If you were me, what would you do?
Go ahead and mess up your life further by taking vows with someone you knew well and truly you did not give a hoot about…or watch shit hit the fan?
There I was, standing in the famous Yaba Baptist Church in a black suit and white shirt looking clean. You couldn’t tell the thoughts running through my mind; I looked so ‘together’.
I looked over the congregation…over people who had come to watch me make a life-making/life-wrecking decision. Maybe I was a bit biased but I couldn’t help but notice that the wife’s family was smiling brightly…a lot more brightly than my side of the church.
It’s not that I did not like Funke. I did, at least I had been telling myself that for the past few weeks as I went through dictionary after dictionary…website after website. I was sure Google and Wikipedia would have noticed how searches for ‘definition of love’ suddenly became too frequent; it was like I was a lawyer looking for a loophole through which his client could escape. Going by what I found in those guys…I did not love her. Not in the defined sense of it.
The worse part was, I didn’t think she really loved me either. In fact, I was convinced that Funke was with me because she was a victim of the mythical myth that women past a certain age were unattractive to men. I didn’t not agree with that, because whatever issues I had with her had nothing to do with what she looked like. The sex was…
But I just didn’t like her. Not that ‘sense’ of things. I just didn’t.
She just wanted to get married and start raising a family…me, I was not eager to have some little monkeys running around my crib destroying whatever peace I had. I wanted to enjoy my wife; have her to myself for at least three years before some nuisance called ‘pikin’ began showing some sort of presence. And really, I did not see myself living with Funke in the same house for three months, not to mention three years. Look, I believe in destiny as much as the next man. And I was strongly convinced that it was not destiny that was throwing me and her together.
At this point my ever-roving glance fell on the chief bridesmaid, Ngozi. Contrary to popular ‘myth’, I did not find her attractive either, despite the overzealous bust she kept shoving in my face at every opportunity. I found her mildly annoying; because she was supposed to be the chief bridesmaid! Did loyalty mean nothing anymore? Why was it that everyone assumed that every male was sex-driven and that our privates don’t have a conscience?
I’d tell you straight; I never cheated on Funke. Not once. That is not to say I’ve never been tempted. After all, I’m a guy, a fairly successful one at that. And in my line of work I met women every single moment whether I liked it or not. So it only follows that some things would just happen. And most interestingly, it had nothing to do with my looks. I discovered that a lot of people were lonely and would do almost anything to alleviate that loneliness. What do you think Facebook owed its success to?
My tie was knotted too tightly, cutting into my skin and making me all the more irritated. I glanced over at Ben, my best man. The moment he had slept with Ngozi I knew, and neither of them had said anything. But when you’ve known another guy for as long as I have known Ben, you’d realise there was really no point for him to say anything. It was almost impossible for him to keep anything from me.
Now he was looking at me with an imploring look on his face, asking me not to do anything rash. I wanted to scream at him that allowing this farce to continue would be rash; that I was in a place I did not want to be with someone I did not want to be with. We had stayed awake till early this morning over a bottle of Red Label, debating whether I was to go through with it or just clear. Abscond. Bail. RUN!!!!
He had asked me to see reason; citing the fact that her dad was related to Obasanjo and the old goat had promised to be there. I could see him now, sitting right next to Funke’s dad, looking every inch the farmer he was in dark green Ankara that looked like it just came from across the border. He was smiling in an irritating manner.
The hell with this, I thought. Whatever would happen let it happen. I was through with this façade. Its better they all feel embarrassed and ashamed now, than to have to arrange a hearse for me and this girl just because we had spent so much for the freaking thing. Hell, if anyone was to complain it was me because I had single-handedly paid for the entire reception. Shit set me back like two mill. But I rather my two million bucks go down the drain than my life.
As I tensed to say the words that would halt the entire ceremony, as I felt Funke’s hand tighten on my arm in sudden fright, as I heard Bayo cursed quietly behind me, the church’s double doors swung open to admit a tall, slim looking guy who was wearing a suit. Everybody swung around to have a look. He looked vaguely familiar.
“Funke! What do you think you’re doing?”
Beside me I heard Funke gasp. This entire thing was beginning to look like a Nollywood movie to me; even moreso by the second. We all stood or sat there; depending on who you ask, looking at the guy who was walking down the aisle unhurriedly as if it was everyday he interrupted a wedding ceremony. He had gotten up to the third row when Lakunle; the hothead of Funke’s family jumped up from his seat in between two hotties and approached the guy, hostility in every line of his body.
“Hey…where do you think you’re going? Who you be? You no…can’t you see she’s getting married?”
Funke gasped again and sunk to her knees, shock and despair in every line of her body. ‘Kunle…” she muttered under her breath “Kunle…please…just…that’s Sunny…”
Sunny. Like the sunshine that sends away the early morning fog a mist slowly began to clear from my brain. Sunny. Of course.
Sunny was Funke’s proverbial ‘first’; that one girls hardly ever get over. Yeah, that one who took away their maidenhead. I always wanted to ask the girls; took it away to where?! And then the guys; whatever do you do with that shit?!
Me, I never had such luck. All the girls I’ve ever been with; even as far back as secondary school then (of course you know typically that most guys’ first is usually a prostitute) were second hand or third hand girls; never a virgin! In fact, I was one of the perpetrators of the idea that girls did not come as virgins, because such a thing exists only in mythology. Don’t blame me.
Anyways, true Mills & Boon style, here I was in church on my wedding day and my bride-to-be’s first ‘real love’ (I wonder who creates such sickening words) just popped in during the service to say hi. Her first love who had cleared when he found out she was pregnant with his kid, first love who was also a sucker because he still loved her, first love who she’d never stopped missing since the day he left. At least she’d had the decency not to call me his name when we were having sex. I should be grateful to her for that.
By now the entire church was buzzing with side talk and stuff. The pot-bellied general Obj was on his feet, whispering some nonsense into the pastor’s ear. Me, I was just standing there watching the by play between Funke and her Sunny boy feeling calm. Whatever happened, I had a legit excuse not to marry her. For that, if nothing else, I was eternally grateful.
Eventually Obj stopped whispering and the pastor beckoned me, my wife and Sunny into the pastorium after apologising to the congregation. As soon as we got in there the man began to ask us; particularly me what was going on. I shrugged and indicated Funke who was hugging herself in the chair in front of the pastor’s table; and Sunny who stood beside her.
The whole time they explained themselves I was not listening. I was imagining what was going on in the church, and a naughty smile played around my lips. My dad would probably be throwing a fit now; he was the spearhead behind today. My mum on the other hand would be sitting down there chatting with her closest friend Peju’s mum talking about how she did not really like Funke. The person whose reaction I’d have loved most to see was Obj…that goat who always seemed to have something smart to say anytime they were talking with him. Old goat; I muttered underneath my breath. I really despised the guy.
The pastor was asking me something; guess it was what I wanted to do. I told him I just wanted to go home, have a hot bath and sleep for three years. The man looked at me like I was demented, and then asked me what they were supposed to do with all the arrangements we made. I said the people needed an excuse to be merry; they needed a wedding. And since there was a couple available they should just go ahead. I told Funke to consider the entire reception my gift to her; and I told Sunny to stay sunny. And then I walked out.
The moment the congregation saw me the whole place went agog with chatter. My dad rushed to his feet to ask the obvious questions; I just shook my head in his direction, took off my tie and threw it on the floor. Then I beckoned to Bayo who scrambled after me without glancing at Ngozi. As we neared the church’s main doors the pastor’s office opened for the new couple holding hands. There was a collective ‘aah’ from the church which reminded me of the wedding scene from the first Shrek. I laughed a bit, and then turned around to see what was happening. Last time I saw her Funke looked radiant; more beautiful than I’d ever seen her, holding onto Sunny’s hand for dear life as they, along with the pastor explained what was happening. Then Bayo pulled me into the warm sunshine and shut the left hand door.
We rapidly headed for the car park and his SUV which had conveyed us to the church that morning, Bayo looking at me with something close to concern in his eyes. But I gave him no chance to ask me whatever it was he intended to. I practically flew to the car and he had barely opened the door when I got in and slumped in my seat, closing my eyes.
He gunned the engine and we quickly drove into the Herbert Macaulay road traffic on our way to the island. He could tell what I needed most now apart from solitude was a really chilly drink and some quiet. And the best place to get that combo would be
We were on the third mainland bridge before Bayo broke the long silence by asking me if I was okay. As if on cue, my Nokia phone gave the standard alert for a received text message. I opened it and read just two words;
I nodded and smiled. It was from Sunny, Funke’s husband. You and me both man, I think.
As I said, I believe in destiny as much as the next man. I believe that sometimes, destiny needs a helping hand.