SWEET AMOR - Episode 1

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - favourite restaurants in Victoria Island, the rest room, rose petals and candle lights, the romantic aesthetics, ‘All of Me’ by John Legend, an engagement ring in a tray filled with rose petals, romantic wedding reception, fruit-infused iced teas. grade IV astrocytoma brain tumour, cancer therapy.


Her wedding plans were in top gear, she was determined to spare no cost for the wedding, for years she had waited to hear a man ask her that all important question, “Will you marry me?” Though Joy could tell that Sule was different from all the men who took advantage of her and later left for other women, she still was scared if he would pop that question and end her longing for conjugal bliss. So after four years of dating him, Sule flew back from Abuja one evening and set up a date with her at one of his favourite restaurants in Victoria Island. For her it was going to be yet another wonderful evening with Sule and nothing more. She expected nothing beyond what they had experienced for the four years of their relationship. However, Sule had other plans, as the night wore on, Sule excused himself to go use the restroom.

That was his cue to the stewards in the restaurant. As soon as he disappeared into the restroom, the lights in the restaurant were changed to all dim blue light. The floor of the restaurant was covered with rose petals and candle lights, and flowers were set on the tables in the restaurant. Also about four giant flowers were moved into four corners of the restaurant. Joy was blown away by the romantic decoration which transformed the restaurant. She couldn’t help but wish she was the woman for whom all that romantic expense was being made. While Joy took in all the romantic aesthetics on display, the song ‘All of Me’ by John Legend began to gently play over the speakers.

Joy was moved to tears; as she and the other customers in the restaurant waited for the purpose for the decorations to unfold. The song playing over the speakers began to fade, and a male voice from the speakers hanging on the walls echoed into the restaurant, “Joy Nneka Matthew, will you marry me?” Joy was swept off her feet; her breath was taken away as tears flowed from her eyes. She recognized the voice, it was Sule’s voice. While she struggled to get a grasp of the surprise, a girl of eight years, dressed like a bride, bore to her table an engagement ring in a tray filled with rose petals. Some distance behind the little girl, was Sule. He came by her table and knelt down one leg and waited for her reply. Joy was overwhelmed; tears of joy and the cry of excitement would not let her give Sule her reply for some moments.

However, Sule already knew what the answer was. The customers in the restaurant were all up on their feet clapping and cheering. Some ladies amongst them shed a few tears. When Joy had gained some control over her emotions, she, as loud as she could, said to Sule, “Yes, I will marry you and love you forever!” Sule took the engagement ring in the tray and put it on her finger. Joy took a hold of him and kissed him for what seemed like eternity, and all that while the customers in the restaurant went into a rapturous cheer. Sule had planned the engagement to perfection with the management and staff of the restaurant.

Soon after the engagement, Sule and Joy began to plan for their wedding. Their plan was to have such a romantic wedding reception that the feeling would tug at the heartstrings of their guests for a long time to come. Sule had the money to make it happen, so they had no worries. Some of the plans they made were to make the entrance leading into the reception hall unforgettable. They wanted a florist to create arrangements in the shape of a heart, and then hang them from grosgrain ribbons on the open doors. Sule and Joy planned to give their guests a place to mingle between dance breaks by creating a lounge area at their reception. It would be filled with couches and plenty of pillows to sink into and closed off with curtains to create a VIP vibe. They knew their guests won't be expecting any drinks until the reception, so they planned to give them a pleasant surprise by setting up a table of light beverages on the way into the ceremony. They would line up fruit-infused iced teas they could sip before taking their seats.

Instead of paper cards that would get lost or thrown away, they planned to make their escort cards something worth keeping or even edible. So they decided to make personalized cake pops with guests' names and table numbers written on them in icing and engraved martini glasses that would double as favours. They also planned to have their wedding cake shaped after Sule’s favourite football team stadium, Barcelona. Because their song was going to be slow and romantic, they planned to have fresh flower petals instead of confetti dropped from the ceiling.

Another evocative idea they wanted for the wedding was to use softly glowing candles to illuminate the reception hall. They would turn off all the overhead lights, and place hurricane lanterns on all of the tables. They would have a salad course and wanted it to make a lovely statement. The greens would be dressed up with edible flowers like delicate peach blossoms. To finish off the feast with a little romance, they would have their caterer bake heart-shaped biscotti. Then have cups of coffee served to their guests, with one of the sweet treats perched on each saucer. The reception venue they chose was overlooking a beach, they planned to get on a boat and take off for their honeymoon from the reception. For their honeymoon they planned to go to Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa in Seychelles.

After the traditional rites of marriage had been performed by Sule, the couple moved over to Lagos for their white wedding. On the morning of their wedding, April 17th 2007, Joy was sitting before the mirror in her hotel room, being made up by a makeup artist and suddenly she fell of her seat and began to have seizures. While she was being driven to a hospital, she began to bleed from the nose. When the news of Joy’s failing health reached her parents, Sule and his family members and the guests, almost all of them went down to the hospital to find out how she was doing. There was no immediate diagnosis, but based on some observable symptoms, doctors feared for her life. Joy strangely began to record blurry vision, changes in speech, inability to concentrate, minor problems with her memory. On the basis of her condition, the wedding had to be called off.

A few days later when the tests and scan results were out, it turned out the doctors’ fears were not extreme. Joy was diagnosed of grade IV astrocytoma brain tumour. Sule’s dream wedding was shattered. Joy on her part was overwhelmed with sorrow. She had waited long for the day she would walk down the aisle with the man of her dream, and when it eventually came, ill health took it away from her. Her sorrow knew no bounds; but as bad as it was for her and Sule, they had to pull themselves together to face the task before them. The doctor invited Sule and Joy’s parents to describe to them the treatment options available to joy, the expected results, and the possible side effects. The doctor explained to them that because of how the cancerous growth in joy’s head had spread, surgery was not possible at that stage, which invariably left them with radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

The side effects were much; cancer therapy can often damage healthy cells tissues and the treatment method may cause fertility and sexual side effects in a woman, like the ability to have children. The doctor further explained to them some other side effects such as nausea and vomiting, pain, hair loss, anemia, infection, blood clotting problems and lymphedema. They were also made aware that because of how severe Joy’s case was, she may still have some disabilities even after treatment, and some of the disabilities might be problems with balancing or walking well and problems with memory loss. Joy’s case being very serious, the doctor recommended that she be provided with a speech therapist during treatment seeing how much the ailment had quickly affected her speech.

Sule’s sorrows were compounded after meeting with the doctors. He was not sure what or who Joy would be after treatment. For months he wallowed in sorrow and self-pity. After the treatment had begun, there were days Sule would visit Joy in the hospital and would make reference to some of the plans they made in the past and Joy wouldn’t remember a thing about them. There were cases when she completely couldn’t remember who some of her close friends were. With her hair gone and having lost so much weight, she cut the look of someone who would die any moment. That did not help Sule at any rat. As time dragged by Sule stopped visiting her at the hospital. Though he took care of her hospital bill, he slowly began to expect the worst and turned his attention to things that could help him forget Joy’s condition.

STORY CONTINUES...
                  CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 2

Written by:
Uzoma Ujor

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: SWEET AMOR - Episode 1
SWEET AMOR - Episode 1
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - favourite restaurants in Victoria Island, the rest room, rose petals and candle lights, the romantic aesthetics, ‘All of Me’ by John Legend, an engagement ring in a tray filled with rose petals, romantic wedding reception, fruit-infused iced teas. grade IV astrocytoma brain tumour, cancer therapy.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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