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Image Source:   Concluding Remarks Ndukaku stood opposite the pastor who had his back to the Sydney Ope...

Image Source:  

Concluding Remarks

Ndukaku stood opposite the pastor who had his back to the Sydney Opera house and the graceful Sydney Harbor Bridge, in Sydney Australia. A pianist was playing the song, ‘I can only imagine’ by MercyMe in the background. Waves of the surrounding Ocean composed their own gentle tunes as they crashed onto the shorelines of the peninsula. Few friends and family who had flown out from Nigeria sat on either side. It was a gorgeous Australian summer day in February. Ndukaku smiled from ear to ear. He could hear the chatter behind him. The pianist had switched to another son, ‘The power of love’ by Celine Dion. He knew Fumilayo and her father were walking down the aisle towards him. His heart was pounding with indescribable excitement. Just over three years back, it seemed like this day would never come. After his mother and Fumilayo had returned from hospital, Bola bought a quaint duplex for Ndukaku and his family I Ikoyi. His relationship with Fumilyo blossomed.

He and Fumi told Bola that he was not Fumi’s biological father. He was clearly disappointed, although he tried to mask his disappointment. A look of disbelief and shock stood like a giant on his face. “Are you sure about that?” He asked. His voice was breaking up. He had no inkling how this could have happened. As he perused the DNA result that Ndukaku handed to him, he could not help but think of the years before Fumi was conceived. He kept a horde of girlfriends dotted all over the country. He had at least one in every city where his business took him; from Lagos to Kano, Port Harcourt to Kaduna, and Ibadan to Enugu. There were a few of them outside the country too.  Eniola must have been seeing someone else about the same time, after she could no longer stand my infidelity, he thought to himself. His late wife Eniola found out about some of his affairs and complained bitterly, but Bola turned a deaf ear to her complaints.

“You are my daughter Fumilayo,” he said in reply after a prolonged silence. “You will always be my daughter. I will love and protect you until my dying day. You may not know your mother, but I must tell you this; she was an amazing woman. I wish I could explain this more clearly to you, but whatever she did, I drove her into it. I was brazenly flirtatious back in the day. Having made some money, I felt the world was at my feet. I wanted to sleep with everything in skirt. Your mother found out and warned me seriously that if I did not amend my ways, that I would lose her. Somehow, she stopped complaining and carried on as if all were well, even though I did not change. Perhaps, she found love in someone else’s arms. It is all my fault. Please forgive me.” “It is okay daddy. I already forgave you. I don’t know any other father and I don’t feel like I need another father. You are my father, and you will always be.” After graduating from University, they both went to Youth Service. Upon completion of service, Bola gave Ndukaku a massive loan to the tune of millions of Naira to start his own advertising company. With Bola’s connection, it was only a matter of time before high net worth clients were walking through the doors of his advertising agency. Bola had kept his promise to God. He turned a new leaf. He went to church, read the Bible and got into a serious relationship, thus, ending his jumping around days.

Fumi joined a law firm in Lagos where she hoped to garner some experience before going into private practice. One evening Fumi was in court with her boss defending an important client, an oil mogul. They argued their case regarding an oil block that was infringed upon by another company. By the end of the day, she and her boss won the case. She was excited and exhausted. She dragged herself out of the courtroom with her boss right behind her. The courtroom was nearly empty. As she lumbered into the hallway, she turned right towards the stairs. In from of the staircase was Ndukaku. He and his friends, Fumi’s friends and a few relatives had been lying in wait for her. She stared at them in utter confusion wondering what they were doing there. Before she could say a word, Ndukaku went down on his knees. In his hand was a jewelry box which he flipped open. A diamond ring glistened exuberantly. Fumi’s hands were shaking. Her legs became lethargic as overwhelming exhilaration swept through her. Ndukaku smiled broadly. His hands shook a little with excitement. “Fumi, will you marry me?” He asked her. Fumi’s boss who had been in on the plan all along stood behind her and watched with childish elation and pure joy. She could not hold back the tears that surged to the edges of her eyes. Fumi was almost out of breath. Her excitement knew know bounds…it was almost choking. “Yes…Yes Ndukaku. I will marry you with all my heart,” she answered. Ndukaku rose to his feet to place the ring on her finger. She almost swooned. As he rose, she grabbed him and he took her in his arms. “I will marry you Nduka,” she said again, nearly gasping for air. He hugged her for a good five minutes before placing the ring on her finger. She hardly looked at the ring. Her eyes were fixated on his face. “I can’t wait to be your husband,” he said. “I am dying to be your beloved wife,” she replied planting her lips on his.

Only a few close friends and family had flown over to Australia for the wedding. After scouring the map of the world for months, they finally settled for the Sydney Opera House as their wedding venue. Chidubem was clad in traditional Igbo attire – an Ishiagu shirt, a red cap with a feather tucked in on one side, and a black trouser to match the Ishiagu shirt. Ngozika was beaming with smiles in her flamboyant head tie, white lace (dress and wrapper to match). Bola was in suite and his lady friend, Bunmi was in skirt and suit too. Two of Ndukaku’s uncles and one of his aunts and their spouses were in attendance. Most of Fumi’s extended family was in attendance too, and there were a few friends on both sides. When Ndukaku turned, Fumilayo was smiling at him with her father beside her. She was adorably beautiful. Her dimples appeared to smile on their own. Her make up glistened in the sun, and her wedding gown was electric. “You look fabulous,” Ndukaku whispered. “Thanks,” she said still smiling. After the pastor had performed the wedding rituals, the bride and groom opted to read their own vows. Fumilayo had worked on her vows for months. Her dad who was keeping her vows handed it to her. She gathered her riotous emotions and read;

“Ndukaku!” She bellowed while staring him in the eye. She could not take her eyes of him. She loved him so much. Her heart was pounding. She managed to compose herself and continued. “Love, you cannot see it but once it has taken hold of you, you can’t get away from it. As a child, you were my friend, my rock, my playmate and my neighbor. Then you became like my brother. The possibility that you and I would stand here today before God, friends and family in holy matrimony was unattainable. We would look each other in the eye with our hearts quaking and rampaging for each other…our emotions crying and begging to be in each other’s arms. But somehow, we were not meant to be together. In my agonizing pain, I sought the coward’s way out. I tried to take my own life for I could not see the need to live without you. Yet, in my darkest hour, God was working behind the scenes and driven by God’s spirit and love…the love that you have never ceased to shower on me despite our situation, you labored to end the mystic veil that had come over us. You walked on thorns and burning coal to find a path, a new path for us. 

"A path that led us to the altar as we are joined together today with no limits, no tears and no walls between us anymore. Around us at this most symbolic and wonderful location is beauty; beauty that shimmers like gold and gleams like diamond. Around, I see cascading waves that sing in unison, and boats that careen the waterways majestically. Yet, none of these come close to the beauty that resides within you. The beauty that I saw the first time I looked into your eyes. The beauty that speaks of love, pure love; beauty that sings of your kindness; beauty that shouts of your thoughtfulness and sensitivity to others; beauty that is reflected in your sacrifices for me and everyone in your life. I am a blessed woman to be marrying you today. As we begin this new phase of our journey together, I promise to be your rock in times of trouble and in times of joy. I will struggle sometimes. Sometimes, I will fail. Sometimes I am sure I will be frustrating, but one thing I can promise you is that, I will never stop loving you with every breath that I draw and every drop of blood that flows in my veins. I am yours and I will forever be yours – loyal, loving, supportive, caring, and most of all, dependable.” She sniffed as she managed to reign in her emotions. Not even Bola could hold back tears of joy as they burst out of his eyes effortlessly.

Ndukaku was restraining tears with limited success. He dug into his pocket and out came his vows. He sniffed as he opened it and readied himself to read out loud his promise to Fumilayo. “There were days when I nearly gave up on us. There were days I felt life was not worth living because I could not stand the reality of not having you in my life. It was not hard work that kept me steady in faith as I searched fervently for ways to with you without the shackles that had chained us at the time. No, it was not hard work. It was not calmness either for there were days when I cried like a child ripped away from his parents. I was an emotional wreck underneath the fa├žade of calmness that I tried to portray. It was not discipline that kept me believing somehow in us.  If I were supremely disciplined, then I would have erased you from my mind, but you were not only in my mind always, you were an integral part of my mind. I had no discipline. My heart, my head, my thoughts, my emotions; they were all crying and yearning for you like someone in gas chamber gasping for air. It was love Fumilayo. The love that I have for you and the love I know you have for me – have had for me from the time when were toddlers. It was love that gave me the initiative to find a way to end our darkest days and let sunshine back into our dingy world. 

"Our hearts are unbreakably strung together by strands of love that defy logic. Many feel the emotion called love, but very few truly enjoy and cherish true love, and I am lucky to be amongst them. Love is not bound by time, space of lineage. It is not defined by roots and ties that stem from who we know and who are parents are. It springs from a deep inexplicable well that lies quietly deep within, but slowly and surely steers our thoughts, actions and whole lives. It may be quiet, but not timid. It may be unseen, but certainly felt with force that can collapse sky scrapers and fell gigantic edifices. It is from that well of inner, quiet strength and blessed assurance that I operate from. It is that strength that only love can give that directs my actions and places an inner peace – God’s peace in my heart that says, you have found your own…You have found your missing rib. In her, you shall be satisfied and through her your will be fulfilled with laughter and joy. Through her, you will conquer for you have a pillar of love behind you in a wife. How blessed I am. How thankful I am. Thanks for accepting poor, little me to be your husband Fumilayo. I will grow with you, laugh with you, cry with you and walk with you no matter what life hurls at us!”


This story was written by:

Victor Chinoo

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