“Silence please” the priest called out over the microphone as the murmurs from the congregation grew louder.
The church became silent again then the priest repeated his question for the third time, “Do you Olayemi Bukola Odutola, take this man ….” , this time it was as if something had suddenly jolted Yemi back to reality, the priest’s question seemed to have called her back from planet Mars where her mind had temporarily travelled on vacation. “Yes, I will” she slowly answered, I could tell she wasn’t very confident about those words but only I and the other bridesmaids understood why, “it’s good to finally have you back” the priest said chuckling as he continued with the marriage ceremony, “I see this happen a lot so It’s not new to me” he announced to the congregation, “it even happened at my own wedding day back in 1978” he joked trying to ease the tension that had built up in the church, it seemed to work because everyone laughed and the ceremony went on as usual.
During his sermon he preached about how marriage was a covenant between man and wife in the presence of God that should never be broken, he emphasized on both man and wife being faithful to each other and not letting anyone or anything come between them, I could only hope Bayo was listening to all he said because as far as I was concerned that message was for him. After the ceremony, Bayo and Yemi walked out of the church hand in hand smiling and waving to their guests as they walked slowly down the aisle and out of the church with the groomsmen and bridesmaids following closely behind. I hid my face behind the hymn book when they got closer to the back row so that Yemi wouldn’t see me, they went out to the lawn to take pictures with their guests, family members and well wishers, I felt bad once again that I couldn’t be part of the photo session, as a form of consolation, I told myself it was the price I had to pay to make my friend and adopted sister happy.
After what seemed like a decade, the photo session was finally over and everyone began to make their way to the reception venue, of course some foodies had already gone ahead of everyone else to reserve seats for themselves at the reception venue, the heads of the foodies association probably didn’t even attend the church service at all, they were probably waiting at the reception venue while the church service was going on. I wonder why people do that, If I ever get married I’ll make sure no one is allowed into the reception until the church service is over, it can be so annoying seeing people that only came for the food(association of foodies) comfortably seated when those who began the marital journey with the couple at the church are left to stand or struggle for seats with them. Bayo and Yemi left to the reception in grand style, they drove alone in a Porsche convertible, one of Bayo’s new cars which he had just launched, the car was nicely decorated in ribbons and “just married” plate numbers at the front and back of the car, I’m sure they must have had a heart to heart discussion on their journey to the reception, Yemi probably had a lot of explaining to do, I just hoped she hadn’t dragged my name into the conversation so I wouldn’t become the number one enemy of the newly formed Solanke family.
The rest of the train followed them behind in a convoy with the limo while I trailed far behind with the other guests in my very normal car, the reception venue was nicely decorated with fresh white and pink flowers at the entrance and on every table, there were two sets of caterers serving African and continental dishes, there was a shawarma and small chops stand, a chocolate fountain and a cocktail stand, I don’t want to bore you with all the edible details but simply put, there was enough food and snacks to feed a nation in that hall,I’m sure the foodies were very happy. They got a popular comedian to be their master of ceremony and he did a wonderful job in keeping the guests entertained, the hall was big enough for me to successfully stay out of Yemi’s sight throughout the reception, she seemed to be in a much better mood and was all smiles the whole time, I guess she and Bayo had talked things through and she was feeling better.
While standing at the shawarma stand waiting for my turn to get one, I bumped into one of the groomsmen I had met during the dinner the day before the wedding, “hey you” he said nudging me by my side, “weren’t you supposed to be on the train with us?” he asked, “Yes, I was” I stammered thinking of what excuse to give for my abscence on the train, “so why weren’t you with us?” he probed further, “erm, I had gastroenteritis” I found myself saying, I wonder why that was the first thing to come to my head, I really suck at lying. Gastroenteritis is an infection in the stomach and intestines chatacterised by nausea, vomitting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and sometimes fever. It is usually caused by bacteria and viruses that get into the stomach when contaminated food or water is ingested, the good news is that it usually goes away on its own within 3-7 days most times, in some cases caused by bacteria, antibiotic treatment may be necessary. The most important thing to do if you have gastroenteritis is to ensure you stay hydrated by drinking a lot of fluids especially water, take paracetamol to help control the fever if any and get plenty of rest. You only need to go to the hospital if you start to get severely dehydrated such that you’re dizzy or passing very small amounts of urine, your fever becomes very high or you start to pass bloody diarrhea.
I guess the guy probably knew a bit about the condition because he looked at me suspiciously and said “you seem to be eating a lot of junk for someone that has gastroenteritis” and pointed at the cup of ice cream I was holding in my other hand, he also pointed out the fact that I was queuing for shawarma, I just smiled sheepishly, I couldn’t think of any other reason to give so I quickly changed topics and disappeared once I had gotten my shawarma. It was really annoying that I had to be creeping about the wedding anytime I was in an area that wasn’t so crowded so Yemi wouldn’t spot me by mistake, I felt like a wedding crasher, I couldn’t believe I was an outcast at my own friend’s wedding, If anyone had ever told me this would happen, I would have spat in their face for saying that. I guess that’s life for you, it’s totally unpredictable! I must confess that sneaking up and down the hall every time I needed to get food was no easy task, It made me understand how it felt to be a rat trying to steal food from the kitchen without getting caught.
My creeping had been so successful that even the other girls didn’t know I was at the wedding, somehow I had managed to avoid them too, they mostly stayed at their table close to the couple throughout the reception, I would’ve gotten away without being noticed if the master of ceremony didn’t start announcing for all the single ladies to come out for the catching of the bouquet, at first no one except the bridesmaids came out then the Master of ceremony announced to everyone to look around them and send any lady who didn’t have a ring on her finger out to the front of hall, I was going to hide my hands under the table, unfortunately I was too late, one of the overzealous Aunties I was sharing a table with noticed my bare fingers and announced to the others sitting around that there was a single lady in their midst, they all encouraged me to go out but I kept shaking my head and politely refusing, then one of them got out of her chair and started pulling me to go to the front of the hall, the others started shouting “there is one here” to the MC as if they had just caught a thief, unfortunately for me, they got his attention and he started announcing into the microphone “there’s a single lady in cream hiding at the back, single men around her kindly bring her forward” ,all heads turned towards the direction of the hall where I was seated and immediately two guys rushed towards me and took over from the overzealous Aunty and gently ushered me to the front of the hall.
As soon as I reached the front, the moment I had been dreading finally came, Yemi spotted me, I was scared to even look at her, I tried to steal a glance without making eye contact but our eyes met,I noticed the smile on her face suddenly disappear, with the look on her face, you’d think one of Bayo’s exes had just shown up uninvited at the wedding . I watched her walk up to the MC and whisper something into his ears, he seemed to start looking in my direction afterwards, he picked up his microphone to start making an announcement while Yemi stood beside him holding her bouquet with her hands by her side. “The bride has just informed me that….” he began announcing into the microphone, I knew Yemi could be really daring when she was angry, All sorts of things began running through my mind,what did she tell him? What was he about to announce? Was I about to be publicly disgraced? Were they going to announce for security to take me out? I started to wish I had just stayed away like everyone had earlier advised..