As friends, family members and well wishers congregated in the church to witness the holy solemnization of the two souls, Amanda stepped in to see if Chikaodinaka – her friend, against all ‘opposition’ was still going ahead to marry her boo. Nobody thought she could be tying the knot just yet; all because of the…
As friends, family members and well wishers congregated in the church to witness the holy solemnization of the two souls, Amanda stepped in to see if Chikaodinaka – her friend, against all ‘opposition’ was still going ahead to marry her boo. Nobody thought she could be tying the knot just yet; all because of the controversies surrounding this union and the air she’d constantly projected, that no man was good enough for her. She never mingled like other young ladies did; she thought all men were the same, at least she thought so till she found her husband to be. She acted like he was a whole new specie of man.
Not later than 10 seconds after the choir had finished the rendition of the popular ‘Amazing Grace’, and was asked to sit down, the chief bride’s maid sidled over to Chikaodinaka and whispered something to her. Chikaodinaka’s eyes widened, and she whispered back. The chief bridesmaid nodded, and said, a little louder.
“One of the ladies in the bridal train just informed me that Amanda is here.” She stole a glance towards the back of the church. “And I think it’s not going to be funny at all.”
Chikaodinaka followed her gaze, and blanched.
Chikaodinaka didn’t know that Amanda would make it to the wedding due to the fact that she vowed never to come back home until she was through with her new found endeavor. This moment arrived, and she needed to come back home to be part of history, so she thought. In her earnest thoughts, she knew something was about to happen. As her heart raced, she was able to say a word of prayer to God – “God, save me from this danger and forgive me all my sins.”
Amanda was pleased with how beautiful the church looked; the decorations, the lighting, the style the wedding planner invented was classy and up to date. She never doubted Chikaodinaka’s taste for quality. She remembered how they would all go through some lifestyle magazines to see different approaches to weddings. She silently analyzed all that was beholden to her, and shook her head.
Do people really decorate the church for their weddings, she thought. If the church looks this awesome, only God knows what the reception hall would look like.
She laughed and shook her head. There wasn’t going to be a reception, not if she had anything to do about it. She was ready for ‘war’.
“Do you take this woman to be your lovely wedded wife?” The pastor said, guiding Chikaodinaka and her fiance through the vows.
“Yes, I do.” He said, with a quiet urgency that suggested to him, all of this was a formality. He was already looking at his wife as far as he was concerned.
What the congregation was waiting for was that first kiss; Chikaodinaka towered over him in her heels. Or was it him that was a dwarf beside her. What he lacked in height, he more than made up for in girth, let’s just say it was a good thing his suit was tailormade. If height was the only yardstick needed for wedding approval, this couple wouldn’t make it. The officiating minister harumphed loudly to quiet the chattering congregation and resumed the ceremony, asking the next logical question.
“If anybody has anything against this wedding, they should say it now or forever be silent.”
Immediately the words left his lips, Chikaodinaka steeled herself. She stole a furtive glance, surveying the congregation for Amanda’s unmissable face. She turned back to the minister reluctantly, and clutched her fiance’s hand tighter.
The church grew silent as Amanda stepped out from one of the pews, her shoes clacking against the marble floor as she walked towards the altar. She always knew how to make an entrance. The couple’s hearts somersaulted like that of a Korean vying for gold in the gymnastic event at the Olympics. The groom straightened his tie, it was the only thing he could control at the moment.
Chikaodinaka’s fixed her eyes on the confetti. Only God knew what was going through her mind immediately the pastor asked the question. She knew she had committed a moral crime. She had wanted to cancel or at least postpone this wedding but just couldn’t muster the courage to do so. She was problem glorified. She had a score to settle with Amanda. In her deepest thought, she wished Amanda didn’t make it back home for the wedding. She was profusely sweating to the extent that the foundation on her face couldn’t hold the makeup she applied. She was advised by one of the wedding planners not to settle for anything lesser than the rave of the moment in the makeup world, but being a neophyte in this regard; she discarded the advice and opted for something else. Wiser she thought she was, and the prize for ‘disobeying’ was what she was getting. It caked and the resultant effect wasn’t palatable. As the sweat flowed down her cheeks like a surprise rain in the middle of January, it carried along with it colors of the makeup on her face.
Amanda was not supposed to come back for her friend’s wedding from Montreal, Canada where she has been for her Master’s Degree program on Modern European Languages, considering the economic situation that’s biting hard. But she decided to embark on the journey to correct a wrong; to put things in order and to change the face of things forever.
They were very close friends in school; even the almighty NYSC couldn’t separate them. Providence and all other factor made it possible for them to serve together in the same city. People thought they influenced their postings, but they always insisted that it was Mother Nature and luck that didn’t want them to be separated. Amanda’s mom works with the NYSC; whenever their names were mentioned anywhere, their course mates would say that the whole posting thing was influenced by Amanda’s mom in other for them to stay together.
Everyone was seated as expected except Amanda whose movement to the centre stage of the church was beginning to cause heartbreaks and murmurings. Chikaodinaka wished that the ground would open and swallow them or better still, someone would intercept Amanda before she does the damage that would surely make headlines. In a twinkle of an eye, the groom’s lips dried up and became white. His legs almost failed him. In the space of 38 seconds, the time it was going to take her to finally stand shoulder to shoulder with them at the altar, the husband quickly turned to Chikaodinaka and the best man.
“Why is she here, I thought you said she couldn’t make it?” he asked.
Chikaodinaka replied by saying that until about twelve days ago, Amanda informed her via Twitter that she wasn’t coming because of her tight schedules.
“But what is she doing here? What does she want to do? What does she want to say…?”
The best man interrupted him by saying, “You are doomed. I told you not to do this. Didn’t you say you had already sorted things out with her? Why didn’t you guys clear this out before involving me? I thought your wife said Amanda wasn’t coming?”
Just as the husband was turning to face the church and Amanda who had almost survived all the eyes on the aisle to reach them, the loquacious best man asked a provocative question that almost made the husband punch him but for the quick intervention of the pastor who sensed the heat between the men and literally stepped in their middle to diffuse the looming beef:
“Why didn’t Johnson continue as the best man? Is there anything he knows that I don’t know…?”
The husband looked at him angrily and regretted agreeing to pay for his flight ticket to be here. After all, to him, he felt without him inviting him back to his childhood city, he wouldn’t have been able to think of coming back to see his parents after 2 years. The economic hardship was indeed telling on all of them except the husband.
So many things were still running through Chikaodinaka’s mind; she felt the pastor was wrong to ask the question:
”When was the last time a pastor asked that question in a wedding? Was the pastor out to spoil her party? Was he influenced by anything? And why didn’t Amanda reply the last tweet she sent her 4 days ago confirming if she would still make it?”
Chikaodinaka wasn’t paying attention to the fracas that was about to erupt between her husband and the best man; she wished that Amanda just stood up for the sake of it. She wished Amanda wanted to use the door closer to the altar for exit. Or probably, Amanda didn’t hear the question posed by the pastor. She even wished it was an Amanda look alike that was approaching her, maybe a twin sister they didn’t know existed. Her mind quickly went to the first James Hadley Chase she ever read: ‘The Guilty Are Afraid’. She was indeed afraid; she was the guilty party here. Something needs to happen; the situation needs to be salvaged and it must be done now, right now. The thought of running out of the church flashed through her mind: she entertained it but couldn’t nurse it. “No, I can’t do that. It’s gonna be disastrous and would make me a weakling,” she soliloquized.
The church was in disarray, not particularly because of Amanda’s adventurous journey to the altar, but because of the altercation between the three most important men in Chikaodinaka’s life on her supposed most important day- the husband, the best man and the pastor. A war of words was already on between the duo and the pastor was doing everything within his powers to pacify these men. The groomsmen were all up standing, none of them wanted to take the initiative of shielding the couple from the approaching Amanda. They too had not witnessed anything of this sort before. They just stood and looked on.
Damien, one of the groomsmen walked hurriedly to the altar to intercept Amanda who was already standing face-to-face with the pastor. At this time, the husband and the best man had stopped quarreling and had turned to face the new ‘couple’ that just joined them from the pews.
The moment Chikaodinaka saw Damien around them, she knew that at least, a remedy was in the offing; if at all there would be a damage, at least Damien’s arrival would douse whatever it is that would come out of this. Apart from Damien, no other person amongst them has any ‘solid’ relationship with Amanda- the trio had a history from way back in the undergraduate days.
This wouldn’t be the first or even the second time that Damien would be standing up for his friend – Chikaodinaka. There was a day in school when a lecturer had threatened to deal with her for refusing to ‘cooperate’. Damien saw her sitting down all by herself and sobbing. After explaining everything to him, he walked up to the lecturer the next day and Chika was never disturbed again. Chika didn’t know what he told him or how he resolved the matter; what she knew was that she was never disturbed again until they graduated.
One evening, after lectures on her way home, a group of girls attacked her on an issue she refused disclosing till date. Yet again, Damien knew about the problem; the issue was resolved when he met with them. Nobody knew how. He was always shielding her from situations whenever she was in harm’s way. Standing in front of the church on a day that’s supposed to be her happiest, she just believed that Damien would salvage this moment for her.
Amanda wasn’t dressed like someone who was attending a wedding. She was in a pair of jeans that didn’t portray anything serious at all. Probably that was why she was a cynosure of all the eyes as she was disrupting proceedings at the wedding. Nobody knew why the left side of her body protruded a bit. Damien knew there was a looming danger; hence his rush to the altar.
Chikaodinaka heard her name from a distance; it was faint, she heard it thrice or four times. It got clearer at every call. She thought it was the first time. She became fully awake as soon as she opened her eyes. She had been called five times by Amanda who had been awake for two hours now. She was ashamed to still be sleeping on a day like this which was a big day. Amanda was calling Chikaodinaka to help her with the veil attached to the wedding gown. Chikaodinaka looked at the large wall clock in the room; it was already 6:10 am and they needed to be ready in two hours because the church was one hour away from the estate. Chikaodinaka was panting heavily and sweating profusely. She wiped her face to see if all that happened was reality or in the dream land, yes indeed, everything was a dream.
Now standing beside her, Amanda asked her, “Why are you sweating like this? What’s chasing you?”
Chikaodinaka looked at her fearfully and said, “Nothing.”
Chikaodinaka didn’t want to tell her what transpired in the dream but rather, resorted to interceding for her bosom friend. She decided to get on her knees for some prayers to God before embarking on anything that morning. She looked up and invited Amanda to join her in the prayers; both of them clinched their palms together and continued the prayer.
Meanwhile, the chauffeur saddled with the responsibility of driving the two ladies to the church had already arrived in the house and has been hooting the horn to remind them that they were almost running late. He looked for a space in the compound, found one and ended up positioning the SUV in a way that would be comfortable for the ladies to get in. The chauffeur stepped out of the vehicle to see if the planner actually replaced the ABOUT TO WED sign with THE RIGHT ONE. This had been a bone of contention between Chikaodinaka, her husband and the wedding planner; she told them she wouldn’t like the former to be crested on the plate number of the vehicle. She wanted to be different from all other new brides. “THE RIGHT ONE” or “MRS. RIGHT” was what she always wanted and she forced the husband to fix either “THE RIGHT ONE or “MR. RIGHT” as well.
It was now 9:05 am and they were set to enter the massive vehicle.
“Who needs a veil on this gown? It’s gonna mess my concept up, biko. That veil won’t come anywhere close to me in the church. As my maid of honor, you are doubling as my Aide- de-camp today. Chika, it is gonna be in your custody!” Amanda said while looking at Chika (both laughing happily). She excused herself to go behind the vehicle to see if her wish came to pass; yes it did for she came back smiling.
As she was about to sit down, Chikaodinaka said, “You are welcome, MRS. RIGHT.” They both laughed heavily and the chauffeur zoomed off.
There was a heavy downpour that morning as the girls rode to their venue. Chikaodinaka couldn’t understand why she had that dream; it was a terrible dream to her. She just couldn’t imagine herself double crossing her ‘bestie’.
It was already thirty minutes into the supposed wedding, and the bride and her chief were nowhere to be seen. Family and friends were nervous and feared the worst. All attempts to reach them via the phones proved abortive. A phone call came in from the hospital notifying the husband that there had been a ghastly motor accident not later than 15 minutes after the girls took off and that both girls lost their lives after a head on collision with a runaway oil tanker.