There always is an argument that silence is the noise that we are not used to. Some say that silence is the loudest noise, one which lacks competition.
That was the silence that engulfed the wedding venue that Saturday as my sister, Rose, delayed taking her vows.
She sobbed, tears falling onto her pure white wedding gown. But she held steadfast on her rose flowers and looked into the bridegroom, Jonathan’s face, with the innocence synonymous with her.
Rose turned around to look at the whole venue. I could feel that her body was present, but her mind was not.
I bet she could only feel her heartbeat. Was she losing breath? I saw her breath in and out to calm down.
That was the moment where I thought her words and actions were divergent, pulling in different directions. Her brain pondered what to say and do. The silence was first deafening, then a few murmurs here and there.
My mother rose to rush to the podium and my father attempted to pull her back.
But wait a minute. Let us rewind and start this play from the very beginning…
To understand this drama, I believe I ought to fill you in on how this narrative unfolded. My sister’s dream wedding.
I was born in a family of two, my sister and I. Growing up, she was strict and adhered to my mother’s teachings.
“Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck,” my mother used to read us this bible verse.
As a firstborn, she had to set an example for me. I saw her turn down interest from men. She was under pressure to make our parents proud.
She is humble and smart, beautiful and intelligent. She never seeks the approval of many. Her humble heart gains the approval of only those that matter to her heart.
From primary to high school and campus, she was a favourite for many. Scoring plain As in both primary and secondary levels and following her passion, medicine, at tertiary level.
There was this time my mother and I went to see her at her high school on one of the visiting days. My mum used to bake cakes during those days. Not with an oven, but with a jiko.
She had recipes handwritten in a 42-page exercise book. My mother could go to extra lengths to ensure we were happy. So overnight during my sister's visiting days, we cooked overnight.
Groundnuts, chapatis, mandazis, the cake and stew, mostly beef. These are the moments as a grown-up man, you look back and reminisce, then you laugh and wipe a tear from your eye, remembering how you felt that love when you were young.
Then you pause and look at your old man and mama now yearning to feel that love reciprocated.
Anyways, when we visited my sister in school that day, on her last visiting day prior to her KCSE exams, I saw how generous she was. She called in some orphans and those whose parents had not visited and we sat as a family together.
“Dear God, remember the orphans and the widows as we eat today. Thank you for my mama and my little brother who are here today. Bless our parents, we pray. Amen,” she prayed. I saw my mother wipe a tear from her eye. She was touched.
It is this deep love of others, embodied in my sister, that is the perfect rich soil for the divine emotions.
And since that day, all I ever wished for was a man who would take good care of her. I used to tell her that I would always protect her, be there for her as her young brother and ensure no one hurts her.
She was a special being and we all feel the same towards our sisters. When she introduced me to Jonathan, her fiance, I marvelled.
Good girls usually attract bad boys. This point is for argument. I stand to be corrected. This was the reason I was always overprotective of her. But for instance, she found her exact measure.
Jonathan was like a big brother to me. Respectful, loved my parents and was attentive to detail. As my sister wedded, I was in my first year at work, and I learnt so much from Jonathan.
The need to have a pension scheme, join a Sacco, how to save to purchase land. Yes, I had learnt this from many people, but it was first-hand from him.
He paid keen detail to my sister’s wedding and even jumped in to assist her with some purchases. The gown came last and nearly ruined the wedding, but he was all prepared.
“Babe, if you purchased the gown online then no need to worry. We could have solved this long before,” Jonathan stated.
“I know, my mum and I made changes to the first gown and now she has to go pick it up, yet we are walking down that aisle tomorrow,” my sister added.
“But you got your Co-op bank account and no need to worry. Let me see that online shop. Look over here, they are accepting Co-op Banks Chapa Pay.
“You know for this online payment for businesses, the traders get more customers by accepting online card payments via Chapa Pay, which is Co-op Bank’s eCommerce solution! With Co-op Bank eCommerce they receive a unique link (Pay-By-Link) that they use to invoice their customers,” Jonathan added.
I chipped in and asked if any businesses can join and he added that they can.
“As a business person, you will not incur any cost to get the Pay-By-Link solution as it is free to get on board. If a customer makes a wrong payment, you can reverse the payment without calling the bank for a reversal,” Jonathan explained and added that he even assisted his friend, Paul, to set up the Co-op Banks Chapa Pay for his Instagram shop that sells merchandise.
The two lovebirds sort the gown issue and on the wedding day, it was superfluous.
My sister walked down that aisle, sandwiched in between my parents' arms, marching to her favourite song, Ed Sheeran’s Perfect.
I found a love for me
Oh, darling, just dive right in and follow my lead.
The deacon stated the most dreaded words. That was the beginning of the silence.
“Speak now, or forever hold your peace,” he stated, calling on anyone opposed to the marriage to rise. No one rose, lest for a young boy who stood to stretch himself. The church burst into laughter. Sigh!
Jonathan was brief and precise in his vows, reading from his win words written in a card I designed for him.
The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.
I am who I am because of you and I love and adore you truly.
I recited the quotes, word by word. Originally he wanted to write a whole manuscript. But oh boy! Keep it short.
My sister could not say her words. She became overwhelmed and started sobbing. That was when the silence engulfed again and my mum rushed to the podium.
“You alright,” she asked, as the maid of honour joined her. I could read the terror inside Jonathan’s heart. If I was in his shoes, I bet I would wonder if that is the point where the bride says NO.
But we were all in for a surprise. My sister held onto the microphone, composed herself and said.
“My whole life I am so grateful to my parents for raising me as a loving, disciplined girl. The love I have for you, ma, is great. I saw you sitting down smiling and remembered how much you held my hand.
“I am so overwhelmed with emotions now. I am so proud of myself for walking a confined, strict journey to be here. I made you proud ma. And for Jonathan, yes I do love you and yes I do marry you,” Rose, made us cry a tear each.
She hugged my mother close, knowing that she was now on her own journey to raising her own family. I bet in her mind, she wished to be like our mother and raise children like herself.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife. Kindly kiss your wife,” the deacon said after they wore their rings.
The ululations and cheers were deafening.