Read Episode 1

“I pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss your bride,” the pastor’s voice echoed from the speakers planted at corners of the small church of barely fifty worshippers. The middle-aged pastor rested on the wooden pulpit that was placed at the center of the church. Itanola’s face radiated as he removed the white veil that covered Wuraola’s face, and he placed a possessive kiss on her lip. He had always looked forward to the day he’ll have the liberty to be with his wife without any guilt or shame.

The pastor cleared his throat signaling the break of the kiss. “Kneel down, let us pray.” Itanola held his wife as they knelt together. The pastor stepped forward and placed his hands on their heads. “Father, we thank you for another union we have the grace to witness, we ask that you’ll establish this home on Christ the solid rock. We ask that as this couple has decided to come together as one, nothing will put them asunder. As they’ve shared their first kiss together, it will not be their last. We’ve celebrated them today, we will always have reasons to celebrate with them. Their home is hid in Christ in God. In the name of your Son, Jesus, we have prayed. Let the church say Amen!”

Wuraola’s cream, silk gown swept the floor as she moved from place to place greeting the throng of well-wishers present at the church service, Itanola closely behind her. The well-wishers moved to the reception venue which was a fifteen minutes’ drive from the church. The reception venue was an open field with 6 canopies placed together to serve as a shield from the scorching sun.

The couple was ushered in with “Mo So Rire” by Paul Play Dairo and a mix of other songs. Family members in their purple and silver aso-ebi took over the dance floor, jiving to the music by the MC, spraying wads of cash on the couple.

At the end of the reception, they were driven to a white twin duplex which had a residential apartment on one side and a hotel on the other side where they lodged.

The couple went on their knees in gratitude to God for a successful wedding. Earlier in the day, the clouds were pregnant with rain and it had begun to drizzle. Wuraola had exhibited fears of how the rain was going to spoil her day. She whispered a prayer that the rain should stop until the wedding was over and it did. As they stepped into the hotel, the heavens let loose in a torrential downpour.

After their moment of prayer and worship to God, Itanola helped his wife up and held her by the waist. She had removed the flowing attachment on her gown. Itanola had pulled off his suit and bow tie. He gazed into her dazzling eyes and remembered two years ago.

—————————————-

Itanola returned from work downcast. He had been working with the department of Human Resources in a manufacturing company, and he was due for promotion but his supervisor was hell bent on being the clog in the wheel of his progress. A thousand and one thoughts were racing in his mind when his fiancée, Iyunade called. He absent-mindedly told her to come over to his house at 7 p.m. He went into the bathroom, took a shower and got comfortable in a pair of navy blue shorts and a black wife beater. He patted his hair dry, used deodorant before stepping out of his room to the kitchen.

He floundered towards the fridge to retrieve the beans he cooked the previous day to microwave when he heard a knock. Who could that be? I’m expecting no one. He put the side table in its place, rearranged the books on the center table, and walked to the door after a second knock to confront the unwanted guest. He pushed the wooden door open and stopped in his tracks. His face was flushed with heat and his heart began to race at the sight before him. Iyunade wore a low-necked, sleeveless, pink top, and an absinthe yellow skater skirt which stopped a little below her thigh.

“You sounded worried over the phone that’s why I left all I was doing and raced here. I don’t want anything happening to my baby,” she winked at him and ran her hand on his bare arms in tender strokes. Itanola stiffened. His heart raced. His eyes darted from her chest and away several times. He swallowed and let out a deep sigh. He was torn between yielding to the flesh and being a Joseph. “Do you want to keep me at the door? She said, a smirk on her face.

Itanola got his voice back. “Come in. I’m sorry.”

Iyunade placed her hands on his chest and gave him a gentle push to make room for herself into his small but cosy living room. “Such a wonderful place you have here,” she said, moving towards a picture frame of Itanola hanging on the wall beside the television set. She ran her hands on it. “Imagine! In our one year of being together you’ve not allowed me come over to your house. I don’t even know how the house I’ll move into when we get married looks like. Feels so good to be here.”

Itanola tucked his hands in his shorts’ pocket. “Iyunade, what are you doing here, besides, how did you get my address?”

Iyunade feigned anger. She walked seductively towards his direction. “You called me over an hour ago and told me to come over. I’ve always had your address. I copied it from your phone months ago. Don’t you want me here?” she made an attempt to place her hands on his chest.  He caught her hands midway and placed it by her side.

“I didn’t mean you to come over. I wasn’t in a right frame of mind when we talked and perhaps didn’t know what I was saying. I’m sorry for any inconvenience I caused you. Can you please leave? I’ll escort you to the bus stop. Please.”

Iyunade batted her eyelids, trying to decode the message. “Do you mean I should leave? Does this mean you’re not interested in seeing me?” A faux tear dropped.

Itanola gave her a soft touch on her shoulders. “It’s not that I don’t want you here. It’s just that it’s risky for both of us to be here together. We love each other and our emotions might pull a fast one on us if we’re not careful. Besides, what do you want neighbours to say if they see us coming out of the house together. It’s not a good testimony for us. Please.”

Iyunade leaned towards him. “So, you’re more concerned about what people will say than our relationship, right? You’re not even concerned about my feelings, yet you claim you love me. Itanola, nothing can happen, and even if anything happens, there’s nothing new under the sun. At least people do it.”

Itanola’s eyes widened. He dropped his hands off her shoulders. “Others may but I cannot. We cannot. We’re meant to be Christians in all we do. That people do it doesn’t make it right, Iyunade.”

“Even Christians do it. I know a number of them. Let’s not play holier than thou. Itanola, I love you. Let’s do this just once. No one will know, I promise. Please, babe.” She launched at him and tried to place a kiss on his lips.

He pushed her to the chair beside them and fled to the door. He struggled with the keys before opening the door. “Those Christians don’t have the life of Christ, they just have the title and they propagate empty religion,” he said as he bolted out.

Itanola slept in a neighbour’s house. Iyunade refused to leave because it was dark and unsafe to go back to her house.

——————————-

“I’m grateful for the decision I made to keep myself. I’m glad I ended that relationship with her. I bless the day I met you at that conference. Your beautiful smile that captured me. Your warm attitude. Bless the womb that bore you.” Itanola placed his head on his wife’s forehead. “I love you, Wura mi. I promise to always cherish you and treat you right. I promise to look on no other woman. I choose to be faithful to you and to our vows. I promise not to walk in the paths of my father.” He kissed her.

 

To be continued.