Lana has been a rock through the highs and lows of the wedding preparation. Despite employing a wedding planner, there were loads of activities and things to do that would have been overwhelming and daunting.
She had bullied me into making up my mind about the gown I wanted after visiting several shops, and nothing appealed to me.
My dream dress was one of sophistication laced with classical in between of conservative and provocative. I wanted an elegant gown that did justice to the best features of my body while hiding away its imperfection and throwing into the limelight its perfection.
Phil has been more out of town than in, working on wrapping the project at Dubai so he could take a holiday off for the honeymoon. We were going to Casablanca. The beautiful city of Morocco ruled by monarchy like the United Kingdom. I still had my research to do although Phil had drawn up an itinerary he had asked me to find places of interest I would love to visit.
I often wondered how I got lucky to be loved by a guy that was almost too perfect. He was the perfect gentleman, kind, considerate, generous, and honest and gave me room to be me. He loved me with an intensity that scared me but one that I ultimately returned. You could feel the sparks whenever we were together. Thinking of Phil had a way of lighting up my face. It is the knowledge of that contentment you feel knowing your heart has found its home.
Call me crazy but I desperately wanted what I had for Lana. I watched Andrew in the office, and I do not think my eyes were fooling me. Although he tried hard to mask it, it was evident he had something for Lana. Perhaps he did not know it himself, but something was going on nonetheless oblivious to both of them but might eventually happen, and I hope it did. If Bode was out of the picture, she needed a little nudge in the right direction at seeing other options, particularly, one that was right before her eyes every day.
I had only met Bode twice during our national youth service corps but was surprised he remembered me when I ran into him at the Superstores on the Island
“Hi, you are Lana’s friend?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered juggling my memory to where I knew the face.
“I’m Bode Coker. He introduced himself to me judging from my vague look. I could not remember the face. I was terrible with faces but great with names. I never forgot a name. It could sometimes be embarrassing and in my younger days, my friends usually thought I was pretending, but it was a fault I worked so hard to overcome but had stuck to me like a shadow and since the name was my thing I used that to my advantage.
“Bode Coker!” I squealed and gave him a quick hug like a long lost brother.
“My God! When did you come into town?” I asked trying to come to terms with this encounter and what it could mean.
“Was I supposed to be out of town?” he asked with confusion is his brown eyes.
“I got this feeling you were out of the country although things were not okay between you and Lana,” I replied.
“Yeah that was five years ago, and it was a six months training,” he said his eyes twinkling now at my confusion.
“How’s Lana doing?” He asked with raised eyebrows.
“She is good, but whatever happened to you two?” I ventured boldly without wasting time, and this was my opportunity to get the facts right and see how I could help them to get back together.
“Your friend must have told you,” he said with a hint of disbelief in his voice taking a deep breath like one letting the tension out, but the tension was several years ago.
“No, she did not. That is one of the only areas Lana has her lips sealed. She only guaranteed me that you were not the reason for the breakup which is why I am still here having a conversation with you.And not looking at some way to inflict bodily harm on you, equal to the pain she has been going through all these years,” I said watching for any telltale sign in his eyes.
“I must thank my stars, but you must be exaggerating your friend’s pain,” he said with a look of hurt in his eyes.
“How’s she doing?” he asked with so much love that I almost broke down at what these two people have been going through over the years but confused that he had made no effort to contact her.
“If you were so concerned, why have you not checked on her more so you have been in the same city?” I asked bewildered but sure to get my answers from him today.
“Lana spelt it out that she I was not to check on her and she would contact me when she came to terms with what she was dealing with at that time,” he said the pain in his eyes now replaced with regret.
“She said she wanted time and what I thought will be one month turned into five years, and here I am still waiting,” he said sadly.
“You are kidding me right?” I asked shocked.
“I know Lana said she developed cold feet but not keeping to her word is very unlike her. But come to think of it, you mean Lana never got back to you, and you never bothered to see her for an explanation all these five years?” I asked short of stunned.
“I am sorry to say this, but I am yet to meet two clueless people in love oblivious to the unnecessary pain they have caused each other and more so to themselves” I voiced my opinion with much chagrin.
“You do have a good idea of Lana’s capability. She loves you to take her at her word. Had I showed up then it would have been futile,” he answered exasperatedly.
“One thing that Lana made clear was that you were a better person than her,” I commented.
“She could not have been more wrong. Looking back at the years I should have not given in without fighting back for the love we once shared,” he said resignedly.
“Do you think I still have space in her life?” He asked with a vulnerability I had not seen before.
“Lana, is the only person who can provide the answer but if you never try to find out how would you know?” I asked.
“She never talked about you. Your name is more like a taboo. I don’t think she got over you, but she is too stubborn to admit it. You will have to win her back with slowly with a constant show of love and affection. Let her see that you are won’t change now or in the future. If you can do that, you might stand a chance of winning her back,” I advised.
“Let it be on her terms. If she wants to see you or not. Let what she feels for you grow. In one shell let her make her decision without pressure,” I added.
“That is what I have allowed her to do and see where it got us,” he argued.
“You will let her be, but not from outside the scene. Be in her life but not crowd it,” I encouraged him.
What I said did not seem to make any sense even to me, but I had heard Lana lament to know how important that was to her.
“She does not believe in love existing after marriage. She feels what happens while dating flies out of the window after the wedding,” I offered a feeble explanation nonetheless hoping the message gets through to him.
“She never gave me a clue,” he said surprised, and I could see the battle on his face as he tried to take in all I said.
“I wonder if it is the same person we are talking about here,” he said.
“Perhaps you never knew her, I concluded.
“Nothing is guaranteed with Lana. I hope you know that, but you can put in all your best and hope it all works out,” I advised.
“When and if you do get back together, you’ll have to do a lot more talking so understand each other,” I said.
“As her friend, I want what is best for her, and if that is you in her life you have my blessing,” I said wishing with all my heart that Lana will see how good a second chance she has been handed and make good use of it.
“Here,” I said giving him my wedding and complimentary card.
“We work in the same office, I offered. Giving Bode a lifeline on how to reach her.
I left Bode feeling exhilarated hoping that Lana will thank me one day for meddling in her affairs. But she needed this push to shore. I tried to convince myself I was doing the right thing as I had no intention of letting her know about me meeting with Bode Coker.
I hoped the surprise element would work, with Lana thinking and analysing everything through she would be taken unawares, and her reaction would be more likely to be from her heart and not her head.
Peju and I eventually made the trip to London, three weeks before her wedding. She said it was time out as single girls together. It was a fun trip and one we shopped. I could not have come this way without taking back souvenirs. That’s what I called them, but they turned out to be my full two luggage allowance and extra luggage.
A week to Peju’s wedding we had the bridal shower. The event was both hilarious and teary. We invited Phil for the hot seat section. The other girls had questions for him.
When he walked in, dressed in the traditional attire of white guinea brocade designed in grey embroidery and black palm slippers. His well-shaved look with the hairs around his mouth like that of Banky W the Nigerian R and B crooner, the ladies were swooning while Peju gestured “he’s not available,” with the rest of the girls bursting into giggles.
Time for the hot seat.
And I was the one reading out the questions as the girls submitted them in the raffia basket I passed around.
We started with Phil.
“Where did you first meet her and when?”
“Monday,10th of July 2006 at precisely 8:45pm.I first met Peju at the Marco Polo Restaurant on the island one evening. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever laid my eyes on, and I wanted to get to know her. Unfortunately, I had no clue to who she was and I was in the middle of a business meeting.
I took a brief excuse for the gents only to go towards the service point and order an ice bucket of champagne to her and the lady she was with which was turned down.
I did not know when they left, and I lost that opportunity. I could not recognise her friend as she had her back to me who now I know as Lana. Had I seen Lana, I probably would have met Peju faster as Lana, as Lana was in my office the next that same week.
However, Cupid smiled on me when at my Mother’s birthday, I saw her again, vowed never to let her go. The rest is history.
Being the moderator, I mouthed to Peju, girl we must have a talk tonight. How come I was just finding that out tonight? I recalled that night perfectly. I had been upset, and Peju drove off after work for a meal at our beloved Chinese restaurant.
The other girls were clapping and smiling as Phil stole their hearts with his precision and accuracy. I caught Chinwe wiping a tear or two from her face.
Turning to Peju, “When was the first time you met him?” I asked the same question.
“At his mother’s party. I took a look at him, and I was smitten. Mine was love at first sight,” she said with a smile on her face bright enough to compete with the sun.
“As the moderator and one who has been with them from the beginning but whose job but will ultimately end next week Saturday, I can confirm their story,” I joked.
I directed the next question at Peju.
“What do you like best about Phil?
“His thoughtfulness, kindness, devotion and love and his hot looks – the typical tall, dark and handsome romance character,” she teased.
This seat is not hot enough,” I challenged the girls sending in the questions
“Phil, what do you love most about Peju?” I read the next question.
“She is beautiful in a drop dead gorgeous way, gentle and kind. She laughs a lot and love to tease, and she is all real and no pretence,” he answered with a triumph grin his face.
I have another question here. But Phil signalled to me as I drew close he whispered he had to leave urgently. We would have gone on, but Phil had to go for another engagement.
We rocked the party till midnight as we all shared how we met Peju, our good wishes on her journey to matrimony and gifts.
The girls bombarded Peju with questions about the wedding night with a lot of advice coming from people who were not even married.
I was quick to make my observation but was shut down by Agnes.
“Who says you have to be married before you know what goes on in between the sheets?” argued Agnes, a girl with a reputation for having a new boyfriend every month.
It was time to open the gifts, and we all had a good laughter as each girl explained the use of the gift.
Agnes was back on the scene with her gift of a black all net lingerie leaving nothing to your imagination.
“And this is for the wedding night, not that he requires you wear anything,” she said making moaning noises that made the rest of the girls put their fingers into their ears.
“What do you think that is? If you are not all pretending how do you recognise the noise that you are closing your ears?” she accused us.
“Peju your Nun days are over welcome to your glorious days of prostitution with Phil as your only client
We cried, we laughed, danced and had fun as we ushered Peju into the institution of marriage, the only institution you get a certificate before you start and not the usual awarded after your program.