Preparations were being made. It would be the wedding of the 1990s decade, Carol thought. Those who looked down on her would bow at the grandeur of her day of honour.
She was in her house with everyone she needed to ensure the wedding would run smoothly. The wedding gown tailor had her album of her gown varieties for Carol to choose. The cake expert was there too noting down Carol’s preferences on her choice of cake. The chef in charge of catering was taking down notes as instructed by Carol.
“Two types of rice, plain and pilau, chapati too, brown and white and please let the stew be in plenty. Everyone should eat to their full. It’s Carol’s wedding.” She bragged.
Then to the baker, “The cake too, let it be magnificent and lots of roses on it.”
“On the dress,” addressing the tailor now. “Lady Diana sort of, ball gown with lots of petticoat, understood?”
They wrote down her instructions.She confirmed what they wrote to ensure they did it right. Then she looked up at him. He had arranged all these. He said did not want her to get tired moving from street to street. Why not summon them all here? He recommended. He truly cared, she thought. She was beginning to like him, to love him actually.
He had proved to love her by dropping his priesthood ambition. She smiled at him when their eyes met. He gave back a quick nervous smile. Why does he look nervous? Will talk to him when all these is over. She thought.
Jude saw her glance at him. Look away you devil. Continue arranging the humiliation of your life. You will wish you never made these arrangements. He thought. Right now he was thinking about his sister Peris. What’s keeping her? He thought nervously.
Peris had played her part well. She had proved to Carol she was trustworthy enough to be left in the house. On one of those days Carol had left her alone, Peris had searched every corner of the house for the land and house ownership papers. She had found them . They would sell the house without Carol’s knowledge. That was the ultimate revenge. Now all they needed was Carol’s signature. They had it all planned out.
They would overwhelm her with wedding plans. Peris would then pretend to visit the embassy office and using her connections, the embassy officals would allow her to apply for a passport on Carol’s behalf. She would come carrying documents for her to sign. Carol would be too busy to check what she is signing. What if she insists on reading though the papers? Peris thought and her heart sank.
She knew Jude was also anxious. It was the biggest risk of all they had made. If they made it through this one, the deal would be as good as done.
Jude heard the knock on the door first.
“J, darling please check if it’s our sister.” Carol pleaded sweetly to her fiancè.
“My pleasure, love!” He replied in equal fondness trying his best not to sound excited. The time is now. She is here! He inwardly exclaimed.
At the door stood not Peris but an elderly woman, probably in her 50s. She wore a simple dress, permed her hair to a push back style. Her face and physique resembled that of Carol.
“Are you the one marrying my daughter?” She asked.
“Ye…yes…” He stammered then looked desperately at Carol who ran to the door to see who had startled her husband-to-be. She frowned when she saw her mother.
“What are you doing here?” She said.
“Everyone knows you are getting married but me?”
“I asked you what you are doing here. Turn around, go back to the hole you came from.”
“Carol, plea…!” The old woman tried to plead. Carol seemed to get more irritated.
“I said,leave!” She screamt.
“Whoa…whoa..whoa, what’s going on here?” Peris came running at the rumpus on Carol’s door.
“Peris, you are here already? Take Carol in as I escort her mother out.” Jude said as he gave a quick glance at his sister. Do it quick before our plans are foiled. He seemed to say. Right away bro, asap. She replied without really saying it.
When Jude and Carol’s mother went a few metres away, he decided to probe on this awkward mother-daughter relationship.
“Mama Carol, Why would your daughter be so hateful towards you?”
“My son, I can tell you are a good man. I have always prayed that Carol finds true happiness some day and I can see with you she will.” Jude swallowed hard at how wrong the woman was.
“Don’t hate my daughter for her behaviour. It’s all my fault.” She opined.
“No mother, she was so rude to you. She did not even pass a greeting to you.”
“Yes. I deserve it. You see, right from birth, Carol knew she was unwanted. Apart from not knowing her father, I don’t even know when and where I conceived her. I tried aborting her so many times and when I gave birth to her, I dumped her at my mother’s home and escaped to the city.”
Jude was starting to have feelings that he did not want to feel at this time. He felt mercy for the little Carol.
“Then mum died and dad married another woman. This woman subjected Carol to all forms of torture. Relatives send out messages for me to come get my daughter but there was no space for her in my life in the city.
Then I heard that she was so bright in her academics that the school sponsored her. When she was admitted to university, I thought, ‘Mmmhh…something good came out my womb after all’ I tried to make peace with her but she wanted nothing to do with me. She said I was dead to her.”
Jude was silent at the revelation. He rubbed his face in shock. Suddenly he did not want to go through with this revenge mission. He understood why Carol was mean and selfish. Life had been mean and selfish to her too. She knew no other way to tackle life. Peris abort mission ,he thought.
“Do you have like a hundred bob there with you?” The woman asked. He took out a two hundred note from his pocket and handed it to her. She grabbed it and left.
Back in the house. Carol was in a grouchy mood. Peris tried inquiring what the mayhem at the door was all about.
“Don’t mind that. It’s nothing.” Carol replied.
“Carol, that’s your mum!” Peris asked as the other three people in the room looked on, alarmed.
“I don’t want to talk about it. Can we just go on with the wedding plans? Where were we? By the way did you manage convincing your friend at the embassy to apply the passport for me?” Carol asked.
Peris’ heart skipped. She stood rooted to the ground.
“Peris?” Carol called. “Forget about that incident and give me the docs to sign!”
She did not need to be asked a third time. She ran to her handbag, picked a booklet and a blue biro pen, and ran to Carol. A few seconds seemed like a whole eternity while Carol began to keenly scrutinise the front page of the document. Peris stepped back ready to flee upon the first sign of suspicion.
“Ooh, ok, where am I signing?” Carol asked but there was no time for Peris to give a sigh of relief.
“Here, here, and here and also here.” She directed Carol as she flipped through the papers quickly and when the last signature was made, Peris pulled the booklet from Carol quickly and smiled at her, then kissed her on the cheek.
“I love you sis!” Then she added, “Canada, here we come!” The two shrilled with excitement as the others had their spectacle.
“The office closes at four. It’s two o’clock. Let me rush there now so that they can start processing the passport early enough.” Carol smiled and thanked her for being so considerate.
“Ok, let’s finish up.” Peris heard Carol say to her guests as she ran to her brother who stood by the road staring at the moving vehicles absentmindedly.
She jumped on him and he almost lost his balance from the sudden intrusion of his thoughts. Normally, he would hold his sister to keep her from falling off his back but he did not do it this time.
“Bro, we did it! She signed away our father’s house! We did it!” Peris said as she stepped down from his back to face him. She expected to see a wide smile of triumph on Jude’s face but instead, he wore a nonchalant look. He looked at her for a while then opened his mouth.
“I can’t do this anymore.” Peris looked at him, not understanding what he meant. “I mean this whole revenge thing, I can’t Peris. I am sorry!”
Peris flared up, she pounced on him and started to throw blows at him sobbing uncontrollably. The passing cars started to hoot at them.
“Peris! Peris! Listen to me!” He said, holding his sister’s hands.
“No! You started this! You made us detest that hoe. You made us convince mum to sell a portion of our land as we lied to her we needed the money to look for greener pastures in the city. You made Laban to unwillingly go along with our plans! Now you want out? No! We came to avenge for our parents, the mission must be completed!” She ranted.
“Peris, let’s just go home!” Jude pleaded.
“I will go home but only after my mission here is over. I suggest you do so too because if you don’t, Jude, I swear if you mess up this plan, there indeed will be bloodshed. It’s a promise!” Peris said with an icy dangerous tone that showed she meant every word she uttered.
Jude had never seen that side of his sister. After hearing what Carol had gone through, he just did not have the energy to pursue vengeance. If he had a mother like Carol’s, Jude would even have even turned out worse than Carol had. He tried to make his sister comprehend all these but she couldn’t lend him her ears.
She started to walk back to the house and on her way, met the chef, baker and tailor at the door leaving.
“You will get your pay after the wedding.” Peris told them smiling cynically at Jude who followed her closely behind. He ignored her for he knew what the smile was all about.
The following weeks passed by in haste. Carol’s excitement heightened by the day as the wedding day neared. She noticed that lately, Jude had even become more caring. He gave her more attention and prefered to spend more time with her than with his sister. She too felt a stronger affection for him every day. She couldn’t wait to fly with him to Canada to meet his parents and live there. There was an added bonus, she would be Mrs Millionaire.
In Jude’s world, it wasn’t all rosy for him. He tossed and turned every night wondering whether he would really go through this mission. Many times he wanted to confess everything to Carol but he would remember Peris’s threat.
Before his change of heart, he had planned that on the wedding day in church, instead of saying his vows to Carol in front of all the congregants, he would humiliate her , call her a slut who he would never dare marry even in his dreams .He would reveal to her that he was the son of Marupe, the man she killed. Then he would leave her on the altar standing alone in her white gown, her face full of shame as people laughed at her. Now, he wasn’t too sure about it.
Peris crossed her fingers often times when he saw the two conversing. Every night she slept, she was thankful the plan was still intact. She was happy that the two did not share a bedroom.
When Carol and Jude started dating, she had told Carol that the reason why Jude could not have sex with her was probably because the Christian doctrines impacted on him in the seminary had still not left him completely, that he only believed in sex between married people . But the truth was, Jude could not even entertain the thought of being intimate with his father’s former lover. It was an abomination.
Now, apart from Jude backing out from the scheme, things were working out well for Peris. The house already had a buyer who would move in on the wedding day . Peris had hired enough men who would help with the moving in-moving out job in good time.
However, trouble came knocking one day to the wedding. Peris woke up first. Her blood ran cold through her veins when she realized that Jude had disappeared. His bag and all his belongings had vanished too. J, how dare you!! She hissed.
“Where is my lovely husband-to-be?” Carol said as she stood at the door.
Peris formed a smile on her face then said, “I asked him to shift to a hotel. The next time you two should meet should be on the wedding day.”
“Yea, I was wondering about that. It would have looked odd if the bride and groom left the same house on the wedding day. Thank you sis. I am so blessed to have you.” Carol said, emotionally. Peris embraced her. Dream on.
Last minute preparations were made that day. It was the check off day. Still no sign of Jude, Peris thought. Suddenly, it dawned on her that it would even be better with Jude’s absence.
The most awaited for Saturday arrived. Carol’s house was full with bridesmaids who strived to prepare in time.The air was euphoric. The bride herself was over the moon. Most of those invited were the bride’s friends and relatives. Peris had ensured she invited no one from their home. A messenger informed Peris that the church was full already. She peeped through the window and saw her men waiting. She would signal them when to start moving the items out of Carol’s house. It would be after everyone had left the house.
“Hey ladies, let’s go now. People are waiting at the church!” She said at the top of her voice.
“Has the groom arrived?” Carol inquired.
“My brother knows how to keep time. C’mon guys, quick, let’s go!”
They arrived at the church. Every thing was set. The priest was ready in his full regalia. Peris asked the bridesmaids to walk down the aisle and wait on the right side of the altar. The groomsmen had already taken the other side . Peris had sent them a message not to worry. Jude would be coming later. Most of them did not even know Jude. They knew Carol.
“C’mon now?” Peris urged Carol.
“What? Now? Jude hasn’t arrived yet?”
“Jude has a huge surprise for you. I promise, you will love it.” Peris said and the bride walked through the aisle as the confused crowd stood up wondering who she was walking to at the altar. The groom’s space was empty.
Carol waved and smiled at everyone. It was her big day. She stood at the end of the aisle and waited. She looked around eagerly waiting for the surprise. She waited, then waited and waited some more. She was starting to look like a fool now. She searched for Peris. Peris was nowhere to be seen. People started to murmur agitatedly. The priest took a seat impatiently. The choir sang songs and repeated them over and over until they got tired. Congregants started to leave, one by one.
“In case he comes, call me. I will be in my office.” The hopeful priest said, and left, leaving her alone in the enormous church. Carol had never suffered such embarrassment in her life. From Peris’s disappearance, she knew something was amiss. She lifted her long gown and walked out. The compound was empty. Everyone had given up on the wedding.
She had no money with her. She had trusted Peris with her personal items. It would be a walk of shame to her house. She ran through the streets as people stopped to stare at the crying girl in a wedding gown. Her legs were sore and her body exhausted from all the running when she arrived.
For a moment she thought she was dreaming when she saw the open door to the house. Everything was different; the furniture, the electronics, the floor carpet. Then a man appeared from one of the rooms. A woman appeared from the kitchen.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my house and where the hell are my things?”
“The lady who sold us this house had predicted you would come in a wedding gown and that you would ask that. Here, she asked us to give you this.” The man responded.
The man handed her some papers. She read through and almost fainted. She saw her signature in a sales agreement form. She vividly remembered when she signed the papers. Have I been conned? In pain she thought.
“Oh, Peris Marupe also said we should give you this.” The woman said, handing her a red scarf and a letter. She connected the scarf to that name Marupe. She had left the scarf in his car a long time ago.
You said you dumped him like a used pad. Those words felt like a sharp hot knife cut through my flesh. He died holding this red scarf, calling out your name. Now The Marupes have taken back what belonged to them in the first place. Some people just don’t forgive . Eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Goodbye. Marupes.
Carol’s face became paler as she read through the letter. She couldn’t believe she had been tricked so. The friendship and the love had all been fake. Shedding tears, she lifted her dress and left as the new owners closed the door behind her.
Back in the village, Mrs Marupe was celebrating the arrival of her daughter. Jude had come days earlier. She was in the kitchen making a meal of chicken stew. The Marupe children sat outside speaking in hushed tones.
“You really went through with it?” Laban asked. Their sister nodded , a wide smile on her face. “I watched her looking at the empty church compound, tears falling from her face. I was so delighted I almost peed on myself as I watched her from my hiding spot.”
“You shouldn’t have. That woman has gone through enough already.” Jude said.
“I don’t care. Dad died because of her. We had a miserable life because of her. Tit for tat is a fair game. Now we can finish up this stone house for mama and start a business with the money left. Lucky for us, we made quite a fortune from selling that house. We can even buy back the portion of land that mum sold recently.”
The brothers had nothing else to say. What was done was done. They changed the topic to other issues and had a nice dinner together.
Peris was the first to wake up the following morning. It was a beautiful morning. Carol must be looking for a rope right now to hang herself. She laughed and then heard a knock on the gate. She wondered who it was that early morning. She went to respond to it.
“Is this the Marupe’s?” The messenger asked. She nodded. “This is for you.” He handed her letter. She tore through the envelope and read it.
I have had a taste of my own medicine I guess, but have you ever stopped to wonder why of all men I dated, only your father stood out. Do you know why? Because Marupe was stupid. Yes he was STUPID. He came to the city and thought he had made it in life. He abandoned you before he even met me. In fact, were it not for me, you guys would be paupers. It was me who convinced him not to sell all your land not even knowing that he was planning to build me my house. I did not ask him to shower me with presents! It was of his own volition.
I remember even rebuking him for being so rude to your mother on phone one day after he told her never to call him again. I hated that man for hating his family. I was only with him because if it wasn’t me, it would be another girl. But you know what, I have sank lower in life than where I am now and I survived anyway. I shall rise again. Goodbye. I hope the revenge makes you feel much better.
Peris folded the letter and hid it in her bosom. She looked back, the messenger had left. She shut her eyes tightly and drops of tears pushed their way out. She wiped them quickly and went back to the house.
“You look forlorn. You were over the moon yesterday. Didn’t you sleep well?” Her mother asked. Peris feigned a smile. The brothers had woken up too. They all sat round the table as their mother poured hot tea into their cups.
“You know I had this weird dream. It was about your father.” Their mother was saying, “Peris, you and him were standing on the roof of a tall building, holding hands. Then you toppled and fell down. He started to cry saying it was all his fault, asking you to forgive him. I woke up sweating. I was so happy it was just a dream.”
Peris bit her lip to stop herself from whimpering. She knew what the dream meant. If only their father had been wiser to only love his family while he was alive, he would not have to send messages from his grave.