The days flew by as we got ready for Peju’s big day. We were at work in the day and hitting the road in the evenings for dress fittings, meetings with the wedding planner, makeup artist, and hairstylist for trials interior decorator for the house. There was so much to do. I was surprised at the work that had to go in for a four-hour program.
I shuddered to think what would have happened if we had not involved the services of a wedding planner because we still had so much to do on our part.
I was fatigued weeks before the wedding, and I could only imagine what Peju was going through. I looked forward to that day more with relief that all the craziness of the last couple of weeks will end.
One of the exciting moments of the event was my meeting with Phil’s Mum. I had all but forgotten about our meeting at her birthday party and how drawn I was to her. Mrs Idowu was grace and beauty personified. If getting such a woman was in the marriage package, I would not have minded being in Peju’s shoes with the kind of scary mother in law stories we hear about today. She was a breath of fresh air, and I considered Peju lucky to have her. We had several meetings with her that I had even carried on some without Peju. I did not mind she was one woman you left refreshed and ready to take on the whole world.
If I ever was asked a mentor I wanted to her to be one. She had her business and home worked out to perfection. I was surprised when I found out the companies she managed. Chief and Phil were not the only ones who had businesses in the family. She had a portfolio that rivaled theirs. I made a mental note to come back after the wedding to ask her to sign up with my Bank.
My closeness to the family during this period was a delight to see how they all related to each other with love and adoration. Phil and his father Chief treated her like royalty. She ran the Idowu Empire, but you could also see grace and kindness around her, and there was no doubt as to why the men treated her with respect and devotion.
On one of my visits, there she was in the garden wrapped in the arms of her husband. To see elderly people with love and romance after almost thirty years of marriage was one of the sweetest things I had experienced. It made me begin to reconsider my stance. That my parents’ marriage was not the defining factor of how unions would turn out and theirs was just one of the many failed ones, and there were many other successful ones like what Chief and his wife had.
To go by the saying that you could judge how a son would treat his wife by how his father treats his mother and how he treats his mother then, Peju had hers figured out for good. Love, romance and luxury in the mix.
I did not know when it happened, but I looked forward to getting married someday when I had gathered enough courage to tear down completely my walls of unbelief about marriage. I was a step ahead in the positive direction as hope ignited in my heart.
I hope to meet that special someone who would treat me right till we were old and grey haired.
I let myself in with my key. It was nice to see my mother in the living room watching a soap – Tinsel.
“Mum!” I called after greeting.
“I did not know that you watch this program. I have not been able to follow up the episodes in a long while,” I said dropping into the seat beside hers.
“I stumbled into it last month and got hooked. It is interesting and engaging,” my mum said without taking her eyes off the screen.
“How are you? She asked now looking me over. You know this mother look that pierces into your soul searching for what you are not saying.
“I am good, in between work and Peju’s wedding, I am completely swamped,” I replied.
“You both need to take it slow,” she advised.
“Any news on yours?” she asked hopefully.
Trust my mum not to miss any opportunity to ask what was dearest to her heart right now – getting me married off.
“Remain expectant, mum,” I said squeezing her hands not wanting to dampen her hope. In the past, I had either ignored the questioned or teased her on how she could not wait to get rid of me
“What was it like when you first married?” I asked her as the episode came to an end.
“It was heaven. Your Dad, and I got married in England. We were in the same university and the only Nigerians in the faculty. It was only natural we got together. More so, we were from the same state and had so much in common,” she said with the most beautiful smile I had seen on her.
“I thought yours was an arranged marriage, like one of convenience,” I teased.
“No,” she said with a shudder.
“It was the norm then, but I got lucky and married to someone wanted, and not my parent’s imposition, unlike others who were not so fortunate.
“I want to hear the whole story,” I said settling into my chair gazing at her expectantly.
“There is not much to tell,” my mum said shyly.
“Okay, Mum say the little there is to tell,” I begged.
“I saw your Dad on my first day on campus. He was one of the very few African men on campus so it was easy to notice him. He came up to me, introduced himself and told me where to find him if I needed any help. He was a year ahead of me. We became friends, and he asked me to marry him. I did at that time; that was the best thing that could happen to me.
“You were not in love?” I asked surprised.
“I liked him enough to marry him we did and started a family with Nekan, and you came along after that.
“Mum, why don’t you want to say you fell in love with him,” I chastised her? She made it sound so businesslike and obligatory even Ronald Reagan was more passionate in his tear down the wall speech to Gorbachev in West Berlin in 1987.
“I loved your Dad and still do but sometimes love is not enough,” she said sadly.
“What would be enough?” I asked. I wanted to know perhaps it would answer some of my questions.
“Hard work, discipline, sacrifice, keeping in- laws out of your personal issues, communication and understanding,” she reeled out with ease.
“Was that what was missing for you and Dad? You live like strangers and try to hide it, but Nekan and I saw through it,” I told her emboldened by the heart to heart moment.
“We sought to stay together beyond our differences to give you girls a home, but I guess it did not make a difference, she sighed dejectedly.
“Mum,” I called and held her hands compassionately grateful for the sacrifice she made staying in an enduring marriage just for my sister and me.
“You both must have done your best. What I saw in our home, influenced my decision to stay off marriage but in the last few weeks preparing for Peju’s wedding, I saw that not all marriages end up disastrous, and there are lovely marriages to be desired out there. I can hope again that when I find love, I won’t run away this time. And in that hope I wish Dad, and you would find a way back to yourselves again,” I said encouraging and willing her to fight for her marriage.
“We are far too gone apart that love matters less now. A lot has happened with complications that are now too difficult to resolve,” she said wiping away her tears.
I was taken aback by my mum’s tears. My mum might not want to declare her love for my Dad, but you could see it shining through her eyes.
We were both carried away in our discussion that we failed not hear my Father come in. I had no idea how long he had stood there and what he had heard, but he came and stood in front of my mum wiping her eyes as he pulled her up into his arms.
“It has been too long Dupe, but we can work it out together,” my Dad whispered to her.
I slipped out leaving the new lovebirds with a song rising in my heart. Miracles do happen.
All things were going looking up pleasantly for me except I had lost Bode for good. I close my eyes and allow the pain to wash over me one last time as I vowed to move on and hope love will find me again.
Bode’s story did not end with me not calling and giving up. I knew he was back in town from a mutual friend and collected his address to pay him a surprise visit, apologise and remind him of his promise to wait for me rather than call on the phone.
I dressed that day, taking care of my makeup and dress with hints of what he had said he liked when we dated, colour, shoes, dress style. It was a peace offering. I had no doubt we would work out our relationship and make up for the lost years.If only I had an inkling of the drama that awaited me when I arrived at his place.The shock I received when I got to his place and found out he was married was enough to send me to an early grave.
The lady introduced herself to me as his wife. I remember the look of satisfaction on her face at my disbelief and disappointment and how she wagged her ring finger in my face, possibly in a bit to taunt me.
She obviously knew who I was and enjoyed the pain I was going through. I did not blame her. My loss was her gain. She had a fantastic guy, and it was okay to show off especially to an ex who discarded him like a dishcloth.
How I made it back home that day driving was a blur, but I did get home safely to deal my misery.
I cried for weeks, heartbroken and there was no one to confide in. I had made my bed and had to lie on it, but it was not what I wanted. If only I could turn the hands of the clock back to the day, I told Bode I needed a break. If only I could explain to him my fears and how I felt. If only I had called him back that same day that I had not meant all I said as my heart yearned to. If only I had not given into the logical side of my brain and analysed my romance like a science experiment.
The if-only were too many, but they were not going to bring me out of the hole I fell in. I never thought I could get out. It was the feeling of being afraid to breathe. Going through all the motions of life but your heart was not in it. I was a living dead. I lost what mattered most because I was too selfish to recognise the best gift that was handed to me in the person of Bode Coker and now I had lost him forever.
In my grief, I convinced myself that I was okay, my career was enough, and there was no room for romance or family. I had a wall around my heart enforced my beliefs which were gradually crumbling down.
Love and family were okay, and I could pray to open my heart at a second chance if I was lucky to get one.