“Happy! Happy anniversary to Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert. Long live the couple! Forever and ever! Hurray! On and on they sang with joy in celebration of I and Gilbert’s fifteenth wedding anniversary.
The mere look at Gilbert’s face filled with much smiles made me sick within. I couldn’t understand why the world celebrated and blessed a man who was a curse in my life. Who would even imagine how ruthless it was to have such a man as a husband. “O God, save me from this monstrous being”. I cried more on the inside. This was definitely not my bargain in life.
Sir Idris, an elderly man with a sheepish smile, walked into the event with his eyes daringly gazing at the beautiful set up of the event, obviously designed to entertain high social class guests. He wasn’t sure if the event was worth the smiles he was forcefully putting up all day. Perhaps, he was trying to impress someone dear to his heart? He thought for a moment, searching his heart for an answer and right there was; Abike, the voice of the one true reason he was in the party that night. “Waiter, can I have one shot of brandy”? He looked up at once, trying to recover from the shock of having me so close to him. The waiter responded immediately, filling my glass cup.
“Ah! Abike, there you are. I have not learnt to stop the image of your ravishing beauty from crossing my attention all day. It’s good to see you again”. Idris said, planting a kiss on the back of my pam. I managed a smile, completely sure I wanted no minute with another maniac for the day. “There you go again, Sir Idris. I’m not sure my cards are ready to play with a stalker with ravaging imaginations at this hour.”
Idris held me close to him, whispering into my ears. “You and I know that my true sense of being here is to enjoy your gorgeous presence. I beg you not to deny me this one moment I wish never to end”. Abike laughed like the world was indeed mocking her existence. One could clearly see the anger in her eyes as she laughed hysterically. “I understand that people of your age are in a cage of stupidity. Hence, I do not blame your folly. However, I also wish to remind you that my husband is just few seconds away from here and just one call, and he would have you detained tonight for assault and harassment. So you see, it would be in your best interest to stay away from me”. I gently walked away, pretending not to see his smiles and wink at me as I moved. “Silly old man”, I muttered, “He sure does have some disgusting guts. I mean who comes to a fifteen year old wedding anniversary declaring some stupid madness, he calls love to another man’s wife? What rubbish!”
Just when I felt free and far from the fanatic stalker, Idris, I caught the sight of Rev. Frank, my husband’s good friend. Shades of smiles lit from my eyebrows with curves of excitement. I walked up to him in a rush, not minding the dancing crowd. “Hi Father”. “Hello sister Abike. How are you doing today”? He asked, smiling back at me with an obvious discomfort. “Oh! I am better than ever with your sweet presence, father Frank”. I said, winking unpretentiously at him, my heart racing in bits at his warm smile. Rev. Frank removed his eyes from mine calmly, his eyes demanding that I respect his call. I smiled warmly, ignoring his strong composure and resistance from my flirtatious acts.
Gilbert who had been watching from a distance caught the eye of Rev. Frank and made moves to greet him immediately. “My very own Reverend, how great to have you in our homely party”. He said, shaking and hugging him, almost at the same time. “Really great my friend, it reminds me of the good old days. And of course, a fifteen year old wedding anniversary is no joke at all”. They both laugh in excitement, while I excused myself from them both, a little mad, I didn’t have my way with Rev. Frank. “Stupid fools! Men are stupid indeed”. I sighed, trying hard to swallow my hurting pride. While cursing in bits with a gulp of one full glass of brandy down my throat, Tricia, my best friend came from a corner and swung her arms around me with joy.
She had just returned from the United States and had not seen me in months. “Abike! ‘Ore mi to da, to dun, ore ere, ore alfani’ (Singing Praises to Abike in Yoruba). The great one designed and destined by God to reign before kings”. I smiled and screamed in joy, celebrating the beauty of her surprising return. “Oh my God! Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? When did you return from the States”? I asked, not sure how I felt within. “This morning I tried calling you, but your phone was not reachable, so I called Gilbert and he told me about the party. Happy wedding anniversary, love. I suppose after fifteen years of marriage, you can now lift your head high and train women on marriage ethics”. Tricia gave a soft laugh, amazed by my hilarious and sarcastic laugh. Her eyes peeked at the empty glass before me and then the bar man. “How many shots has she taken, already?” “Four glasses, ma”. The bar man responded in a bow and moved away quickly, to attend to some other person.
“Abike! Four glasses! How in heaven’s name did you embrace drinking again? I mean, the last time I checked, we were completely done with singing fleshy songs, which includes drinking. We didn’t accept God into our lives to turn our backs later. What is happening with you”?
“Tricia, there is no God anywhere, so keep that part of your life to yourself and allow me mourn my existence”. “Mourn? It’s your wedding anniversary, Abike. How can you mourn your existence on a special day as this? Oh my! Gilbert! Where is Gilbert”?
“Don’t bother with that monster; he must be somewhere doing what he knows how to do best, having fun”. I laughed again, signaling the bar man towards me, with my glass waiting to be filled. Tricia grabbed the glass out of her hands and shoved the bar man away. “If you in as much as give her one more drop, I‘ll make sure your work here is without pay. Mark my every word”. “Yes ma”. The bar man said and left in a rush, a little shaken by her threat. “You can’t be serious Abike. I would not watch you drink your soul to stupor. Never! I need to find Gilbert.” Tricia’s eyes searched the event hall, hoping to find Gilbert. Unfortunately, she caught no trace of him. She looked back at me who appeared irritable at one sight, signaled the guards to watch over me and ensure I take no more drink. Just when she was sure it was all under control, she left the event hall in search of my husband, Gilbert.
“Dear God, please help me find Gilbert. The last thing I need is my friend’s life in a muddled mess. And what I don’t understand is why she is doing this to herself on her wedding anniversary day. Please God help us, help her and help them stand stronger for each other”. Tricia prayed in her heart, not pausing for even a second. The house felt lonely and quiet. She could tell no one was in it. But where could Gilbert be? Her worrying thoughts soon stopped when she heard whispers from the upper room. She gently climbed the stairs curious to know where the voices came from. She could hear them clearer as she walked towards the second sitting room on the third floor of the building. “Isn’t that Gilbert? Please God let it be.” Her thoughts pleaded as she walked in. ”oh! There you are!” she said and opened her eyes wide in great shock, her eyes glancing at both men and her mouth covered with her hands, not sure if she was seeing right, she moved into the sitting room and looked closely. “What! Dad! You! Oh my God! The grounds have to be playing with my emotions at this hour, because this cannot be. Never! She screamed, her feet trying to stay fit to the grounds. Continue with Part 2…