They found empty seats in the middle of the hall and sat down. Jane watched with keenness the proceedings of the wedding . She felt butterflies in her stomach when Uncle Davou entered hand in hand with Rahila . She looked more pleasant than Jane had imagined her to be . Her white wedding gown sparkled with fluorescence and her steps were measured and calculated with the sort of magnificence the Queen of England would walk with . The sleeves of the wedding gown reached to her wrists , the gown itself was tight fitting and it exposed her cle-vages – typical of modern wedding gowns . The veil on her head had golden fastenings and behind the veil her fair beautiful face radiated.
Like a dream unfolding , the wedding played before her misty eyes. She could not suppress herself from feeling lachrymose . Her thoughts wandered to Lafia and back to the wedding .
“We don ’ t need a big wedding , just something small . ” She remembered saying to Pamshak . “ I just want us to be married formally” .
“Yes , big weddings are a total waste of money, it’ s only a show off . We will have a court wedding . ”
“A court wedding ? I was thinking we should first have a church wedding . ”
Pamshak sniggered sarcastically , “a church wedding ? Who will agree to wed us both in church? No such thing as holy wedlock for us babe. . ”
It was soon time for the vows to be taken . The tall priest with his black soutane spoke the nuptial oaths while they repeated after him , each when it was his or her turn . It was then Jane took notice of her cousin -in law. He was light skinned , not like his bride was , but his complexion resembled that of Easterners . He was tall and huge , one would be tempted to say he was plump , but chubby would be the right adjective. He had a round face and a neatly trimmed beard . His hair was clipped short and he had big eyeballs that roamed the room like The All Seeing Eyes . He reminded Jane of Emeka, her classmate in Secondary school who gave her a hærd time . She soon found that her regretful thoughts had transcended to admiration .
“Is he from this state?” She asked her mother.
Her mother looked from the podium to her programme. “ No” , came her curt reply .
Jane carefully collected the program and studied it. Rachel was holding Isaac who was still engrossed with his chocolate bars. She read the names on the programme , The Family of Paul Davou Dung and Anthony Ezekwelisi Okorokwo … Rahila Cynthia Dung and Lancelot Okafor Okorokwo . So her guess was right after all, he was from the east . She tried to guess again how both of them had met, he was one the patients she had treated in Airforce Hospital, he was rich and was the CEO of a big company , he had fallen in love with her after she had taken care of him in the hospital and they had exchanged numbers after which communication between them had become serious , blah blah blah , then he proposed marriage to her during one of their dates at Ostrich Bakery . She had said yes and back where her friends were she flashed the diamond engagement ring before their eyes while they looked on with envy . Why did ladies wish for their own weddings so much ?
The church wedding soon ended shortly after Rahila and Lancelot were pronounced man and wife . The congregation had made a loud exhilarating sound to cheer them . Jane had expected the k-ssing part , the interlocking of their l-ips to produce a beautiful chuck sound , unfortunately k-ssing was not a part of the church’ s rules . They proceeded outside the church for the wedding pictures.
Outside the church , the newly wedded couple comported themselves like celebrities , everyone was trying to hug them , shake hands with them or take pictures with them while they stood wearing smiles as if all the noise , shuffling and racket made no difference to them . Their hands were clasped and a lot of people had gathered around them to take a picture .
“The Couple and the Dung family !” The photographer announced; aunts, uncles , first cousins and second cousins that Jane had forgotten about gathered round .
Esther pulled at her , “ Let ’ s go snap ” .
Jane was nervous, what will she say to Rahila? They had never really been close cousins and now with her marriage she felt they were further alienated . Their eyes finally met .
“Congrats Sister ” , Jane said to her before she would take off her eyes .
Rahila looked at her like she did not recognize her. Jane’ s mother came to her rescue . “Rahila , this is your cousin Jane, remember ? She came to stay in your house one holiday in 2011 ”.
There was a lot of clatter and shoving but the bride managed to smile and hug Jane. “ You look big now, I heard you were back , doo , happy to see you . ”
Jane smiled broadly , she had not expected a warm hug from her cousin and the thought of a hug from her majestic cousin who acted when they had been together like the world was in her palm , sent those pleasurable electric shocks to her brain . Her cousin was a good lady , no doubt , she was only raised up to believe she was royalty.
“Say CHEESE ”, the photographer said and the camera clicked .
Jane felt all of a sudden her world was missing , “Isaac !” She shrieked .
“Mummy ”, her two year old smiling son with a mouth stained with chocolate answered from behind . He was being held by one of her male relative whose relationsh¡p she could not quite understand. “ My
Uncle Daddy carry me ”.
“Hi Pretty” , Haruna said .
“Hello Haruna, where did you meet this one?”
“Your cousin Rachel handed him over to me , she has gone to meet one of her boyfriends who came for the wedding . You look good . ”
“Thanks, you don ’ t look bad yourself ” .
He did not . He was wearing a black blazer with a white shirt and a white trouser to match. He had black and white designer shoes on and wore black sunshades .
“I ’ m glad to see you Jane . ”
They stood quietly facing each other thinking of something else to say . Isaac observed the awkwardness and decided to say something .
“Daddy , my Gwanny give me chocoyate and I eat it”.
Jane sighed abashed . She had scolded and even beat Isaac several times to dissuade him from calling men who came close to her Daddy , he did not seem to know that it embarrassed her every time . Haruna did not seem to mind . “Really , where did you put the rest? You ate them all ? Don ’ t you know it will give you stomach ache ?”
They walked to the venue of the reception . It was a vast field that had a nicely cut lawn and a shrubbery of trees – neem trees providing little shade, frangipanis with creamy flowers and cashew tress with places to sit on .
“The last time we saw , you were through with your SSCE exams and had come to spend the weekend at my aunt ’s place ” . Haruna said .
“Yes ”, she answered and tried to remember exactly how both of them were related . She had seen him many occasions with Aunt Regina, her late father’ s first cousin , but she could not quite place him in the family .
“What about Isaac ’ s real dad ? Where is he now?” He asked .
“In Lafia I guess. ”
“Have you thought about what you will do if he comes back for you ?”
“Come back for me ? He dare not . If he tries to harass me I will report him to the police . ”
Haruna fixed his gaze on her so that she found herself wondering if it was the proper thing to do . He digressed from the topic and asked her what she planned to study in the University .
“Medicine if I have my way . ”
“Medicine is too stressful . ”
“Is there a course in this world that is not stressful ?”
He laughed , a deep cackle like the shifting of metals. “Medicine is stressful like no man ’ s business , many students get withdrawn on the way . If your passion is not truly on medicine , I advise you to pick another course that you will be able to cope with . ”
Jane fell silent and thought about what he had said . Medicine or Nursing had been the course her aunt wanted her to study saying it suited her since she was neat and smart . She had not really reflected on her passion for the course. They got to third canopy that had been set up , it was coloured gold and white and BECKY ’ S EVENTS was written broadly on it. The ushers were busy arranging the chairs . Some of them were setting up the table for the cake while others were still decorating the couple ’s stage with pink , white and gold embroidery .
They sat in the front row. Jane felt free now that she was not being disturbed and irritated by Isaac . He felt happy and at ease in the arms of Haruna who was carrying him for the first time . Haruna, after admiring the ambiance of the reception , broached into chatting about his own course of study in the University . He told her he was studying English Language in the University of Jos. His best poet was Dennis Osadebay , he argued with her that no other Nigerian poet surpassed him , not even Soyinka . He asked what books she read for pleasure. She told him she read novels mostly by female writers : Buchi Emecheta was on the list , including Flora Nwapa , Zainab Alkali , Bessie Head and Chimamanda Adichie .
To be continued
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