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Today's Weather: Abuja NG: Partly Cloudy, Day 360|Night 260

            
05 Mar Written by  Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Conversations at a Wedding

 Six young men surround an elderly man. They are talking, making jokes, laughing.

One, in minutes, was about to be wed; another was the best man. One was already wed and the others were at various stages of certainty— two necessities: a prospective bride and some money having been acquired. One, however, straddles uncertainty and nonchalance.

This last man is our protagonist.

The older man, uncle to the best man, is determined to get their due dates. Our protagonist should have anticipated it. He is a lover of cinema and whatever the demerits of Hollywood romantic comedies, they, at the minimum, have the behaviour of uncles and aunties at weddings correct. Older people pester the young about marriage.

But perhaps as the reader probably knows, one is never quite prepared for these things.

"So who's next?" Uncle asked.

Our hero points.

"When?"

"This year, second quarter"

“Then who?”

Our hero points at his 'nephew'.

Of course Uncle knows this.

“Where's your girlfriend?” Uncle asked.

"She's on the bridal train. They are coming." his nephew answered.

Uncle then settled on Our Hero, the self-appointed, ultra-diligent pointer of other people.

"You dey fear?"

Uncle’s unbridled directness, if unwelcome, was karmic, at least.

Only a few years ago, all of the young men gathered round him— now headed, with differing velocities toward the altar— had used his house to impress, to coax, to seduce. Those lips presumably destined, and by now mostly scheduled to pledge fidelity forever at the head of the aisle had sometime in the past been used to lie, to wheedle, and to kiss a few young women.

If a film was to capture that time, Uncle’s residence would be a supporting character.

It was never quite clear how much he knew of what help his large kitchen, myriad bedrooms and two parlour-ed duplex had been to many a young man looking to score, or entertain. And now these young men would never know. Not that it kept them up nights.

His own kids— one of his two boys, a certified rake was in school with the young men and were hardly exempt from voluptuous proceedings. Their own severe desecration of their parent’s house gave their friends the guts to ferry females.

Uncle was a devout Catholic, and each morning the family and whatever friend was still around gathered for devotions. But his own past, as could be gleaned from throwaway references, was not particularly chaste.

The young men would thank Uncle for his past provision, but they feared that for him, piety topped unwitting philanthropy.

“You dey fear?”

"Yes," Our Hero laughed.

"No fear o."

"Ok sir. But dem suppose go field come back come give me report."

Before he could respond, the Married One grunted. Uncle turned to him.

“When is your turn?”

The Married One made a slow fancy show of his ring finger.

"Oh. I forgot. So you've been advising him abi?" Uncle gestured toward the groom.

'Yes sir. I even gave him the manual.'

This was untrue. The groom had asked the Married One about marriage. The latter’s response was terse: “Guy, marry first and then we will talk.”

In other words, experience is the best teacher. But he was claiming to have granted the groom, who seemed to have taken the non-advice, a module.

‘I hope you're not using our own manual o,’ Uncle said.

“I thought your own was evergreen,” Our Hero queried facetiously.

Uncle laughed.

"You better not use that one. If you use that one for all these new ones, ha! Better download new Microsoft publication." Uncle knows, Uncle says.

"Yes o. I'm giving him good ones,” the Married One said. “He'll give the update to the others.”

They moved toward the church laughing where the ceremony started proper:

“Who gives this woman away in matrimony?” the Minister asked.

It sounded like a threat.

As the couple exchanged vows, the groom recited after the minister, smiling, almost laughing. For her part, the bride’s voice broke.

Cue a wisecrack from one of the young men:

“But na the guy suppose dey cry now,” he said, winking at Our Hero.

He meant the Groom’s philandering days were over. Our Hero suppressed a laugh.

Prayers commenced shortly. One of the prayer points offered was the popular “Lord make the woman submissive and the husband loving.” The submissive bit sounded like something from the old manual, today’s male having lost the domestic benefits his forebears had. The bride didn’t object anyway, at least not at the time.

Next prayer point: “Pray that they don’t get tired of each other”. In other words, may their bodies satisfy each other in these days, when the creed du jour is, "I no fit eat one soup". Upon this, the Wisecracking One said "One soup! One soup! Egusi! Egusi!”

He said it audibly for the young men; yet low so no one else heard— a valuable skill for heckling, mocking lecturers in many of their classes in university.

Premature death was next on the prayer menu. No jokes this time, as they all shouted thunderous amens.

The couple, their parents, and both best man and bridesmaid danced to sign the wedding register. The groom, a renowned bad dancer, surprisingly had a rein on his most destructive dance tendencies; perhaps because every other time he's danced with the young men he had been intoxicated.

Later, discussing the absence of a kiss— the church replaced what some deservingly decadent couples may transform into heavy petting with the exchange of a heavy Bible— the best man asked Our Hero, "So they wouldn't have let them kiss at the reception if the pastors showed up?"

“No, I think they would have,” Our Hero said.

He explained, “The ceremony consists of the spiritual- the recital of vows and blessing of the union- and the legal.

“At the time when the kiss is traditionally done, the latter hadn't happened."

Our Hero laughed at his own specious argument.

“I'm sure they just didn't want any trace of erotica in their church.”

Back in church. After signing the register, the best man returned to his seat

"You know how many times I sign for there?" he asked Our Hero.

"How many?"

“Plenty times.”

The ceremony ended and Our Hero received the unfortunate hand: the best man drove, his girlfriend riding shotgun, and his uncle occupied the backseat.

Our Hero was thus stuck with his inquisitor for the duration of the trip home.

Music played from the car stereo as Uncle launched the first salvo. Our Hero indulged him, telling him “confusion is in my genes.”

“This is the problem when a man is too fine.”

“We'll find you one,” he said. “We don't take money from my side.”

“What if she’s white?”

“That one easy sef. We will just speak to the parents.”

He turned to the best man's fiancée.

“Find him one,” he said in their shared language.

“This one has too many,” she replied.

Our hero figured the slant of the conversation.

“She lies,” Our Hero said in English.

Uncle gave a little background of his marriage. How a lecturer demanded he married his Igbo girlfriend when he got posted to Nsukka as a young man. It goes unmentioned but, a good looking man still, it was clear he gave the ladies a torrid time. The moral of his story was he did as he was told: he married the Igbo girlfriend.

“But you said you are confused.”

“No sir. It was a mistake, my vocabulary is faulty.”

“That's not true. If it was, you for read History or Theatre Arts".

Our Hero wasn’t pleased as he had a fondness for both. Although he didn’t demur, he’d recall Uncle’s broadside when he came upon a line in James Salter’s memoirs “Burning the Days”. About a man who knew things others had long forgotten, the author wrote, “he… was called the Historian, derisively, as if his passion were useless and even embarrassing.”

In the vehicle, Uncle continued with his barrage of questions and persuasions, and Our Hero tried to answer.

“When are you going to Abuja?” Uncle asked.

“In a few days.”

Uncle mulled it over as though contemplating providing Our Hero with a bride in the scant time available. Our hero looked away glad Uncle would be getting off presently.

Frank Oceans “Pyramids” later, Uncle returned the greetings of the couple as he alighted. And then he looked at Our Hero solemnly:

 “Oris,” he said, “I'll be counting for you."

Dog