It was something right out of a movie scene. I think I even watched it in an episode of Friends, where Ross at the altar, about to say his vows to his fiancée, Emily, called out Rachel’s name instead. It went something like this:
“I, Ross, take you Rachel…”
And I can tell you that the wedding ended right there and then. Seriously, what girl in her right mind would go on to marry a guy who was thinking about someone else other than her at the altar?! Well, I wouldn’t but since I was the other girl whose name was mentioned, I would go right ahead and say ‘I do!’ Hehehehehe.
Like I said, right out of a movie! James called my name in front of Watzhername, her family, his family, all their relatives, their friends, church members and a few wedding crashers—over two thousand people in all. When that faux pas happened, I wasn’t even listening. I was pinging my girlfriend, Fiyin, who couldn’t make it to the wedding because she had an accident and was recuperating at home. I switched myself off from the whole scene and became deaf to all that was going on in the church that day. I had banished James from my heart to some degree. But let me not lie, there were still residue of feelings left.
Oh, rubbish! It’s either you still love someone or you don’t. Truth was I still loved him. don’t blame me; it wasn’t easy letting go even after three years. We were the perfect couple, match made in heaven, two peas in pod, blah-blah-blah… Everyone thought it was going to be happily ever after for us.
Everyone, except James himself.
He said I had no future ambition. He added that all I cared about were sugar, spice and everything pricey. He even went further to explain that I was going to run him out of business and brain matter with high demands and my endless unwitting and shallow personality. Me, endlessly unwitting? What did that even mean? I know what shallow means; it’s the opposite of deep (correct me if I’m wrong) but unwitting? I still haven’t checked the dictionary for what that word means. But still, who was he to call me names? I mean, did Watzhername have more witting personality than me? I cooked, I cleaned, I hung with some of his friends, I learnt every game he played on his PS3, I learnt to knot a tie, and finally I gave it to him every and anytime he wanted without complaining (don’t tell Pastor Ishi), and on top of everything, I was working! Ehen! I had a job and worked hard for my money! So what was all that misyarning that he was doing?
It all started on Val’s day when he took me out to see a movie. A movie! One day in the year to show love to your sweetheart and you take her to a movie and spend let me see… 3k for the tickets for both of us and 2k for drinks and popcorn… and that was all! I’m not including the set of silver jewelry he got for me. That’s my right. But a movie? Thumbs down, Jamie. Very classy.
So halfway into the movie, he was like, “Amaka, where do you see yourself five years from now?”
I looked around to see if there was another girl around us in that dark movie theatre with a bold name tag AMAKA. There was no one like that. I now started thinking ‘what type of question is this one now?’ It sounded like one of those job interview questions.
Interviewer: Miss Amaka, if we give you this job, where do you see yourself in this company five years from now?
Me: Me? Er…I see myself in an office with a perfect view overlooking the whole of Victoria Island and the Atlantic. Also I see myself at the head of the table in board meetings…
Interviewer: It’s okay, Miss Amaka. You can go now. Thank you.
“Amaka, I’m talking to you,” James gently tapped me.
“Where do I see myself?” I laughed to ease my unease and hit him playfully. “I see myself with you, silly. We’d have a boy by then and a girl on the way, plus our own house somewhere in Lekki with four cars and…”
“No, I meant, where do you see yourself career-wise?”
I frowned. “Jamie, what is all this nah? Are you still insisting that I change my job? I like what I do and my boss likes me and all the guys in the office are very nice to me. I don’t want to work in a bank!”
“I am not asking you to work in a bank. I’m just concerned that you don’t have any future plans for yourself.”
“My future plan is you, boo.” I pouted and rested my head on his shoulder.
He pulled away from me. “Your lack of ambition is really disturbing me.”
My lack of ambition? If only he knew how I planned to build an empire on top of his head. I saw homes and cars and trips to the Caribbean and shopping in Milan and Paris… You don’t get more ambitious than that! mnh-mnh!
“Please tell me you’ll think of what I told you. A life without a plan or purpose is a life doomed for destruction.”
I rolled my eyes. He had started with one of his Oyedepo sayings. I’m not sure that’s exactly what he said but I knew it was an Oyedepo.
“Will you do it for me? Will you take out time to sit and really think about your future outside of me and put down goals you want to achieve in the short term that would propel you into achieving long term goals?”
Hian! I didn’t understand a word he was saying but I nodded. And my dears, that was the beginning of the end for James and me o! I swear, my stepmother is behind our breakup.
So, as we drove out of the cinema that day, he gave me two weeks to be all on my own to plan for my future. And you know what? I did as he wanted. I first handled the short term goals. I went shopping; I bought myself a box of clothes and shoes and some nice jewelry. I mean, a girl needs to look good for the future, right? You can’t face your tomorrow dressed like yesterday. Mark that one people. That saying is an Amaka! And it rings true too. If you’re stuck in your past, change your wardrobe!
Two weeks later, he dropped by to check on me and my future. I mumbled something about owning a boutique just to get him off my back. I can tell you he wasn’t impressed. My Jamie is a no-nonsense boy. When he’s made his mind, there’s no going back. He can be downright mean. He looked me in the face, right into my eyes and said the three words that broke my heart for eight solid months.
Okay, that’s two words. Wait…
“It is over.” Yes! It is over. Those were the exact words. Three, short but harsh words that sounded very long that day. What a rotten time that was but thank God I made it. And there I was a year later in one of those big churches in Lagos, pinging my girlfriend while James was securing his own future.
–Fi, dis weddn is borin o! cming home soon
—abeg stay bak 4 mor gist
—mehn, I cnt. Jamie luks so hawt. cnt stand dat he’s marryin watzhername.
—Iz all ur fault nau. u fkd up
—I know but…
“Look at her. She’s not even moved. She’s just on her phone.” I heard a woman say in the background but I continued pinging. Her gossiping had nothing to do with me.
“Ashewo!” another whispered.
Ha-ahn. Which kain church be dis? Watzhername is not that bad. She shows off a lot but ashewo? No, Jamie will not marry that type of person. I shut my ears to the whispers and continued pinging Fiyin.
—D weddn is even skata-skata. ppl r jus makng noise arnd me. i hav 2tel pst Ishi his congregatn is rude
—*batting eye lashes* pst ishi is dere? *covering eyes*
—Er… kip ur tots 2ursef, hez celibate n a tru MOG
I paused from pinging Fiyin and checked a Facebook update. Mtsheeew. Just an idiot liking my status. The LED light on my phone blinked and I went back to Fiyin. What a shock I received when I saw this:
—Is it tru dat Jamie jus calld ur name at d alta
“Me?” I said out loud and looked up ahead of me. James was still standing, facing Watzhername na. Which one was him calling my name at the altar again? Mehn, Fiyin’s pain medication must be getting her high.
My phone vibrated.
I was trying to make sense of the bombshell Fiyin had sent but I was also now aware of my surroundings as the whisperings increased. To my surprise, I noticed all the people around me staring at me, and like a ripple, the ones that were not, started turning my way after other people whispered to them.
Okay, something was categorically wrong here. I knew I was on my period but I was not known to stain myself and last I checked, I was using both a panty liner and a tampon to be double safe. Yet, I couldn’t help moving my bum this way and that to be sure I was okay. I wished I had come with someone so that they would at least tell me what was going on.
Somehow God heard my prayer. A friend of James who was seated in front, whom I totally changed seats to avoid, turned to me and signaled that I should meet him outside. I consciously stood up, still scared that I was stained, and hurried out of the church that was now rumbling in low voices. I wondered what the noise was all about and why Pastor Ishi was asking James to repeat himself. Outside, James’ friend dragged me to the parking lot and after he was sure no one was looking, he started shouting on me for being a whore.
“Okay wait, Shola,” I turned round. “Am I stained?”
“No,” he replied hurriedly. Not because he was angry but because I didn’t have much on my backside to dwell on. I have full hips and luscious double Ds in front but I can’t shake what my mama didn’t give me. Damn her! She had to take it all.
“You went and slept with James,” Shola accused.
“Yesterday, this morning, who cares?! You did it of recent and now he thinks you’re the one he’s saying his vows to! What is wrong with you?!”
“Shola please, talk slowly and explain what is happening. Fiyin just pinged me that Jamie called my name on the altar. For what?”
Shola looked at me like he wanted to bitchslap the cluelessness out of me. If I had flashed my cheeks, he would have done it. While I was with James, he disliked me because he believed I stole James from him; as in, they were not hanging out with the other guys like they used to and James was no longer giving him money to sustain his fake lifestyle.
“Were you on your phone while the solemnization was going on?” Shola asked.
“Which ones is solemnization again?” I asked, annoyed at him for accusing me for sleeping with James, something I kind of wanted to do, ironically.
“See, just because you studied linguistics doesn’t mean you have to be making me look stupid every time. Mtsheew speak normal English jor.”
“I’m talking about the wedding! Give me that phone!” He snatched my BB and explained to me in layman’s terms what James had done. My mouth hung open and I turned in the direction of the church. Then my whole body began to act up like it does whenever I hear bad news. I couldn’t think. I was having problems breathing. My stomach was turning. My head was expanding and shrinking at the same time. My vision was turning black. My knees were shaking and before I could stop myself, I was falling. Yes, I am a fainter and I fainted right on the ground of the parking lot and that stupid Shola did not even catch me. As I fell, I heard him say something like ‘husband snatcher.’ or was it ‘friend snatcher’?
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