I wore a neatly tailored grey skirt suit but I was still one of the few odd people in the hall. The wedding invite was explicit on the dress code – a touch of blue for the groom and pink for the bride. I wasn’t in the mood to stick to such rules. I shouldn’t have been here in the first place. It was my ex getting married to my best friend! As Chinwe marched in, Demilade turned and smiled at her. That electrifying smile always had an effect on me. Demilade and I attended the same high school. From the first time we played Juliet and Romeo in a school play, a beautiful chemistry developed. Everything was moving towards the ‘happily ever after’ ending until Chinwe happened.
I was still lost in thoughts when the pianist made me jerk. He was playing an intro for the first hymn. After we sung the hymn, the choir rendered a powerful piece. They seemed to jump more than they sang. Exchange of vows was next. The Priest announced in his funny accent, “If there is anyone who feels this couple shouldn’t be joined in holy matrimony, let him/her speak up or forever hold his/her peace.” He looked up sharply, surveying the auditorium. My heart was beating wildly and my nerves were acting up. I thought I could sit through the service. I thought I had gotten over Demilade Matthew. It was clear at this point that I hadn’t moved on. I still felt something for him. As hard as it sounded to me, I had to leave him in my past. It was time to grow up. With all the courage and composure I had left, I picked up my bag and made my way out of the hall. Everybody seemed to hold their breath and I saw questions and utter confusion in their eyes. I hurried out and stopped a cab.
As the cab approached through the National Stadium, I saw school children in different uniforms prancing about excitedly. They were chatting animatedly and flocking into the stadium. It made sense quite quickly. It was 1st October. Nigeria was celebrating fifty years of being a sovereign nation. The joyful echoes of freedom reverberated all over the place even half a century after. A thought flashed through my mind in an instant. Nigeria might have gone through a lot to achieve independence. And when they got it, the feeling has been incomparable many years after. In the same vein, I had to liberate myself from Demilade, let my heart heal and move on with my life. By the time the cab descended from the bridge and sped into the highway, Bob Marley’s music blasted from the stereo and drove home the message. Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.. I nodded to the beat, absorbing the message. Today was not just even about Nigeria. It was about me. It was my independence day.