Ndidi and Ijeoma were doing their usual Saturday grocery shopping together. Magnus was babysitting his boys. The mood was jubilant for it was their first outing since the vow renewal ceremony.
“Ndi, I need tomatoes today. Power supply has improved in our area so I want to buy in bulk”, Ijeoma was saying.
“Good. We’ll head over there then”
“Does Femi like ugba? I brought some for you guys. Magnus’ mom gave it to me”
“Magnus’ mom? You are now on speaking terms?”, Ndidi wondered.
“I’m surprised O! Since he placed her on an allowance, she has been coveting my friendship. I thought it would be otherwise but, she seems to think it wise to make me an ally”, Ijeoma replied.
“Of course! She realizes who holds her son’s heart now”
“The son they are struggling over, how much does he have? If this his firm flops, we will go back to the days I had to cop out money for his expenses”, Ijeoma sniggered.
Ndidi pulled her into an empty stall. “Ij, I’ve been meaning to tell you this”
“I don’t like the way you speak about your husband”
“You have a negative tone. It has spiritual repercussions. The bible says what you sow you will reap. You have to change the way you talk about him”, she advised.
“I’m just being honest”
“No, you are being unwise”, Ndidi disagreed. “If he wasn’t making an effort, I would understand. Not that that makes it right”
“I don’t see the big deal”
“You should nurture him, bless him, encourage him, admire him, appreciate his efforts, and support him”
“For instance, now that I spoke of him handling his mom and Chibuike, you should have said, ‘Yes, I was so proud of him for taking that step’. That is what I would do”
“But I am not you! Nne, leave me let us finish our shopping”, she shrugged her off.
“You have to take it seriously, Sis. The snake that crept into your home found a breach in the wall. And guess how it could be mended?”
“By speaking the word over your husband. That is what we were taught at Elyon. In the morning I wake up and declare ‘My husband delights in me. He is enjoying the favour of God. Only my body will excite him. He is fulfilling purpose. God is sending angels to keep him. He is blessed so he can provide for us and he is generous towards me’. By the time he wakes up, I have set the mood for a great day”, Ndidi expounded.
“Yes, O! I can’t ask Femi for anything and he will refuse. When I have handled it spiritually? No way”, Ndidi boasted.
“And I have been busy bad-mouthing my husband”, Ijeoma was remorseful.
“Today is a good day to turn a new leaf. What do you think?”
“I agree with you. Truthfully, I noticed how it pains him but, I thought it gave me control over him”,Ijeoma pursed her lips.
“Not to worry. I’ll lend you the CD of the message Pastor Amina preached on the ‘Law of Kindness’. Let’s go before the owner of the stall gets back”
They headed for the tomato stalls. Ijeoma was deep in thought, so her sister kept quiet to allow her think. The bustle of the market was loud enough to make conversation difficult in any case. Again, they had the ride home to discuss further.
“Fred, are you okay?”, his best friend Nzube, stood behind him.
He was checking out his image in the mirror and suddenly became pensive.
“Zubby, I never thought I would be doing this a second time. I don’t know how I feel”, he sighed.
“I understand”, he hugged him.
“Do I bear bad luck? Let me not cause the death of another innocent girl”
“How can you say that? Stop it!”
“Why did Daramola have to die, Zubby? Why?”, he burst into tears.
Nzube held him tight as he cried. He paid no attention to the fact that the designer suit he bought for the wedding was getting soaked. Neither did he consider that they were due to leave for the wedding service.
“She was God’s daughter over and above being your wife. He lent her to you to enjoy for a while. If he decided he needed her home, what can you say but, ‘Thanks for the years you gave us’?”, he asked.
Fred shuddered with tears.
“It’s okay, man. Stuff happens. Look at the great girl God gave you. Cheer up. Let’s go and get you married”, he pumped his shoulders and released him.
Fred nodded and went into the bathroom to freshen up. Nzube began to pray that there would be no repeat performance of what just happened. He did not know how Ekene would take it.
Ekene was through with her make up. She was taking photos with her mother, and other family members who came to Lagos for her wedding. The make up artist was still working on Miriam and Regina.
“You look lovely, dear”,Ekene’s mom cast an admiring glance at her.
“Thank you mom”, she twirled in her ivory-coloured mermaid gown.
It was fitted and sparkled with stones, and showed off her amazing figure. Her hair was styled to the left side of her head and her bouquet was made of pink roses. Music was blaring from the sitting room speakers, putting everyone in a joyous mood.
“Ada, we are proud of you”, her uncle looked up from his plate of rice to acknowledge her.
She laughed and thanked him. His wife rose from his side to dish more food for her son and daughter who were the ring bearer and little bride.
“No matter what happens, keep smiling, so that all your pictures will turn out great”, her mother advised, spinning her for another look.
“Mom! Nothing bad will happen”
“I know but, weddings are unpredictable especially in Nigeria, where crowds are uncontrollable”
“Haha! You remember Eze’s wedding, where his guests pushed down the cake while struggling for souvenirs? ”
“Haha! What of Nkechi’s own where the caterer arrived so late that guests left without eating?”
“She cried and cried”, Ekene remembered. “It’s not my portion”
“I know. Just keep your composure”
“Congrats again dear. You got a good man”
“Okwa ya?(I know right?)”
“Yes. He is the one who will buy me the car I have been hoping for”
“What? He has the money. Look at the place he took us to, to eat the other day. O si O Japanese food? (Did he call it Japanese food?)”, She shrugged.
“Nobody should be making plans with my husband’s money, please!”, Ekene pulled her ear comically.
“I hear”, her mother laughed.
Regina and Miriam made their appearance in their fuschia pink dresses. Her mom turned her attention to them. Ekene left her to fuss over them and sat on a sofa. She was not used to being the centre of attention and it honestly was getting tiring. However, marrying Fred was so worth it.
Ekene had four bridesmaids. Her sister Onyinye, Fred’s sister Debby, Regina and Miriam. They preceeded her into the church. She waited for her uncle who was to give her away. Her father had passed on years before.
“Ada, are you ready?”, he asked.
When she nodded, he lifted his arm for her to place her hand on it.
“Your home will be happy and fruitful. God has blessed you”, he whispered.
“Amen, Uncle. Thank you”, she smiled.
The music changed to the song she had requested so, she stepped forward to meet the man of her dreams, her boaz, who had wiped away her doubts and given her wings to fly. Fred grabbed her hand when she stood by him and held on for dear life. She felt his tension and understood. It was her first marriage but his second. She knew he wasn’t having second thoughts but couldn’t imagine the thoughts going through his mind. Under her breath, she prayed for God to calm him and give him inner strength.
“Fred, God has given you a woman to comfort you for the years you mourned, as promised in his word”, his pastor was saying before the joining. “Look at her. Isn’t she lovely?”
Fred nodded, holding back tears. Ekene squeezed his hand.
“You can confide in her. She knows where you are coming from and I have prepared her during our sessions. Don’t think you are alone. Did you hear me?”
Fred looked up and smiled. His pastor then led them to exchange vows and rings.
“You may kiss the bride”, he announced.
Fred rubbed his hands comically. The congregation erupted in laughter as he bent his head to claim a kiss.
Regina was listening intently during the sermon. The pastor had deviated from his topic which was “Secrets of a happy marriage”, to talk about something else. Somehow, it seemed he was talking directly to her. No matter how she tried to ignore the prompting, she couldn’t. It was like the heat of a flame you couldn’t get away from. On instinct, she used the wedding programme to fan herself.
“Are you okay?”, Miriam whispered.
“I asked if you are okay?”
“As freezing cold as this church is, with all the air conditioning, you are fanning yourself?”, Miriam raised a brow.
“O! Never mind”, she turned back to the pastor.
Ijeoma was headed to Abuja for a conference. She would be away for three days. Magnus dropped her at the airport and kissed her goodbye. Ndidi had the care of her children in her absence. She wheeled her luggage behind her as she made for the depature lounge in her floral gown and nude shoes. Finding an empty chair, she settled in with her tablet device and began to check her email.
“Good morning, Ijeoma”
She looked up to see Regina in a dark pant suit and sunglasses. Without uttering a word, she went back to her work.
“I don’t mean to bother you”
“Just get lost”, Ijeoma snapped.
“I know how you feel. Please give me two minutes”, she pleaded.
“Yes?”, Ijeoma looked up angrily.
“I want to apologize for everything I did to you. Words cannot describe how foolish I feel for doing what I did”, she began. “I resigned from work and I am actually on my way to Abuja to start my own thing, shortly”
“Whatever”, Ijeoma spat.
“I was sitting over there” she pointed. “When I saw you and just couldn’t but get this off my chest. Please find a place in your heart to forgive me”
Ijeoma was silent, holding her gaze thoughtfully. “Why me? Why my husband? “, she asked.
“I have no excuses. I have no answers”
“Are you sure you are not just saying it so I let down my guard and you’ll creep back in?”
“I will never have anything to do with any married man again. God help me”, she promised.
“Well, I have no right to withhold forgiveness. God has released me from bigger debts”, Ijeoma shrugged.
“Thank you”, Miriam sighed. “God bless you. Have a good flight” .
Ijeoma watched her walk away and sighed. It had been a long road but they had survived a storm that had capsized many other marriages. She was thankful for this. Pulling out her phone, she dialled Ndidi’s number.
“You will never believe who I was just talking to!”
I wrote this for two of my best friends and they know why.
Just like the fabric Adire, we must learn to look inwards. God is all we need to have all our needs met. Let the comments roll. I want to hear what you thought about the characters, the themes, the setting, my language, my style, and all. Don’t hold back. Feel free to go anonymous and write as long a comment as possible. I challenge all silent blog visitors to comment today. If for no other reason, maybe to encourage me to write more.