They said that girls dreamed of their wedding day all their lives. Not Mojolaoluwa. She stared into the full length mirror in her hotel room and almost couldn’t recognize her face. It was her wedding day, and she had got the face beat of the century. Face beat was the term used to explain what professional makeup artists did to your face to turn you into another person. Most girls had their faces beaten every time they had a party, went on a date, or somebody got married, but Mojolaoluwa was not most girls. The luxury of a face beat was reserved exclusively for her wedding day. She thought she looked beautiful, like an exotic flower that only Archangel Michael could name because it only grew in the garden of Eden. Her wedding dress, a beautiful mermaid dress that did everything to accentuate her generous bosom and voluptuous curves, was designed by an award winning fashion designer that was her fiancé’s cousin. Her red bottom shoes were on the bed, she would never understand the craze for Louboutin shoes, but Tolu had insisted it was the way to be married in style, and Korede had ordered custom made jewelry for the perfect finishing touch, but she hadn’t dreamed about her wedding day until her first bridal dress fitting. That was when it dawned on her that she was going to be married. There was a part of her that thought that because it had happened once before, something would go horribly wrong and the bubble of their relationship would burst, leaving them to go their separate ways. So she waited, almost perversely thinking that if she expected it, it wouldn’t hurt as much as if she didn’t, because the other time it had hurt so bad. So she had had no dreams of a wedding when she knew she was in love with Korede, not when he first told her he loved her and he would die if she left him, and not even when he bought her the BMW for her 30th birthday, even though that was one day she knew she would never forget.
It was one of the hardest decisions Okedike had ever had to take in his life, making Halima have that abortion. He really wanted a child, but Nnamdi didn’t think it would be fair to Flora, and neither did he for that matter. Even Halima had agreed it was too early in their relationship, and had employed very creative cautionary methods to prevent conception since then. And even though they never spoke about it, he knew she wouldn’t mind having his baby, and he didn’t dare tell her that he wouldn’t mind either.
“So oga, will breakfast be ready by noon tomorrow?” Halima’s teasing voice broke his train of thought. She had soundlessly appeared in the kitchen, clad in his shirt from yesterday, buttoned from the bottom to her ribs, hair tousled from last night’s dance. In that moment, he thought she was the best breakfast a man could have. He wondered how her feet always made those noiseless steps that didn’t sound on the tiles in the house. It was a marvel really, because Flora’s feet always made a pattering sound, announcing her before she would arrive. Sort of like a child. He silently willed himself to stop the comparison.
“I’m all done here, sorry baby” was all he said, and led the way back to the bedroom, tray in hand, Halima in tow.
And so it was that they had breakfast, teasing and laughing. After breakfast they did the love dance some more, and fell into sleep after. They woke up hungry, and this time it was Halima who microwaved some jollof rice and grilled goat meat, and then they crawled back into bed and danced and slept some more.
“Do you want to take a walk?” Okedike asked her on Sunday afternoon, not particularly because he wanted to walk, but because a certain gloom had come upon her after breakfast. She was trying to hide it, but he could tell that she wasn’t herself, and he knew it was because he would be leaving for home in a matter of hours. He wished she wouldn’t make it harder on them. To her credit, sometimes she was such a good sport about it, laughing and joking and teasing him, helping him pack his luggage, and driving him so crazy he couldn’t wait to see her again. But once in every while there were those Sundays when she would be withdrawn and distant, and those eyes would have a deep sadness in them, and he hated it because he always felt so helpless.
“No,” she replied. ”I don’t feel like a walk”. He wanted to shake her. She didn’t feel like a walk, didn’t want to see a movie, wasn’t up to a game of chess, didn’t know yet what her plans for the week were. She had spent the past two hours on the couch, staring quite unseeingly into the current edition of Ebony magazine. Okedike decided firmly that he wouldn’t be frustrated, and he would remedy this if he had to shake it out of her. Armed with his new resolve, he walked across the room to where she was curled up on the couch, and picked her up, cradling her in his laps, as he sat. She used to protest this move, saying she wasn’t a baby, and he always firmly told her that she was his baby. But not anymore. These days she would smile and snuggle deeper, and that’s what she did now. Okedike heaved an inward sigh of relief. This wouldn’t take long, he thought. For a few minutes he was silent, just rocking his baby from side to side, kissing her wide forehead. Then he told her the words she badly needed to hear. He told her how important she was to him. How he cherished every minute they spent together. He told her how much he would miss her, how much he loved her. How he planned to see her very soon. She was still silent, only nodding occasionally at something he said that required her to respond. But he knew he had appeased her, when she hugged him so tight he thought his back would break, then spent the next two hours watching TV still cradled in his arms. And when it was time for him to go, she walked him to the car, gave him one last kiss for the road, and waved to him till she couldn’t see the car anymore. It was then she went back to her apartment, and cried her heart out. Cried for the one thing she badly wanted but didn’t really have, cried for a love that had an expiry date that she didn’t even know yet. Cried for a love that was doomed from the word go, yet was the greatest love she had ever known. She cried for hours, until sleep finally took her. And when it was morning and she beheld her swollen eyes in the mirror, she knew she had to do something about it. But first, she would wear sunglasses all day today, even in the office, so the sun better back her up and blaze away.