The Runaway Bride Episode 1

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She quickly shrugged off her white wedding
dress and flung it on the bedside couch, next
came the undergarments and all the things
that went with the attire; peeping through the
gaping window blinds to see her friends
chatting away at the car park. Her best friend
who was supposed to be with her; Leah, had
been sent off to get a bottle of water she did
not need. The makeup artist said she would
join them shortly, which means she could
arrive any moment. She picked some facial
wipes from the box and wiped her face as
clean as she could and removed all her hair
pins and clips.
Now dressed in a casual jeans and a tank top,
Chinwe walked down the passage way of the
hotel, going the opposite direction of her
room, she was very sure her other friends
that were in the bridal train were still waiting
for her to come downstairs before she would
be ushered into the reception party; the
reception of her wedding to Tokunbo Ajayi.
She rushed through the staff only marked
door that was at the end of the hall beside the
staircase which took her to the ground floor.
She walked and took the next turning to my
right as she heard the voices of her friends
coming from the elevator; she has become
very conversant with the areas of the hotel,
having deliberately stayed back 2 weeks to
survey the area. 2 weeks ago, everything was
fine; she wanted to get married to Tokunbo.
All things working well, her escape plan
would work. She already called the driver who
assured her he was packed at the agreed
location to take her to the airport for a flight
to…
Chinwe peeped to be sure she was not seen,
her friends, Sarah and Leah were chatting as
they walked past her at the elevator she was
bent over a service trolley, they did not pay
her any attention, they were gushing about
how the wedding ceremony had lasted the
exact time they estimated it to be, thanks to
the officiating minister who was known not
to ever waste time, he had in time past
coordinated wedding between a man and the
absent bride, who was shocked to meet the
departing guests at her arrival. That particular
bride had wanted to look her best and insisted
it was “my day and everyone would have to
wait for me”; well, not Pastor Akintola.
Chinwe purposely asked for him, her family
had wanted a more ‘senior’ pastor to join
their children, offering to have him brought
in from the headquarters but she had whined
until they agreed to her choice, the only
choice she had in the matter, everything else
had been her parents’ choice; the venue for
the wedding, the colours of the decorations,
the wedding gowns, the bridal styles and even
the ladies in the bridal train were chosen by
her parents.
she was constantly reminded she was the only
female child they have and the day must be
perfect; perfect in their own definition meant
a picture perfect suitable for the newspaper
tabloids and the local news; her parents being
the well-known socialites in the state.
As she walked briskly towards the end of the
hall, she came out at the pool side, the pool
was slightly occupied at that time of the day,
she took a right turning which led her to the
“staff only” apartment, a place the staff kept
all sorts of pool safety tools, as she searched
in a box, she found a jacket that matched the
ones the hotel staff wear, she quickly pulled it
on and pulled on her glasses as she sashayed
boldly past the park joining a couple of guys
who were exiting the hotel gate at that time,
to her right hand were her friends and some
other guests standing with them at the car
pack, she walked past them and out of the
gate, just holding her purse which had her
ATM, her flight schedule and N18,000,
walking past her was her makeup artist
hurrying to fix her up for the next event; her
reception party.
As she walked briskly down the street, she
made a sharp turning at the end of the street,
she walked the long distance before dashing
to the street that cars hardly drive through
due to the bad roads, she squinted against the
afternoon sun, and to her greatest joy, her
escape ride was parked right in front of the
tree she asked him to. She would be paying
him N2,000 more as she already paid him
N3,000 the week before.
“Sister, welcome”
Thanks, Hassan, let’s go.”
“Your bag dey inside the booth”
“Thank you”
She simply said and she strapped herself in,
the driver revved the engine and off they
drove towards the airport. Some few minutes
down the long road, a couple of police
vehicles sped past them, probably on their
way to the hotel to look for her, ”they must
have known she was missing in my room
now.” The reception was supposed to hold in
a large hall, at the other street of the hotel.
Her back pack was given to him on Thursday,
when she thought she would get a flight out
of Lagos but no such luck.
If the driver knew she was running away, he
would simply drop her off at the nearest stop,
because if he was caught with her, he would
know she was the daughter of one of the
richest men in the country, he drove without
paying them any mind.
She quickly sent a message to the flight
attendant she met some days ago, who
promised to help her check in online through
her phone if she arrives late. She pressed on
the phone, not familiar with the small screen
and the tiny buttons on the keyboard, but she
managed to send a message across to her that
she would be arriving on time for the flight,
thanking her for her help.
She already ditched her Samsung 5 but not
before copying all her contacts on that phone,
she bought this new SIM card just yesterday
and was using the other phone she collected
from her friend to “play the snake game she
missed so much”, the phone can only make
calls, send messages and receive messages
too, any attempt to use the battery at a long
stretch, the battery would flatten out.
“This craze people, see as them dey drive, if
na another man now, dey for ask him to park”
“Don’t mind them”
“They are always like that, if they should give
me a gun, I can kill all of them without
shaking, last year, my brother wan join them,
dem dey do recruitment, I tell am, if you join
them, we don turn enemy be that o”
Ah ah” she replied halfheartedly
“Yes o madam, policemen are crazy people, if
you fall for their trap one time, you go know
say they no be human at all”
“I pray you don’t fall in their trap, especially
today” I said with a heart of prayer
“No, me ke? I drive with sense, especially on
Saturdays o, any grab they grab today, the
person go sleep for cell till Monday, but if
they wan craze totally, they pick people
randomly so that they can get their weekend
tips too”
“Na wa o”
They drove some minutes again and Hassan’s
eyes caught a boy running after a commercial
bus to collect his money
“These boys, na God dey protect them o, na so
one run last week for Ikeja side wey he almost
kill himself. The cars coming behind him
almost jam him”
Chinwe listened with feigned interest as he
narrated the escape of the poor boy to her,
she was shaking and nodding her head as he
told the story, but her mind was miles away.
The driver was able to move freely and within
20 minutes, they were at the airport. She
counted out some N500 notes and decided to
give him extra. She proceeded to the check in
point and produced her reservation code,
leaving the grinning and satisfied driver
behind.
“Ma, do you have a luggage?” asked the
airline attendant
“Just this as a hand luggage”
“Ok, your ID card please,”
She waited as she was checked in, moved to
the departure waiting room awaiting her
flight to Akwa Ibom state. As she sat at the
waiting room, she wondered what stage of the
search they were on now, they probably
would be at the point of rushing her mommy
to the hospital, and her brother would be
trying her number. She snapped back to
present environment and moved her legs out
of the way for a guy that was pulling his back
pack across the spaces in between the rows of
chairs.
He took a seat beside her after surveying the
other seats that were occupied or with people
or objects like their books or bags.
As he sat, he put his earpiece in his ears and
listened to some music, it was loud enough
that she could hear as the jazz master play on;
Yanni, she thought to myself. She would miss
her Yanni collection on the phone she left
behind, she thought.
Track after track she hummed along, the
gentle flow of the symphony washing a cool
effect all over her, she was in a trance of the
beautiful music.
She has not always loved music where words
were made, but has been able to get attached
to jazz; they seem to suit every mood.
Introducing to you Chinwe Babalola, the only
daughter of her parents Dele and Ngozi
Babalola; Dele Babalola, a senator from one of
the western states of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, an influential man, owner of
different businesses in Nigeria and across the
borders, married to Ngozi, blessed with 2
children in their marriage and their only
daughter just eloped from her wedding
reception and before you chastise her on why
she waited this long before taking the bold
but crazy steps, well
she did not know about him (Tokunbo Ajayi)
until 3 days ago.
she was not able to get an earlier flight out of
Lagos to Uyo.
she loved the man she married but she no
longer does, or she could not love him any
longer.