Tawanda was amazed at how beautiful Chido looked, he could not find words but all he could do was to think about how someone could be that beautiful. He could barely see her face underneath her wedding veil but he still believed he had never seen someone so enchanting. She was the only woman he knew would pull off short hair on her wedding day. The white hue of her dress complimented her dark skin, glistening with the Shea Butter she had put on her “must have” list. The dress traced every inch of her hourglass figure. At that moment he could not see the girl he grown up with but the woman he had fallen in love with since he could remember. He could smell the Sí deodorant he had bought for her on her engagement party, lingering at the nape of her neck as he hugged her.
“You look beautiful Chido”, Tawanda said as he looked down at her but he knew she had not heard his as she continued fussing with her dress and mumbling to herself trying to calm down. He took her hands and searched for her eyes underneath her veil, she appeared scared. She was breathing heavily, seemed tense and her hands were sweaty in Tawanda’s.
“So this is it, the man of my dreams is waiting for my walk down the aisle but I can not move my feet “, Chido says as she gathers herself and tried to smile.
“Tawanda, do look nervous, but is my dress alright sha“?.
“You look beautiful Chido”, Tawanda repeated and faced the door towards which he was going to escort her to her future husband, the man who would have her forever, the only man she would have FOREVER. Chido looked up at Tawanda who was looking at the door. She smiled to herself, breathed in and out, gathered herself and looked straight at the door which they were to walk through. The pianist began to play, Marry your daughter by Brian McKnight.
“I love you Chido, I always have. I love everything about you, even the things I do not like, I love. And I want you with me, I love you and I think you love me too. I know after the whole Tinaye drama you vowed to never be with someone familiar but I know you did not ask me to walk down the aisle because I am like a brother to you. I know it is because I am the only person you feel safe and comfortable with and I promise to always do that for the rest of your life. So before I walk you down to him, answer me this. Do you love me too?”.
He looked down at her as the doors opened and the guests stood up in the chapel looking at them. Chido froze and looked up at him and whispered,
This was how Tawanda always imagined it would be like, which is why the question Chido asked caught him by surprise. It was a hot Friday afternoon, the air was dry and even though it was five in the evening, the sun was as bright as midday. You could clearly tell it was September. Not so far one could hear the hwindi’s shouting Copacabana; Waterfalls; Glen Lorne in all directions, vendors advertising their goods and trying to bargain with the customers, kombi’s reeving trying to overtake each other before rush hour, cars hooting and people shouting but all Tawanda could hear was the sound of his heart beating loudly in his ears. He sat up and looked directly at Chido as she was finishing the last of her Cascade opposite him. They were sitting in the Chicken Inn restaurant opposite 4th street, they had both come from work and decided to catch up. The restaurant was beginning to fill in as school children and those coming from work were unwinding at treating themselves.
“Hey, Tawanda did you hear me. I know its kind of short notice and all but I really feel like Garie is the one. He gets me unoziva, he treats me very nice. After the whole Tinaye drama you know how I vowed never to be with someone known to my circle. Well Garikai is and I can tell he is a keeper”, Chido smiled at her phone looking at her wallpaper which was Garikai’s picture. Tawanda kept staring at her hoping she would look at him. He sips on his Coca Cola and cleared his throat.
“Yeah, I did hear you. Since I am the person who knows you more than anyone, you are asking me if I could help your fiancé write his vows? Chido, you deserve someone who does not need help or encouragement but who is ready at any point and time to confess and say how much you mean to them”. He reached for her hand across the table and looked at her. Looking at her made the room stand still, the kombis, vendors and hwindis sank into the silence.
“Chido, you deserve someone who will wait for you, someone who will let you show them your scars, flaws and insecurities but love you anyway. You deserve someone who sees a wife rather than a girlfriend but waits to make you a wife to do girlfriend things with you. You deserve the best and I believe you have it in front of you”. He looked at her and she looked at him confused. Chido freed her hands from his, looked down at her phone and smiled.
“Iiiih Tawanda, you scared me for a while. Wanga wandityisa. The person in from of me you meant Garie!”, she laughed nervously looking at her phone with Garikai as the wallpaper.
“Aah I thought you were referring to yourself ka and I was thinking Kuti hhhmmm kana. No, you wouldn’t”. Tawanda smiled to himself and took another sip of his Coca Cola.
“Ko blaz, I have phone chargers and phone cases. Any type and colour, ndokupai?”,a young boy came to their table trying his luck.
“No mfaname, we are ok”, Tawanda smile at the little boy.
“Aaah mfaname do you have earphones? I lost mine wangu.”, Tawanda said as he searched his pockets for money to buy the earphones.
“Iwe Tawanda, look you have your earphones there. Why are yo..”, Chido said as she reached for his earphones in his sling bag. Tawanda looked at her and nod his head.
“Aah mudhara thanks, this is my first buy this evening. Maspaka mukoma”, the young boy said as he walked away counting the money.
Chido exhaled as she looked at her phone, she looked at Tawanda and smiled.
“Tawanda I have to go now, thank you so much for agreeing to this. Shaa makes sure you say everything you said just now. I am sure that is exactly how Garie feels but he has a hard time expressing himself”.She stood up kissed his cheek and left the restaurant. The only thing that remained was the Sí deodorant he bought her on her engagement party.
After twenty years of friendship, Tawanda could not figure out how Chido could not see that he was the one for her. He was the one who had been always there. He watched her go wondering if she was the one who got away or was he the one who got away. He texted Tambirai to tell her he was ready to give them another chance and his head was clear now, he knew who he had to be with and that was her. He untangled his earphones from his pocket, played “I will” by Mali Music on his phone, as he walked to his car.