I stood at the entrance of the church building, waiting for her. I fumbled anxiously for my phone in the pocket of my very simple Ralph Lauren Polo Wool Peak-Lapel tuxedo. My Paco Rabanne perfume was greeting the guests as they found their way into the church. They smiled at me as they walked by and I responded with a fake smile and a wave. The church bells were ringing for the first time. They were so loud that they could be heard in Lagos Mainland. The ceremony would begin by the time the bells are ringing for the third time. I was wondering why this chapel adopted the European Catholic or Anglican culture of ringing bells before an event.
“Where is this girl?” I asked myself as I finally got my phone out of my pocket and saw my sister approaching. “Not now”, I said to myself as Jessica Turner, who was beautifully dressed in a Calvin Klein gown that looks exactly like the one Lupita Nyong’o wore to the Oscars in 2015. I knew my sister was up to no good as she was pointing her Chanel “Diamond Forever” Handbag at me.
“Are you still waiting for her?” Jessica asked as she finally made it to where I was standing. “Are you sure she is going to come? The service is about to start and we all have to be inside. By the way, mummy wants to speak with you right now! She is worried that you would disappear just as you did last Christmas”, she said as she waved at a guest that was just arriving.
“You should…” She stopped because the church bells were too loud. “Gosh! Must they ring the bells three times!! This is the second time and it is as annoying as the first!” She said as she was about to go back into the church.
“At last! There she is!!” I shouted and Jessica turned back to see who I was referring to.
“Where is she? I cannot see her!” She said.
“There! She is the one approaching us” I said as I waved at Ronke.
“No! No!! No!!! That cannot be the girl you have been waiting for. This one looks like she missed her way! Can you not see the way she is dressed?! Maybe she just wants to ask for direction or she wants to beg for money!”
“I know my Ronke!” I said as I ran towards her.
“Where were you?! Did you miss the way?!!” I asked after we hugged.
“I thought I was at the wrong place. I tried calling you, but you were not reachable. So I walked around, looking for the venue. I did not want to enter this kind of place. I do not want to embarrass myself!” She said as she was looking around.
“But I gave you the address. This is the only place with the address and description that I gave to you!”
“Yes, but this place looks like it was created out of someone’s imagination! It is too beautiful to be real or even to be located in Lagos! And look at all these cars and people! Look at how they are dressed! I mean look at you! You all look like models on the runway of a fashion show!!” She screamed.
“Shh…Do not act so surprised. This is my family’s society and it important that you meet my family today.” I said as I calmed her down. “By the way, that is my sister waiting for us.” I continued as we approached my smiling sister.
“So were you able to help her with some money or something?” asked Jessica as we approached.
“No, Jessica! For the millionth time, this is Ronke, my girlfriend!!”
“Very interesting”, she said as she shook Ronke’s hand. “You are welcome!” She added as she examined Ronke’s very beautiful but very simple outfit.
As we were about to enter the chapel, Ronke asked, “You smell so good, BJ. Is that the Axe deodorant that I got for you?”
Before I could reply, Jessica jumped in and said, “No honey! That is no cheap A-X-E Body spray. It is P-A-C-O R-A-B-A-N-N-E darling!!”
“Okay”, said Ronke humbly as we found our seats close to the minister of power and works.
The church bells rang.
It was my brother’s wedding. Jimmy finally found the love of his life or should I say that he was finally ready to start his own family. It was a wonderful to see the Turner family being connected through marriage to the Bates family. We have been friends for ages, but I have never for once thought that anyone from my family would get married to someone from their family. I have always considered Juliet Bates as an over-ambitious feminist that would never settle down. But I was wrong, being a feminist does not mean that you do want to get married and work together with the man that you love to start a family.
The wedding ceremony was really amazing and every important personality was in attendance; right from the local government councilors to the senate president, even the top celebrities were not missing. Apart from Tope Alabi, Wizkid, Davido and King Sunny Ade that performed, other celebrities like Banky W, D’banj, Tiwa Savage, Funke Akindele Bello, Mike and Gloria Bamiloye, Genevieve Nnaji, Korede Bello, Don Jazzy, Helen Paul and lot more were present.
It was a very busy day for my mother, Wendy Turner. She was overseeing all the activities, even though she had already assigned different duties to her assistants. She found a little time between her running-up-and-down to tell me that she would like Ronke to spend the night at our place and also stay for brunch the next day. I told Ronke and she agreed. We spent the rest of the evening dancing, eating, drinking and socializing at the wedding reception.
Just as I was expecting, mother asked Ronke to sleep in Jessica’s room because the other rooms in the main building and in the guest quarter were filled with visitors from our family and the Bates family. I did not get the opportunity to see Ronke till the next day at brunch.
A dining table with twenty seats was arranged for brunch. My mother made sure that every food item for brunching was on the table. There were 20 different kinds of bread, 10 different kinds of cake and at least 15 sorts of coffee, tea, butter, cheese and more on the table.
“BJ, when will you tell me that you have invited me to act in The Wedding Party Part 2?! This cannot be real! You have never confessed that you are related to THE TURNER family of Banana island!” Ronke said as she pinched me.
“I buried my trumpet a long time ago, so I cannot blow it”, I said as I smiled at her. “I hope you are feeling at home? I hope my sister did not torture you last night?” I asked.
“Not at all! She was actually very nice and very interested in getting to know me”.
I laughed. “That is my sister for you! She only wanted to get vital information from you. She is always up to something!”
My mother stood up as the Bates family settled into their seats.“Welcome! Welcome!! Welcome, Everyone!!! Juliet and Jimmy called this morning. They landed safely and are already enjoying their honeymoon in the Caribbean. So let us enjoy this brunch and the little moment before the Bates family fly back to Oldenberg”, she said as she raised her glass of orange juice. “Bon Appétit!”
“Before we eat, I would love us to bless the food. Let us pray”, Jessica said as she stood up.
“OMG! This is going to be disastrous”, said Felix Turner.
“Felix! Common!!” I shouted at Felix.
“Baron Jordan Turner! How dare you support her?! You were not here last Christmas to witness the drama that Jessica started!”
“My sons-in-law! Please let Jessica pray!” Madam Bates said as she looked at my mother. My mother smiled in agreement.
“Father Lord, we thank you for this wonderful moment and for the abundant food on this table that would go to waste!” She started to pray. “We thank you for the wedding ceremony that took place. May You bless that woman that cooked the heavenly Nigerian Jollof rice! We thank you for providing too much money for the families to show off. I thank you Lord for giving me to grace to speak and exchange numbers with a lot of handsome rich men, I pray that you will give me my own husband, so that I can move out of this hellfire. I trust you because you performed a miracle and made Jimmy marry Juliet. God! Please save this family from gold diggers, especially the strange woman that joined us since yesterday. Help BJ or should I say Baron Jordan to be able to spend more time with his family! Help him father Lord not to be ashamed of us! I bind and cast out all the spirits of cheating, stealing, divorce, suicide, pride that are running around this table! Oh God! Oh God! Open our eyes to see all the great things you have blessed us with and help us to continue to grow richer and richer…”
“Pass me the sugar”, whispered Junior Bates. But his whisper was so loud that it interrupted Jessica’s prayer.
“And you just had to interrupt the pretty lady’s prayer”, said Master Bates, Junior’s father.
Jessica opened her eyes and realized that we had been quietly eating the whole time. No one was actually listening to her prayer. We started to eat quietly immediately she said, “Father Lord, we thank you for this wonderful moment and for the abundant food on this table that would go to waste!” We knew she loves to create scenes and if we did not permit it, we would not be able to enjoy the brunch.
“Nice one, guys! Nice one!” She said as she sat down and poured some corn flakes into her bowl. “You people have no respect for God! There is God o!”
We enjoyed the rest of the meal in peace and quiet. Afterwards, we had a little chitchat in the living room before the limousine was ready to convey the Bates family to the airport.
“I’m so sorry, I have not been able to speak with you”, my mother said to Ronke as she went upstairs. “Would you love to have dinner with us?”
Ronke looked at me and I nodded at her. She said, “Yes, Mrs. Turner. I would love to have dinner with your family”.
Ronke and I spent most of the time between brunch and dinner walking around the lagoon, shopping and enjoying the beauty of Lagos.
“I don’t think I can do this, BJ! Your family is too much for me. It is like Everyone versus Ronke! I do not fit into that kind of society!” Ronke said as we were enjoying some roasted corn on the street.
“You do not have to fit it, Ronke. You have to STAND OUT!” I said to her. “Never change yourself. I love you for who you are!”
“Easy for you to say, Mr Baron Jordan Turner of the Banana Island! Who am I? I am just Ronke from a middle-class family, who lives in Surulere. I mean the real side of Lagos, where the real-life people live!”
I just laughed as our UBER ride arrived and we headed back to my parents place.
“Why did you guys treat me like trash during brunch?” Jessica asked as she sat at the other end of the table across dad.
The evening was amazing and the breeze from the Lagos Lagoon was making the tall palm trees wave at us as we sat for dinner outside my parents humble abode.
“Not everything is about you, Jessica. You should learn to get yourself together. I have told you times without numbers that you MUST respect others!”, said father as the food was being served.
“She gives me headache!” Mother added. “But this evening will not be about her. It is all about this lovely lady here, Ronke”, she said as she smiled and pointed at Ronke, who was sitting across the table from her.
The three of them; my father, mother and Ronke, at their end of the table, were busy laughing, dining and wining. My parents took their time, asking Ronke questions, trying to find out about her background, past, present and future. The rest of us were just listening and busying devouring our supper.
“Gold digger! I am so sorry, but that’s what I can smell”, said Jessica as she looked at us. “Isn’t that obvious!”
“Shut up, girl!” Mother shouted at Jessica. “Not everyone has the opportunity to live the life you live! Most people cannot even afford to dream about what you have at your disposal! A lot of people do not have THIS!!!”
“Come through, mama! Preach!!” Felix shouted.
Mother shut him up with her eyes as she continued. “You should learn to love your neighbours, just a s the bible says. You are up today, but you do not know where you will be tomorrow!”
“Mum, I love my neighbours! But I do not like this lady that BJ brought home. And that is fine because she cannot even afford to be my neighbour!” Jessica shouted as she left the table.
“This is kind of getting boring”, Felix commented.
“What do you mean?” I asked innocently.
“Drama and argument at the dining table and also Jessica storming out cowardly”, answered Felix as he laughed.
My mother looked at Ronke and said, “Welcome to the family, Ronke. Feel free to visit us at any time!”
“Thank you, ma!” Ronke replied.
“Hello Missy, no pressure! But if you hurt my brother in any way! And I mean ANY WAY! Everyone will be coming for you. It would be EVERYONE versus Ronke. You would have to move to planet Mars to be able to ever make it again”. He laughed. “I am sure you would not want that”, said Felix as he looked at me and afterwards smiled at me.
My mother gave me the look.