Dari, realizing he had no other option, responded with a stammer, “ Ye-ye-yes I -I do”. Allila sighed in relief with her eyes closed. She was happy that the dream she had the night before, about Yomba abandoning her at the altar, didn’t come to pass. She quickly replaced her apprehension with a broad smile. She was finally married to the love of her life and that was all that mattered.

The marriage certificate was brought forth and Allila readily signed it. What began like a nightmare to Dari was now becoming a reality. Allila slightly pushed the certificate towards him and as though he was unaware, he pushed it back to her while looking away.

“Aren’t you going to sign?” Allila asked in a whisper.

“ Sign what?” Dari responded, feigning ignorance. Allila eyed the certificate and stared back at him.

“ Oh, that. I-I forgot to bring a pen”, Dari said and immediately Allila pointed the pen she used, to his face. He reluctantly took it and with a quivering hand, signed the certificate. Now he was legally married, and would probably have to impersonate someone else for a long time. The cheers from the crowd startled him. He stared at their faces and saw how happy they looked. If only they knew that, that day was his worst and wished the ground would swallow him up. He couldn’t stop cursing Yomba in his mind and thought of ways to deal with him if he ever got hold of him.

Someone tapped him hard on the shoulder, awakening him from his thoughts. “Congratulations man, we did it”, Ayuu said and Dari stared at him for a while in annoyance before responding, “ You and who?”

“ C’mon, why are you acting like you’ve been forced to get married? Anyways, I’m going to check on the DJ, I will be right back.” Ayuu said while raising a hand to shake Dari. Dari extended his hand and when their palms almost touched, he pulled his hand away leaving Ayuu perplexed. Yomba’s caution, asking him never to shake Ayuu’s hand, rang in his mind like an echo. It was then he knew that his escapade was going to be riskier than he thought. Ayuu left without a word and Dari felt guilty.

“ Congratulations big bro. I’m so excited”, the voice of his younger sister, Kasha, emerged behind him. She was a young lady of twenty years old, breathtakingly beautiful like their mother and frisky. Dari smiled when he finally saw her in a long off-shoulder white floral dress. It was the first time he smiled since morning. He hugged her tightly and remained clasped in her embrace for a while. Her warmth melted his tension and for a second he felt like himself, the Dari everyone knew, not the impersonator. Tears began to form in his eyes and he slowly tore away from her.

“ Are you okay?” Kasha asked while looking into his eyes with concern. Dari had the urge to tell her the truth but thought it wise not to. She was young and may have misunderstood everything. He suddenly felt lonely and his heart felt heavy. He was now living in his own world. An empty, dark world where no one knew him. He caressed Kasha’s curly hair which was styled in a bun and told her he was fine. Kasha was the dearest to his heart. She was the only tangible thing he could boast of apart from his grandmother. And he had closely kept an eye on her ever since she was born and knew what made her happy and sad the most. Something their parents didn’t even know since they were barely available.

“ I haven’t seen Dari around, where is he?” Kasha asked while her eyes searched the place.

“ He went home for something urgent, I’m sure he will be here soon”, Dari responded feebly and wondered how many more people he was going to recite the same poem of a lie too.

“ I will see you soon. I invited some friends so I need to keep them company”, Kasha said and walked away briskly. When she was further away, she looked back at Dari one more time before disappearing into the crowd.

Dari checked his phone to see if Yomba had returned his twenty unanswered calls, but he hadn’t. He dialed the number again and was told it was switched off. Dari’s nervousness heightened. A thousand reasons as to why he couldn’t reach Yomba flooded his mind. Was he indulged in an accident? Was he attacked by armed robbers? Was he kidnapped? The last question on Dari’s mind seemed likely because Yomba had been kidnapped twice. Well, Dari couldn’t count that as twice because Yomba kidnapped himself in one of those instances. They were teenagers when Yomba was first kidnapped by some hooligans who demanded an outrageous ransom which their parents readily paid. The second one happened while they were in the University in England. After an intense investigation by the police, they found him feasting on a burger and coke at a Burger King joint. When asked why he staged his own kidnap, he told the police he needed money to buy a new pair of  Nike shoes.

“ Congratulations my son. You’re now a man”, Mr. Asowura, his father said with the heartiest of laughter while looking larger than he was in his smock while Mrs. Asowura, his mother stood beside him, smiling. Dari forced a smile and mumbled a thank you.

“ And like we promised you, you’re now going to be the CEO of the company at its headquarters in Accra. Isn’t that amazing?” his mother added. Dari stared at them with his mouth gaped in shock.

“ Me? C.E.O of Asowura group of companies?” Dari asked.

“ Yes of course. Wasn’t it included in the terms you gave us before agreeing to get married?” Mr. Asowura added in perplexity. Unknown to Dari, Yomba had an agreement with their parents to make him the C.E.O. if he ever got married. Their parents readily agreed because they felt marriage was the only thing that could make Yomba responsible and reasonable. Now, it appeared Allila was not the only one who had lured Yomba into getting married. However, the last thing Dari wanted was to be the CEO of the automobile and oil company. He was content being a doctor and saving lives was what he was born for. Now more than ever, he wanted Yomba to return, he wasn’t willing to sacrifice his career as well.

“ Everything has been arranged and after you return from your honeymoon, you can start work immediately”, his father added. Dari raised his hand to object, but one of Mr. Asowura’s business associates appeared from nowhere and asked to speak with him. The two gentlemen walked away leaving Dari with his mother.

“ I can’t wait for Dari to also get married. Anyway, where is he? I haven’t seen him around.” His mother said and Dari responded with his usual lie. A group of women approached his mother and Dari excused himself.

He watched as Allila took pictures with her friends. There was no doubt she was the happiest woman at the moment. He was still staring at her when he heard a familiar voice say, “ I can see you’re admiring your bride. I don’t blame you, she’s the prettiest”. Dari turned his gaze to Muna, his ex-girlfriend and the last person he wished to encounter. But there was no way he could have avoided her though, she was the maid of honour after all.

“ Where is Dari?”, she asked. Dari had seen that question coming. Even though he had broken up with her a year ago, it was evident that she was still in love with him and trying hard to get back into his life. Muna was stunning, probably one of the most beautiful girls he had ever met. But he had moved on and wasn’t turning back, especially not after what she did.

“ He will be here soon”, Dari snapped as he took a sip of his champagne. Muna started a conversation but Dari excused her and headed to Allila who was now sitting alone on the chair designed for the couple. He sat at the far end of the chair and avoided Allila’s gaze. The photographer whom Dari wasn’t aware was close by, asked him to shift closer to her for a picture. He ignored him and remained stagnant in his position. Allila shifted closer and leaned her head on his shoulder with a broad smile. Dari was taken aback by her action, he stared at her in surprise when the camera flashed while he wasn’t looking. The cameraman took a few more pictures while Dari posed with strained smiles and after they were done, Dari excused them and went to the washroom. The party went on for a few more hours and when it was 10 pm, the guests began leaving the reception. Dari and Allila were driven to the new house his parents had gifted to Yomba and Allila.

Dari sat in the living room whilst Allila went into the bedroom. He thought of what to do next because he was certainly not going to sleep with her. He got startled when she mentioned his name and after ignoring her for a while, she came out and asked him why he wasn’t joining her in the room. He lied about being tired and drowsy and after Allila succeeded in dragging him into the room, he rushed into the bathroom, claiming he had a running stomach.

“ You’ve been acting strange all day, are you okay?” Allila asked while pressing her ear on the bathroom door. Dari did not respond. After asking so many times without any response, she fell silent and Dari wondered if she was still standing at the door. He stayed in the bathroom for an hour and a half. When he was certain Allila had fallen asleep, he tip-toed out of the bathroom and closed the door. He sighed in relief when it made no noise. He leaned his forehead against the door for a while and when he finally turned, he met Allila’s glare.

“ Now, you need to stop this childish act, and let’s go to bed”, Allila snapped. Dari continued to blink as though he had seen a ghost. There was no escape route for him. He opened his mouth to speak when Allila’s phone rang. Dari’s heart leaped in excitement and encouraged her to answer the phone when she hesitated.

“ Yomba, it’s your dad, but why is he calling at this time and on my phone? It’s 1:30 am”.

“ I don’t know, just answer it”, Dari pressed. Allila answered the phone and after a few seconds, stretched the phone to Dari.

“ He wants to talk to you.”. Dari took the phone from her but before he could say a word, his father shrilled, “Your brother is missing!! Dari is missing too. Come to the house right now!!”, the line went dead immediately but Dari kept staring at the phone as though he was expecting another call while thinking to himself, “So if Yomba, whom everyone now thinks is Dari, isn’t at home, then where could he possibly be?”

Written by : Nasreen Zankawah

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