By Patrick Ngugi
The church was filled to the brim. I could not believe that I was standing here helplessly, watching David marry Diana. The service was almost over and the air was charged with excitement. My heart was beating wildly now more than ever before as I saw the priest smile and announce:
“You are now husband and wife,” then he turned to David, smiled and said: “You may kiss the bride.”
That statement woke me up.
That should have been me standing there facing the stunning beauty and making her my wife. What had really happened? It was if I had been stuck in a time warp, and had just been released. It was as if I had just woken up from a long dream, a dream in which I had been working hard to win Diana’s love, and on waking up, I find myself escorting the groom, David my best friend and colleague, to marry her.
Yes the church was full. Relatives from both sides were here. All the niceties in the church wedding programme had been through and the couple had already exchanged the rings. I had mechanically done everything a man should do ever since David Muchene had asked me to be his best man.
I had not expected the request and it came as a shock. And as if in a robotic trance, I had agreed. But the priest’s magical words seemed to have broken that trance.
David and I were good friends, and all this time I believed he and Diana were just good friends too but not lovers, or engaged to marry. All I knew was Diana was mine and one of these days I would propose.
But here I was, helping my two close friends tie the knot and become man and wife, and I was smiling at them as they glared at each other, love written all over their glowing faces, as their eyes closed as they inched closer to each other for that maiden kiss the priest had ordered them to enjoy.
I closed my eyes, and wished I that I could shut out the applaud and ululation that rang out around the church.
Where had I gone wrong? It was too late, all the questions in the world would not reverse the clock, I told myself, and yet, my mind could not help but go back to those many years ago when Diana Njoki Kigutha and I attended Kimuhu Primary school barefoot, somewhere deep in Muranga county.
Always looked forward to school holidays
I was in class six and she was in class four. She was a lovely young girl and I liked her from those early days. What attracted me to her was her fragile beauty and naivety. She was the eldest of her three daughters of her parents.
Since we were neighbours, her mother had asked me to take care of her and see that she was not bullied by other children, especially the mischievous boys. I played my part well, and I would have done it even if her mother, Philomena Kigutha had not requested, just because I loved the girl.
We outgrew Primary school and went to different boarding schools but exchanged letters expressing how much we missed each other and always looked forward to school holidays when we would spend any available time together.
I completed college while she was in high school and was lucky to get a job at an advertising firm in the city. We continued communicating and sometimes calling each other on phone, until she became a college girl and joined me in Nairobi.
She was now a mature young lady, more beautiful as they came, one with a purpose and determined to succeed in life. I was so proud of her and this time fell in love with her. It was no longer friendship or infatuation. I knew this is the girl I would one day make my wife.
Trouble was, I showered her with all love and attention a man could show a girl, but for some reason I never came to telling her that I was in love with her. At the back of my mind I knew that she knew that I loved her, and I believed that she loved me too.
I looked at David and Diana
Then I introduced her to David, my friend and colleague, after telling him a lot about this beautiful lass from home, a girl I had known all my childhood. I also told Diana a lot about my close friend David and she had been eager to meet him. After that David would always ask about Diana, and whenever I was with Diana, she would ask about David, and naïve me I would tell all.
Was I too trusting? Was Diana regarding me as an elder brother she never had, who had protected her since she was a young girl and nothing more? Had she mistakenly taken my platonic affair with her too far to decide that our friendship was only ‘brotherly’, nothing more?
Oh, why hadn’t I confessed my love for her instead of just taking it for granted? Now here I was standing like a statue watching my two friends kiss.
The ululation and applaud woke me up. I looked at David and Diana. Their lips had just parted, their eyes gazing into each other, tearing my heart to pieces.
Then I felt a nudge in my right rib. I turned and looked at Felister, Diana’s best maid. She looked at me with a tear in her eye. Tear of happiness, while I wished I could cry in pain.
Felister’s eyes were shimmering and she held my hand tightly as if she needed support. Unknown to her, I needed the support more. I took a Kleenex and dubbed her eyes as she smiled sheepishly. She took the same and wiped mine and gave me a peck in the cheek.
“Let’s go,” she said tugging me along, and I looked up. It was time for the bridal team to waltz outside the church.
I held her hand tighter and we followed David and Diana, as I thanked God for Felister.
©Patrick Ngugi 180815