Previously on: Belle
Garki Area 8,
Federal Capital Territory,
The reception hall in Cunningham Marquee is stunning, it is among the premier party venues. It is among the top three beloved wedding venues in Abuja. The banquet style tables in the large establishment could accommodate just about 1500 people . I appreciated the fact that the air conditioning units were fully functioning. The weather in this city can play terrible games with you. The temperatures would at times soar to 40 degrees Celsius. I must applaud Belle for her choice of venue. I was impressed.
I sat on a table that had three beautiful women and two other dudes. They did not mind my intrusion at all. They spoke Hausa. The local language of the Yoruba people. I smiled at them and we exchanged our pleasantries. Everyone was fussing about how grand the reception was and how it had been decorated in shades of blue and pink. The food served was excellent. There was a variety of cuisines served. Though all of the grand beauty did not matter to me. What mattered to me was that I would see Belle. I wanted to see how she’d look in her wedding gown. That was what made me attend her wedding. Who was the groom by her side? Was she anything like me? What did he do to sway her heart away from me? I knew it would bring pangs of jealousy to my fragile heart. I was not sure if I was ready for it. To see her walking down the red carpet which had pink petals for her to step on.
Perhaps I should tuck my tail and run. But of what help would it be? Wouldn’t I be the coward of the century? I was putting on a brave face, but deep within I was screaming and breaking into a thousand little pieces.
An Hour Later,
“Ladies and gentlemen, let us now stand and clap our hands for the bride and groom.” The master of ceremony said. All heads turned towards the entrance of the reception. I saw her standing there sandy kinky afro hair, the way it came tumbling down just like a waterfall. Her hand-held by the groom, and how she smiled. I knew I was no longer the match to her candle. There was nothing I could do. I wanted to leave, but my legs could not allow me to. The sight of her took me back in time. Back when we’d drive in an old Honda civic through the night. Those five years just seemed like a moment flashing through my eyes. It reminded me of how good it felt having her by my side. But Belle was not with me.
I just stood there as the rest of the crowd clapped as they marched in. The ululations and the cheers sent everyone in a frenzy. The background music they were dancing to happened to be one of the hits that had topped the Nigerian airwaves six times in a row. She looked gorgeous. Her wedding gown fits her perfectly. It was cream in color with flowery embroidery and was skimmed with Ankara patterns on the edge. The groom wore a navy blue suit with a pink band on the waist and a pink bow tie. They looked like a match made in heaven. Maybe this was the old lady karma’s way of hitting a jab at me.
It was time to let it go, though the memories I had with her wouldn’t let it go. I was hanging by a thread. I had to cut the cord and fall back into the black, because if I don’t if I wait till its right then I will be waiting for my whole life. I never told mother that I would be attending Belle’s wedding.
I closed my eyes for a moment, and I remembered what I had with her. A slight tap at my shoulder disrupted my thoughts.
“Jonah abi, long time no see old pal.” A cheerful female voice said. I turned around to see and saw an equally gorgeous lady in a pink sleeveless dress. She had a gold necklace on her neck and earrings that had small dotted diamonds encrusted to its golden outer layer.
“Long time no see for sure.”
“I’m Rosemary, Belle’s friend, we used to hang out back in the days when you lived in Port Harcourt.”
“The years seem to have caught up on me. How have you been?”
“Come join us at our table on the right side of the hall. The whole group is there. Don’t you remember Ikem and Dena from Jos Plateau? What of Abdul-Malik, Adaora (Ada from Benin City), Bako the bald guy, Bolanile, Chidinma, Ekemma, Ekaete, and Dayo?”
“You mean the whole group is there?”
“Yes, we were not so sure though if you would show up since you stopped communicating to us after things went south.”
“Sorry about that.”
“It’s not only me you’ve got to apologize to. Don’t spoil the fun, Jonah. Let us light up your day.”
I bid bye to the three ladies and two guys with whom we shared a table and followed Rosemary. She held my hand and guided me through the various tables that span across the entire hall.
“How did you manage to find me though?” I asked Rosemary.
“I thought I saw someone like you, and I decided to try my luck. Which turned out to be the correct guess. Besides, since you are back in the market I wanted to personally be available since there is no one in the picture. I always had the hots for you, but you never looked my way.
“Will talk about that later. I only came for the wedding not to fish.”
“Isn’t a wedding the best place to find your other rib?”
“I don’t know about that either. In some way would it not be a betrayal to your friend?”
“Is she not married? Is it not the reason we came here today to celebrate her wedding?”
“I came to see her one last time before I change towns.”
“That is so typical of you Jonathan.”
We reached at where the rest of the group was. I felt out of place. Everyone was either engaged or married. Some were on baby number two. The crew was happy to see me. They were glad that I had joined them. In my head, I did not plan to stay for long. All I wanted was to deliver my present and head home. We caught up on a lot of things. They were shocked to that I had no one in my arms after Belle left. They partly blamed me for it.
I preferred to take my present alone, but Rosemary was all-over me. She kept me in her line of sight lest I ghosted her. She insisted that we should both go and deliver our presents together.
Belle looked beautiful. She gazed into my soul for a minute; her eyes, a deep, topaz brown color. It had shades of earthy brown – the color of the earth after rains, scrutinizing things inside of which I could only dream of seeing in myself. She was a mystery. A dangerous beautiful mystery, and I was ensnared in the trap of the memories I had with her. The pearl lights poured on her, showering her with beams of lights. Longingly in that one minute our eyes locked, I devoured her face with eyes, wishing with all my being that I could reach out and brush my hands against her perfectly shaped cheekbones, or under the feathers of her thick, dark lashes.
I wished I’d cupped her cheeks that were slowly turning red. I smiled at her before leaning into her for a hug. My other hand was shaking slightly, my mind was repeating the same sentence over and over; “don’t do this… don’t do this Belle.” But the sound of my heart beating so wildly made me break off the hug. I handed them my present and walked away as Rosemary tucked my arm into hers.
“Don’t worry Jonathan, I’m here. I know how it feels. I have been there before.”
“I have to go, Rosemary, I will not stick for long.”
“Let me escort you then to your car.”
“Why are you so adamant in disregarding the history I had with your friend Belle?”
“Because the groom is my ex-fiancé, Jonathan.”
“Isn’t this complicated as already it is?”
I have a memory, that she will be visiting me every night. Climbing in my bed, and how she could see the good in everything. I close my eyes as I remember how it felt. How we were like Gold. I hope when she sees me in the streets she will say Hi. And if she needs me, well Belle, that is history.
“Jonathan here is my card, give me a call when you reach home.”
“Don’t dwell in the past too much, let me in and we build something.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Rosemary leans in closer for a hug and then she kisses me. She breaks off and heads back to the reception hall.
P.S: Belle is a telenovela that would go on for the first few chapters. I did not intend to write another sequel simply because I’m in the middle of other projects. but the characters are calling out to me.