Only a short while to go before the skies parted for the sun to arise.
You could hear the crows and their morning call.
In homes around the area, you could hear the moving engines that are people, as they prepared for the new day.
The keys clanked on the front door as I let myself in.
The cold from the Harmattan morning froze beneath my nails.
“I should have worn gloves.” I thought to myself as I dropped the mail on the receptionist desk. I was the first one here most days.
It was the safest place.
Cliche, as most people claim it as the home of their safety but it truly was that for me.
I have always had a questionable relationship with the church; or God.
But the events of the last few years have been truly humbling.
The way things moved or transpired, I continue to be amazed by how quickly it all changed.
And how everything I thought was not what it was.
I turned on the lights in the main auditorium.
Glancing at the huge wall clock behind me, the time showed 6:48am.
A few paces, and I was back to the technical department where I handled the visual display for the first service on Sundays.
Tuning things in preparation for the welcome chaos that was Thanksgiving Sunday, I realized that it was now 7am.
I needed to check if my brother, Dimeji, had woken up to get my sons Matthias and Tomas ready for church.
He was notorious for not waking up on time, the type to set 5 consecutive alarms to finally wake up.
I tapped my pocket and realized that I had left my phone in my car.
The keys to the church were sitting on the other end of the auditorium. I considered walking all the way across to grab them before going outside but I decided against it.
Figuring that if I left the door slightly open, I would make it to my car and back before the door could shut.
The phone was ringing as I walked back to the auditorium and then I heard it.
I looked up at the door, as I walked slowly, praying that somehow the door hadn’t shut itself.
By now, I’m sure you know how that went.
It was locked.
And there I was with my phone to my ear and then I heard Dimeji say on the other end in his slurred wake up voice,
“…What’s up bros?”
Get them ready ”
At that moment, the feeling of being stuck out in the cold was all too familiar.
I had made another wrong choice again but this time, someone would let me back in.
The last time I made a decision this big?
Well let me just tell you the story and you can decide how big your #WhatTheHeckMan would be.
“E gbe epo wa”
Roughly translating to “bring the fuel”
Voices piercing the skies laced with anger and discontent, in the familiar pandemonium that is Lagos. People gathered on the side of the street as the yelling continued,
I didn’t immediately run over to offer my help.
The truth here is that through my time living in this state or even country, I have usually avoided situations like this.
There is an unwritten rule in the state that is home to one of the largest economies in the world; “mind your business”.
I turned to the right and headed towards the quickly assembling crowd. I moved my phone to my pocket and began pushing my way through the crowd.
“E file na”
“Leave him alone”
The angry crowd beginning to douse him in petrol, getting ready to torch him for some crime.
I quickly gathered that he was alleged to have stolen a woman’s purse.
Neither the purse nor the full story were confirmed missing.
But in the streets of Lagos, you are guilty till proven otherwise.
“E fi sile”
Translating to leave him alone I said.
“Maa fun yin l’owo”
I yelled at the top of my lungs. A few things make Lagos and it’s inhabitants popularly known as Lagosians tick.
Money sits atop that list, never troubled.
My last statement caused some of the parties involved to slow down.
The man was drenched in petrol and all that really was left would be the unfortunate presence of some form of a lighter.
“Let the man go, I’ll give you money for the purse”
I repeated myself as they began to let go of the man.
One man looked at me, unwilling to give up this opportunity to right the wrongs life had put him through. He said,
You know him? Is he your family?”
I almost smiled at his weak attempt at resistance. I reached into my suit jacket and pulled out my check book.
The lady in question and her defence team now shifted their focus to me.
It really was a smooth transaction.
She claimed to have items worth 400,000 Naira inside her purse, if you factored in her iPad and her phone.
A check was written up and I handed it to her.
She thanked me and left.
The man in question, rose up and began thanking me for saving his life.
I told him it was God and not my doing but I couldn’t watch him be tormented like that.
He continued to thank me.
I asked him where he lived and he said,
After negotiating with a cab driver and paying him, the man was on his way.
I wasn’t entirely sure he was innocent but he didn’t have the purse with him for starters.
And who deserves to be burned to death over what was potentially fake leather.
I took off my suit jacket and opened up my car, placing it on the back seat. I grabbed my phone and it began to ring.
“Babe, where are you?”
I could hear the stress in her voice. Who knew that planning ones glorious day, could bring so much preparatory stress.
I looked both ways before I crossed the street as I continued talking,
“I’m just walking into the place to check on the drink order and give them the deposit”
She sighed on the other end of the line as I opened the door into the building.
The receptionist greeted me with a smile and paused as she waited for me to finish with my phone call
“Babe, why are you just getting there?
You were supposed to be there an hour ago. you know we still have the rehearsal at 7.
We don’t have that much time”
I nodded as if she could see me. She was tense.
I was too but someone had to always level us out.
That was how we worked.
I smiled and reminded myself not to say “calm down”, unless I was looking to stare death in the face and prepared to lose.
“Wura, I’m coming.
I know you’re stressed. I’ll be there soon”
I could tell she rolled her eyes.
There was a way she always did it.
“Just hurry up!
I’m having to deal with all these people myself and it’s too much”
She hung up before I could respond.
I knew I had to get home as quickly as I could. Wura wasn’t one to “crumble” under pressure but if you know weddings in Lagos these days, you would know that pressure doesn’t even come close to what people go through.
It had been 3 years since I started dating Wura. The next day, our wedding day, would mark the beginning of the 4th.
And ultimately the rest of our lives.
Wura loved me.
I state that by itself because I want to emphasize it.
The woman loved me into my bones. To the places I never knew love could reach.
I had promised myself to never return to the place of vulnerability that love exposes.
Wura did it.
She found her own way to take my heart away.
Cliche again but she did and I had to find a way to pay her back.
Starting with returning to the rehearsal hall on time.
On my drive back, I got a call from a Tobi. My medical school buddy from Canada.
He was calling to inform me of his safe arrival back home.
I was pleased to hear his voice because Tobi introduced me to Sayid, my best friend, almost 12 years before.
Fresh into school and the cold days in Canada, Sayid and Tobi kept me connected to home.
Tobi had gone to University of Ibadan and introduced me to Sayid who had attended the University of Ilorin with me.
I never actually knew Sayid while at University of Ilorin, he graduated a year before me but we instantly hit it off.
It was always a great time around him from the music, to the stories and the constant laughs.
We grew close very quickly.
When I pulled up into the rehearsal hall’s parking lot, Sayid met me outside,
“She’s pissed bro”
I pressed the car remote to lock the doors as I walked towards the entrance.
There she was, ever so beautiful, even in her frustrated state.
“I am sorry baby”
as I approached and flashed a smile at her.
She tried to fight her smile but she soon started smiling.
Inside, I was relieved because Wura had the tendency to go over the deep end if she felt slighted or disrespected.
The rehearsal was pretty painless.
“Stand here, walk this fast, look here… who will have the rings?”
For two hours and then it was all done.
There were some refreshments provided to the wedding party and other friends present before we all set out.
The guys were staying with me at my father’s house in Lekki while the girls stayed at Wura’s aunts house in the heart of Victoria Island.
I was the last one to leave.
Walking back into the hall, I headed all the way to the front.
I took my position as I scanned the room, in less than twenty four hours, I was going to be marrying the woman I loved right in that spot.
A quick flashback to where we had been as my eyes welled up. I quickly dried them as I began to recite my vows.
“Wuraola, you are the essence that gives my life purpose
Through loving you, I have discovered what life can be in many ways
To have someone in your corner
To listen to your troubles and your fears
There is something about the way you love me
That makes me want to be a better man
I am lucky to have found you
I can’t promise to always know
But I promise that I will never stop at okay
I promise to love you with all of me
To protect you
Be your friend
And everything you need me to be along the way
I am thankful to God that I am about to embark on this journey with you
Thank you for loving me too”
There was a level of honesty to that piece.
It still brings tears to my eyes as I think of them.
But those were the words that rang true for me. Wura gave me a new purpose in love and I wanted her to know it.
I lingered around for a few minutes and then headed to the car.
As I sat in the car, I reached for my phone and noticed I had two missed calls.
I didn’t recognize the number, so I listened closely to the voicemail.
“Hey Diji, it’s Bimbo.
Long time, I know you’re getting married soon and I was just hoping we could talk before.
If it’s not possible, I understand.
I will just like to have one proper talk with you before you go off into the sacred land.
If that’s okay with you.
I’m staying at my place on the way to your house. Let me know if you can stop by.”
I listened to it twice.
Her voice still ringing between my ears as I placed the phone down. I hadn’t spoken to Bimbo in almost two years when I had called to let her know that I was proposing to Wura.
Bimbo and I had been together since before I went to Canada for medical school and we continued our long distance relationship.
Bimbo and Wura were completely different people.
Everyone that knew us, thought that I would marry Bimbo. The stars looked aligned for it.
We started out as kids and grew into full fledged adults. But life and it’s unpredictability happened and we broke up.
A lot of the things that happened between us could have been avoided; better communication I would say.
But Bimbo and I broke up and ultimately started dating other people.
When Wura came along, I was dating somebody else but we started out as friends.
Once that relationship ended, it was easier for us to start.
But I don’t think I ever stopped loving Bimbo.
Sometimes I had to convince myself that loving her was the wrong choice.
I rationalized the decision, but I always felt something was missing.
That night, I shouldn’t have gone to Bimbo’s house but I did.
I knocked on the door and a few seconds later, she answered.
No, she wasn’t dressed in anything sexy or seductive. It was just her.
The way her smile brightened my heart, I stepped in and hugged her.
There was a warmth that emanated from her.
It wasn’t just physical.
Suddenly, I started to feel like my coming there was a mistake.
I still had some feelings for Bimbo.
We began talking and catching up.
She told me that she had just gotten a job working for a law firm on the Mainland and she was happy to be back in Nigeria.
I felt my heart skip a beat.
Having to live so close to the woman I sometimes feel I should have married?
It wasn’t all rosy between Bimbo and I, our families for one did not get along or make any attempts to understand each other.
So we were always swimming against the current.
Hours had gone by and before I realized it, it was a bit past 2am.
Not a single bone in me wanted to leave.
So we kept talking and at one point, Bimbo suggested we watch our favourite movie together “The Usual Suspects.”
When I was in Canada and she moved to work in Tottenham, England; we would stay up late watching movies via FaceTime.
It was the first time in many years, that we actually sat down to watch a movie together.
Mid way through the movie, she turned over and whispered,
I smiled and asked,
She looked down and said,
I smiled and she smiled too.
Enough was said.
I slowly yawned as I struggled to get my eyes to open.
Scratching the side of my face and my beard, I twisted and turned.
A long stretch and I was awake.
What would happen next would change everything. I looked to my right and someone was sleeping next to me.
I was confused.
Where was I?
Then, it began to come back to me. I was at Bimbo’s house.
Did I sleep there?
I hoped to God that it was still early enough, I began to search for my phone.
Noticing it on the bed side cabinet, I reached up to get it. As I pressed the side button, the 46 missed calls did not stand out to me as much as the time did.
It read 11.52am.
I was a dead man.
I let out a squeal, waking up Bimbo as I cursed under my breath.
Oh, this was bad!
Bimbo slowly woke up and said,
“Dj, what happened?”
Standing at the foot of the bed cutting this dejected figure, I said
“I am fifty two minutes late to my own wedding”
She looked at me puzzled and reached for her phone to confirmed the time as she sprung out of the bed.
“What do we do?”
I began to reach for my shoes on my side of the bed when I noticed an empty condom wrapper, right next to my left shoe.
I reached down and picked it up. Holding up, I looked at Bimbo and then back at the wrapper.
Swallowing hard and slow, I asked Bimbo,
The look on her face said it all.
I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.
“BEHIND THE WRITER”
IMPORTANT NOTICE: “Behind The Writer” edition #2 is BACK. Basically, I will spend that piece answering questions all of you have for me during the week of my birthday in
So PLEASE LEAVE YOUR QUESTIONS IN THE COMMENT SECTIONS BELOW. AS MANY AS 10 per person. I’ll pick the TOP 25 I like and answer them for you all in that piece! I’M DOING THIS SO ALL MY READERS, SUPPORTERS AND WHOEVER ELSE IS LEFT CAN GET TO KNOW THE WRITER A BIT MORE AND UNKNOWN THINGS ABOUT ME.
ASK ANYTHING. ANYTHING.
I LOOK FORWARD TO IT!!!
Thank you for reading and commenting. You are highly appreciated.
© 2015 #WhatTheHeckMan