EPISODE  1

“ Yomba, we are running late. Everyone will be seated by now”, Dari called out to his twin brother who was adjusting his necktie in the mirror and glancing at his phone every second.

“ Relax bro, I’m not the first person to get married, besides, it’s not as if Alila will runaway”, Yomba responded, unperturbed. This was the life of the twins, they looked extremely identical that even their parents found difficulty in identifying them sometimes, even their voices sounded alike. The only difference between those two was that Dari was pensive and an introvert whereas Yomba was facetious and viewed life as a short journey that would even be shorter if one didn’t have fun and live his best life.

Everything to Yomba seemed like a joke and as Dari watched him preen in front of the mirror, he had a feeling Yomba even saw his wedding as a sham, otherwise which groom would be at home, still uncertain about the necktie to wear, while his bride was already waiting at the beachside wedding venue? After watching him with his doe eyes for two more minutes, Dari felt the last trace of patience escape his body. He rubbed his thick eyebrows in frustration, brushed his wavy down cut for the last time, and stood up from his brother’s bed. He walked to the mirror, glanced at his dark complexion, and dragged Yomba away from the mirror.

“ Hey Dari, I’m not yet done. I haven’t even brushed my eyebrows”, Yomba shrilled.

“ You can finish up in the car”, Dari said as he held his arm firmly and forced him out of the room. They met Yomba’s friend who doubled as his best man, Ayuu, at the bottom of the stairs.

“ My guy, is everything okay with you? Or do you want to cancel the wedding?” Ayuu retorted. The collar of his white long-sleeved shirt was damp with sweat and he was perspiring profusely. Mr. and Mrs. Asowura, the parents of the twins, have been calling him almost every minute since they couldn’t get through to their sons. All the guests were present except the groom and people were beginning to question his absence. They stepped out of the glass mansion, into the yard where three cars were parked. Dari, Yomba, and Ayuu entered a white Mercedes-Benz, while the two other cars, a red Honda Accord and a black Toyota Corolla were occupied by six other friends of theirs.

The journey seemed long and Dari’s eyes couldn’t stop drifting towards his watch. He was nervous, more nervous than the groom. Yomba on the other hand was relaxed, and smiling at something on his phone. Dari could feel his anger surging, it was moments like these he had the urge to hit Yomba back to his senses. He was completely insensitive and Dari felt he expressed Yomba’s emotions in his stead, like now.

Dari thought of Alila and how she might be feeling about the delay. He imagined her as a bride in distress. Probably her forehead was creased with worry and her radiant eyes were forcing back tears, like it always did anytime she was hurt. The smoothness of her caramel skin was one that baffled Dari, he had never seen a blemish of any kind on it. Not even the occasional acne his ex-girlfriend, Muna, used to have. He was surprised she hadn’t called him personally. Could she have left the wedding? No, she wouldn’t do that. She loved Yomba with her entire being and was the one who convinced Yomba to get married. Dari’s phone began to ring for the tenth time and he knew who it was without looking at his screen.

“ I think you should call Mom and Dad else they will explode my phone soon”, Dari suggested to Yomba.

“Yes!” Yomba yelped, startling Dari, Ayuu, and the driver. He became subdued after he noticed their gazes and asked the driver to stop.

“ Why should he stop? We are extremely late”, Ayuu who was in the front seat retorted.

“ Dari, I need to speak to you outside”, Yomba said, ignoring Ayuu. Dari wanted to protest, but he knew that would only waste more time so he did as he was told. Dari immediately went mad when Yomba informed him that he had to return home.

“ C’mon bro, I have been waiting to secure this contract for so many years, and now that I have you want me to throw it away because of some wedding?”

“ Some wedding? This is not just “ some wedding” Yomba, it is your wedding. Can’t you at least take this one seriously? Be serious at least for once. Haven’t you realized you’re not the only one in this? Our parents are, and so is Alila. So just finish up with the wedding and do whatever you want afterward, no one will apprehend you”, Dari blurted.

“ I can’t, I need to do some verifications within the next hour or else the contract will be withdrawn. I just saw the email in my spam folder, else I would have done that long ago. Fine, I understand what you mean perfectly, so let’s do this. Take the lead to the wedding and act in my stead till I return”, Yomba suggested.

“ You must be out of your mind, what if I get caught? What if Alila and Ayuu recognize me? What if we exchange vows before you return? This will be a disaster. You know what, it’s best you cancel the wedding. I’m not doing this, never!” Dari snapped.

“ Calm down brother. This wouldn’t be a problem at all. To date, Alila can’t tell our difference. Remember she almost slept with you, thinking you were me?” Yomba asked and Dari stared at him, speechless. How could Dari forget, it was the stupidest thing he had ever done. It was one of those times he fell for Yomba’s childish games. The incident happened two years ago when Yomba claimed he wanted to test Alila’s ability to differentiate between the two of them. So Dari seduced her and unfortunately, Alila fell for it without knowing he wasn’t Yomba, Dari was glad he hadn’t slept with her due to Yomba’s early intervention.

“ And for Ayuu”, Yomba continued, “ Don’t worry about him, just make sure you don’t shake his hand. That’s the only thing he uses to differentiate us. He claims your palms are softer”.

“ This is crazy”, Dari still protested while shaking his head.

“ It’s not. You will be fine”, Yomba assured him. He glanced at the car and when he was sure Ayuu wasn’t watching them, he removed his red pocket square and slid it into Dari’s pocket. Fortunately for him, they wore the same suits. Yomba had insisted on it upon Dari’s resistance.

“ Get going now, you’re late. I promise I will be back soon”, Yomba said while he stopped a taxi and hastily entered.

“ You’re late?” Dari repeated Yomba’s words in disbelief. Now, he was going to be held accountable for everything and would be crucified if anything went wrong while Yomba secured a contract no one had any details about. Dari, now Yomba, hurried back to the car and asked the driver to move.

“ Where is Dari?”, Ayuu asked.

“ I’m… I mean, he went back home to get something very important, he will join us later”, Dari lied. He almost gave himself up. It now dawned on him that he was going to be referred to as Yomba till his brother returned. He began to feel antsy and prayed he wasn’t making a mistake.

At the wedding, everyone turned as soon as he stepped in and began murmuring. Dari kept his eyes focused on the aisle and ignored his parents’ angry gazes. Alila watched him as he got closer and he could see both the exasperation and relief in her eyes and demeanour. She was prettier than ever and hoped his presence now would quench her agitation.

The priest began the ceremony and all Dari could think of was Yomba’s arrival. His eyes darted around the entrance and all of a sudden he heard the priest say, “ Yomba Asowura, do you take Alila Chepura as your lawful wedded wife?”

“ Eeehn?” Dari impulsively uttered and bit his tongue afterward. Apparently, the priest wasn’t surprised by his reaction and repeated himself again, “Yomba Asowura, do you take Alila Chepura as your lawfully wedded wife?” Dari stared at Alila unblinking as though he was seeing her for the first time and his lips quivered. Getting married for real wasn’t part of his schedule for the day. He was supposed to be securing a brand-new car, not a wife. He stared at his parents and saw how eager they were for him to respond. He looked at the guests and all he could see were business associates of his parents and politicians. Leaving the ceremony would only embarrass his parents and stain their hard-earned reputation, and they would definitely trend in the news for days.

“ Won’t you respond?”, Ayuu who was standing behind him, said with a nudge. Dari looked at the entrance one more time hoping Yomba would appear and rescue him, but he didn’t. He turned back to Alila who was staring at him pleadingly. All his life, he had never been confronted with a dilemma as grave as this and knew he was doomed.

Written by : Nasreen Zankawah

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