ONE sunny Saturday morning in July, I left for my friend’s sister’s wedding which took place in a small neighbouring town.
After the wedding, we all moved from the Church to the groom’s family compound where the wedding reception was to take place.
At the venue, I picked a good spot at the front and nodded to the music blasting in the atmosphere.
The Woman Who Talked Too Much
‘THE best part of every wedding for me is the reception; the dance, the food and the social aspect,’ the strange woman sitting beside me confessed. She didn’t mention the most important aspect which was the vows and that pricked my heart, a a little. I changed the subject.
‘I love the weather. It looks like summer in July! The sky is blue and clear, a sign it won’t be raining today.’ She studied me and I noticed she was perplexed by my positive assertion.
‘That sounds like the weatherman’s buzz! Anyway, there is nothing good about this weather. It will soon rain cats and dogs. Bet?’ She stuck out her little finger and waved it in my direction ready to hook mine. I looked at it and chuckled, amused by her childish and silly demeanour.
‘I don’t want to fall for that. It’s a rainy season. I’m only being as positive as I can be. If you can do the same, for the sake of the wedded couple, of course, it will help a lot,’ I folded my arm across my chest and she withdrew her finger.
‘I don’t like outdoor wedding receptions. They’re not classy. I prefer well decorated large halls. I love taking pictures at weddings and I like my background gorgeous,’
‘It’s not everyone that can afford such an expensive venue.,’ I frowned.
‘You’re right. Hmm.. and the thought that it might rain gives me a headache!’ she brought out her hand fan and used it expertly throwing her face in different directions.
‘These canopies are so light. Hope the wind doesn’t carry them off to the sky,’ She said casually and I cracked up and glared at the canopies to see her observation but saw nothing. She gave out a short laugh.
Who is this woman? Where is she from?
‘What was Glory thinking? Who fixes a wedding in the rain? ‘she said after a short silence. I noticed she couldn’t stand silence.
‘The weather is fine! No cause for alarm. It’s not going to rain, believe me, ’ I smiled.
‘They should have chosen a date between November and March. July and August are a no-no for weddings. We know it usually rained non-stop and annoyingly so. I hate the unending drizzle which makes the ground wet and muddy all day. It isn’t the best time for weddings especially in a village like this.’ She kept the words rolling and I listened as if hypnotised.
She leaned towards me and said in a hushed voice, ‘Rumour has it that the bride is pregnant. The groom got the poor bride pregnant!’ She waited for me to react but I looked away. ‘The wedding rush was his smart move to keep people from noticing her bump during the crucial moment.’ she gave a short laugh and I thought about how fast rumour travelled. My friend had told me that her sister was six weeks gone. How did the news get to the woman sitting beside me?
‘Rumours are not always true. They might have chosen this date for a reason’ I stammered.
‘Ok tell me, why would they want to do that,’ fortunately, a woman walked in and my negative instant friend on hearing her voice, trotted in that direction. I watched as they picked a spot four rows behind me and settled.
I was relieved she left my side and was happy a very quiet boy took her position, someone like me. We sat there and enjoyed our peace.
The tune to usher in the new couple played and I gave up my full attention to them as they danced into the reception.
The Arrival Of The Rainmaker
The wedding reception was going well and the weather was still kind before the unexpected happened.
The couple’s hands were on the knife about to cut their wedding cake when a notorious rainmaker walked into the wedding arena as if he ruled the roost in there.
All eyes moved from the new couple to a tall slim man whose dreadlocks hunted his back. His multi-coloured hat crouched on his messy crown. His facial expression was fierce and he calculated his steps as if certain spots of the ground would swallow his foot if he stepped on them.
There was something sinister about his outfit. He wore a red tank-top over a red, black and white striped baggy skirt. The skirt had slits all the way to his thigh on both sides and his white petticoat peeped through them.
People began to take their leave one by one, out of fear. He was the most notorious rainmaker in the area.
The bride hastened away as the groom ran to him. He was furious the rain maker was there.
The rainmaker moved away as if the air around the groom stung. He raised his special staff up and danced around to an unknown tune.
‘I’ll bring down a hurricane, a downpour on everyone! You have touched the rail of a Lion,’
What are you talking about? You are at the wrong place and if you don’t leave now, I’ll call the vigilante to throw you out,’ the rainmaker kept mute but kept his special movement.
‘You are disrupting my wedding. Leave now!’ The groom yelled. He was frantic. He looked around with his hands spread out, ‘Where is this man from? Who brought him, ‘ he asked everyone.
The groom was so furious that he boiled. I moved closer and closer.
‘I told you I’m not interested in your services anymore. Your demand is too much for me. How could you ask a modern man in the twenty-first century to provide ten cowries for rainmaking ritual? Where did you expect me to get the cowries from? Museum?’ Everyone looked in his direction. It was the groom’s identical twin brother who had gone to consult the rainmaker. He was only trying to do his best to make sure the rain didn’t fall on everyone on his twin brother’s special day.
‘Who sent you? Have you gone noughts? What gave you done?’
‘I was only trying to help. This is a rainy season and I wanted to keep the weather clear. He asked me to bring a rooster and ten cowries and I couldn’t do that.’
‘Why didn’t you cancel the contract,’ the groom had relaxed a bit.
‘I did. He asked me to provide some cash so he could get the cowries for me. At the time, I was not interested any more, ’ the rainmaker picked a spot, circled it three times and sat down, on the bare ground. He was not ready to leave.
I saw an elder run to his motorbike and drove away and wondered where he was hastening to. I hoped this problem got cleared as soon as possible so that the wedding reception would continue. I looked at the video man and noticed he was recoding the incident. I couldn’t help but think about how that would contradict the sweet wedding video.
I searched for the bride and found her sitting with her mother surrounded by her friends inside her room. She was crying. Her face was all messed up. I hastened back to the scene when I heard the Rainmaker speak.
‘I’ve been holding this rain since dawn. I am still holding it. Do what I asked you to do or I’ll let the heavens loose.’
‘You can do whatever you want to do. I believe it’s only God who can bring rain or keep it back. I did’t ask you to hold the rain. My brother said he cancelled the contract with you. You are only looking for the trouble but since my hands are clean, you will get what you are looking for,’ the groom pointed at him as he spoke and people shuddered. He shouldn’t point at the dangerous Amakikwu who could make a person disappear forever.
‘I’m afraid he might cast a spell on the couple. Thank God she has already taken in or this wizard would make her barren. If you are close to her, tell her to go for prayers. I’m sure their marriage has been stained by his presence,’ my instant friend spoke again. I wondered how she reached to my side so fast. I had begun to accept her as my shadow. I made sure I didn’t reply.
I saw the the elder who hastened away with his bike come back with a very old man whose hair was as white as wool. People said he was the only solution to the notorious Rainmaker. Rumour had it that he got his rainmaking ability from the man who happened to be his grandfather. His father was a Christian and had refused to take over from his father’s rainmaking
When Amakikwu saw his grandfather, he got up and walked towards the gate. At the gate, he stood, looked up to the sky and in the direction of the groom and nodded. The groom waved him away in annoyance. His grandfather apologised in a shaky voice. He was really old. After making sure the apology was accepted, he climbed the bike that brought him and left.
The Raging Wind
A few minutes later, around 3:30 pm, night fell. Thick rain cloud covered the sky as far as the eyes could see. Silver lining dotted the cloud at the edges.
The couple’s dance had just ended and it was the gifting and refreshment time. My instant friend rushed to me, ‘ You did well not to bet with me. It’s a heavy torrent coming. Who can stop this one? What are you still sitting here for? Do you have a room in this house? I’m going to give my gift to them. I’ve gotten myself a nice well wrapped fried rice, salad, chicken and malt. I’m off. I’m off.’ I followed her.
‘Come on! Stop panicking! It’s not going to rain. Besides this canopies are here for a reason.’
‘You see these canopies, mark my words, the wind will carry them off to the sky. I wish you all well. I’m off.’
In less than twenty seconds, a strong wind came and swept all the decorated fancy plastic chairs to one side of the venue and carried a few of them up in the air and blew them aside.
A canopy went down and people shouted as it nearly hit a child looking for her mother. Her mother on spotting her ran frantically to her just in time and dragged her to safety.
Everyone began the helter-skelter rush to safety but there was no enough room for everyone. Some boys put heavy stones at the feet of the canopies to support them but no one went under them. They couldn’t possibly withstand the raging wind.
Guests squeezed themselves into the parlour and corridors. I heard my instant friend say. ‘I pray we all don’t collapse out of suffocation and die. Save us all Lord.’
Fortunately, within a few minutes, the dark cloud cleared and the wind stopped. The weather went back to normal as if nothing had happened. The wedding ended well in my eyes. Although some guests said it was such a memorable wedding day, a chaotic one.