray with you. I want to listen to your problems and have you listen to mine. You said it’s okay but I know that you’re still upset that I asked if Morayo had a boyfriend. I’m sorry about that. Truly. I was only trying to make you jealous. Very stupid of me. You don’t like getting angry. You would hate to get jealous. So you won’t do it.
But this is the issue; I’m currently on the verge of falling in love with you. I’m not going to let myself fall if I’m going to be falling alone. And I’m not going to ask you either. This time, I’m leaving everything in your hands.”
By the time the song is over, I’ve said everything I planned to say and I make to walk away. She lets me walk. And now she’s dancing with Tega again. I guess I have my answer.
I still need to give the Best Man toast but the wedding has lost all its colour for me.
Then she sits beside me.
“I’ve been thinking myself. I’ve volunteered for a lot of different online organizations for many countries. I’ve been thinking of setting up one in Lagos. I could take a job as a psychologist in a private hospital. My friend has been asking me to come and join her for years.
I could help you get your company off the ground. And I really want to be here when Amara gives birth to my godson or goddaughter. The point is, I want to try.”
“Is that all you’re going to say?”
“Yes. I don’t hear a question. What else do you want me to say?”
“Boma, will you go out with me? I promise to buy you 2 bowls of nkwobi if you do”
“Let me think about it. It’s time for the toast”
She rolls her eyes at me.
I give her a kiss on the mouth. “Sometimes, there’s no reason to talk to communicate. I expect you to come over to my house tomorrow. And Ebube, don’t bring Tega.”
Song lyrics: Ma Belle Evangeline by Jim Cummings (the Princess and the Frog)
http://optimisticnigerian.com/2016/04/12/the-11th-commandments-a-wifes-guide/- Hint: she was being sarcastic.
A couple of weeks back, I read a sad story in Sunday Punch. An alleged misdiagnoses means that the initial problem is now exacerbated. The account details are in the above image.