“Undo my dress, husband.”
Husband… That’s a word that will take some getting used to.
Cynthia and I were married six months from when I proposed, almost a year from when we met up again. Not because we were worried there would be a change of mind – at least not mine – but because we wanted to get the formalities out of the way and continue with our lives.
We didn’t have it down pat, but we were on a path generally considered the right path: we enjoyed spending time together, but were still individuals; we talked about a lot of things – not just gist though there’s a lot of that – but also goals, finances, children. Basically getting a measure of each other and we were comfortable in the silences letting our bodies do the talking – not in that way.
My friends became her friends while her friends and I got acquainted; she pushed me to be better and I didn’t try to dim her shine so I could appear brighter – two of us shining together meant more illumination for us.
Some of this stuff came up at the pre-marriage classes we attended, and we were sitting in class smiling like the cats that swallowed the canary, think half a canary each. And when one of the facilitators said that in marriage we had to be comfortable with each other’s bodies, the effort not to look at her was huge. I bent my head and doodled in my notebook.
They did ask us to stop having sex if we already were, and not to do so if we weren’t. After the wedding, we could go at it like rabbits if we wanted.
We talked about living in two different cities – in the time we were separated she got transferred to Lagos and I got the job in PH – and agreed we would give it a go. We made plans for weekend visits and leave and all that.
Then we got into wedding planning and things got a little weird.
We did not care too much for elaborate, just intimate and we would have fun. We didn’t factor our parents in. That was our mistake.
For context: Cynthia is Yoruba and an only child, I am Igbo and obviously male.
Her mother and aunts had a different plan, they wanted an owambe in every sense of the word; my mother wanted to re-enact my older brother’s wedding (I suspect for the benefit of her meeting women).
We had the means to fund the wedding we wanted, but we agreed the wedding wasn’t only about us. We decided on what was important and didn’t back down on those, for other things we put up half-hearted fights just so the parents didn’t think they could take the reins and gallop away.
Cynthia and I try to keep on the same page, so I must have looked at a dozen wedding gowns before she settled for one. I
got dragged along willingly went to look at halls and decide layouts. The catering and caterers were decided together, everything. Nothing was too small to bring to my attention.
I am pretty chill about events/occasion because I believe that once the date is set the day will come, and by the end of it the event would be done and nobody really important would care about the details.
A week before the wedding my guys threw me a bachelor’s eve party that I saw coming, but didn’t see where it went. Parts of that night still come to me in snatches, like I will be in the middle of something and remember (if that’s the right word) something from that night and I’ll buzz the guys to ask if that memory really happened. Most of it is buried in a haze.
On the eve of the wedding, at one point during the church rehearsal, I looked across at Cynthia and thought, So we’re really doing this?
The Saturday arrived and I was just smiling up an dahn. One of the cameramen actually commented on this. I’ve seen pictures of grooms looking like they’re at the gallows, but every picture I’ve seen of our wedding I was smiling.
Wale was my Bestman, and part of his job was to make sure we got to church on time. He kuku wasn’t stressed because at ten minutes to the time my family and I were seated in the church, and when the organist struck the first few chords of the entrance hymn I was standing at the altar with him behind me.
Cynthia’s father parked her beside me and I turned to look at this beautiful soul who agreed to take me, flaws and all, to be her partner for the rest of her life. In that moment I was overcome by such joy I was surprised I didn’t break into a dance – maybe because I do not know how to.
The ceremony was soon over, and then were photographs and greeting people and going back to the hotel and changing and activities and activities. I was glad we were able to marry what our parents wanted with what we wanted because, looking out at the sea of faces in the hall, they all seemed to be having as much fun as I was.
Wale gave the toast which he started with a fairly sensible story of how he met Cynthia and wondered how she was coping with my craziness, and then he veered off into how she shouldn’t be worried about my ‘performance’.
“You would know this how?” I yelled from where I was sitting beside Cynthia.
Where do I know you from sef?
The reception soon ended and it was off to the hotel for us.
The hotel staff had moved Cynthia’s things into my room, plus decorated the bed with rose petals in the shape of a heart.
I helped Cynthia undo her zip and then spun her round to face me. Our shoes were beside the table, my trousers crumpled beside them.
“Hey you,” I cupped her face in one palm. “Mrs. Nkiti.”
“Mr. Nkiti,” she loosened my tie and pulled it over my head. It got caught in my shirt collar so she tugged, harder than she probably intended, and we started laughing. I leaned forward to touch my forehead to hers.
“I am tired ehn,” she said.
“Me too,” I said. “Come, lie with me.”
As we lay in bed, she was still in her gown and I had my shirt and socks on, I whispered: “I love you Mrs. Nkiti.”
“I love you more.”