BY FLORENCE BETT-KINYATTI
I got married early this month. On 3rd February. It was a Saturday, a gorgeous Saturday in this gorgeous Nairobi.
As the bride, I had many worries and concerns before my Wedding Day.
Concerns like, Will it rain? I hope it doesn’t rain. Africans will feed you bowlfuls of these convenient reassurances that rain on your Wedding Day is a sign of blessing. It is but can it please rain at night instead, when we’re not depending on the sunshine to bring the day together, after we’ve already exchanged vows underneath that huge tree whose name I don’t know and danced our sweaty asses off to the mugithi train?
I hoped it wouldn’t rain because I needed the sunshine – sunshine makes me happy, sunshine makes photos pop, sunshine was part of my décor. I wanted a February wedding because I know it doesn’t rain in February. But there’s been climate change and global warming wasn’t click bait anymore, there was a real possibility that it would rain in February.
It had rained on some loose Saturdays in January. I remember sitting by the window on those days and praying with chattering teeth, “God, please, no rain on 3rd of February. Please. I promise never to complain when I’m in Inda covering a story and my forehead is scorching from the noonday sun and I’m sweating like a vegetable with my blouse pasted to my back.”
I was worried about my jingly post-baby tummy and my flabby arms. Especially my arms, there was no shapewear – no corsette, no bodysuit, no spanx – that I could squeeze into to contain my arms the same way I could cinch and contain my waist. I was concerned about how flabby they’d look in the pictures from my gown. More so because I’d failed gym – I’d dropped out after two and a half months of a very inconsistent attendance.
Gym is difficult, Jesus. Let no one tell you otherwise. I look at mamis on Facebook their abs and toned gluts and tightened core, and I can’t begin to imagine the work they put in to get where they are.
I remember the last day I was in that gym. It was a Thursday, I believe, and it was legs day. I was doing lunges with the dumbbells but I wasn’t even doing them right (I never did them right!), it was really gruesome. The power went out for about 30 seconds and by the time it came back on again, I had left the dumbbells on either side of where I stood and had run out of that gym like a criminal fleeing a crime scene. I left behind the whiff of embarrassment, new sneaks and 4-months of prepaid membership going down the drain.
The instructor never saw me again. I was a distant memory. A myth, a fable. A fading, fleeting thought that sometimes crossed his mind. He only heard about me from GB and – I’m certain of this – constantly referred to me in the third person whenever he talked to his clients about being dedicated to your goals and building resistance and grit. Because there were many such folk like me in the gym, folk that had signed up to fulfill a New Year’s Resolution. I could always tell them apart because they walked the treadmill as if they were Michelle Obama walking Bo across the White House grounds.
GB would sometimes tell me that Jeff, the gym instructor, asked why I hadn’t returned in a while. I’d chuckle and say, “Tell him they need to get new mixes for us to work out to. I was tired of hearing Tupac.”
I failed gym and I’m not proud of it. Now my tummy and arms would show my slack on my Wedding Day.
I was worried about my tatas – would my strapless bra snugly hold them in place for the entire day?
How much taller than GB would my wedgies make me?
How bad a headache would I get? Would Panadol cure it as instantly as their ads had promised? (Side bar: It did!)
How many Kale songs would my Mum and her pals sing? Correction, how many songs would the MC let them sing before attempting to tackle them down so they could graciously return to their seats? Would the songs be bordering on dirgeful, would it be a remix of that one Kale song they sing at all weddings and such-like dos?
What about my Ol’Man, was he as jittery to walk down the aisle with me as I with him? Hell, was he half as excited? Frankly, I felt that he hadn’t been invested much in the wedding planning. Sure, he’d halfheartedly put together an incomplete guest list and agreed to not wear one of his old office suits from 1993; a suit that has a coat so wide and so long it almost reaches his knees. But that was just about it.
He had travelled up to Nairobi from shagz on the Thursday before because he had been anxiously waiting for his very pregnant cow in shagz to calf. Good news is that it did, on the Wednesday before. (Just so you know, it got a bull and Mum and Baby are going on swell.) I’m trying to imagine how the script would have gone if it hadn’t calfed on that Wednesday – would he chose his cow over me and opt out of the wedding altogether?
Would the mursik make our guests stomach upset the next day? Would their stomachs run for the entire week that followed? Would they curse the sotet and the Kinyattis each time they sat on the toilet bowl? Would they swear against this innocent Kale brew?
What about Canon Maina, would he crack a joke we could collectively laugh to? Not just out of politeness but out of rib-cracking humour? Some I’m-about-to-fall-off-my-seat kinda humour. Some get-that-guy-outta-here humour.
You must have seen such pastors, the one’s who – even before you’ve recovered from their last joke – he cracks another and you are riding high on the wave of his sketches, unable to catch your breath. Canon Maina had showed us once before that he wasn’t that kinda guy. I mean, his lips barely moved when he spoke. I secretly hoped for different.
How wasted would the groomsmen be? There’d been mutters and chats about uncorking a mzinga on the morning of the Wedding Day, they’d even voted in a Poisons Master. But a week or so before the wedding, on a Sunday, I think, right before GB turned off the lights so we could sleep, I hissed into his ear, “Dude, I need you sober when you’re saying those vows.” I didn’t hear any talk of that mzinga again.
I was worried about how weary Muna would get, the poor thing. Would she nap for most of the day? She obviously wouldn’t remember this day (she would remember the bouncy castle though, that I’m sure of). Would she one day, when she was older, look at the photos and ask why it’s only the top of her head that featured in one photo?
What happened in the wild chance that I’d need to go to the bathroom for a #2? Would I need to take off all my clothes? Because I honestly felt that I’d be strapped in and sewed into that gown. Someone would have to use a scissors to snip me out of it. Question was, how would I get back into it?
Would GB and I get a chance to eat a proper meal? I’d heard horrible stories of the couple nearly fainting from hunger because every time they went in on their plate to bite into the chicken drumstick they were summoned up front to get Uncle Nani’s brown envelope. Rough. I didn’t want to faint on my Wedding Day.
But none of these things mattered. I don’t even remember any one of these thoughts crossing my mind as the day wore on.
They really didn’t matter.
One of the things that really mattered is that I cried. I always knew I’d cry on my Wedding Day, but I didn’t imagine I’d weep like a little girl.
I sobbed my eyes out on the walk down the aisle. The entire way! I was sniffing back snort and trying my best to hold back the tears because I didn’t want my contact lenses to dislodge and drop out of my eyes, I also wanted my foundation and mascara to stay in place, but my tears just wouldn’t let me. I was painfully aware of my footsteps and of my folks by my side and our song playing and GB waiting for me next to his best man, Kimo – underneath that huge tree whose name I don’t know, damnit – but that mindful presence only made the tears come down harder.
I was present. And I was happy. And overwhelmed. And grateful to Love, for Love.
So I sobbed – snort, tears and spittle, lips trembling, nostrils flaring like a mandrill’s. It really wasn’t pretty. By the time I got to the altar, my faux eyelashes had loosened and unglued off my eyelids, they were hanging by a whisper at the edges of my eyes.
But it’s all good.
We shed tears to tell the story another day.
You know what nobody told me, though? Nobody told me that I’d feel more beautiful on my Wedding Day, than I ever did in my life before.
So, listen. Craft It is on YouTube now.
Our channel is Craft It, Made by Hand. I can’t believe I’m going to say this but I am, so please just let me, and please let me believe I am one of the few that has had you excited about it: please hit the Subscribe button and click the bell to the right so you can be getting our notifications straight to your inbox. But it’s 2018, surely you must know how that works.
My goal for Craft It is to have uploaded 30 videos to our YouTube channel by the time the year ends on December 31st, Inshallah. That’s 30 videos and 30 stories to go with, here on the website. 30 stories written in the long form.
That’s the plan. Or, atleast, that’s the plan that Will (our new photographer/videographer) and I have.
Our first video has already gone up. They’ll go up every Wednesday from now on until – Lord help me on this – until the year ends on December 31st, Inshallah.
Watch our intro video here.