Kuma looked into Jewel’s face behind the veil. He could still see the fear in her eyes. Fear of marrying him. He had taken it personal 7 months ago when she’d told their counselors on their first day of meeting them that she was scared of marriage because of what she’d witnessed in her home when growing up. He’d felt hurt and angry that she’d never shared that with him during their 2 years of dating. Mr. and Mrs. Anti- Aidoo had seen his expression and sort to calm him down.
Mrs. Anti most particularly had made him understand how much it had taken for Jewel to voice it out. It wasn’t that she didn’t love him, she did but that fear was from her childhood, and nothing he said could erase it. She was the only one who could erase it by looking at his actions.
That had made him feel worse because he had gone out of his way to make her understand how much he loved her. He’d never known that he could have a capacity to love the way he felt for her. That one person could come to mean so much to him that he couldn’t function straight without her. He couldn’t start his day without hearing her voice. He couldn’t make decisions without her input. His happiness was derived from her happiness and when she became sad, it was as if the whole world had become gloomy and dark.
Yet, she was still scared of marriage or marrying him in spite of his actions? It had been hard but he’d swallowed his pain and sort to assure her that marrying him was just sealing their relationship. He was still going to be the man she’d fallen for. It was just the legalities that were going to make the difference.
During the wedding preparations, there were a few times he’d seen a panicked look across her features. There was a day he’d thought she was going to call it quits between them. She had done that thrice in the time they’d been dating.
He’d had to beg her sisters to make most of the major decisions and not stress her with the nitty-gritty of the wedding planning. He had siblings who had fought with their spouses during the final weeks to their weddings and knew how a mere flower arrangement or extra cost to buy a wedding cake could end a relationship and wedding plans.
Her sisters had been extremely helpful in that regard and had done everything in their power to ensure Jewel wouldn’t be stressed. During their wedding rehearsal, she’d looked scared again and he’d had to signal to her dad to go to her. At a point in time, he’d become exhausted being the one always assuring her when he was also scared of the future. What if she woke up one day and left him? Could he live without her? He’d made her know how much he loved her, wouldn’t she take advantage of that?
There were days she made decisions without telling him but he’d have to swallow his anger because he hated quarreling with her. His mom had told him it wasn’t healthy because couples needed to let out their feelings otherwise it would fester and become a huge stumbling block to peace one day. He’d had to learn how to talk rationally with her because, in the home where he grew up, mom and dad sometimes took pleasure in insulting each other at the top of their lungs. They’d finish quarreling and start laughing at themselves. It used to annoy him to no end because he and his siblings used to side with either one of them when they were younger only to become third parties after their parents reconciled in the next minute. He’d changed so much for her and was still changing but why was she still scared?
He heard the Pastor mention his name and turned to face him.
“Anti, take the ring and say this after me.” Anti turned and removed the wedding ring from the ring box in his best friend, Eddy’s hands. He thanked his friend with a smile. He turned to his Jewel and nearly sighed out loud. She was in tears. He felt like raising his head to the ceiling and yelling, “what do you want me to do to make you know you’re safe with me?”
Then an idea struck him.
“Pastor, is it possible for me to say my vows?”
Their pastor was shocked. No one had requested to say their own vows before. He looked over at the General Overseer. The man knew the Anti Aidoos personally and had come to visit their church for the first time after it was established up 5 years ago. The G.O. nodded briefly. With a smile, Pastor handed over the mic to Anti.
“Sure. Go ahead.”
Anti took the mic and looked into his Jewel’s eyes. Her maid of honor, Ekua had helped her wipe the tears. He smiled into her eyes.
“Jewel. 2 years ago you asked me what I saw in you when I proposed to you. I had told you a mere 3 weeks after becoming your friend that I wanted to settle down with you. You were shocked and thought I was just using it as an excuse to get into your pants. I told you otherwise but knew it hadn’t sunk in. It still hasn’t sunk in as to why I proposed to you so soon.”
She smiled shyly.
“Growing up, my parents taught me one thing. That love has not one definition. We all define it according to our understanding and emotions. It means that love is dependent on who is experiencing it. It can’t be controlled neither can it be programmed. You can only adapt it to your own understanding of it. When I met you, I didn’t know why I fell in love with you. There was no manual for me to read or a warning from the god of love that I was going to meet Jewel Ewuenam Gbeve on the 11th of June, 2018. The only thing that love could tell me was, ‘isn’t that the girl you’ve been waiting for all your life?'”
She looked at him in wonder because she’d never heard that from him before. It was his turn to smile.
“I was temperamental but you taught me how to be measured in my utterances because anger doesn’t excuse the deliberate intention to inflict pain with words. I always wanted to do things my way all the time but, you taught me that teamwork, makes you accomplish all your goals in half the time. You taught me to be self-sufficient. I thought that being a man was all about learning, working, and taking care of a family. They were broad concepts that I hadn’t broken down into relative pieces but you taught me how to take care of myself first and my family second. In learning how to do that, I’ve learned how to put my family first when it comes to doing things.”
She smiled sweetly into his eyes.
“Sometimes, I wonder how come you don’t see the changes you’ve brought out in me. You don’t see how patient I’ve become. Honey, I used to want to drink with my boys boys every Friday night and spent thousands of cedis on drinks and grilled meat. I thought that was fun until I realized through you how foolish that was because in always paying, I ended up wasting money which could have been used for investment on alcohol which would later have an adverse effect on me. I used to like girls but being with you made me value having that one girl. Maintaining and being with one woman is peaceful,” all the ladies in the church auditorium screamed in agreement at that.
Jewel looked at them and laughed. She unconsciously lifted her veil to better see them. Her maid of honor moved to push it down but Anti gave a slight nod. This was the first time he’d seen her this relaxed and he didn’t want anything to make her tense up again. He continued.
“Maintaining and being with one woman is peaceful because I don’t have to hide any call or text. I don’t have to lie about who I am talking to when you call and find the line is on call waiting. I don’t have to warn you from visiting me without notice when as my woman, you should be able to walk in freely. Anything could happen to me when I’m alone at home and your surprise visit could save me one day. I wouldn’t have to tie your things in a black polythene bag and hide it behind my bed so that other women won’t see it.”
The G.O. laughed loudly. The entire church was in stitches.
“I wouldn’t have to play a double life and undergo the stress of dealing with women of different temperaments. Most importantly, I don’t have to burden myself with the truth knowing that you’d walk away should you finally find out.”
This time the noise was so deafening that Pastor had to take a second mic from an instrumentalist and shout “koom here” (silence in here) for the noise to subside. Anti was speaking the language of all the women witnessing the wedding. That the men in the auditorium, especially those currently cheating on their women felt uncomfortable, was an understatement.
“Now honey, I’m not saying all these just because we’re here today before all of our guests. I’m saying all these because these are things you know. Things you’ve seen with your own two eyes and experienced. You are the only one who knows the depth of my feelings for you and how much I can’t stand to lose you. You are the one who knows how lost I am when we argue because I want to be with you every single second. You know how much I hate sleeping when you’re with me in bed because I don’t want to miss anything.”
Jewel ducked her head at that. She knew her dad would feel uncomfortable hearing anything related to sleeping with his new son-in-law. She turned to look at him but the rascal rather winked and gave her a thumbs-up sign. She laughed. Anti mouthed the words, “thank you,” to the man.
“I don’t want to miss that sigh you make when you turn in your sleep or the smile you wear when you wake up to see me looking at you. I don’t want to miss any of your smiles. The sudden frown when you are thinking up ways to make me happy. You always go out of your way to make me happy. To make my life better. To make me live comfortably. Your capacity for love makes it worthwhile to be with you. I was honored when you decided to be with me and still honored that you accepted me to be your husband and father of your kids. I know that you had to think long and deeply before making that decision because you’re making me a part of you and needed to be sure I deserved to be. I’m glad that you think I do deserve to be in your life forever and I promise to be there for you always. To be your neck when you need support. To be your head when you need to think alternatively. To be your hands when you need comfort. To be your legs when you need help to be move. To be your skin when you need to feel and to be your eyes when you need to see the world in a different way. I’m yours my Jewel, forever and ever even beyond death. I love you and on this day, as I make you my wife,” he pushed the ring onto her ring finger.
“I pledge to be your husband, not just in name or on paper but in deeds and in person. To be your man, your lover, your best friend, your coach, your chauffeur, your chef, your clothes ironer,” Jewel burst out laughing. “Your orgasmic eater.”
“Hey brother Anti,” Pastor gasped. The whole church laughed out loud at the look of horror on his face. Pastor looked over at the GO but the man was also laughing. That made him relax.
“Sorry, Pastor,” Anti quickly apologized.
“That’s ok. Carry on.”
“And everything you know I will do just to make you happy always, so help me God.”
Jewel smiled and looked at Eddy for the second ring. She took it and inhaled sharply. Anti watched her closely. She didn’t look scared anymore. That was a relief. Wait. She rather had a determined look on her face. The last time she had that look, she’d broken up with him and it had taken him 8 long weeks before convincing her to stay with him.
“I, Jewel Ewuenam Gbeve do take you Emmanuel Kwame Ansah Anti-Aidoo as my lawfully wedded husband because of the immense love you’ve shown me. I used to weep at night so scared of marrying because of what others before me had shown but you sought to change all that. You have been there for me and shown me that yes, love can grow and blossom beautifully without an expiry date. I do promise to be your helpmeet and to be there with you no matter the condition. I love you and on this day pledge my undying love for you. I love you, honey.”
Anti looked at her quietly as she slipped the ring on his finger. He didn’t know why he couldn’t react immediately. He’d been so negative about her intentions that he’d never thought of the fact that she might have finally decided to be with him. Even after all that he’d told her, he’d thought she was going to leave him. He looked into the eyes of his wife and burst into tears.
The entire church was shocked. Anti-Aidoo, the indefatigable choirmaster who grilled choristers till they burst into tears was unprovoked crying on his own wedding day? About 20 mobiles phones captured the moment and the Tik Tok app saw over 23 videos of a groom crying on his wedding day as his bride held him an embrace. She kissed him and the entire erupted into cheers of joy.
Pastor was fed up this time. He grabbed the mic and shouted at them to keep quiet. He waited for long moments for his two assistant pastors to ensure they complied before quietly stating, “by the powers vested in me and with much love and respect for the love you share for each other, I now declare you husband and wife. Anti, you may kiss your bride.”
“But pastor, they have already kissed oh,” Anti’s best man said cheekily.
As Pastor started laughing, the couple fell into each other’s arms to kiss for 5 minutes. Social media was certainly going to get an eyeful of that day.