The Wedding, Part Two

Nal became morose as he thought about Jameila. She was the only one who wasn’t going to be at his wedding. She was going to Miami to visit her sister and her family.

When she showed up at the restaurant with Kwaku instead of alone, he was taken aback. He tried to hide his displeasure by being very cordial to the Ghanaian. At the back of him mind, he couldn’t help wondering if he and Jameila were more than just friends. It had been really tough for him to sit through the dinner and act like it didn’t bother him to see them together.

It was the first time since he and Jameila had known each other which was about two and a half years that he had felt the first pangs of jealousy. Before then, he had never been jealous in his life. He wished he could have a moment alone with Jameila so that he could let her know how he felt. It was a relief when the dinner was over and they parted ways.

On the way to Rahina’s home, he didn’t say much but his mind was preoccupied. After leaving the restaurant was Kwadu going to take Jameila straight home or to a bar or somewhere else? Or if he took her directly home, was she going to invite him in for a nightcap? His fingers gripped the steering wheel as red, hot jealousy consumed him. Rahina didn’t seem to notice anything and was busy talking animatedly about the wedding.

After he dropped her home, he went for a drive and then home. The next day, he tried calling Jameila but he kept getting her answering machine. He left a message but she never called him back. He was tempted to go over to her flat but decided that it was best that he didn’t. He tried to busy himself with work and the upcoming nuptials. And here, he was now, dressed in his wedding suit and looking into the mirror. The funny thing was, it wasn’t his reflection that he was seeing but a revelation. It was something he had failed to see for two and a half years.

How could he have been so blind? Why did it have to take another man for him to see what was right under his nose? Muttering under his breath, he pulled off the turban. He knew what he had to do. It was the only thing to do. And come what may, he was going to do it. He went into the changing room and removed the wedding suit. He left the store shortly after.

Jameila was sitting on the sofa, trying not to think about Nal but the more she tried not to think about him, the more she did. She wished she hadn’t met and fallen in love with him. She met him through a mutual friend and had been immediately attracted to him but they were just friends. They talked for hours on the phone, went for coffee or lunch sometimes.

It didn’t matter to her that they came from two different cultures or that they had different religious backgrounds. They had so much more in common. They were kindred spirits. There were times when she hoped that they would become more friends but that hope was dashed when he told her that he was engaged to be married. It was the worst day in her life.

Agitated, she was about to get up from the sofa and go over to the window when the doorbell rang. She hurried to answer it and stiffened when she saw who it was. Grimacing, she opened the door and looked mutinously up at him. “What are you doing here?” she demanded.

“I wanted to see you,” was his quiet reply. “May I come in?”

Reluctantly, she stepped aside for him to go in. After he removed his shoes, she preceded him to the living-room. They stood facing each other. “What did you want to see me about?” she asked coldly.

“Before I answer that, I’d like to ask you a question.”

“Ask away.”

“Is Kwaku going to Miami with you?”

“I’m not going to Miami.”

“Why not?”

“I lied about going to Miami because I needed an excuse for not coming to your wedding.”

“You didn’t have to lie to me, Jameila. Even though I would have been disappointed, I would have understood if you had told me that you didn’t want to come to the wedding.”

“If I had told you that I didn’t want to come to the wedding, you would have wondered why.”

“Why didn’t you want to come to the wedding?”

“I have my reasons,” she replied evasively.

“Why are you acting like this?”

She raised her chin. “How am I acting?”

“Hostile. As if you want nothing more to do with me.”

“Now that you’re engaged, I don’t think it would be a good idea for us to see each other any more.”

“Why not? Is it because of Kwaku?”

“Leave him out of this.”

“Why did you have to bring him to the dinner?”

“I didn’t think you would mind.”

“But, I did mind. I minded you showing up with him very much.”

“Why? Why did it bother you so much?”

“Are you and he more than friends?” he demanded.

“What if we are?” she retorted. “Why should that matter to you, anyway? You’re getting married in two weeks.”

“It matters to me, Jameila. Answer my question. Are you and he more than friends?”

“No! We’re just friends. Satisfied?”

“Yes. It drove me crazy seeing you with him and all evening, I kept wondering if you and he were in a relationship.”

“What are you trying to say to me, Nal? That you were jealous?

His eyes flashed. “Yes! I was jealous!”

She glared at him. “You expect me to believe that?” she demanded. “You expect me to believe that you were jealous of Kwaku and me when you were sitting there, all lovey dovey with your fiancée?”

“It’s the truth! And Rahina and I weren’t lovey dovey.”

“Why did you invite me to dinner, Nal?”

“I wanted to see you.”

“Do you have any idea of how hard it was for me to see you with her?”

“Why did you show up with him? Was it to punish me? Well, it worked. It was sheer torture sitting there, seeing you with him and trying to act as if everything was fine. I had a rotten evening.”

“So did I!”

“It took seeing you with another man to open my eyes. I’ve been a fool–a blind fool not to see what was right under my nose.”

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“Nal–“

“I’ve known Rahina much longer than I’ve known you but I feel like I’ve known you all of my life. I have a connection with you which I’ve never had nor will ever have with her. I feel connected to you even when we’re not physically together. And I believe that we share one heart. If it stops, we both die–“

The tears began to fall. “I don’t want to hear any more, Nal!” she cried. “Go marry her and leave me alone.”

He reached up and cupped her face between his hands, wiping away her tears with his thumbs. “I’m not going to marry her,” he said quietly. “Before I came here, I went to see her and I broke off the engagement.”

Jameila stared at him. “You aren’t going to marry her?”

“How could I marry her when I’m in love with you?”

“Oh, Nal,” she cried brokenly. “I love you so much that it hurts. You can’t imagine how much it pained me when you told me about the engagement. I thought I would die. I wanted to die.”

“Jameila, I’m so sorry that I caused you so much pain. Forgive me.”

“The pain’s gone now…” her voice trailed off as he kissed her. She wound her arms around his waist and kissed him back. The pain was gone and joy, bubbling over like champagne in a bottle had taken its place.

Two months later, Nal and Jameila got married. Chaitan, his younger brother was the only member of his family who attended. In spite of the snub which was understandable, the wedding was a very festive affair and the groom and bride couldn’t be happier.

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