Aaaaaand we are back!!! I have been gone for so long that I am even afraid that I may have forgotten how to write..lol! I missed you guys so much. Thank you to everyone who sent me a message to ask how the exams were going, followed by a subtle ‘so when are you writing the next story?’ I can’t wait to see where this new phase of writing will lead to, but I sure can’t wait to find out. Welcome to all the new readers- I see you! For those of you who are fasting in the period of Lent, I wrote a piece about fasting on Tested with fire that you might find interesting.
Now on to today’s story! Dedicated to one of my favourite Twitter darlings- Afadjato. Happy belated birthday Fui! Your sense of humour and wit are two of my favourite things about you. We should totally write a story together! Happy reading! ❤
The church looked like it was the home for rats and cockroaches- dusty, poorly lit, slighty musky and old. After all, Jesus did say he welcomed everyone. The pew Ayebea was sitting on had not been cleaned in ages and it creaked like a 250 pound woman had sat on it a little too heavily. The pink dress she was wearing was the only decent thing she could find that wasn’t in her dirty clothes bin and the wire in her brassiere kept moving. Every time she fidgeted, the damn pew creaked, causing the usher at the other end to give her a dirty look.
Whatever happened to welcoming people with open arms? Why don’t you change your pews instead?
Of course, she could not say that. Her mother would have killed her. Mama was one of the deaconesses in the church and she took her role very seriously. She left home at 4:30am for the church’s morning devotion, after putting Dada’s koko in a flask. Mama was one of the church’s welfare correspondents, which was a fancy name for the people in church who knew everything about everyone- from birthdays to how many children they had out of wedlock to who had not been for communion in the last 3 years- everything. She was the unofficial mother of the church. That was why it hurt her that Ayebea wasn’t a church girl. She had stopped nagging her to follow her to church, but Ayebea knew that Mama still muttered silent prayers to God about it when everyone was asleep.
The prayers was probably working.
How else could anyone explain why Ayebea would wake up at 8am to accompany Mama to a wedding at church? Everyone knew that Ayebea woke up at 11am on Saturdays and yet today she was seated in church, watching Mama move from pew to pew, greeting the people who had come from the groom’s church. She had a smile for everyone and a different conversation starter for every person. She carried someone’s baby and complimented another’s lace dress. She paused to greet another deacon and whispered something to one of the ushers.
She is really good at this.
Ayebea’s thoughts were interrupted by the entrance of the groom. He looked like he was pouring out of the suit he was wearing, like the seams were only being held together by the blood of Jesus. He was chewing gum and he had sun glasses on. Ayebea frowned.
Even I know that it is bad manners to chew gum in church. And what is it with the sun glasses? Does the church have a sun roof that I don’t know about? Sigh.. this is why I don’t come to church. I will keep complaining and miss my blessing.
The bride came 45 minutes later than the invitation stated. The worship leaders looked relieved. After all, it was exhausting to convince the congregation to lift up their hands when everyone knew it was just a way to while away time until the bride arrived. She walked down the aisle, with a timid smile on her face, pausing long enough for her friends to take a picture of her dress for Snapchat.
‘…Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.’
The woman seated behind Ayebea was singing in what seemed like a combination of Alto and Tenor in such a hoarse voice. What made it worse was that she insisted on singing every word a tad bit later than the rest- and she had her own adlibs in Twi. She kept inserting Yesu ee, M’agya and Agyenkwa ee everywhere she could. Ayebea was greatly relieved when the minister said, ‘The last verse please.’
Bless your soul, Rev Danso!
They never got to singing the last verse. Everybody in the church turned to the sound of scuffling at the entrance of the church. There were two women in wedding gowns at the entrance. One of them was in a bustier ball gown and the other in a mermaid gown. The ushers were trying to prevent them from entering the church and the women were bent on doing just that. Ayebea turned to look at the groom. The sunglasses were off his face and he had suddenly stopped chewing the gum.
Rev Danso started to make his way to the entrance while the bride kept hurling questions at the groom. From where she was seated, Ayebea could see him mouthing ‘Baby, calm down. I am sure it is nothing’ to the bride.
Honey, he is lying and he is doing it at the feet of Jesus, of all placees. It is definitely something.
The two other brides made it past the usher barricade and met Rev Danso halfway. By this time, the whole congregation was buzzing with anxiety.
Reverend: How may I help you?
Bride 2: We don’t need any help, Osofo. We are also here to get married.
Reverend: We are already having a wedding here.
Bride 3: It seems you don’t understand. We are here to get married to that useless boy, David. (pointing at the groom)
The congregation gasped. Ayebea started scanning the room for her mother. She had counselled the couple and sort of felt responsible for them. She also liked having things under control and hated surprises. This was definitely a surprise and it was getting more and more out of control by the second.
Groom: Ladies, calm down. There is no need to create a scene (making his way to the centre where the two other brides were.)
Bride 3 who was obviously the more aggressive one of the two retorted, ‘Don’t tell me to relax after sleeping with me and making me have three abortions. Three! Just last month, you were in my house telling me how this girl wouldn’t stop calling you even though you had told her to stay away from you. And now you are getting ready to marry her abi? No problem. We will all get married today.’
She sprinkled some Ga expletives on the mess she had just cooked up. Ayebea winced and bent her head when she realized that some of the bride’s ‘friends’ were recording the spectacle on their phones.
Anything for a good gossip, huh?
Rev Danso calmly looked at the groom in the eye and asked, ‘Is what she is saying true?’
Bride 2 didn’t even wait for him to answer.
‘Don’t bother to lie, David. We have two sons together. You kept telling me that you were not ready to get married and yet here we are, today. You swore that you would marry me as soon as you were on your feet. It looks like you are on your feet now so let’s get married. Look, I even brought the boys.’ Everyone turned to look in the direction in which she had pointed. There were two boys standing in the doorway of the church- the first one about 4 years old and the second, barely a year old. They all had their father’s head and eyes. The original bride was now crying softly in her mother’s arms. Rev Danso looked completely at sea.
Bride 3 started laughing.
‘You think you are smart eh? You decided to have a private wedding so that we won’t find out. But God is not mocked, whatever you sow, you will reap. It is in the Bible, ask Osofo. We are all here- marry us. We have wedding gowns and all. I had no idea that you could rent gowns until this week. We have come to say ‘I do’. Infact, we all do.’
Ayebea turned to look at her mother again. Her eyes had reduced to slits and she had a frown on her face.
Reverend Danso asked again, ‘Is what they are saying true?’
The yes was so soft. As soft as a feather. But the whole church heard it.
‘Oww David!’, everyone exclaimed. Even Ayebea joined the chorus.
David, this is very disappointing.
Papa Osofo Danso turned on his heels and walked back to the bride, who had taken off her veil and ruined her makeup with her tears. He knelt beside her and whispered something into her ears.
Mama? She got up, walked up to David and gave him a resounding slap. The kind that could have risen Lazarus from the dead or parted the Red Sea. It was the kind of slap that the bride’s brother would have given him if she had one.
There was silence, as if everyone was afraid of incurring Mama’s wrath and receiving a slap of their own. Bride 2 looked uncomfortable like she regretted coming to ruin someone’s day. Bride 3 looked unperturbed, yes almost satisfied and victorious. Clearly she had an axe to grind. Three abortions was no small record.
Mama didn’t say a word on her way home. Not one word.
As for Ayebea, she could not get the howling of the first bride out of her mind. She couldn’t even make jokes about following Mama to church more often for more soap opera moments. Nobody deserved to go through this. Nobody. Not on their wedding day of all days.