“Wow, this has got to be the most beautiful wedding recital dinner I’ve ever attended. This is pure glam! I can only imagine what heaven will look like if we can make earth this beautiful,” says Turu.
Akanbi laughs. “I told you Wole don’t play. He makes me look like the poorer cousin.”
“Oh please, we all know you are loaded. You are just cheap. There’s a difference,” Turu responds.
“Ah! You just put a dagger in my chest,” Akanbi says, placing his hands firmly on his left chest.
Turu laughs. “Sorry, I can’t help it. Teasing you just helps me calm my nerves down. I’ve never come this far before, you know? To actually meeting the family of the man I’m dating. This is…”
“Turu! Take a deep breath. There’s absolutely nothing to be nervous about. Just relax, have fun, and let my family see the beautiful Turu that I am madly in love with.”
Turu blushes and gives Akanbi a kiss, leaving him to wipe off her bold red lipstick from his cheek. She looks splendid in her mango colored one-shoulder jumpsuit she bought from FKSP just for the occasion. Akanbi is looking dapper as always in his sharp, navy suit from his closet full of many.
“Akaaaaanbi omo mi! I’m so happy to see you! O to ojo meta! How are you? Is this our iyawo?”
“Yes, aunty. Meet Chituru. Chituru, this is aunty Toju, Wole’s mom.”
“Shituru? Omo nna,” aunty Toju mutters under her breath, as though they weren’t standing right in front of her.
“No aunty, it’s not Shit…never mind,” Akanbi says, stopping himself from correcting Aunty Toju before it results in a dramatic scene.
“Welcome Shituru. You guys go in, we should be starting soon,” says aunty Toju.
As they walk into the recital dinner, Akanbi sees his mom approaching.
“That’s mom in the olive green dress,” he whispers to Turu.
Turu holds her breath, her chest visibly puffs up, and her face looks tense. The moment she has rehearsed over and over again in front of her mirror is about to happen.
“Turu? Are you okay? I’m really going to need to you to relax.”
“Of course I’m relaxed. Don’t I look relaxed?”
Akanbi’s mom sees him from afar and waves for them to come over. Their reserved seats were right across from her.
“Okay your mom is walking over. We better go in now for real, babe. I’m just going to keep smiling. That’s my plan. Smile smile smile, Turu. Just smile,” says Turu.
Akanbi shakes his head in amazement at Turu. “This is going to be one interesting evening,” he says.
“Mom, this is Chituru.”
“Hello Shituru. I’ve heard so much about you,” Akanbi’s mom responds, with a cold, unenthusiastic tone, and an undecipherable facial expression.
Turu was almost visibly shaking. The fears she’s had in her head were being confirmed in real life. What a huge relief it was for her as their conversation with Akanbi’s mom was interrupted by the announcement that dinner was about to start. They made their way to their seats, and even more relief came seeing that the centerpiece on the table was so huge, it almost covered Akanbi’s mom’s entire face, which meant minimal conversations throughout the evening.
The recital was elegantly decorated with fresh flowers, candles, and expensive crystals. The food was relatable Nigerian cuisine, yet elevated and bougie as none other. Odindi Chef Kwame of Kith/Kin was the man in the kitchen, and he sure didn’t disappoint. What was not to love about the food? From the crispy whole red snapper, to the delicious steak with crab jollof rice, it was all finger-licking delicious.
As the event was nearing the end, Turu got up to get some warm air outside without realizing that Akanbi’s mom had followed shortly after her.
“So how is Cataa?” Turu heard behind her, lifting up her head from her phone.
“Huh?” Turu said in shock. “Catarrh?…What is that? Oh she means Carter?! Did she just call my son Catarrh? And how does she know him anyway? Ugh! I told Akanbi to keep it hush until I’m ready.”
“Cataa, your son. How is he?” Akanbi’s mom said, interrupting Turu’s thoughts.
“Carter. He’s fine ma. Thanks for asking,” Turu responds.
“Hmmm listen Shituru,” Akanbi’s mom said, with her arms crossed and facial expression conveying irritability. “You seem like a nice lady, and I can understand what Akanbi sees in you, but don’t you think you should find someone who is like you instead?”
“You know, someone who has kids just like you. Akanbi has been such a good boy growing up…never slept around. Why tie him down with your child, because of your mistakes? Ko da now. Don’t you want the best for him if you say you love him?”
“I don’t understand what you’re trying to say ma.”
“I’m not sure what spells you’re using on him that makes him not to see clearly. I just want the best for my son; is that too much for a mother to ask for?
“It’s fine. I understand you don’t want me to be with your son,” Turu responds and turns to walk away.
“I’m going into my car, and getting my butt out of this misery! I just want to go home to Carter and give him a tight hug.” Turu thinks to herself, as she walks to her car, trying to control her emotions.
A car pulls up to the parking lot, and Ronke jumps out of the car towards her mom.
“Mom! I made it!” Ronke says.
“Aderonkeeeeee mi! What a pleasant surprise!” Akanbi’s mom says, stretching out her arms for a hug. “You made it after all! I thought your flight was delayed until 10pm?” She adds.
“It was oh, but won’t He do it? God wouldn’t let me miss my favorite cousin’s wedding recital!” Ronke responds, throwing her hands up in the air with so much enthusiasm. “I know it’s almost over, but I’m just glad I made it,” she adds.
“Oluwa seun. We’ll all be taking pictures soon, so you’re right on time.”
“Ah I better go freshen up in the bathroom sharp sharp.” Ronke says, walking ahead of her mom.
“Aderonke omo mi, o ti ru o. Eh? Why are you losing so much weight?” her mom says as she watches her do her sisi catwalk in front of her.
“You say that every time you see me, mom. I haven’t lost any weight. I actually gained 4 pounds.” she says. Ronke’s eyes suddenly catch Turu when she turns around to talk to her mom.
“HOLD UP! Are you Chituru Okoye?! OMG, I can’t believe it…it’s actually Chituru Okoye! My day is made! Wow, my day is sooooo made!
Turu just stood there, smiling. At least there was something good about the evening. She was glad that she had left her purse at the dinner, or she would have missed her encounter with Ronke who wouldn’t stop gushing over her. This isn’t the first time Turu has experienced this. Not many people know her, but the few who do are deeply connected by her story.
“Thank you! Thank you sooooo much! You literally saved my life during the darkest moments after my rape. I was at the brink of committing suicide when my friend introduced me to Women Who Care. I am soooo happy to see you…to get the opportunity to say thank you so much for your vulnerability in sharing your struggles, and how you overcame your fears following your rape. Hearing your story and those of other women in WWC gave me hope, and is the reason I am standing here today,” Ronke said with an overly dramatic, yet sincere tone.
“Aaaaw I’m so happy to hear that,” Turu responds in a sweet, grateful tone, trying to hold back the tears in her eyes. “It warms her heart when women talk about how life changing WWC has been for them,” she adds.
“Mom, mom, this is Chituru, the lady that started the group I told you about! She’s the most amazing person I’ve ever met in my life…my forever role model.”
Akanbi’s mom was quiet. Her facial expression shows half remorse, half shame…looking like a kid caught red handed stealing meat from the pot. She couldn’t believe that Turu was the woman Ronke always talked about.
“Every day, I thank God for bringing good out of the evil that was done to me. Being in a community of women like you and hearing your success stories brings me so much joy and fulfillment.” Turu said.
“I just hope that you know you are an inspiration. I mean look at you…who would ever guess that you once had a dark period – being pregnant from a rape while in college, with no support?” Ronke says.
By now, Akanbi’s mom is adjusting her olive green dress from the uncomfortable conversation. “My dear daughter, Shituru, ma binu eh? I didn’t mean those things I said. Thank you for everything you do.” Akanbi’s mom says.
“Oh mom, you know Chituru? And why are you apologizing? What happened? Ronke asks.
Akanbi’s mom starts to stutter. “I eeeerrm….we eeeerm…I mean I errrrm….”
“It’s nothing. Your mom and I were just having a minor conversation before you arrived.” Turu says.
“Hmmm, sure. Sounds a bit more than minor to me, but whatever. We better get back in before they are done taking pictures,” Ronke says.
As they walk in, Turu finds Akanbi on one knee, holding a beautiful rose gold ring in a black velvet box.
“Chituru Okoye, you are the woman of my dreams; even way better than I could have dreamed of. With you, I am truly happy. I love all that you are, and all that you stand for. I love you in your strong moments, and your weak ones, and I want to have you in my life forever. And Carter, I want to always be there with him, not just on weekends. I want to always be the one to cut his hair, teach him to swim, take him for his basketball games, and with your help, show him the way of the Lord. Turu, will you please marry me?”
A couple months ago, I woke up to see an email from oko mi with subject, “My Dream Last Night”. I laughed as I read the email because I was expecting Seyi’s typical action-movie-type crazy dream. Unlike us regular people, his dreams are usually coherent with a proper plot. I’ve been asking him to write out these stories, but they are all still in his head somewhere. At the end of Seyi’s email, it read “I’d love to see you refine this story into a blog post.” That’s how “What Happened at the Wedding Recital Dinner” came about.
I hope you got these two things from this story.
First, making assumptions about people never does either party any good. Especially for those of us that have a resting B-face, the assumptions from others are endless. You can’t know someone’s full story until you engage with a heart that seeks to learn and not judge or condemn.
Let’s assume the best of each other. Assume that others have good intentions, and that there’s possibly more context that you’re missing, even before you hear their story. It makes life a bit easier. My post, What if, explains more on this.
Second, shout out to folks who truly care for others and support them, instead of judging them. If you are a woman looking for a support group, Lola Omolola is killing it in that space, and you can request to join her Facebook group, FIN.
P.S. Propose at your cousin’s wedding recital at your own risk…I dinor send you oh!