Standing at the altar, he looks round at the faces in the congregation and inwardly he smiles. He is surrounded by family and close friends and he can almost feel the goodwill emanating from all of them gathered there, smiling back at him. Completing his visual sweep of the church, his eyes come to rest on the vision standing on the other side of the Priest. Although the lace veil obscures her face, and her slightly bowed head hides her expression, in his mind’s eye he can see the mischief dancing in her eyes, feel the merriment in her heart, confirmation of which he gets from the slight smile tugging at the corners of her lips and he smiles, baring his teeth in a huge grin as he wonders, like he has done many times before, how he got this lucky.
It started with a twitter follow and follow back. They later exchanged Blackberry pins and chatted off and on. Then one day he tweeted about relationships and love and, like a number of people on his timeline, she retweeted something about her being there, available and ready. A few short weeks later they were in a relationship so intense, it felt like two people who had been kept apart for too long and could not bare to be separated any longer.
In the beginning, it was hard. Between his job and her location at the time, they went weeks without seeing each other, but they somehow seemed to find a way around their situation, or at least a way to cope and to manage things.
When they met, he was rudderless and spiralling out of control; her maturity helped him course-correct. She was coming from a bad place and he did do more than just stand there beside her and hold her hand, not letting her go. It will seem that was enough because here he is today, getting married to this woman who completes him like no other.
“If anyone knows of any reason why these two should not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, speak now, or forever hold your peace…” The Priest says.
How does a ceremony that begins “Dearly beloved…” progress into an invitation to strangers to kick against it? He wonders. After all, it is a union between two people who have searched their hearts and decided to go ahead with it. Fortunately, I have nothing to hide.
The Priest waits a moment and opens his mouth to continue when a small voice whispers “I object.”
A gasp goes up around the church. He swivels his head to seek out the voice, and notices the congregation had swelled; the number of people had increased. “I object!” This time stronger, firmer, bolder.
Then one by one heads pop up in the congregation, people he had not noticed earlier, each with an objection. All of them female.
“You promised me you would never leave me,” one said.
“You told me that I was your one and only,” said another.
“You said you would come back for me,” yet another. As the accusations fly from one end of the church to another, the women walk from among the pew toward him. He tries to stand firm, though he is visibly shaken; he recognises all of them, and they speak the truth! He turns to the Priest who has taken a few steps away from him, then to his bride, no, his would be bride and sees a look of such horror and disgust on her face, a look so intense not even the lace can veil it.
He tries to reach out to her, but she just steps out of his reach. He looks around him and sees the women closing in on him. They have closed ranks in a semi-circle, cutting off his escape route down the aisle and out the door. Two of the women have children holding onto their arms. Where have these come from?
It is then he remembers the small exit just around the corner by the far end of the altar, it is that door that he dashes for. He walks briskly towards it, then breaks into a jog and by the time he reaches the door, he is in full flight. He grabs the door handle, turns it and shoves his shoulder into the door like a battering ram. The door flies open under the impact and he instinctively knows something is wrong, but his brain cannot process it as it is too preoccupied with getting him as far away from the church as possible. The earth seems to shift beneath his feet, and he is falling…
I sat up in bed, covered in beads of sweat. I reached for my Blackberry and holding it just under my nose I looked at the time, it was 01:07. Even as my breathing gradually returned to normal, I knew there was no chance of sleep anymore tonight.
This has been a recurring nightmare now for about a month. In some, we meet at a bar, or on the aircraft or at a friend’s office; the guests morph into members of a task force, or all become children ranging in age from nine to under a year, or have helmets on where they should have gay geles and caps, and and things flew about.
Only two things are constant in everyone: I never get to take the wedding vows and, I never got to see the face of the would-be bride even though in the dreams she is someone I know very well. Heck, I even know her history!
Maybe I should seek medical help, maybe I should seek spiritual help. Maybe I should seek both. I really do not know, I just want to know who this woman of my dreams is, but more than that, I want my sleep back!
PS: So on Monday at noon my BB started acting funny. In the fashion of a people used to crappy network service, I blamed Etisalat until I noticed I actually had ‘3G’ on my phone; then I blamed Etisalat even worse! I did the hard reset aka battery pull so many times, I ran down my battery from that action alone, then I rested.
I later found out it was neither an Etisalat, nor a Nigeria problem; it was a Research In Motion (RIM) problem. Did that knowledge help me breathe easier? No.
At 00:40 on Thursday morning, I received my first BBMessage, and that was closely followed by a deluge of broadcast messages that made me wonder at the users of smart phones, but not for long – after all, it is the phone that is supposed to be smart not the user.
One of the things I learnt from this episode though is my almost total dependence on the Blackberry.
I have a number of people I am constantly in communication with, but realised I did not have any phone number(s) for. I had almost become like the driver who refused to accept the presence of a train track in his path because his GPS did not show an obstacle!
The other thing I learnt is that good ol’ telephone actually still works. It is amazing what we find out about ourselves when gadgets fail.