The extended family enthusiastically responded when cousin Guya, named after late Grandma, invited us to her wedding, almost exactly a year after the death of the beloved lady she was named after.
(I should start with the dinner we all enjoyed on the eve of the wedding, and a late night saga that ensued with certain cousins, but those details will be withheld.)
After fetching the bride from her hideout in Donholm, Umoja SDA church was the place to be. We headed there through interminable Outer Ring Road traffic, impenetrable even on a Sunday, which delayed the intended 10am starting time. (While crawling through the traffic I had the pleasure of viewing Nairobi ladies in their "Sunday best" rushing off to churches. A beautiful sight indeed, and they were everywhere.) I have yet to attend a wedding which began dead on time, but I also generally avoid weddings I do not absolutely have to attend.
Got there to the initial shock of familiar faces (relatives) everywhere which shock eventually wore out when I detected strangers in the midst. Now if you think Nairobi ladies in their Sunday best are strikingly beautiful, then you should see Nairobi ladies at a wedding.
But I digress. Armed with my little digital camera, which could disappear if I wrapped my fist around it, I baptised myself Freelance Photographer and went about capturing photos of favorite people. The professional guys with zoom lenses the size of my head made me feel like an upstart but I was not deterred, having three cousins and a sister in the bridal party. So I jostled for space right along with the most extravagant of them.
And now humor me as I delve into improbable theories fathered by idly musing as my "sisters" marched slowly down the aisle in advance of Guya the highlight of the day. Who came up with the idea of nubile forerunners, eligible bachelorettes, thus displaying their beauty to crowds? What is the rationale behind that? Is it an enticement for the boy child? Is it their warm up for their own big day? Is it build up anticipation for the bride's appearance?
They smiled, they swayed and stepped to the beat. Their corresponding groomsman marched towards them to meet them halfway. They paired off and headed to the pulpit.
At length the rigmarole of marching prospective brides and grooms, and a former bride and groom (a.k.a best man and best maid), and even the wedding matrons, was dispensed with and the lady of the hour stepped out of her vehicle to take her place in the spotlight: the church entrance. Flanked by her proud parents, with wedding music chiming sweetly, she too marched down the aisle to meet her groom and his parents halfway. He unveiled her under pastoral supervision, after which the whole team advanced unhurriedly towards the pulpit.
You know how it goes. A choir sang. A funny preacher gave the couple marital advice and harangued others present to marry in church. The couple took vows, signed certificates, as choirs sang, and then the MC sent us away to the reception. A return march of married couple, best couple, parents, bridal party, matrons, fans, etc, from pulpit to exit, concluded that chapter, with us wannabe Photographers lining the aisle.
There was a hubbub outside as we non-car-owning attendees tried to charm our way into a free ride to the reception. My strategy was to stand around lugubriously until someone had mercy on me. It worked eventually on one uncle, who lumped me and three other sundry stragglers into the back seat of a Pajero.
Outer Ring Road traffic once again delayed matters as a procession of ribboned vehicles headed to Sir Yusuf Ali on Thika Road.
Lunch was served as extremely danceworthy music played, but a full plate anchored me in my seat. I also kept the company of a lively young lady, an absent cousin's girlfriend, who was full of stories and thought I was funny and discouraged me from abandoning food for dance. I also ran into a short, lovely mutual friend who knew the groom and I knew the bride, small world. Speeches began but I was understandably distracted, though I certainly caught the bride's mother's. And then there was time to catch up with long lost relatives and to familiarize oneself with remote relatives as cake was served. Shortly after, the obligatory vote of thanks was hammered out, and everybody could go home, or ask about the after party.
Luckily very few people asked me when I am getting married. 2021, I told them.
I also realized just how important it is for me to start being seen at such events in the company of a lady, even if a hired escort, if only to deflect loved ones' concerns over my long running militant singledom. So if you are a lady - any lady - reading this and are open to the idea of pretending to be my serious girlfriend at major family functions, which are not many, post your application in Comments.
Fate was kind to me. Just as I leave who pops up but Guya herself and her husband John. I hugged her and told her she had done well to set a really high benchmark for the rest of us cousins. Now nothing less than a church wedding will do.
Well done cuz.