(the finale of a two-part series)
… continued from last week
“So you’re telling me your wedding morning fantasy is coke, lime and ice.”
“Yels ke!” Ewa answered and hissed. “And not just anyhow lime oh, fresh lime that will slap inside the mouth tawai tawai.” I laughed as we made our way down the stairs. As maid-of-honor, it was my place to escort the soon-to-be bride on any and every errand, no matter how senseless. At the time, we were raiding the hotel’s in-house bar for coke and ice, with fresh lime that will slap the inner cheeks “tawai tawai”.
“Please do you have any other strange wedding fantasies I should know about?” I was looking at Ewa while I turned the knob to the ice closet, she smiled and shook her head ‘no’. I saw her halt first, then I turned and saw Dayo and the receptionist with their pants on the floor, beside the ice machine.
They both grabbed their clothes from the floor. Ewa stood still; tears welled up in her eyes while Dayo mumbled a series of apologetic mumbo jumbo. She stormed out of the room and I hurried behind her. The climb up the stairs was the longest ever, I struggled with what words to say that would be appropriate but when we reached the landing, all my mind could find was, “So … what happens?”
She replied, “What happens? As in?”
I couldn’t hold back my anger as I yelled at her. “Do you really want to walk into an unhappy life?”
I might as well have been yelling at myself. Incredulous as it was given the happenings at the time, Ewa was laughing. I thought she had gone mad, and my face said so. Eventually she said, “let’s get ready, the make-up artist and hair stylist will soon be here. Or you want us to chase photographers away with our smelling body?”
Just as she walked into the bathroom and shut the door, her phone started ringing. At first I ignored it, but then it wouldn’t stop. “I’m sure that’s Dayo,” Ewa yelled from inside the bath, “please tell him ‘wedding continues’” My head was spinning; I didn’t understand what was going on in her mind. But I did what she asked, Dayo’s sigh of relief on the other end only twisted my guts tighter.
Ten minutes later, Ewa stepped out of the bathroom. I had made up my mind to stop bothering her about it. I would quietly discharge my duties as maid-of-honor and be out of there, not having any part of this suicide mission. I mean, was the girl blind?! But as I made to walk by her, eyes averted, into the still steamy bathroom, she put a gentle hand on my arm. We sat on the bed, in the midst of frilly gowns, spent roses and jewelry, and we talked.
“I know you’re just scared for me, honey, but I am not a fool. Babe, look at me. I maintain a size 3; I never have a bad-hair day or bad-dress day; the paparazzi never catches me unprepared; I organize the best cocktails and dinners suitable for top dignitaries; I speak several languages; I’m up to date with everything going on in the business and political world; his business and political allies love me. Honey, I make Dayo look damn good. For that and more, I will get paid. In a few hours, I’ll own half of everything that bastard is worth. He always wanted a woman like me – one he can treat as he pleases and toss money at to make it alright. I am his answered prayer. Just as he is mine. What Dayo lacks in fidelity, he makes up for in his naivety … and for that, yours truly will be 11 billion Dollars richer. So don’t cry for me, sweetie. My life begins in a few minutes.” Then Ewa brushed her hands against my cheek and walked away.
I was left in shock. Like an epiphany, it all started coming back to me: the newspaper clippings in our apartment announcing Dayo as an expected guest at the ex-governor’s party; the creation of a ‘General Bode’ who was so sick his daughters attended in his place; the show at the birthday party; the “Cinderella-card”; all the media appearances and her stout defense of Dayo’s philandering; all the stunts … it all joined up neatly. Ewa planned this from the very start. For two years, she planned this and none of us as much as guessed.
I lost my voice after Ewa shared her secret with me. I know that the price for knowing her plan is enormous either way – for my benefit if I shut up, and my peril if not. The stylists and make-up artists arrived while I was bathing, and the hustle of getting the bride ready helped me cover up for my lost voice. I still cannot find it as I stand here at the altar, watching her walk towards us, beaming and looking so happy. I look at Dayo and the grin on his face outshines the rays of the sun peeking through the church windows. All I can hear in my head is “… in a few hours, I’ll own half of everything that bastard is worth .”
But I am the maid-of-honor and I have a job to do. I take Ewa’s bouquet as she reaches the altar, then I rearrange her train as the priest begins. With a fake smile emblazoned across my face, I watch the biggest player of our time get played.
By Winifred Adebayo
Words Are Work … and fun too!