Every Nigerian loves wedding ceremonies, no, that’s not right, every Nigerian loves wedding receptions and I am not afraid to generalize.
You see, no one really likes to sit through three boring hours listening to the officiating minister drone on about cliche marital vows; no one and I daresay not even the couple because if you have very sharp eyes like mine, you might catch the groom dozing off every now and then.
There are two main reasons Nigerians love wedding receptions; one, everyone gets to show off their own style of the uniform asoebi on the dance floor and two, the food. We all look forward to the food.
On this day, my best friend and I were already seated in the reception hall. It was at a restaurant a stone’s throw from the church so the couple would have no difficulty or delay in getting here early. We weren’t really formally invited because when you belonged to House of Fellowship Christian Cathedral, one didn’t really need an invitation card to attend the wedding of a fellow member.
The hall was decorated in blue, white and red, with chairs covered in clothes of the same colours.
PSquare‘s Beautiful Onyinye was blaring loud and dimming low intermittently, an indication that the engineers still had some wiring to perfect. The MC was testing the microphone every now and then.
Women in bright red geles were laughing and gisting, their voices blending with the noise from the speakers, and men in filas were greeting friends or typing something on their smartphones. It was the perfect ambience for a party.
We occupied the front seats, Funbi and I along with others that had come in earlier. By now, there was no vacant seat in front. Front seats were usually hurriedly taken by huge women and their anonymous friends if one did not want item 7 and souvenirs to pass them by. You know, the early bird gets the fattest worm . . .
“How long shall it take them to round up in church?” Funbi asked absentmindedly, her eyes glued to her Nokia Lumia phone.
“When they finish, they finish,” I replied evasively.
Thankfully, this couple did not take time at the church for barely fifteen minutes after my best friend asked, whispers went around that the couple had arrived.
The MC asked for a lady volunteer and then began to call out prominent people to the high table.
“They should make it snappy,” Funbi whispered a little too loudly when it was beginning to seem that the MC wouldn’t stop.
“I wonder. All that rice will be getting cold by now,”
Neither Funbi nor I wore the asoebi though we wore clothes synonymous to the theme colour but it was okay since there were several others in the room who weren’t wearing the aso ebi.
“Abi now. But the organizers of this party didn’t plan it well. Remember the last one we attended? Jennifer hooks Segun? It was a buffet, serve yourself. This one, they didn’t plan well,” she added, raising her phone up to her face to take the thousandth selfie.
The fat woman whom we shared the table with cast what seemed like a chastening glance at us.
The MC now told us to rise in honour of the bride and groom as they danced their way in.
“Her hair is not fine sha,” Funbi whispered to me above the din of Sunny Neji’s Oruka.
“Her dress makes up for it,” I answered.
“If she had come to my shop . . .” The music drowned the rest of her words.
A few minutes later, the couple were seated at the high table, drinks were starting to go round, indicating that food would soon follow, Funbi was already bringing out a polythene bag from her purse, the MC was inviting the chairman of the occasion for a speech when I noticed a tall dark-skinned lady walking up the aisle to where the MC was.
My initial thought was that she had some business with him as people usually went up to whisper something in the MC’s ears. However, things took a different turn when quicker than a butterfly’s blink, her walk turned into a run few feet away from the stage and she snatched the microphone from the talking MC’s hand, turned to the high table and faced its occupants.
I elbowed Funbi, gave her a nod for her to look forward. By now, loud whispers of confusion were going around.
“You!” the lady spoke loudly into the microphone, addressing the groom and startling everyone. “You thought you could easily leave me? after all your promises, ba?”
The people at the high table exchanged glances. The bride slowly turned to look at the groom in an equally shocked face.
The MC tried to pry the microphone off her hands but her grip was firm and she roughly shoved him aside.
“You cannot marry her o. You lie. You cannot forsake me and our son for this pig of a woman! That is impossible!”
Funbi pinched me, I squeezed her hand, things were getting exciting.
“Ha! Mo gbe!” somebody cried out. It was the bride’s mother.
The bride herself looked like death walked over. In a matter of minutes, she had transformed from this elated bubbling woman to someone that had just seen a spirit. The groom looked lost, like a stray toddler at the marketplace. His mouth agape, his hands spread out like someone who had just been caught stealing, his eyes darting here and there as if looking for someone to extricate him.
“This is going to be interesting o,” Funbi whispered mischievously in my ear. As if planned, we both whipped out our cellphones and began to video the whole scene.
The fat woman at our table eyed us but we didn’t mind. Things like this happened once in a blue moon and we wanted to be able to tell people afterwards that we had witnessed it all firsthand.
“You will never be with anyone else, you useless man! You will never know joy! You can never be happy!” the dark-skinned lady swore.
People shifted uncomfortably in their seats and rude exclamations of “men!” “blood of Jesus!” “can you imagine?” circulated the entire hall. Funbi and I were not left out.
Funbi was already rejoicing in her preemptive verdict that all men were unfaithful when suddenly two men in casual wear burst into the hall.
For a split second, everyone turned to look and then followed them with observing eyes as they rushed forward and grabbed the lady who shrieked into the microphone so ferociously that I was deaf for a moment.
There was a commotion now at the turn of events. Everybody was talking at once. The lady was putting up resistance. The people at the high table were whispering fiercely. One of the men yelled for help and got very willing hands to help move the screaming lady off the stage and out of the hall.
We could still hear her shouting, “Leave me alone! He’s my man!” outside.
One of the men who had stayed back picked up the microphone the lady had dropped and addressed us,
“Ladies and gentlemen, that woman we just dragged out is my cousin . . . Em-em, she is not in her right senses . . . We are sorry for everything,” he faced the high table and half-prostrated, “please find it in your hearts to forgive us, thank you.” And with that, he was out of the hall.
The hall went deathly quiet. Men and women exchanged bewildered looks. Funbi and I asked puzzling questions with our eyes. The ambience in this hall was tense but not for long. A shrilly voice came on the microphone, breaking into a song;
“Winner o o oh, winner! Winner oh oh oh, winner! Jesus You done win o . . .”
It was the bride’s mother. Eyes closed, she waved her hands in the air as if she had achieved a victorious feat.
As if on cue, the whole hall joined her, everybody on their feet, swaying hips and shaking buttocks.
Everything was back to normal.