For a while, I lost my thoughts about Timi and tried to be part of the congregation for the wedding, cheering and clapping for the couple. Betty’s friend was a young beautiful girl. Even with the veil on, I could see her charm oozing out with the grace on her steps as she walked down the aisle with her bridal train.
She poised elegantly as she extended her arms for the groom to link her with his, and together they marched down the aisle to the front of the congregation. It was with all by my will power I had to hold myself together from looking across the sea of heads in the direction behind me and tried to be in the mood of the exuberant crowd in the church. My mind kept fleeting to him. I was not looking at their seat as much as I could avoid it, but I was feeling his presence sitting there with his friend enjoying the wedding celebration.
I could hear the voice of the Pastor droning into my ears but I was unable to make much sense of what he was saying. I knew he was reading the wedding vow to the couple. I saw hazily, as in a vision, the exchange of rings and the crowd roaring with applause and approval. Betty was also in the swing of the moment, jumping up and down, clapping her hands with the congregation, while nervously throwing a sideways glance at me suspiciously, and nudging me to tag into the mood.
I looked at the groom, a young man of about 30. They made a very lovely and harmonious couple, full of life and energy. I cannot help imagining them making a home and building up a family and that was what the pastor was counseling them about. One of the greatest relics they would have as long as their relationship remains will be the image of this celebration and the goodwill it offered.
I wondered if I could build a happy home someday. With whom will I build my future with? Then it crossed my mind that Timi had not said he loves me. It is true that I lived with him in his house, but then, I was only a friend to Vero, his girlfriend, and whatever he had done then was only to please his girlfriend. He took me away from a troubled situation that would have aborted my education at the time.
Timi was my angel. How else could I ever think of him? He had been like a father to me while I stayed with him; ok not quite like a father, probably like an elder brother. Even when I openly flirted with him – though cautiously – he had kept me at arm’s length. I knew I made a great impact on him, but he had always treated me like a sister; sure, like a younger sister that needed to be protected. But he kissed me that night in my room, and it was not just a spur of the moment sort of a peck on my cheek. It was intense and emotional kiss full blast on my lip. Oh, cut this stuff out Loundah. What if he has reconciled with Vero over the years? What if he is married?
I drifted on and off between the wedding ceremony and Timi, sitting just somewhere within the congregation. He had been many miles away in the distance some few hours ago, but he is now very close; a shouting distance from me. I stood up and marched forward with the congregation to make the traditional wedding offering with the choir singing ‘Amazing Grace.’ It was a joyful moment and everyone dancing and swaying to the rhythm of the song to the front where an offering box was standing. We were all dancing out in rows from the front line of seats going out first, followed by the second line; that was our line.
But as I returned to my seat with Betty clawing behind, still in the swing of her dancing step, someone was standing behind my seat. He drew back the seat a little to allow me a space to sit down, then I held my breath. Betty came bumping onto my back. I looked up at the eyes staring at me. He was not smiling, just looking at me as someone hypnotized. I stared back at him, aware of my legs were almost wobbling under my weight. For a moment, the world stood still. Betty looked at us. She looked at my face, then at Timi’s and back to mine, her eyes questioning.
“Hello, can you excuse me for a minute? Can I talk to you outside for a few seconds, please?” He was pointing his right index finger behind him.
“Timi?” my voice was a whisper amidst the cacophony of sound in the church Then, his smile came out; his eyes were tearing into my soul, seeming to ask all the questions that I also want to know the answers.
“It is you, Loundah, isn’t it?” he stretched out his right hand and gripped mine firmly. “Please, can I see you outside for a moment,” he was not saying it but pleading. He looked at Betty, “just a minute, I will release her back to you."
She merely nodded her head. He literarily dragged me outside the church, as I grabbed my handbag and followed him out. He did not release my hand till we had come out through the front door, and away from the crowd outside the church. He then turned to look at me.
“I will first just ask about your family. How is your family, and your mother?” he looked around the church yard at the crowd of people.
“Where have you been, Timi?”
“That’s a long story I cannot stand here in a church courtyard to tell you. But you have not answered me.”
“My mother is fine. She is doing greatly considering her age.” I said
“That is nice to hear, though I don’t consider her to be an old lady just now. But w…what about your kids?” he was fishing and that almost break my heart. How grateful I was at that moment to have waited for him.
“Do you really want to know about my kids now, standing in a church courtyard?”
“Okay, I got it, but please don’t think I am prying,” he said smiling. “Loundah, you are a lady now. A fully grown woman, not the little student I use to know at Abonnema. That’s been many years ago though. Well, I saw you sitting with your friend back there in the church, and I was not quite sure if my sight were not playing a fool on me. You have grown up to become a very lovely woman.” He looked closely at me.
“Thank you, Timi. Though, you are also not looking bad at all. You must have been doing something great about yourself. You are now Timi the man.”
“See? That’s what I meant that you are now a woman,” he said looking around furtively then continued in the same breath, “I cannot speak what I have to say unless I know I’m saying the right thing and to the right Person. Who is the lucky dude that was able to have searched you out as a partner?”
I looked at him. He was staring at me intently, his face cleanly shaved. He was wearing a white Etiboh shirt on a black trouser, the stud hanging down from the lapel of the collar of the shirt. I can perceive the cologne coming from him, his voice when he speaks, was still that purring baritone as when I had first met him. He looks more masculine now and seemed to have a grip on things firmly in control. This is the Timi of my dream.
“The lucky man that found me out was not a dude, he was a perfect gentleman; only, he is still searching and has not found me.”
“Please, I didn’t want to do anything stupid here to be considered a low life usurper, but are telling me Loundah, that you are not married?” he was regarding me with his eyes and mouth opened wide.
“I’m afraid all the men that have come to me do not seem to consider me attractive enough to be a wife material.”
I do not know if that was the right thing to say right then or the right place to say it, but before I had finished saying it, Timi held my hand, drew me to himself and plastered a sharp peck on my lips.
“Ah! Stop it, Timi,” I drew away from him, though not wanting to, and looked around to see if anyone took notice of us. Everybody seems to be minding their business. “Do you want to draw the attention of the whole congregation to us?” I said smiling.
“I have found you, Loundah,” he said, seemingly to be unaware of my mock protest. "Our years of searching is over. I thought I would never ever find you or be too late when I do. But I thank God we all waited. Now I know that God is faithful to answer the prayers of those who patiently wait upon him.”
He let my hand go. I do not know how we got to that same scripture, but I have just opened a new page in my life and Timi is reading it from his memory. I looked up at the entrance to the church and Betty was standing there looking at us; and she was not alone, she was standing there with Timi’s friend, all smiling at us.