“YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED!!”
“MY GIRL’S GETTING HITCHEDDDD!!!!”
“AND GONNA START GETTING BOMB DDDDDD!!!!”
“SEE THE BRIDE!!!”
“ADANNE SMILE, IT’S A VIDEO!!”
Ok this is where I ask; whose brilliant idea was Snapcat? And why do they have to scream to make these videos? What is with the head angling? Wait why is there flower on my head? How old are these girls anyways?. I’m trying to be patient with Nnamdi’s cousins but they are wearing me out and I promise, if I hear ‘slay’ one more time, they are sitting in the corridor. Jeez! I just need a minute to go to the bathroom; I need to pee. No. I need to make myself pee before I leave this hotel.
“Can’t you Snapcat elsewhere please?”
Cousin what’s-her-face: “OMG! She said Snapcat”, she squeals as she faces her camera to herself again.
“Guys, my In-law thinks it’s ‘Snapcat’!”
Okay I’m OBVIOUSLY too old for this.
What’s-Her-Face: “So tell us; how did you meet the love of your life?”
Cousin My-Makeup-Artist-Probably-Hates-Me: “No. Tell us how he proposed!”
What’s-Her-Face: “How did you know he was the one?”
“I knew he was the one when he made me smile without speaking.”
I wait for it; the ‘collective sighs’, the ‘awws’, the ‘dreamy look of adoration’, the ones that imagine themselves as me and I feel empty because they’re making me remember being with the one who made me smile without saying a word. They’re making me remember Deji.
I sigh inwardly because I know no one is going to ask me what I mean. What they are really interested in, is how a girl who grew up in the slums of Lagos faked her way through life long enough to own a tiffany ring and a Vera Wang dress. You see these girls, they don’t like me. That’s even being nice. Their true opinion of me is not far off from ‘hood rat’. But, they like my story, what I represent; a real life Cinderella who went from nothing to something. I give them hope. Hope of “if she could marry a rich man, I can do it too”. To them, I am ‘goals’. So I don’t tell them of waking up to the man of your dreams in nothing but his polka dots socks (because the floor is cold), him making eggs for breakfast for you because he is trying to be romantic and bring you breakfast in bed. Him telling you this when he comes to kiss you good morning but you both can’t get enough of each
other and you end up eating burnt eggs, with your legs wrapped around his waist laughing at how ridiculous it is to think this is the best egg toast you’ve ever had.
They would never relate to fighting with your man because he ate the last slice of pizza he said he didn’t want but you saved from the restaurant, only to get home to an empty fridge. Or the 7 boxes of pizza that show up at work the next day; “I am sorry, forgive me baby”. Each word for a box but you eat the box with the “,” comma on it because he knows how people who don’t punctuate annoy you. A whole box of pizza to put a comma?! How can you stay mad? How long can you be angry at a man who leaves work to fix the AC at your mother’s house? Or has sanitary pads on his shopping list because he knows you always forget to buy and scatters it in all of your frequent bags so you’re not caught unaware? Or the days you get messages that come so accurately you’re sure he’s watching you. “Try and calm down today babe, we are surrounded by idiots” right before a potential fight with a colleague. How you can explain that type of love to these girls? These Instagram snapping, Facebook posting, Twitter tailors clan?
So I don’t tell them about the love of my life.
I tell them about my fiancé, the one I would vow “till death do us part” in a couple of hours when he becomes my husband. I tell them the story they crave, the one they would relate back to their significant other as hints; the dinner on a rooftop, the dance in the 5-star ballroom, the proposal. Of course I leave out that it got cold on the rooftop and my fiancé wouldn’t even offer me his jacket and I nursed a cold the whole of the next day, how the ballroom was actually my idea even though oga had been saying he was tired and wanted to go home but still managed to suggest to everyone how it was his idea. I leave out all those parts because you’re not supposed to show the ugly side of your relationship. I stretch out my hand for emphasis as I tell them about the proposal and I bask in their collective gasps, awwnn, hugs and dreamy look.
I smile to myself. At least my lips curve upwards and so it must be a smile.
I have it all. I have what they crave and they can’t take it from me even if they think I don’t deserve it.
I smile again.
Funny thing is, you know all those “positioning yourself”, “know what you want and go for it”, “playing hard to get to keep him interested” yarns? I did none of those! Please laugh with me because all I wanted to do was get under someone new to get over my breakup, not end up with a ring but hey, they don’t need to know all that. They just need to know I won in life.
“So where’s the honeymoon?”
“It’s a surprise, he planned it all.” I gosh with an air of indifference. I hate that I don’t know where we are going; whether to pack light or get repellents or take a bowl of soup with me. I hate not being able to plan ahead. Then I see her; the girl I have become, the one ready to sell her soul to prove a point and it scares me.
“I need to pee.”
“In your wedding gown?” Sara asks, the terrible makeup doing little to hide the horror in her face.
Wait am I doing something wrong?
“You can’t take a leak in a Vera Wang Classic. It’s just not right.” Tinuke says while looking for the perfect angle to take a picture with her snapchat flower crown.
Leak Ke? Omo na piss I wan piss. These girls well like this? I say this in my mind though. God forbid I speak anything that isn’t Queen’s English around Nnamdi’s family.
“Ada, maybe you should off your cloth first” my sister, Okukwe, asks cautiously.
“Off cloth ke. Ontop to piss?”
Oh shit! I said that out loud. I can see their faces; the tight smiles and the polite absent mindedness like they didn’t hear me. Like I didn’t spend 18 years of my life negotiating on the streets. Like a ring from a rich man should erase the days we slept in uncompleted buildings and fought with area boys for sleeping space.
I roll my eyes inwardly.
This is my sister. This is who we are and how we talk. We’re streets, we are family. I shouldn’t have to form for her right? I’ve never had to! Never for one day did he make me feel less than I was, never! He loved it. He loved me, my family, and my heritage. He visited my mom and slept over in the heat. We stayed up all night because of the mosquitoes and he had fun killing them. It was a form of victory to him, the amount he could get killed in one night. My mother never needed a new apartment to make others feel comfortable, she didn’t need to go to a language school to speak well. She needed to be accepted. We needed someone to love us and accept us and not try to change us.
He loved us.
He loved me.
I was a fool. We were both fools.
Now he can’t come to my wedding because he doesn’t…how’d he put it…he doesn’t want to be here. He sent me, his best friend, a fucking text on my wedding day to tell me he doesn’t want to be here?! I’m sitting on the toilet seat sending a long ass text to him. How dare he not come and watch me be happy? How dare he not be here to regret letting me go? Reading the text makes me see red all over again! How can he get away so easily with breaking my heart and leaving me with nothing to love anybody else? I have nothing left, I gave it all to him. I need him to know all that. I need him to feel as empty as I do. I need him to regret not choosing me. I need him to choose me. Nah, i can’t make him feel the pain I’m feeling in a text. I’m going to tell him in person. Yes, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to tell him my mind then walk down the aisle with a clear head.
I have an hour to leave and come back.
I can’t stop crying.
I’ve tried everything but the tears won’t stop flowing. I don’t even know what I was thinking, what I was expecting. That I would storm out of my hotel room, stop a cab by whistling between my fingers, storm into his house only to see him rushing to stop my wedding? Then I would pour out my heart to him and we would make up and call my family and everything would be fine? Pffttttt! Hollywood will be the death of me.
First off, I couldn’t leave my hotel room as easily as I thought. I had to lie that my mother wanted to pray for me then I ran from my room to the lobby, which was extremely hard considering I was wearing a wedding gown. Which I should have taken off but thought it would be a romantic spin but the movies and real life are two very different things. I didn’t imagine the receptionist trying to hold me back and tearing my train in the process, or the cab driver who spent the whole journey preaching to me, or the look on my security man’s face when I went to pick up my spare. “Aunty, I no no say you be bad person like this”. Maybe I am a bad person for wanting to hurt him as badly as he hurt me. I thought it would be worth it when I saw the look on his face but it has been 4hours since I came into an empty house. I can’t bring myself to call him. I can’t even turn on my phone; the calls, the messages, everything! I’ve tried sleeping but it wasn’t very helpful. And I’m so hungry. Maybe I should take a cup of water. Maybe I should clean up his mess of a kitchen to keep myself busy. I get up and head to the kitchen.
Then I see him, holding a long brush, and my heart skips a beat.
This is my life right here, my world. It feels like forever but I’m face to face with the love of my life and I don’t know what to say. All the speech I had planned out, everything is gone! My mind is blank! Save for the truth, the sad truth.
I hear myself say out loud for the first time since I confirmed it in the toilet. “I peed on a stick and found out I am pregnant, Deji”. But he doesn’t react because it’s all in my head. I want to say those words so bad. I want him to be the first person I tell. I want, no, NEED him to understand we can’t just go back to being us again because things have gotten so complicated but I don’t say it.