By Pelu Awofeso
I didn’t expect Bridezilla when she came at me. She breezed in just after I had autographed a copy of “White Lagos” (my latest book) for TOJ, the Park’s in-house photographer; slim, dark skinned and tall, she approached the table and sat on the chair to my right, looking first at TOJ and then at me.
“My name is Shade. You guys are not having anything—would you like a drink?”
I thought she looked terrified—like she’d just escaped from a kidnapper’s basement. I just stared at her, speechless—more out of suspicion than shock. I mean, as far as I know ladies hardly make the first move in this part of the world; but shortly I let my guard down a bit: perhaps she was an acquaintance of TOJ’s and simply wanted to say a quick ‘hello’ and be on her way.
But I could see that TOJ too was dazed somewhat. “Are you paying for the drinks?” he managed to ask after some hesitation.
“Yes, I will.” We both told her she needn’t bother. As if it was a cue, the angry tales began to pour out of her.
I noticed the knife in her right hand. “I was to be married today,” she started, tightening her grip on the knife, doodling the top of the table with its tip. “The community penis bastard! I’ve been looking everywhere for him; that’s why I came here—I know he comes here.”
Wow, wow, wow! No, this couldn’t be true – or could it?
“We were to be married at the church right there, at the back of this place,” she said pointing in the direction of the All Saints Cathedral, which I knew to be behind Freedom Park (right across the road from GATE 2).
I implied from her statements that the groom didn’t turn up. To make matters worse, according to her, she had made elaborate preparations for the wedding, including putting herself through a tortuous skin treatment regime, something that had sexual stimulants and incense in the mix.
“It’s called Shuruka and it is sold widely on social media. I stood over a charcoal pot so that the steam could travel through my vagina. To keep the steam in and around me, I was covered with a cloth. It was so much pain; I felt like fainting, but I endured it all. Imagine I went through all that for the wandering prick…the bastard!”
She first vented her anger on the cake, breaking off the groom’s head on it; then she smashed the cake altogether. She was in tears. She cried from her eyes and her nostrils. Her makeup was already a mess from previous bouts of weeping. Her lips twitched relentlessly. I looked on helplessly, still confused about the whole episode and not quite sure what to do to help.
TOJ passed her a tissue. She didn’t bother to pick it up.
“I must find him,” she cried. “My families are looking for me right now, but I must find him.”
“Please, use the tissue,” I said. “Sorry about this.” By then my doubts had given way to empathy. This was something one read on the gossip blogs or watched on Nollywood. Now I could say that I had witnessed one firsthand.
“Can I have a cigarette, please? I need to smoke.”
“This sounds like a play I have seen,” TOJ said, the first time he would speak after Shade came to us. “Like the one that was performed at the MUSON Centre last year.”
I tumbled that in my mind. And being that we were at a theatre festival, I was also inclined to follow his train of thought. “Could it be “Single in Gidi?”
Shade, still distraught, couldn’t believe we were making light of her dilemma. “You mean after telling you my story, you think it’s all a joke? Oh my God, how could you guys be this mean?”
She wept more intensely, picked her bag and walked away. I couldn’t bear to turn to see in which direction she headed. Minutes later, TOJ saw her on another table, pouring her heart out still to yet another stranger. Then another.
Was she horny? Could she be seeking sympathy from random guys with the ultimate goal of sex with one—to get back at the mystery groom for hurting her so mindlessly?
Half an hour or so later, she was back to our table. TOJ had by then taken his leave. “Hi, my name is Deola Gimbiya,” she re-introduced herself. “I am not Shade – I was actually acting. What did you think?”
“Damn!” We’d been guinea pigs for an experimental play. I smiled. Actors could be one hell of a breed: I could have sworn her story was genuine. As feedback, I told her I was shocked by her directness and calling the private parts by their actual names.
“That was deliberate,” she said, her face wiped clean of streaks of dried tears. “The plan is to make sure that you don’t forget Shade after you’ve met her. We wanted her to leave whoever she encountered with feelings, with a lot of questions.”
They got me—that much I can admit.
PS: Bridezilla is written and directed by Kenneth and Brenda Uphopho