As Duke and I made our way back to the wedding party, it didn’t even feel like I was walking…but instead floating on clouds.
My soul mate had found his way back to me.
We made our way straight to the new couple, my dad and Georgie. Georgie looked like she would burst with joy, and she’d happily embraced Duke, happy to not only meet the man I had pined for since my return from Nigeria…but moreso because we had been reunited.
But for my dad, it had been a different story.
I would later find out how it had taken Anuli and Georgie weeks to allow an invite be sent to Duke. He hadn’t been at all keen on the plans being put in place to lead Duke back to me, and even after he reluctantly agreed, he’d declined speaking with Duke, when the latter requested permission to. Instead, Georgie had been the one who’d happily spoken with him on the phone, and granted him the permission to interrupt her day with his music strategy. My dad had not been happy about any of it.
But on the day of the wedding, when Duke was taking me down memory lane through the music we’d loved, my dad said by following us on our journey, he’d reluctantly started to understand the depth of our love, and when he saw the look of unabashed joy on my face when we returned to the party, he knew he had to put any misgivings aside.
As we walked up to them, Duke and I, dad had looked him square in the eye, unsmiling, and shook his hand.
“Thank you for allowing me come, Sir.” Duke said, with a deferential bow. “It’s a beautiful wedding.”
“My man, let’s not act like we’re not pretty much agemates. No need for all the ‘Sir’ crap.” Dad had retorted, a sly smile on his face. “Or you don’t remember me, Nduka?”
Duke nodded. “I do remember you, Chuka…but you are the father of the woman whom I hope to be my wife someday, and I intend to accord you every necessary respect.”
Dad smiled and nodded. “Fair enough.” he said, before going all serious. “I’m sure you don’t need me to state the obvious.”
It was Duke’s turn to smile. “I will never hurt her. You have my word.”
“Okay, I think we’ve had enough of the pleasantries!” Georgie teased, tugging at Chuka’s arm. “This new bride wants her husband’s attention. All of it!”
Happy to have Duke’s 100% attention myself, we’d danced and talked well into the night, long after the couple had left for their honeymoon suite, and the guests had retired for the night. Duke and I walked along that beautiful beach, under the full Turks and Caicos moon, reminiscing about the past…and day dreaming about the future.
We had also deliberately not gone to either of our rooms, as we would not have been able to resist succumbing to the passion we both clearly felt, Duke especially. Back in Ogwashi, whilst I was on the verge of losing control many times, he’d always been the sensible one…the one to step on the breaks. But from the look in his eyes that evening, that would have proved impossible, even for him.
So, we’d sat under the stars on the beach, as dusk turned into dawn…and by the time the new day broke, we both knew we wanted only one thing…
To spend the rest of our lives together.
Dad and Georgie left for their honeymoon in the nearby Barbados, whilst the rest of us left for London that Sunday evening. Upon getting to London, it was great to officially meet the people in Duke’s world…most especially his daughters. Amara had been ecstatic, and also his other daughters, Ugochi and Lotanna. But one person had, understandably, been quite displeased. It turned out that Amara had been correct. Mukoso had figured out who I was, the first time we met in 2015, and had deliberately tried to belittle me with her words. She had also spent most of the time since being reconnected with Duke, trying to win him back, and had been left frustrated by the realization that all she would get from him was cordial friendship. But I couldn’t have cared less about how frosty her behavior was when we met, this time formally. She’d had her chance with him and blew it. I wasn’t going to make that same mistake again.
I also formally met his close friends, and Kene and I especially hit it off. He never tired of teasing me about the stunt I pulled at the train station, and that remains our little joke to this day. I was happy to get his stamp of approval, given how protective he’s always been of his friend. It was very important for me to fit into Duke’s world, and thankfully, I did, with no stress at all.
He was also eager to fit into mine, and in the month he was home, he spent a lot of time with my dad, and they were able to forge a strong friendship. Their closeness in age turned from being a disadvantage to a big advantage, as they were able to find a lot of things in common, besides their shared love for me.
On one of his trips to my school, I also introduced him to Minkah, and after the initial awkwardness, both men had ended up chatting like old pals, starting off with being amused by their striking resemblance, and culminating in Minkah gleaning as much as he could from Duke about corporate finance. In the end, even though he’d lost a girlfriend, he gained a mentor in what he hopes will be his future career in investment banking.
At the end of the month, when it was time for Duke to return to Singapore, I’d been inconsolable. Even though I knew it was coming, and that he would eventually have to return to his life, I was devastated at the thought of having to live without him…again.
The night before he left, we were walking across Millenium Bridge, overlooking River Thames. I’d already told him the story of how my phone had found its grave in the waters, and he always made it a point to tease me about it, anytime we saw the river. That night was no different.
“Cheer up, Golibe. You’re going to make me quit my job for you!” he’d teased, even though I’d not been in the mood for jokes. “Or do you want me to jump in the water to get your phone? Will that make you happy?”
I’d given him the dirty eye, upset that he could joke about our impending separation.
“Okay…I might not be able to get you your phone…especially as it would have probably been a fish’s supper by now. But I can give you this…” and he’d dropped on one knee, and held out the most beautiful ring I’d ever seen. “Golibe…obi’m…the love of my life…I want nothing more than to spend the remainder of the days I have left on this earth with you. Will you make me the happiest man in the world, by being my wife?”
It wasn’t a surprise to me. God knows we’d even talked about getting married as far back as Ogwashi. But standing there on that bridge, in the sunset, looking at the man I loved with all my heart, asking me to marry him…made me burst into happy tears.
Despite my father’s initial insistence that we wait until the end of the year before getting married, we knew that wasn’t even an option. So, in June, three short months later, about a week after my final exams, and a few days after my 27th birthday, we got married in a small, intimate ceremony at The Oakley Court, right on the bank of the River Thames. Officiated by my Parish Priest, and also my late Grandfather’s longtime friend, Father Anton, it was a beautiful ceremony; small and intimate…just the way we wanted it. Duke’s mother had come…along with her own new husband! Much to everyone’s surprise, and her son’s chagrin, the woman had married a good looking widower she’d met in Port Harcourt, whilst visiting her sister the previous year. A good looking man in his 60s, he made a very charming pair with Duke’s mom, who had regained much of her own looks and glow. They seemed very happy…and very much in love.
Duke and I danced to a medley of all our songs, and as we twirled under the fairy lights…under the moonlight, it was the most beautiful thing in the world…or so I thought.
Later that night, I found out what the most beautiful thing in the world really was.
Even though I loved him, I had been a bit apprehensive and scared about how our first night would turn out. Having filled my head with all sorts of nonsense from women’s glossy magazines, I’d read that it would be painful for me (being an older virgin), that it would be disappointing for me, and that he wouldn’t live up to my lofty expectations.
But he proved every one of these wrong.
He had been delicate…yet sensual. Tender….yet passionate. He made me understand why it is called making love…and he made see heaven. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever experienced, and I was so happy I’d waited. I was so happy I’d waited for him.
We couldn’t get enough of each other. We still can’t.
We honeymooned in Paris, and after 2 beautiful weeks, I moved with him to Singapore, from where I proceeded to finish my dissertation. We were about to settle into our lives as a happy new couple…when Duke’s mother casually reminded him that without a traditional wedding ceremony, we weren’t really married. Even though we knew we were as married as we ever could be, we’d decided to indulge her.
So, in October, we came to Nigeria, Ogwashi specifically, for our traditional wedding. I knew it was going to be a big deal, but even I hadn’t anticipated just how big a deal it would be. Aunty Ekwi had been beside herself in her excitement, as had Sister Petra, and pretty much the entire town! Awele, her husband and their boys had come all the way from Abuja, and Anuli, who was already expecting baby number two, played the role of Organiser-in-chief. My grandfather, Doctor Achareke, and all three of his sons, Obinna (whom I’d already met), Nnamdi and Kanayo (who had come all the way from the States to attend, and had both reacted just as emotionally as Obinna had when we first met), were in proud attendance. Olisa, who was finally back in school, had been unable to come, but had sent a lengthy message to me, wishing us well, and thanking me for being the catalyst to getting him back on track with his life. But asides him, practically everyone and anyone I had encountered in Ogwashi felt like proud stakeholders in the union, and even Ejike had come all the way from Asaba to attend.
It was crazy, it was rowdy, it was chaotic…but it was beautiful. As we stood before each other, resplendent in our beautiful akwa-ocha traditional attire, it was the most perfect way for us to completely be joined as husband and wife.
And at the end of the evening, as we lay in each other’s arms in his bedroom, in the house where we’d fallen in love, I was finally able to tell him the news I’d been keeping to myself.
The fruit of our love was growing inside me.
I’d found out the week before our trip to Nigeria, and knew if I’d told him about it then, he would either have canceled the trip or would have treated me like an egg during the wedding festivities. And I wanted neither. So I’d waited.
He had broken down crying, so moved by the news of his impending fatherhood. That was when I realized that he’d nursed a secret fear of not being able to have any kids, especially as Mukoso had been able to go for years, conceiving only for her University boyfriend, and never for him.
But this pregnancy…this beautiful pregnancy…had proved him wrong.
Today, as I prepare for my first Christmas as a new wife in Singapore, we are full of anticipation for our bundle of joy who is expected on June 2nd, 2018…my 28th birthday. And whether or not it is a boy or a girl, we can not wait to meet this physical manifestation of our love…a love that survived despite every single odd…a love that was borne from two imperfect people, who became whole through each other.
And for that, we are grateful.
Catch up on Golibe’s story here:
- Golibe 1: The Journey
- Golibe 2: Brave
- Golibe 3: Blood Relative
- Golibe 4: Strangers
- Golibe 5: Fill the Gaps
- Golibe 6: Awele
- Golibe 7: Frolicking
- Golibe 8: The Trunk
- Golibe 9: Retrace my steps
- Golibe 10: The Exchange
- Golibe 11: Quoting Shakespeare
- Golibe 12: Dead End
- Golibe 13: Something in the Water
- Golibe 14: Intoxicated Butterflies
- Golibe 15: The Boyfriend
- Golibe 16: Anuli
- Golibe 17: Masters of their fate
- Golibe 18: Ex-Wife
- Golibe 19: Falling
- Golibe 20: Nervous Breakdown
- Golibe 21: Much ado about nothing
- Golibe 22: Blood Brother
- Golibe 23: Heart Smile
- Golibe 24: Sister Petra
- Golibe 25: Musical Staccato
- Golibe 26: A Girl Called Emma
- Golibe 27: Sparkle in your eyes
- Golibe 28: Unfinished Business
- Golibe 29: Father Dearest
- Golibe 30: Count for something
- Golibe 31: I’d die without you
- Golibe 32: Always Better Tomorrow
- Golibe 33: Making Memories
Catch up on our other series here: