For long endless moments, Papa stared at me, and the fury in his eyes gradually dimmed.
I can remember that moment clearly; the look on Papa’s face when he realized that I was finally going to be taken away by this man.
“What does he do? And where does he stay?”
“He works and stays in Port Harcourt,” I replied calmly.
“Why not here in Uyo? You mean you will be moving to Port Harcourt after wedding?” he asked, looking amazed.
“Yes Papa. I have stayed all my life in Uyo. From primary school, secondary school and university. I need a change of environment.”
“My daughter, your brother lives in Calabar because he is a man, we allowed him to stay there. He can take care of himself.”
I yawned and sat up, listening to Papa as he tried to convince me by giving me reasons why I should stay in Uyo. It was the first time Papa called me ‘My daughter’. After lots of light arguments, he finally agreed to see Henry and his family. To me, it was the best decision he had ever made.
A month after Henry, his father and a few of his uncles visited for introduction, preparations had started for our wedding.
After Papa interviewed him, asking him questions about his childhood etc., he finally accepted his wine and fixed a date for our wedding.
Mama bought snow-white panties and a brassiere at a lingerie shop for me.
“Only virgins wear immaculate white underwear on the night of their weddings,” she said proudly as she handed them to me. “Put them in your box, you will be wearing that on the night of your wedding.”
“Thank you Mama.”
“Your father isn’t too happy about your getting married,” she said softly.
“I know. But I am not young anymore Mama. I am twenty-four years of age, not a teenager or a baby.”
“You’re still our baby,” Mama said with so much passion on her face. She held my hands for a while and stared at my face for as long as she wanted.
The first day I was going to kiss a man before my pastor, my parents and the congregation was here. It was also the first day I applied lipstick on my lips even though Papa frowned at it. It was the first day I drank a full bottle of fanta orange, without Mama diluting it with water and warning me against diabetes. It was indeed the happiest day of my life. My curls fell almost to my waist, Mama whispered that I looked like a mermaid. Our laughter was deep. Chidera laughed too.
It was my wedding day, and despite the slight drizzle that Saturday morning, I still smiled brightly. My eyes glittered at the large paper decor that carried our faces and names: ‘Nene weds Henry’. You only see those big papers in exquisite weddings.
Papa held my hands tight like he was never going to let it go as the choir led me through the aisle down the podium.
Somewhere in the distance, I heard people murmur words like “She is so beautiful.” While some said “Her dress is so beautiful.”
I could feel Papa’s heartbeat when he handed me to Henry. He felt like he just gave out the most precious thing he’d ever had. I saw tears drop out of his eyes when he let his hands off mine; it was also an emotional moment for me.
I handed my bouquet to Chidera, and my shoulders brushed against Henry’s. My heart pounded as blood thrummed hotly through my veins. I had never been susceptible to a man’s touch the way I was to Henry’s. His presence made me feel like the world was at my feet. I glanced up at him and felt trapped by the fire in his eyes.
He was handsome in his black suit and bow tie. He wasn’t just an ordinary man to me. He smiled, I returned his smile. The photographers took countless shots of us.
Henry’s eyes were dancing with merriment. When he began to make his vows, the sound of his voice ran through me like quicksilver. He focused on my eyes when he said those words that stayed in my heart forever.
At the reception, crowds of influential guests filled the auditorium. My brother, Raphael, made a toast that kept people standing on their feet, applauding thunderously.
“You didn’t just get yourself a wife Henry, you got yourself a virgin, an untouched woman. She is chaste and pure just like immaculate white,” he said, as passion and emotions covered the air in a short while. Yet, he sounded like Mama.
I received lots of gifts from the invitees and mostly the church people. Papa gave us a brand new Toyota Corolla, while pastor Cordelier prayed for us wholeheartedly. He also sponsored our honeymoon to Abu Dhabi. It was indeed the happiest day of my life.
After everyone had gone, I drew a shallow breath. For the first time in my life I knew what I wanted, and I chose it for myself. I went for it without Papa interfering and making me change my mind.
First it was being a woman, that woman I’d always wanted to be.
We were at Radisson Blu, Abu Dhabi.
The kiss was soft, warm and wonderful. I floated on it, enjoying the sensations, savouring the pleasure that eddied through me in gentle waves.
I had never been kissed for that long.
Next Chapter:|Chapter 8|
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3||Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6||Chapter 7||Chapter 8||Chapter 9||Chapter 10||Chapter 11||Chapter 12||Chapter 13||Chapter 14||Chapter 15||Chapter 16||Chapter 17||Chapter 18||Chapter 19||Chapter 20||Chapter 21||Chapter 22|