Chronicles of ajidara – Wedding steps #1Temitope Oyetunji
STEP #1 – THE PAINTING
In my beautiful life, I’ve been to not less than two score weddings.
To a few, I went as little bride -the cute, lovely girl who wore a smaller replica of the bride’s dress, clutching a bouquet of flowers and smiling shyly.
As a very smart kid, I quickly understood what was required of me and that I did, without questions.
I had no clue why I had to be in front of the bride as we walked unhurriedly to the rhythm of the hymn through a long narrow path, until we stood in front of the congregation.
Neither did I know why the two men we met in front just stood there waiting, one in front of the other.
Once we reached the front row of pews I knew to branch off to take my seat beside the cute ring bearer while the bride, in company of her father and gorgeously dressed friend proceeded to the front.
From there on out, the rest of the ceremony held little meaning to me, so typically I slept through it.
Often I intentionally leaned on the shoulder of my male counterpart, the ring bearer who is usually a little older. And it felt good! And different! Who would have thought I understood the difference, but I did.
Soon I grew and graduated from little bride to flower girl.
As a flower girl, I began to grasp the idea of weddings. It was a colorful day when I got to make curly hair, wear a beautiful dress, new socks and shoes and feel special.
I also learnt a few wedding semantics; the narrow path was the aisle, the place where the aisle ended was the altar and the awkward moment for the shy couple was the nuptial kiss.
Then time flew by, I grew very tall and graduated to yet another class- Maids of Honor- at which time I had become a pro at wedding doings.
I knew when to give the bride a reassuring smile, when to stand and clap excitedly, when to dance and show the bride how happy I am that she’s tying the knot with her prince.
I enjoyed the now familiar hymns and recitations, the love and excitement in the air, without any form of pressure.
Occasionally though, I would visualize myself as the bride and then imagine what my groom would look like.
That was when my painting began.
I began to paint pictures in my mind of my own prince and I started off imagining myself taking small steps towards the altar to meet that man in my painting.
At 26, the little bride has become the chief bride’s maid, the highest rank in the bridal train.
When she’s not the chief bride’s maid, she’s either a friend of the couple or even senior friend of the bride.
Each wedding she attends affords her the opportunity to add a few more details to the painting of her fairy tale groom.
While the hymn is being sung, she imagines the outline of his lips assuming different shapes as he sings with a baritone voice; while the vows are being said, she paints his voice much deeper and confident than that of the current groom; as the groom holds his bride, she envisions how his big strong hands would completely encircle her tiny hands.
She still dances to the familiar melody of wedding songs but as much as she tries to concentrate on the marrying couple, she can’t stop dreaming up herself in that white dress being held by the man in her painting.
As the couple walk down the aisle after the glamorous ceremony, she smiles so hard until her cheeks ache, but deep inside a thought is nagging at her – when?
When will her pictures become real?
When will she get close enough to the altar to see his face? Now, she’s under some form of pressure.
But when the wedding ends, the pictures stop and she concludes that the altar is still far away.
For how could she be close to the altar when she hasn’t even met him yet, when all the men she meets are far cries from the man in the painting?
Now from where I stand I can definitely see the altar. There are two men standing there waiting.
It’s like déjà vu from those days when I used to lead the bride.
The man I can see is tall, not so huge but thick and dark, wearing a smart well-tailored suit.
From the shape of his head, I can tell he’s a handsome man.
As if to confirm my suspicion, he glances back and a fetching face decorated with fine sideburns adjoining a continuous ring of moustache and beards smiles at me.
My heart melts, I smile back. Just perfect!
And then he removes his gaze and pats the man in front of him on the shoulder.
Then it hits me, he’s the best man!
I had been so enraptured by how much he fit the man in my painting that I had forgotten completely about the other man in front, who must be my groom.
Just then, he too turns his head to look back at me and when he does, I stop suddenly in my track.
He’s nothing like the painting, the numerous pictures I had painted in my mind of his face, his build, his arms, his swagger.
He smiles at me, he’s so happy to see me; he extends his right arm towards me even though I am still some distance away.
I resume my steps but my feet are heavy, I’m afraid, is this it? Is this what I get?
My mind is screaming at me to turn back and run, perhaps I could run into the man in my painting along the way.
But my heart tells me that he’s the prince I’ve been waiting for. A struggle ensues, and my heavy feet begin to drag.
Still he stands, his hands outstretched, an understanding smile across his face, he seems to understand my dilemma. His lips move and he mouths three words ‘I LOVE YOU’.
In that instant, I see something in his eyes almost like a familiarity. My eyes bore through him searching for something, a telling.
As I search I see sincerity, commitment and then the familiarity again.
It’s almost like a part of me knows him so intimately. Then it strikes me, he’s my soul mate!
Tears well up in my eyes and my feet become lighter as I approach him.
I close my eyes and the tears fall freely like a waterfall, as they fall, I let them wash away my paintings, the precious pictures I had in my mind of my fairy tale groom.
I open my eyes again and follow my heart. I whisper back to him I LOVE YOU TOO and continue my steps towards him determined to let myself fall in reciprocity of his love.
I can hear my wedding bells ringing in the distance and though I have clearly seen the face of my beloved, still I must take a few more steps from where I am, to the altar where he’s waiting.
Each wedding I attend from now is a step closer to the altar. And now that some pressure is off, I can relax, I need not draw any more paintings from my mind’s eye.
All I need do is acquaint my mind with the new painting of my real groom, drawn not from my wild imaginations this time, but from memory.
My name is TOPE OYE, my life is in fact a muse. How can I let all these stories be forgotten without telling them?
How can I let all these feelings fizzle away? There is so much I have to share, so much drama. My life is like a best seller novel with a complex plot, suspense, twist and turns.
Writing this novel as it acts itself out gives me so much thrill that I cannot do without.
So among other stories I’ll blog about my wedding steps.
The five, six, maybe ten steps I have to take before I finally reach the altar promises to be exciting because now the man in my painting has a face and a fine face at that.
Not laced with teddy like Banky W but he definitely gets a seven. Yippy!
Read Wedding Step #2 here