Wedding digest was my favourite page on Instagram. The beautiful brides, expensive rings, kids, colourful asoebi’s, picture-perfect couple’s made me dream of the day that I would be taking such wedding photos. It gave me hope of what could be my world someday. Not a day went by that I didn’t go through the page. I had my notification set on for whenever a new post was posted, I didn’t want to miss a thing.
I was admiring the photo of the uniform man and his beautiful bride as they glued their lips together in a kiss when my mum’s voice rang through to my room.
“Chimum!!” she called my name fondly.
“Ma!” I screamed out in response. My eyes shifted to the clock on my phone, it was almost 6:pm, the Okoye’s would soon be here. “Shoot!” I said dropping my phone on the bedside table and scrambling to my feet.
I dashed towards the door, I was about to turn it’s knob when my mother beat me to it. She stepped into my room, looking at me up and down. “You are still in the clothes you wore to work” she said with a puzzled frown.
“I was just resting, I really had a long day”
“Shift” she hissed, shoving me out of her way. She walked to my wardrobe, pulled apart its handles and began to shuffle through my clothes.
“Nne, what are you doing na?”
“Where is that your white dress, that one that use to bring out your shape very well” she asked, searching hastily.
“Ah ah Nne, I can dress myself na”
She stopped shuffling and turned to me. “Chimoma, I know you are trying to avoid this visit, the same way you did when Emeka’s family wanted to come here, giving the excuse of being sick, but you must marry this Year o, the God I serve will not let this Year pass you by”
“Amen!” I said reaching out for her arm. I took hold of it and tugged it softly away from my wardrobe.”Don’t worry Nne, I will dress now ehn? thank you so much”
“Do fast o, there will soon be here” she said, looking at me skeptically.
“Now now now, you will soon see me outside” I assured her.
“Okay O!” she said and began to walk out of my room.
I closed the door behind her and dashed for the bathroom.
My father was laughing heartily at Mr Okoye’s words, I think he laughed at everything the man said. That laughter of a Father, eager to give his daughter away in marriage. I smirked at my dad, wishing their visit would be over already.
Stanley had been giving me side glances since he got here, he sat beside his mother who had a plastered smile on her face that never got off.
My mother won’t stop pinching me, a signal I understood so well to mean, “behave, smile!”
Mr Okoye reached out his arm and grabbed the tumbler sitting on the side stool in front of him. He took a sip from his drink, then he cleared his throat loudly.
“Ehnm, my wife and I are very grateful to you for welcoming us into your home” he began to say.
My Father nodded gleefully.
“We’ve been seeing each other in church” he said, making emphasis with his hand at my father. “Who knew we would one day be here?”
My father shook his head with a smile.
“Our people say, If a bachelor complains that the market is not full, how many of his children are there?”
“Hmn!” my father grunted, nodding his head in agreement.
“When my son told me that he has been seeing your daughter in church and he would like to have a serious relationship with her, I was glad! I told him well, I’ve known your family for a long time now and you are a very honourable man, I don’t have a problem with it! That is why we are here. And ehnm, we brought this___” he reached his arm down to his side and picked up the parcel wrapped in a bag that had been sitting next to him.
“_drink to show our interest in your daughter” he continued, holding it out to my father.
My father received it with a happy smile, raising it up to my mother who got up and took it from him.
“Ehnmm” my father started to say, “We have heard you. It is normal for a girl who has come of age to have suitors, so you are very welcome”.
The Okoye’s nodded in harmony.
“Stanley my son, take my home as yours, feel free to visit anytime you want”
Stanley shifted to the edge of the chair, placing his palm on his wrist. ” Thank you very much Sir” he said with a little bow of his head.
“Ehnm Chimum, go and show Stanley the chicken cage your mother is building outside”
A perfect excuse to send me off to spend some time alone with him, I knew. We didn’t even have a chicken cage. I got up, smiling politely and led the way with Stanley following closely behind. Our parent’s voices trailed off as we walked out of the sitting room, unto the Veranda.
“Hi” he smiled, exposing his gap tooth. His face was round, and his cheeks were full. He had a lampshade moustache that sat carefully above his upper lip. I thought he would have looked better with a clean shave.
“Hi” I said back.
“I’ve been seeing you in church”
“Yeah, your dad said that.”
“I’ve been watching you for a while now, and I like your person”
“Why didn’t you just tell me? Did you really have to get your parent’s involved at this stage?”
He shrugged his left shoulder. “I like to do things the appropriate way”
Old fashioned way you mean.
“Okay” I smiled, twisting the corners of my lips downwards.
“Let me have your number” he demanded, retrieving his cell phone from the pocket of his black chinos trouser.
I recited the eight digit number to him and he imputed it into his phone. He dialled the number and I told him I had left it in my room, assuring him I would save it as soon as I had my phone with me.
“No problem, it ends with 567.” he said. “Let’s go back inside”
I nodded and this time let him lead the way back into the house.
The moment the Okoye’s left the house, I went into my room and slumped on my bed tiredly. I was glad their visit was over. I could finally get to have my deserved rest. My best friend was getting married over the weekend and I didn’t want to go to her house the next day looking tired and yawning. I stretched out my body and began to rid myself of all my clothing, feeling too exhausted to stand to my feet. I rolled over and pulled the duvet over my body. Thank God for the switch that I had asked that electrician to install on the wall above my bed, I stretched out my arm and put out the light.
“Nne, where is the key to the Benz?” I asked rolling my suitcase into the parlour. My mother was sitting at the dining table, having her morning coffee and a sandwich.
“Chimum let me talk to you before you leave, sit down” she said. I glanced up at the clock.. “Don’t worry, I won’t take much of your time” she quickly added.
I sat down obediently.
“What did you think of Stanley’s visit yesterday? Do you like him?”
“He is okay o”
“Just okay?” she queried.
“He is not really my type sha”
“Chimo_ma! that boy is a nice boy, his parents are good people and well respected in this town. The boy has a good job too, give him a chance, at least try to know him”
“Mummy I will try but if I see someone that suits me, I will know. My first impression of Stanley is just somehow”
“Next Year you will be thirty-one years old, Chimum, you cannot continue to be selective, you have been selecting all your life, where has it gotten you to? If you find one or two things in a man that you like, it’s okay. You are not getting any younger my daughter, remember you will bear children too, time is going!”
“Nne, I’ve heard. Can I have the key now?”
“Ah ahn! why na?” I asked surprised.
“Your father and I have decided that you should be using public transport to work. This car you are always driving may be another reason chasing men away from you. They are intimidated!”
“Ah ahn, Nne?!!!”
She looked away, taking a munch from her bread with her eyebrows raised. I knew my mum, when she had that look, there was no turning her around. Knowing that trying to persuade her would be fruitless, I snatched my suitcase and walked out of the house angrily. Being single had cost me my car key, it was ridiculous!
I woke up beside James. I squinted my eyes in confusion as I tried to figure out why he was lying next to me.
“Oh no!!” I said in realization as my mind began to replay the events of the night before.
We were at Simi’s bachelorette party, myself and the girls were having a good time celebrating with her, when her fiance Tega, along with James and the rest of their crew crashed our party, but we didn’t mind, the more the merrier after all.
Even though I was happy for my best friend, I was feeling particularly sorry for myself. Simi and I had always said we would get married at 25, that age passed and we clocked thirty, but while it was happening for her, I didn’t even have a boyfriend to hang unto!.
I went a bit too heavy on the vodka, an attempt to drown my sorrows. Someone suggested the Truth or Dare game and we all obliged delightfully. We played, sipping on more alcohol. The effect of the drink soon began to tell on all of us. We were excited and feeling very free. So when James was dared by one of our friends to kiss me, I didn’t mind at all, he took my lips in his and I let the kiss linger longer than it should have, to the cheers and drum rolls of our friends.
He flirted with me throughout the party and eventually, we snuck our way out of the lounge to the hotel Reception, he paid for a room and minutes later, we were ripping off each other’s clothes. Having gone for months without sex, the well air-conditioned room and the heavy amount of alcohol in my system, I didn’t have the stamina to reason rationally.
I let him push me to the bed and spread my legs apart. My eyes rolled back in the back of my head as he kissed my warmness. It felt warm and good, so good! It made me realize how much I had missed being touched and made love to. I let him have all of me and it was great! Last night was perfect but now I was sitting up in bed, feeling disgusted with myself.
I rose from the bed and began to tiptoe around the room, gathering my stuff as I went. I dressed as quietly as I could, silently praying for James to stay asleep. I found my purse slightly pushed under the bed, it must have gotten there during the heat of our passion. I pulled it out and tiptoed out of the room, quietly shutting the door behind me.
I dialled Simi’s number, and she agreed to meet me at the restaurant. I sat in wait for her, totally regretting my episode with James when she walked into the restaurant, with a smirk on her face.
“See ehn, it’s not even funny” I said as I got up and embraced her.
She pulled out the chair opposite mine and sat on it. “Why, what happened? you just disappeared from the party”
“I had sex with James!” I blurted out honestly.
Her brows shot up. “What?”
“Babe, I just want to die! James of all people, I don’t even like the guy like that”
“I thought you guys were just messing around?” Simi said.
“That was how it started” I said, laying emphasis with my hands.
She smiled. “He has always had a crush on you sha.”
I hissed. “James that is a playboy, always changing girls”
She laughed. “That one is true, he can chase ehn! But wait, were you high?”
“I was high but not high like that because I can remember everything that happened. It’s frustration that caused all these things, and congi” I paused and hissed. “I’m so tired of being single, my parent’s are not even making things easier for me, do you know they seized my car key? that I should be taking public transport so that men can see me very well and I won’t come off as intimidating, in this 21st century”
“My mum used to say that too”
“Do you understand?!” I said rhetorically, lowering my eyebrows.
“She keeps trying to hook me up and I swear, if by the end of this Year, I don’t meet someone of my choice, I just might go with anyone she suggests to me”
“It won’t get to that point, you will meet someone. But just try to be careful. I don’t mean to sound like one over sabi but random sex is not it at all, it would leave you feeling horrible about yourself, plus, it’s not even safe, what if that person has a disease you don’t know about?. The way you were even openly flirting with James, someone can see you and just read the wrong meaning into it, do you get? They won’t see it as you just having fun as per it was my party and all, they might just see you as a wild girl and you know people talk, if they decide to spread that image, it won’t make sense at all, it can even discourage someone that has good intentions for you”
“Yeah, I know. It’s fine though, it won’t happen again” I said feeling blue.
She reached out her hand over the table and gently squeezed my hand. A gesture that was meant to calm my nerves.
“I’m not even going to attend Tega’s Bachelor’s party” I said. “not after what has happened ”
She smiled. “Good! because we would stay in and do our pedicure, gist, just have a good time. Girls only this time”
“Girls only” I concurred with a smile on my lips.
“Let’s go back inside, Tega booked rooms for you girls We will chill at the hotel until after the wedding tomorrow.” she said.
“Okay.” I said.
We walked into the hotel and I joined the other bridesmaids.