Not my wedding choice

“No, I said no. This is just crazy. First you bring home an Edo
Itsekiri boy and forced us to accept him, now he doesn’t even have
the decency to wed by our rules?” Mama spat as she reached for a
wooden spatula to stir her weekend stew. It had been the custom
since Nonye was little, mama made pots of soups to last them the
whole week every Saturday. Today wasn’t any different, four out
of the six gas burners were on, oha soup was in one burner, stew
on another, then egusi and and another pot of simmering chicken
in the other two.
“Delta, mama. Ayo is from Delta,” Nonye said as she turned off
the whistling kettle.
“I don’t care, what difference does it make anyway? And imagine a
name ‘Ayo’, sounds like Yoruba to me. His parents must be
confused.”
“Mama, be nice please, Itsekiri people answer some Yoruba names
as well.”
“Why you would ever want to marry from that far end of the world
beats me. Your father and I have done everything in our power to
ensure you and your brother have happy lives. But how do you
choose to pay us, your older brother married an American and you
want to go off with a Niger Deltan. God, how did my husband and I
ever offend you?” Mama said, dramatically looking at the ceiling
with her palms lifted up at half-mast.
“Mama, I thought we were over that, you and daddy agreed to let
me go.”
“Yes, but that ungrateful little boy with no home training wants you
to marry in an Anglican church, that will be over my dead body.”
“Mummy, please,” Nonye said as she chopped yet another onion
into the blender.
“Don’t mummy please me. Do you not understand that your father
occupies a vital role in the church? He is a respectable figure, a
member of the Knight. None of his child should marry outside the
Catholic family.”
“Ayo’s parents are also Knights; they also have rules guiding
them.”
“They are just lying, don’t you see? Since when do Anglican
churches have Knights?”
“They do; Ayo’s parents are in one.”
“Mtchew, they are just copying the Catholics. The Anglican
communion never had any.”
“Neither did the Catholics; it was introduced by this one man.”
Mama swung her stew stained spatula at Nonye for spewing such
profanity, but being skilful like any other Nigerian child, Nonye
dodged the hit.
* * *
Ayo answered his phone on the second ring.
“Hey babe, how are you?” He asked, making his way to the car in a
crowded ShopRite car park. His mother had always preferred he
took her for her Saturday shopping because she said he
possessed a greater degree of patience compared to his father.
And so it was, that every Saturday, he left his house to his parent’s
to take mum shopping.
“Not doing very well I am afraid. Have you spoken to your mother
about the wedding venue? I just spoke to my mum but she
wouldn’t budge.”
Ayo had in fact spend the Friday night at his parent’s and spent the
better part of last night trying to convince them to swallow their
pride and let him wed the woman he loved in the church her
parents want, but they would have none of it. His mother had in
fact told him she regretted paying that much for his studies abroad
only to return to Nigeria with none other than an Igbo girl. She
wished she made him study at the Delta state university. He knew
the news will devastate Nonye and so he said he hadn’t spoken to
them, but promised he would.
“Please would you beg her for me? Al-Amin just called, he wants to
know what to write on the invitation cards, the clock is ticking, we
have to decide, and fast.”
“Okay, I will do my best and let you know as soon as possible.”
“All right, should I be expecting to hear from you towards evening
then?”
“Yes,” he replied abruptly, feeling his mother approaching from
behind as he was done emptying the shopping cart into the boot of
the car. She had earlier stopped to say hi to some friends.
“Okay, I love you.”
“I love you too,” he mumbled and shoved his phone into his jean
pocket.
Sitting on the passenger seat, his mother said, “that’s the Igbo girl
I presume?”
Pulling out of the parking area and fixing his seat belt, he said, “the
Igbo girl has a name, mother.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“I am sorry mum. Is there a way of changing your hearts about the
wedding venue, please mum?”
“It is enough that I am losing my only child to an Igbo girl, I won’t
have her calling the shots on the church as well. Don’t you see?
She wants to make you Catholic. All these Catholics are like that;
they don’t come to your church but want you to come to theirs.”
“‘All these Catholics’? Really mum? Stereotypes?”
“Don’t tell me about stereotypes, I gave birth to you.”
“All her parents want is for their daughter to wed in their church,
just this last time and then she leaves. It’s not too much to ask.”
“Her mother might have thought she won, when her daughter stole
your heart, but she will not win in this church battle, that will be
over my dead body.”
“It’s not a competition between you and Nonye’s family mother,
and it is certainly not a competition for the most loyal ethnic or
church representative. This is the happiness of your children and
you let some ego and ethnic hate rip us, all for what?”
“Ayodele Jeremy Megbele, you must respect me, I am your
mother. This Igbo girl has not only stolen your heart, she stole half
your brain too. Disrespecting your mother was never how I raised
you, accusing me of stereotypes. Your father must hear this.
Imagine? And even if they are stereotypes, what if the stereotypes
are true?”
Ayo was boiling with uncontrolled rage as he drove, the sound of
his mother’s very selfish words fuelling the fire of rage inside him.
He gripped the steering wheel hard until his fingers drained of any
blood, turning pale and sweaty. This is not about them, he thought.
His mother and his father had been very selfish about a wedding
that isn’t even theirs to begin with. Granted he was an only child,
but surely his happiness should be their priority.
Weeks turned to months and the date they earlier had in mind was
coming closer. Still no set venue was agreed upon. Ayo and Nonye
had arranged for a meeting where they planned to speak to both
parents.
On the evening of the meeting, after the Mogbele’s showed up an
hour late only to discover that the Nwakwo’s were not there, Mrs
Mogbele threatened fire and brimstone. Ayo begged them until the
Nwakwo’s came in a half hour later. Then the meeting
commenced.
“Thank you so much for honouring our invitation. As you all know,
the date slated for our wedding is fast approaching, and we need
to agree on a venue.” He looked beside him at Nonye who sat with
her face down, she had cried all night and all morning, she had
told him to pray and fast with her and he did, he loved her so much
and to see her hurting hurts him even more. He swallowed hard
and continued, “Nonye and I have a proposition. I suggest that the
wedding be held on a neutral ground, like the hall where the
reception will be done, or a different hall, depends on what you
both want. I’ll pay for it. That way, everybody wins.” Ayo inhaled
and waited for the jury in front of him, the only people in the world
who should wrap him in a warm blanket in a bubble, were the
same ones stabbing his eyes with pins and his heart with daggers.
They waited.
Silence.
Did they hear anything he just said?
Nonye looked up, her eyes read and teary. Pleading eyes at her
mother.
Mrs Mogbele said, “and who will officiate the wedding?”
Mrs Nwakwo’s reply was curt, like she was waiting with a reply on
the tip of her tongue, “a priest of course.”
“Then that makes it a Catholic wedding, and that will be over my
dead body.”
“Over your dead body? My daughter marrying a Deltan is also over
my dead body.”
“Who is begging you? Igbo woman with so much pride your barns
cannot even contain it. He is my only child and only for the sake of
that will I allow him to marry her,” she said pointing at Nonye with
her nose. Like she was a common commodity.
“Oh no, no one asked you for such ‘huge favour’, my daughter is
just fine and will find herself an Igbo Catholic, way better than the
son you so much brag about.” Mrs Nwakwo spat, ignoring the hot
tears falling down her daughter’s cheeks.
Ayo held Nonye as the raucous argument went on in the living
room of the Aiden’s hotel presidential suite, a room Ayo and Nonye
paid for, hoping the reconciliation would be carried out there. It
never was, and there never will be. As they made for the door,
Nonye knew that they were fighting a lost battle, fighting for a lost
cause. Ayo held her down to the lift and through the hotel lobby to
his car parked out front. He drove for half an hour to another hotel
and got a room. Nonye hadn’t stopped crying.
“Well, we’ll have to think of another way,” he said as he flung his
car keys on the brown wooden dresser.
Wiping her tears, Nonye said, “Another way? There is no other
way. This was our very last shot. Did you see them bickering in
that room? Like they were married to the same man. We left
without any of them even knowing.”
Ayo sighed, “our fathers hardly said much, maybe if we spoke to
only them, they’ll be more understanding?”
“Our fathers hardly spoke because their wives spoke their minds. If
they didn’t, they would have spoken up for themselves. This is a
lost cause Ayo.” Nonye approached Ayo who was leaning against
the dresser. She cupped his face with both hands and continued, “I
love you Ayo. God! I have loved you more than I have loved
anything, and I love many things. You made me see the world
through a new set of eyes, you taught me to love and you have
raised the bar so high no man can ever beat you at it. You will live
forever in my heart, my love. If we ever meet in a different world, I
will be sure to be born of the same tribe as you and will marry and
love the heck out of you,” she laughed amidst her tears, he did
too. She reached out and wipe his tears and continued, “but sadly,
this is the end of the journey for us.” As he tried to speak, she
silenced him with a kiss, opened his right palm and dropped his
ring in it. “What is the point of embarking on a journey with no
destination? It is no fun. Have a nice life Ayo.” She reached for her
bag and started to walk out when she felt him hold her hand, she
didn’t look back, she just pleaded, “please Ayo, don’t make this
harder than it needs to be for me, I have made up my mind, I am
tired of hurting.”
He released her hand and spoke softly amidst tears, “at least let
me take you home.”
“I will be fine Ayo; I will be fine.” She walked out.
* * *
Nonye had cried for close to a week before she was able to
answer her best friend Jessica’s call.
“Girl, I thought you were on some sort of friendship strike or
something. You haven’t been answering my calls. Anyway, I am
coming over later, don’t argue. Bye.”
Jessica was always like that, never serious about anything and
always laughing, she’d say, ‘life is already tough, why make it
tougher by being incessantly sad?’ She was a happy go lucky las.
Within the hour, Jessica was at her friend’s. She sensed her friend
was worried and asked what it was. When Nonye told her
everything, she listened quietly without as much as a cough and
when Nonye was done, she said, “so I won’t do my maid of honour
duties anymore, this breaks my heart more than you can imagine,”
she holds her chest and tilts over dramatically.
Smiling, Nonye tugged at her arm, “com’on, be serious Jess.”
“There it is, the smile I wanted to see. You should smile more
often, it makes you irresistibly cute, with those dimples,” Jess said
as she sat up from the bed they both laid. “Do you have any food
like yoghurt or ice cream? Some Oreos?”
“That is not food by the way and no, I don’t have it. Aren’t you
going to say anything about what I told you?”
“Say what? You told me what happened, you didn’t ask my
opinion.”
“Okay, I am asking. What do you think? What do I do? I can’t get
Ayo out of my head, he won’t stop calling or coming over even if I
don’t open the door, but our parents are still sticking to their
guns.”
Jessica laid back on the bed, her head angling Nonye’s at a forty-
five-degree angle. Their feet high up against the wall. “What do
you want me to say? Do you want me to tell you what you want to
hear or to tell you the truth? Which is it? I am a good friend and I
can do both.”
Nonye laughed, she wrapped her arm across her belly and said,
“the truth please, what you would have done if you were in my
shoes.”
Jessica dramatically cleared her throat, gaining her a playful slap
from her friend, urging her to be serious once again. She smiled
and started, “your parents are being very petty, yours and Ayo’s,
and you and Ayo are both very foolish to let them play you to this
extend. At this point you will agree with me that they are all
egocentric bastards, no offence.”
“None taken,” Nonye smiled.
“No one can play me like that, you know why? Because I learnt
something about marriage, something we were never taught. That
marriage is a union between a girl from Family ‘A’ and a boy from
family ‘B’ to form family ‘C’ and not a girl from family ‘A’ and a boy
from family ‘B’ merging their families to form family ‘AB’.
Whatever your parents think, whatever his parents think, doesn’t
matter, because based on the story you recounted, their reasons
for not allowing you both marry has nothing to do with core values
or morals or even love, but some egotistical reasons in an unseen
battle. I know you love Ayo and I know he loves you too, if you let
this pass, and you don’t get another man you love as much, you
will spend your whole live living in regret. What did Nonso say
about it?”
Realising she hadn’t even told her own brother Nonye shook her
head, “I haven’t told him yet.”
“Okay, I will tell you what I would have done were I in your shoe,
speak to him and see what he thinks. I’d say speak to Ayo, if he
agrees, you do this…”
* * *
By the following week, Nonye had gotten the perfect dress, so did
Jessica. Ayo had done the final fitting of his tailored suit and so did
Ezekiel his best man.
And so three weeks after the break up and two weeks after the
makeup, the quartet walked into the very old Nigerian train station,
and so began the journey of over ten hours to a distal part of the
nation where an old, old friend awaited their arrival at the train
station in a small town in northern Nigeria. They had gone to the
same university with PJ in Washington and he’d boast about the
little town he came from, a town that is home to the Nigerian
railways among other old historical buildings. Soon, they were
settled in into a comfortable motel and rested from their journey.
The next morning, they were up and ready to go see PJ’s
grandfather who was a retired Rev of an old evangelical church. PJ
had briefed him about the happenings and he was happy he could
help, but not before speaking to Ayo and Nonye, he gave them a
crashed marital class for the two hours they spent with him and
when they were done, he was impressed.
Nonye slept sound for the first time in weeks that night and was
awaken at midday by Jessica. The hairstylist had arrived and was
ready to make her hair. With so much ease and peace of mind,
doing everything at her own pace, Nonye took off her silk nightie,
wrapped her body in a cotton white towel and slipped into the
shower, she sang really loudly and off key, much to the
amusement of the hairstylist. Jessica apologised that the
hairstylist had to hear such bad performance from Nonye. She was
out the shower and ready for her makeup and hair.
Done with the hair and half way through the makeup, the hairstylist
said, “I have been in this business going on seven years now, I
have never seen such a happy bride. What’s the secret?”
“The secret my love is simple. It is knowing how to not give a
fcuk.” Nonye replied, her answer suddenly funny to her.
“Did you just curse Nonye? Your mother will kill me; she’ll say I
taught you this,” Jessica stopped wearing her false lashes to say.
“Who cares what my mother thinks? Spent all my life pleasing her
and almost made a grave mistake.”
By two thirty, the girls were all set and ready to leave. Dressed in a
simple summer outdoor wedding dress, a long veil and few
accessories to match, they were off to the little park where PJ
spent most of his childhood playing.
When Nonye and Jess arrived the venue, they sighted Ayo and
Ezekiel dressed in matching tuxedos, PJ who doubled as a
photographer and PJ’s grandfather, Rev Jacob. Nonye had driven
the car PJ provided them, a Toyota corolla S in beige colour. She
pulled over, grabbed her bouquet made of beautiful daisies, and
when she had locked the car door, she pulled her veil over her face
and Jessica walked her down the makeshift aisle. She was
touched that Ayo got people to work on the little part of the park
they were to use.
Ayo stood facing the Rev, an arc covered in flowers between them
as Nonye walked up to him. “You look breathtakingly gorgeous,”
Ayo whispered.
She smiled, “Thank you, and you look just as handsome.”
They read the vows they wrote for each other, Ayo’s making
Nonye teary eyed a couple of times before he was finished. They
signed the marriage licence which PJ had obtained from a court
the week before for them. Jess and Ezekiel signed as witnesses
while PJ made sure to capture every memorable moment.
The Rev presented them with another marriage certificate of the
church he retired from. Surprised, Ayo said, “Rev, I thought you
said you had no access to them anymore?”
“I called in a favour, another pastor friend of mine who’s still
serving. Told him your story and he was moved by such bravery
and such love, says he’ll like to meet you both.”
“We’ll love to meet him and show our thanks. Thank you Rev.”
“Thank you for convincing me to do this Jess, you know me better
than I know myself,” Nonye whispered in her friend’s ear. She
smiled.
The ceremony lasted a short fifteen minutes and the picture
session last a quarter less than an hour, and everyone was headed
back to the motel.
* * *
As Nonye looked at her wedding ring sitting on a train two weeks
later, she wondered how so much could have happened within
such a short period. She was married in a little town and
honeymooned in a seedy motel, yet it was the happiest moment of
her life, she wasn’t going to apologise for that. Their mothers
wanted to be petty, Nonye was ready to show them she was the
Queen of pettiness.
Ayo leaned in and whispered, “I will make it up to you Mrs
Mogbele, honeymoon in any country of your choosing.”
“This honeymoon was just perfect.”
“Well, I should have never underestimated the charm of a seedy
motel.”
They both smiled, kissed and rode off into the sunset.
Author’s note: I got an inspiration from a comment I made on a
post this morning. The post inspired this story and I hope you
learn to follow your heart.

3 Comments

  1. Hhhhhhh

  2. That’s all

  3. OK

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