Friday, February 5, 2016

The Bride, The Rapist And a Murderer by Akinwale Akinyoade

Her heart was thumping against her chest so loudly she was surprised none of the bridesmaids or the other women could hear the sound. She looked at the excited faces of the people milling around her and swallowed resignedly, they didn’t understand her plight; none of them knew of her grief. She did not trust any of them well enough to bare her pain, not even her chief bridesmaid who was so excited like it was her own wedding. Even if by chance any of them heard the thumping in her chest, they would probably mistake it as nervousness or excitement since today was her big day. But who could blame them, it was only natural for them to think it was it not? It was after all her wedding and she was supposed to be the happiest woman in the world right but happy was the last word that described how she felt.

Shade rubbed her palms together to steady her nerves in anticipation of that walk down the aisle, the walk that would lead her into a world she could never come back from as soon as she stepped into it. This was a big decision she was about to make. Whatever she did today was going to forever change the course of her life but she knew she was not ready. She stared at her reflection in the mirror making sure that her disinterest in the whole affair was well guarded as the bridal make-up team did their thing to her. She felt like meat ram being prepared for roasting as they expertly worked on her hair while another was adjusting her ridiculously expensive wedding gown.
Suddenly her mother’s sister, Mama Bisi burst into the room to announce that it was time. Shade swallowed the lump that developed in her throat and tears welled up in her eyes as she looked at the woman who had replaced her mother. Shade’s mother died when when she was just nine and Mama Bisi had never for a day allowed her to feel the vacuum of the loss of her mother. Her mind went to her mother, her sweet gentle mother who if she had been alive was sure to have saved her from this madness. Mama Bisi noticed the tears in Shade’s eyes and hugged her gently, smiling in her usual sweet manner. Shade hugged her back and wished Mama Bisi understood her tears weren’t what everyone thought it was. She wasn’t feeling emotional and over the moon because she was about to become a married woman, her tears were of pent up frustration. She felt so alone among all of them. Being the only daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the country was her plague. Although it was supposed to be a life of luxury and contentment, a life most would give an arm to have, Shade knew she would trade places instantly with the lowliest of beggars at that moment than to be called Shade Sukungbade. With a final look around the dressing room, she allowed herself to be led away like a lamb to the slaughter while the excited murmurs and chatter of the women sounded like her funeral song in her ears.
Her father, Chief Olusegun Sukungbade was waiting at the entrance of the church, his regal bearing was hard to miss even as he stood with his bodyguards. He flashed a rare smile at her as he took her hand and they began that walk down the aisle. She stiffened her spine and looked straight ahead at her husband-to-be, Tunde Fasan, the perfect husband material. Young, handsome and successful, he was who had been chosen for her to cement the the partnership between her father’s conglomerate and his. How she loathed him so! She tried to still the bubbling rage she felt boiling inside of her at his sleek smile. The slimy slinky bastard! The devil that had taken her virginity forcibly when she was eighteen and now eight years later, they all expected her to marry him. Her father had turned deaf ears to her appeal and cries, it was business. It was bad that she was a girl and her mother had died without giving birth to a male son but if a girl could also secure him more money and wealth, then it was good enough for him.

Shade paused hesitantly for a split second but her father’s hold on her arm tightened as he jerked her forward, making it look like she tripped on her gown. Was he really her father? How could he marry her off to a man that had raped her and robbed her of her innocence all to cement a business deal that would make him three times richer than he was currently worth? Didn’t her pain and joys matter to him? The thoughts chased themselves around in her head even as they finally arrived at where Tunde and the Pastor that was to wed them stood. The church rites began and her heart started its thumping again as the moment drew nearer. She listened as he said

“I, Tunde Fasan take thee Shade Sukungbade to be my lawfully wedded wife. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them as the priest turned to her and asked

“Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband? To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part.”

She stared at the pastor as if he was some apparition that had suddenly appeared before her, she glanced wildly at the sea of faces in the church and saw the beginning of a frown on her father’s face as the church waited in silence. Then in a loud, clear voice that resonated a strength she couldn’t boast of, she said

“No, I don’t!”

She heard the stunned gasps from the guests and calmly, she turned to face them and repeated in an even louder voice, “No, I don’t!”With that she raised her chin up and began walking back the way they had come. She had to get out of the confusion as everyone stared at her, too stunned to say anything. Mama Bisi rushed towards her but she halted her with a steely gaze.

“Shade!” She turned at her father’s voice. Their gazes had barely met when she heard the loud bang before the bullet tore into her chest. She saw him staring at her, his face a mask of rage, the gun he had grabbed from one of the bodyguards still in his hand. A sharp burning pain coursed through her as she fell to the ground in a heap of snow white wedding gown. There were screams all around even as she felt her life ebbing away from her. Mama Bisi was by her side and yelling her name but she repeated defiantly, “No, I don’t,” and then the darkness took over.

(Culled from

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